Unexpected places (June Travel Link Up)

in Stockholm

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.

Stockholm
Stockholm

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.

Bruges
Bruges

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. 🙂

Ickworth house (Bury St Edmunds)
Ickworth house (Bury St Edmunds)

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. 🙂

Hampstead, London
Hampstead, London

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?

Lisbon
Lisbon

So what are your unexpected places? Join the travel linkup by Emma , Angie , Jessie and Carolann

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41 thoughts on “Unexpected places (June Travel Link Up)

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  6. Hi Tanja, oh this is informative, thanks for sharing! I just recently read Wander Mum’s post on Bologna, and my friend in Lisbon keeps reminding me to visit her next year 🙂 I can’t wait to visit these places! #CityTripping

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  7. Ruth

    I have been to many unexpected places but the latest place that surprised me was San Sebastian. I wasn’t expecting to like the city so much. Plus, I was expecting great food but what I tried actually surpassed by expectations.

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  8. Wander Mum

    A wonderful mix of places you have been too. I am looking forward to visiting Stockholm and Lisbon in the near future. Glad you liked Hampstead and I am looking forward to hearing which movie stars you met! #citytripping

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  9. I am totally curious as to which big movie stars you came across so can’t wait for your post on Hampstead 🙂 . I visited Stockholm about 9 years ago now (I’m sure it’s changed a little since then) but was also pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it! Bruges is definitely on my to-visit list…I am a chocoholic and my husband loves beer so a great combo to keep us both happy I think!

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  10. Totally agree re. Stockholm. I went there many years ago with Phoebe from #allaboutfrance / Lou Messugo for a short trip and really loved it. Now having watched all the ‘Scandinavian Noir’ police shows on TV would like to go back and explore Sweden a bit more. Great photos.

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    1. thanks:) oh cool, I read Phoebe’s blog:) my friend watches a lot of Scandinavian crime series too:) they’re more realistic than the American ones;)

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  11. I’m usually such a planner too when it comes to travels. I want to know all the BEST places to go, things to eat, etc. But lately I’ve found that it’s good to kind of just go with the flow, and find things that are off the beaten path or things not mentioned in guidebooks. This is a silly example, but I’m going to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in a few weeks, and I started researching all the things to do, eat, and see there. I wanted to find all of the little gems. But then I realized that finding the little gems, the little surprises, would be so much more fun if I didn’t research and just discovered them myself. So I stopped reading. It’s a different experience than going to a city in Europe, for sure, but depending on where you go, I think that going in with few expectations and plans can be refreshing!

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  12. We are going to Milan next weakend as my husbands there for work – next to no planning, I think you are right – on a short trip we’ll follow our noses like you did in Stockholm and hope for the best!

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  13. Hampstead really surprised me as well! I just couldn’t believe that a place that reminded me so much of the English countryside could be in London! 😉 I also wasn’t very much smitten with Brussels – I’m sure it’s a good place to live, but from a travel perspective I didn’t find it too exciting. I do want to go back now that I’m older and see if I feel different about it now, but since my travel time is limited, I kind of don’t want to ‘waste’ these vacation days on a place that I might not like. Bruges, on the other hand, is a place that I’m absolutely dying to visit! 🙂

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    1. Yes, I felt the same, like I was in the countryside and yet I was in London:) I loved the chocolate shops in Brussels and the Atomium but somehow it didn’t’ really touch me. Bruges is super cute!:)

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  14. aandj8804

    You listed so many places I want to visit! (Of course I can’t think of many places in Europe that I don’t want to visit.) I look forward to reading about all of these places in more detail in your blog. 🙂

    I think Botany Bay Plantation in South Carolina has been the biggest unexpected travel surprise I’ve ever experienced. It’s a beautiful natural beach that transformed the way I saw beaches. Previously I had only experienced touristy, crowded beaches, so this was a refreshingly fun travel experience. 🙂

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  15. danniellek

    I was disappointed in Brussels the first day we were there, but as we explored more I fell in love with it, especially when we found the palace and loads of gardens on our very last day! I’d love to go back. Bruges was pretty nice though.

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  16. Some great destinations there. I am off to Bologna for first time in two weeks. I am pretty unprepared most of the time but usually pull it off! One of the great pleasures is when you stumble across an event or a gig that you can witness/attend. I always also avoid seeing pictures of places I am visiting so that when I see them it is truly the first time.

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  17. Love Bruges! I enjoyed Lisbon besides for the 1 rainy day we had out of the 2 days 😦 I’ve been umming and ahhing about Stockholm. You may have convinced me. And I definitely still want to go to Bologna! 🙂

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