This is part of a series of interviews with inspiring travelers. Today I’m interviewing Gigi Griffis about her New York City food tour. See more about traveling with tours here. All photos provided by Gigi.
Tell us about yourself and your travel experience.
Hey there! My name is Gigi. I’ve been traveling internationally since I was 14. My first trip was to Australia and the main goal was to see a kangaroo (check). I’ve been hooked ever since, so it makes sense that four years ago (May 2012), I decided to ditch my permanent address and take to the road full-time with my backpack, freelance writing business, and small dog. I’ve been mostly traveling in Europe since then (Belgium, Scotland, Switzerland, Italy, France, Croatia, Slovenia…etc.), but am currently making my way across Canada, starting in super pretty and way underrated Ottawa.
For a living, I write books, blog posts, websites, and magazine articles. And for fun, I’m a reader, hiker, dancer, cook/foodie, and adventurer. I love trying new things, especially when it comes to food or the outdoors.
Where did you go on your tour and how long was it? How many food stops were there?
We spent four days in New York in early June and one of our mornings was devoted to Walks of New York’s Greenwich Village Food Tour, which explores the history (and taste, of course) of Italian-American cuisine in NYC. The tour lasted a little over three hours and made five stops.
What tour company did you use and why?
Why did you choose a food tour instead of traveling independently?
Especially in a place as huge as NYC, it’s really nice to have some guidance in both where to eat and what in the neighborhood is worth seeing. But we definitely did plenty of our own unguided exploring of New York, as well, using my latest travel guide to find out-of-the-way places for northern Thai food and New York pizza and French-Moroccan cuisine.
What did you like about the New York City food tour? What was your favorite part?
The guide was so fun and animated and knowledgeable and the pasta tasting was really wonderful. I don’t think I’ve ever had a lemon pasta before.
What did you learn about New York City from the food tour?
I’m actually pretty well versed in Italian food and where to find it in New York, but you can expect to learn where the good Italian neighborhoods are (hint: not Little Italy), as well as how to buy the best real balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Was there anything you didn’t like about the tour?
I wasn’t in love with the pizza stop, but perhaps because I was expecting a more Italian pizza and this is very much an Italian-American tour, so you do see how food on this side of the ocean departs slightly from the full Italian tradition.
What was your favorite food on the food tour?
The pasta, for sure. We also had some very good cured meats and olive oil.
What inspired you to take this tour or travel to New York City?
We went to New York to eat and explore. It was on our way to Canada and you can’t just pass over NYC, right? So we went. And a food tour just seemed logical, since we love them.
Would you recommend this tour? Would you change anything about it?
Yes, especially if you get to take the tour with the guide who created the itinerary. She’s a blast.
Do you think this tour would be good for a new traveler? Why or why not?
Absolutely. Food tours (and/or quirky city tours, like crime tours or punk rock tours) are a great way to learn something, explore a neighborhood, and eat.
Bio: Gigi Griffis is a world-traveling entrepreneur and writer with a special love for inspiring stories, new places, and living in the moment. In May 2012, she sold her stuff and took to the road with a growing business and a pint-sized pooch. She’s blogs at gigigriffis.com and has authored 10 unconventional travel guides in the last two years. Check them out on Amazon here or through Gigi’s site here.
Gigi received a complementary tour but all opinions are her own.
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