I finally got around to looking at Travel and Leisure‘s October, 2018, photography issue in which I found pictures of 3 sensational, slightly offbeat European destinations that I’d love to return to–Ljubljana, Urbino, and Akureyri. It was great to get updates on all 3.
Ljubljana, pronounced lube li ah nah, is the capital of Slovenia. The Travel & Leisure article focuses on its gastronomic highlights, but I also learned that a new 165-room Intercontinental Hotel opened on the edge of its Old Town last August. This would be a great place to stay, and doubles start from $163, according to the article. Slovenia made the news 2 years ago when Melania Trump became the 2nd First Lady to be from a foreign country. She was born in Novo Mesto, grew up in Sevnica and attended the University of Ljubljana.
Urbino is a small city in Le Marche, perhaps Italy’s least visited region. It’s a bit hard to get to but eminently worth the effort. According to Lonely Planet, “Urbino is outlandishly difficult to navigate in a car, by public transport, or on foot.” We did not find this especially true partially because we rented an old farmhouse near this town of about 15,000 and had a car to shop for food, get to the sights, etc. In addition to having several fine examples of Renaissance architecture, Urbino was the birthplace of the artist Raphael. His full name was Raffaello Sanzio de Urbino. The Travel & Leisure photos of Urbino are the work of street photographer Gus Powell who really captured the essence of this place with his camera and by interviewing locals and asking some their favorite places in Le Marche. He asked one man how to spend an ideal day there. Clever.
Akureyri is Iceland’s 2nd largest city, which means it’s small. Logan Hill went there in winter on a guided tour to search for Game of Thrones locations. Very near the Arctic Circle, Akureyri is a sophisticated university city with a dramatic church, Akureyrarkirkja, and a world-class restaurant called Rub 23. Ruth and I still call our drive on Iceland’s Ring Road the trip of our lifetimes.
This Travel and Leisure also has a fine article and excellent photos of the legendary, virtually rainless Atacama Desert in Chile. We have not been there, but I know a man who almost moved to its edge because he hates rain.