Discover hidden parts of France, get an insight into Northern Africa, have tea with a Welsh community in Argentina or sunbathe on a beach in Spain. Mhairi Roberts on where to go in the Intersemester Break
It seems there is something delightfully captivating and intriguing about Morocco’s capital. The ‘red city’ Marrakech, whuch is built up against the foot of a great shaft of mountains, will be an assault on the senses. However, red is not the only colour of the treasures at the many markets and shops. Save up your pennies and invest in some of the beautifully crafted leather goods that are plentiful. The increase in visitors means that Marrakech may not be as cheap as it once used to be. According to The Rough Guide the Djemma el Fna square is “the most wonderful city square in the world, an open-air circus of snake charmers, acrobats, musicians and storytellers.” Located at the heart of the city, the surrounding area feeds from this magical and compelling atmosphere. The real charm of Marrakech is the contrast to our small sleepy seaside town. Far from the familiarity of European cities, Marrakech, despite its popularity with tourists, is still more than capable of giving you a brief insight into a captivating part of Africa.
Flights: Ryanair from Edinburgh, from £30.99 (single, excluding taxes etc). Accommodation: Equity Point Youth Hostel, near the Djemma el Fna square.
Chances are that at numerous points during your time in St Andrews, you will make vague promises to yourself and friends to ‘go up north’. January and February may not be the months to see Scotland at its most temperate. However, it could still be a memorable experience of beautiful, crisp and snowy winter days. Aviemore is a true highland town, 39 miles south of Inverness. Famous for its ski resort on the Cairngorm Mountain, it is a haven for the dedicated breed of Scottish skiers. With the Cairngorm mountain funicular railway, the Landmark adventure centre and the beautiful Loch Morlich with its outdoor sports centre, Aviemore also provides ample entertainment options for non-skiers. From Edinburgh or Perth, transport to this town is incredibly easy with centrally located bus and train stations. Or alternatively find a friend with a car and drive straight up the A9 and visit some of the small towns on the way – Dunkeld and Pitlochry are both quaint, interesting places to stop off.
Trains: Scotrail – £6.80 single from Edinburgh (with railcard) Buses: Citylink – £22 return from Edinburgh
Despite the image of package holidays and crowded beaches Málaga evokes, it may well be an inspired choice. The city in southern Spain is not teeming with culture in comparison to Barcelona and Madrid, but it has a surprising range of places to visit. Just one of these is Málaga’s tribute to Picasso. The Picasso Museum is very interesting and the gallery hosts some of his seminal artworks. The real appeal of Málaga though is its position as the gateway to the rest of Andalusia, one of the most enchanting areas of Europe. The Andalusian capital, Seville, is a large, vibrant city. Granada, with its famous Alhambra, is nestled high up in the Sierra Nevada. Almería is a truly underrated city in Spain. Calm, beautiful and with possibly the best tapas bars in the country, it is off the beaten tourist trail and will make you feel like you have had a truly Spanish adventure.
Flights: Easyjet from Glasgow International, from £24.99 (single, excluding taxes etc)
Germany, once visited, is one country you will want to return to time and time again. Berlin especially will leave you with a desire for more. Berlin has a truly individual character, shaped by its recent history and division during the Cold War. It is better thought of as a cluster of different neighbourhoods, each with their own vibrant heart, as opposed to a city centre surrounded by urban sprawl. Berlin has everything you would want in a European city. World class art galleries, history and culture; delicious restaurants and bars can be found everywhere. Not as pretty or grand as its European cousins, Berlin is a city with real soul. Head to the East side, you will be greeted by streets of independent shops, art galleries, youth hostels with beds made out of old VW beetles and cool neighbourhood bars and clubs.
Flights: Easyjet from Glasgow International, from £26.99 (single, excluding taxes etc)
Despite being an extravagant choice for the inter-semester break, in just two weeks, you will see one of the most exciting countries in the world, have the best steak of your life and fall in love with the people of Argentina. January also means Summer in South America, so you will see this country in all of its glorious sunshine. Buenos Aires will keep you busy. Whether checking out the trendy Palermo district or wandering through the famous painted houses of La Boca, you will love it. Check out the famous San Telmo market and don’t worry about following the crowd. Head up to the Iguazu Falls in the north or head down south to the truly breathtaking town of Barriloche in the Patagonia region. If all this feels a little too far away from home, you can always visit the Welsh community in Patagonia. Sitting down to a traditional afternoon tea surrounded by people chatting in Welsh is an undeniably bizarre yet wonderful experience.
Flights: From Edinburgh, from £911 (return, including taxes etc)
Cows, milk and cream. Indeed this is a selection of the things this island off the Normandy coast of France has to offer. But it doesn’t end there of course: Situated in the English Channel, a visit here will give you an experience of a unique fusion of French and English culture. The undeniably quaint island is bound to remind you of all your favourite childhood days. Clean, quiet beaches, delightfully traditional villages nestled in beautiful coves, as well as an inescapable relaxed island vibe will ensure that your time in Jersey will definitely feel like a holiday. Brave the cold water and learn to surf at the Jersey Surf School in St. Ouens Bay. The south-facing sun trap that is Green Island beach is a local tip for the best beach on the whole island, but it is only one of a host of seaside gems. Take an easy day trip to the northern French city of Saint-Malo, with its walled city centre, castle and typically French squares. You will discover one of the best hidden parts of France.
Flights: Flybe from Glasgow International, from £16.50 (single, excluding taxes etc)