These are some of my favourite pictures – in all the years I have been a photographer. For me, they sum up what Denmark´s West coast is all about – rugged, otherworldly shorelines – where the sea and sand clash fervently in their eternal battle.
The pics were taken from the cliff by the Rubjerg Knude lighthouse (see my pictures from this iconic landmark here.)
The old fishing town of Lønstrup, on Jutland´s northern tip has to be one of Denmark´s most beautiful.
Erosion from the might north sea has made its mark in and around Lønstrup. Indeed the well-known landmark, Rudbjerg Knude Lighthouse (see my pictures from this iconic spot, here,) is located not to far away) but the town stands firm – with its quaint houses built on the hilly landscape.
Another of my favourite beaches on the Danish West coast, Slettestrand is a white, sandy beach that´s also great to surf at, if you´re not headed as far up as Cold Hawaii (read my post about Cold Hawaii here)
Believe the hype. The Northwestern stretch of the Danish west coast, commonly referred to as Cold Hawaii, is home to some of the greatest swells in the world. Unlike its American namesake, however, this is not a place of palm-fringed beaches, hula shirts and unending sunsets – it is, as the name suggests, predominantly cold.
Not that this should deter the ardent surfer, however – if you don’t have one already, you can easily purchase a wetsuit in one of the many surf shops in the area. Choose between wetsuits that will keep you warm enough during the cold winter months or thinner suits that’ll have you covered for the months of the year where It’s cold but not blisteringly so.
My favourite spot, when it comes to riding these north shore waves, is around the small town of Vorupør – The waves here break close to the shoreline and will roll you gently in – so a longboard is my personal preference.
Do I prefer Cold Hawaii to the real (American) Hawaii? Well, if I could surf in the latter every day of the year, I would. However, being that I live in Denmark currently, I´ll gladly take Cold Hawaii and its generous offerings, cold or otherwise.
Original article written for momondo, available here
From Bucharest’s epic Palace of Parliament to Barcelona’s Hospital de Sant Pau and Stockholm’s Vaxholm Fortress, here are 14 overlooked European attractions
Molecule Man, Berlin, Germany
This aluminium trio has been delighting Berliners since 1997, following several brotherly sculptures in the US. Designed by American artist Jonathan Borofsky, the three holy men symbolise the molecular structure of humankind; made up mostly of water and air, coming together to create our unified existence.Find a flight to Berlin
Rocamadour, Lot, France
A veritable European treasure, Rocamadour is every bit as enchanting as it sounds. Built into a limestone cliff face, this small village in the south of France is revered for its many religious sites, trademark goat cheese and impeccable medieval architecture. Access it through the sole gateway into the village, the Figuier gate.Find a flight to nearby Brive La Gaillard
Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse, Rubjerg, Denmark
Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse stands 60 metres above sea level on Denmark’s western shoreline, overlooking the North Sea. A relic from 1899, the lighthouse is engaged in an eternal battle with coastal erosion, which eats away at up to 1,5 metres of shoreline annually. In fact, it is widely believed that the entire structure will have sunk into the sea within the next 10 – 15 years. For now, though, take advantage of the recently re-opened tower and ascend it for a riveting view.
Find a flight to nearby Aalborg
The Jacobite Steam Train, Fort William, Scotland
Harry Potter fans may recognise this steam stalwart from its many appearances as The Hogwarts Express in the various films. Traversing some of Scotland’s most alluring scenery, you will travel along the shores of Loch Eli and further on to Mallaig on your journey. Keep your eyes open for the passage over the Glenfinnan viaduct — an unforgettable moment of magic.
The Buzludzha Monument, Balkan Mountains, Bulgaria
This derelict European landmark has to be seen to be believed. Erected at the peak of the Balkan Mountains in 1981, it stands at the final battleground between Bulgarian rebels and the Ottoman Empire in 1868, which became the location for the birth of the first social democratic party in the Balkans some 23 years later.
Ever since the Communist reign came to a close in 1989, the once thriving former headquarters has turned into an important, but shabbily kept monument of times past. Officially, the front doors are bolted shut, but if you follow the ‘FORGET YOUR PAST’ graffiti emblazoned on the dome’s side, you may just be able to find a small, unofficial portal into this crumbling gem.
Brussels is often associated with its Manneken Pis statue, but this shimmering treasure also warrants a visit ,if you find yourself in the EU capital. Originally devised for the Expo 58 by engineer André Waterkeyn, this intricate, shiny structure closely resembles a unit cell of an iron crystal, blown up into nine, apartment-sized spheres connected by tubes.
After the spheres were restored in 2004, they were opened up for public eyes. 8 of the spheres are used for study trips and private events, while the top orb hosts Brussels’ most exclusive restaurant. You will find The Atomium in the north of Brussels, overlooking the miniature park, Mini Europe.Find a flight to Brussels
Villa D’Este, Tivoli, Italy
When in the hilltop town of Tivoli, near Lazio, be sure to visit the Renaissance Villa d’Este — an imposing 16th-century villa and its surrounding parks. The landscaping here is a perennial ballad between the elements of stone and water, relics of the Roman world and all its ingenuity.
Portugal’s heyday as a 14th- century superpower is celebrated by this mighty concrete structure that rises 52 metres above the shoreline of the River Tagus. The detailed figures on each side of it depict the sojourns of bygone explorers who ventured out in the world from what used to be the old harbour of Belem.
The world’s second largest administrative building (after The Pentagon) was once the jewel in the crown in Nicolae Ceausescu’s communist dictatorship. Despite its completion being thwarted by the revolution of 1989, the complex still stands tall today – all twelve floors of it (as well as the eight below the surface).
Delphi — the ancient sanctuary on the south side of Mount Parnassus that was once the navel of Greece’s political decision-making. The revered Oracle of Delphi, once reigned supreme here. It is said that this oracle, (the Pythia) was a link between mankind and the spiritual world, the former of whom she spoke to in riddles, while belching hallucinogenic fumes that entranced and enlightened.
Today’s ruins reverberate with powerful echoes of Delphi at its pinnacle, standing robust against a backdrop of green. It is little wonder that the area is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Franz Kafka was one of Prague’s literary greats. A troubled soul who was tormented by depression and self-doubt for most of his adult life, Kafka was known as being a particularly mercurial character.
These traits are reflected in a multi-layered mirror structure in the form of a head, designed by the artist David Černý. Each of the 42 layers rotates individually, with the help of a gear system inspired by Prague’s famous astronomical clock, adding further dynamism to this shimmering gem
After being used in Robert Altman’s film Popeye from 1980 (starring Robin Williams) this elaborately built set, whose constructions include a 76-metre breakwater that was built around Anchor’s Bay, was scheduled to be demolished.
But with some clever negotiation by the local authorities the village was saved and transformed into a theme park ‘for the young and young at heart.’ Take advantage of Mellieħa’s sandy beaches and striking nature while you’re in the north of the island.
The entire region of Bled, at the northern tip of Slovenia, is, in itself, bewilderingly enchanting.
At the heart of it, you’ll find Lake Bled — a shimmering body of water nestled between mountains and thick woodland. Be sure to drop by Bled Castle — a towering construction built on a precipice on the lake shore and, if you can, row out to Bled Island in the middle of the lake. A stunning Gothic church awaits you here – ring its bells for good luck.
Original article written for momondo, available here.
From volcano views on a rugged landscape in Iceland to igloos in Finland and cosy lodges in Canada, here are some of the best hotels from which to see the Northern Lights
To stand under the star-studded sky of the Arctic and watch the ethereal dance of the Northern Lights is to witness nature’s most spectacular light show, the kind of phenomenon that seems out of this world…
Also known as Aurora Borealis (Dawn of the North), these shifting celestial lights are the result of electrically charged particles emanating from the sun reaching the earth’s magnetic field. The poles are where the field is weakest, which is why the further north you go, the better a chance you have of seeing them.
We’ve come up with a list of several of the best hotels from which to see the spectacle of the Northern Lights.
ION Hotel – Selfoss, Iceland
Less than an hour’s drive from Reykjavik, the modern minimalist structure of the ION Luxury Adventure Hotel stands tall amidst the craggy terrain of lava fields.
Close to the Thingvellir National Park and the famous Geysir hot springs, the hotel organises everything from rafting to glacier trekking to diving in the Silfra Fissure, the rift between the American and Eurasian continents! When it comes to watching the night sky shine bright, ION has its very own panoramic Northern Lights bar, where you can even sit down with an in-house astronomer and have all your aurora queries answered.
In the quiet countryside in which Hotel Rangá is located, you can gawk at the glowing sky whilst soaking in a bubbling outdoor hot tub with a view of the Mount Hekla volcano. A special ‘Aurora alarm’ wake-up service guarantees you won’t sleep through the action and – because there’s more to the infinite night sky than those luminous waves of colour – the hotel has even built its own highly-equipped astronomical observatory for expert stargazing. You will find Hotel Rangá a mere two hours away from Reykjavik’s airport.
Staying at a hotel made entirely of ice, sculpted anew each winter, is a fantastic frosty experience in its own right. And if that’s not eccentric enough for you, at the Sorrisniva you can also camp out in a typical lavvo tent with a toasty fire to keep you warm. On the banks of the Alta River, you’re in prime aurora-spotting territory – team up with some huskies to sled you towards the lights!
Imagine if you could lie under the incandescent sky without leaving the comfort of your warm snug bed … well, in the Hotel Kakslauttanen in Finnish Lapland, this dream-like scenario is a very real possibility. The family-run establishment has built a village of igloos where you can sleep in small domes made of glass that doesn’t steam up or frost over. Other activities include reindeer safaris, horse-riding in the snow and an icebreaker cruise with an optional dip in the glacial Baltic Sea – in a dry suit, of course.
In the Rovaniemi region (land of the Sami, the indigenous people of Lapland), another out-of-the-box choice of accommodation – particularly for those travelling with little ones – is the Santa Claus Holiday Village. Besides being ideally situated to start your search for the Northern Lights, there’s plenty to keep the kids distracted during daylight hours. The hotel’s Gingerbread Club hosts everything from sledding to arts & crafts, baking and even elf school!
Nestled in the northernmost valley of Swedish Lapland, the rustic cabins of the Abisko Mountain Lodge are a cosy choice for an Arctic stay.
The hotel offers a wide range of activities – from ice-fishing to heli-skiing – to keep you busy when you’re not out scouting the main event, but its biggest selling point is its location.
From your window you can spot the icy Torneträsk Lake of the Abisko National Park, where scientists have identified a ‘blue hole’, a patch of sky that generally stays clear even when the surrounding area is overcast. Head over to the Aurora Sky Station for a privileged viewpoint!
Sweden’s Treehotel is just what the name implies, — a hotel with an incredibly inspired design where you sleep, quite literally, up in the trees! Here you can soak in a wood-fired bathtub in the heart of the forest, sign up for a photography course to capture the perfect image of the auroras or join the nighttime snowmobile safaris to chase after those radiant cosmic swirls.
Sample the very best of the Alaskan wilderness at Hotel Alyseka — a chateau-style motel that merges modern comfort with the great outdoors. The remote location of this gem of a hotel makes it an ideal vantage point from which to view the Northern Lights, which are seen best during the wee hours of the morning. The hotel staff will happily wake you from your slumber so you can catch the coruscating spectacle.Find a room at Hotel Alyeska
Blachford Lake Lodge is an ideal spot to see the dance of the Northern Lights across the dark night sky. Its remote location offers pristine views of the phenomenon from its hilltop perch. While you’re here, explore the Canadian wilderness on skis, kick sleds or fat tire bikes and take part in igloo building workshops, snowmobile forays and other activities. If the views from under the covers in your room don’t quite cut it, try the Blachford Lake Lodge hot tub, where you can enjoy the spectacle while the warm water soothes your senses.