One-Week Wander: Mallorca

I love to be outdoors, but this love (and my overall spirits) dim in cold, wet January and February. A few weeks ago, I found my shivering, pale self researching the destinations closest to London that might offer a tiny bit of mid-winter sun and relatively dry walking trails, at a budget price and with…

My Muddy Valentine

What did you do for Valentine’s Day? Candle-lit dinner? Chocolates? Roses? Hurriedly arranging to leave the city so you wouldn’t be lying when you told someone you’d been on a few dates with that you already had plans?  Ahem.  The “Night Riviera” train leaves London Paddington at 11:45pm several times a week and travels the…

Time Travel: Spring 2014 – Hiking the Gorges du Verdon

I’ve sung the praises of France’s wonderful network of hiking trails before– it’s one of the things I miss most about living there. But I haven’t yet shared the five days I spent on one of the most glorious of those paths: the GR4, through the Gorges du Verdon in southeastern France. Le throwback… Sometimes…

Walking in the “Peak” (Hill) District

Yes, I am throwing a little shade with that post title, mostly because the “peaks” of the Peak District throw almost none. But despite its decidedly tame topography, this national park’s gentle hills and misty moors are completely enchanting. I had the good luck to make it up there twice this spring– once on my…

Heaven is a Train From Hell

The number of times a day I think the words people are the worst probably qualifies me as a misanthrope. Or maybe just someone who loves people so much at their best that she’s let down when they fall short? Yeeeeah, that’s it. Don’t worry, I’m hard on myself, too. Anyway, a long-distance train so packed that…

Two-Day Wander: Oban, Scotland

I still can’t fully explain why visiting Scotland feels like I’m mainlining some missing part of my soul, but my trip to Oban last fall was no exception. Located on the west coast of Scotland (the Firth of Lorn, to be exact – isn’t that a lovely name?), Oban’s an easy, scenic train ride from…

Bathtime

Bath, England is as cozy as its name– IF you go in the off-season. Suggestion: early May, in my opinion the loveliest time of year for England. The sun comes out in earnest and everything– every bush, every patch of grass, every tree, every crack in the pavement–blooms. Even in May, Bath crawls with tourists,…

Quick Jaunt: Bristol

Bristol: historically important port, modern-day university town. With the largest circulating community currency in the UK and loads of local events and institutions, Bristol is doing its own thing, comfortable in its own, quite hip but unselfconscious, shoes. I took a quick trip to Bristol by train from London last year– maybe my meandering will inspire…

Quick Jaunt: York

This photo pretty much epitomizes York, England– and, to be fair, most small towns and cities in the UK: They’re sleepy, homogeneous (skewing whiter and older), and nowhere is the prevalence of motorized scooters and mini malls higher. But the quaint scenery and relative calm makes for a nice escape from the big city (and,…

Day Hike: Seven Sisters

England can feel claustrophobic: it’s dense, laced with gray highways and aging malls and hulking supermarkets, and too often straddled by gray skies. The air, even in the suburbs, can be acrid. One of my favorite escapes is just a day trip away from London: the Seven Sisters coastal hike. The Seven Sisters are a…