Month: September 2015

Mythical Lava Fields in Iceland

Somewhere amidst the chunks of moss-covered lava rock is, supposedly, the homes of the huldufolk, or mythical elves.  Travellers are advised to never kick lava rocks in case it’s an elf stone and you get cursed. Elves only make themselves visible to the people who they want to see them, and I can’t say I’ve ever seen any elves, but there is a certain quality of mythology present in the formation of these landscapes themselves.  On land and from above, the landscape is otherworldly, like it came from a fairy tale or an alien planet.  And this place even casts a spell on the visitor, since my thoughts have been filled with nothing but Iceland ever since I returned.

Plaza España

I don’t think I fully appreciated the beautiful city of Sevilla while I was in Spain. The exceptionally high temperatures (39 degrees Celsius) and a mugginess barely cured by passing misters at restaurant patios made sightseeing take a bigger physical toil on me than usual.  And when the air conditioning in our hostel broke on the second night (and the two of us were already sharing a room with four other people), Sevilla was beginning to feel unbearable.  I was craving the Atlantic breeze of Lisboa, our next destination, and consequently, taking in less of Sevilla’s unique beauty. When I talk about my Spain trip now to friends and coworkers, I find myself talking most about Sevilla, but not the negative aspects like the heat – as mentioned in my post about tapas, some of the best food I ate was in Sevilla. And Plaza España is a beautiful piece of architecture, with all the major towns and cities of Spain receiving their own special, decorated “shrine” of sorts.  And how fitting that Plaza España …

Winds of Tarifa

We had thought, after an unusually brisk day in Gibraltar, that we would be able to enjoy a pleasant beach afternoon in Tarifa, which was just a short drive away. I checked the forecast on my phone, and while it wasn’t promising immense heat – just 24 Celsius – I thought I’d be in the very least be able to sit on the beach with a book. Upon arrival in Tarifa, the clouds did not look promising.  It was only when we stepped outside our rental car and I was nearly blown sideways by the rashest winds I’ve experienced since Iceland, that I knew a beach afternoon was not in the cards. Tarifa is small, so after checking in at our hostel we walked down to the beach.  The wind had swept sand over the sidewalks like a blanket.  And the closer we got to the beach, the more sand pelted our faces and bare skin like little bullets.  Palm trees swayed and fog clouded the not-so-distant mountains of Morocco, and the town was quiet. …

Reflections at Lake Agnes

Many of Banff’s most serious hikers will tell you to avoid the Lake Agnes Teahouse hike at Lake Louise due to the crowds.  The four hour round trip is appealing to families and those with less endurance, though the first two hours are definitely a fairly solid uphill. The truth is, some of the prettiest views in the world (not all) you will likely never see alone.  The Lake Agnes trail has gorgeous views of the azure waters of Lake Louise as you ascend, along with a waterfall that cascades from Lake Agnes down the mountain below.  And while there are multitudes of people at Lake Agnes, lined up out the door for tea and biscuits, and while the lake does not have the same distinct blue as Lake Louise, the water’s clarity made for a pretty mountain picture.