on the road: ring road 🇮🇸

Road number 1, Þjó?vegur 1, Road 1 or Ring Road , (in English circular road), circles Iceland, creating a natural route to travel Iceland by road. Ideal for those who want to venture on the island and travel it to your liking by car or camper, by dreamland without crossing with almost anyone. The particular distribution of the Icelandic population means that although there is a certain amount of traffic around Reykjavik, in most of the road there are no more than 100 vehicles a day.

The itinerary of the Ring Road has a length of 1340 km , and was completed in 1974, with the construction of the longest bridge in Iceland, the south of the island on the Skeidara river.

The road starts from Reykjavik and draws an immense circle through the main towns and natural places of the island. Following the direction of the hands of the clock, it crosses Sellfoss, Hvolsvöllur, Vík , Kirkjubæjarklaustur , Höfn, Egilssta?ir , Akureyri, Blönduós and Borgarnes .

The road, despite being the main road communication route in Iceland, is a two-way road with only one lane for each direction during most of the route. Only the Reykjavik ring road and some small sections are double lane. Even in the easternmost areas the asphalt gives way to a dirt and gravel track. The road is in good conditions, but most of the 1400 km pass through uninhabited areas where animals and atmospheric elements roam freely.

What to see

Thanks to Highway 1, you can visit most of Iceland’s tourist sites. Again following the clockwise direction the route passes very close to the three main places of the Route of the Golden Circle : The National Park of Thingvellir ; the Valley of the Geisers , Haukadaulur and the Cascade of Gullfoss . All this is relatively close to Reykjavík, deviating a bit from Highway 1.

Also the Blue Lake (Blue Lagoon) , a geothermal complex and a thermal lake that is among the most known and tourist places in Iceland, is located in this area.

The south of the country is the most populated and urbanized, which nevertheless leaves abundant space for an immense and overwhelming nature. 150 Km. From Reykjavik we find the impressive Skogafoss waterfall . An obligatory stop next to the village of Skógar, which has 25 inhabitants, beautiful waterfalls and a museum with samples of the typical buildings of Iceland, the houses with roofs covered with peat. Skógar is also the point of departure towards the interior, towards the highlands of Landmannalaugar.

300 km. We enter the region of the vast Vatnajökull National Park , another area of ??incredible landscapes where we can make routes on foot, by bike or on horseback . In this area you can make a stop in Kirkjubæjarklaustur , to visit the volcanic complexes Laki (Lakagígar) and the Eldgjá

crater system; the Fja?rárgljúfur canyon or the Skaftaffel area.
Then, following the route to the east, we find the glacier and the glacier lagoon of Jokulsarion (375km). Höfn , at 455 km. Is a small fishing port where you can spend a night.
Egilssta?ir at 630 Km. Is another small town in the eastern part of Iceland, with its small port and airport.

Continuing north-northwest we enter the region of the Ruta del Circulo del Diamante . The northern part of the Vatnajökull National Park is full of natural landscapes and cities of unique beauty. Among them we highlight: the volcanic complex of Askja ; Lake Myvant; the Asbyrgi Canyon; the Dark Castles; the waterfalls and waterfalls of Eiderfoss, Godafoss, Dettifoss and the Cliffs of the Murmullos .

After touring some of the most unpopulated areas of Iceland we reached the fishing north. Akureyri is located at Km. 900 of our route. A lively and cultural city, with more breathtaking landscapes.Turning north we can visit the pretty and charming fishing village ofHusavík .

At 1040 km and approaching Reykiavík we see again the sea in Blönduós .

In Borgarnes we can deviate towards the region of the fjords of the west (Vestfirdir), more wild and isolated if it fits. A place to get lost or to be found, for example in Ísafjördur . To the west we have the Snaeffelsjökull National Park . And to the east lies the Husafell valley , with its lava fields and glaciers.

A little further south, almost at the gates of Reykjavík we must head west to visit the Snaefellsnes peninsula is one of the most spectacular parts of the whole country. Volcanoes, mountains, fjords and charming villages. A summary of the whole island not too far from Reykjavik, therefore ideal for those who only have a week for all of Iceland. Place of great charm and full of myths. There, Jules Verne placed the entrance to the center of the earth in his famous novel.

Some essential recommendations.

For the route of the Ring Road it is recommended to choose to rent a good vehicle, the 4 × 4 are the most suitable cars for a complete tour. Of course, in winter, such a trip can be simply impossible, so it is recommended to organize a trip in the summer and always find out about the weather in Iceland.

To rent a vehicle enter our car rental section .
The maximum speed is 90 km per hour.
Warm clothes and some provisions, as well as water, a phone with full battery. An updated map and a certain idea of ??where to make stops, gas and

spend the night is also interesting.

One week can be a prudential time to travel the Ring Road, but it can be done in less or more time depending on our stops and what we want to see. Where to stay

Accommodation in Iceland is not too expensive if we think about the high standard of living in the country. There is a wide variety of accommodation in Iceland, with all kinds of services and excellent quality. First of all, there are hotels of different categories, for all tastes and needs: from luxury hotels in the center of Rekikiavík, passing through medium hotels with very good services, to pensions within reach of all budgets.

Of course, there are also campsites and youth hostels or hostels , a form of cheap accommodation in Iceland, close to nature and a means of meeting other travelers. Of course, do not forget to book in advance and carry the hostel card . But there are also very peculiar lodgings in Iceland , such as farms , which is a way of seeing how the Icelanders live in rural areas and also offers a large number of activities and excursions. There are also cabins or cottages, which is an original form of accommodation in Iceland. The cabins are in full nature and in very good condition, and the owners usually propose horse and boat excursions .

The rural houses are another interesting option, since they offer a great independence and tranquility, as well as being in the middle of nature. On the other hand, the Gistheimil are very common , which are the Bed & Breakfast , guest houses (with a copious breakfast included) that belong to families that offer the traveler a close and friendly treatment – the houses in Iceland are large and many people welcomes tourists turning their houses into “guesthouses”. Although the good service and the welcome is ensured in any type of accommodation in Iceland, due to the friendly nature of the Icelanders. We remind you that you can make reservations for accommodation in Iceland on our website well in advance, and it is recommendable since in summer it is difficult to find accommodation in many tourist towns, even in Reykjavík, especially on weekends.

It is true that Iceland is an expensive country, but from here you can book your accommodation at the best prices; we try that your choice of cottage, farm or hotel in Iceland suits your possibilities. Traveling to Iceland in low season or in winter is a great saving , since almost all hotels have special offers for these months of the year. On the other hand, in high season there are also discounts in hotels if you plan to stay more than 5 days. And for children there are also discounts if they sleep in the same room with their parents.

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countries: france 🇫🇷

Traveling without any tourist traps to France: Here are our top tourist attractions in France. Read which highlights and attractions you can not miss during your holiday in France!

Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles was transformed from a dilapidated house in a farming village to a Baroque splendor, once the seat of government of France. Today, it is home to many museums and attracts 3 million visitors a year.

The Baroque Palace of Versailles is located in a suburb of the French capital Paris and is considered one of the most beautiful European palaces. Since 1979, the castle and its park are on the UNESCO World Heritage List .

From the farmhouse to the magnificent building
Originally, the magnificent castle was a small dilapidated building in the not insignificant farming village of Versailles. King Louis XIII. spent most of his hunting trips in the area and finally decided to build the building into a hunting lodge. Often mocked as a house of cards, the royal residence did not even offer room for the Queen and was considered a poor dwelling for a statesman. Thus, the hunting lodge became a three-winged hunting lodge, which today still encloses the Marmorhof.

The subsequent Sun King Louis XIV used the castle regularly as a summer residence and arranged the actual expansion as a demonstration of its power and wealth. Gradually, it became increasingly impressive and even worthy to accommodate the seat of government through the splendid additions, which made it the cultural and political center of France in the mid-17th century . The turn came with the French Revolution. In 1789 the castle was stormed and the king and his queen were expelled. Plundering and destruction were imminent to the castle.

The interior was unfortunately lost for the most part, all rivet and nail fests is still visible today. Ornate wall paintings, ceiling paintings, marble columns, figures and frescoes testify to the enormous artistic skill of the architects and the wealth of the time. In the 19th century parts of the former equipment could be retrieved and was supplemented by recent work.

The most famous rooms of the castle are the two magnificently decorated bedrooms of the King and Queen , the stunningly decorated Hall of Mirrors between them, the Ochsenaugensaal with two huge round windows, the Herkulessalon , the acoustically impeccable wooden court opera and the castle chapel with its magnificent ceiling paintings. The wedding of Louis XIV with Marie Antoinette took place here.

Today, Versailles is the most visited palace in France , and besides its magnificent garden and wonderful architecture, most of the castle is a museum .

For most travelers in the area, the castle is a must, attracting around 3 million visitors each year. Splendid castle garden in Versailles

Outside the castle are not less impressive gardens. Beautifully arranged floral ornaments delight the walkers, who are led along the lovely paths over and over wells, salons and sculptures. Several pergolas connect the low-growing part with the more distant hunting forest and the closer Lustwald.

Also impressive is the vegetable garden . Strawberries, figs, grapes, cherries and many other fruits are also artfully grown here. The staircase “Hundred Steps” leads to the orangery with the imposing arched windows , where exotic fruits are grown in heated surroundings in winter.

Imposing dimensions of the Palace of Versailles

The palace is built on an area of more than 60,000 square meters, the entire castle covers an unimaginable 790 hectares. The castle houses nearly 300 apartments, and about 2,000 rooms. The Hall of Mirrors houses over 350 mirrors, and the park has 75,000 trees. The garden provides a rich annual harvest of up to 80 tons of fruit and vegetables. The administration and maintenance of the palace and the garden employs 800 people.

Saint Tropez

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Saint Tropez, once a sleepy fishing village in the south of France, has become famous by the movie industry, attracting millions of visitors each year and meeting point for artists and high society.

Saint Tropez – a small provincial fishing village in the south of France with a few thousand inhabitants.

Saint Tropez – the name of a world-famous hot spot on the Côte d’Azur that makes one think of the beautiful and rich and super-rich in the world. A place full of high-society stereotypes and fancy Micki myths. A place of topless fashion and stars and starlets. The real crowd here are the visitors, who arrive in several millions per year – and also let several millions per year here. In the port of Saint Tropez a splendid yacht swings next to the next, who does not have a yacht, must at least arrive in the luxury car.

Unspectacular History of Saint Tropez
The history of Saint Tropez is inconceivably unspectacular. Only in the 15th century did the first families settle on the now priceless pavement, the insignificant fishing village never left the shadow of Marseilles or Toulon. Only at the end of the 19th century, with the painter Paul Signac, did a few more artists enter the sleepy idyll, which gradually became known as the center of artists.

Saint Tropez only made the right breakthrough in the mid-twentieth century – as so often – with the help of the film industry. It was filming location for “And always lures the woman” with Brigitte Bardot, who quickly became the sinful leader of the city and gradually attracted celebrities. Numerous scandals reinforced the disreputable image. Since it was the reputation as a city of playboys and little clothed women not far away. The celebrities are now largely gone, the enormous tourist rush has remained.

 

On the way in Saint Tropez
The best way to discover Saint Tropez is by foot. If you look closely and leave the hustle and bustle behind something behind the pomp of the super- rich see the former small pretty town with winding streets, tiny boutiques, souvenir (and junk) shops and small eateries. Those who want to escape the summer heat can visit the Musée de l’Annonciade , which exhibits works by Signac, Matisse and other artists, or the Maritime Museum . This is located in a citadel over the 16th century town, from where you have a perfect panoramic view, which provides a recommended overview of which corners of the city you would like to visit next.

Tip: DO NOT drive to Saint Tropez. There is a road that leads in and out, which is almost hopelessly clogged at any time of the day. The parking fees are horrendous and the merciless sun does not stop even traffic jams and turns every vehicle (even convertibles) in an oven.

But usually you can not escape the busy flair of the city anyway. The hustle and bustle pulls you almost to the harbor. The most impressive way to explore the peninsula is to walk on the Sentier Littoral to the Tahiti beach. But you have to be good on foot and have sunscreen with you. If necessary, a cool bath will remedy the heat. Those looking for more than 10min recovery, unfortunately, on most beaches with partially sensitive high fees expected; However, there is also one or the other free beach.

The hilltop town of Gassin , also spruced up for visitors, is often overlooked by the splendor of Saint Tropez. Like Ramatuelle , even without sights, but in clear weather an imposing view of the surroundings. Ramatuelle actually owns the largest beach in Saint Tropez, the Baie de Pampelonne with the famous clubs Tahiti Plage, Club 55 and Nikki Beach.

Tour Eiffel 

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The Eiffel Tower was designed and constructed by Gustave Eiffel and is today the undisputed landmark of Paris. With more than 300 meters, it offers visitors a magnificent view of Paris over a total of three floors.

A good 300 meters above the rooftops of the city , the Eiffel Tower stands out as the steel landmark of the French capital, Paris . Built by the engineer and bridge builder Gustave Eiffel, from whom the structure also got its name, it caused due to its futuristic appearance in many aversion and protests and was even referred to as a stain.

Originally, the lifetime of the Eiffel Tower was limited to 20 years, because the gigantic building was actually intended for the World Fair and the centenary of the French Revolution in 1889. Its opening took place on March 31st. Due to the then innovative construction technology and the strategic importance in the First World War, however, the Eiffel Tower was not dismantled again and could establish itself over the years as a landmark of Paris. By 1930 it was even the tallest structure in the world, after which it was overtaken by the Chrysler Building in New York.

Visit the Eiffel Tower
A visit to the Paris Eiffel Tower should not be missing from any stay in Paris, but also wants to be well planned. As an absolute tourist highlight of the

city, the building registers several thousand visitors daily, in summer even more than in winter. It is therefore advisable to start the tour early in the morning or late at night; with some waiting time in the queue but you should definitely expect.

There are several ways to get to the three viewing platforms: The first and second platforms can be reached either on foot via several steps or with the lift, which costs about twice as much per person as the entrance to the stairs. The higher you get, the more gigantic the view over the city becomes. At each level, interested visitors are offered additional information about the construction and the costly maintenance of the Eiffel Tower.

The last floor, which is at the top of the tower, can only be reached by lift. Again, patience and good nerves are needed, because it may happen that this area is closed due to overcrowding for a long time. On this last floor is the restaurant “Jules Verne” , which is not only due to its exquisite location among the top Parisian restaurants. This restaurant has also served as a stage for a great filmmaker, because several years ago, the James Bond movie “In the Face of Death” was filmed here and at other Parisian attractions.

Old town of Lyon
The picturesque old town of Lyon at the foot of Mont Fourvière is often referred to as one of the most beautiful Renaissance districts in Europe, with its impressive churches and magnificent mansions.

Vieux Lyon, the “old Lyon”, was once the first sight of France in 1954 , protected by the Malraux law as a cultural city. In 1998, UNESCO declared the historic center of Lyon as one of the largest surviving Renaissance quarters in Europe as a World Heritage Site

Visit the old town of Lyon

The city of Lyon, with over 400 hectares, stretches between the two hills, Croix Rousse and Fourvière, to the banks of the Saône, and can be reached via the D line. Strolling through the old town of Lyon, you will find magnificent mansions, over 300 in number, that still today characterize the special atmosphere of Vieux Lyon. The residences in the style of the High Renaissance are the most beautiful to look at with their pretty arcades and turrets, but also the other predominant styles Flamboyant, Early Classicism and the French Renaissance have created magnificent monuments.

Discover Lyon – via MP3 or Lyon City Greeter
For the tour of Lyon’s entire old town, MP3 audio guides are available in tourist offices in five different languages ??(German, English, French, Spanish and Italian). Even more personally, Lyon’s visitors are looked after by the so-called Lyon City Greeters. These can be booked online and guide tourists through the neighborhood in which they live – on a voluntary basis and completely free. They reveal the most beautiful corners, the best shopping addresses and numerous gastronomic insider tips.

Vieux Lyon splits again into three regions, all named after their monumental churches.
District of Saint Jean
Saint Jean is the most famous and famous part of Lyon’s old town. In the Middle Ages, the region was the center of politics and religion, of which the

Gothic cathedral of Saint-Jean , until today the residence of the archbishop, still bears witness. Next to it, the manécantery raises one of the most beautiful Romanesque buildings in Lyon. At that time a choir school it now houses a museum of church treasures.

Old town of Nice

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In charming Nice, where the Russian Tsarist family and British winter refugees met as early as the 18th century, not only the beautiful and the rich enjoy Mediterranean flair, French cuisine and high-quality shopping.

Vieux Nice, the “old Nice”, is one of the main attractions of Nice , next to the spectacular Nôtre Dame and the diverse museums . Winding lanes, pastel-colored houses with well-preserved historic facades, high-quality shops and boutiques and wide squares with cozy cafes and restaurants make a walk through Nice’s old town a discovery tour of a special kind.

Since the houses are mostly five-storey, there is always plenty of shade, so it is not oppressively hot even in midsummer in the charming streets. However, you soon lose yourorientation between the high facades and so a visit to the castle hill ” Colline du Château ” is recommended , in order to gain a first overview of Vieux Nice thanks to the magnificent view. Before you venture into the alleyways of the old town, you should not miss a visit to the picturesque harbor of Nice.

Parc Pheonix and Museum of Asian Art
The Parc Phoenix in Nice covers an area of ??approximately 7 hectares and more than 2000 different plant species, some of them in their natural environment dar. Since 1998, the Botanical Adventure Park also houses the Museum of Asian Art , whose impressive building was designed by the Japanese architect Kenzo Tange ,

Shopping in Nice’s old town

The lovely old town between the castle hill, the ” Colline du Château “, and the river Le Paillon is often referred to as the largest open air sales area on the Côte d’Azur. On every corner there are stalls selling handmade soaps, fine textiles or ornate paintings by local artists, and local vendors offer fresh fruit and vegetables, exotic spices, delicious pastas and colorful flowers at various markets.

Cathédrale de la Major in Marseille

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The monumental Cathédrale de la Major is the seat of the Archbishop of Marseilles and is considered one of the largest cathedrals built after the Middle Ages.

The Cathédrale de la Major in the western city of Marseille is actually called “Sainte Marie Majeure” and is often simply referred to as the “Marseille Cathedral”. Located a few hundred meters north of the Old Port , its impressive domes have been welcoming seafarers and travelers to Marseille for over a hundred years.

History of the Cathedral of Marseille

Saracens during the French Revolution. The present appearance of the Cathedral of Marseille goes back to the Napoleonic era, when under Bishop Eugen von Mazenod the new building was arranged. The bishop, canonized in 1995, is now buried in the Lady Chapel on the apse.

Like the Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica , the cathédrale Cathédrale de la Major was designed by the Protestant architect Jacques Henri Espérandieu. Construction of the “Nouvelle Major” was in 1852, the basic position on 26 September happened under the rule of Napoleon. The
French emperor wanted to create a symbol for the upswing and prosperity of France with their impressive appearance . The completion of the neo- Romanesque-Byzantine cathedral took place in 1896. However, her originally planned mosaic jewelry was – for financial reasons – not completed today.

Visit to the Cathédrale de la Major

With a length of 141m, a width of 50m and several domes, of which the highest reaches 70m, making it the sixth largest in the world, the Cathedral of Marseille is still an impressive sight. Its interior is comparable to the gigantic dimensions of St. Peter’s in Rome and offers space for 3000 faithful. The combination of round arches and triangular roofs and the symmetrical alternation of light and dark stone give the Cathédrale de la Major a majestic harmony.

The design features of the façade continue inside. Here, too, striated walls dominate, as well as domes and arches, which are responsible for the Byzantine impression. In addition to some slender columns and sculptures and mosaics in the choir and in the crossing, the interior of the cathedral is rather restrained. For this, the stand-alone figures in the main room are all the better to advantage. Some of them date back to the 11th century predecessor chapel.

 

first time: blue ridge parkway 🇺🇸

I heard the rumbling engine of Tessa’s sedan heading towards my house. Laying on my bed, I stared at the ceiling contemplating my life choices. I’d spent years studying to become a lawyer, only to fail the Bar Exam twice by a few points. She was coming over to help me figure things out, and I had unlocked the door for her to come right in when she arrived.

Hearing the engine shut off, I waited to hear the slam of the car door. Instead, I heard her lay on the horn like she did whenever someone cut her off in traffic. I waited for her still, then she honked again. Groaning, I trudged to the window to see her parked in the driveway. “Are you coming in?” I asked.

“You’re coming out, Grace,” Tessa called back, poking her head out the window, “We’re going on a road trip.”

“Ugh, I can’t handle that right now,” I whined, “I just want to curl up and die.”

“And that’s exactly why we’re getting you out of the house. Don’t forget to bring a jacket, it’s a little nippy out here.” She smiled at me, her blue eyes filled with hope, and honked again. The neighbors across the street started yelling, and I rolled my brown eyes.

“Okay,” I sighed, “I’m coming.”

I stepped outside into the cool, autumn air and entered her car. She instantly drove off, and I fiddled with the radio dial. “By the end of the day,” Tessa piped up, “You’ll figure out exactly what you’re supposed to do with your life.”

“What if I don’t?”

“Then at least you can say you had an awesome day with your best friend.” She shrugged and giggled.

After several questions, she still wouldn’t tell me where we were going. It was almost noon and my stomach was grumbling. We’d been driving for an hour and I wanted to stop for lunch, but Tessa ignored my suggestions. She shoved a bagged lunch into my chest, and I ate it quickly.

Finally, things started becoming clearer as I focused on the passing street signs. “I think I know where we’re headed,” I grinned.

“Do you?” Tessa asked, eyebrows raised.

“We’re going to the Blue Ridge Parkway, right? We’ve talked about going there for months, but I thought we were waiting for the summer.” My heart pounded and I couldn’t wait for my first experience taking in the gorgeous sights.

“I think you need it now more than ever,” Tessa said, “We shouldn’t wait to cross our adventures off our bucket lists. We need to start taking more chances and saying yes to everything.”

“Everything?”

“Well, most things.”

“Woohoo! We’re going to the Parkway!” I pumped my fists in the air and they smashed against the roof of the car. “Ow,” I said, shaking my hands. “How long until we get there? Are we on it right now? How much longer?”

“Calm down,” she laughed, “Take a nap and I’ll wake you when we’re close.”

“I can’t sleep now! I’m too excited!”

As excited as I was, the turkey sandwich she made me knocked me out cold. Leaning my head on the window, I fell asleep, and moments later I was jolted awake by Tessa swatting me with a map.

“Wake up! Wake up! It’s time to see the sights!”

I shook myself awake and sat upright. On the left of us was a steep mountainside covered in trees with leaves in yellow, red, and orange. Even leaning over Tessa, I couldn’t see the top of the mountain. Rolling down my window, I stuck my head out to feel the rush of wind on my face. My jaw dropped when I saw a valley of rolling hills and a deep gorge running through the middle. I imagined swimming in the cool water of the gorge and listening to the gentle waves that I’d make with my arms ripple and swoosh.

“Look at all those colors and natural beauties,” I gasped. “Doesn’t it look so peaceful?”

“I can picture myself climbing some of those luscious trees and reading a book while lounging on a branch,” Tessa added, “No one could touch me or ask me what I’m doing with my life. It’d just be me lost in an adventure of my imagination.”

“Why would you waste all those sights reading a book?” I asked, “You could make your own adventure just wandering through those grassy fields and climbing the steep rock faces. Everything looks so expertly crafted and untouched by people. It’s like a perfect scene out of a travel magazine.”

“It’s not about scenery for me,” she replied, “It’s the atmosphere. So serene and pure. I bet there’s tons of woodland creatures frolicking around. Do you want me to be like Pocahontas and canoe along the rushing rivers and jump off super high cliffs?”

“Yeah, right,” I chuckled, “You hate camping. You really think you could connect with nature like that?”

“You’re the one that wants me to take in the sights!”

“Take them in, not merge your soul with them.”

We both laughed and continued in silence down the winding road. We passed endless patches of trees, saw a few cows in the distance, clear blue skies, and beautiful rocky cliffs and hills. I wanted to roll down the hill from the road like a kid, screaming at the top of my lungs. I wanted to climb to the peak of the mountain, conquering every rocky step and forested area on the way.

A few cars drove by us in the other direction, taking me out of my daydreams, but other than that I was more relaxed than I could be at a spa. Nature had always intrigued me. I loved the smell of sap and trying to catch a butterfly so I could see the design on its wings. I loved the sound of the leaves crunching as I hiked every trail I could find. If anything, I was the Pocahontas out of the two of us. I was the one who could have a raccoon on my shoulder and a hummingbird buzzing in my ear while I jumped across a ravine.

After a long drive with sights of flowers, animals, and magnificent mountain ranges, Tessa pulled over to the side of the road on a dirt patch near a truck stop. I stared out at the vast farmland at the bottom of the hillside, listening to birds chirping and feeling the wind circle around me.

“This is beautiful,” I whispered, hugging my coat tighter around me. Tessa stood beside me, resting her elbow on my shoulder. “Tessa, thank you so much for bringing me out here.”

“I knew it would do wonders for you.”

“This mountain range is the true wonder. In this moment, I feel invincible, like anything I do will be perfect. The mountains are so grand and the valleys look like they could lead to a magical adventure. I feel like I’m standing in a storybook, getting ready to slay a dragon or something. This is incredible!” I spread my arms out like I was showcasing the Parkway and spun in circles. Tessa ducked to avoid getting swatted in the face. When I was dizzy, I collapsed on the ground and pretended to make snow angels in the dirt.

“What are you doing?” Tessa squealed, “You’re going to get covered in dirt. You’re not getting back in my car until you’re cleaned off.”

“I don’t care!” I grinned, “I’ll sit in the back on a towel. I just want to act like a kid and forget everything. Right now, you and I have no responsibilities. Come join me, Tessa!”

“I’m not laying on the ground,” she said, sitting on the hood of her car. “You can go crazy all you want. I’ll watch.”

I stopped flapping my arms and legs and stared at the sky. A few small clouds passed overhead and a bird soared between them. “Tessa?” I asked after a few minutes.

“Yeah?”

“What if I don’t want to be a lawyer?”

“What do you mean?”

“I think being out in the fresh air has given me a clear mind. What if I’m not meant to be in a stuffy courtroom? I want to connect with nature and preserve all its glory. I want to enjoy my life and live to the fullest.”

“You sound like a cliché.”

“I don’t care. It’s true. I’ve always wanted to fight for justice, but I love nature too. What if I’m not meant to defend people?”

Tessa smiled and walked over to help me up. “You’re sounding like an environmental lawyer.”

“I am?” I asked, brushing myself off. Tessa focused on picking dirt and leaves out of my short hair while I pondered her thought. “That’s an interesting idea. At least all that schooling wouldn’t go to waste. Why didn’t I think about this before?”

“You just needed a new perspective.”

“Yeah,” I said, looking out at the farmland with fresh eyes. “Nature really is a wondrous thing.”

on the road: taroko gorge 🇹🇼

In the remote part of eastern Taiwan, there lies intriguing marble cliffs, deep ridges and an experience that needs to be placed on your list. With the hope of promoting scientific research, environmental education and conservation of natural resources, the Taroko National Park was established in late November of 1986. With more than 92,000 hectares of land, the park highlights the beauty of the mountains. Experience the park with roads that move and climb through out the land as you take in the scenic atmosphere.

Your “on the road” trip begins at the Taroko National Park headquarters and ends through the town of Tiansiang. National Geographic recommends embarking on Hwy 8 from the park headquarters and continue for 19 km (11.4 miles) through Tiansiang. Your first stop will be the Buluowan Recreation Area. There you can take a road that leads to the local Atayal community.  This will an opportunity to experience a new culture and witness their traditions. Another stop could be the Swallow Grotto, a pedestrian only part  of this route where you a take in the breath-taking scenery. The goal of this trip should be to embark on a new experience that you can share with others.

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first time: new york city 🇺🇸

My bags were packed and ready to go, it was 6am in the morning on a Saturday morning. I was so excited for my trip to New York city that it wasn’t just the item on my bucket list, but visiting times square was the theme of the list itself. I left the Billy Bishop Toronto City airport at 10:15am, the flight took approximately 4hours and 43minutes. This was also my first time on a plane and as luck would have it, I had no issue staying awake at that altitude, the clouds looked like a big white blanket that I could fall on and feel its softness on my skin, but I didn’t get to try that. We landed at La Guardia airport in New York at around 3pm. After going through all the checks, I was finally picked up by my friend who lives in New York, we headed to the hotel she had booked for me, which was close to Times square and it was called, The hotel (funny right?). She hailed a yellow cab as we left the airport and told the driver to take us to The Hotel in Manhattan. Everything looked so different from what I was used to back in Toronto, almost every building I saw was a skyscraper and the streets seemed to always be filled with people walking. It was almost like the city never sleeps, after 50 minutes of navigating through traffic and gasping in the awe of the the things I saw, we finally arrived at Manhattan and it was definitely awesome. We checked into our hotel rooms and headed out to have a feel of the neighborhood before going to time square in the night. I was told that was the best time to experience times square. We moved around and saw lots of small shops selling items to tourist. I got a necklace from a pun shop and at 7pm we stopped for pizza at Patzeria, it was listed as one of the best pizza shops in New York city and I just had to try it out.

We headed back to the hotel because I had maxed out the space on the memory card of my camera and I had to pick up my spares, I wasn’t going to visit times square and not have enough space to capture the visual experience I had been promised by my friend.

We were back at Times Square by 7pm and it was amazing the sight that beheld me. The whole square was packed with people moving all over the place and even though mobility was tough, the movement was quite fluid. There were probably more colors than I have seen at once all around me, there were news streaming from at least three sources, the crush of humanity, the animation and multiple camera flashes happening all at once. I was overwhelmed with all sorts of emotions I couldn’t even comprehend, I giggled like a child as we walked past the skyscrapers with colorful commercials running on the big screens mounted on their sides. I thought to myself, this feels just like the scene from the fast and furious movie: Tokyo drift. As we walked along the sidewalks, we saw all sorts of side attractions, there were two gymnasts performing stunts right there in the middle of the street, amidst all the frenzy there was a guy playing some beautiful tunes from his piano. There was so much to see, but the brilliant spectacle that brightly lit center of times square by all of its big screens was something I had never seen before, that was the highlight for me and most of the other tourists.

By the time we were done roaming the length and breadth of times square, it was already midnight. It was definitely different from how it was when it was crowded. The theater crowd was gone, but the lights were still bright. The café tables and chairs in the west lanes of Broadway were still there and the weather smelled and felt so nice. My friend and I took time to observe the whole scenery. We took a whole lot of selfies and after a while we were hungry, it was a good thing the Mc Donald’s close by opened 24hours a day, we went in and had something to eat.

This was definitely one of the most visually intriguing experiences I have had and I cant wait to visit again in the nearest future.