Monday, 24 January 2011

‘Let’s Twitter’. Without a doubt, the lightest, cheapest and most up to date travel guide to take away with you on holiday.

As someone who struggles to get organised but hates feeling that they’re missing out on the best places to eat and drink in a new city, I used to feel torn when I went away for a short weekend break. Should I leave my restaurant choices to chance and to the hotel staff who disinterestedly direct you to the touristy, expensive options (or their uncle’s restaurant)? Or should I instead, invest in a travel guide that will already be out of date by the time it is printed and on my return home will sit on a book shelf until the next time I travel to that country, by which time it will be so out of date the currency and national borders may have changed, let alone the best places to eat?

But now that I’ve embraced my technology alter ego, I’ve discovered that there’s another option. The twitter guide; an easily accessible repository of recommendations from on-the-ground food and coffee enthusiasts who share their opinions freely and fearlessly.

The first time I relied on twitter recommendations I was a little coy about naming my source to travel companions. As we trekked through a city, passing countless restaurants or cafes, I would reassure them that the place we were going to had been recommended and the effort would be worth it. It was only afterwards when we were, more often than not, eating a fantastic meal or sipping a good coffee that I would come clean. Incredulously they'd ask; “So we just walked for an hour because someone you’ve never met and know nothing about recommended this place to you on twitter?”

“Correct. Problema?”

I know I could travel with an up to date online guide written by reputable reviewers but there is something about following a twitter recommendation that seems more exciting when it pays off because of the leap of faith involved.

Last weekend in Barcelona I relied on my twitter guide once again and was rewarded with these gastronomic delights from faceless, random tweeters.

Saturday lunch at one of the tapas bars inside Mercat de la Boqueria as recommended by @thefoodplace

Delicious espresso at Federal Cafe, a new Australian owned cafe in Sant Antoni recommended by @Hudsoncakes...

who also suggested the insanely busy Jai-Ca in Barceloneta where we were jostled by locals having Sunday lunch and tried in vain to work out what the system was to get a table.

Giving up, we ate standing at the bar and watched in wonder as the staff calmly managed to serve plates of beautifully fresh and simple seafood tapas amidst the chaos.

Thanks also @Camdencoffee for recommending Cerveceria Catalana, 236 Mallorca where we had our final meal (by which time my camera's battery had died).