‘I’ve always been fascinated with all things deathly and dark. Given my love of travel, it’s not surprising that I’m a fan of dark tourism…’
Should you also be fascinated with locations of a dark tourism nature, there’s no end to the places you can visit. This is the first part of a list of some of the best sites I’ve visited.
|Auschwitz death camp|
I was spending a week in Krakow and it seemed like it would be a shame to go so far from Scotland and not visit THE dark tourism epicentre. I caught a bus to Oswiecim and found that even on the long journey through the countryside, my mood lowered and I became apprehensive.
One of the first things I spotted was an old disused rail track, which set out the tone for what was to come over the next few hours. I was immediately struck by how close the camp was to the local town. I assumed, wrongly, it would be out in the middle of a field somewhere, far away from prying eyes.
Once within the confines of Auschwitz, you can pick up a guided tour, which is available in a range of languages. There are pretty strict instructions on how you should conduct yourself, particularly in respect of noise levels and photography. After all, the former concentration camp is a memorial to the horrors of the Holocaust and must be treated with the utmost respect.
The guides are wonderful at relaying the stories of imprisonment. Along with the information boards and the walking tour, you can start to get a sense of how utterly horrific it was. And, just when you think you can’t see anything worse, you’ll enter another area and your jaw will drop further.
It’s so quiet and so peaceful and it was more than my brain would allow to imagine how truly terrifying it must have been to be there. I distinctly remember not really being able to speak on the way back to Krakow because I was so saddened.
Dealey Plaza, Dallas
|Texas School Book Depository|
I’d heard the story a million times: ‘you’ll instantly recognise it when you see it’, referencing the infamous site of the 1963 shooting. I was largely unconvinced even though, like everyone else, Although, I’d seen the location of JFK’s assassination countless times through TV and movie footage, I wasn’t sure I’d know it well enough to recognise the place the moment I walked around the corner. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This is the reason Dallas has one of the most high profile dark tourism sites on the planet
I arrived in Dallas around 6 pm and anxiously negotiated the rush hour traffic, desperately trying to make it to my downtown hotel in one piece. Once there and checked in, I wandered down to the front desk to ask how far away I was from Dealey Plaza. Obviously accustomed to being asked the same question, the Receptionist smiled, handed me a map and pointed me a few blocks to the right.
As daylight was starting to fade, I initially worried that I would have been better making the trip the next morning, but I couldn’t wait that long. I just wanted a quick glance before returning to visit the Book Depository and surrounding area the following day.
Pere Lachaise, Paris
Another fabulous grave is that of Oscar Wilde. It’s a quite huge affair and is covered with wonderfully bright lipstick prints. Yes, it’s true; people smother themselves in lipstick and kiss his grave. I didn’t partake in this particular tradition, mainly because I don’t really wear lipstick. Also, I don’t kiss many graves*
|The final resting place of The Lizard King|
|Covered in lipstick and looking fabulous…|