The Hidden Side of the Maldives

The Hidden Side of the Maldives

A garland of islands cast into the middle of the ocean, hundreds of leagues away from the nearest landfall—it is difficult to believe that anyone had ever managed to reach the shores of the Maldives by boat. First settled by fishermen from the coasts of present-day Indian and Sri Lanka, the atolls were ruled for centuries by successions of chieftain-queens and Buddhist kings before becoming a sultanate and, later, a British protectorate. Continue reading “The Hidden Side of the Maldives”

A Weekend in Lower Engadine

A Weekend in Lower Engadine

From Zurich, the Lower Engadine forming Switzerland’s eastern corner can be reached easily and comfortably by train, but it wasn’t always the case. For centuries, before the Rhaetian Railway and good roads connected this deeply cut vale in the canton of Graubünden with the rest of the country, the speckled hamlets of Engiadina bassa were left to themselves in sleepy seclusion, all but inaccessible to the world beyond the mountains. Continue reading “A Weekend in Lower Engadine”

72 Hours in Naples and Nearby

72 Hours in Naples and Nearby

From Switzerland, Naples is just a hop away. The InterCity runs from Zurich to Milan several times per day, and from there, it’s a direct ride aboard the Frecciarossa high-speed train. Southern Italy, however, is a world apart from the Alps. In place of snow-capped mountains, a lobotimized Vesuvius lingers forlornly in the distance—a heavy reminder of nature’s wrath and the fragility of civilization. But zoom in a little closer and you’ll discover a Napoli buzzing with lights, traffic, and life. Continue reading “72 Hours in Naples and Nearby”

Mauritius—The South

Mauritius—The South

We arrived at Grande Rivière Noire in the late afternoon, where Pierre and Priscille, a jovial Franco-Mauritian couple and the hosts of our cozy Airbnb, were waiting with a warm welcome. After our summit of Le Pouce earlier in the day, we were all looking forward to some cooling-off time. And were we ecstatic to discover that our new home was only a two-minute walk from paradise. Continue reading “Mauritius—The South”

Mauritius—The North

Mauritius—The North

When I was an exchange student, I was made aware of the Norwegian fascination with syden—the South. Being from sunny California, I never quite understood it. But since moving to Switzerland, I’ve learned that waiting out the end of winter, especially in the Alps, can really test your endurance. So this year, I took up the popular practice of flocking south with a couple of friends. Destination: Mauritius. Continue reading “Mauritius—The North”

Cádiz & Seville

Cádiz & Seville

Before reaching our final stop in Seville, we made a short detour to Cádiz by the sea. Originally founded by the Phoenicians more than three thousand years ago, Cádiz is one of the oldest European cities still currently inhabited, and the oldest one in Spain. But neither of us knew that when we were there. Sébastien wanted to see Cádiz because it was the setting of a French operetta, La belle de Cadix. And me, I was happy to get a whiff of the ocean breeze… Continue reading “Cádiz & Seville”

New Year’s Eve in Córdoba

New Year’s Eve in Córdoba

Once the capital of Islamic Iberia—or Al-Andalus, from which Andalusia inherits its name—Córdoba was a leading center of culture and science and a jewel of the medieval world. Today, it still beams with beauty. Even in the trough of winter, luscious-looking oranges ripen and release their sweet fragrance under the expanse of a spotless blue sky. Continue reading “New Year’s Eve in Córdoba”