Bizarre Holiday Hotspots

Over the years, I’ve encountered several bizarre holiday destinations.

These places were unknown to me before my trip and each one contains an element of surrealism that sets ‘em apart. Here’re three, one each in Africa, Asia and Europe.

Just to be clear, I’m not telling you to go to these places, I just think you should be aware of them in case you’re in the neighborhood and want to drop. Here are 3 particularly bizarre-o spots:

Swakomund, Namibia

The town of Swakopmund is a German enclave on the coast of Namibia. It has a little more than 40,000 inhabitants and contains only 75 sq. miles of land. Due to the recent discovery of uranium just outside of town, Swakopmund is a very wealthy African city.

Founded in 1892, Swakopmund was the main colonial town of German South-West Africa. German South-West Africa became part of the Union of South Africa in 1915. Then in 1990, Namibia gained independence. (I just looked this bit of history up.)

The city’s buildings feature distinctive German architecture and much of the population still speaks German (and only German). My friend Lucy and I went to a German restaurant and ordered German food from a German menu from a German-speaking waitress. Bizarre (given that we were in Africa).

Dalat, Vietnam

Dalat, in Vietnam’s central highlands, has a population of only 200,000 — small for a Vietnamese city. It’s a former French colonial resort town and is the place where local Vietnamese go to holiday.

The city is called “Le Petit Paris” (The Little Paris) because of its imitation Eiffel Tower. It’s also considers the surrounding mountain range to be Vietnam’s version of the French Alps. The city surrounds a lake filled with plastic paddle-boat swans in the shape of hearts. Really it’s a bit much.

To top it all off, Dalat’s known for its local delicacy: weasel coffee. Yes, weasels eat unripe coffee beans, poop them, and the droppings are then brewed. I’m not so sure the French would approve.

Sozopol, Bulgaria

One of the oldest towns on the Black Sea coast, Sozopol was founded in the 7th century by the Greeks, and then ruled in succession by the Byzantine, Bulgarian and Ottoman Empires – creating quite the eclectic mix of architecture and cuisine.

Sozopol only has a population of 5,000, but this number swells in the summer months when tourists from all over the Balkans (and Britain) arrive. My friend Brid and I hit the beach alongside the swarm and feasted on the people watching.

One thing we couldn’t figure out was the propensity of stuffed varmint at all the local eateries. At the entrance to each restaurant was a least one stuffed pair of foxes, badgers or the like. Furthermore, the glass-eyed animals were usually dressed in festive Alpine-wear. Unappetizing and slightly off-putting.

Beach Time

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This entry was posted on Saturday, October 6th, 2012 and is filed under Europe.

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