It's not like I'm ONLY interested in dark tourism. OK, I despise beach holidays and many other popular forms of "mainstream" tourism aren’t exactly for me either (any type of sports holidays, for instance, including skiing), but there are plenty of non-dark attractions and other forms of tourism that I fully enjoy too. That's also why I usually add a section of 'combinations with non-dark destinations' at the end of most chapters about specific dark places too.
The culinary aspects of travelling is an important element (see under food & drink
). Staying at cool hotels etc. can also be a, well, cool experience. Wildlife watching can provide extremely exciting moments, with a bit of luck. I also get a kick out of just great scenery, be it mountains, cliffs and coastlines, arctic glaciers and pack ice, jungle, deserts, waterfalls or whatnot, especially with a view to photography
. Cityscapes can be enticing too, as can be individual architectural landmarks. To give a personal overview, I'll sum it up in the following lists:
But back to the beach … or rather not, as the case may be. How come I so don't like beaches and beach holidays? Well, for one thing, beaches and me simply don't agree. I don't much like walking in sand, certainly not barefoot. I don't like salty water – and beaches tend to be by the sea, so … I can't handle waves either (other than looking at them from a safe distance). It's not always been so; I did spend time on beaches as a child on family holidays. My distaste for it must have developed later. But in almost all of my adult life, I've avoided beaches. Almost. There was one exception.
After decades had passed since childhood I once gave it another shot, partly because I felt it had to be done. It was on my honeymoon (see personal background
) in Sri Lanka
, and we had decided to finish it off in some luxury at a beachside boutique hotel/resort near Galle. It would have been most people's dream. For us it was a kind of nod to tradition (though the luxury was enticing in itself). Well, the resort had its own stretch of beach on the Indian Ocean. So I thought, alright, I should walk to the beach then and go for a dip in the sea. It's the done thing. And so I did it. For about five minutes. I felt very much at odds with the experience from the start. Then I got bowled over by a big wave and badly sprained my ankle. Hobbling out, salt water in my ears, nose and eyes, and sand grinding between my toes, pain throbbing in my ankle, I felt it totally confirmed, hammered in: me and beaches, incompatible. End of. That's it. And so it will remain for evermore from now on. Not ten thousand horses will ever get me to another attempt at beach holidaying.
And that last beach I ever tried in Sri Lanka was even a nice one, by what I gather are typical standards. It was nearly private, nearly deserted, smooth, golden, the water was warm (like pee, I thought) and lined with palm trees. Cliché bliss. Still, for me it was a disaster.
What I cannot even begin to understand is how one can enjoy crowded beaches – like the Copacabana and such "classic" places. I can hardly look at photos or TV images of such rammed beaches without shuddering in horror. For me that is the ultimate nightmare! Honestly, I'd really rather visit another cemetery, disaster area or murder site. Put me on a crowded beach, though, and it might just become a murder site …