Seeking inspiration for this week’s blog, I was reminded of the many cool places my team and I have visited that most people have probably never heard of.

I took an informal survey of my team and we quickly gathered a short list of favorites (in no particular order);

Symi, Greece

When we chartered a small ship in Turkey/Greece a few years ago, we had originally planned to visit Rhodes – a compelling and interesting island with lots of history and a wealth of great attractions. However, our Captain made a suggestion of a place where “nobody goes.” It was magical – an idyllic island if there ever was one!

Colorful Symi

Pretty as a picture . . .

Lulea, Sweden

Whitney visited Sweden in the dead of winter a couple of years ago as part of a familiarization (e.g., working) trip. She packed her thermal underwear and experienced the Northern Lights as well as a bunch of fun wintertime activities like snowmobiling and dog-sledding. (I think there was vodka involved, as well!) She’s curious to return in summertime one of these years, to see what these islands look like when the Baltic Sea is melted! Betcha didn’t know this: The world’s first indoor mall was opened in Luleå in 1955 and was named Shopping!

A southern California girl, Whitney took a selfie – all bundled up and ready to “vroom, vroom . . .”

The Northern Lights ….

Inle Lake, Myanmar

I’ve written extensively about this place, so there’s a chance you have heard of it. Aside from the fact that it’s a big, beautiful lake surrounded by mountains, during the two times I have visited here, I was absolutely captivated by this sight: an Intha fisherman balanced on one leg on the stern of his homemade wooden boat with his other leg locked around a long oar, the top of which is wedged under his armpit as he uses his two free hands to throw a net . . .

Aside from fancier costumes, balancing acts from Cirque du Soleil have nothing on these guys!

A mesmerizing sight at sunset

Opatija, Croatia

Until about a year ago, I’d never heard of this place, and I certainly didn’t know how to pronounce it. (o-PAH-tee-yah) Having just returned from staying there with my WOW! Travel Club for four nights, I fell in love with it. It was once the go-to seaside resort for the elite during the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – as evidenced by the many opulent belle-époque villas that grace the town. It stretches along the sparkling Adriatic and is backed by densely forested hills. There’s a coastal path called the Lungomare that stretches more than seven miles past villas and tropical gardens. The beach isn’t so great, but there are grand spa hotels and excellent restaurants. And beautiful views in every direction. And, it’s a great base for exploration of the Istrian Peninsula and the island of Krk – where we went in search of the missing vowel!

The statue of the Maiden with the Seagull is a symbol of Opatija

A view of Opatija from the highway that winds above the town

Near the medieval town of Motovun on the Istrian Peninsula, we went on a truffle hunt! This was our intrepid truffle hunter with truffle dogs Sara and Lola, and the oak forest where the precious and rare truffles grow. At 10:30 in the morning, it was already pretty hot – and the dogs’ noses don’t work so good when they’re panting so our hunter had “planted” some truffles! Nonetheless, it was fun and interesting!

The “Gate to Nowhere” (Heaven’s Gate?) overlooking the Adriatic and the historic town of Bakar, where they built drystone walls of limestone on the steep hillsides and grow grapes for a world-famous sparkling wine called Bakarska vodica

Aitutaki, Cook Islands

When I asked Gabriel for his suggestion for this blog post, Aitutaki was the first thing out of his mouth. “The most beautiful beach destination in the world,” he said. Based on these photos, I can’t disagree. Will have to add it to my list!

Can’t disagree with Gabriel’s choice!

How do you spell  i n v i t i n g ?

Aitutaki is one of fifteen islands comprising the Cook Islands, sprinkled across a vast swath of the South Pacific, halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand.

Plitvice National Park, Croatia

You’ll have to forgive me, but I’ve got Croatia on my mind. Our just-completed journey was jammed with incredible places you’ve never heard of. Plitvice (PLIT-vee-shay) is a UNESCO World Heritage site comprised of cascading waterfalls, lakes, and caves. The colors of blue, green, turquoise, aqua and azure are almost impossible to capture in a photograph, but we tried our best!

Stunning beauty reflected on the still waters of the lake.

So many shades of blue and green!

If you read about Plitvice, you’ll no doubt find lots of horror stories about long waits and horrible crowds in peak summer season. But the WOW! Travel Club knows all the secrets to see such places without the mobs!

For centuries, the waters have flowed over limestone and chalk, creating natural dams and lakes.

There are many other places to share with you, but I’ll save them for another post.

What about you? What are some of the most fabulous places have you been that nobody’s probably ever heard of?