Carioca Dreamscapes: Reveries from Rio de Janeiro

Carioca Dreamscapes: Reveries from Rio de Janeiro

The mouth of the January River sang more than just the first beats of samba and the smooth rhythm of bossa nova. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s balmy balneário by the edge of Guanabara Bay, boasts a rich and regal repertoire of cultural heritage and untethered beauty. Encountered by the Portuguese on New Year’s Day in 1502, the city served as the imperial capital of Portugal during the time of Napoleon. It was the only instance in history that a European nation was ruled from one of its colonies.

Yet, there’s neither a trace of pomposity nor of royalty’s rigidness. Rio de Janeiro is as casual as can be. From street corners, the soul-stirring aromas of coconut milk and shrimp call out to empty stomachs. Equally as tempting are the Cariocas themselves, the unabashed residents of Rio who saunter up and down the beachfronts wearing nothing more than Havaianas and a strategically placed strip of polyester. There’s a flirtatiousness even in the way they speak: chewing, guzzling, and gushing their syllables like waves of honey. Every detail is an invitation to be ensnared by the allure of the Southern Hemisphere’s tropical Babylon. Continue reading “Carioca Dreamscapes: Reveries from Rio de Janeiro”

Sunnmøre: A Journey Along the Fjord

Sunnmøre: A Journey Along the Fjord

Long before it became an obstacle to get from A to Å, the fjord was the motorway which connected remote hamlets with the world outside. In wooden rowboats armed with oar and sail, the Viking settlers of Sunnmæri traversed its widths and lengths. Sunnmøre, as the region is known today, is site to some of Earth’s most spectacular sceneries, all of which can be seen on a journey along the fjord. Continue reading “Sunnmøre: A Journey Along the Fjord”

Vega: Norway’s Island Kingdom

Vega: Norway’s Island Kingdom

A crown rests gently on its soft cushion of crowberry bristles. Amid the early morning air tinged with the tang of sun-dried kelp and cracked crab, the urchin’s chassis is an echo of a once underwater aria. In the eons since the Vega Islands were lifted from the ocean, soft shales and hard granite have moulded this Norwegian archipelago into a kingdom whose curling hillsides, sharp peaks, white sands, and capricious coasts have enchanted, protected, and, on occasion, terrified humankind. Continue reading “Vega: Norway’s Island Kingdom”

Gauja River Valley and the Rose of Turaida

Gauja River Valley and the Rose of Turaida

Ask any Latvian what the most charming town in the small Baltic country is, and chances are you’ll hear the name Sigulda. Situated in the Gauja River Valley at the entrance of Latvia’s largest and oldest national park, Sigulda is a place steeped in mythos and natural beauty. More so than the historically Hanseatic Riga and the preened seaside of Jūrmala, Sigulda elucidates Latvia’s close connection to nature.  Continue reading “Gauja River Valley and the Rose of Turaida”

Jūrmala: Latvia’s Seaside Riviera

Jūrmala: Latvia’s Seaside Riviera

Thirty minutes outside of Riga is Latvia’s favorite seaside resort, where miles of silica sand finer than powdered sugar sooth the soles and the sultry fragrance of bristly pines boosts the spirits. It’s a place where families, friends, and lovebirds flock to embrace a slower pace of life. This is Jūrmala. Continue reading “Jūrmala: Latvia’s Seaside Riviera”

Exploring Riga’s Past and Present

Exploring Riga’s Past and Present

On the flat, sandy plains where the Daugava River rushes into the gulf lies Riga, largest of the Baltic cities. At first sight, the Latvian capital looks worn around the edges and none too cheerful, but gently peel back the frosty layers of chrome and steel and an inner vibrance will reveal itself. Continue reading “Exploring Riga’s Past and Present”

The Obersee Valley

The Obersee Valley

Drive an hour to the southeast of Zurich and you’ll arrive at the foothills of the Alps, where the flat plains of the Swiss Central Plateau starts to pinch into pleats. This transition zone, the Voralpen, is home to some of Switzerland’s most beautiful terrain. What it lacks in staggering altitude, it makes up for with charm: limestone peaks with trailing capes and lakes mirroring the summer’s hues will captivate the heart of anyone lucky enough to lay eyes upon them. Continue reading “The Obersee Valley”