For more than 5 years, I’ve been wearing Fivefingers for seemingly-endless different types of activities. Running, climbing, kayaking, etc. And in the past, my favorite type was the Sprint. It was versatile, light, thin, and breathable.
But those were discontinued. But now, years later, I’ve found the model that rivals the Sprint for top spot in my list of favorite models of the shoe. The CVT Hemp is also light, also has a pretty thin sole, and is breathable. But it’s also the most normal looking of all the pairs I’ve owned—besides maybe the brown kangaroo leather pair.
I grew into climbing at a camp I worked at during my time working at a summer camp after each year in college and into the following three summers. After the first couple years, I started leading the climbing, rappelling, and high elements courses and those activities became a staples of my life, both for working out and enjoyment. Since then, my appreciation and participation in climbing has only grown and can say honestly that I’ve never seen anything quite like an Arc’teryx harness.
I arrived in London for an extended visit earlier this summer and I felt like an explorer. 6 weeks, that’s how long I’d have in the city the Romans set up almost 2,000 years prior. I felt like an explorer, as I rode the train to my friends’ flat with excitement for what was in store. And when I arrived there, they handed me the greatest gifts.
A bed. A bike. Community. And their friendship. The last one wasn’t new, but it is what held the rest of those together, it was the mortar.
It’s immensely popular to travel right now. People have in their hearts and minds that traveling will do something wonderful for them—unlocking some hidden doors into their best life. They pack their rolling luggage with all the travel accessories, Eagle Creek Pack-It Cubes, and Exofficio underwear it can hold and make way to wander—looking for adventure. And while the desire for journeying isn't necessarily a wrong thing, travel can be hard. It’s not often as glamorized as people say it is.
From my window seat, the view of Vienna was pretty dissimilar to the picture I had in my mind of the millenniums-old city. Instead of finding a city nestled cozily in valleys surrounded by granite Alpen peaks, I found a city that looked like it had been spilled out flat east of the Alps, in-between the foothills and the mighty Danube River.
Although the expectation of seeing a mountain-city was the only one I really had, I emptied myself of any other expectations I might hold and dedicated my time there to simply embracing whatever I experienced.
As I was just in Europe for 2 1/2 months, there were a few items that were just what I needed to help make my time the most excellent.
Northern Europe overwhelmed me. Not because of the cold (I had an Arc'teryx fleece and Outdoor Research down jacket to go along with my down sleeping bag), but because—as I explored Denmark, Norway, and Sweden—there was something about it that seemed so foreign, though I’d been to Europe a few times already. There in the north, it feels far from the rest of Europe. And for Norway and Sweden, the language family was different than I’d ever heard widely spoken.
My only education of Germany was from history class in high school, so my main narrative on it was that it was the “bad guy” in both world wars. I hadn’t met any Germans at that point, I didn’t like the German food I’d had, the language seemed too extreme for me, and people seemed too black-and-white in their thinking, whereas I lived more in the gray. So, I figured I’d take a pass on Germany and learn about the rest of Europe.
I didn’t hate Germany, I just didn’t like it very much.
When I was younger and I heard the name “Luxembourg,” I couldn’t help but wonder more about it. “What is this small country?” “Why hadn’t I heard of it often in my history classes?” “What was its story?” To me it was a mystery. So, when I was in neighboring Germany, I bought a ticket directly into the cloudy haze that was Luxembourg.
I stuffed my sleeping bag and toiletries bag in my pack and trained from Stuttgart to Koblenz and then hopped on the train directly to Luxembourg City. It was, first and foremost, the nicest train I’d ever been on. Crisp, clean, efficient, quiet, large window, bright, comfortable, updated schedule on the screen that was simple to understand. Other trains are nice, but this basic transportation train into Luxembourg was far-and-away the best I’ve yet ridden on.
After writing a post about 10 of my favorite large U.S. city parks, I thought I’d put together a list of some of my favorites from other countries. These are parks that I’ve visited outside the USA, that are all larger than 100 acres, and that are absolutely delightful. Here are the second 5: