France Paris Sydney Travel

Three Best Kept Travel Secrets

Akila from The Road Forks has asked me to contribute my three best kept travel secrets, a request started by Katie of Tripbase which has spread around the travel website scene faster than you can say cooee.

With globalisation, mass media in all its forms and more people spreading their wings than ever before, I don’t believe that secret travel places exist. Therefore my list includes personal travel ‘secrets’ which have given me many joys during my sojourns abroad.

1. Leave the Guide Book Behind
Do your research, plan your trip well but leave your travel books behind. Every time I see a traveller visit a landmark or a museum, open guide book in hand, I cringe at the thought of what they are missing.

On a recent visit to the Musée de Cluny in Paris, where medieval tapestries are beautifully displayed in a dimmed gallery, and a stunning display of ancient stained glass windows fills a darkened room, a tourist walked around carrying a guide book, reading every passage aloud to her friend. When I visit a site, I want to be immersed in the experience. I like to go with the flow of emotions that are stirred within me when I see something new or re-visit a place I’ve enjoyed in the past. I like to observe, touch (where possible) and feel. I don’t need to be lead on situ by published text. By leaving the guide book behind, I can make it a truly unique and personal experience.

Musee de Cluny Paris

Musée de Cluny, Paris

2. Eavesdrop on the Next Table
As a travel foodie who engages in research for interesting places to eat, I often keep my ears pinned to conversations in restaurants and cafés. Many a time I have listened to waiters describing a dish or recommending a regional speciality to local diners which resulted in new discoveries.

Recently, when dining at the famed Le Jules Verne at the top of the Eiffel Tower, the couple sitting at the next table asked the sommelier for recommendations on where to eat in Rome. Being a native of the city, he was more than willing to impart with the information. Unfortunately he spoke too softly for me to understand him or I would have shared this little secret here.

Le Grand Café des Capucines, Paris

Le Grand Café des Capucines, Paris

3. There’s More to Sydney than the Harbour Bridge and Bondi Beach
Let’s face it, to the world, Sydney is a remote place to visit. It can take up to 24 hours to reach it from certain destinations which makes it a low priority city on travel itineraries. Many tourists visit the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and may even catch a bus out to Bondi Beach. Venturing a little out of the touristy sights can reap rewards while offering a different point of view.

Take a ferry out to Watson’s Bay for another view of the harbour where you can enjoy a drink or eat fish and chips by the water as you watch ferries glide. If you’re a foodie or if you enjoy fresh seafood, visit the Sydney Fish Markets and have a takeaway lunch. Try alternatives to the iconic Bondi Beach which has become overly touristic that you can’t spot the locals at times. On the Eastern side, there’s Bronte Beach spilling with cafés, Tamarama Beach for stunning views of the fickle surf or Coogee Beach with its serene promenade at sunset. On the Northern side, catch an express bus all the way to Palm Beach and marvel at the many northern beaches as the bus meanders past many stretches of sand such as Curl Curl Beach and Bungan Beach.

Coogee Beach Sydney

Coogee Beach, Sydney, Australia

This ‘secret’ need not just apply to Sydney. On my last trip to Paris, I visited the Institut du Monde Arabe and took the lift to the top floor for view over Paris I had not seen before. Whatever the destination, taking an alternative road at times has given me a more personalised and richer perspective on the travel experience.

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Update January 2013 – Gourmantic & Best Kept Travel Secrets Campaign Bring Fresh Water to Ethiopian Village


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.


  • Gosh, I love your blog. I love staring at your travel photos and wishing myself away on holiday.
    Thanks for the tag! I’d love to contribute to the travel secrets series! Ooh – so many options! What to pick?

    • Forager: Thank you for the kind words 🙂 Although I returned from a trip last month, I’m still dreaming of another holiday!
      I look forward to reading your travel secrets. Just go with your mood at the time…

  • Great travel secrets, Gourmantic.  I totally agree about eavesdropping at the next table – if someone near us starts talking about food, we literally drop our conversation mid-sentence and start listening to them.  And, I am totally with you on all there is to see in Sydney.  It’s a great, great city.  🙂

    • Akila: I find most people don’t mind and have had it happen to me, sometimes it’s a nice conversation starter about food. Glad you enjoyed Sydney. Pity my schedule was hectic at the time or I would have liked to meet you and Patrick 🙂

  • Here are my top 3:

    1. Only eat the native cuisine, that is in Italy you must eat Italian, in France only French cuisine
    2.  Get yourself lost on purpose.  Just think of Venice and how much fun it is to navigate your way away from the masses or finding the covered walkways of Passages Guiffroy in Paris

    3. Be first person there at the morning markets, you will see it all and more.  Nothing connects more with my soul than the markets, give you a feeling of the ‘real’ country not the one you read about in guide books

      • Jonathan: Hi and welcome. In that case, you might like some of my future articles (with photographs) about local markets in my travel. I hope you’ll be back 🙂

    • Frank: These are good travel secrets, thanks for sharing them.
      1. I abide by no 1 when travelling, unless one is in countries like England (not a fan of traditional English food) or Australia, which is a melting pot of cuisines.
      2. Ah yes… sadly the notion of ‘getting yourself lost in Venice away from the masses’ is a lost myth. I have much more to say about in in a future article.
      3. Agree, there’s a certain buzz I get from seeing local produce on display and watching the locals shop for the best in season.

  • I can’t remember the last time I used a guide book, I prefer the process of discovering on my own with some tips from friends and locals…and eavesdropping is a great way to find out what to do in town. Or hear some good gossip, either way, doesn’t hurt to listen in 😉

    • Anil: Eavesdropping is great, particularly when you speak a few languages and can hone in on different conversations, all the while they think you’re just a foreigner! 😉

  • great post…
    i tried this when i went to china,Leave the Guide Book Behind”

    i didn’t use any guidebooks but i still did some research, it made the trip more challenging and fun…