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When you are on vacation, leave some time for exploration.  Sometimes the places that you will enjoy most are the ones you happen upon when you least expect it.


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Travel Advice - The accidental finds

   "Read that map

         Search those signs,

              Find a little place, 

                      To spend some time"

We recommend that you buy a good quality guidebook to help you set up an itinerary of the destinations you would like to visit on your vacation. As we have noted previously, do not over schedule yourself and be sure to leave some time for exploring. In our experience, ‘happenstance” has led us to find unexpected treasures.  (See our article When less is more)

A few years ago, we visited Nottingham, United Kingdom, saw Sherwood Forest, and spent the night at a delightful bed and breakfast recommended by the local tourist information office (no, we did not find Robin or Maid Marion).

Our self-planned itinerary called for us to head to Cambridge the following morning. The day started with a storm and we were not very enthusiastic about driving through the countryside in the rain. As we ate breakfast, we pored over a UK Road Atlas produced by the Automobile Association (The AA, as they are called in the UK) and found an interesting symbol for a nearby destination labeled Newstead Abbey. We looked the name up in our guidebook and found that it was once the home of Lord Byron of literary fame. Well, faced with a long drive on wet, crowded roadways or a short drive to an interesting sounding location, we headed off for the Abbey to wait out the rain.

Sometimes it seems as if certain locations are meant for you and this was one that was meant for us. Newstead Abbey was ripe with history, provided delightful insights into Byron and his works, and appeared an architectural masterpiece. More important, the combination of the history, the setting, and the architecture produced an atmosphere that was electric for us. We have fond memories of this site, even though it has been over a decade since we saw it peeking around the bend and beckoning to us.

                 Newstead Abbey, near Nottingham, UK

Our point, however, is not to regale you with stories but to let you know that it is, often, these serendipitous, unscheduled stops that are more memorable than some of the better known destinations your guidebook recommends. So, plan your vacation to allow for some wiggle time. Sample the areas you are visiting and you will learn that world is full of interesting places, if only you take the time to find them.


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