It’s been a month of travel for me: a short weekend break to Stockholm, Sweden with my husband followed by a trip to London on my own and then another business trip to the South of France last week. It sounds great but honestly I just feel exhausted now. Not because of all the travelling I did but because of all the work that I’ve been doing lately. And I still haven’t written much about my travels (especially about Stockholm). So, when I saw the new topic for June’s Travel Link Up I didn’t really know whether I’ll have the time or the energy to write anything but since I really like the topic I decided to give it a try.
What makes a place unexpected? Our expectations, scenery, people or something else; it’s hard to say really. I rarely go somewhere without the exhaustive preparations which include hours spent online (and offline:guidebooks) reading about the sights/landmarks/interesting things to do and to see in a city/country. But sometimes I don’t have enough time to do my usual travel preparations or I just book something almost on a whim and decide not to explore the place too much before the actual trip which usually results in being pleasantly surprised by such a place.
So what places have surprised me lately?The most recent city that I’ve found to be extraordinarily beautiful is Stockholm. My husband and I arrived on a Friday evening (in April) and left on a Monday morning so in reality we only had 48 h to see Stockholm. That’s why I didn’t want to over-plan our stay and I’ve decided to focus mostly on the Old Town (Gamla Stan) and to visit a few museums. Anyway, I was very pleasantly surprised by Stockholm since I really didn’t expect to like it so much.
A year ago my husband and I visited Brussels and spent a day trip in Bruges. It was really my husband’s idea to visit a city famous for chocolate and beer and made even more famous by the movie In Bruges. I was kind of disappointed by Brussels actually but I was totally smitten by Bruges and I’d love to revisit it in the future and to stay there for a couple of days.
I think my travelling ˝career˝ began when I spent two weeks in Italy in 2004. My best high school friend and I were accepted into a fun European students’ programme and spent one week in Bologna and another week in Ferrara while also visiting several other cities such as Venice and Florence. To this day I have such great memories of that trip and to me Bologna is still the coolest Italian city ever. 🙂
Fast forward a few years and I was about to finish the university when I got into an internship programme to work in England. I’ve always been mad about London but I got a job in a charming region of Suffolk. The entire region was a true revelation to me. I loved the sleepy quaint villages, the colourful seaside towns, the historical mansions and pretty little castles, the bustling squares and the green gardens, the tea rooms and the politeness of its people. It was really like England from the movies :).
My most recent unexpected place is Hampstead, London. I’ve been to London so many times before but it was on this trip over two weeks ago that I’ve discovered Hampstead for the first time. Would you believe me if I said that I actually saw two big movie stars? I even talked to one briefly (not so much talk as ask a question are you really ..? like the most inane person ever). So who did I see? Well, you’ll have to be patient and wait for my post about Hampstead. 🙂
Of course, I can’t finish this post without mentioning Lisbon, Portugal. It was my honeymoon destination 🙂 Lisbon is such a beautiful city full of history and charm and it’s got great food and wine. What more could you wish for?