Surprising Cities: you may not have to look far.
You may not have to travel far for a great new solo travel experience.
I live in the big city. The biggest city in Canada, in fact. And there’s a huge art scene here but that doesn’t mean that, just down the road, there might be one that is equally fascinating. That’s what I discovered when I went to Hamilton, Ontario last weekend.
Hamilton is about an hour away from my place. I went to see Catherine MacLellan. Folk songs flow from her like silk in the wind. Thanks to friends, she is a wonderful new discovery for me, as was the concert venue, The Pearl Company. Hidden away in an old factory in a definitively unassuming part of town, The Pearl Factory offers theatrical productions, concerts, a gallery for visual art and even a monthly publication on what’s happening around Hamilton. Scroll down for a quick video on the venue.
But arts in Hamilton doesn’t stop there. The next day was what they call the Supercrawl. There is an Artcrawl on the 2nd Friday of every month in Hamilton but once a year they have the Supercrawl when they close off James Street North for performances, art installations and participatory events.
Traveling near is great for new solo travelers.
As I described in the post Best Destinations for Solo Travelers, when just starting out, it is often easier for a solo traveler to find their feet by traveling close to home. The culture and language are familiar but the experiences are new. And the added bonus of going to a small city or town is that the people are very friendly – especially when popping into an arts events.
What surprising cities have you discovered?
When traveling down the Blues Highway in 2009, I planned to go to Jackson, Mississippi – mostly because it was on the train route and fit my schedule. People on the train asked “why Jackson?”. I got nervous. I thought I might have really blown it in my planning. This town must have nothing to offer. But it had the best blues bar that I found on that trip.
I’ve come to expect this type of thing. In 2011 I was in St.-Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick. Again, my expectations were not high and again, I was pleasantly surprised by the music scene. I got to hang out with a bunch of grammy-award-winning musicians in a very small pub. You can ready that story here.
So tell me, what surprising cities have you discovered? Please let us all know about them in the comments.
And now, here’s Gary of The Pearl Company to explain the history of the venue.