Sometimes the travel blogging world rubs me the wrong way. There’s often an arrogant tone underlying a lot of the writing out there, and I hate it.
The most common one we all hear is “hang out with the locals.” This is amazing advice, and I encourage you to take it. After all, it’s the whole operating theory behind CouchSurfing.org, which is a fine organization and a definite “must-try.” Come to St. John’s and my friends and I will show you a superb time. We’ll probably even throw you a keg party.
But that’s not to say we always know what’s best for you.
Here’s a great example. When I studied in England, our host town was divided into two very different sections: Old Harlow, and New Harlow. Our accommodations were in Old Harlow, where several Old-English style pubs were within walking distance. These pubs were fantastic—friendly, fun, and lots of cheap pints. I remember one bartender pointing out a tear in the modern wallpaper where centuries-old wallpaper peeked through from underneath.
But after awhile, Ange, Amy and I decided we wanted to see the night club scene in New Harlow.
We expressed our desires to some local boys who scoffed and said, “Don’t ever go to New Harlow. You’ll get shot or stabbed.” (You’d be surprised how often we heard that line when telling Brits about Harlow.)
But we were determined, oh yes. Crime be damned! One evening we downed some cider ale and took a cab into the new town, where we immediately sought out what the locals called the “worst bar ever.” I think it was Liquid, but it was a few years ago and my memory is hazy. Surely not a side-effect of beer.
Anyway, we arrived at the club and went through a security checkpoint at the main entrance, a pretty surreal experience for someone from small-town Newfoundland. Then we entered this huge, white-walled walkway, and ascended into the coolest, most badass club I have ever seen in my life.
The whole place was swankier than any dance club I have ever seen in St. John’s or beyond, seriously. Feisty bar girls strolled around doling out shots, the dance floor was absolutely enormous, and the music was so futuristic it wouldn’t even hit Canada for another 5 months. The bathrooms had complimentary perfume and hair products, which was another new experience for me. I was in heaven.
Then I met a beautiful man named Sebastian, who took me to the VIP lounge and bought me a beer, then asked if I could visit him in London to “work things out.” My only souvenir from that night was his phone number written on a piece of paper, which sadly I lost.
Seriously, if you want to do something in a new place, do it. Locals and city natives can get jaded about their homes after many years, and what’s old and tired to them is fresh and exciting for someone else. To me, George Street is just another regular night out in St. John’s. I’ve been going there for 6 years. To someone who’s just arrived in one of the booziest places in the world, George Street is a haven.
Bottom line: think for yourself. Welcome all suggestions but don’t be afraid to side-step.