Most bloggers get approached a lot by companies wanting to host content on their site. To sponsor posts, to include links, do shout outs… I try my best to reply to them all politely and decline but sometimes there are just too many to deal with and get deleted.
Occasionally there is, dare I say, the odd hidden gem that pops up amongst the noise. For me this was literally what happened when holiday gems got in touch with a topic that intrigued me enough to say, “Yes, I would love to share my thoughts!”
The topic you ask: Why hidden gems of course!
Hidden gems aren’t just the hideaways we want to keep to ourselves. I’ve often found that my favourite holiday discoveries are places that have truly surprised me. The unexpected. And it’s those that I thought I’d share in today’s post, my top 3 unexpected-highlight-of-the-trip spots:
1. Pamukkale, Turkey
You may already know all about Pamukkale and you could be rolling your eyes at me right now thinking, this ain’t no ‘hidden’ attraction. However, on our first trip to Turkey, back in 2008 it was definitely one of the top experiences from our trip to Marmaris. A family holiday, where we set out to enjoy a week of sun, sun and sun.
My family and I decided to mix things up with a few excursions, one of which was a bus trip out to the hillside mineral pools in Pamukkale. I distinctly remember gazing out the window and drawing a breath the moment it first came into sight. It was so much grander than I could ever have imagined. On arriving, it was so much more spectacular than anyone had described it as. White travertine terraces stretched down the hillside, aqua blue pools of water settled inside each one.
Like steps, the limestone pools cascade down and in fact this is also the site of the ruins of the Greek-Roman city of Hierapolis. So this site is in fact a natural and man-made wonder. It’s a place not to be missed if you have the opportunity, and be sure to wear your swim gear so you can enjoy the pools of warm water and take a bag for your shoes as this delicate calcite walk requires bare feet to keep it from eroding away.
2. Jardin Majorelle, Morocco
I’ve previously written a post about the magic of Marrakech, and it describes the moment Mo and I visited the YSL gardens. French painter, Jacques Majorelle spent forty years creating this enchanting paradise in the middle of the tan and sandy tones of Marrakech.
Home to trees and exotic plants collected from all over the world, the gardens are a haven and the perfect escape room for anyone who wants to transport themselves to a romantic hideaway (or take the perfect instagram shot). The light sounds of rustling leaves, bird song and the occasional puff of mist.
This magical wonderland was almost converted into a hotel, which is where Yves Saint Laurent and his partner stepped in, moving into the villa next door and making Marrakech their escape pad. Art Deco buildings, smoothly coated in the most striking of blues and contrasting tones. Most of YSL’s inspiration came from his time in Marrakech and the city treasured his contribution.
So whatever your plans are during your visit to Marrakech, an afternoon amidst natures finest is not something to miss.
3. Waterfront Fish Market, Dubai UAE
I know what you’re thinking… I have truly lost my mind. A fish market! But I assure you, it is a serious hidden gem. If you know me, you’ll know I’m not a big fan of the hype and glamour that surrounds Dubai. It’s bold show-offy-ness is not for me and when I visited back in 2016, I didn’t enjoy my visit. However, all experiences are different and I recently spent ten days back in the UAE – and ended up falling a little bit in love with the place I had cast aside years ago.
Why? Because this time I got to enjoy the ‘normal’ side of Dubai. The side of everyday life, the realness that had been missing the first time round. Staying with friends and enjoying doing normal things like grocery shopping, general errands, relaxing at home. And one of the highlights of our trip was our trip to the fish market in Deira. A huuuuge warehouse full of, you guessed it – fish. Freshly caught, laid out in the most pristine manner, waiting to be taken away. It is the place to find sustainable seafood, with many top chefs heading here early doors to do their shopping.
We were actually there for the grocery market opposite – to have a nosey at the fresh fruit and veg and to pick up boxes of dates to take back home to the UK (ready for Ramadhan which starts today!). We were also planning on having what we had been told was the best tom yam soup at a restaurant that was there called Yahya. What we didn’t realise was that Yahya’s had a secret side to their repertoire – at this particular restaurant, you could collect whatever fish you fancied from the market and have it marinated and cooked right there and then for you to enjoy for dinner. With an outside terrace looking out over the water, the platters of fish kept pouring out of the kitchen, smelling divine and catching our attention so much so, we simply had to order our own. Delicious, fantastic atmosphere and what a great way to enjoy a meal with friends.
So, those are my top three hidden gems. I’m sure I could think of plenty more, but we really would be here all day. I always believed that I would much prefer to see the whole world before travelling back to a place I’ve already been to, but dreaming about places such as these makes me think twice. The thought of venturing back to see if the ‘hidden gem’ magic is still there sure as heck intrigues me… I’m sure this won’t be the last I see of them.
Where are your hidden gems??
If you have yet to visit any of the hidden gems above, check out these great low deposit holidays with holiday gems > Click here to view summer offers. They cover these destinations and more!
This is a sponsored post, but of course all photos, thoughts, opinions, tips… everything about this is all me 🙂