艾琳多南堡，苏格兰 Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland (© CBW/Alamy)
A water loch-ed castle
Located on a small island where three sea lochs meet in northwestern Scotland, the current Eilean Donan Castle is just the latest incarnation of several monastic cells and Scottish clan strongholds that have occupied the small island since the 7th century. The first fortified castle was built in the 13th century to defend against invading Vikings who occupied much of Scotland at the time. An iconic symbol of Scotland, from the 14th-18th centuries, the castle was mostly held by the Mackenzies and defended by the Macraes, both storied clans of the Scottish Highlands. The castle was destroyed in 1719 by the invading British Royal Navy during the Jacobite Uprising, but was rebuilt along its earlier design in the early 20th century by Lt. Colonel John Macrae-Gilstrap.
New Zealand's loneliest mountain
According to the legends of New Zealand's aboriginal Māori people, the lonely Mount Taranaki wasn't always lonely. Taranaki, the story goes, once lived among other mountains in the North Island's center. But Taranaki feuded with the powerful volcano Tongariro over the love of the pretty peak Pīhanga. In their epic battle, the now flat-topped Tongariro lost his head but emerged victorious. The vanquished Taranaki wandered west, cutting trenches as he trudged to the shore and filling them with lovesick tears to create the region's rivers.
Now that Taranaki's settled in, the still-active stratovolcano's slopes and foothills comprise one of New Zealand's oldest national parks. Whether or not he's gotten over Pīhanga after untold millennia, Taranaki continues to compete with Tongariro even through modern myth: Taranaki had a star turn as Mount Fuji in background shots for 'The Last Samurai,' while the Tongariro area stood in for the cursed realm of Mordor in the 'Lord of the Rings' films.
Europe's oldest beech forest
Listen closely. Is that whistling you hear coming from a chamois, that great-antlered species of goat-antelope? Could it be the howls of an endangered wolf echoing off the mountainside? Or the bellowing of the Marsican brown bear, one of only 50 or so left on Earth? Most likely it's just the cold November wind blowing through this, the oldest beech tree forest in all of Europe. Hard to believe that this vast stand of primeval forest is just a two-hour drive east from Rome's busiest airport.
If Italy is a boot, then the National Park of Abruzzo is right in the middle of it, straddling the north and the south. While most tourists flock elsewhere in the country, a few nature seekers venture here to Abruzzo, the greenest part of Italy. Two-thirds of the park are covered in European beech tree forests, protected by their density. Shepherds, farmers, and loggers have never fully penetrated these forests. Hunters have, however, and some species, including the wolf and bear, have become gravely endangered. Hopefully, they, and the forest will thrive—UNESCO made this a protected site in 2017.
What a wonderful window
From planes to cafes, many of us love a nice ‘window view’, but we’d argue that few provide sights as truly spectacular as Nature’s Window here in Kalbarri National Park. Located 485 km north of Perth, the park covers around 186,000 hectares, and traditionally sees thousands of visitors each year to enjoy its rocky terrain and quiet peacefulness.
The main attraction, however, is this sandstone stunner – formed after many years of wind erosion. Find the perfect angle you’ll be able to catch incredible glimpses of the river in the distance and its surrounding greenery. It’s also one of the best places in the country to watch the sunrise. If you prefer a little more adventure, you can take a stroll to the Kalbarri Skywalk that shows off views of the gorge, or enjoy a spot of abseiling, rafting, and canoeing.
A dying breed of tree thrives in an American park
We're standing in the Mall of New York City's Central Park, in the middle of fall foliage season. When Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux designed this quarter-mile walkway, they were inspired by Europe's public spaces. They envisioned a 'grand promenade' where people of all backgrounds, from the city's monied elite to those of lesser status, could come together and mingle.
Today, the Mall remains one of Central Park's most popular and iconic features. Olmstead designed the pedestrian walkway to be the only straight path in all the park. Lining the path on either side is a majestic canopy made from hundreds of American elms. Chances are, you've seen an Elm Street in an American town or two. These majestic trees once populated many parts of the country but were devastated by Dutch elm disease beginning in the 1930s. The trees here in the Mall make up one of the oldest living stands of American elms in North America. They stand today, not only alive, but thriving, thanks to dedicated Central Park arborists who monitor and protect them. When a tree must be removed—in a bad year, the park can lose up to 35 trees—a new one is planted in its place.
Feel the spray in Monterey
Fantasizing about warm, sandy beaches with gently lapping waves? Well, we decided you could use a shake-up—so here we are in Monterey County, California, for a glimpse at the ocean's raw, unadulterated power. Asilomar State Beach's mile-long coastline trail offers views like this one of seas crashing on jagged shores. Below the frothy surface swim innumerable ocean organisms protected by the massive Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the largest marine preserve in the contiguous United States. Behind us, a rich dune habitat supporting its own delicate flora and fauna can be explored via a boardwalk trail.
Autumn comes to Old Town
The medieval center of Bern, Switzerland's capital, looks much as it did when most of these buildings were first constructed between the 12th and the 15th centuries. What's now called Old Town was founded in 1191 on a long, narrow peninsula surrounded on three sides by the Aare River. As Bern grew over the centuries, it erected defensive walls and moats only to tear them down again with each successive wave of expansion. In their place are now broad public spaces for outdoor cafes and markets, like the Zibelemärit (Onion Market), an annual fall tradition.
Since at least the 1850s—and possibly much longer ago—the people of Bern have awakened very early on the fourth Monday of November to greet farmers who come to the city offering huge, beautiful garlands of onions and garlic for sale. This year, the coronavirus pandemic has put a stop to the public festival, but we're quite sure that on the streets of Bern's Old Town, the aroma of onion tarts and Glühwein is wafting out onto the streets from these perfectly preserved medieval houses.
Headed to the High Country
Sometimes the transition from fall to winter is an abrupt one—as demonstrated by these pristine, colorful leaves seemingly frozen in time. The cold might convince you we're enjoying a customary leaf-peeping tour of frigid New England—but we're hundreds of miles farther south.
Set in the High Country of western North Carolina, Julian Price Memorial Park is just one stop along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. Running nearly 500 miles from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to North Carolina's portion of the Great Smoky Mountains, 'America's Favorite Drive' is one of the most popular attractions of the National Park System.
Atop the Needle of Chamonix
With these dramatic clouds, the shard-like pinnacles of the Aiguille du Midi (Needle of Midday) resemble the spires of a ruined Alpine cathedral. This is just one of the many spectacular peaks of the Mont Blanc massif, the storied Alps range in eastern France that stretches across the border into Italy and Switzerland. It was here in France's Chamonix valley that mountaineering first became a sport in the mid-1700s. This dramatic peak was summited in 1818, a feat that helped to popularize mountain climbing throughout Europe.
Skilled mountaineers still climb the Aiguille du Midi, but these days the rest of us can choose to reach the top the easy way. A cable car to the summit went into service in 1955 and is still considered the highest vertical-ascent cable car in the world. Visitors can climb aboard in the valley town of Chamonix and ride to the top of the Aiguille du Midi—more than 9,000 vertical feet—in under 20 minutes. The cable cars and viewing platform were upgraded in recent years, and a new feature called 'Step into the Void' was added in 2013. It allows courageous tourists to stand in a glass room jutting out from the mountain and look down through the glass floor with more than 3,000 feet of free air under their feet.
A symbol of culture and communication
In Arctic Canada, an inukshuk is a monument that is built and placed by the Inuit who were the first people to inhabit the region. It is used as an aid for navigation, hunting tasks and sits as a centre for communication as well. An Inukshuk is made of stacked stones and is an integral part of the Inuit culture. Every stone in the structure has a purpose. It could be a warning of danger, pointing to a fishing spot or even indicating where food is hidden. Since the Inukshuk serves as an important form of communication, destroying one is strictly prohibited in Inuit culture.
The human-like stone figure pictured here is commonly mistaken to be an inukshuk. The Inuit call it inunnquaq, which refers to ‘in the likeness of a human.’ This structure consists of a figure that resembles a human with arms, legs and a head. While it doesn’t necessarily serve the same purpose as the inukshuk, it stands as a popular cultural symbol that was also used as an emblem for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.