Archives for June, 2012

Like Rapunzel from her tower, the nightwatchman tosses down a long piece of twine. Tied to the end is one heavy metal key that looks as if it might open a lost treasure chest or someone’s haunted attic. Instead, it opens the door to the Lausanne Cathedral, usually locked up for the night. I let…

“If the cheese has holes, then that’s a problem.” So says Swiss cheesemaker Dominique Yersin as he pats one of his giant wheels of cheese, each one weighing more than 50 pounds. In America, most of us live with “Swiss cheese“—a white and rubbery cheese with a specific flavor and trademark holes. In fact, most…

There are no rules for eating chocolate. But like most things, there is a better way. Standing inside the tasting room at La Maison Cailler chocolate factory in the village of Broc, I watch hundreds of fellow tourists tasting varieties of sweet Swiss chocolate. This is the all-you-can-eat tour and the adults in the room…

In summer, the red-crested pochard (Netta rufina) migrates from India and Africa north to Europe where they spend the warmer season diving for tasty, sub-aquatic plants. They are startling birds to look at—the first one I saw looked like a toy—a rubber ducky with a bill spray-painted fire-engine red and a glowing red and gold…

We visit graves to remember the past, but where do you go when we want to remember the future? Well . . . Switzerland. I always say that travel is very personal and that our most cherished travel dreams often lead us to very remote places with personal meaning. Birdwatchers go to the ends of…

France lets you know when you’ve arrived. First, there’s a big blue sign that says FRANCE. Also, there’s a French flag the size of Belgium waving from a very tall pole. It is my shortest trip to France ever. Before I have time to roll down the window, we spin a U-Turn and drive back…

There is no such thing as the Swiss Dictionary. I know because I’ve been searching for one ever since I began plotting my trip to Europe’s little landlocked country in the middle. Yes, there are a few Swiss German dictionaries in print and even one half-baked Swiss German app that I downloaded for 99 cents,…

Happy Bicentennial! Today is a big anniversary for me as this is my 200th post on this blog, Digital Nomad. I feel very fortunate to have made it this far and I have all of you to thank. A good blog is one part writer and many parts reader and I feel as if I’ve…

Working at National Geographic is an awesome learning experience, in which I’m constantly surrounded by real talent, sound wisdom, unique minds and artistic people (I love it). Among the strong and creative team that I work with is one-of-a-kind internet princess Marilyn Terrell (@Marilyn_res), Chief Researcher at National Geographic Traveler and a host of many…

HOME

I live here. That’s what I tell myself as I walk the square and triangle blocks of America’s capital city: this is where I live. This is where I have an address and where I have plants that need watering. I know folks on the street and they know me. I live here and recognize…

So, I am home from wonderful Norway and still reeling from the excitement of that country. I can’t believe how much I did in just three weeks and I can’t believe how much of Norway still remains to be explored. Such is the nature of travel–it only makes you hungry to come back for more!…

It’s impossible to walk swiftly in Ålesund—there is simply too much to see. This is a city of color, shape and detail, and taking your time pays off in big ways. Spread across seven islands on the west coast of Norway, this little fishing town of 40,000 is perhaps the prettiest in the country. In…

Snø

There’s nothing quite like a snowstorm in June, which is what I encountered as  I hiked to the top of  Blåfjell (“blue mountain”) high above Geirgangerfjord in western Norway. Though my phone kept reminding me that it was indeed summer, but the snow and wind and near white-out conditions made me think I was wending…

Glaciers taste good, as I discovered in Norway. When it’s 85°F outside and you’ve been hiking for an hour, a big mouthful of ancient icepack tastes better than any Slurpee ever could. The diamond, sparkling ice is cold, wet, clean, and delicious–not to mention endless and all-U-can-eat. (Almost.) My journey through Norway continues to be…

Norway is the longest country in Europe — nearly every Norwegian I meet proudly boasts that if Norway were a long wooden board and Oslo the nail it hinged on, you could swing the country around and it would reach all the way to Sicily in southern Italy. But that’s not nearly the half of…