More and More Secretly Incredible Travel Destinations That Most People Don't Know About

 by Mella Noha

1. The Royal Library of Alexandria or Ancient Library of Alexandria - Alexandria, Egypt


Go inside the library and visit also the Citadel of Qaitbay (or the Fort of Qaitbay). It’s a 15th-century defensive fortress located on the Mediterranean sea coast.  (Before going, check on political situation in Egypt.)

2. The peacock room in Castello di Sammezzano - Regello, Tuscany


Within the abadonded castle Castello di Sammezzano you can find the Peacock Room. A hidden jewel features intricate Moorish designs and a breathtaking assortment of patterns and colors. The beauty of the memorizing interiors is simply beyond comparison.

3. Wat Rong Khun - Chiang Rai, Thailand


Once inside, you will be greeted not by traditional Buddha life scenarios - but by contemporary scenes and icons of popular culture: Murals of Batman, Superman, Predator and even Keanu Reeves as Neo are seen in the interior. 

4. Blagaj, Bosnia and Herzegovin


Don’t miss to visit Mostar - the biggest and greatest town in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

5. Ristorante Grotta Palazzese - Polignano a Mare, Southern Italy (province of Bari, Apulia)


The beach of Polignano a Mare will blow your mind as well!

6. Chichilianne - Rhone Alpes, France


You’re looking at the breathtaking mountain Mont Aiguille. Be sure to check out the bastille in Grenoble (a 45 minute drive from Chichilianne)!

7. Hallstatt, Austria


Hallstatt in wintertime is one of the greatest scenes imaginable. [This is one place I really really want to see. My parents went to Hallstatt back in the 1970s and raved about it. A friend went there in the 2000s and came back with the same reaction.]

8. Bláa Lónið (Blue lagoon) - Grindavík, Iceland


If there’s one thing that you must do while you’re in Iceland, it’s taking a dip in the Blue Lagoon! There’s even an outdoor Lagoon bar.

9. The Alcázar of Segovia - Segovia, Spain


The Alcázar of Segovia is a stone fortification, located in the old part of the city. It’s one of the most distinctive castles in Spain by the virtue of its shape – like the bow of a ship.

10. The dancing house - Prague, Czech Republic


The architect of the dancing house originally named the house Fred and Ginger (after the famous dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers – the house resembles a pair of dancers). This nickname is now rarely used; moreover, the architect himself was later “afraid to import American Hollywood kitsch to Prague”, so he refuted his own idea. 

11. Huacachina, Peruvian desert


This is the perfect place to try sandboarding. For only a few bucks you can rent equipment to try one of the locals’ favorite thrills.

12. The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood - Saint Petersburg, Russia


You should go inside, I have never seen such a colorful church in my whole life! The city has so much more to offer, like the State Hermitage Museum or the inaugurated Amber Room in the Catherine Palace!

13. Pamukkale - Denizli, Turkey


These are the travertines of Pamukkale (meaning cotton castle in Turkish) - a set of bizarre calcium cliff bathing pools overlooking the town of Pamukkale. The best thing? You can go swimming here, don’t forget your bathing things! 

14. Natural pool in Hierapolis, Turkey


This is the place where the Egyptian queen herself is said to have swam on her visit - and it’s only 10 minutes away from the travertines of Pamukkale!

15. Swarovski Crystal Worlds - Wattens, Austria


You need a LOT of money to visit the largest Swarovski store worldwide!  So maybe consider the park outside Crystal World, where you’ll experience a puzzling Labyrinth shaped like a human hand.

My Love of Italy (Part II)

It has been 3 weeks since my return from my Italian summer holiday and here are some tell-tale signs that I am still living the dream of bella Italia: I cannot start my day properly without a cappuccino and a brioche, pasta has replaced rice as a staple in my home, and we are always making sure that we have an adequate supply of acqua frizzante (sparkling mineral water) in the fridge for our daily consumption. (My friends positively scoff at me for that last example of my crazy affinity to things Italian right now.)


In this entry, I shall share my stories of our time in the beautiful region of Tuscany, namely Firenze (Florence) and an area near a little village known as Regello. Tuscany is truly the Italy of everyone’s imagination; sun-kissed tomatoes, rolling, green, hilly landscapes, and the perfect Mediterranean climate. The food reflects this most vividly and during our journey we had the most amazing lovingly-long-cooked stews and soups, earthy and herb-aromatized meat dishes and … tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes. Yes, Tuscany is the land of the pomodoro. But anyway, before we get to our stomachs, let’s first talk about the visual feasts our eyes had when we stumbled upon the beautiful museums, churches and monuments scattered all over the city of Florence. Amongst the many, we went to the Pitti Palace with its sprawling Boboli Gardens, the famous Duomo and Piazza della Signoria. With 2 young children, it sometimes got quite hard staying for a long time at a museum and it was almost impossible to sit still in front of a famous work of art reflecting on its depth. But the Piazza della Signoria was much loved and enjoyed by the kiddos as the size of the huge outdoor square provided them lots of room to run around and sometimes stop to admire some colossal renaissance statues. There is a replica of Michelangelo’s David here (the original is inside the Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts), the Fountain of Neptune, and the kids’ favourite: Perseus with the Head of Medusa. We celebrated Sunday Mass at the Duomo; what better way to experience a fine church than to worship within.


Florence has its own gastronomic pride and this is partly evinced in what is aptly known as Florentine steak. I had read a lot about this Florentine steak and couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into one. We finally got to try one at a restaurant near the Piazza del Mercato Centrale called Tratorria Zaza. It wasn’t that it wasn’t a good restaurant, the rest of the things we ordered we great. The Florentine steak that came wasn’t bad either. Its just that it wasn’t great, only good. Sorry for being so fussy. I love a good steak and the Florentine steak just tasted like an ok steak that I could have made at home. It was a very large steak, and that is great for grilling, well but simply seasoned with salt and pepper. It just didn’t make me understand what all the hype was about. Ironically, more memorable meals I had were at Osteria Giardino along Via della Scala (a wonderful basic pomodoro spaghetti), I’Vinaino at Via Palazzuolo 124r (excellent trippa/beef tripe in a tomato stew and panzanella plus a warm and friendly proprietress who will give you the best service) and La Burrasca at Via Panicale 6/r (where I had a generous slice of calf’s liver pan-fried simply with sage and it was amazing). All three of these restaurants were cheap and good.


After 3 days in the crowded, dusty city of Florence, we were ready to hit the country. An easy 35 minute drive on the A1 (without getting lost) takes you to our next place of stay: Agriturismo Savernano. This was a homestay and we had bed, breakfast and a damn good dinner for every night we stayed! It is near the town of Regello and all for a very reasonable price. This to me was the real heart of Italy, staying in someone’s home. The kids loved it, the homestay was actually on this farm estate owned by David, our farmer, cook, caretaker, waiter, cashier, tractor driver etc all rolled in one! David makes his own cured ham, has his own olive grove, his own vineyard which produces a very nice chianti which we had for 3 euros a bottle every night at dinner, ducks, pheasants, chickens, goats, donkeys, a moat with a small boat, you name it, its all there for your kids to explore and have fun with! And this agriturismo is situated in the heartland of Tuscany, where you can spend your daylight hours driving around exploring the little fortress towns such as San Gimignano, Sienna and Volterra (we came here, and this was where Twilight/New Moon was shot on location so there’s even a Twilight tour office there; we met this strange guy on the street who was slightly gaga and gave me the creeps because he was wearing these fake {at least I hope there were fake} vampire fangs and going around shaking hands and not letting go with people all around, us included.) and return back home (for that was what it was to us) in the evenings after a long day out, to Agriturismo Savernano and sit down to one of Eva’s (David’s wife) fantastic home-cooked dinners with your bottle of chianti on their outdoor terrance which overlooks his estate, hills and beautiful fields. If there is a must –do for all visitors to Italy, this is it.