5 Unusual Sights You Should See

by Karen Kwan

When I plan a trip, I’ll include museums and historic landmarks, but I love stumbling across spots that aren’t in most guidebooks—those little gems that are unique to a city or town. Get your cellphone ready for Instagram photos of these special spots.

Graffiti Alley in Toronto, Canada

How is it that I’ve lived in Toronto for more than a decade and I only came across Graffiti Alley now? I’d always heard of it, but never knew where it was exactly. When shopping on Queen St. West, pop into the alley (you’ll find it south of Queen Street West, between Portland and Spadina) and watch the artists at work and admire the displays of many local pros. It stretches more than a kilometre, and if you’re a keen graffiti fan, then you may want to take a tour with companies such as the Tour Guys to learn more about the artists.

Pont des Arts (a.k.a. Love Lock Bridge) in Paris, France

Okay, this one isn’t so much a hidden gem—most people have seen or heard of the love padlocks adorning this bridge. For years, couple have been leaving padlocks on the bridge with their names written on them, and then tossing the keys into the Seine. Even the most non-romantic may find themselves feeling warm and fuzzy looking at all the expressions of love surrounding them on the crowded fences.



The Mud Baths in Formentera, Spain

Should you be out on a boat and near Formentera (the smallest of the Balearic Islands) in Spain, swim to shore to explore the mud baths. There are signs warning against trespassing but they (and the smell of sulphur) don’t deter people from venturing to the baths and covering their bodies with mud for a free cleansing treatment. (Note: The baths are part of a protected nature reserve—hence the no-trespassing signs—so despite the temptation, we have to recommend you keep your exploration to a see-but-don’t-touch experience.)

The Gum Wall in Seattle, U.S.A.

Leaving Pike Place Market, I stumbled accidentally upon the gum wall in Post Alley. It’s at once both disgusting and intriguing. There are hundreds of dried wads of gum stuck to the brick wall, creating a mesmerizing rainbow of dots. Take a pic of yourself with the wall, but be careful not to step back too far (unless you’re okay with touching the saliva of many, many strangers). The gum wall is said to have started in the early 90s when theatre goers started sticking their gum with coins to the wall. Perhaps most intriguing? The entrepreneurial folk who paste their business cards to the wall (is this really where you want to select your real estate agent?).



The Anderson Barn in Ephraim, U.S.A.

It’s hard to miss a red barn covered with names written neatly all over its exterior walls. I snapped a few photos of it before leaving Ephraim, Wisconsin, not realizing it was a well-known landmark: Anderson Barn. The barn itself houses artwork, artifacts and history about the town of Ephraim, and the Anderson Dock by the barn is actually in the National Register of Historic Places. Snap a photo and add your own John Hancock to the rows of names.