“Just about to find another activity–that’s not a good activity–that was what we were supposed to come up with–that’s the language my mom used with us, you know–we’re 4 years old, ‘come up with a good activity’–and we’re like sitting in mud ‘is this a good activity?'” – Brian Regan
Houston is the Goodman Giants activities expert. Catch up with this talented youth sometime and he can perform dead on impressions of his favorite comedian quoted above. The Giants will rate each activity up to 6 Goodmans. Feel free to judge our collective choices of activities and mock us in Brian Regan’s mom’s voice if you must.
Three travel tips to get to know the people of countries you visit. Seeing the tourists sites has value. Likely part of why you planned your trip. Reaching another level of value for the Goodman Giants, family of travel bloggers, happens when the Giants see and learn how the people in non-US countries live.
Giant proof ways to learn how others live:
Travel Tip One: Go to the grocery store. Locals shop at grocery stores. Grandmas, families, single men in biker shorts, women who haven’t gotten their hair did… Want to see a cross section of society in the when visiting a foreign country? Go to the grocery store.
In Europe the employees at the grocery check out sit versus the normal standing done by United States counterparts.
Orange Fanta soda in Italy has pulp! About as much as low-pulp orange juice.
In Germany most bottles purchased include a deposit. What a cool thing to use a machine like this at the grocery store! The scanner puts on a show and won’t be tricked by a bottle with no deposit like the last one in the video below.
Have you been to the grocery store while on a foreign vacation?
Travel Tip Two: Laundromats are for locals. Tourists pack enough clothes for the duration of their trip, use hotel machines and services, or wash items in the hotel sink. Locals use laundromats. They ride up on bikes, walk in with armloads, and roll up in BMWs. See a real cross section of humanity, talked to them (they are often board), and observed others while watching whites dance with the one stray dress sock.
Sample life while creating memorable washing adventures. The experiences can be frazzling in the moments when you think you will board a flight with suitcases too heavy for Hercules because no dryers are available. Exhibit A, or at least a link to it, makes the site below a dream!
Travel Tip Three: Ever seen a movie in the theater while traveling abroad? Did you know that in Mexico salsa is available to slather popcorn in like most would use butter traditionally in the States? Special insight is gained by being with people doing what they do away from tourists.
The Vatican Museums are open with reservations on Friday nights. The atmosphere and feel is electric. The sense is like those attending are privileged – which they are since tickets are limited and Fridays are the only nights where there is access to the public. Getting to know a family from Australia at dinner at Bianco’s Vespette e Forchette, prior to attending, clearly both families didn’t want the other to feel left out for not having access. And both families felt like they are part of an exclusive club when it was known that all were attending.
If you go, go at night. The place was alive with a classical music concert and many visitors. Pictures are limited by rules to not include the Sistine Chapel. Giants are rule followers and did not snap pics while many other visitors were. Basically, if you want to take pictures when you visit you may be judged in a final judgment after you get away with the action at the time.
A two plus hour guided tour at the Vatican prior to the highlight of the chapel took its toll on the smallest Giant. He and all other Giants were troopers.
Giant tip: book the Friday night tickets once you know you will be in Rome since they sell out early.
Compared to other historic sites in Rome, and Europe for that matter, the Vatican has modernized the non-historic parts.
Go to Rome and take a tour of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. The Giants used TheRomanGuy.com and found the guide to be pleasant and knowledgeable. The Giants would use them again, and they would be willing to try a different company. Nothing seemed to be exceptional when compared to the many other groups visiting the sites.
Only in person can such grand sites be taken in. Plan the trip today and include access to the underground part of the Colosseum if at all possible.
TheRomanGuy guide and company:
Surprise of the visit to the Colosseum was that it smelled of sewer in many areas around the outside walls.
The triple play walk is Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps. Visiting all three, including walking between them, can be done easily in under an hour. Giants planned 20 minutes to see the Pantheon. That was about 12 minutes too long. Compared to other sites in Rome there simply was not much to take in. Readers will surely disagree. If the Pantheon were in Cleveland, Ohio for instance the Giants likely would have stayed for an hour in ah taking in the splendor of the monument.
But hey, it’s worth 8 minutes and being able to say you have seen it.