The first two entries in this year's competition are from a newcomer to our travel writing contests.
A warm welcome to Gabi Reigh and many thanks to you for getting involved.
Gabi Reigh is an English teacher at a sixth form college in Hampshire. She uses her holidays to travel, read and translate novels and poetry.
Rastoke, the historic centre of Slunj in Croatia, is a fairy tale land of turquoise lakes and luminous cascades. As we started to explore it on our first morning, it offered a surprise at every turn. The river gurgled brightly over rocks, under dark-stained, medieval bridges, and as we followed its bend we passed waterfall after waterfall, the place seeming more and more unreal, magical, beauty piling onto beauty, as if we’d opened a secret door and found ourselves cast as extras on the set of a Disney movie.
Marianske Lazne, a spa town tucked away in the mountains of the Czech Republic, has been a mecca for hypochondriacs for over 200 years. Rewind back two centuries and you would glimpse aristocrats promenading through its neo-classical colonnades, sipping sulphurous waters from ornate porcelain cups, tending to their organs with the care and concentration of gardeners cherishing their prize-winning roses. Each spring proclaims to cure a different condition, and I feel confident that, if I sample each of their nauseating elixirs, my spleen, kidneys and liver will be entirely rejuvenated by the time I fly back home.