Start planning your vacation with this travel guide for geeks.
Although your inner geek may essentially be a homebody, it's probably a good thing to show him or her around every once in a while. The idea of a weeklong Star Trek marathon may be more appealing to you than sun, sea and sand, and a road trip might ideally be a drive to an out-of-town specialist bookstore. But geeks can also have international holidays! There's a whole world of nerdy attractions out there, spanning science, culture, overlooked history and more.
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We understand that you don't want to follow the herd, but we also know that you're hungry for obscure artefacts and strange sights, and that your particular tastes probably extend far beyond what can commonly be found in your hometown. So settle down, tune in to that inner geek, and let us tempt you with a few of the international travel destinations that they may not appreciate, but you certainly will.
What geek doesn't love Japan? It's the home of manga, Godzilla, J-Pop, Banana Yoshimoto and Shonen Knife. The major cities are practically high-tech shrines to all that is brightest and strangest in pop culture. In Tokyo, the Comiket comic market attracts over 500,000 attendees all in pursuit of extremely rare, self-published manga comics, or dojinshi. Queues form outside the Big Sight Convention Center days before the event itself, showing an obsessive dedication sure to make your inner geek feel all warm and fuzzy (if a little panicky at the thought of missing out). The Tokyo Game Show is also a must-visit for any video games nerd; while not as big as Germany's Gamescom, in Tokyo, you're more likely to feel as though you're actually living in a video game the whole time.
There are many great sights to see in Russia, but if you're a fan of retro space-age artefacts and technology then you'll be in seventh heaven. Book yourself into one of these surprisingly affordable Moscow Vacation Apartments and use it as a base to visit such sights as the 1964 Monument to the Conquerors of Space outside the All-Russia Exhibition Center, and the amazing Cosmonautics Memorial Museum.
Just 25 miles outside of Moscow is Star City, the formerly secret home of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center. Tours are available, as are guided visits to Russian Mission Control Center and day trips to Kaluga, known as the “cradle of space exploration”. Meanwhile, the Polytechnical Museum is the oldest science museum in the world and includes an exhibit on the space race, alongside many other fascinating, geek-friendly items.
In its own tweedy, reserved way, England has given geek culture many of its greatest and most enduring heroes. Think of Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, Doctor Who, and of course Harry Potter. Head straight for Platform Nine and Three-Quarters at London's Kings Cross station and have your photo taken with the handcart already halfway through the wall, before getting yourself a souvenir at the adjoining gift shop. True fans will also want to visit Leadenhall Market, where you'll recognize the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron from the first movie.
The true Harry Potter obsessive, however, will want to head “up north” as the English say, to find the real-life Hogwarts in the form of Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. This breathtaking historic stately home and fortress was used as a location in both the Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets films, not to mention other classics such as Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. History nerds need to know that the oldest parts of the castle date back to 1096.
Finally, if your inner nerd is more into retro computers than spell casting, then your number one destination in England should be the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park. This has an unparalleled collection of historic computers, including the monumental machine known as Colossus (dating from 1943). Bletchley Park is also the place where true nerd hero Alan Turing did much of his groundbreaking wartime work in code breaking and pioneering computer science.
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Whatever area of interest excites you, there are many destinations around the world that will cater for your taste. For film nerds, we could mention the Lord of the Rings sets in New Zealand or the Star Wars sets in Tunisia, but even the obscurest of niche tastes will have a museum or convention dedicated to it somewhere on the planet; you just have to seek it out. But happily, seeking out obscure items of interest is just what us geeks love doing best – so happy hunting!