I love those quiet, secret moments, when what you thought you knew about a place changes in a flicker, and you look up from what you’re doing and realise that, for all the right reasons, you are somewhere that the crowds are not.
In Venice, I experienced it on the empty bridges that looped across canals into the music-soaked Jewish Quarter. In Sydney, it was when I discovered archaeological remains within a whisper of the city’s famedOpera House. In Buenos Aires, I snatched a moment when I found myself in what was evidently the shop window dummy quarter, as smartly dressed professionals strode past with mannequins beneath their arms.
In Europe, it’s relatively straightforward to escape the crowds. However congested London, Paris or Rome may be, their centuries of history and compact layout, dating from the days when we all rode down narrow streets on horseback, make it easy to find the unusual. Walk left instead of right, seek out parks and old graveyards, and keep your eyes peeled for those blue plaques that highlight the almost-but-not-quite-famous heritage trails.
I was slow to grasp, therefore, that on other continents, a different approach is required.
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Published March 2014, American Express Travel
Abigail King is an award-winning journalist and photographer whose work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Lonely Planet, the BBC, Red, CNN and more. She is one of the leading figures in the UK for blogging and social media in travel and her blog, Inside the Travel Lab, is described as one of the best in the world. She loves mango chutney, Blackadder and marmite toast buttered just right.
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