I’m hooked as I lay my eyes on the beautiful Aeolian archipelago rising out of the cobalt-blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea on the north of Sicily and west of mainland Italy. Locals call them the “shape-shifting” or “floating” islands as they have been continuously sculpted by volcanic activity over millions of years. As a result, its exotic black-sand beaches, craters, and splintered, rocky coastlines are something utterly unique in the Mediterranean. No wonder it was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2000.Continue reading
When I take a taxi ride to Changi airport in Singapore, on a warm evening in late December, I’m aware I’m headed to New Zealand – a country I’ve been longing to go to. I have a brief idea of the itinerary: a few hikes to pursue, beach towns, wineries, restaurants to visit. But I’m not on full control of the program. I notice there are a bit more than the usual blanks in the plan. “We might give room for serendipity to take hold,” I’m told.Continue reading
Each Hawaiian Island is unique in its own way, but Oahu, the third-largest, portrays the essence of the Aloha State like no other. It’s here the spiritual home of surfing and where it all began – the ritual, the boards, the ride.Continue reading
As the plane tips its wings toward the airstrip, I can see a mass of volcanic lava covering a large part of the land below, the green and blue turning into an immense brown, so alien as if I am reaching somewhere uninhabited, perhaps the edge of the world. On the horizon, volcanoes rise from the floor, reminding this is a place whose history has been shaped by fire; a far off group of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean formed five million years ago out of powerful volcanic combustion.Continue reading
There had been heavy rain since we landed in Kauai, but now the clouds are slowly lifting. The sun insists on making its way through as I stop paddling for a few seconds to admire dramatic emerald mountains around Hanalei Bay – a long right-hand point break in the long stretch of beach where I am surfing – with views to cascading waterfalls.Continue reading
Traveling 631 km south-east of Perth – one of the most out-of-the-way cities on Earth, in far-off Western Australia, is a long way from anywhere. As I traverse Western Australia, I’m hit by that uncanny fizz of sacrifice, the struggle that reminds me this is a part of the world for the patient traveler. The one willing to move slowly and endure large, empty distances to discover pure landscapes, where few others have been. It’s a place that makes you feel things and realize that travel, after all, is an act of movement. I’ve been hooked on WA for a while; perhaps it’s the challenge of getting here, the sense of conquest at the end of each journey that I find so appealing – or it’s the effort that always, always pays off.Continue reading
My search for the world’s most exotic tribes in one of the most undocumented landscapes left on the planet ends in dramatic encounters. In Papua New Guinea, not only do I come across extraordinary indigenous peoples who adorn themselves with wondrous ornamentation and keep alive ancient rituals, but I also discover the most pristine offshore reefs that remain.
The snow has been falling since we arrived in Nozawa Onsen, a traditional Japanese town that sits at the center of a skiing area in mountainous Nagano province. It’s a chilly late afternoon in February. With the ski lifts already closed, I stroll across charming, wood-paneled streets lined with buildings that have stood since the Edo period (1603-1868). Each of the narrow streets is fringed with steaming water as if the entire town was built around a network of mountain streams. The water running from the volcanic springs is channeled away to heat private houses and the almost 30 public Onsens, from which the town gets its name. Nosawa gained a good deal of popularity thanks to these hot spring baths many years before snowsports became a thing in the country.Continue reading
Los Angeles has a soul. La-La Land is filled with the glamour of Hollywood and movie set backdrops. Yet, it’s also home to some of the United States’ very best museums, like the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Hammer Museum, outstanding art galleries, and architectural masterpieces like the Getty Center. Sure, it’s a sprawling metropolis with eternally congested freeways, but it also contains one of the most diverse and unique sets of neighborhoods in the States. It’s a town that feels like a country, and is so culturally diverse, where the greatest challenge for travelers is not what to do, but which version of this vast city to embrace.
I love the effortlessly sophisticated, the outrageous, and the romantic sides of Italy, from a heavenly pasta to the most spectacular monuments. It’s capable of stirring emotion and touching every sense, in a way that’s unrivaled worldwide. No wonder its extraordinary mix of archaeological treasures, architecture, exquisite cuisine, and fine art has long proved irresistible to travelers. But as much as I adore Italy, I cannot deny that with all its allures, comes the inevitable growth of tourism.Continue reading