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”

Malta: Between Worlds

Malta: Between Worlds

On a map of the world, you might overlook them entirely. The three islands of Malta, Gozo, and Comino form hardly a fleck in the Mediterranean Sea, but man has known about them since neolithic times. Over the course of five thousand years, their spring green acres and ochre cliffs have harbored settlers from far and wide. Continue reading “Malta: Between Worlds”

Madrid: A Capital with Heart and Art

Madrid: A Capital with Heart and Art

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”