Calpe is a small town on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, in the Alicante province near Valencia. It’s most remembered for the Penyal d’Ifach, the northern counterpart to the south’s rock of Gibraltar. This photo was taken as I ascended the Penyal d’Ifach, looking down at the resort and ocean below. The rock is also a protected bird sanctuary, and so the prevalence of birds in nesting season made it impossible to get a picture without a bird in the shot (or, alternatively, dive-bombing me and my tripod). Of course, I was too much of a scaredy-cat to ascend the entire rock, but I was quite content with this view of clear blue skies and even bluer waters.
On our brewery-inspired Denver adventure, we took a day trip to Boulder, Colorado to get a taste of the Rocky Mountains in the American mid-west (and a taste of more beer too, of course). The Flatirons are a symbol of Boulder and a staple in Chautauqua Park. Chautauqua was an adult education movement that began in New York, highly popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Chautauqua, according to Theodore Roosevelt, was the “most American thing in America.” While the Flatiron mountains are not as high or grand as the mountains I’m used to in the Albertan rockies, they have a unique shape and character. Whereas the trees at home were bare, these mountains were embraced by autumn leaves at even October’s end. We hiked around for a bit, enjoying the warmth before we decided that beer was calling.
Our first day in Madrid was spent walking to the Palacio Real and its corresponding gardens. Street musicians played in the corridors of the hedges while young couples leaned against each other as they traced their fingers in fountains. The palace itself is the Spanish version of Versailles – minus the crowds. In the photo, you see the Palacio Real and the Palace Gardens, with the spire of the nearby Catedral de la Almudena in the background. We found ourselves falling asleep in the shadow of trees after we sat down to rest our legs, the sounds of Pachelbel on violin singing us into our nap.
The Templo de Debod was originally located in southern Egypt, with construction dating back to the second century. It is now located in the Parque del Oeste, gifted to Spain by Egypt in 1968 when its existence was threatened by the Aswan High Dam and its corresponding reservoir. It was a sign of gratitude for Spain’s efforts in saving and relocating the temples of Abu Simbel. The Temple of Debod is one of the few Egyptian works that can be seen outside of Egypt, and the only thing of its kind of Spain. I am fascinated as the way in which this history was preserved – threatened by demolition in its own country, which is already home to so much of the world’s pre-modern history, and given to another country in order to save it. How can we save all the history in the world? Is UNESCO the only guarantor of a building’s safety? What about the historical buildings and artifacts being lost as civil war wages on in Syria? I come from a city which has preserved so …
The unusual Hraunfosser Falls just outside of Reykholt, Iceland, flow into the Hvítá river, a series of rivulets that flow across 900 metres of a lava field (hraun means “lava”). Attempting to get the whole width of the waterfall was a task only a wide-angle fish eye lens could succeed at. Just a little further down the Hvítá river is another waterfall, Barnafoss, which means the waterfall of the kids. The name comes from a legend wherein two children were playing on the bridge that crossed over the falls, and then fell to their deaths. In light of our guide telling us this story, I held a little tighter to the rails of that bridge as I crossed.
I have always been in awe of the beauty of horses. So upon my first visit to Iceland, I was obviously very keen on riding Icelandic horses, one of the purest equine breeds, across Icelandic lava fields. Icelandic horses are incredibly playful and cute, but they’re also sturdy and strong. Their unique gait, the tolt, is a mix between a trot and a canter, and allows them to smoothly navigate the rough stones of Iceland’s lava fields. Dressed head to toe in my warmest clothing, I rode with one American girl and our Danish guide. We were given one break midway through to explore a lava cave. Though I took an intermediate tour as an experienced rider, interacting with these sweet creatures is an experience I recommend to all going to 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.
In the book/film Wild, Cheryl Strayed details how her mother always used to say that there was a sunrise and a sunset every day, and you simply had to be present for it, to “put yourself in the way of beauty.” We were enjoying beers at our campsite just outside the National Park gates. In the mountains, steaming hot days mean frigid nights, so every few minutes called for another layer of clothing. My eyes drifted from the powerful draw of the fire pit’s flames as I got up for another beer. To the west, the most beautiful pink sky was skirting over the distant peaks. Knowing that time was limited, I left my opened beer in the truck box, grabbed my camera and tripod, and ran out of the campsite towards the highway for a better view. I only brought my wide focal length lens with me, which is a huge regret, but time was of the essence, and I still think I managed to capture that pink hue acting like a gradient over the mountain top, …
El Chorro, or “the spurt”, lies an hour outside of Malaga, southern Spain. Once a destination for 20th century miners, turned into a haven for adrenaline-seeking hikers. What was once the miner’s footpath, the “Caminito del Rey,” became a decrepit series of railed walkways, leading to several deaths and the trail’s full closure. The boardwalk has been completed renovated as of 2015, so the fainter-hearted hiker like myself is now able to experience the beauty of the gorge.
Only in Europe would a bridge constructed in 1793 be considered a “new bridge.” The town of Ronda is constructed on the edges of the cliffs of El Tajo. Three bridges join the different parts of the town, plunging deep into the canyon. At night, the Puente Nuevo is lit up from below, creating one of the most scenic views I have ever had a pleasure of seeing while drinking wine on our B&B’s terrace, the Andalusian mountains in the background, the buildings perched on the ledges of El Tajo in the foreground.