The Tao of Avoiding Museums in Your Travels
Everywhere you go there are loads of museums, and usually they are on the top of any must-visit list. Europe especially is full of them. So, as a laborious tourist, you compulsively visit all of them and leave very tired, slightly disoriented and quite unsatisfied. Sounds like you? Then I get your pain! Museums are not for everybody and that’s ok. In the end, you don’t expect everybody to enjoy the same movie or a meal, right? And museums can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re not really into art and don’t have much time for a comprehensive tour. They charge you anything between, say, 8 and 30 euros per entrance and in return you don’t even get a drink!
Now, this previous passage in no way means that you shouldn’t visit museums at all. If you know that there are your favorite painter’s works or an interesting exhibition or it’s raining outside, museums can be great! I’m just suggesting that you don’t feel OBLIGED to visit them if you rather would not. And here are some suggestions how to spend time much more excitingly than randomly strolling through yet another world-class picture gallery.
It’s party time!
There is no better way to discover a country’s cultural landscape than participating in some of the local festivals. Carnivals, fiestas, wine pickings, dancing marathons, music or theater festivals, parades – there’s no end to the different varieties of events you can become part of! There are more and more people who make festival traveling their special hobby. For these travelers, for example, visiting Rio doesn’t count unless it’s carnival time! Now, it’s not always possible to plan your trip around the festivities, but be sure to look if something is happening there at the time you’re visiting the place and check if you need to book tickets in advance. You don’t want to be stuck in a dusty museum when beach fireworks are happening nearby.
Bonus points: you get to hang out with the locals and see how they really have fun.
Make it gastro!
It’s not a secret that food, drinks, and other consumable stuff are a very important part of every country’s culture. Would you enjoy tiring your legs in Louvre for a whole day more than stretching them out in a small Montmartre café sipping rich red wine? Isn’t drinking Czech beer a better way to get to know the country than crowding in Prague souvenir shops? And don’t even get me started on Italy! Yes, southern Renaissance is cool, without any doubt. But if it makes you miss even one of the heavenly Italian foods, skip Rafael, I promise he wouldn’t mind! :)
Bonus points: after tasting everything you’ll always know what to bring back as a souvenir. Believe me, local cheese or spirit is a much better present than yet another magnet!
For the child inside you
Don’t forget to check the children-friendly section in your guide. There’s a lot of exciting stuff there! Fun parks, zoos, aquariums, technical and natural history museums… and it’s just scratching the surface! You get action, adrenaline and also learn something new. A lot of newer museums are highly interactive and engaging. I bet you wouldn’t say “no” to modeling your own satellite launch or looking at your brain waves. Don’t be afraid to look out of place in a crowd of children – there are actually a lot of adults there, enjoying themselves as much or even more than the kids.
Bonus points: you get them if you assemble this dinosaur’s skeleton correctly!
Get more specific
Instead of going to a gallery, choose a museum dedicated to one object or a thematic exhibition. While museums usually leave you to find your own way amongst hundreds of art pieces of which you know only the name, exhibitions get more to the point and tell you a story instead. It can be a story of an artist, or of an artistic movement, or of one event in history. Anyway, it allows you to get into the subject even if you haven’t heard anything about it before.
Bonus points: telling your friends that you’ve been to an exhibition actually sounds much cooler than just saying that you’ve been to a museum.
Nature has a potential to be much more compelling than any painting. If the weather is good, don’t lock yourself in the dark halls of a gallery. Instead, check out one of the parks or natural reservations around. Breathing in the crispy mountain air or listening to the relaxing sound of a waterfall you’ll get inspired more surely than when seeing them on a picture.
Bonus points: you can legitimately skip the gym afterward because hiking is also a good cardio!
As you can see, there’s nothing wrong in allowing yourself to skip the obligatory “cultural program” completely and organizing one of your own around things that interest you and will make the trip unique and unforgettable. You can visit a festival, try some new foods or learn something new – the possibilities are countless!