Paris, London, New York City – these are some of the major hitters in the travel world. But have you heard of Silverton, Oregon? Douglas, Arizona? Or Cochem, Germany?
It’s easy to focus on the major hubs and forget that some of the best travel happens in small towns. Hidden gems are not just found in the small alleys of big cities and that is why for every two larges cities I visit, I visit one small town in return.
In isolated Douglas, Arizona on the U.S./Mexico border, there is a giant priceless Tiffany stained glass window. I also had some serious breakfast at Mana Bakery, checked out the border, took a nice walk and had some fantastic hospitality along the way. Douglas changed the way I think about my state of Arizona. Visiting a small town can even change how you view an entire country.
Do you really know France if you’ve only been to Paris?
Food has certainly been the reward in taking the lesser path. Less crowds, full bellies and people who bend over-backward to help.
In France, I visited a pizzeria tucked deep into a neighborhood. There wasn’t an English menu but I like a challenge. The owner’s wife was the only server but she spoke a little English. I asked her what’s champignon? She did her best to try and explain, but how can you explain a mushroom with limited English or perfect English for that matter? It’s like trying to describe the concept of paying bills to a toddler. She left my table and came back with a small plate of raw mushrooms so I could understand. Wow, what service!
Compare that to my experience in Paris trying to order a Caesar salad without chicken to a server who spoke second-English well. She was offended to think that their chicken wasn’t good enough, left and did not return. Experiences are isolated but I doubt the chicken story could happen in someplace small like Epernay where Max from Chez Max will become your best friend instantly.
Don’t stop traveling to the mega-cultural centers of the world but make sure to toss-in a small town or two on the way.