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Ageing Traveller Series

The Ageing Traveller series is written by Rose Howell, who has been traveling the world for over 40 years, beginning with New Zealand and then the ‘Hippy trail’ in the 70’s. Her travels have taken her to; Asia, Middle East, UK, Europe, Africa, South America, USA, Canada, China and the Pacific Islands. In total she has visited 67 countries plus all the states of Australia except Western Australia, and her goal is to make the century club. Her passion for travel is documented on her website www.ageing-hipsters-travel.com.

Click here to find out more about Rose.

Destinations that dropped off the travel radar and are now back in popularity

Why do countries drop off the tourist route? It can be due to many reasons such as conflict, war, religious unrest, terrorism and natural disasters.
I seem to have a knack of knowing when countries are coming back in popularity. For instance, I saw a show on the Plitvice lakes in Croatia and thought we have to go, knowing not many people were visiting there because of the war. But it was slowly getting back on its feet and some more adventurous travellers were heading there before the hoards started to pour in. Of course the Europeans were already there ahead of most of us.

I do a lot of research and when I see somewhere interesting that I haven’t been to I check to see if it is somewhere I would like to go to. Many times it is a place that was popular but because of all sorts of reasons tourist stopped going there. As I am getting older, I don’t want to be in danger, but I am ok with roughing it. Don’t get me wrong, I also like my comforts, but some of the places I have researched below don’t have the flash accommodation or transport so sometimes you need to rough it.

But a stopover on the way home is a good way of treating yourself to comfort if you crave it after visiting these areas.

Following are 7 such countries;

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar (previously known as Burma)

I travelled to Burma (now Myanmar) in the 70’s and I can tell you it was rough travel. You could only get a 7 day visa and if you overstayed it they put you in jail whilst organising to deport you. The main reason for this is due to the coup in 1962. Whilst we were there it wasn’t too bad but it got harder and many travellers decided it wasn’t worth the risk to visit. Around 2011 things changed for the better.

Today, sanctions have been dropped and the country is now building up its tourism. One of the most amazing countries in the world (untouched by the West for years), a land of beauty and charm. Experience natural beauty in the way of jungles, snow-capped mountains, pristine beaches with crystal clear waters and the people. Discover archaeological sites and glittering pagodas. A boat trip on the Irrawaddy should be part of your itinerary.

At my age now I would only travel there in an organised tour, but choose one where you get some freedom to explore on your own.


Rangoon

Croatia (Dalmatian Coast)

I visited Croatia several years ago and it was just as I had expected. A bit run down in places but interesting, historical and beautiful. You wander through narrow cobblestone laneways, climb staircases thousands of years old which takes you through a history that is at the same time turbulent and exciting.
Travel was non-existent from 1991 – 1995 when they were fighting their ‘war of independence’ and you can see the bullet holes in many of the buildings as a reminder.

Tourism has grown rapidly since.
When my daughter visited Dubrovnik, she was so excited that the Game of Thrones was being filmed there whilst she was strolling around the wall. If you watch the series look out for it.

Places to visit are the Plitvice Lakes, Trogir, Split, Dubrovnik and explore the Dalmatian Coast and the islands off it (we visited Hvar).


Plitvice Lakes

Sri Lanka

I visited Sri Lanka in the 70’s and loved it. Travel in this beautiful country was reasonably easy and the locals were so friendly. We stayed mainly in Guest Houses and the food was very English style. Roast Beef/lamb with all the trimmings. It was a pleasant change to our travel in India.

But for the last twenty six years there has been on and off civil war within the country. It was all over in 2009 and the country has now become one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

It is one of the top 5 biodiversity hotspots in the world. You will find 91 species of mammals which includes elephants, sloth bear, leopards and 433 species of birds. There are mountains, forests and waterfalls to explore in the Central Highlands.

Friends of mine travelled to Sri Lanka about 3 years ago and did an Elephant safari and loved it.
It boasts 1600 km of palm fringed coastline where you can surf, kayak, swim etc.


Brazil

I travelled all of Brazil from Rio to the Amazon and it was one of the most amazing places I have visited. We travelled on a tributary of the Amazon on a Brazil nut barge (that was a story of its own) It has it all, from the well-known Amazon jungle where you can go kayaking, or take a boat trip along one of the many tributaries, to mountains where you can climb rocky cliffs for amazing views or relax on beautiful white sandy beaches, swim, surf or snorkel in the crystal waters or coastal reef.

Rio de Janeiro is an amazing city but we found the beach at Copacabana a bit polluted and there were some weird looking yabby type things on the waters edge. I noticed no one was swimming there only playing ball games on the beach or sunbaking. But that was back in the 70’s so it may be different now.
Once a country with a booming economy, from 2008 – 2009 there was a downturn due to several factors such as inflation and corruption. But in 2014 when Brazil held the Fifa world cup, tourists arrived and put Brazil back on the map.


Rio de Janeiro

Hungary

Whilst visiting our daughter in the UK we decided to do a trip to Budapest in Hungary. We didn’t really know a lot about the country but found it to be one of our favourite’s even though we stayed in Budapest and didn’t get to see the rest of the country.

After the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, Hungary has been back on the radar as a country to visit in particular its capital Budapest.
Architecturally it is a treasure trove. It has a distinct medieval look as you wander the streets and it is easy to imagine witches circling on their brooms at night.

Visit the authentic Turkish bath houses where approximately 300 thermal springs supply therapeutic water for you to bathe in.
Get out into the countryside and meet the locals; stay in a renovated peasant cottage, sample the local food and wines. Check out the traditions of horseback cowboys acrobatics. Visit the small villages or explore the limestone caves.

Enjoy dinner and wine in one of the many restaurants along the River bank of the Danube with the historic castle district lit up in front of you dominated by the castle.

River cruises are very popular on the Danube.


Budapest at night

Berlin, Germany

When you think of Berlin, you can’t help thinking of the wall. I had always wanted to go there and whilst over in that area we got there. So much sad history.

East Berlin existed between 1949 – 1990. It comprised the eastern regions of Berlin and consisted of the Soviet sector of Berlin that was established in 1945. It was separated by the famous ‘Berlin Wall’.

In 1990 West and East Germany became as one with tearing down the Wall that divided them and ending the existence of East Berlin.
Berlin has had an interesting chain of events during the 20th Century. It was the headquarters of the Nazis, heavily bombed and divided into two cities and now finally reunited.

A walking tour if you are up to it is the best way to see everything. It takes most of the day but the tour guides are very good. Most are University students studying History etc.

You will walk among the remnants of the Berlin Wall, read the stories of escapes and survival, visit ‘Checkpoint Charlie’ or stand in the room where the Holocaust was planned.

Art and culture are in abundance and there are theatre, concerts and opera featuring well- known International performers.
Many International artists have also made their home here.

Take an informative boat trip or the hop on hop off bus. Well worth it to get your bearings.

Amazing city which is a mixture of the old and new. See where Hitler died (a car park now).

Republic of Czech

A relatively new country which was once a part of Czechoslovakia and in 1993 split to become the Republic of Czech and Slovakia.

We travelled from Berlin by train to Prague which was a great experience even though the weather was wet it was a lovely trip. The train had seen better days but I liked the fact it wasn’t modern and sterile. It had character.

Prague, sits on the Vltava River and boasts it is one of the most beautiful and cultured cities with a dynamic music and art scene. (I personally preferred Budapest but can’t explain why)

You can explore the many castles, cathedrals, churches and monasteries or attend a puppetry and marionettes exhibition.

Visit one of the many well-known breweries and drink some of the best beer in the world. Make sure you get there early if you want to get a seat and food. It gets very busy.

Attend the largest beer festival in Prague which runs for 17 days and is held annually.

Get out into the countryside and explore caves and rock cities, climb to the tops of mountains and observation points and check out the fairy-tale landscape of Bohemian Switzerland National Park.


Prague

The above places I have personally visited in the 70’s (Brazil, Burma, Sri Lanka) and the others within the last 5 years. One thing I am sorry for is that we couldn’t spend time in the country areas instead of just the cities. Except for Brazil and Sri Lanka where I spent a lot of time travelling when I was younger. I am yet to revisit those places to see what they are like now. I will have to add them to my bucket list.

I suggest to those who like different places to visit go there now before they get too touristy.

Rose Howell Biography

Rose has been traveling the world for over 40 years, beginning with New Zealand and then the ‘Hippy trail’ in the 70’s. Her travels have taken her to; Asia, Middle East, UK, Europe, Africa, South America, USA, Canada, China and the Pacific Islands. In total she has visited 67 countries plus all the states of Australia except Western Australia, and her goal is to make the century club.
She has taken all kinds of transport and accommodation from budget to luxury. She has travelled through war zones, survived a bus accident in the Andes and visited areas that are no longer available to tourists, such as the Khyber Pass and Bamiyan Statues in Afghanistan.

Rose wants to inspire others to travel and offers free advice to all travellers in particular those who are embarking on their first travel experience. She has a passion for travel and since retiring from an Adult teaching position with TafeSA, has recently resumed clocking up kilometres interstate and overseas.
Her daughters have inherited the travel bug from their parents. The eldest daughter is a travel journalist/documentary maker based in a beautiful area called ‘Byron Bay’ in New South Wales and with her husband, has two globetrotting toddlers who at the age of 5 and 2 also love to travel. Her youngest daughter and fiancé have recently returned from 2 years working and traveling in the UK and Europe. They have only been home a couple of months and are already getting restless. Oh the travel bug!!!!

Rose has developed a website for the over 50 traveller www.ageing-hipsters-travel.com where you can access for free all her advice and past and present stories. You can add stories of your own too.

She also has a blog on:
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