Travel is good for the soul

All this sunshine!! It’s been warmer here in the UK than in Majorca, and Greece; so why would anyone want to travel further field?
Well people do, and no longer are they satisfied with short haul flights to the Mediterranean resorts – these days its not uncommon for people to cross the Atlantic for a weekend break, holidays are taken in far flung resorts; but for some this still isn’t enough – those intrepid travellers seek solace on a high peak, or an isolated wave lapped beach – And ignoring the carbon footprint issues why shouldn’t anyone want to go wherever they fancy
Because ‘The Man’ says you can’t that’s why! At least he (very nearly) does at these locations…

Area 51 – The most famous ‘no go’ on the planet

Travel is good for the soul
Where is it? Nevada, USA
Why can’t I visit? It’s a top secret military testing base, protected by armed private security teams patrolling in jeeps who are fully authorised to use deadly force to deal with intruders. Whether or not you believe UFOs have crashed landed there, the ridiculously strict security around the base means you’re never going to find out for sure. Plus the place is surrounded by geeks and conspiracy theorists pretending to be Mulder & Scully, enough to put anyone off.

Le Cercle Munster
Where is it? Luxembourg
Why can’t I visit? Because it’s an exclusive private members club that’s extremely selective about just who they have as new members. Still want to join? You must be backed by two sponsors and be approved by a selection committee made up of bigwigs from the finance world. Unless you’re an incredibly rich banker, businessman or equity trader, you’ll never see the sumptuous insides of the club, take part in the ‘Programme culturel’ or eat the delicious food at the in-house restaurant. Like we needed another reason to hate bankers!!

Jiangsu National Security Education Museum
Where is it? Nanjing, China
Why can’t I visit? Well you can, in fact anyone is allowed in… as long as they are Chinese. There’s a big sign outside the front of this very unusual museum stating that only Chinese citizens are allowed inside. The unusual and possibly racist entry requirements are because the Museum documents the very dark history of the Chinese spy trade, and the Chinese Government doesn’t want any of us Johnny foreigners finding out their spying secrets.


Travel is good for the soul
Where is it? The Venetian lagoon, Italy
Why can’t I visit? Because it’s haunted! According to legend it was used to isolate plague victims during Roman times, and then as a mass grave in the Middle Ages, following the rather unpleasant Black Death. As if that wasn’t scary enough, it’s also home to spooky abandoned building; complete with bell tower naturally – that was apparently a mental hospital. These days it’s off-limits to visitors unless you bribe a gondolier to take you there.

Niihau Island
Where is it? The Hawaiian Islands, USA
Why can’t I visit? Because you’re poor!! A super-rich family, the Robinsons bought Niihau in 1915 and closed it off to preserve its indigenous culture and wildlife. The 200-or-so natives who live there lead a blissful existence free of electricity, and all the trappings of the modern world and, for the most part, tourists. There are very rare helicopter tours to the isle where you can wander along one of the beaches, but getting anywhere near the locals is strictly forbidden; hence its nickname ‘Forbidden Island’.

Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion
Where is it? Axum, Ethiopia
Why can’t I visit? Because it’s no ordinary church. According to legend its home to one of the most important biblical artefacts ever – the Ark of the Covenant (basically the chest that held the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were carved). Only a specially chosen monk is allowed to guard the ‘Ark’. No-one else is allowed to lay eyes on it or even get close, in 2009 The head of the Ethiopian Church proposed to reveal ‘The Ark’, but at the last minute changed his mind, some claim this secrecy means the Ethiopian church is perhaps not being entirely truthful.

Bohemian Grove

Travel is good for the soul
Where is it? California, USA
Why can’t I visit?  It’s an extremely secretive men-only club whose members include artists, musicians, businessmen politicians, and the odd president (Both Nixon and Dubya were allegedly members). Once a year they allegedly all gather for a two-week long festival where rituals such as the ‘Cremation of Care’ – a wicker-man-style faux-pagan rite – and the ‘Grove Play’ – a large-scale musical theatre production – are performed by members. It sounds like spiffing fun to us; no doubt the LTW invite is on its way.

Lechiguilla Cave
Where is it? New Mexico, USA
Why can’t I visit? It’s perhaps the most beautiful cave on the planet and frankly, the authorities don’t want you ruining it. Discovered in 1986 by miners, the sprawling underground complex is home to stunning speleothems, gypsum chandeliers and hydromagnesite balloons. The resident LTW geologist is currently on leave so we are not to sure what any of these are, but they sound might impressive. Sadly, unless you’re an extremely experienced caver you’ll never get a permit to see them.

Mount Kailash
Where is it? The Himalayas, Tibet
Why can’t I visit? Because God lives there – Well to be more accurate its home to a Hindu god; Lord Shiva, to be precise, who lives at the summit in a state of perpetual meditation. Sounds like bliss to us, which is appropriate, as Buddhists also believe the peak is home to the Buddha Demchok, who represents supreme bliss. Because of this religious significance the peak was always considered off-limits by most climbers, however this self regulation wasn’t enough for Chinese Government which issued an official ban in 2001.

Ilha de Queimada Grande
Where is it? Brazil – Offshore due south of Sao Paulo
Why can’t I visit? Because you will die!! Basically, it’s full of snakes – hence the nickname ‘Snake Island’. Local legend states there’s between one and five snakes per square meter on the island, how they count this when no one is allowed there is anyone’s guess. Plus these are not just any old snakes, most of them are golden lance-heads, a species noted for its extremely potent venom. Because of this the Brazilian Navy forbids tourists from stepping foot on the island.

For more odd locations have a look at the rather wonderful Atlas Obscura

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Phil Newall is from The Wirral - he earns his living not writing about music nor playing music...though sorely wishes he could. He was fortunate enough to see many of the first generation punk bands when they played the U18's matinee shows at Eric's, Liverpool. As an attendee at Eric's he was exposed to punk rock, dub reggae, art rock, and all manner of weirdness; as a customer at Probe Records he was variously served and scowled at by Pete Wylie and Pete Burns - he has written for Record Collector, Whisperin & Hollerin, and Spiral Scratch and wanted to write a book detailing the Liverpool punk scene; however with 'Head-On' Julian Cope beat him to it...and frankly did a much better job.



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