Did you know that in the heart of Vienna there is an 11-floor Aqua/Terra zoo featuring creatures from the great deep to birds and small mammals? Or that in Oslo there is a park dedicated to naked statues?! Not all hidden gems are that easy to find when you start searching on the immensely wide, wide web. So let me tell you all about some of these destinations with hidden gems I’ve discovered over the years…
Madrid is filled with wonder and excitement, trust me I lived there! The centre is buzzing with a mixture of traditional vs modern shops and buildings and there really is something for everyone. Here are my hidden gems:
Palacio de Cristal del Retiro
The Palacio de Cristal del Retiro (Crystal Palace) is located in Madrid’s Retiro Park . This once royal park opened its gates to the public in the 18th century, and since then has become an iconic spot for boaters, runners and tourists. What you might not realise is that if you venture far enough through the gorgeous scenery, there is a lovely Crystal Palace by a small lake, which is home to ever changing art instalments. It’s a great way to discover new talent without having to go to a museum.
I probably used the Madrid Teleférico over ten times during my stay back in 2013. This is Madrid’s version of a cable car tour, which I absolutely loved. You can pick it up near Moncloa tube station and take a fabulous ride all the way over to Casa de Campo. This is sort of like a national park and is also home to the Madrid Zoo. The walk back to the nearest tube (if you don’t get a return) is quite lengthy and hilly so make sure you have the right footwear and suncream!
Dubai is a favourite destination of mine which I have covered many times before on the blog. If you want to discover what Dubai has to offer, I really recommend you stay longer than a week as it just can’t all be done otherwise! Many people are put off from the UAE based on what they’ve heard about strict rules, but it’s honestly not like that at all. I wouldn’t recommend going to a shopping mall in your bikini and shorts, but as long as you are respectful then there is nothing to worry about. Here are my hidden gems:
The Dubai Autodrome is a great way to let off some steam and have a bit of family competition. They have both an indoor and outdoor track and the fun can start for ages 7 and up. I had fun as both a driver and a spectator when I went. I’m really not into this sort of thing normally, but I had a lot of fun at the Autodrome!
You may already know about Ski Dubai, but if not let me paint you a picture. It’s 42 degrees outside, you are baking and sweaty and not thinking straight. You enter the Mall of the Emirates, only to come across a huge winter wonderland behind a glass wall. Mountains of snow awaits you, you can’t help but to get into a snow suit and dance around in the sub-degree temperatures. You take your first skiing lesson, and proudly manage one time down the hill without falling over. When you can’t feel your fingers anymore, it’s time to get back to the heat after a gloriously cool afternoon. Sounds amazing, but also a bit crazy to go skiing when in Dubai? This is such a great experience, however skilled (or unskilled) you are!
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Let me transport you back a few weeks to when I went to the Henley Regatta with Debenhams!
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