It’s almost impossible to travel and not experience new discoveries along the way, especially when you’re taking on advice from friendly locals or fellow like-minded travellers. So, we thought we’d share our favourite hidden gems from all over the world this week, from outstanding views and culture in Dundee to iconic sites and delicious dining in Rome. Prepare to be astounded…
New discoveries whilst travelling from the LWT team
One of my favourite hidden gems is actually a whole city. I’m a little bit biased since I used to live there, but I think Dundee is probably the most underrated city in Scotland and has a great deal to offer for a short break. It’s an especially exciting time right now with a great deal of regeneration on the go in advance of the opening of the Kengo Kuma designed outpost of the V&A museum in 2018 – a future gem to add to my new discoveries wish-list.
In the meantime, there’s still plenty to do in Scotland’s sunniest city. Historically, highlights include Captain Scott’s ship, The Discovery and the wooden warship, The Unicorn, both found on the waterfront. And Dundee’s history as the jute capital of the world is brought alive at the Scottish Jute Museum at Verdant Works.
Wander up The Law – Dundee’s very own extinct volcano – to get get amazing views across the stunning Tay Estuary to Fife and beyond; explore the pubs and restaurants of the Perth Road; and take in the arts quarter where’ll you find the world famous Dundee Rep Theatre and Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre. Don’t miss a chance to explore further beyond the city to the nearby golden sandy beaches of Fife (beautiful – although sometimes a touch on the chilly side) and the mountains of highland Perthshire.
I was a week into my trip to Thailand, I’d seen Bangkok’s temples and dined on its delicious street food, looked after orphaned elephants in Kanchanaburi but now it was time to head out of the city and its backwaters to Sam Roi Yot National Park. I was told by my guide that the day was going to be tough and I’d be climbing a mountain at high altitude. It’s fair to say I was concerned – being asthmatic and not at peak fitness. However, I was told the sight inside the mountain was one that I couldn’t miss.
Upon arriving at the mountain’s base, I embarked on a climb up to Phraya Nakhon Cave along a picturesque but steep path, covered in rocks and crooked ‘steps’. It was a tough climb in 30+ degrees celsius, not ideal walking boots and gasping for air at every opportunity. I must have stopped at least 20 times on the way up to recover and drink as much water as possible.
Roughly an hour later, I approached the entrance to this huge limestone cave at the top of the mountain. I instantly thought I’d made it and this was what I’d came up here to see. I was taken aback by the fascinating rock formations and ribbon-adorned shrines lining the route before me but there was more to come…
As I travelled further into the cave, the temperature cooled and the steps were getting steeper. Then there was a beautiful ray of light. It shone through a hole in the cave directly onto a royal Thai pavilion (sala). Built by King Rama V, this outstanding piece of architecture stood out inside a massive open-roofed cavern, surrounded by limestone stalactites. This is easily one of the most memorable new discoveries I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing – I’d encourage anyone to take the trek, you won’t be disappointed.
If you’re keen to visit Thailand’s vibrant city, Bangkok, then you’ll want to take a look at this photo diary.
My hidden gem was found when I visited Barcelona for the first time two years ago. Ambling through the maze of streets that make up the Gothic Quarter with my two friends, we stumbled upon the Flamingos Club, which enticed us in with bright neon signs and a lot of string lights. It looked like a small vintage clothing shop from the outside, but once inside we found it went on and on! Racks of colourful clothes lined every bit of wall space and the narrow walkway takes you into a larger space which has a small bar, a couple of tables and a jukebox! We browsed the rails and tried to look in every nook and cranny of this perfectly unique little space, but I later found out there is a sushi bar housed in there somewhere too – I have no idea where they hide that. I’m so glad we found this hidden gem in a little backstreet, the atmosphere was so wonderfully bohemian, I loved it!
Let us know your new discoveries and hidden gems that you’ve uncovered whilst on your travels in the comments…