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”
Broken fragments of ice hovered motionlessly over a dreadfully frigid Tagus. It was a somber sight all around; the cheerful Spanish glow I had grown so accustomed to was nowhere in sight. On the ground, brown tamarinds lay trampled and suspended between a state of decay and perpetuity under the morning frost. Suddenly, out from the dense fog, a lone jogger burst forward. Swishing silently past in Stygian polyester tights, he vanished as quickly as he emerged, disappearing down a smoky slope. Had I arrived in Toledo, or had I awakened in Homer’s Meadows of Asphodel? Continue reading “An Ode to Toledo”
“I’m here preparing the beach for you, putting the sand in the right spot.”
And with those words, I was set. A chance to see Kelano and his enticing promise of a Caribbean boat party were all it took for me to book a three-leg, eighteen-hour journey across the hemisphere and uncharted waters. Tracing several circles around the North Atlantic, my finger found its resting spot on the map. There it was: Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. Up until then, I only knew that Kelano’s “Provo” lay somewhere off the coast of Cuba, and that it had, according to him and more than a few others, the world’s most spectacular beach. As I studied its outline, I felt my heart drum with a reverberating anticipation. The tropical islands of the West Indies had always appeared to me as a sort of beautiful yet surreal artisanal splatter, but finally, I could see the haze lifting before me.
Situated at the carrefour between Balkan, Austrian, Italian, and Hungarian realms of influence, the Slovenes have managed to carve out a distinct identity for themselves: a unique mélange of Alpine and Slavic heritage with a spritz of the Mediterranean. The country’s landscape is diverse, ranging from hills and vineyards to breezy coastal towns on the banks of the Slovene Riviera.
Bled, located in the northwestern region of Slovenia known as Gorenjska, lies at the foothills of the Julian Alps. (‘Julian’ after Julius Caesar, who founded the Roman town of Cividale del Friuli on the other side of the range.) Here, the mark of the mountains is evident at first glance: wooden chalets with balconies of cascading of geraniums evoke a suspicion that Heidi might be hiding just around the corner.
Continue reading “Finding Bliss on Lake Bled”
Those last days on Moskenesøya passed by in a blur. Up and down the stairways of heaven I went, pushing every muscle, ligament, and tendon in my legs to their very limits. More mountains, more ferries, more freedom and air and life for my thoughts: friluftsliv for mine tanker, in the words of Henrik Ibsen. I wanted to disconnect, to feel a genuine calm, to find inner tranquility in the wilderness, to get to know another me.
On the paved road back to Moskenes, I spotted a solo traveler ahead of me. We walked in synchronization, wedged between the mountain and the sea, our footfalls a hundred meters apart, our boots brushing by countless flutes of large-leaved lupine growing wild along the guardrail. I was content with my long-distance companion, and had already begun crafting a persona for this hiking Viking when he turned his head, spotted me, halted, and waited. Continue reading “Idyll on Horseid Beach”
My love affair with Scandinavia began with the Norwegian fjord. I loved the dramatic peaks and drops of those heady mountainsides and the way they plunged into the deep, brackish inlet. Thinking back to my most treasured memories, there is one place above them all: 68 degrees north of the equator, in Norway, is a pelagic paradise, where the land slices into the sea, sharper than the claw of a lynx. Snapshots from Lofoten dangle in my mind’s grotto, forming a dazzling mobile of rosy euphoria and estival gold. It was the very first days of August, 2014. I was twenty-four, and anticipation was the only thing I knew. Continue reading “Å i Lofoten: At the End of the World”