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.
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”
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”
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.
For seekers of eternal sunshine or for those looking to escape the wrath of winter, the islands of Madeira are a balmy sanctuary, far from the grasp of the blistering cold.