Late in 2010, I crossed off a big bucket list item for me of going to NYC.
Now the Big Apple is probably the place I visit most routinely outside of Oregon, but at the time it was a really big deal.
I’ll spare you the backstory of how it came to be, but on my first day in the City, a friend of a friend who I’d only met once prior, offered to take me on a bar tour of the city.
We’d wander a short section of New York’s famed Highline, and then stop off for a drink at a local bar.
It was one of the most memorable travel experiences I’d had at the time, as having never been to New York, it was all new and overwhelming.
We went to some of the fanciest places I’d ever been. I mean who had ever in a million years thought a gin and tonic could cost TWENTY SIX DOLLARS?!
(I still remember the first time I spent $10 on a drink in Thailand and it was paaaaaainful.)
Then we’d promptly head to an East Village dive bar for one of the three dollar variety.
Seeing the City through the lens of its bars and cocktails was such an interesting experience for me, and this experience firmly planted a seed in my brain.
Now let’s fast forward 8 years.
I’m on a quest to visit the Top 100 bars in the world, and at 38/100, it’s fair to say I’ve made a significant dent.
But here’s the deal.
While I love a good cocktail, having a “thing” when I travel has been one of the most beneficial decisions I’ve ever made.
When you drop the average person in say a place like London, they head to Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park and so on.
You see cocktail bars are my thing…
In every new city I visit, I do a little research to find the best bars, and then I build my sightseeing itinerary and meetings around that.
In most cases the best bars are often in some of the best parts of the City, so inevitably I end up seeing cool and interesting places.
To take it a step further, when you visit and sit at the bar, you get to talk to the bartender. And I’m not sure there is a better fount of local knowledge than the guy who makes drinks and talks to people for a living.
By making bars my “thing,” and to go even farther, my quest, it’s enhanced the enjoyment of all of my travels.
The more places you visit the more of an expert you become.
The more you know what to look for.
The more you begin to realize the small differences that take something from good to great.
It’s that knowledge that helps make each trip and experience both enjoyable and educational.
The only thing I might change about my “thing” is perhaps choosing something less expensive…
But to be clear, your “thing” can be something totally different and unique to you.
My friend John tries to find the best coffee in every city he visits.
Our right hand woman here at Location Rebel Liz, likes to visit major league ballparks.
And we all know about my fondness for seeking out a good golf course, as well.
But for you, maybe it’s finding the best city or farmers markets…
Whatever your “thing” is back home? Make it your thing when you travel.
Not only will the education you get from the different experiences enhance your enjoyment of that hobby or thing, but it will make your travel experiences much more fulfilling in the process, and hopefully get you a little bit farther off the tourist trail.
Check back tomorrow where I’m going to show you just how much of a nerd I am about my cocktail quest, and I’m going to share with you my absolute favorites in visiting nearly half of the best bars in the world.
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