Small Town Explorer

Sanzhi, Taiwan: Taiwan’s Beautiful North Coast City District

Posted by on Jul 31, 2017 in Destinations, Guest Posts, Sanzhi, Small Town Explorer | 1 comment

Sanzhi, Taiwan

Sanzhi, Taiwan’s Beautiful North Coast City District, written by my friend and fellow travel blogger Joy Harmon, is the second small town expose in the series  Small Town Explorer.  The villages and towns we visit in our travels are often the hidden gems of a country or region. Readers will be introduced to small centers around the globe, featuring their uniqueness, their history, what to see and do, and where to stay and where to dine. Come along as Joy introduces us to the charms of Sanzhi, Taiwan.

If you missed the first post in the Small Town Explore series you can find it here.

Get on the bus! Come on! Get off the Metro here. This is Danshui the last Metro stop on the north end of this island country. Turn right out the gate, run, run down to the bus line and get on next bus going along the north coast route.  Just in time! Now you can relax and enjoy the scenery. As you leave Danshui and head northeast along the coast, entering the Sanzhi district, the landscape becomes gradually more rugged. The town itself is some miles away, but you’ll know you’re in the Sanzhi district when you can see the ocean.

At first, everything looks abandoned, There’s an old American country western bar that just didn’t make the grade on the right, but it’s funny to see that cowboy sign in Taiwan. And just past there is my favorite, a chicken restaurant that has the ducks in the side yard. I’ve never seen a live chicken there!

We’re getting closer to the ocean, it’s just around this last turn and down hill. Why is the traffic so slow? It looks like there is nothing much here. It’s a weekend or a holiday and cars are lined up at least a quarter mile from the first seaside restaurant. What’s so special about this place? It is the first restaurant on the beach side of the highway, Sugar Villa. It’s Italian food and it’s good, but that’s not it. It is the special ambiance. Let’s get off and see! The restaurant, itself spreads out along the beach side with wide glass doors and windows facing the shore. The deck extends out over the sand on both sides and every table, both inside and out has a full view of the sea. There is a nice beach with a launch for the jet skis for rent. So, you can play hard and eat much. Or you can just sit back and enjoy watching the water sports. To top it off, the service is always prompt and friendly.

Taiwan dating tip: This spot is a popular getaway for Taipei residents on weekend afternoons. But it’s equally popular in the evening. One evening when I was here with a Taiwanese friend, we watched while a small group of young guys set up candles on the beach.

Sanzhi, Taiwan

A romantic evening near Qianshuiwan Beach Park

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Bourtange: Small Town in a Fortress

Posted by on Jul 25, 2017 in Bourtange, Small Town Explorer | 2 comments

Bourtange

Bourtange: Small Town in a Fortress, written by my friend and fellow travel blogger Rachel, is the first small town expose in the series  Small Town Explorer.  The villages and towns we visit in our travels are often the hidden gems of a country or region. Readers will be introduced to small centers around the globe, featuring their uniqueness, their history, what to see and do, and where to stay and where to dine.

On her blog, Rachel’s Ruminations, Rachel Heller writes about independent travel, sometimes solo, sometimes not, with an emphasis on historical and cultural sights/sites. She is a former American who has lived in the Netherlands for the last 20 years.

Imagine a cobblestone plaza. Trees around its edge throw dappled shadows. Nine streets radiate from the plaza, but you see no cars, only an occasional bicycle. Small houses – some red-brick, some white-painted brick – face the plaza, simply designed with little embellishment. The wind rustles the trees from time to time, and you hear children shouting, footsteps on the cobbles, low conversation.

You sit on a chair on the edge of the plaza, a café table in front of you, sipping a drink. A beer? A coffee? A soft drink? Your choice. You take it all in, relaxed.

This plaza is called Marktplein, and it sits at the exact center of the small village of Bourtange, population just under 500.

But Bourtange is more than just a village. It’s a fortress, and it’s a museum.

Bourtange

Bourtange from the fortress wall

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