My wife and I have traveled around the world and have been to places such as India, Thailand, Brazil, and Italy. We have seen all the normal touristy places such as the Taj Mahal, The Colosseum, and Copacabana Beach. On these trips, we were tired of standing in line to see the same attraction that every other tourist was waiting to see as well. We told ourselves that on the next trip, we would experience the country the same way the locals do.
For our next trip, we decided to go to Lisbon, Portugal. When we arrived in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, we wanted to see the beautiful seaside and the surrounding areas like the locals do. But I didn’t know how. Luckily, we met a fellow traveler at our hotel and they turned us on to Withlocals. After our day out with our amazing guide, we couldn’t have asked for a better excursion.
What exactly did we do? After browsing different options, we chose to go on the Fairytale Sintra Day trip. We decided on Sintra since it is rich with history and filled with mystery and legends. Our guide, Sofia met us at the train station in Sintra, a short trip from Lisbon. It was just me, my wife, and Sofia. There weren’t any other tourists in our group, which made our trip much more intimate and personalized. Sofia was very enthusiastic about her home town and described Sintra perfectly. According to her, Sintra “seems like you just jumped into a Lord of the Rings movie!”
After introducing ourselves, she gave us a little background information. She mentioned that “Sintra has been apart of all the civilizations that were here dueto its mystical aura. White Magic is practiced today, as well as Black Magic. In fact, today’s druids have their center here in Sintra. She also went on to say that all this cultural influence came out from the last Ice Age; at the same time as New Zealand and Scotland!”. During our daytrip, the three of us visited the most western spot in Europe, a private beach unknown to most tourists and, after visiting a few other spectacular sites we explored the narrow streets of Sintra. Without Sofia as our guide, we would have never been able to see so many secret spots and visit little-known places that only a true local would know about. On top of that, we also visited her favorite pastry shop and sat down with her to get to know her better at a cafe in central Sintra.
During our day with Sofia, we discovered that Withlocals goal,to connect people and cultures through travel, is exactly what we wanted in our day trip. By connecting travelers with a local guide, each traveler can find exactly the right experience. All the guides are local experts and know the unique gems of their home town. They’re not guides that lead tours on multiple days and only know the main attractions of a destination. She told us that the guides are passionate about connecting travelers who want to feel the real vibe of a destination, not just a general group tour. I also learned that if we wanted to, we could have completely personalized our trip and since Sofia knew Sintra inside and out, she could have accommodated our wish.
In the end, both my wife and I were so happy that we met Sofia and got to know her home town of Sintra. We weren’t just another nameless tourist in a big group. In the future I know that I will be using Withlocals again so we can get an intimate feel wherever we go.
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Tyler Brooks was born and raised in the small town of Bailey, near South Park in Colorado. After his first trip abroad to Japan when he was ten years old, he has had the travel bug and since then, has spent his life planning and going on trips. He recently found his talent as a photographer. His beautiful photography is available for sale at www.ttbphotography.smugmug.com