Peony Garden in Fukuoka’s Ohori Park – Japan

Just like the bees that pollinate them, the residents of Fukuoka flock to the peony garden in Ohori Park in early May. Like the nearby Wisteria Garden, you will find many Japanese people coming here to photograph the peonies. Peonies, or 芍薬 (しゃくやく, shyakuyaku) in Japan (some species are also called ボタン (botan)), represent symbolise … Continue reading Peony Garden in Fukuoka’s Ohori Park – Japan

A Garden After Blooming – Wisteria Garden, Ohori Park, Fukuoka

We see the effects of flowering plants year-round: sniffling and sneezing because of pollen, bees and insects invading picnics, and a sweet smell in the air. What many of us fail to realise is how fast flowers come and go. Nowhere is this more evident than in a single-species garden - also called a monoculture … Continue reading A Garden After Blooming – Wisteria Garden, Ohori Park, Fukuoka

Nationalpark Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft, Germany – The sea is calm tonight

You may not connect Germany with the ocean in your mind. However you would be remiss to forget that Germany actually has two coasts. One the eastern side of the country, directly north of Berlin, lies the Baltic Coast. On the Baltic Coast lies the Nationalpark Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft, or the Western Pomerania Lagoon Area National … Continue reading Nationalpark Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft, Germany – The sea is calm tonight

Schiefergebirge, Germany – My Heart’s in the Highlands

The Thüringer Schiefergebirge, known as the Thuringian Highlands in English, is an area of the German federal state Thuringia (German: Thüringen) featuring steeply hilly areas on the border between Bavaria and Thuringia, through which the Saale River cuts. As the German name suggests, this area contains a lot of slate rock. There are very few … Continue reading Schiefergebirge, Germany – My Heart’s in the Highlands

Monasterio de Obarra, Spain – Monastery in a valley

In the foothills of the Pyrenees near Roda de Isábena lies a Romanesque monastery. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Santa Maria), mountains surround it on all sides and you can only access it by hiking or through a small road that goes between Ballabriga and Bonansa. Because it is difficult to access, not many tourists … Continue reading Monasterio de Obarra, Spain – Monastery in a valley

Covadonga, Spain – The village of Kings

Located on the northern Spanish coast, Asturias is one of the Spanish autonomous communities that lie to the west of Cantabria. Officially known as the Principality of Asturias, the area is well known for its mountains (the Picos de Europa). The mountains also set the culture apart from the rest of Spain. For example, individual … Continue reading Covadonga, Spain – The village of Kings

Pedraforca, Spain – The Double-Peaked Mountain

Pedrafroca, located between the Provinces of Barcelona and Lleida in Spain, is a mountain in Catalunya. Mountains in Catalunya, you say. What is so special about a mountain when the Pyrenees run along the northern border? What makes this mountain not only special but also a symbol of Catalunya is its rare shape. It is a … Continue reading Pedraforca, Spain – The Double-Peaked Mountain

Roda de Isábena, Spain – Defence against the Moors

Set at the top of a hill in the mountainous region of Huesca, a village known as the Roda de Isábena overlooks the valley of Isàvena. Nestled at the very top, you can access it by one road or two footpaths. In fact, parking for the village is found at the bottom of the hill … Continue reading Roda de Isábena, Spain – Defence against the Moors

Riu de Jan, Andorra – High in the Pyrenees

High in the Pyrenees, nestled amongst the peaks in the Principality of Andorra, lies a river on the Andorran-French border known as the Riu de Jan. The turnoff to get to this remote area is just north of Meritxell, the famous Andorran sanctuary. With a spring high in the mountains, this area is a great place … Continue reading Riu de Jan, Andorra – High in the Pyrenees

Steg, Liechtenstein – Halfway up the Liechtensteiner Alps

Making our way up from Triesenberg, the next stop in our trip through Liechtenstein was in Steg, a small village in the Liechtensteiner mountains. It is accessible only through a tunnel. Steg is so small that its population is simply added to the municipality of Triesenburg rather than counted separately. The grand total population therefore … Continue reading Steg, Liechtenstein – Halfway up the Liechtensteiner Alps

Santuari de Meritxell, Andorra

In the mountains in Andorra lies a village called Meritxell (the 'tx' is like the 'ch' in English) with 66 inhabitants. So why is it one of the places to go when visiting Andorra if you want to get a feel for the people? The answer lies in the Santuari de Meritxell, a sanctuary basilica. … Continue reading Santuari de Meritxell, Andorra

Parc national des Écrins, France – Hiking a glacier

On the French-Italian border, above the Parc Natural de Mercantour and below Mont Blanc/Chamonix, lies the Parc national des Écrins. Within this park, I came face-to-face with something I had never experienced before: a glacier. It was amazing! Until 27 August 2018, I had never seen a glacier before. Well, that is not true. Hiking … Continue reading Parc national des Écrins, France – Hiking a glacier

Loarre Castle, Spain – The final defence

Loarre Castle is quite a special place due to its history; it is not only one of the oldest castles in Spain, but also a fortified abbey. Originally built as the line of last defence in northern Huesca (Aragon) against the Moorish invaders. Then it became a fortified religious site and expanded over the next … Continue reading Loarre Castle, Spain – The final defence

Triesenberg, Liechtenstein – Beginning the ascent of the country

Just south of the capital of Liechtenstein, Vaduz, there exist two towns with similar names. The first is Triesen, which like Vaduz, is located next to the Rhein River. Triesenberg (as the name suggested if you understand German), sits above Triesen on the side of one of the mountains in Liechtenstein. It is hard to … Continue reading Triesenberg, Liechtenstein – Beginning the ascent of the country