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From the Mods: What To See and Do In My Town (International Edition)

We recently asked our Mods to introduce us to their home towns, and presented a great roundup of responses from colleagues across the United States. Now we’re focusing our attention on our global network of Mods, who live and work in more than 50 countries worldwide! We’ve asked our Mods in countries far and wide what visitors typically do when they visit — and what they really should be doing. Move over, Rick Steves… there’s a new group of travel guides in town.

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

What people typically do: Honeymoon, go to the casino, and see the Falls.
What they should do: Check out the Butterfly Conservatory, the Botanical Gardens, and hike the Gorge. We have some stunning scenery in my city. The Butterfly Conservatory features butterflies from around the world that fly loose in a contained area; they might even land on you! The Botanical Gardens are maintained by horticultural students and are beautiful. The Gorge (or the Escarpment) has trails that run right to the Whirlpool Rapids, where you can stand near — and feel the power of — the Niagara River.

—Natalie Klein

Vienna, Austria

What people typically do: Most of the tourists in Vienna visit such old (and pompous) buildings as Schönbrunn Palace, the Austrian Parliament Building, St. Stephan’s Cathedral, or the Belvedere. The number of tourist attractions is incredibly long and you can shoot thousands of photos in just a few hours.
What they should do: There’s nothing wrong with seeing those sights, but if you want to a enjoy a little Viennese flair, you can’t do better than to sit in a café. I’m not talking about Starbucks or one of its imitators, but a real Viennese coffeeshop — a café. There you can sit for hours sipping a cup of joe, soaking up the atmosphere, eavesdropping (if your timing is right) on locally composed piano music, reading the paper (you’ll probably find The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today among the free choices), chatting up the other guests (lots of Viennese speak surprisingly good English), or simply indulging in people-watching. It’s a brief Viennese-style diversion from hectic city life. Afterwards, have a typically Austrian confection like a Sachertorte or a slice of Esterházy torte. If you still want to play tourist, you can end your day with a ride on the giant observation wheel, a Viennese landmark that’s quite involving.

—Yvonne Z.

Berlin, Germany

What people typically do: People who’ve never visited Berlin before generally spend a great deal of time visiting the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie, and various other sites in a city many tourists know from James Bond and Jason Bourne movies.
What they should do: Forget the tedious monologues of an army of Teutonic guides and the stress of surviving the U-Bahn whilst simultaneously avoiding the pickpockets. Visit the Computerspielemuseum (the Museum of Computer Games)! This was the first permanent exhibition in the world dedicated to video games. It first opened its doors in 1997 and was an immediate success. With more than 300 interactive exhibits, the museum covers all facets of gaming from Pong, Dungeons & Dragons, and the Atari to today’s latest hits, pleasing old-timers and newbies alike. The bravest visitors can even play a game on the notorious PainStation, where the loser receives mild electric shocks. Come one, come all to the Computerspielemuseum! The double-decker tourist buses can wait until your next visit.

—Nils Sturman

Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

What people typically do: Visit the Playdium arcade and the Port Credit pier and marina, where there are a lot of nice places to shop and eat. People also take in our large parks and conservation areas.
What they should do: Scoot over to Toronto to visit the CN Tower, or take a 45 minute drive to Niagara Falls. While I love my city, we are central to a lot of great vacation attractions.

—Sheila Lewis

Nancy, France

What people typically do: Most of the time, tourists are coming to the city to see Place Stanislas (Stanislas Square). Without a doubt, it’s a very nice place to visit — this UNESCO World Heritage site dates from the 17th century. There are two other squares in the same quarter and from the same century, Carriere Square and Alliance Square, that tourists often take in.
What they should do: You can find gated medieval streets and old houses from the 14th century just behind Stanislas Square. If you pay attention, you’ll spot nice details all around the old town. Nancy is also known for its artistic movement, referred to as Art Nouveau and Art Déco; if you like this style of art, don’t miss the Ecole de Nancy Museum. If nature is your passion, check out the monkey and ponies at Pépinière Park or visit the botanical garden, even if it’s a little outside the town center.

—Charlotte Benoit

Gatineau, Ontario, Canada

What people typically do: Visit Parliament Hill (in Ottawa, right across the river).
What they should do: Visit Gatineau Park. Just minutes from downtown Ottawa, this slice of wilderness is virtually untouched, other than its network of walking, jogging, riding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing trails.

—Marcel Beaudoin

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Talk Back

Posted on May 19, 2016

Great advice! I’m bookmarking for future reference. 🙂

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