Schloss Grafenegg

In such times, when travelling outside of the country is difficult, risky and in some cases – impossible – the only thing a hungry traveller can do is explore whatever’s nearby. Luckily for me, after 11 years in Vienna, there are still places I have not visited. One such place on my list was this castle, Schloss Grafenegg. Not far from Vienna, it is usually a setting for big concerts, which is why there were several stages in its grounds. It’s also a nice place for a walk when there are no concerts scheduled. And if you walk to the small lake, you will find a surreal modern art phone box that looks like a fun random anachronism in the romantic castle’s gardens.

High above Dublin

In what might be my only trip of 2020 I went to Dublin in March. And while there, I couldn’t miss the Guinness museum. The museum itself was fun and very well organised, but one of the best things about it was the bar at the top. It offers the best panorama views of the city and is a pretty great place to drink your pint like a proper tourist.

A sunset in Cannes

The last book I read had a story line play out in Nice and I couldn’t help but remember my first (and only) trip to the French riviera. It was last September when we flew to Nice and then took a bus to Cannes for a relaxed beach vacation. It was warm and humid during our time there, the sky was mostly clear and blinding blue which made for somewhat underwhelming sunsets at the beach. Until our last evening when the oncoming thunderstorm finally made some clouds appear and give me the sunset I was waiting for.

Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències

It seems that it might be some time until it’s safe to travel again and no one knows exactly how that travel will look like. And while there isn’t that much that I miss as an introvert stuck at home with someone I love, finally having the chance to work from home, I am nostalgic for the time I was free to take a cheap flight and spend the weekend in a different European country every now and again. A year ago, in May, I went to Valencia in what is one nicest trips I’ve ever taken and I can’t help but remember the palm trees and the architecture (and the food and the drinks).

Valencia does not only have a wonderful old town, but also some of the most modern and futuristic looking buildings I have ever seen. I am talking, of course, about the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències, or the City of Arts and Sciences. When I imagine an utopian future, where everyone is happy and healthy and provided for, this is what my brain thinks that it could look like. Big, bright, white and beautiful, the buildings in this architectural complex look like someone plucked them out of a futuristic film and put them in our reality by mistake.

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Trinity College Library

If you are anything like me and have ever searched for pictures of libraries to use as a desktop background, because libraries are the best, then you have seen the old Trinity College Library, even if you’ve never known about it. The long room with curved wooden ceiling and two floors packed with books is one of the most famous libraries in the world. I got the chance to visit it during my trip to Dublin and I have to tell you, it smells just as you can imagine from the pictures. Wood and old books, enough to get you high from breathing it in too deep. The library is actually marketed as the place to see the Book of Kells – a 9th century Christian manuscript and the number one popular attraction in Dublin. The book on display during my visit was a replica, but to tell you the truth, I wasn’t there to see one book, however old and impressive. I was there to see all the books.

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.

The dwarfs of Wroclaw

The Polish city of Wroclaw has many hidden jems in the form of dwarf statues. They are small, multi-talented and scattered all over the city. Since 2005 they started appearing in different places and nowadays it’s almost impossible for a tourist to find all of them. I can’t even tell you how many there are because their number increases constantly. There are maps, marking their locations for the more organised hunters. For all the others, there’s the option to stroll around the town keeping your eyes open. That’s what I did and here are some of the dwarfs I found.

Zinnowitz

Like an idiot bird, I fly North in the winter. To the Baltic sea, in East Germany. I do like the melancholy atmosphere of the winter sea, the empty beaches and the feeling of being in a tourist destination, not just in the off-season, but in the dead season. In the this-shouldn’t-even-be-called-a-season season. The town, which I am sure is bustling with people in the summer months, is surprisingly normal in December. Like a cat, alone at home, doing its own thing, before the humans come back from work and start bugging it.