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Posts from the ‘EUROPE’ Category

Streets of Pamplona

Inside Pamplona's old town

“Then we crossed a wide plain, and there was a big river off on the right shining in the sun from between the line of trees, and away off you could see the plateau of Pamplona rising out of the plain, and the walls of the city, and the great brown cathedral, and the broken skyline of the other churches. In the back of the plateau were the mountains, and every way you looked there were other mountains, and ahead the road stretched out white across the plain going toward Pamplona.”

– The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway Read more

Postcards from León

Afternoon shadows in the Plaza Mayor

 “Adiós! Adiós!”  The little boy’s mother waved and laughed as he remained powerless, legs dangling, in the arms of a waiter. Just moments before, the bearded giant had swiftly picked him up, starting down the slope with a mischievous grin. “I’ll take him away!” he chuckled, “I’ll take him away!” Read more

León Cathedral: the house of light

West front, Cathedral of León

From the plaza it appeared like a fortress, towering high above our heads in solid stone, an imposing presence bristling with spires and sturdy buttresses. The late afternoon sun illuminated the church’s west front as I pushed open the heavy wooden door to a cool, refreshing silence – a far cry from the sounds of the Spanish summer. Read more

A day in Strasbourg


At the central train station, an enormous bubble of glass encasing an older stone structure, there is a clear sense that we had arrived in another country. Even on a quick day trip from Germany, less than five kilometres away, the differences are immediately apparent. I notice a distinct joie de vivre in the air, maintained by the well-dressed denizens strolling leisurely across the pavement. My sister gestures towards the shiny traffic poles in textured aluminium – even the green man, she points out, seems consciously designed with a flair for beauty. Read more

Morning mist in Heidelberg

It drapes the city like a blanket, cloaking its spires in a veil that blocks out the sun. I exhale, my breath a fragile puff of vapour that dissipates in the November chill.

I am walking down the Hauptstrasse, the mile-long main street running through Heidelberg’s old town, or Altstadt. I join a steady, purpose-filled stream of students on their way to class, clutching books and folders as their footsteps echo on the flagstones. The cold bites at my bare fingers as I hold the camera up close, releasing the shutter with an audible ‘click’. Read more

Bonn, an autumn rhapsody

On a bright November morning, the smell of sausages and freshly-baked bread permeates the crisp autumn air. Beneath the watchful gaze of the Beethoven monument, Bonn’s Münsterplatz is an image of European integration. Pretzels and traditional German snacks mingle with wares from as far south as the French Pyrenees, in a visually arresting mélange of Basque cheese, packets of dried lavender, and gourmet sausages: pheasant with cognac, wild boar, duck and hazelnut. Read more

Patterns of Segovia

Segovia Cathedral

When night falls and the day-trippers return to Madrid, Segovia takes on a quiet magic befitting its dramatic location. My mother and I are here for several nights, and from our room on the top floor of a small hotel, we can see the sky turning darker shades of violet. Read more

Farewell at El Escorial

San Lorenzo de El Escorial

It’s been more than a year since I left Spain, but every now and again certain details resurface, catching me at quiet moments and leaving me with a pervasive sense of longing. Among them I recall the sound of Salamanca’s cathedral bells, the intense, woody smell emanating from a jamón shop, and the taste and vivid crimson of a tinto de verano. Read more

In the mood for Mudéjar

It emerges from the arid, dusty landscape like a desert mirage, a medley of tan-coloured buildings and soaring spires amidst an iridescent ribbon of green. We are on the approaches to Zaragoza, a historic city that sits roughly halfway between Bilbao and Barcelona. Read more

Steaming to Sirmione

En route to Milan, the western shore of Lake Garda was a one-night stopover on a whirlwind tour through northern Italy. Read more