I was among, apparently, around 170 people who signed up for a free tour by Nature Trust Malta to explore Babu valley (Wied Babu). When people sign up to an event on Facebook, one must divide the number by three and extract a square root to know the realistic number of attendees, but hiking tours in Malta are different. When people click they will attend, they actually show up and bring their friends. This is the scale of the ‘invasion’ in Wied Babu.
I discovered Vištytis in March while carrying out a project on borders. Everything was covered with snow and the little houses on the campsite by the lake seemed lonely and as though they were spending winter in hibernation. But I was interested in everything: the mysterious landscape, conversations with locals who speak both neighbour countries’ languages, and the legends about the devil that carried the stone – we had to study this in primary school. I thought that not only the beauty of the surroundings and its special location on the border, but also the charming coat of arms with a unicorn would be useful for Vištytis’ tourism marketing (more on heraldry here – a cartoon style coat of arms from 1757-1792). Therefore, when the weather got warmer, I invited my friend, a keen traveller, to explore this beautiful site in more depth.
Vištytis is a special place, because the state and administrative dependency have changed since the times of Teutonic Order and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, but the status of the borderland has remained the same.
What to do on Valentine′s day not to make it become cheesy? I found a great solution this year – I went to a local feminist gathering. But it′s also a good chance to remember that last year at this time I was somewhere far away, exploring one of the most special places on Earth – the Dead Sea. Update: in 2015, I went there again and took better photos.
First part here.
Outside of the Old Town, a picturesque fortification attracts not only tourists, but also the theater and cinema industries. It is also used for rock diving. On it, the official motto of the former republic, ‘freedom can’t be sold for the whole gold in the world’, is inscribed. The republic’s nobility (men only) elected their representatives to the parliament, but rich traders were excluded from political representation and increasingly frustrated. The republic was abolished with the French conquest in 1808. The upper fort in the city was built to control the fort in the sea. During theater performances, Hamlet’s father’s ghost appears in the fortress. Our guide said that during her childhood residents could enjoy a lot of street theater, but nowadays theater happens in more closed spaces. Continue reading
Luxembourg is not frequently visited by tourists, and I have an impression that the country doesn’t promote itself as a tourist destination. Why should it? The world already comes there to pick up the paycheck. Germans go there to fill the tanks of their cars (lower taxes). Streets are already overcrowded with people who commute to the tiny country from its larger and cheaper neighbors. And yet, Luxembourg’s tourist destinations shouldn’t be missed. Most of them are outside Luxembourg City (I have already written about Esch-sur-Alzette).
Click on the image to enlarge it.
Top: Kirchberg quarter and Echternach, bottom: the Little Switzerland and Grevenmacher butterfly garden.
The most impressive sites in Luxembourg, and one of the most impressive in Europe, is the Mullerthal Trail, which crosses the so-called Little Switzerland – a rocky area at the border with Germany. We did the Echternach-Berdorf part of the trail. This trail is very easy and even children could possibly do it. There is a clear path in most areas. The only difficulty might be finding the trail where it begins. [Click on the images to enlarge them] Continue reading
Haifa is probably the most beautiful among the larger cities in Israel. I am always happy to visit there, as it is such a special place. Haifa is known for rather peaceful coexistence among the ethnic groups, and life is not as stressful there as it is in Tel Aviv, where living costs are high and everyone seems to be competing. “People in Haifa look into your eyes – not at your clothes,” N. said once, comparing his native Haifa to Tel Aviv. When I went hiking around Haifa with friends three years ago, I wrote this in Lithuanian and this in English.
The previous time we went to Ein Hod, an artist village that was set up on top of a previously Arab village, and one of the nature trails, on which we were able to see and even pet people’s livestock (horses and donkeys). This time my local friend picked a trail that goes from the Etzba Cave to Ein Hod. Continue reading