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”

A Journey to Lake Garda

A Journey to Lake Garda

Without knowing, without ever really having been conscious of it, I staked my entire existence on the tracks of the north-south axis, a line borne out of centuries of incessant toil which saw the mighty Alps finally conquered by spike and steel. I realize it now each time stepping into the wagon of a EuroCity in Zurich. To ride the train to Italy is to go back in time and unravel the stitches I had previously sewn shut, whether triumphantly or unwillingly. Continue reading “A Journey to Lake Garda”

Île de Ré: Pearl of the French Atlantic

Île de Ré: Pearl of the French Atlantic

Specks of sunlight showered the inside of our bus. It wasn’t too hot, not for a late July afternoon, but a little muggy nonetheless. I must have been weaving in and out of sleep because I don’t recall ever crossing the bridge separating the island from the mainland port of La Rochelle. I do remember passing the Abbaye des Châteliers; I remember the ruins standing lustrously in their field of gold, a relic time couldn’t bear to fully ravage. Continue reading “Île de Ré: Pearl of the French Atlantic”

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”