Compared to the elaborate cathedrals and monuments of Paris, Athens, or Kyiv, Madrid’s most prominent landmarks like the popular plaza of Puerta del Sol or even the royal palace seem modest. But in the absence of abundant loftiness is an affable attitude. The Spanish megalopolis is expressive, tolerant, and surprisingly easy to get along with. In recent decades, it’s earned the title of one of Europe’s great art capitals: three of the continent’s most decorated museums—the Prado, the Reina Sofía, and the Thyssen—can be found within walking distance of one another. The city also hosts one of the world’s largest pride festivals. Every summer, the Fiesta del Orgullo attracts nearly two million attendees for over a week of celebrations centered around the vibrant neighborhood of Chueca. Continue reading “Madrid: A Capital with Heart and Art”
A visit to Porto is a galvanizing experience. You’ll notice it as soon as you arrive. It’s the colors that hit you first. Under the rays of a glorious autumn afternoon, hues of cinnabar, tangerine, and lemon twist and twine—and speaking of citruses, does the orange juice here taste…tangier? The steady sound of chatter fills the air, and you feel yourself swelling up with a wave of joie de vivre, a jubilant exultation of simply being. This is a magical peninsula where happiness pursues you, and in the sanguine center of northern Portugal, delight and inspiration drip down every cobbled street. Bem-vindo ao Porto, there’s so much to discover. Continue reading “Porto: An Apéritif for the Senses”
Towards the beginning of May, the waters around the Balearic Islands begin to come alive. One by one, the shorelines of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera cast off their winter colors in exchange for the well-known summer hues of transparent turquoise and cerulean blue. The full blare of the Mediterranean heat has yet to descend, but to the south of Palma de Mallorca Airport, along the seemingly endless palm-fringed avenue of S’Arenal, the bars and shops are already bracing themselves for the impending flocks of holidaymakers in search of sun, sand, and sangria. Continue reading “Mallorca, in Transit”
Long before the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire, when Moscow was still a small settlement emerging from the marshlands, Kyiv was the capital of the Rus—a Slavic people from which all Russians, Belorussians, and Ukrainians trace their ancestry. Over the course of a millennium, this city by the banks of the Dnieper River flourished, floundered, and rebuilt itself on more than one occasion. Today, it is Ukraine’s economic center and a podium from where its citizens demonstrate time and again their resilience, determination, and strength in the long struggle for freedom and justice.
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”
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”
If there’s one country that never ceases to delight and surprise me, it would have to be Spain. The people are warm and welcoming, the dishes—delectable, and there’s an abundance of culture and colors. From the sun-baked sandy stretches of Ibiza to the evergreen forests along the Bay of Biscay, Spain is an experience for every sense. Continue reading “Granada: The Pomegranate City”