Off the beaten track: 4 places that stole my heart

You all know I love me a little bit of justified tourist town action. But we also got to wander a little off the beaten track a few times in Europe…

Bracciano castle in Italy

Lazio region, Italy

We worked on a farm north of Rome for a month, and during that time took a couple of short trips over to nearby town Bracciano, to the lake, and a day trip to Viterbo. It really was a chance to live like a local (and oh, the food. Stuff of dreams. Cheese straight from the local shop. Tomatoes off the vine. Gelato too, of course). Did I mention the castles?!

On my first trip to the beach with our host (just the two of us) I didn’t bother to bring a bikini top, since she said it was a topless beach. Awkward as I felt about it, when in Rome… but that was nothing compared to the awkwardness when we actually got there and almost everyone else was in normal swimwear, tops included.

Charming Kranzberg near Munich, Germany

Kranzberg, Bavaria region

We had an invitation to come stay from a host who lived in a village north of Munich (which is teeth-grittingly expensive). There, we gulped down litres of homemade apple juice, swam in waterholes, stumbled across our first nudists, and cycled about 20km to another nearby village. I hadn’t been on a bike in over 10 years; biking through the forest, flying over bumps and potholes in the trail, was simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying (I can’t believe I’m doing this!!! / I’m going to fall off and die!!!).

The alpine village of Grindelwald, Switzerland

Grindelwald, Switzerland

High up in the mountains above Interlaken, Grindelwald came recommended by a friend. We arrived when a massive mountain race was on, and wound up in a dorm with a dude who organises marathons and ultras for a living. That dorm was particularly weird; there were double bunk beds, meaning you could wind up sleeping next to a stranger if you were a solo traveller. We chilled out (literally, it was a big change from the heat of Germany), stared at the mountains and the skydivers, bought beer and fired up the communal barbecue.

Maastricht, Netherlands

Maastrict was a charming little town that we stopped into briefly on the way to Amsterdam. There was so much good looking food here! It’d be a great place to spend a half-day or a day, just wandering around. Unfortunately since we were lugging around our packs the whole time, I didn’t much feel like taking photos. (I think we may have snapped a couple iPhone pics of a particularly weird bus we spotted there, but can’t find them now.) And our first mishap with getting on the wrong train occurred straight after this. Good times.

What are some of your favourite lesser-known destinations?

6 thoughts on “Off the beaten track: 4 places that stole my heart

  • Reply Daisy @ Add Vodka July 30, 2014 at 01:27

    These all look like amazing places! Even if it were the norm I don’t think I’d be able to go topless at a beach. I don’t understand the “why” behind, it, haha.

  • Reply The Asian Pear July 30, 2014 at 03:01

    I’m guessing I can’t choose a region but if I had to choose a specific place within it, a little town in Wales called Haye-on-Wye. It is just the cutest little town I’ve ever seen.

  • Reply Lucinda July 30, 2014 at 12:29

    Double bunk beds! I’m not sure how I’d feel about that, given that I generally travel solo. Awesome places though. Love the name Grindelwald – the name of one of the dark wizards in Harry Potter!

  • Reply Cassie August 1, 2014 at 12:39

    We did a quick trip to the town of Frascati just outside of Rome in the Lazio region this trip. We signed up for a winery tour that was apparently in its first year of operation, and were lucky enough to be the only ones and having a private tour of the city and winery. It’s an interesting town that I had previous never even heard of, but it has quite the rich history!

    Previously I really enjoyed Zermatt Switzerland. It may be a little more well known, but it’s well worth the train trip out!

  • Reply Liz from Passport Packed August 6, 2014 at 12:55

    Nice one! I was impressed by a lot of the small towns in the north of Spain – possibly because I had never heard of them before travelling to them so had no expectations. But they’re far different to town in the south of spain, and even reminded me a little of New Zealand, as they’re rich with beautiful greenery and gorgeous beaches (not quite as nice as NZ, of course) – but places like Santander, Gijon and La Coruna in Spain are great!

  • Reply Travel Informer September 8, 2014 at 10:52

    You got this covered very well. I live near Kranzberg, and it is really great place. Not so famous (YET), but people that go there are really happy of it. I am glad you liked it.

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