You have probably never heard of these places, but trust me, once you’ve been there you will not forget these far away places with strange sounding names that hover below the average traveler’s radar.
Now let’s have some fun and test your knowledge of geography. Before you read beyond the name of each place, see if you can name what country it is in. The country’s name is included in the text that follows each name!
LLANFAIRPWLLGWYNGYLLGOGERYCHWYRNDROBWLLLLANTYSILIOGOGOGOCH: Absolutely no place on earth can top this one for being a far away place with a strange sounding name. Every place after this will be downhill.
Yes, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is truly the name of a town in Anglesy, Wales. With a name made up of 58 letters, it is indisputably the longest valid domain name in the world. The English translation of the name is Saint Mary's Church In The Hollow Of The White Hazel Near A Rapid Whirlpool And The Church Of St. Tysilio Of The Red Cave.
It Is worth going to this town just to say you have been there…that is if you know how to say it. In case you don’t, I’ll give you a pronunciation lesson: Clan vire pulth gwinn gith gor gerrick win drob uth clan tay see lee oh go go gogch. The town’s historic railway station is the most popular destination because of the photo opportunities at the inevitably long station name sign. Wherever you go in Wales, I can guarantee you that, at some point in time, you will end up having your picture taken in front of the railroad station-house sign.
|THE HISTORIC RAILWAY STATION IN LLANFAIRPWLLGWYNGYLLGOGERYCHWYRNDROBWLLLLANTYSILIOGOGOGOCH, WALES|
HVAR: The town of Hvar, on the island of Hvar is one of the best-loved tourist resorts on the Dalmatian coast. Croatia, the “island of lavender” that exudes the charm of Dubrovnik without the wall, is a unique blend of luxurious Mediterranean nature, and a rich, multi-faceted cultural heritage. Its name is derived from the Greek Pharos, the name given to both the town and the island by the Romans. Facing the southern, sunny side of the world, which has endowed it with Mediterranean lure, and facing the sea that has favored it with an illustrious history. Hvar has been touted as the Mediterranean’s next St. Tropez. Historic old hotels have been gutted and replaced with world-class accommodations on the island that calls itself “the sunniest island in the Adriatic”
|ANCIENT CITY STREET IN HVAR, CROATIA|
Hotel Riva on the harbor front is the place to lunch and Darovni Ducan Gift Shop is the place to find handcrafted creations from the best designers in all of Croatia. In LUSH, you can buy any flavored soap you desire. Priced by the kilo, they all have intrigueing names like Parsley Porridge, Layer Cake and Honey I Washed The Kids Soap.
|WATERFRONT HOTEL IN HVAR|
SINTRA: Sintra, the picturesque town where Portuguese royalty spent their summers lies between Lisbon and the Atlantic on a promontory of land between two gorges. Because of its 19th century Romantic architecture, Sintra has been named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Be sure to stop by Seteais Palace, a deluxe five-star hotel that was built in the last quarter of the 18th century. Offering some of the best accommodations in Portugal, the walls of the public rooms are hand-painted with motifs of the 18th century. You can indulge in an elegant feast at the Seteais Palace or have a typical Portuguese meal at the Restaurante Regional de Sintra.
|TOURISTS ARE DISCOVERING SINTRA|
Of particular interest in Sintra are the Moorish Castle, the Municipal Museum, the Palacio Nacional da Pena (or Castelo da Pena), and the extensive Parque da Pena (Pena Park) surrounding the castle. Pena Palace, King Ferdinand II’s Romanesque Revival dream house, sits atop a hill overlooking the town of Sintra. Considered one of the Seven wonders of Portugal, this national monument constitutes one of the major expressions of 19th-century Romanticism in the world.
TALLINN: Just a few hours south of Helsinki, Estonia is enjoying the fruits of capitalism. Cash registers are ringing as Estonia's medieval capital of Tallinn shakes off its Soviet past. On August 20, 1991, Estonia declared its independence from the Soviet Union. Tallinn's outer ring is a conglomeration of grim Soviet high-rises. The inner ring is composed of 19th-century wood buildings. The center, one of the great medieval walled cities of Europe, is stone. This medieval quarter, called Toompea Hill, houses the domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Hanging within the stone tower of the Church of the Holy Spirit, Tallinn's oldest bell is engraved with this democratic inscription: "I toll alike for master and mistress, for manservant and maidservant, and no one can reproach me for that.”
|ANCIENT TOMBSTONES FROM ST. CATHERINE’S DOMINICAN MONASTERY|
Tallinn's Old Town is now a bustling center, with shop windows displaying everything from American jeans, to Italian shoes, to Estonian furs. A plethora of small shops in Old Town are brimming with local handicrafts. Katariina Guild has been operating in a unique medieval complex in the Old Town of Tallinn since 1995. Experienced designers work and create their unique masterpieces in the eight workshops of the Guild where you can observe how leather, textile and glass items, jewelry, hats and ceramics are made.
HAT MAKER IN KATARIINA GUILD OPEN WORKSHOP
OPORTO: A 30-minute drive from the port at Leixoes, Portugal, will bring you to Oporto, Portugal's second largest city. As you drive along the Avenida dos Aliado you will view some of the city's most impressive buildings such as the 1915 train station, the 18th century Church of Clerigos, and the austere Se Cathedral, a 12th-century Romanesque building. In front of the Cathedral is the Pelourinho do Porto a stone column where criminals were punished and exposed.
|PELOURINHO DO PORTO|
If you head down to the Ribeira quarter you can enjoy a boat ride on the Douro River (River of Gold). The water affords a totally different panorama of Oporto's skyline. On the opposite bank from where you board the boat, is the Vila Nova de Gaia, home to the port trade and numerous wine lodges. Most of them were established in the 18th century; their brand-name port wines are known worldwide. Most Duoro River cruises will give you the opportunity to visit W & J Graham's Port House with an "OPORTOnity" to learn the process of wine making, and a tasting of their fine Port wines.
|VIEW FROM THE DUORO RIVER|
PORTMEIRION: A bizarre, amusing, unique Welsh fantasy village, Portmeirion, Wales was designed and constructed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975. The village has attracted the likes of Paul McCartney, Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Frank Lloyd Wright, George Bernard Shaw and Noel Coward (who wrote “Blithe Spirit” there in 1941.
This architectural fantasyland of arches, turrets, fountains, and sculpture, was the location of “The Village” in the television classic “The Prisoner”. Architecture critic Lewis Mumford called the village a ” fantastic collection of architectural relics and impish modern fantasies”. He stated that the village was a "happy relief" from the "rigid irrationalities and the calculated follies" of the modern world.
AN ARCHITECTURAL FANTASYLAND
TEXT AND PHOTOS by JANET STEINBERG
STEINBERG is the winner of 43 national Travel Writer Awards. She is also a Travel Consultant with The Travel Authority in Cincinnati, Ohio