The Highlands

A year ago, when travel was considerably less risky than it is right now, I went back to one of my favourite places, Scotland. As it was my second time, I used the chance to travel outside of Edinburgh. I took a day trip to Loch Ness through the Scottish Highlands. I spent several hours on a tiny bus, looking out at the magical, mossy landscape, lochs and mountains. Our Scottish guide, sporting a kilt, told us about monsters and monarchs and about the time this area had mountains higher than the Himalayas. After centuries of ice pressing down on the Earth, the mountains are much smaller than they used to be, but they are still the highest in Great Britain. During our stops I walked on the soft, bouncy ground, made up of many layers of turf and dreamed of riding through these hills on my trusty horse, not meeting anyone for days. I think I would have enjoyed that.

Бузлуджа (Buzludzha)

If you’ve ever read an article listing strange abandoned places, you’ve probably seen this one. A massive building on top of a peak in the Bulgarian mountains, this place used to be a tribute to the Communist Party until the regime fell. It was supposed to impress everyone going there and show how strong the party was (like everything else they build). And to this day, when you are driving towards this place you see it from kilometres away and you think this thing must be huge. And it is. It’s also falling apart.

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Fog in the Bürgeralpe

Walking around in the fog can be deeply unsettling. It can also be fascinating, calming, melancholic, exciting, poetic, scary or sad. The fog puts a blank screen up and all you see is your own brain reflected back to you from the thick curtain. So how you feel in the fog depends entirely on you. Unless there is an actual murderer chasing you, then it really isn’t your fault that you are scared.
But there was no murderer when I took the ski lift up the mountain and wound up swallowed by the fog. So I felt fascinated and tried taking as many pictures as I could, because it’s not often that I see such thick fog in such a (presumably) beautiful place.

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Erlaufsee

Erlaufsee is three hours by train away from Vienna and its current heatwave and so it is a perfect spot for a weekend trip. It’s a mountain lake where you can swim, dive or rent a boat. When we went there last weekend the weather forecast was less than ideal – there was supposed to be a storm and rain showers the whole day. We still went and in the end, it didn’t rain all that much. We managed to explore the lake by boat and enjoy the view before the rain came. Considering the heat in the city, I was glad for the chance to cool down and relax.

Шипка

Shipka is a historical site in the Bulgarian Balkan mountains. It is where Bulgarians and Russians fought against the Ottomans in 1878. It is arguably where the war was won. Now there is a big monument to commemorate the battle. I finally visited it last year as a part of an epic road trip through central Bulgaria. And I had to climb many, many stairs to get to it.

Παλαιός Παντελεήμονας

Palaios Panteleimonas is a mountain village in Greece with a magnificent view of the sea (where you couldn’t really see where the sky ended and the sea began) and mount Olympus. I got the chance to visit it during our trip to Olympus with an organised excursion which meant that we were in a huge bus, driving on small, steep, winding, mountain streets and I swear, a couple of times the bus was so close to falling off the road. But I have to say the risk of dying paid off because we could enjoy this amazing sight.

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Όλυμπος

Going to the seaside in Greece this year, I decided on a place near Mount Olympus (Leptokaria was the place). The thought behind this choice was that I really like mountains and besides wanting to go to Olympus, I really liked the idea of lying on the beach or swimming in the warm sea and looking at the huge mountains in the background. And indeed, the view from the little town was pretty impressive and sitting on the terrace in our hotel to the one side we could see the sea and to the other the mountains. I could get used to this view.

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Mondsee

Some gas stations are boring and ugly. Some gas stations have views like this.

And yet, I don’t own a car.

I was going somewhere with this…

With my life?

No, I was going to Salzburg. That’s when we stopped at the gas station next to the lake. It was a good gas station. It had all the right stuff. It had coffee. And gas, I suppose. That was what, 3 years ago? What is a gas station you remember from 3 years ago? And were you going somewhere with your life?

Do you ever start a post about gas stations and end up with a mid-week existential crisis? Those are all interesting questions.

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