Thursday, April 11, 2019

Tourism Gets a Case of Middle Child Syndrome

Introducing “The Middle Child Travel Guide.”

The Spring/Summer travel season is here, and millions of eager explorers are ready to schlep their Samsonites to every corner of the globe. (Can globes even have corners?) If Conde Naste Traveler’s list of “The 10 Most Popular Cities of 2018” is any indication, most of these spirited sightseers will hardly be taking the road less traveled. Perennial favorites London, Paris, and New York City are once again among the top tourist targets. Slightly more valiant voyagers will lug luggage to Bangkok, Dubai or maybe Singapore. Oh, sure -- the favorites get all the attention. Every year it’s, “London, London, London!” “Oooh, Paris is so pretty in the spring!!” Meanwhile, dozens of deserving destinations go unnoticed. Cast aside, like Fodor’s forgotten Middle Child.
     Thanks to “The Middle Child Travel Guide,” now these overlooked options will get the attention they desperately deserve. Imagine Smack Dab travel experts all around the world bringing you the scoop on the best of the next best places to visit. Of course, you’ll have to imagine, because no way do I have that kind of budget! Instead, I will travel the internet and compile reports from people who have actually been there. And since even those destinations everyone knows and loves have sights that go unnoticed, I’ll make sure they get a chance to bask in the limelight, too.
     Of course, your input will help make “The Middle Child Travel Guide” even better. If you know of any destinations that are sorely in need of more tourist love, or if you know of sights that don’t get seen enough, let me know and I’ll make sure to include them in a future post. (E-mail me at, or comment below.) For now, we’ll start with a destination in France that’s not Paris. Incroyable!
Lyon: France's Enfant du Milieu
     Middle Children know what it’s like always being compared to a more beloved sibling. So how can France’s third largest city compete with the home to three of the top ten most popular tourist attractions in the world according to TripAdvisor? Well, while the Eiffel Tower casts a looooong shadow, Lyon is no slouch when it comes to memorable monuments. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with more than 160 buildings classified as Historic Monuments, including its very own (and less crowded) Notre Dame -- which according to Anthony Bourdain “is simply a more beautiful church.”
It's All a Facade: those buildings aren't real. It's a mural!
     Paris may have some of the greatest museums in the world, but in Lyon you don’t have to even enter a building to see amazing artwork -- it’s actually on the building. CitéCréation has more than 150 trompe-l’oeil murals on buildings all around town. Paris has none. The Seine is a lovely river, but Lyon has two -- the Rhône and the Saône. That also means Lyon has twice as many Left Banks and Right Banks. But who’s counting?
     Lyon also has their own unique version of a bistro. They’re called bouchons. In all of France there are only about 20 officially certified bouchons -- all in Lyon. And speaking of food, Lyon is the home of the late Paul Bocuse, a.k.a. “The Pope of French Cuisine.” In fact, many call Lyon “The Culinary Capital of France.” It’s certainly worth finding out if they’re right.
     Paris does kick Lyon’s ass when it comes to crowds. It’s one of the most crowded cities in the world. Lyon, on the other hand, is five times smaller than Paris and much less crowded. Oh, and it’s less expensive. Of course, you don’t have to choose between the two. Lyon is under 5 hours from Paris by car, around 2 hours by train, or you can catch a non-stop flight and be there in less than an hour.
     For even more reasons why Lyon deserves your attention, check out these links:

And here’s a link to the Lyon tourism site.

DISCLAIMER: “The Middle Child Travel Guide” isn’t a REAL book. I created that cover,
but the background image is a planner available from Chronicle Books.

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