A crown rests gently on its soft cushion of crowberry bristles. Amid the early morning air tinged with the tang of sun-dried kelp and cracked crab, the urchin’s chassis is an echo of a once underwater aria. In the eons since the Vega Islands were lifted from the ocean, soft shales and hard granite have moulded this Norwegian archipelago into a kingdom whose curling hillsides, sharp peaks, white sands, and capricious coasts have enchanted, protected, and, on occasion, terrified humankind. Continue reading “Vega: Norway’s Island Kingdom”
Drive an hour to the southeast of Zurich and you’ll arrive at the foothills of the Alps, where the flat plains of the Swiss Central Plateau starts to pinch into pleats. This transition zone, the Voralpen, is home to some of Switzerland’s most beautiful terrain. What it lacks in staggering altitude, it makes up for with charm: limestone peaks with trailing capes and lakes mirroring the summer’s hues will captivate the heart of anyone lucky enough to lay eyes upon them. Continue reading “The Obersee Valley”
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”
Towards the beginning of May, the waters around the Balearic Islands begin to come alive. One by one, the shorelines of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera cast off their winter colors in exchange for the well-known summer hues of transparent turquoise and cerulean blue. The full blare of the Mediterranean heat has yet to descend, but to the south of Palma de Mallorca Airport, along the seemingly endless palm-fringed avenue of S’Arenal, the bars and shops are already bracing themselves for the impending flocks of holidaymakers in search of sun, sand, and sangria. Continue reading “Mallorca, in Transit”