OK, so you’ve watched a sun set over Accademia Bridge in Venice, climbed the tallest of towering skyscrapers in New York and most certainly visited Paris in the spring time and now you’re looking to do some fresh exploring; to visit somewhere that doesn’t feature the inflationary prices and ubiquitous chain stores that come with even the most middling modern tourist hotspots. Where though, should an adventurous soul go?
That’s the thing about the world, it’s full of undiscovered people and places, just sitting their waiting for an enthusiastic foreigner to chronicle, either in a handwritten notebook or snug Michael Palin TV show. What would really help relieve the hindrance of having to discover new places for yourself is if their was a website dedicated to just such a thing; exploring destinations “off the beaten track”, places that the world has ignored, forgotten about or simply doesn’t care for. Well, you are in luck faceless reader, we have just the site for you; it’s called Mysterra and since February 2000, they have been gathering groups together from all over the world to discover, explore and get lost in places you didn’t know existed.
As their Introduction page puts it: “We want to share our passion: the discovery of our planet while avidly learning about the mysteries of life and earth, far away from mass tourism and aloof from the traditional and much visited places.”
A browse through their website will give just the smallest trace of a taste of what life is like as an exploratory animal. Take their cooking section, which brings you on a “voyage through different flavours”. The dietetic treats explored include the “captivating fragrances of spices” and “oriental delights” on offer in Algeria or the succulent sea beams, lambis and lobsters on the boil in the French controlled Caribbean isle of Martinique.
The destinations or “projects” that have been explored are a suitably eclectic bunch of exotic atolls, simmering tropical isles and sophisticated European cities. The Falklands Islands, synonymous with a rather hairy conflict between Britain and Argintina in the 1980s have never been known as the most popular of exotic destinations, yet the isolated archipelago is an idyllic destination for lovers of wide open spaces and boasts a stunning array of natural flora and fauna. These include penguins, sea lions and albatross while dolphins are often spotted somnolently swimming off the serene coastline.
Of course, while it features on few people’s tourist trail, the Falklands is at least a familiar, if in name only; Ascension Island perched on the edge of nowhere (well, the middle of the Atlantic) can’t even claim that honour. Home to a British and US military base, the island is slowly opening up to wider non-armed humans. Uniquely among exotic destinations, the island has never been properly explored by the layman, although that looks like something that is about to change.
There are also a couple of places Mysterra have visited that have never had an issue attracting tourists but are perhaps in need of re-examining. Mauritius holidays and trips to Amsterdam are both popular with tourists the world over but that doesn’t mean they don’t offer something for those looking for a thrilling holiday experience. Take Amsterdam, perhaps most renowned for its late night revelry and liberal attitudes to drugs, it is also one of Europe’s most vibrantly cultural cities. In fact, Amsterdam has some of the finest galleries anywhere in the continent while the flowing canals, culinary treats and unique architecture make it one the most romantic places in the world.
These are just a few of the destinations that Mysterra has so far trained its exploratory sights on; there are plenty more to come of course. For anyone looking for a lost world to visit, a jewel in the crown of the Indian Ocean to explore or a world-famous city to re-train your sights on, then you could do much worse than take a look at their upcoming itinerary. Or you could just go to Brighton, again.
Check out mysterra.org for more on these fantastic explorers.