The clever social media gurus from Spotted by Locals spotted my tweet requesting off the tourist trail things to do for my quickfire trip to Ljubljana and suggested I download their guide to the city.
Great idea I thought and after sampling the free preview pages I downloaded the app and the Ljubljana guide. Here is my unbiased and unpaid review based on this particular city only (SbL do 66 other cities too).
They advertise their guides at €3.99 or $3.99 each.
This gave cause to my first reason to think ‘mmm’, as I was charged £3.99 for the privelage.
This keeps it simple of course for them, no exchange rate fluctuations to worry about, but for my US friends it costs 20% less.
On this basis I would have preferred 3.99 Turkish Lira as a payment option!
Joking aside, the concept of the guide is great. Written by those in the constant know, it really did provide some great tips and I followed advice for cafes, bars, a slice of Bohemian culture and a great music venue at which I was definitely the only non-local.
This reached a new level when the bass player was presented with a bottle of Jack for his birthday.
After taking a considerable swig from the bottle (at least a quintuple shot!), the rest was poured into shot glasses by the double and handed round to toast the rocker’s anniversary.
Rude not to of course and exactly the type of experience that following SbL can give you if you are fortunate and don’t go armed with expectations.
So far so damned good. The guide provides you with maps that are downloaded through the app so you don’t need wifi access to view.
Find where you want to go, click the map symbol and hey presto the map appears showing you how to get where you want to go. Brilliant! Well ‘quite’ smart actually.
On a smart phone the maps are a tad small and although you can enlarge, it can be difficult to find your way I found. Tablet screen is no problem, but taking an iPad to a rock bar is not the greatest idea.
However, I found this particular version had only a few suggestions for me. I admit that I wasn’t interested in shopping or theatre, but I would’ve liked a bit more on the quirky side of Ljubljana.
The strange statues dotted about, the incredibly creative graffiti (possibly here today gone tomorrow, granted), the fascinating stories behind the bridges etc.
For £4 I expect all the info I need for my 48 hour trip. An intro page about the city should be there and a couple of pages regarding the tourist bits (with a local angle), with perhaps just a walking map showing the route well-travelled.
Side trips nearby too would be great, plus useful tips on taking the the bus from the airport like the locals do. I took a 20 minute local train to Skofja Loka, not a tourist in sight.
I would counter by saying I want a one-stop shop guide majoring on the local angle, but not ignoring the other important information I need to make my trip both smooth and memorable.
In summary and based purely on Ljubljana, great idea, but work in progress in my view. 5.5 out of 10 with much room for improvement.
My advice to SbL is do it quickly before Airbnb eclipse you.