Making memories off the beaten track

Ian Heaven on 03 June 2023
Whilst I have enjoyed numerous holidays to many of the most popular destinations around the world some of my fondest memories are from trips to countries or regions that have been a bit more off the beaten track.

In Morocco for example, whilst Marrakech and Essaouira were both amazing places to experience, the memories that stick most in my mind are when we hired a car and drove over the Atlas Mountains to explore the hinterland. In particular I remember driving along the Dades Gorge, the only car for miles, when rounding every corner seemed to present a view more stunning than the last. The scenery was stark and dramatic with flashes of greenery and isolated settlements. The hotel too in this area was memorable with its’ pink adobe walls designed in the style of a kasbah, simple rustic interiors and amazing French cuisine in the gorgeous gardens, all set in the middle of a palmeraie. The decision to take my family to Latvia also paid dividends. Riga, the capital, is of course a worthy weekend city-break destination and well worth a visit it is too. The highlight for me however, was the gently rolling surrounding countryside of forests, rivers and lakes provided a wonderfully peaceful backdrop for a few nights in a spacious log cabin, complete with our own lake, sauna and firepit. Close to Riga is the resort of Jurmala, hugely popular with locals and Russians at the time but far less well-known to UK holiday-goers. With its’ miles of golden sandy beaches, safe bathing, numerous kids activities and welcoming restaurants it was perfect for a family holiday. The Baltic sea was surprisingly welcoming too as was the weather with August temperatures in the mid-20s throughout our stay.

Sticking with the eastern European theme a combined trip to Hungary and Slovakia was also hugely enjoyable. Lake Balaton, central Europe’s largest lake, provided beach resort vibes and facilities with the added benefit of numerous impressive castles and pretty countryside to explore. Slovakia, quieter and more rustic, provided something of a contrast with it’s beautiful mountains, lush meadows and attractive timber villages making it equally interesting to explore.

The film Mamma Mia was the inspiration for a holiday to Greece’s little known Pelion peninsular, the location used for much of filming and a treasure trove of isolated hillside villages and quaint fishing harbours. So far as we could tell we were the only tourists in a remote mountain village yet we were only minutes from the coast and a number of beaches and tavernas. It also proved to be a convenient jumping off point for a ferry to the island of Skopelos, where the church in the film’s final scene was filmed. The Pelion peninsular is a great place to go to get away from it all and experience authentic Greece.

None of the destinations mentioned are exactly Bear Grylls level exploration. They did however mean we were often the only British tourists around allowing us to genuinely experience and appreciate the landscape and culture of where we were. Sometimes, that is exactly what you want from travel and going off the beaten track really does hit the spot when it comes to creating travel memories.

As a Travel Counsellor I have the flexibility and tools to put together itineraries that are a lot or just a little bit out of the ordinary. If you have such a trip in mind why not get in touch to see how I can help.