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STA Travel Blog

5 places to go if you can’t get enough of Wimbledon

As if football fever wasn’t enough, now us Brits are getting all in a tizzy over the tennis too. Wimbledon 2014 is in full swing (geddit?) and to save (ha!) you from the blues when it’s all over, we’re serving you up a nice handy list of ace exotic places to escape to for the summer. We promise you’ll love them (ok that’s enough).

But these aren’t just any old destinations, they’re the hometowns of five of this year’s biggest tennis stars, so if you really can’t get enough of Wimbledon 2014, you can just jet off and check out where the likes of Serena Williams held their first tennis rackets…

Where the pros started

Mallorca, Spain

Heard of Nadal? Yeah, you know, the number one tennis champion in the world. Rafael Nadal, nicknamed ‘the king of clay’ (catchy), was born in Manacor, Mallorca and started playing tennis there at just five years old. Well that’s all very well and good for Nadal, but what about us mere mortals who want to do more than swing a racket? Well relax, because there’s loads to do in Mallorca!

The beautiful Balearic island is full of stunning cathedrals, churches, galleries and museums – particularly the capital Palma – plus there are tons of activities for the more adventurous types. Sailing’s all the rage and there are loads of options for scuba divers and snorkelers too. Just 50k from Palma is the residential town of Manacor, where our pal Nadal grew up, and there you’ll find the Cuevas Del Drach, four huge caves open to the public, and Ses Païsses, a Bronze Age talayotic settlement and one of the best-preserved prehistoric sites in the Balearic Islands.

Bratislava, Slovakia

Speaking of Nadal, Slovakian Martin Klizan gave him a run for his money last week though ultimately lost out to the world champion (no shame in it, Klizan). The 24 year old hails from Slovakia’s capital Bratislava, which borders Austria and Hungary, making it the perfect city for a multi-stop trip; hop on the train from Vienna and you’ll be there in an hour.

Bratislava’s small but totally European Old Town is the setting for many a stag do thank to its roads lined with bars and remarkably cheap booze. You’ll definitely find an organised bar crawl or two, and there are plenty of anglicised clubs and pubs around, too. If you fancy a tad more culture, join a walking tour and take in the architecture and history of Bratislava; watch out for the adorable Blue Church, it totally looks like it’s made out of marshmallows.

Brindisi, Italy

So Flavia Pennetta is pretty awesome. She was Italy’s first top 10 female singles player and went on to become the first Italian tennis player to be ranked number one in doubles. You go, girl! Flavia was born in Brindisi, in the Apulia region of Italy. Generally overlooked in favour of the country’s better known tourist destinations (you know what they are), this port-side town is a great choice for anybody wanting to get off the beaten track but still soak up the culture, history and delicious traditional food the country has to offer.

Full of gorgeous buildings like the Archeological Museum, Roman columns, cathedrals and beautiful old churches, Brindisi requires lots of walking if you want to see all the sights you can so pick a sunny month for your trip. So what’s there to do? Well, you can take a short boat trip and climb the Sailors’ Monument for a gorgeous 360 degree view of the city (especially lovely at night), stroll down the harbour and find a bar or cafe to settle down in for the afternoon (there’s loads of delicious, fresh seafood around Brindisi, unsurprisingly), or check out the shimmering water fountain in the city centre for an obligatory photo opp.

Saginaw, Michigan

Next up, Serena Williams. Yeah, she’s kind of famous and currently ranked number one in women’s singles. Serena was born in this small city in central Michigan that might not be top of your wishlist just yet (you’ve probably never heard of it, right?) but whilst there probably enough excitement in Saginaw to warrant a dedicated trip, if you’re driving around the US and looking for less obvious stop, drive down from Detroit and give it a whirl. There’s a lovely island park right in the middle of the river where locals have picnics and put on stunning fireworks displays, and a Japanese Cultural Centre offering traditional Japanese tea ceremonies and beautiful grounds.

Another popular spot is the Sculpture Museum, which houses over 2,000 incredible artworks spanning 70 years. If none of that floats your boat, there’s loads more to see and do in this midwest state. Surrounded by four Great Lakes – Michigan, Superior, Huron and Erie – Michigan is choc-full of beaches, making it a top tourist destination for surfers and sun worshippers.

Bremen, Germany

This industrial city is home town to 26 year old Angelique Kerber, number seven in the singles ranking. Bremen is the 1,200 year old capital of the state of Bremen (confused yet?) in central Germany, and it’s steeped in history and culture – hardly surprising for a medieval city. Despite 60% being destroyed by bombing in World War Two, everywhere you look you’ll see evidence of Bremen’s past; a 1,000 year old cathedral, Germany’s oldest coffee house and the gothic UNESCO World Heritage Site town hall.

Take a walk down the Cultural Mile and check out its three museums (including the Kunsthalle Bremen built in 1849), the neoclassical Theater am Goetheplatz and an old grocery shop renovated in art deco style and now a listed building. For a drink or bite to eat head to Schnoor, the ex-maritime quarter now full of restaurants popular with tourists and locals alike.

Got Wimbledon wanderlust? Why not sprinkle some of these lesser known towns through your next big US or Europe trip and get down and dirty with your favourite tennis champion’s roots? Check out flights or give us a shout and let us help!
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