Jostedal Glacier, Norway
When I was fairly young my family, another family, and my best friend traveled to Wyoming. We spent the majority of the time by the Grand Tetons, but also made our way to Yellowstone National Park and all the surrounding natural wonders. We hiked, rafted, and canoed to our parents’ delight. I say parents’ because I did not feel all that much excitement at this particular trip. I’m not an outdoorsy girl and I prefer my vacations to take place in cities or beaches with a drink firmly planted in my hand. That’s not to say I didn’t appreciate Wyoming, I had a wonderful time and it was very beautiful. The point being that in my former life I wasn’t all that much of an appreciator of natural beauty. I liked the sort of beauty that was carved out of steel and bricks. But lately I find myself wanting to marvel at natural things.
Jostedal Glacier is just what it sounds like, a massive glacier that’s been implanted in the Norwegian landscape for thousands and thousands of year. A sort of reminder that there was a time when vast areas, including the one where I live, of the planet were covered in blocks of ice so enormous that they carved out lakes and created mountains. Jostedal lies between mountains, as if someone had thrown it from above in a slightly viscous state and it curled around the landscape. What’s also fascinating is that it’s more than ever so slightly blue. Tourists come from far and wide to view the glacier, set near western Norway’s fjord region. And while I’m there I certainly wouldn’t getting a look at some of the quaintly Viking villages in the area, particularly Bergen.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Lake Bled, with it’s delightfully sinister name, is located in the Northern area of Slovenia and is a popular vacation spot for most Slovenians. And it’s no wonder since it’s no more than two hours from pretty much anywhere in Slovenia. But even if it wasn’t quite so convenient I am willing to bet Lake Bled would still be a popular spot just due to it’s incredible tranquility. Vacationers can swim or lounge on the grassy shores.
But my favorite part of Lake Bled is the island with the entirely impractical Church of the Assumption situated in the near middle of the lake. There are no motor boats allowed on the lake so gondoliers bring people across the water to take a look at the church. It’s incredible to me that anyone would have taken any sort of initiative into building this church. It couldn’t have been easy. There’s not really room for anything else on the island but the church. They must have carted supplies across the lake in a slow and laborious fashion that likely matched the tedious building of medieval churches. But in all it’s impracticality… how delightful! The Church of the Assumption is clear a tourist attraction, but it’s also extremely popular for weddings, and it’s not hard to see why. Sometimes practicality has to be scarified for beauty and this is probably a great example of that.
I’ve never been hugely into Spain. I have nothing against the country of course, and within the past five years I’ve developed a large desire to visit Barcelona, but the rest of Spain holds very little interest for me. I don’t entirely know why this is. I’ve heard plenty of good things about the country and I’ve seen enough Almodóvar films to pique my interest, but for some reason my interest was never piqued. That is until I was watching one of my travel shows and got a glimpse of Ronda, located in the Andalucia region in the Southern parts of Spain. Andalucia is well know for several things; dancing and horses. Sometimes dancing horses. They’re also famous for their white washed cities that dot the country side in splendorous mono-colored simplicity. When I was in France about eight years ago with my mom and sister we rented a car and drove around to many different towns in Provence. One was almost predominantly the burnt orange color of red that comes with dried clay. I can’t remember the name of the town, exactly, but it was some play on the color if viewing the town from afar. I imagine towns in Andalucia to be something like this.
But Ronda is not just another whitewash town or else it wouldn’t be listed here. If it were it would be dismissed as cute but not worth trekking to the bottom of Spain to see. What’s impressive about Ronda is how neatly it’s tucked into it’s environment. It would have been easy for whoever settled Ronda to look around at the terrain, rocky and what could only be described as a gorge cutting through the center, and decide to build their town a few kilometers to the right and not perched on a cliff, but instead Ronda traverses a rocky crag that separates the old town from the new. I am sure this was originally for defenses, and that the town spread from one side of the gorge to the other, but it’s still incredible. Most beautiful is the bridge connecting the two sides of the town; an archy stone number that seems to melt into it’s environment. Well, you have eyes; look.
Vasa Museum, Stockholm, Sweden
I’ve wanted to go to Stockholm for a long time, so that’s not really a new place I’d like to travel, but the Vasa Museum is. I suppose I’m not exactly sure why Stockholm would be on my list of places to go. I didn’t really know what was there, save for lots of water and Swedish people. Which may answer the question in general since I like both water and Swedish people. But even looking it up on Google isn’t as good as watching a program about it. With it’s many neighborhoods and royal residences it’s pretty spectacular, and that’s not including the fact that a lot of traveling around can be done by boat. Which is just inherently awesome. One of the many islands in the Swedish capital is Djurgarden, predominantly a recreational island with many parks and some museums, including the Vasa Museum. The Vasa was an elaborate warship that was built in 1628. It was so elaborate, in fact, that a little over a mile into it’s maiden voyage the top heavy Vasa capsized not far from Stockholm and sank to the bottom of the sea. There is remained for a few hundred years before people decided it might be cool to haul it up, restore it, and show it on display as an example of a Scandinavian warship. Hence the Vasa Museum was born. The exterior
is meant to draw to mind the ship when it’s fully rigged and flying while the inside houses the spectacularly carved Vasa itself.
Not only is the ship itself beautiful, but the exterior of the museum is perfectly Nordic in it’s simplistic grandeur. Any way you want to slice this is pretty incredible.
Roosevelt Island, New York
I’ve been to New York City enough times. It’s one of those cities, for me, that I have to visit every once in awhile. In high school it was my dream to live there, and while I no longer have any interest in that I do feel the need to see it every once in awhile. Whether you love it or hate it you have to admit that New York is an extraordinary city with so much packed into it’s tiny space that it probably would be quite possible to never leave it and not feel as if you’re missing anything. But one of the things I love is discovering new things about places I know pretty well. Like the Parc du Buttes Chaumont in Paris, tucked away in the nineteenth arrondissement where I have seldom been. Roosevelt Island is like that. A long skinny strip of random land in the East River Roosevelt Island that is parallel to Manhattan and nearly as built up. In previous incarnations it was known as Blackwell’s Island and Welfare Island and has housed detention centers and low income housing. Today, while it still bears the marks of it’s previous lives, it’s just basically another neighborhood. Though, it is home to an old, spooky looking, abandoned small pox hospital that I’d just love to break into and explore.
Overall there really is not much reason to want to go there, except I am fascinated by it’s isolation. Perhaps it was New York’s hope to keep Welfare Island contained and apart, but there was no good way to get to Roosevelt Island prior to it’s fairly recent acquisition of a subway station. As you can see from the photograph the island is located pretty much directly beneath the Queensboro Bridge, but there’s no access from the bridge to the island. Instead people must take a tram from the mainland that hangs precariously over the East River as it makes it’s way towards Roosevelt Island, and is obviously just waiting for the Green Goblin to snatch up and drop. But it sort of fascinates me, I can only imagine standing on the island below and looking up at the cars speeding across the Queensboro and into Manhattan and not being able to reach them. It seems isolating, and a little lonely, but mostly just sort of cool. And, if I can get over my crippling fear of hanging hundreds of feet in the air in a small car over a river… the views are supposed to be spectacular.