Holidays don’t have to represent a break from tech. In fact, there’s never been a better time to jet off and experience a week or two of geeky tourist pleasure. “Where?!!” we hear you cry. Read on for the answers.
Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand
Peter Jackson transformed his home country of New Zealand into Middle Earth for The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and ten years later the Hobbiton movie set (a couple of hours’ drive from Auckland) remains. You can be whisked around Frodo’s hometown on a two-hour guided tour (NZ$66 per adult) before supping ale at The Shire’s Rest cafe.
Head down to Wellington and you can pay a visit to Weta, the special effects and props workshop co-founded by Jackson. The “Weta Cave”, which is free, screens a short film on the company – and also features a mini museum where you can get up close to characters, props and displays from movies like Lord of the Rings and King Kong.
Silicon Valley, California, USA
If you’re any sort of computer nerd then Silicon Valley in San Francisco’s Bay Area is your mecca. We don’t have the space to list all the geeky attractions available to you, but highlights might include a trip to the Apple Company Store in Cupertino (the only place where you can buy Apple logo t-shirts, mugs and caps!), the Palo Alto garage where HP was born, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View and San Francisco’s Musée Mécanique, packed full of bizarre – and often creepy – old arcade machines.
[Image courtesy of Flickr user Raneko]
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Head to the land of watches, chocolate and secretive banking practices and you can drop by CERN, the world’s largest particle physics research laboratory, which is located on the outskirts of Geneva. CERN is home to the Large Hadron Collider, the 27km-long underground circular tunnel smashing atoms together at high speeds in an attempt to discover the Higgs boson (or create a black hole that will eat the Earth, if you believe some people).
Sadly you can’t visit the LHC itself, but there are permanent exhibitions in CERN’s surface buildings, and you can book a three-hour guided tour consisting of an introduction, film screening and a visit to an experiment and/or a smaller accelerator. Either visit is free.
If you’re a true gadget hound, a visit to Tokyo’s Akihabara district will have your tail wagging and your tongue lolling out. Sometimes called “Electric Town”, it’s packed with electronics stores selling every conceivable tech product – and some that are barely conceivable (especially in the eye-opening realm of “erotica”). Shop assistants generally speak good English, and are incredibly helpful.
Tokyo is also well-furnished in the arcade department. If you want to try the latest games, visit the three-storey Taito Hey in Akihabara. Or if you prefer something a little more “real”, Shooting Bar EA lets you quaff beers while popping off shots down a BB gun range.
[Image courtesy of Flickr user OiMax]
Star Wars fanatics will be able to die happy after a trip to the sandy North African country, which provided many of the locations for Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine. Stay at Matmata’s Hotel Sidi Driss – which you might recognise as Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru’s house, then visit La Grande Dune, aka the Dune Sea, where C3PO and R2D2 crash.
You can also wander down “Star Wars Canyon” at Sidi Bouhlel, the gully where the two droids are captured by jawas, before visiting Mos Eisley itself – or rather Ile de Jerba, which provided the exterior for the wretched hive of scum and villainy’s famous cantina.
[Image courtesy of Flickr user sarah_c_murray]