Highlights: Copenhagen

August 2015

A pale blonde girl in a black bathing suit dives head first into the canal. She comes up for air with a gasp from the gray water. All along this side canal in Christianhavn, young women are taking the plunge with thrilling screams or are lying on blankets in the grass taking in the sun.

It is a glorious day, warm and sunny, a real summer day. And in a cold weather country, these glorious summer days are few. So you have to take advantage of them.

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Highlights: Italy

December 2005

When you think of Italy, you think of summer. Sunny Italia. The Amalfi Coast, bella Tuscany, and La Dolce Vida. These are what bring the crowds.

Late autumn in Italy is closer to the onset of a Northern winter. The crowds are gone. The stone streets of Florence, the Spanish Steps in Rome, are quiet. There’s no line to see the Statue of David. The vibe is more Antonioni than Fellini. It’s not Rick Steves’ Italy, that is for sure. You trade the sunny picture postcard for a quieter, more accessible visit. Just bring your overcoat.

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Majelle Gardens

Highlights: Morocco

Bab Boulejoud

Bab Boulejoud, Fes

I’ve been reading Paul Bowles. It is a cliché. I like books about doomed expatriates done in by the complexities of exotic lands: The Alexandria Quartet, The Comedians, Under the Volcano. Bowles is most famous for The Sheltering Sky, but I am reading a later novel, Let It Come Down, written a few years before the riots that ignited the drive for Morocco’s independence.

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