Particularly when I’m travelling solo, I’m one of those people who knock themselves out with siteseeing during the day and absolutely crash and burn at night. Nighttime is usually for recharging my batteries, planning out the next day’s movements and updating my blog.
But seeing many cities solely during the daytime would be like only reading half a book. So, I try and venture out after dark at least once in each city. Some cities are known for their beauty at night, such as Budapest, Hong Kong and Rome, so off I’d set with my camera. Others are well-known for their opera and theatre, or where locals like to have a drink or two.
I’ve struggled with this list, mainly with their order. All of these nights were great, so think of them as a set rather than any sort of countdown! I also don’t often trust myself in taking my camera out at night, so I’ve sometimes had to be a bit creative with the photos.
Next: Favourite museums
10. Hofbrauhaus, Munich
Munich is definitely the world’s beer capital, and the Hofbrauhaus is therefore sort of its parliament. This is the place where Hitler made some of his famous speeches, but that’s not what it’s known for. Rather, it is known for its one-litre masses (glass steins) of beer, oompah bands, waiters in traditional dress and every beast known to man served on a plate. Of course it is a tourist magnet, and I usually take passengers instead to the lesser-known Augustiner, but this is the granddaddy and a must to visit. Locals also rub shoulders with people from all over the world, with many of them having their own personal masses kept on the premises under lock and key. I spent a great night here with Steph and her family. (NB – pic is from the night before in the Augustiner. I think Steph still has all the photos somewhere.)
9. Partying in daylight, Tallinn
Estonia, and its other neighbours in Scandinavia, are so far north that in wintertime, they hardly see any sun. However, in summertime, the moon is hardly ever out. So much so that after a night out organized by my hostel, we trudged back at 4am, which could have passed for noon. Bizarre.
8. Fiesta, Seville
Paul and I were having dinner in Seville when we noticed hundreds and hundreds of people walking past the front window. Intrigued, we joined them and soon found ourselves lining the streets of Seville’s old centre. As midnight approached, people began bringing out their plastic bags and turning umbrellas upside down. We were unwittingly in town for the Epiphany, and the Spanish find it only fitting to celebrate any sort of religious holiday with a fiesta. Dozens of floats came through the streets with kids dressed in all sorts of amazing costumes, all throwing lollies out to the adoring crowd. I can still remember the tunes to the songs the crowd were belting out.
7. Barcelona pub crawl, Barcelona
I signed up for this pub crawl with another person I’d met at my hostel, and that was the only reason why I signed up – I knew one other person going. They decided they were tired after about ten minutes in and headed back, with me staring into my drink and wondering exactly I was supposed to do on a pub crawl by myself. No matter, I met heaps of different people that I still keep in contact with today.
6. Moulin Rouge, Paris
I planned ahead as to when exactly I was to see a show at the famous Moulin Rouge. With the show starting at eleven, and being the nanna that I am, I wanted to make sure I had my beauty sleep. After a few months, I decided to throw in the towel. I was to see the show, and struggle through the next day at work through Belgium and the Netherlands. I filled myself up with delicious French food in Montmartre, giggled through champagne and took my seat in the front row. I let myself be carried away with it all and when I rose again in the morning after four hours sleep, I decided that it was worth it.
5. 7-Eleven pub crawl, Hiroshima
In a lot of Japanese cities, such as Hiroshima, bars close insanely early or are strictly Japanese-only affairs. It’s not particularly rude – it’s just that they aren’t confident in dealing with foreigners. Foreigners (read – backpackers) have therefore perfected the 7-Eleven pub crawl. It has become a bit of an institution, as at least 7-Elevens are open all night and stock plentiful amounts of alcoholic beverages. Our group completed the crawl after a spot of karaoke, moving from store to store and criss-crossing all over the city.
4. A night at the races, Hong Kong
When visiting Hong Kong, it’s a must to head down to Happy Valley to place a few bets. It’s not just a local race meet – this is the Hong Kong Jockey Club, probably the most prestigious in the world. They’ve got their fingers in so many pies that they even have their own cup on Melbourne Cup day. The venue looks like Flemington if Flemington had duplicated its grandstand about ten times – it was almost a city unto itself. Surprisingly it is a cheap night out, with a minimum bet being HK$10 (just a bit more than AU$1) and figuring out how to place a bet is less intimidating than at home.
3. Opera at the Volksoper, Vienna
Steph and I felt pretty proud of ourselves when we scored some tickets to one of Vienna’s famous operas at the Volksoper. We put on our Sunday best (well, the best we could find in our backpacks) and headed down amongst Vienna’s finest. I’d never been to an opera before and I’d kind of forgotten that it wouldn’t be in English. I figured out that it was by Mozart and it started with ‘the’ and that was it. I was completely lost and there was just way too much singing going on. And I fell asleep. Unfortunately I began to snore, a trait I believed I did not possess, and Steph and I had an attack of the giggles that lasted until the curtain call.
2. Singing in an Irish pub, Killarney
On my first night in Ireland, my entire dorm went out for a few drinks at a local pub. I didn’t think I’d like Guinness but knew I had to try a pint. There were five of us girls altogether; one French, one Dutch, one Japanese, one German and me. Again I was the only native English speaker and yet we all conversed in my mother tongue, which always racks me with guilt. The pub was completely different to any Irish pub I’d ever been to at home, yet my Guinness was still served with a shamrock carved into the head. A small band played, and got us all involved, handing out all sorts of instruments so everyone had one. So simple, yet so fun.
1. Eating and drinking with locals, Seoul
My hostel in Seoul was one of the best I’ve ever stayed at, and Mr Lee pointed us out the best restaurant in the neighbourhood for Korean BBQ. We were also keen to try some soju so we picked some up along the way. We ended up befriending a table of Korean businessmen next to us, who ended up taking us out for the night. They paid for all our food and drinks, and I have plenty of photos of us smiling with seemingly all the people in the restaurant, including the staff. And we got their business cards, too.