Photo courtesy of Travel Belize.

10 of Our Favourite Travel Stories of 2023

Our adventures spanned the globe last year, from swimming with sharks in the Bahamas to driving Turkey’s notorious Stone Road. 

Life and Death Climate Lessons at Belize’s Largest Mayan Ruins

Photo by Ivanka84/Adobe Stock.

“The noise is deafening. A constant trilling, almost electric in its buzz, envelops us. Goodness knows how many small cicadas it takes to make this much noise, but amazingly, as the day gets hotter, their personal boom boxes will turn up the volume another notch or two. It’s midmorning at Caracol, an ancient Maya city deep in the jungle of Belize, near the border of Guatemala.” Read more.

Tracing the History of Modern Geology on Tenerife

Photo by Palino666/Adobe Stock.

“At this altitude, my shortness of breath offers a chance to pause. I marvel at the lunar forms of cinder cones, lava flows, levees, and 360-degree views. To one side is snow-covered El Teide. To the other is a sea of clouds. To the west, somewhere beneath, are another two of the seven Canary Islands, La Gomera and La Palma. And just 300 kilometres to the east is the western coast of Africa.” Read more.

From Goethe to Bauhaus, Weimar’s Art Scene Bridges Romantic and Modern

Photo by Autofocus67/Adobe Stock.

“​​The city of Weimar, nestled amid the rolling hills in the eastern state of Thuringia, is about a two-hour train ride from Berlin, where I’ve lived for two years, yet this is my first visit. When I told my German friends I was going, they simply said, ‘Finally.’ To visit Weimar, they said, would be to finally know Germany. How I desired to understand this new home, this country of der Dichter und Denker, the poets and the thinkers.” Read more.

In Essen, a Transformed Coal Mine Symbolizes a Green German Future

Photo © Jochen Tack/Stiftung Zollverein.

“The preserved coal plant has become a symbol in Germany of success transcending the past. What was once the largest colliery in Europe is now a 247-acre UNESCO World Heritage site and arts hub. Arriving there feels like approaching an alien, otherworldly city, with towering red mine shafts and a labyrinth of factories.” Read more.

The Long Remaking of London’s Battersea Power Station

Photo by Brendan Bell.

“When Apple moved its U.K. office into Battersea Power Station in January 2023, it marked an extraordinary rebirth for London’s most famous ruin. For almost 40 years, the immense industrial cathedral with its four towering chimneys had squatted, roofless and abandoned, in a prime location next to the Thames—difficult to demolish but seemingly impossible to restore. It was a sad sight. For 50 years, the power station had burned coal to generate electricity. Now it burned cash as a succession of development plans fell victim to the intractable problems of Battersea.” Read more.

Driving Turkey’s Notorious Stone Road

Photo by Lisa Young.

“Ahead of me lay 1,100 kilometres of exhilarating driving over two 10-hour days, including 200 kilometres of challenging unpaved roads, considered among the most dangerous in the world. My last waypoint will be Cappadocia in central Anatolia, via the ancient settlement of Elâziğ on the Euphrates River.” Read more.

Wild Encounters With the Bison of Yellowstone

Photo by Matt Whelan.

“Bison are as capricious as they are capacious, and posted around the park’s 8,992 square kilometres is a poster of 16 bison head shots arranged in a grid. Under each is a description of one of the animal’s potential moods to help visitors tell if the creature standing before them is happy or sad, for example. There’s also lonely, mischievous, amused, skeptical, furious, disgusted, romantic, confused, bored, sarcastic, terrified, whimsical, triumphant, and perhaps most fittingly, Mike Tyson-ish. Each photo is a steely, identical copy of the others.” Read more.

Bad Ragaz⁠—Switzerland’s Haven of Hot Springs and Heidi

Photo courtesy of Grand Resort Bad Ragaz.

“There’s plenty to be happy about at Bad Ragaz, where the ancient bathing and spa tradition has evolved to combine holistic medical expertise and everything a luxury resort has to offer—including two golf courses, a casino, gyms, a Swiss Olympic Medical Center, a labyrinth of thermal baths and pools, countless spa experiences and treatments, a ‘sauna world’ given over to international variations, and seven restaurants with six Michelin stars and 75 Gault&Millau points among them.” Read more.

Backcountry Bird Surveying in the Slovenian Alps

Illustration by Carmen Kuntz.

“Since getting involved in small volunteer initiatives—netting boreal owls in the thick forest of Slovenia’s mountain plateaus, ski touring to spot the elusive and well-camouflaged ptarmigan in the high alpine, whitewater kayaking to survey waterbirds on frost-dusted gravel bars—backcountry bird surveying has become part of my annual outdoor-adventure routine.” Read more.

Up Close With the Sharks of the Bahamas

Photo by Matt Whelan.

“The sharks, predominantly Caribbean reefs and a few lemons and nurses, swarm and weave in a blitz of quick teeth, fins, and steely eyes. They’re very large and very fast, darting in and out of the circle, glancing occasionally off my mask or wetsuit, inspiring precisely the sort of pupil-expanding, bowel-relaxing, tack-sharp awareness of the fragility of my own single and temporary existence that you might imagine.” Read more.

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Post Date:

January 5, 2024