Contrary to popular belief, Spain’s Canary Islands west of Western Sahara do not take their name from birds, rather dogs. While the songbirds were named after the Canary Islands, the latter was derived the Latin term Insula Canaria, meaning “Island of the Dogs.” Ironically, these windswept islands, notably the kitesurfing hub Fuerteventura, will transport you away from the “dog eat dog” world and make you sing like canaries.
Ibiza in Spain’s Balearic Islands is the European party place with world-class DJs but it is also an UNESCO World Heritage Site as a hub of biodiversity, history and culture. This natural reserve, archeological site and pioneer in art and gastronomy will be music to your ears. Rock on!
Spending a summer in London was one of the best things I ever did. This metropolis, including the City of London and 32 boroughs, has a neighborhood feel and everything you can and cannot imagine.
Aside from being politically neutral, staying out of the EU and being one of the world’s most expensive countries, Switzerland is perhaps best known for its quality of life and natural beauty. Much of this revolves around water as I discovered during several trips as a “Swiss miss.”
Iceland is a Nordic country-island in northwestern Europe known as the “land of fire and ice.” With 200 volcanoes and 600 hot springs, no wonder geothermal and hydroelectric energy allow it to have 99.96 percent renewable energy. That’s good news for glaciers.
Did you know there are 32 special territories of the 27 EU member states? They are divided into three categories: nine outermost region territories like the Canary Islands that are part of the EU but have derogations from some EU laws with locations outside of mainland Europe; 10 special cases that are part of the EU with ad hoc provisions to EU law; and 13 other countries and territories (OCT) that are not part of the EU but cooperate with it. Except Greenlanders, OCT nationals are not EU citizens.
“Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death,” wrote Nobel Prize-winning novelist Ernest Hemingway. Observing this gory yet elegant cultural tradition in Spain, I better understood his lifelong obsession.
When Johann Strauss entitled his famous 1866 waltz “The Blue Danube,” he must have been wearing blue-tinted glasses or simply drunk. This river is no more blue than I can waltz. However, its banks are lined with magnificent buildings, charming villages and three European capitals. It also unites a formally divided continent.
Moldova, a former USSR country between Romania and Ukraine, is caught between political idealism and economic reality. But in the middle are friendly, humble people.
Noah’s Ark purportedly landed in the Caucasus, a region between the Black and Caspian Seas where the Caucasus Mountains divide Eastern Europe and Western Asia. The latter in the South Caucasus includes Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, where fire, earth, water and air are “biblical.” No wonder the ark survived.