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”

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”

Gold Coast Dreams: From Coolangatta to Surfer’s Paradise

Gold Coast Dreams: From Coolangatta to Surfer’s Paradise

My very first coup d’œil of the Gold Coast was not of the coast, but of green, undulating hills. Squinting just a little, I could imagine myself having landed on an Amazonian airfield. The humidity wafted into my cotton shirt and dampened it almost instantly. It was a precious feeling to be someplace warm again, although I knew my appreciation for wet air would quickly dissipate, unlike the sweat that was slowly forming under my arms. Continue reading “Gold Coast Dreams: From Coolangatta to Surfer’s Paradise”

Tel Aviv: Scenes from Sin City

Tel Aviv: Scenes from Sin City

The guys warned me about Tel Aviv. They mentioned it in the same breath along with places like Sitges and Mykonos, and when I heard them speak, it was either accompanied by gushing adulation or a tinge of disdain. In my mind was the overawing image of a bacchanalian playground: an urban sprawl of sweaty sculpted bodies ready to devour men whole with unapologetic hunger. They drew me in with an aplomb at once entrancing and intimidating. As I pussyfooted into this paradise of sorts, I prayed I wouldn’t be one of those they spat back out, left alone to loiter in disillusionment. Continue reading “Tel Aviv: Scenes from Sin City”