“Wait…What??”..Nine amazing places I discovered entirely by accident

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The painter Bob Ross used to call mistakes “Happy accidents”. Mistakes that turned out to be a hidden blessing.  Many of my mistakes weren’t necessarily happy, but all of them were opportunities. Often times when we travel mistakes can actually change the course of our journey.   That’s why i am such a notorious planner before I leave on a trip. I read and research everything. But as the saying goes “God laughs when we make plans’ . Either an accident or an unplanned turn of events throws the entire trajectory off.  many times it turns out to be something wonderful. Here are some examples of unexpected twists and happy accidents I’ve had traveling.

Wroclaw, Poland

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St. Elizabeth cathedral glows in the early morning rain.

I owe it all to a missed train. I was in Krakow, Poland looking for a train to get back to my work camp in Poland. I needed a train to Katowice and asked the window attendant, who didn’t speak any English to write down the gate. She wrote 7 which Europeans write slightly differently. I ended on platform 1 and ended up in Wroclaw instead. I knew i was in trouble when the train took much longer than I expected. I couldn’t find anyone who spoke English to tell me where I was. I panicked for a moment then just took a breath and thought “where I end up is where I’ll end up’

Where I ended up at was Wroclaw. Fortunately for me, I found someone who did speak English and they said the next train to Katowice would be leaving in about three hours. It was about six am, so I went for coffee and just walked around and exploring this amazing city I discovered entirely by accident.

Brugge, Belgium

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Stunning. I wish I had a better superlative. Brugge is somewhere everyone seemed to know about except me.

So this isn’t so much an example of a mistake as it is an unplanned turn of events. I was in Rotterdam, Holland and buying a ticket to London. The lady at the ticket office said I would need to change buses at Brugge in Belgium. I’ve met several fellow travelers who I’ve mentioned that I’ve been to Brugge to and they always say ” I’ve always wanted to go there.” But for me at the time I hadn’t even heard of the place. The city was just a place where I was just going to need to change buses. When i arrived at the city my other bus was running late, so I just walked around. It was late November and the leaves had turned, The city is ringed with canals and the leaves were falling in to the water like brightly colored boats in a regalia.  I feel so hard for the city, if i didn’t have an important meeting in London, I would have totally ditched going to the UK for a day or two. Brugge is at the very top of the “I must go back” list.

Oban Scotland

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The sun rises over the Isle of Mull near Oban

Another missed train story. Well sort of. I was actually on the correct train, it was just that half the train was going one way and the other half somewhere entirely different. I had purchased a ticket from Glasgow to Fort William in Scotland. I was planning on going to the isle of Skye. The train actually split cars at one of the stops and I was in the half not going to Skye. I ended up at Oban. I wouldn’t be able to get another train until the next day. I found a place to stay and headed over to the local pub for dinner.  I was trying to lay low. There was a guy there a little intoxicated and boisterous. I remember the bartender saying to the man in her thick brogue “hush MacMahon, we have a guest here tonight.” Later the gentleman came over and apologized. I told him there wasn’t any need, we ended up chatting for a couple hours.  He suggested I take a tour of the isle of Mull which was close by.

The next day I boarded the ferry which was nearly empty. ( I was there in December so it was the low season) I got to see a castle Monty Python used in the “Holy Grail” film and had a beautiful island all to myself.

Hlboka Castle, Czechia

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Modeled after Windsor Castle, Hlboka Castle near Ceske Budovice, Czechia is made of white marble that seems to reflect the sun at every angle.

I had doing a work camp at a zoo near Prague when one of my coworkers mentioned they had an assignment near Ceske Budovice that they were going to have to cancel. They were concerned about the nonrefundable fee and asked me if I would consider filling in. It was in the southern part of the country near the border with Hungary. Since I was wanting to get Hungary anyway, I agreed to fill in.

The assignment was grounds work at a castle Hlboka. The castle was breath taking and the grounds were very well maintained. The people who ran the work camp kept us busy. The days were tiring, but on the weekends we got to explore the city. Ceske Budovices German name is Budweis and is where the original Budweiser beer was first produced. The Czech version of Budweiser is much better than the watery american counter version.

Pammukale,Turkey

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This isn’t ice, it’s salt.  Pammukale means ‘wedding cake’ . The mountain has hot springs that produce sulfur. The cliff face is covered in pools supported by the encrusted surface.

Sometimes international pop ins are a bad idea. I was in Budapest and decided to take a train down to Istanbul, Turkey to visit my friend Yusef. I didn’t contact him in advance, i just thought i would surprise him. I was the one surprised when i found out he was out of the country for a few weeks.  At the hostel i met a guy from Leicester, England named Ian who was heading to Israel to work at a Kibbutz. I agreed to tag along. Since he had made the trip before, i let him lead. he suggested going to Ephesus to see the ruins then stop at the hot springs at Pammukale.

The whole area was a treat. The Romans had a whole resort there and the bigger pools still had some of the Roman tiles left on them. It was a very relaxing couple of days.  I also met the niece of Lauren Michaels at the hostel. He’s the guy who produces “Saturday Night Live” . She had some great stories.

York, England

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Did you know that not only is there an Archbishop of Canterbury, There’s also an Archbishop of York? And there’s a huge cathedral too.

The down side of a Britrail Pass is sometimes it is so easy getting on the train you take the wrong one. That’s how I ended up in York.  Old York is a lot smaller than its newer version but is still pretty densely packed with things to do and see. The city has a real nice wall and massive cathedral.

Dominica

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My alma mater traveling Tee gets around

I was on a cruise last in 2016 of the southern Caribbean.  The stops included Grenada, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda as well as Dominica. So it wasn’t a surprise stop, but I had just planned to go to the beach and relax. There was a sudden change of plan for some reason and the excursion was cancelled.  As a fill in they offered a waterfall tour instead. It beat just sitting on a beach. I got to see waterfalls, colored parrots and meet some Caribe indigenous people who were the first people to settle in the Caribbean area. I thought Saint Lucia would be the most beautiful island I would visit, but ended up liking Dominica better.

Belgrade, Serbia

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Serbia sits on the fault line between east and west.  Occupied by the Ottoman Turks for years up until the twentieth century. The eastern influence can be seen everywhere such as the church of St Sava

 

It was the train from Hell. I was riding from Budapest to Sofia, Bulgaria. The train was so crowded and full of cigarette smoke, by the time I got to Belgrade, my throat was raw and my eyes were almost fused shut. It was so crowded I actually fell asleep standing up. I needed to get out. I decided to take a break in Belgrade and hope the next train was better. I had to wait a day and actually enjoyed the city very much. It was the perfect place to recapture my wits.

Donegal, Ireland

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Donegal Castle look eerie in the fog.

This time it is a missed bus instead of a missed train. I was on the way to Derry in Northern Ireland I was just supposed to connect to a different bus but totally changed my plans. I’m blaming the “Craic” (Irish word for “good times”) I went to a pub and had too much fun singing with the locals that the bus went on without me.

Donegal had a great castle to explore. The Monastery where the book of Kells  ( a famous book of the history of Ireland) was written and a beach that I had all to myself.  I eventually got to Derry but was glad I had a few days to enjoy my “happy accident”.

So tell me about some great accidental discoveries you’ve had. Your comments and questions are always welcomed,

 

13 Replies to ““Wait…What??”..Nine amazing places I discovered entirely by accident”

    1. Thanks. I really enjoy the spontaneity that comes from travel. It teaches you to be flexible. Sometimes that comes with nice rewards, such as these places, Glad you like the post.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You are a little more adventurous than us! We are planners by nature, so we always have a fairly detailed itinerary mapped out for our travels. But often, stuff happens and we have to alter our plans. Like the time a tour guide (who thought he was entertaining the crowd with spooky stories) convinced my child that we would die if we went on our scheduled mule ride into the Grand Canyon. Fortunately there were enough folks on the wait list for that so I could get a refund and instead we spent the time exploring the western edge of the park and had the views and trails all to ourselves. Turned out to be the highlight of our trip.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s often the unexpected twists that make travel fun. I like to plan a careful itinerary but often life has different ideas. Glad the grand canyon trip still worked out for you.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I went through two different organizations. It was back in the 80’s but I think they are still around. I am going to check for some links: https://www.ciee.org/ They set up the ones in Poland, Czech republic, and Slavokia I think they are more geared towards 20 somethings, but were a tremendous resource for me at the time. Actually I looked over their website they have some teach abroad opportunities as well. Also Volunteers for peace they are an american non profit out of Vermont .https://vfp.org/ They have workcamps that vary in length, many of them less than a month but some up to 6 months. They cover housing and food in exchange for volunteer work, they also have free excursions on the weekends which I really liked because I got to see a lot of the country that way. Hope that helps. I really should consider doing a post about that. I am a big fan of voluntourism as a means of getting to see the place you are visiting on a deeper level than a regular tourist.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. As beautiful as the photos are, those places are so much more beautiful when seen with your own eyes. That travel bug is a hard one to shake off.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, that’s very kind. I hope the page will always be a place of inspiration and encouragement. The best stories are often the unplanned ones I hope I’ll always be open to new adventures and the desire to share them with others.

      Like

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