(For English version scroll down a bit) “Sawadee kap”, Thong…
When traveling which experiences are the most memorable? Probably most people will highlight those experiences when they met a local and got the chance to get to know the country ‚off-the-beaten-track‘ through them.
The truth is reading a guide book will only take you so far. With locals you can really experience a country and uncover its hidden secrets.
While backpacking through Asia two travelers made the experience that instead of dining in a fancy restaurant they enjoyed a dinner they had at a local house sharing stories and learning about the culture way more. They also realized that a lot of great local tour guides throughout Asia struggle to make a living since the travel agent gets most of the profits.
An idea was born: why not open a platform where locals can offer travelers a unique experience like a home cooked meal, a tour of their city or teaching traditional skills. It would connect people from all over the world and helping locals in Asia creating a sustainable income while enabling everybody to experience something truly special and unforgettable.
Out of this idea Withlocals was born. On the site travelers can book dinners, activities or tours with locals for a fair price. It is not only available in a lot of parts of Asia like Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Asia but also starts to expand in Europe. Some great experiences can be booked in the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Italy and Spain.
Think about dinner on a houseboat in Amsterdam, a Bavarian breakfast with sausages and beer in Munich, a tour of the hidden spots in Lisbon or learning the secrets of Italian cuisine from a nonna– an Italian grandma.
When we were visiting Amsterdam in January the Amsterdam Light Festival was taken place that time.
A winter festival of light, art and water in the historical city of Amsterdam. With the help of contemporary (inter)national light artist Amsterdam is transformed every year into a true city of light. For 55 days from 28th November till 17th January this year you were able to see sculptures, light installations and projections throughout the whole city.
This can be explored either on a walking route or by water. However the Water Colors route offers a really unique way of the city from the perspective of Amsterdam’s famous waterways.
We decided for a boat tour but instead of the bigger tourist boats, we were looking for a more cozy and private experience. On withLocals we found a host who was offering exactly that. Chris usually takes visitors on tours along the canals of Amsterdam in his small boat in the spring and summer months. However he gets his boat out again when the Light Festival takes place.
Over withlocals.com we booked the experiences and got in touch with him. We arranged a time for the tour and could even choose where we wanted to be picked up and dropped off later.
In the evening met him at the Hermitage Museum by the canal. He was waving when he saw us and came towards us with his small boat that was decorated with some lanterns.
It would probably fit around 10 people but that evening in was just me and my three fiends and our host Chris.
Chris gave us a small introductions and told us the rules on board: ‚The rules are, that there are no rules.‘ He had some blankets ready for us to keep us warm and even brought soft drinks and beers for us to enjoy during the tour.
We drove from the Herengracht to the Osterdok to the Amstel river admiring this spectacle of light. I especially loved the art work by French artist Géraud Périole who hung up all those chandeliers above Herengracht creating the image of a ballroom.
While we were driving along the canals we were chatting to Chris about this and that and whenever we came past an artwork he pointed it out to us and gave us some facts about the piece and about his city. Definitely save the date for Amsterdam Light Festival 2016/2017.
We shared the beers and some laughter and in the end we spent over 2,5 hours driving along the canals, the original tour was supposed to take 1,5 hours but we had such a good time together that we completely forgot to look at the time. We would have probably cruised around even longer but it was simply too cold that evening.
We said goodbye to Chris who gave us his number. ‚Next time when you are in Amsterdam give me a call, you get the drinks and I will drive you around in my boat again.’
We not only had a lovely evening but even made a new friend in Amsterdam.
Find our more on: https://www.withlocals.com
Chris also offers sightseeing tours on his boat throughout the entire year: https://www.withlocals.com/experience/theme-canal-cruise-on-private-tour-boat-40e17eb2/
To experience Germany in a local way check: www.withlocals.com/locations/