Anna Blackburn discusses often passed over, but no less amazing, places to spend your time.
The world is a wonderfully big place, and while everyone seems to want to go to London, Paris or Rome, there are many little known adventures you should know about. Here are some I have found to come highly recommended:
For all of you history junkies, Brasov, Romania is a great place to start. This particular town was founded in the 13th century and is known for its medieval architecture. At the heart of Brasov is Pia?a Sfatului, a square that was used for public trials during the Middle Ages, and is now home to some unique bars. Second year Bridget Nicholas said of the experience: “Everyone was local and incredibly nice. I was especially impressed by one pharmacy cafe in Brasov called Dr. Jekelius. Their drinks come in all different colours and beaker shaped glasses.” Bridget and her friend also recommend taking a tour out to Bran Castle, better known as Dracula’s Castle. Two other popular attractions are the Black Church, named after it’s fire-scorched gothic walls, and Catherine’s Gate, the last standing original gate into the city. Brasov is the perfect place for a quiet weekend getaway.
Another great place to soak in culture and architecture is Riga, Latvia. As Latvia’s capital, situated on the Baltic Sea, Riga is the centre of much history and commerce. The most historic attraction in Riga is the Zanis Lipke Memorial. It was originally a shelter for Jewish people during the Second World War and is now a museum dedicated to retelling the history of those people. The Apsara Tea House is located right on the City Canal and prides itself on the traditional teas from all over the world. The Kalnciems Fair is the perfect place for traditional food and souvenirs. Open every Saturday, this street market’s theme changes each week and offers a wide variety of crafts, food, drink, and fashion!
Wadi Rum, Jordan
Contrary to the preconceptions of some, Jordan is one of the safest countries in the world. It is even ranked above the United States by World Population Review’s “Safest Countries In The World 2020.” Most people would know Jordan as a destination due to Petra, the “Rose City”, one of the 7 Wonders of the World or the lowest point on earth: the Dead Sea. Tala Sulaiman, a UCD first year who grew up in Jordan, loves Wadi Rum above all else.
This desert is the perfect place for camping under the stars, driving ATVs, sand surfing, hot air balloon or camel rides, traditional food and dances, and exploring. “Wadi Rum literally looks like Mars. With all the exotic things you can do it feels like you’re on another planet.” Wadi Rum was also a filming location for Disney’s live action Aladdin. Tala highly recommends several Arabic dishes including maqluba, a chicken and rice pot flipped and served upside down, and stuffed vine leaves with ground beef, rice, and local spices. She says “Arabics pride themselves on their hospitality, so if you are offered food, you should definitely eat it.”
There are several other things you need to know before planning your trip to Jordan. Firstly, Jordan does not have public transportation and driving is nearly impossible. Tala says not to grab a taxi off the street, and always use Uber or Careem instead to assure your driver is legitimate. The other major thing to consider, regarding both health and safety, is how to dress. Jordan can get extremely hot, which makes most of us want to wear less clothing. It is very dangerous however to be exposed to the sun for long periods of time, and culturally it is not acceptable to show a lot of skin. “Never wear crop tops or shorts, you may sweat a lot but it’s always better to be smart and respectful than comfortable.”
Health and Safety
Travelling to new places can be just as nerve-racking as it is exciting. In general, common sense is your best friend everywhere you go, but it is always a good idea to familiarise yourself with local cultural practices. No matter where you go you should look into visa requirements, vaccination suggestions, and potential tourist traps.