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Dec 31

The Stories You Read on Grantourismo in 2012

Moroccan Lamb Tagine.

A new year means new starts and time to consider the year that’s passed and plan for the one that lies ahead. Many of us go through a process of looking back and reflecting upon what went well and what didn’t go so great, so we can do things differently next time. We all do it, with our personal lives, our jobs, even our blogs. As part of that process we’ve looked at the top 25 posts you read on Grantourismo in 2012 to see where you spent your time when you visited. As we found it fascinating we thought we’d share the list with you…

1. The Dish: Recipes For Quintessential Dishes Of Places
Given that the subject we blog most frequently about is food, it’s no surprise that the top two Grantourismo stories were two recipe posts from our series The Dish, where Terence writes about his quest to identify, understand, and learn to cook the quintessential dishes of places we travel – which, incidentally, developed into a book project we’re working on. The two most popular posts – on Côte de Bœuf and Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds (featured above), respectively – are read on a daily basis, but we notice a big spike in traffic during winter when readers are obviously looking for warming, hearty dishes to make.

2. Getting Your Kicks At the Moulin Rouge, Paris
Our stories on Paris remain popular but none more inexplicably so than Getting Your Kicks at the Moulin Rouge, my critical review of the perennially popular Paris can-can show, one of the city’s major tourist attractions. It’s not the sort of thing we’d usually do when we travel, let alone write about, however, the long lines outside the Moulin Rouge every day intrigued us when we were staying in an apartment up the hill in Montmartre. What was all the fuss about we’d wonder, so before we left Paris we went to find out. Our verdict? You’ll have to read the post to find out.

3. Eating Out in Bangkok: Bangkok’s Best Restaurants
We spend so much time in Bangkok, it’s virtually our second home – and our Bangkok stories, especially our guides, get considerable traffic. But this post on Bangkok’s Best Restaurants is our fourth most read story. We take our food seriously and have spent a lot of time eating our way through the city and interviewing chefs for magazine stories, so we don’t put lists or guides together lightly. The Bangkok dining scene is continually changing and hundreds of new restaurants have opened since this post, but these remain some of the city’s best restaurants. Our only addition would be Ian Kittichai’s Issaya Siamese Club, which we’ll add soon.

4. An Afternoon in Kotor Montenegro and Other Time-Lapses
Once upon a time we were filmmakers, spent years studying film, and I also taught film. So why don’t we make travel videos? Partly because the more you know the more you realise you don’t know, which makes you incredibly critical of yourself, which means we can’t embark on projects unless we do them properly. It also makes us incredibly critical of others and travel videos generally. Sadly, as video became more accessible, the quality of videos deteriorated drastically; too many people picked up cameras without first learning what to do with them. We will make films again one day, but for now I’m content enjoying the beautiful little time-lapses Terence occasionally does – partly because it’s lovely to hear him making music again. If you liked the Montenegro time-lapse, you might like these videos on Vimeo from Sydney, Melbourne, Venice, Bali, Cape Town, Dubai, and Mexico. There’s also a quick cooking lesson on how to make Huevos Rancheros there.

5. Our Grantourismo Projects
It’s nice to know visitors to the blog continue to be curious about what Grantourismo is about and our Projects page is really our About page. It expanded beyond the first year-long 2010 Grand Tour project we did with HomeAwayUK to include many other Grantourismo projects we’ve worked on since, with everyone from Relais & Chateaux and Air New Zealand to Destination NSW and Selangor Tourism. Many of those posts don’t yet appear on the blog – some projects were more focused on Twitter, while others also involved print – but we’ll be posting stories from the projects in weeks to come. We’ve been terribly slow to upload posts over the last year as other writing has kept us busy.

6. More Bangkok Stories and City Guides
A handful of Bangkok stories proved popular with you, including guide-style posts on Talad Rot Fai, Bangkok’s Weekend Train Market, Bangkok’s Best Live Music Venues, Recipes for the Best Asian Inspired Cocktails in Bangkok, and Bangkok’s Best Boutiques, along with the Bangkok archive itself. Other posts high on the list were a guide to Traditional Vietnamese Iced Coffee and Saigon’s Best Cafés and another on Our Street Oderbergerstase in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin. We’re glad you like these guide-style posts. They’re mostly borne from our own frustration with not finding information we wish we had when we arrived in a place. We’re going to bring you more Grantourismo guides this year.

7. Travel Itineraries
Our next most-read stories are itinerary-driven posts, including one on Shopping the Gorgeous Stores of Siem Reap and another on a Bar Hop Through Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin. We often create itineraries for the same reasons we create guides. We like to take our time discovering places and we know most people do, but not everyone – ourselves included – always has the luxury of being able to travel slowly all the time. Sometimes you might only have a few days, with little time to waste. It’s probably the guidebook authors coming out in us, wanting to make your travel lives easier. We hate it ourselves when we’re working in a city and we end up bouncing all over town, sometimes ending up in the same spot we started out at early in the day. And I don’t mean our hotel.

8. Understanding Venice and Other Long Reads
At first I was surprised to see the post Understanding Venice, the City Built On Water, about a tour we did aboard a traditional Venetian skiff with a marine scientist, so high on the list of high-traffic posts. It’s a long read at 1,500 words and we have a lot more posts like that edging close to 2,000 words. But then we know our readers spend an average of 16 minutes on Grantourismo so unless you’re scrolling through Terence’s stunning photos or watching our time-lapse videos, you must be reading something, right? Hopefully you’re doing a combination of all of those things. We have a lot of long reads on the site, from travel narratives from our journeys, such as this piece on the Trulli of Alberobello to in-depth reviews of experiences like that Venice piece. You also seem to be liking posts like this one on Spontaneity in Travel, which is part travel narrative, part reflection, and part travel advice post.

9. More Food Stories, from Market Guides to Cooking Schools
Food, we just can’t get enough of it, can we? There were more food-related stories on our top 25 list. Everybody loves exploring markets when they travel, and a market tour with a local chef or foodie is high on our list of priorities when we arrive in a new place. It’s as much about getting insights into the local food culture, cuisine and everyday life, as it is about finding out from the experts where we should buy the best produce when we do our own shopping. It looks like it’s a high priority for you too, as our guides to markets in cities were popular, like these on the Best of Buenos Aires Markets and this one on Mexico City’s Markets. You also liked our Price Check round up on What Things Cost Around The World based on our own shopping dockets, while Terence’s Paris Cooking Class: Mastering the Macaron post and other cooking school reviews are all popular.

10. Living Like Locals and our Home Away from Home Reviews
We began Grantourismo three years ago because we wanted to encourage more people to travel as we had been – slowly, settling in for a while, and staying in holiday rentals – and to inspire you to learn to live like locals when you travel, to shop the markets, learn to cook a local dish, learn some of the language, to do local things, from kicking back in parks to getting along to local sports matches, and to give back when you can. Because that was the kind of travel we loved most, and still do. So we’re pleased to see you clicking on our ‘living like locals’ and consulting The Digs, the place where we keep Our Home Away From Home reviews. This review of a villa in Sardinia is in the top 25 most visited posts list. We also like to see you consulting posts like these Tips to Renting A Holiday Villa, How to Avoid Holiday Rental Scams, Tips to Saving Money When Self Catering, Tips to Renting Holiday Apartments, and With Holiday Rentals, It’s the Little Things That Make a Difference, as well as reading our Local Knowledge interviews with locals.

Other posts that were popular that didn’t make the top 25 list? Our series of stories from Sydney and Melbourne; our other Asian posts, particularly those from Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Saigon, and Luang Prabang; and more reflective essayistic stories like these on Luxury Travel, Sustainable Travel and Responsible Tourism and At Home Anywhere And Having a Sense of Belonging Everywhere.

We’d love to know what you think of the most-read stories, what posts you enjoyed or found useful, and what you’d like to see more of on Grantourismo in 2013.

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