I’ve noticed a trend for strange holidays of late. All I really want to do this year is take a gentle cycling holiday, cruise along some pretty countryside, stop off at a few vineyards, sample the local wines, eat too much, attempt to cycle it off again the next day, you get the picture.
Unfortunately, a well-meaning friend of mine continually tempts me with various ‘unique’ holiday options that appear to be tailor-made for the quirky, inquisitive side of my nature, and I just can’t pass them up. If, like me, you can’t resist the pull of the strange and ridiculous, these could be just the kind of holidays you’re after.
La Isla de la Munecas, Mexico
Meaning The Island of the Dolls, this has to be one of the most bizarre tourist attractions in the world, never mind Mexico. Hanging from nearly ever tree on the island are thousands of mutilated dolls complete with eerie stares, leaving you with the spooky feeling of being watched. This bizarre tourist attraction was created by hermit Julian Santana Berrera in the 1950s. Claiming he was haunted by the ghost of a little girl who had drowned in one of the island’s canals, he created a shrine with the dolls which is still there today. Be prepared for a two hour journey each way if you really want to see them – and don’t expect any modern amenities. There’s no electricity or running water.
Sailing Stones in Death Valley, California
These are not just ordinary moving rocks tumbling down mountains or in avalanches, or transported by the flow of the river. These mysterious stones, some weighing up to 1500 kg, inexplicably move along the flat desert plain, leaving long striated trails in the mud. The stones move every two or three years while the trails can take up to four years to develop. No clear scientific explanation has yet been found for this phenomenon, and the stones have never actually been seen in transit. Spooky!
La Tomatina Festival, Spain
It could only happen in Spain. Since the 1940s, the Spanish townspeople of Bunol have taken to the streets every year for a tomato fight. It’s believed that it arose one year after disgruntled townsfolk pelted the city councillors with rotten tomatoes to demonstrate their anger. Unfortunately, they enjoyed it so much it has now become an annual event and visitors worldwide flock to Bunol to be part of this tomato chucking fest. General advice for any would-be tomato-chuckers is to wear goggles, shoes that grip and clothes to throw away. I can’t wait.
Songkran Festival, Thailand
If you prefer water fights to tomato fights, take a trip out to the Songkran festival held every April in Thailand. It’s the traditional Thai New Year and was originally a time to pay respects to your elders and to Buddha. It’s now developed into a bit of an annual bash for tourists, where drenching everyone in sight with water guns is par for the course.
A gentle holiday on two wheels has a much greater appeal doesn’t it? My friend suggested a trip to Gozo. At first I thought she meant going on holiday with a muppet (although I have been away with quite a few of those in my time) then I realised that what she actually meant was a small island close to Malta. It does sound like my kind of thing. Fishing villages, the red sands of Ramla Bay, a medieval citadel, dinner beneath an ancient carob tree and a bit of wine tasting too. Perfect! There was just one catch. She’d decided to make a detour to take part in the World Nude Bike Ride day first.
You know, I might just give that a miss and take up a new sport like cross country skiing instead. There’s bound to be somewhere with snow at this time of year and I’ll be safe in the knowledge that it’s too cold for anyone to take their clothes off.