Starting out as just a waypoint for us between Portugal and the Picos de Europa, the Spanish city of León turned into a highly recommendable destination—as those of you who have hiked the Camino de Santiago already know. León has the energy of a university town, one of the most stunning cathedrals in Spain and Casa Botines, one of architect Antonio Gaudí’s earliest designs: the city’s prize attraction for me. [Read more…]
Until we started planning our trip to Portugal, I’m ashamed to say I had never heard of the country’s Fernando Pessoa—considered one of the greatest literary figures of the twentieth century.
Do you know him—or should I say do you know the four greatest Portuguese poets—all Pessoa writing under different names?
Pessoa means person in Portuguese. More than any poet, I think Pessoa reveals the nature of being a spectator observing your own composite person. “Each of us is several, is many, is a profusion of selves,” he wrote.
It was the first place in Nevada to have concrete sidewalks and the first place in the state to have electricity. Founded in 1905, it soon had three railroads, a stock exchange, a hospital, a symphony, a few churches and many brothels. Nope, it’s not Vegas but a ghost town called Rhyolite, named for a silica-rich volcanic rock with the promise of gold that caused a frenzied rush that just as quickly turned to bust.
Considered one of the coolest ghost towns in the US, Rhyolite is 35 miles from Furnace Creek in Death Valley National Park. Magellan and I can be hot or cold on ghost towns. Rhyolite? Definitely the former.
I knew that Sunday, as we parked the car overlooking a hay field in the lush green of the Basque countryside and walked by a garden leading to a red-tiled farmhouse restaurant, that our lunch at Mugaritz was going to be good.
Although we followed Namgyel’s guidance and arrived early to get to a good seat at the country’s largest and most popular cultural festival, throngs of Bhutanese and small groups of tourists were already crowding into Paro Dzong ahead of us.
Bedazzling. We’d seen photos of the elaborate pageantry at the Paro Tshechu and Namgyel had told us that the Bhutanese from all walks of life in the region come dressed in their finest traditional ghos and kiras and best jewelery. Still, we were blinded by the brilliance of patterns and colours. A kaleidoscope of vermilion reds, regal purples, saffron yellows and turquoise blues—outdazzled, we soon saw, by the exotic costumes, headdresses and masks of the festival dancers in this cultural extravaganza.