Thoughts on travelling – Research

The place I am visiting – what is there to do? Research before you go

• Google maps – looks at the area and get a general feel for where the old town is, where there are some museums, art galleries, shops
• Streetview – use the little man to go on a wander about to see what things look like – old buildings, modern shopping galleries, whatever appeals to you
• Guide book – buy the guide book and read about some things to do in the location
• Find something you think you might like to do – then check the website – read any reviews, see what the owner thinks they have on offer
• Opening and closing times – check the website
• Anything different of interest – have I done this before? Have I seen this (or similar) before?
• Guided tours – maybe they would be of interest. This is a new area for me, but I have realised that a lot can be learnt from a guide who knows what they are talking about – something you wouldn’t know beforehand and you would find of interest. The experience and knowledge is valuable
• Read local reviews, local websites, check the Tourist Information
• See what people have been doing by checking TripAdvisor

Some examples of recent finds:

1. In Valletta old town, getting a lift several hundred feet down to waterfront (free), get a small ferry across the bay (cheap), go for a walk on the other side of the bay, around the harbour, take some photos, have a coffee and people watch, ferry back, lift back up to the old town (included in ferry fare) – took all afternoon and cost about 6 euros
2. Studied public transport map in Helsinki – discovered there was a tram that did a figure of eight around the city that took about 2 hours. Cost was minimal – lovely views from the window, good flavour of the city and made some notes on where to revisit later
3. Granada. On studying the public transport map, found a small bus that went from main town up to the Alhambra (and back), every 20 minutes, for 1 euro. Used that bus on several occasions and saved much time and effort as the hill is steep and long – I would only have walked up once! Using the bus meant I got up to the top of the hill and walked back down using different routes, so also found the old Arab quarter which was very interesting in itself and with great views (and photos) across to the Alhambra – the classic view with the Sierra Nevada in the background
4. It doesn’t always work; in Malta, I was interested in all the forts, bastions and battlements. It seems others are, as a museum is listed to explain the history. Checked the opening times on the Internet. So a long walk, in a cold wind brought us to the museum, to find a paper notice on the door saying that they were closed for the day. However, walking along the street further, found a small Bar with a snooker table – something different after all.