provides locals'-eye view beyond the guidebook

Ever wish you knew a local who could offer advice before your European trip? has handpicked bloggers on the ground in 20 cities updating its city blogs with their favorite spots around town.

What's hot: I liked the concept of this site and thought I'd test it on Amsterdam, a city I've been to and plan to visit again soon. When I got to the Amsterdam blog, I found five locals (three women and two men) who were the "spotters." The posts were categorized by parts of town -- such as canals or old center -- and by activities, in case users want to look only for bars or shopping or other activities. The first-person posts have a personal, trustworthy feel. When I looked up "coffee and tea," Patty told me about her favorite terrace in town, offered seasonal advice and even told me to stick to beverages rather than ordering sandwiches. The posts are connected to area maps, so when I clicked on the link that expanded the post, a Google map popped up with details that included hours, cost guidelines and a direct link to a website if there was one. I surfed a handful of the other cities and found inspiring hot spots for future travel. The photos alone will draw you in.

What's not: Despite the introduction to the writers, I wanted to be introduced to the city. After seeing the writers, you next see the most recent blog post. If you've never been to a city or you're just doing research for future travel, an overview with notes about what a traveler can expect and descriptions of various neighborhoods would help.

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