Visit This Unexpected Spot To Learn More About The City You're Visiting

It's wonderful to see famous tourist attractions when visiting a new city in a distant locale. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Duomo in Florence, and the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro are all incredible to behold. However, that isn't the only reason to travel. Part of the joy of visiting a new place is learning about the culture and getting to experience life in a region outside of your own.

Most of us don't have the opportunity to move to a different country, but if you get the chance to visit, there is an excellent way to get a feel for living there. It's not by calling on the local tourist information center or joining a throng of tourists at various attractions in a guidebook. There is an unexpected and rather brilliant hack that can give you a taste of what it's like to reside in a new city. It's a visit to the local grocery store. 

Why a grocery store is a great way to learn about local culture

It's rare to find a town without a grocery store, and a trip inside one can give you a window into what life is like in the city. You'll get a sense of the locals' shopping needs by the size of the food containers and the snacks they indulge in. You can also see the local products on display, which might not be what you expect. 

For example, a trip to a Tuscany grocery store will likely reveal a gorgeous display of local honey and wild boar meat. You can find products like the ice cream treat Viennetta, which never left store shelves in Europe the way it did here in the '90s — it's back, by the way. This hack allows you to try something you might not have noticed if you only order pizza and Caprese salad as you travel through Italy. 

Or, consider the local fruits and berries in Brazil that we rarely see in America, like the cashew fruit or siriguela. It's also going to be less expensive than eating every meal at a restaurant. It doesn't just have to be about food. If you use cosmetics and skincare, it's always fun to see what brands the locals prefer. 

Helpful tips for a foreign grocery store

So, how do you navigate a local grocery store if you don't speak the language well? The Google Translate app is your friend here. While you may be able to ask questions and understand responses about things like meat, cheese, milk, and bread, you may need help purchasing something like, say, a mosquito repellant. The app permits you to type questions in English and offers an immediate translation, allowing you to communicate with shop employees. You can also hold the camera function over text and have it translated before your eyes. Translation apps are not always 100% perfect, but it's accurate enough to be a huge help. 

We suggest taking a day and planning a picnic with items from the local grocery store in a nearby park. Make sure to check local ordinances, especially around drinking alcohol. It's a perfect way to people-watch while enjoying items you might not be used to having. Maybe someone will notice a delicacy on your picnic blanket and initiate a conversation.