Jūrmala: Latvia’s Seaside Riviera

Jūrmala: Latvia’s Seaside Riviera

Thirty minutes outside of Riga is Latvia’s favorite seaside resort, where miles of silica sand finer than powdered sugar sooth the soles and the sultry fragrance of bristly pines boosts the spirits. It’s a place where families, friends, and lovebirds flock to embrace a slower pace of life. This is Jūrmala. Continue reading “Jūrmala: Latvia’s Seaside Riviera”

Finding Bliss on Lake Bled

Finding Bliss on Lake Bled

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”

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”

A Weekend in Lower Engadine

A Weekend in Lower Engadine

From Zurich, the Lower Engadine forming Switzerland’s eastern corner can be reached easily and comfortably by train, but it wasn’t always the case. For centuries, before the Rhaetian Railway and good roads connected this deeply cut vale in the canton of Graubünden with the rest of the country, the speckled hamlets of Engiadina bassa were left to themselves in sleepy seclusion, all but inaccessible to the world beyond the mountains. Continue reading “A Weekend in Lower Engadine”