Over the years I’ve heard countless travellers express with frustration… “that place is way too touristy for me.” I admit that super-touristy places can frustrate, but disliking or avoiding such places just because they are “touristy” is likely the wrong approach and attitude. Even the most touristy of places have a local charm too – you just have to know how to find it!
Last week I returned from a 10-day trip with friends to Scotland, one of my favourite travel destinations. On our itinerary was a stop in St. Andrews, a little town on the east coastline famous for its 600 year old University and for being the home where the game of golf originated nearly as long ago, two designations that put it on the map with visitors from all over the world.
The little town of St. Andrews is charming, wonderful and interesting, fascinating in an historical sense, but also entertaining on a daily basis. But it comes with one drawback in the summer months – the little oasis is packed full of tourists!
After just one day in St. Andrews we had had our share of meeting other tourists, and desperately needed a local experience. A friendly conversation with a taxi driver can almost always tell you where the locals hang out. Our cabbie David suggested we visit the Whey Pat Pub tonight if we wanted to go where the locals go and avoid the throngs of tourists. We took his advice, went and had an incredible time, meeting groups of students and other locals who filled us in on some of the interesting history of the town, told us what to experience during the rest of our trip and even invited us to a local party at the beach.
The Whey Pat is located just outside the gates of the walled city beside the famous Westport Gate. Today, the drawbridges into the city no longer exist, but at one time there used to ring a bell that warned locals they had one minute to enter the town before the drawbridges erected for the night. The pub is famous for its friendly atmosphere, large selection of beers, and domino competitions on Wednesdays.
For the rest of the week, we’d ask taxi drivers and other locals what we should perhaps see and do that maybe the throngs of other tourists don’t know about. This lead us to a variety of non-touristy experiences in one of the most touristy towns on the planet.
So next time you find yourself in an uber-touristy place, ask knowledgable locals for their off-the-beaten path recommendations. I am sure they’ll be more than happy to assist you.