As covid numbers have spiked here in Portugal and I’m tucked up mostly at home, keeping distance, I’ve been looking back on nearly ten years of full-time travel, reminiscing about the wildest, most beautiful, and weirdest things I’ve seen.
Here are seven of the strangest:
When a train derailed outside Whistler, Canada, instead of dealing with the wreckage, the corrupt train company hired someone to drag the bashed-up train cars deeper into forest. Today, they’re still there, covered in graffiti and mountain bike jumps, gorgeously out of place and perfectly home.
2. Car Canyon
The wreckage of an American boom town, this dirty little secret is a canyon full of classic cars, resting and collapsing and cascading into the landscape. Their origin: the end of an era. The left-behind wreckage of the people who’d been hired to build the Lake Powell Dam and then found themselves in the middle of nowhere with no work afterward. Cars abandoned in the street were dragged to the canyon and dumped.
These formerly glamorous hotels sit along a blindingly blue stretch of Croatian coastline with sweeping views of mountains and islands. Which is strange when juxtaposed against their utter ruin: bullet holes, collapsed ceilings, empty windowpanes. They were caught up in the horrific genocide of the ’90s and still linger on the coast like a scar.
This tiny slice of railroad in Istria, Croatia, fell prey to collapsing terrain, leaving the old rail line twisted and wavy. It’s a popular spot for wedding photos now and another reminder that when humans leave the terrain alone, it starts to bend back to its own will.
Bogs are weird and gorgeous in their own right, full of carnivorous plants, cranberries, bee hives, and puddles that might actually be 20 feet deep. Walking through one on a raised platform is one of the cooler hiking experiences a person can have. And this one particularly charmed me.
Riga’s incredible Restauran 3 has embraced the forest landscapes of the Baltics, incorporating sticks and stones, leather and wood, into its creative multi-course meals as presentation. Watch for moose pate, chanterelle cream, and flash-frozen cream.
BASE jumping is one of the world’s most dangerous sports, and a beautiful one to behold. Hike the right trail through the Lauterbrunnen Valley and look up and you’ll see what I mean: people flying tiny off the top of the cliffs, pulling a parachute partway down, and floating to the valley floor.