“Make sure you visit Hatchards,” a friend advised upon hearing that I had an impending trip to London scheduled. “Wonderful bookstore. Adjacent to Fortnum’s. They have a subscription service—you pick a topic and once a month they’ll hand-select a book and mail it to you.” It’s no secret I love books. If I have spoken with you in the last six months, I probably asked you if you’re on Goodreads; and if you told me that you are not, I probably demanded that you download the app immediately and list what books you’ve read in 2016. I really, really love books. So when I heard there was a bookstore in central London which offers a monthly subscription tailored to the bibliophile’s individual interests, passions, and reading preferences, I made it my first stop after dropping off my bags at the hotel.
In northern Iceland, more than five hours by car from Reykjavík, exists a mountainous jut of land called Tröllaskagi—the Troll Peninsula, home to the tallest peaks outside of Iceland’s central highlands. In this fairytale land of fire and ice and trolls, the maritime moisture content and the long, dark Arctic winters make for a surprisingly stable spring snowpack, which allows skiers to carve turns long after chairlifts have stopped running in the lower 48. Even into June, when the midnight sun is in full effect (the Arctic Circle is a few miles north), you can often ski down to the ocean’s edge. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? (It pretty much is.)
Arctic Heli Skiing, the premiere ski touring and ski mountaineering operator on the Troll Peninsula, offers heli-skiing and ski touring packages that can be crafted to suit any whim, whether that’s skiing down couloirs or cruising across broad bowls covered in a spring corn snow so smooth and consistent you would have sworn it was groomed the previous night. All you need to do is get yourself and your ski gear to Iceland in one piece, and Arctic Heli Skiing will take care of the rest.
1,813 kilometers, seven days, six hotels, untold pints of Guinness, countless castles and innumerable sheep—that’s what a counterclockwise road trip around Ireland looks like. I’ll admit it was an aggressive itinerary we envisaged: from Dublin to Belfast, Belfast to Ballymote via the Giant’s Causeway, Ballymote to Galway via the Connemara Peninsula, Galway to Kenmare via the Dingle Peninsula, Kenmare to Kilkenny via the Ring of Kerry, and then Kilkenny to the Dublin International Airport. Sleep would be sacrificed for sightseeing, and sightseeing would be sacrificed for driving onward, ever onward, around the Emerald Isle.
But sometimes, particularly when you are compelled to see as much of a country as possible in a limited period of time, a frenetic pace is required. Prior to heading off across the Atlantic, I read an article in a travel magazine that encouraged its readers visiting Ireland to take the opposite approach. Go visit the Ring of Kerry, the author advised, but be sure to spend five days there. Maybe you can squeeze in a drive around the Dingle Peninsula, but be careful you don’t overdo it. Soak up Ireland slowly, leisurely, and contemplatively in one setting.
Of course, that’s sound advice for a certain type of person who wants to experience a certain type of trip. But that wasn’t going to be us—not this time, at least. My traveling companion and I were going to try to hit all of the highlights in one fell swoop with Guinness, beef and Guinness stew and Guinness-battered bread to sustain us. It was only during the final night of our trip, while cozied up in the corner of a Kilkenny bar as a band sang a lively rendition of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” that a Galway native, upon hearing me recount all of the places we had seen the previous six days, looked me in the eye and said: “You’re crazy.”
For a detailed summary of the Road Tripping the Emerald Isle itinerary, see the full post in the Travel Itineraries section.
One of my favorite times to explore a city is at sunrise, when the streets are empty and normally bustling squares are silent save the errant garbage truck collecting its daily haul or the shuffling footsteps of a resident on their way to work. On a trip to Italy last spring, knowing that it was only a matter of hours before the narrow alleyways would be thronged with tourists and school groups, I set out to photograph the early morning light as it hit the iconic structures of Florence.
Dubrovnik. The name alone is enticing. It’s alluring—conjuring up visions of red-roofed buildings set atop rocky outcrops where a hungry Adriatic laps at their feet. It’s historic—the massive stone walls that encircle the city were first constructed in the 12th century. And it’s multifaceted—reminding you of the military siege that befell the city for seven months in 1991 during the break-up of Yugoslavia.
The city has long been a popular stop for cruise ships navigating the Mediterranean where, in summer months, throngs of tourists sporting sunhats, shorts and flipflops flood the narrow streets. The Stradun, the main thoroughfare running 300 meters through Dubrovnik’s Old City, transforms into the Autobahn where young and old alike race to buy ice cream cones and Croatia-themed beach towels. But as the afternoon fades and the day trippers depart, the city quiets down.
For a first-time visitor to Istanbul, determining where to rest your weary head in the sprawling metropolis of nearly 15 million can be a daunting task. Neighborhoods once considered too gritty and underdeveloped for tourists are now saturated with coffee shops, boutique hotels and art galleries—waterfront Karaköy near the Galata Tower and Kadıköy located on the Asia side of Istanbul being two of them. But if your visit is going to be UNESCO World Heritage site-centric as mine was, then there’s no better choice than the Hotel Ibrahim Pasha located a stone’s throw away from the Blue Mosque in the heart of Sultanahmet, Istanbul’s historic old city.