I’m not sure I’ve ever started a blog post shortly after any sort of tragedy. My heart goes out to Christchurch and the victims of the recent massacre.
When I visited New Zealand in 2017, I was at the same time impressed — enough that I knew I’d want to go back — and dejected, because I didn’t know when I’d be able to do that, or more specifically, that I’d be able to do so before replanting in Charleston. I ended up finding good fares in late 2018, though, and after much contemplation of how best to use my time, planned two weeks squarely on the South Island. You might expect that the first description I’d write about the place is that two weeks isn’t enough, and that’d be entirely correct. Two weeks, it turns out, is wholly insufficient for a 1700 km one-way journey in a land I had anticipated to be emptier than the North Island before I traveled there, largely because in every sense of the word it is anything but empty.
Continue reading “Anything but emptiness”
I’ve long preferred sunrise to sunset, and being a morning person never had to force myself to reconcile the difficulties in waking up and stepping outside before the first light strikes the horizon with the beauty and stillness that embrace the early riser. But waking up early, even in the middle of winter when the shadows are at their longest, doesn’t come easily, and sunsets sometimes offer the more attractive solution, especially when the ski lifts stop humming and the pistes are empty but for the snow groomers. The Riedberger Horn brims with activity during the day, but during either twilight a beautiful silence descends on its slopes.
Continue reading “Counting down my sunrises”
My standard October holiday is southwest of Kempten, but I’ve also been meaning for some time to venture past the Swiss border — past the Alps entirely, even — to Portugal or Spain. Disappointingly, Lisbon seems to attract only extremely high airfares, and when I learned more about Porto, a calmer, smaller, but just as atmospheric city to its north, I booked a ticket almost immediately and tried not to peek at Zermatt weather to see what I was missing. With a great deal of squinting, maybe I could make the case that visiting Porto was almost like starting to prepare for a return to Charleston in 2019.
Continue reading “Tiptoeing southwest”
After the August trip, I wasn’t sure I would make it to Zermatt another time this year. I had plans for a few weekends in September already, and the weather wasn’t pleasant the others. October was going to busy as it was, then I had another trip in November that I was sure would take me up to the first snows. But the weather one weekend looked promising, and I thought I might be able to get away. So flee I did — and I probably don’t even need to mention to where.
Continue reading “Not sure I’m ready to leave”
It seems no matter where I am, I end up focusing more on writing about exotic, abroad travels than about where I am locally. In retrospect, while this year has been a busy travel year, I was able to romp around in my own backyard pretty often. We had a brilliant summer in general, and stable weather on weekends meant a good amount of mileage into the higher surrounds of Kempten.
Continue reading “Locally negligent”
It was just a few weeks after exploring the far reaches of Zermatt on foot that I was headed out of town again, this time to another land whose name begins with “S” but now in the north: after two and a half years, I was going to return to Scotland. I only brought a carry-on with me and didn’t even pack the dSLR; this was going to be a long weekend, and visiting distilleries and catching up with an old friend were on the agenda. Scottish landscapes would have to wait.
Continue reading “The way a weekend trip should be”
Surprise, surprise: since my last trip to a oft-visited and even more often photographed valley just before the Italian border, I’ve been itching to get back. This summer has been fortunately amenable to hiking, and with a long weekend in August it seemed only reasonable that the best way into Zermatt would be on my own two feet. But I’m jumping too far ahead too fast. First, I needed to revisit an old friend.
Continue reading “Was this… goodbye?”
The Dolomites might have been the first mountain range after “the Alps” and the North Cascades that entered my vocabulary, but for one reason or another I really haven’t been able to bring myself there. I visited Vinschgau in 2015, and it turns out the western flank of the Dolomites ends more or less at the valley the eastern edge of Vischgau runs into. This time, instead of finding myself facing the Ortler group, I was instead looking at the Geisler group. Figuring out the nomenclature and geography of this area might have been the most confusing exercise in map-poring ever: my hotel was in the Aferertal, or Valle die Eores in Italian, which runs parallel to the Villnößtal, or Val di Funes. Both valleys are part of the broader Eisacktal, or Valle Isarco, which joins with the Etschtal (Val d’Adige) as the primary separation between the South Tyrolean Alps and their Vinschgau region to the west and the Dolomites to the east. Small world, multiple languages… endless Alps.
Continue reading “Where everything has two names”