I can’t even count how many time I’ve heard it: I don’t like sightseeing, I hate musems – it’s so boring!
I can’t even say how many times those where my own words because after the period of museum fascination, there was time for me when almost every visit to a museum appeared to be a nightmare. It wasn’t really important if there was anything interesting inside – whatever there was I was against the visit. There were no exceptions – once I was standing in front of Tate Modern in London and I decided not to enter, and I must admit that it had always been a fascinating place for me before (the most fascinating was my surprise how little I understand modern art).
I’m not going to try to convince that you should visit places anyway because you might never go back. It’s hard to force yourself, and even if you do, well it probably won’t be fun. However, there is a type of sightseeing that makes visiting places a totally different experience – it’s sightseeing by night. You might think that a few hours won’t make much difference, but you’re wrong, it can change everything.
The last place I visited by night is St. Cathrine Monastery (Monasterio de Santa Catalina) in Arequpia, Peru. At first I was not even planning of visiting as I dislike visiting churches and monasteries even more than I dislike visiting museums. I have no idea what this place is like during the day or how many tourists there are, but at night it’s magic. I know that ‘magic’ is a very often used adjective by all the travellers and often it means nothing but I’m searching other words and I can’t find them because this is how it is: magic. When you visit this 16th century monastery after the sunset, there are not many tourists, and those who are there seem to disappear in dark corners. Many of the rooms are viewed by the candlelight, and although there’re lanterns in narrow cobbled streets the light is dim – you walk and you feel you have moved a few centuries back. It’s worth paying for a guide – the history of the monastery is fascinating, and when you walk and listen to it, you’ll probably be happy that you are not one of the 16th century nuns (although… from their point of view it might have been not so bad).
Night sightseeing with a guide is not the same as a walk at night – when you listen to stories they become alive and you’re totally engrossed, the very same places often seem more interesting than during the day. I haven’t done much night sightseeing yet, but all the trips I did were impressive, whether it was a visit to the Castle in Poznań, my hometown, Red Lights District in Amsterdam or the zoo in Singapore. There’s one trip I haven’t done and I wish I did: night sightseeing of a cemetery in Santiago de Chile. In August, when I was there it was not available, but… I’ll go there again one day!