Paraty

Paraty

Paraty was an unexpected stop on our southbound itinerary, but we needed to change our course, as Florianópolis was drowning under a week-long deluge. A woeful and monstrous nimbus was spreading quickly across the continent. I wondered if this was nature’s way of rectifying man’s lamentable ignorance, by drenching the fires and oil ravaging Brazil in a long and torrential wail. With only a day or two before the impending rain, we resolved to wring out the final sundrops in Paraty. Off we set from Vila do Abraão, venturing for the first time on our own without a tour group or guide. It was a daunting operation, but everything went smoothly, to both my surprise and my relief. The locals were quick to point us in the right direction. It was a 45-minute boat ride first to Angra dos Reis, and from there, two and a half more hours by bus to Paraty. Continue reading “Paraty”

Gauja River Valley and the Rose of Turaida

Gauja River Valley and the Rose of Turaida

Ask any Latvian what the most charming town in the small Baltic country is, and chances are you’ll hear the name Sigulda. Situated in the Gauja River Valley at the entrance of Latvia’s largest and oldest national park, Sigulda is a place steeped in mythos and natural beauty. More so than the historically Hanseatic Riga and the preened seaside of Jūrmala, Sigulda elucidates Latvia’s close connection to nature.  Continue reading “Gauja River Valley and the Rose of Turaida”

Exploring Riga’s Past and Present

Exploring Riga’s Past and Present

On the flat, sandy plains where the Daugava River rushes into the gulf lies Riga, largest of the Baltic cities. At first sight, the Latvian capital looks worn around the edges and none too cheerful, but gently peel back the frosty layers of chrome and steel and an inner vibrance will reveal itself. Continue reading “Exploring Riga’s Past and Present”

The Obersee Valley

The Obersee Valley

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”