Imagine, if you will, a famous landmark that you’ve never been to – an ancient ruin perhaps, or one of the newer wonders of the world
Most people imagine the romanticized and pristine locations that we see in the movies – beautiful and perfect snippets of history. Something like this –
But when they get there, what they really find is this:
In this photo, we see the reality of visiting famous landmarks – hoardes of other tourists, pickpockets, people in costume, and waiting in line for hours to walk around for 15 minutes. Dealing with the inevitable bullshit that comes with famous landmarks can wear a traveller thin very quickly.
What most people don’t realise though, that everywhere there’s something that you’ve heard of before, there’s 10 far cooler places that most people ignore. Just take a look at some of these shots taken in places where there are never any tourists, people trying to sell you things, or overly cheery australian girls inviting you to the coolest pub crawl in town (all you need to do is pay 12 euros!).
Maybe you’re skipping the Stalin Museum to check out the shrapnel embedded buildings in Gori’s town center, or you miss a tour of Vilnius’s architecture to pay tribute to the Frank Zappa Monument; there’s always something great within walking distance of the tourist traps – take a look at WikiTravel for up to date travel information that Lonely Planet wont tell you.
If its something a little more ‘exclusive’ that you want to see, you might want to consider a little bit of trespassing. The art of exploring derelict and abandoned buildings is called Urban Exploring, and there are local groups all over the world that are dedicated to checking out the most remote and forgotten places in a region – especially if they’re in the middle of a city. Often you won’t be allowed into places like this (because it takes time to clean up an impaled corpse, or because you might steal something), so you may have to let yourself in.
Always be respectful of these modern ruins – take only photographs, leave only footprints. There are literally hundreds of things you should do before attempting this, so I’m not going to try to list them here; if you’re going to try it in your hometown, great. If you’re going to do it while on the road, try to get in touch with the local UrbEx or CouchSurfing group first – local knowledge is essential to success.
Images from TheCoolList