Don't know about you, but I like planning my holidays almost as much as travelling itself.
The time I spend with comparing, choosing and combining, then finding my way and actually booking is for me as exciting and enjoyable as saying good-byes, boarding the plane and leaving for good.
It has always been.
I remember looking forward to the summer holiday with the family in my childhood, waiting impatiently for the scheduled departure and dreaming about what was expecting me that year, in that place.
Headed for Lofoten • Entering Raftsundet
It is pretty much the same today.
The preparation starts with a travel catalogue, an email, a newsletter. A list of options, a series of pictures, a bunch of descriptions. Destinations, known and new, memories about the former, questions about the latter, longing for both.
The latest coup came unexpected. I'd been planning a new stay in the Swiss Alps, this time in Valais, then moving across the border to Italy or France, for another week at Lago Maggiore, or in the Apennins, or in Jura.
I was undecisive yet, studying timetables, connections and prices, when I received an email invitation to join an aged ship on its transit from Norway to Germany in the beginning of the summer season.
The ship is an old acquaintance. I spent ten days on board in 2011 (was it that long ago already?)
Read the current issue. Then wait for the next to arrive. Just like it used to be.
A time to remember
Summer time started in Europe last night.
This is how we call daylight saving time.
"Daylight saving" sounds silly. What is that supposed to mean? "I wake up one hour earlier every day to save some daylight for later"? Or, "I wake up one hour earlier every day to save the daylight from bad guys"? Come on.
I think ours is a much nicer name. You can relate to it.
You can feel it is about sun, warmth, light, holiday, "I scream for ice cream", children playing on the beach, long evenings on the terrace, cold lemonade, cherries and strawberries, and apricots, and peaches, grass, flowers, storms, and how the air smells thereafter.
The laziness in the heat. The thick book on the porch with dry flowers used as a mark. The travel season.
Is it just me, or does anyone else notice how their childhood memories often recall summers?
Sour cherry pies, ripe peaches coloured like danger, exploding when bitten into, the mess afterwards, the complaining gran, the list of books to read for school, longer than the summer itself, Dandelion Wine instead, bitter-sweet like sour cherries... This goes forever, I should stop now.
I got a job to do. A morning like today's — if you don't oversleep, most unlikely, so it's rather an early afternoon already, how time flies, doesn't it — begins with the usual ritual of adjusting clocks and watches, catching up with the advanced time.
Ever thought of it as a form of time travel? The whole world around you got an hour older in an instant and didn't realize it.
Welcome to the future.
Have a great summer this year, and many a summer yet to remember.
Driving by numbers
Europe is a rather small place. You are bound to cross borders often when moving around.
I commute between two federal states of Germany day in, day out. One can't miss the line with all its bells and whistles, signposts and banners.
Borders are made to be observed, after all.
The border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is invisible, literally. There is none. You notice the change by the scale on road signs. Speed limits and distances drop or raise suddenly depending on your travel direction, without any reason.
Kilometres? Miles? Imperial? Metric? The numbers make the difference, the only one. One moment you are abroad, and now you are back again.
I wonder if this will stay that way for long, with the Kingdom leaving the EU.
The EU membership referendum of 2016 asked the British a single question: Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union? On the whole, 52% voted to leave, while 48% chose to remain.
This is just the big picture, though.
In tiny Gibraltar, not more than a cliff perched at the southern tip of Spain, 96% were to remain. All voting areas of Scotland decided to remain, with the total score of 62% to 38%. Greater London voted 60% to 40% to stay. A firm majority of 56% in Northern Ireland were in favour of remaining, too.
The vote left enough numbers to analyze and raise questions. For me, the most telling are these two:
The graph shows the dynamics of Google searches for "eu" within the UK during the referendum week — the bulk of them was carried out the day after the referendum.
And this, vote results by age:
Voted to leave
Voted to remain
18 - 24
25 - 49
50 - 64
Data by YouGov, based on the post-referendum poll of 5,242 voters
It seems that those to live with the outcome the longest were against it.
This is an account of a trip to the filming locations of Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland. Both topics – the series and the province – were also in the focus of the August newsletter.Dark Hedges • Armoy, Northern Ireland
Perched at the top of Europe and populated by fewer people than visiting polar bears, Svalbard is an almost surreal place. Discovered by the Dutch in 1596, the archipelago is now administered by Norway, but mainly remains what it was during its whole history — terra nullius, no man's land.Silver lining • Magdalenefjorden, Svalbard
"Winter landscape" may not sound as exciting as, say, "summer beach", not to everybody, for sure. But if it does to you, there is much to discover outdoors in this time of the year, too. Dress warmly and come on outside!
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