Coronacation. Not exactly my idea of a fun, summer getaway that, unfortunately, started right when the weather was about to get warm. But let’s look on the bright side. When this coronacation ‘vacation’ is over (fingers crossed that it doesn’t take over our summer) we can perhaps go to some real hotspots (and not in the pandemic sense).
It is important to keep in mind that after a pandemic it is very important to stay safe, which can be hard to do in some of the tourist, college-student infested places that we all love. In the spirit of staying safe, I compiled a list of hidden gems around the world, complete with some amazing sights to see, a bounty of fun activities to do, and unique culture and food we may have not experienced before. Most importantly, they are not populous, and a great option for weaning off of our ‘social distancing’ endeavors. So, without further ado, here are the hidden gems of the world you should visit for a real (not corona)cation.
Belize. Most of us have heard of it, but it is small, and hard to find on a map, lying on the coast of Central America. For those of us who love a tropical paradise, complete with the chirps of vibrant birds and relaxing siestas in beachside bungalows, this is the perfect spot. Full of relaxing yet adventurous things to do, such as swimming in the jungle’s hidden waterfalls, or diving in lagoons such as the Great Blue Hole, I can guarantee you will have a good time. For fans of the ocean, you can head out to the Silk Cayes, an island that is home to the Belize Barrier Reef, which is the largest reef in the Northern Hemisphere. Here you can find and swim with nurse sharks and turtles.
Deeper into the jungle, you can hike among jaguars and monkeys safely, and connect with the natural world. For those who love history, there are many opportunities to explore decaying Mayan ruins, and experience and learn a lot about the ancient culture and religion. Also, speak no Spanish? No worries. Everyone speaks English, as it was once colonized by Britain and called British Honduras.
The second is Lebanon. For fans of the Middle East, this country is safe, and packed with lots of fun things to do. The capital Beirut is filled with sights such as the Beirut National Museum, which is home to a collection of Arab relics. Beit Beirut, a memory museum which recalls the civil war that made this country fall at one point is not one to miss. For people that enjoy art, the city is home to lots of Art galleries, such as the fascinating Sursock Museum.
Outside Beruit there are also plenty of things to keep you busy. The country’s diverse landscape makes it possible to ski in the mountains, and jet ski in the Mediterranean on the same day. Stroll through sustainable wineries, like the award-winning IXSIR in the hills of Batroun.
Last, but not least, I bet you didn't know that there was a country sandwiched between Spain and France called Andorra. Andorra is a tiny landlocked country, with a beautiful, hilly landscape, famous for its ski resorts. However, they don’t speak Spanish or French. Then what do they speak? They speak Catalan. If you didn’t know that’s one of the most forgotten romance languages. Languages aside, if you choose to visit in the summer, when there isn’t any skiing, popular activities include hiking and mountain biking, for those who enjoy being active. Andorra la Vella, the capital, is this small nation's busiest (yet not so busy) tourist attraction. It is one of the world’s highest capitals, at an altitude of 1,029 meters. It's also one of the smallest, too, with a population of less than 23,000 people. It is located over the Gran Valira river, and the city's main street is lined with shops selling everything you could ever want. The city is made complete by a large variety of galleries, cafés, and restaurants as well.
After our bout with ‘social distancing’ is over, it is time to have fun and enjoy ourselves in the fresh air. No longer can we take for granted being able to travel and discover other cultures, languages, countries and what beautiful things they have to offer. I never thought I’d say this, but in a few months, I might never want to just chill at home again!