When it comes to travel, I was always taught never follow the tourists, instead go the other way, (usually down a path that had not been created yet, often covered in thorns), and as my mum always said “The road less travelled.” At first I found it annoying when we would do this, but now I fully appreciate why my parents pursued their adventurous endeavours, because you simply get to experience what the place is actually like, and not from a tourist perspective. I think that’s what travel should be all about, to discover what’s actually out there, and what the locals know as everyday life.
Back in 2017, I travelled solo around Europe for 9 weeks as part of my Gap Year, these were my favourite places along the way that I hadn’t planned on seeing because, to be honest, I hadn’t heard anything about them (apart from Malta which I thought was a tiny island with a population of approx. 100 people). – yay for Australian geography schooling! SO here we go, my favourite unusual travel destinations that were amazing to see.
2. Granada, Spain
First of all, Granada is amazing because it translates to pomegrante, say no more! Who couldn’t love a town named after an exotic fruit! The reason for the name? Pomegrante trees grow here, what an easy way to name a town!
I came across Granada after my host family (who live near Alicante) suggested I go there. Being the naive backpacker I was, I had no plans as to where I was headed, because I was going to count on hostels telling me the best places to visit. I’m sure many of you who are experienced travellers, would be straining to understand why I hadn’t heard of this place or dreamed to go there, because of the fact that it is home to Alhambra, a massive palace of Arabic royal descent. This place is seriously breathtaking, being a palace it has many rooms, and each room’s walls are lined with intricate mosaic tiling. There are also numerous gardens all around, kind of like a botanical garden, plus extra buildings with even more beautiful designs throughout. To check it out in more detail, click here!
In regards to the rest of Granada, the town is full of yet more winding roads (I know, so different from the rest of Europe!), but many are also quite steep with steps, which makes it more of an adventure and therefore, you can get to more vantage points for a good view of the city. (The most popular vantage point is the photo above, as it looks directly across at the Alhambra) Overall, I loved the place a great deal more than what I had imagined.
3. Valletta, Malta
Many of you have either visited or want to visit Sicily, but how many of you have thought about Malta? I certainly hadn’t. It was only when I had wanted to visit my mum’s cousin in Belgium, that we found out they had moved to Malta. To me, I always thought it was a tiny island with not many people at all, well was I wrong! Valletta is the captial, and close by is Kalkara, Birgu, Senglea. It’s funny, because they are all cities, however, to me it feels more like a suburb situation with a huge marina bay in the middle. You can be walking in say Kalkara, and next thing, you step into Birgu without realising it. In regards to the look of these four cities, imagine the whole area being a massive fancy looking harbour (illustrated below). I also love malta’s history, the place has been taken over so many times, it was hard to keep up. On my first day there we went to The Malta Experience (cringy name, yes I know), which I highly recommend, as it is easy to understand and very informative, and is a great introduction for people who know little about the country.
5. Córdoba, Spain
This was a place I had heard nothing about either (a reoccurring theme here…) and when I read up about it I didn’t find very interesting posts. I’m not really sure why I went here to be honest. So it was a surprise to find another beautiful town full of twisty roads that you could safely walk along because cars couldn’t fit down most of them. In terms of a bird-eye-view, the city is divided into two areas, think of a circle inside a circle. The centre circle is enclosed with a fortress type wall as it is the original old city. This is where I spent all my time, as you can probably guess, I love towns with pebble roads and crumbling walls fully of history. My favourite place to visit was the Mosque-Cathedral, which you can read more about here. In short, it’s a cathedral inside of a Mosque, and the best part is they are both still being used by Catholics and Muslims. The inside is amazing, with double arches from one end to the other, it kind of feels like you’ve stepped into a mirror maze, and then a huge two-story organ right in the centre that looks way out of place. I was also lucky enough to catch the FLORA flower festival, which meant I had a lovely day of finding beautiful floral displays all throughout the town.
4. Český Krumlov, Czech Republic
Let’s switch over to Eastern Europe and finish with my favourite. Český Krumlov is beautiful,and I really can’t describe how cute it is! I can see this place being a magnet for tourists in Summer, so I was glad to discover it in Winter when it felt as though it was just the locals and myself. The town is quite buzzing for it’s size though, as it’s filled with many little shops, selling handmade gifts, from glassware to the paintings below. There was also a free, very in-depth, tour that you could take every morning. It would start in the central square and finish up at the castle on the hill. The castle was also very cool, with one strange aspect, all the wall detailing that looked structual was actually painted on!
Thanks for reading! 🙂 In the coming days I hope to set up an emailing list so I can notify you of when I put up a post, and start getting to know all of you (if I don’t already), and what your interest are. That’s all for now.
Cheers, Moi x
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