Most folks travel with a few standard guidelines; they don’t want to spend too much money, they want to “see the sights”, and they don’t want to go places that waste their time – like a grocery store. You might say to yourself “why would I want to go to the grocery store, we’ve got one at home?” I tell you this: if you want to put your finger on the pulse of a place, if you want to learn more about the locals, go where they shop. Whenever I travel, I try to hit a supermarket – you can people-watch, look at the kinds of products they choose, and buy some to bring back to your hotel. Heck, you might find one of your favorite products with a whole new label, or printed in another language – some make great gifts or souvenirs. If you’re trying to learn the language or just want to brush up a bit, the grocery store is as good a place as any, although don’t try to have a long conversation with a cashier when there’s a big line behind you. One other benefit to visiting the grocery store – the prices are almost always cheaper than the myriad of retailers who sell primarily to tourists, not to mention the hotel minibar (heck, anything’s cheaper than the minibar).
In some places, supermarkets will sell some of the same t-shirts and hats that souvenir retailers sell but at better prices. If you’re travelling in Europe, chances are you’ll grow tired of all the crowds who are all there to “see the sights”, at that point, a trip to the grocery store may be a welcome diversion.
Two months after you’ve returned home, you’ll brush your teeth in the morning, notice that the toothpaste label is in Italian, and smile as you remember your trip, and your visit to the grocery store.
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