In Brazil I have had the opportunity to visit one of my grad school friends in her home town of Belo Horizonte. Besides this area having some of the best views I have seen in a really long time and some of the best food, I also was able to connect with my friend and talk as well as hang out as if the 10 years between grad school and now had never passed. That was amazing.
Having a local take you around their home territory is so much better than trying to do this yourself because they will tell you just the information you need to know about the places you visit vs. the long winded speeches tour guides tend to give. Also, they know all the good places to eat. They tend to like taking guests around too because it allows them to be tourists in their home city and see things they haven't seen before or never take the time to see.
Additionally, for me, it helped me in the process of learning Brazilian Portuguese because even though my friend is fluent in English her family didn't all speak fluent English. So while I can't speak Portuguese very well it helped with my listening comprehension and we had great conversations about different translations of words, family issues, what the U.S. and Brazil were like and more.
Finally, one of the best parts is the home cooked meals. I haven't eaten so much food in one weekend in a long time and all of it was good. Most of it was local dishes and delicious fruit too. Those who know me will know I am a sucker for anyone who is willing to cook me a home cooked meal so I was right at home.
In the end it is simply great to see people you know and have an insider experience in a new place. Plus have the ability to catch up with an old friend in person.
I highly recommend this.
Have you done this before? What has been your experience?