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”

An Ode to Toledo

An Ode to Toledo

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”

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”

Scenic Santorini: On the Trail from Fira to Oia

Scenic Santorini: On the Trail from Fira to Oia

I used to be fascinated with mythology as a child. The Greek pantheon, in particular, had always intrigued me with its tales of adventure and debauchery in faraway lands. Stories like Theseus and the Minotaur, the Birth of Aphrodite, and the Abduction of Ganymede untethered my attention from the ennui of school and homework. I dreamt often of these figures and of the vivid landscapes they inhabited; I dreamt that one day, I too, would traverse them on the way of my own adventure…
Continue reading “Scenic Santorini: On the Trail from Fira to Oia”

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”