Itinerary

Category

Iceland, Island, Islande, Ísland!

Done in a matter of an hour or so to complete my northern exposure: Flights from Germany to Iceland and back, with the accommodation. One of the wildest dreams just became a (virtual) reality: Iceland’s brutal beauty of looming volcanoes, thundering (or frozen) waterfalls over snow-capped peaks – unlike their cute Alpine cousins among Swiss chalets – that seem to immediately recall Ragnarök. Beyond these parameters, there’s nothing yet, but there are few more niggly bits – transportation within the country and day trip operators – to be taken care of. Going in winter however (most people visit in the summer months when the sun doesn’t set), means sticking to the...

Going north and taking stock

Amidst visions of grandeur of volunteering in remote places like the Arctic Fox Station in Iceland and getting carried away with potential archaeological excavations in Scandinavia or Israel, I think I should consider myself incredibly fortunate that I can even make such trips up north a reality. For a while, dominating my thoughts were the wilderness of British Columbia, or the French part of Canada – certainly a handy way of practicing my elementary French – until the flight times and prices caused this detour to Europe once again. Taking stock, much has changed since my first foray into pre-Euro Europe in 2001; my subsequent jaunts there are at best a...

Oh deer, I feel the earth move

If the Japanese visit Nara to begin a sort of mystical connection between their ancestors and the ancientness of their homeland, I must admit that me, the gaijin, visited for the main purpose of visiting the free-roaming deer in Nara Park. Lacking the intense interest in Buddhism – quite the exotic and foreign entity in Western eyes – temples and gardens are to me, aesthetically constructed entities for specific purposes. And that is pretty much the extent of my knowledge, other that the fact that Zen-Buddhism and its minimalist styles have been incredibly fashionable and aped throughout the past few decades. I derived some amusement seeing visitors gently butted by...

The conventional route

A panicked, banged-up itinerary bordering on the unconventional finally materialised a day or 2 ago, when I finally got the courage to go to Takayama from Tokyo (the forbidden element being the immense train journeys I’d have to undertake in those couple of days). I’ve always been called ambitious when it comes to travel planning and I’m taking some advice gleaned from all forums and friends that staying a few more days in a place could be a good thing. It now looks like this and resembles quite embarrassingly, some tourist itinerary: Tokyo – Takayama/Shirakawa-Go – Kyoto, with tons of day trips in between (in red) on the Shinkansen....

Impulse

For years now, I’ve talked about Japan as my personal fetish, the last, unexplored frontier that I don’t quite dare broach for reasons that were never quite so articulated. I knew that I’d be lost in translation, despite the successful trips that millions of non-Japanese have pulled off without knowing the language and the highly regulated etiquette that earn most gaijin -foreigners – the term “barbarians”. Tokyo itself sounds intimidating and the names of cities just sound the same to me, but I swore that I would plan for myself an ambitious, north-south tour of epic proportions that stretched from the national parks of Hokkaido to the memorial sites of...