Time Travel: October 2009, June 2010, October 2013– Magical Edinburgh

During the high season, Edinburgh can feel very tourist-trappy– perhaps this is inevitable in a place widely known for kilts, Harry Potter, and bagpipes. But like some overplayed songs derided by music snobs, Edinburgh’s tourist epicenter is more catchy than trite, and popular for good reason. Visiting Edinburgh is like stepping into a storybook, but not the amusement park sort of storybook in the…

Scotland Forever

In Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson writes, “I suppose everybody has a piece of landscape somewhere that he finds captivating beyond words.” For Bryson it’s the Yorkshire Dales– he can’t quite explain why they resonate with him so deeply. I know exactly what he means. Although I’ve seen more than my fair share of beautiful landscapes,…

Best Travel Moments, 2015

This post is a reflection on 2015, but the featured image was taken in 2010 at a train station in Granada, Spain. It’s a favorite of mine because it’s the best I’ve been able to capture the feeling I get as I’m about to embark on a trip of any kind. The train door stands…

Art Pilgrimage: Cave of Niaux

By the sound of it, the woman behind me was somehow managing to fall in every single puddle as we hurried after our guide, a physically nimble but socially awkward guy in his late twenties who’d warned us that if we didn’t rush we’d risk an abridged tour. The CO2 in our breath threatened the existence of the very thing…

Two-Day Wander: Toulouse, Niaux Caves, and Carcassonne

As the calendar flips by and I get used to the probability that my geographical future lies outside France, I start to feel a sort of constant, creeping urgency. It’s forced me to focus on more fully exploring France. Ironically, this effort to pull away without regrets makes it harder to pull away at all.  My latest jaunt took me to the southwest, to the…

Worrying About Climate Change From 35,000 Feet

I have very little patience with climate change denial, and even less patience with spluttered, “even if the climate is changing we’re still not sure it’s human-caused” hold-outs. The science is solid, the climate is changing, and quickly, and on a trajectory that could ultimately be disastrous for all of us, regardless of how much of that change can be attributed to…

Day Hike: Marseille to Cassis Along the Calanques

It’s never been easy for me to say good-bye to summer. A creature of the sun who had the poor luck to grow up in the snowy northeastern United States, I spent my first twenty-three winters hiding inside and eating pastries, one step up from a hibernating bear. I get stir-crazy when the weather gets cold, because…

Day Hike: Lacs de la Pra

I’m so fresh off this hike that the soreness hasn’t fully hit me yet (“it will,” hiss my vindictive knees and hips in menacing whispers, “it will”), but I wanted to get this post up before the cold really settles into the mountains. The Lacs de la Pra are a smattering of tiny lakes in the Belledonne mountain…

Time Travel: May, 2014 – Slowing Down in Split

I was very unpopular in beautiful Croatia. Despite my best efforts to abide by all spoken and unspoken rules and to be apologetic for my ignorance as I navigated the country’s unpredictable off-season transportation and accommodation logistics, the people I came across were impatient and bitchy with me. I was almost tossed off of long-distance…

Lavender Quest

Before last weekend, I’d been to Provence several times and never seen a single lavender flower in bloom. The season is easy to miss (generally only running from mid-June to mid-July, plus or minus two weeks on either end, depending on the exact location and the year’s weather), but I thought it would be a shame to have lived so close…