Discovering a Finnish Beginning
Travel: Celebrating Finland's 100th anniversary
Rod Mickleburgh returns to the land of his ancestors to discover an almost genetic propensity to fight for social justice and a rather bizarre predilection for odd sports
By Rod Mickleburgh
You may have missed it, but the land of my ancestors recently celebrated it’s centennial. On Dec. 6, 1917, small but mighty Finland officially severed itself from Russia, becoming an independent country for the first time. Russia’s new Bolshevik rulers did not protest. I remember leafing through one of my great aunt’s photo albums and seeing a grainy picture of the raising of the Finnish flag in their small community for the first time. A bit more than two and a half years after independence, my mother was born in the fishing/farming village of Sideby. When I first visited “the relatives” in the winter of 1971, I was given the very room where her birth took place. Under the mountain of blankets my two great aunts supplied, I remember ...
Trip to Spain a Modern Male Odyssey
Movie review: The Trip to Spain
The third instalment in Michael Winterbottom's accidental series offers a sustained exploration of male friendships, plus a razor sharp satire of Mick Jagger
Paris Can Wait can wait
Movie Review: Paris Can Wait
A French roue takes his friend's wife on a flirtatious motor trip in this love letter to food, charming villages and other, wiser films about the same subject
Pop This! Las Vegas!
Podcast: Pop This!
Packed with miniaturized monoliths and Disneyfied recreations of the Old World, Las Vegas sits at the intersection of generic sin and stand alone silliness, making for a perfect expression of popular culture
Featuring Lisa Christiansen and Andrea Warner. Produced by Andrea Gin.
A sampling of what you might hear in Episode 15: Visiting Las Vegas
I was at a birthday where they had exotic animals.
One had teeth that looked like they were made out of clarinet reeds.
Las Vegas... has a lot of ladies and dudes on the prowl.
And Mariah Carey.
I'm worried that I don't like magic shows or Cirque du Soleil. But I do like food.
Then you have to go to the Cosmo. [The Cosmopolitan] hotel has the best restaurants, and they have nice drinks at the gambling machines.
Go to the Spanish restaurant run by José Andrés.
They have cool old records as wallpaper.
That's what I want. I want the secret Vegas.
Go to the Thomas Keller ...
Pop This! Patti Smith’s M Train
Podcast: Pop This!
The pop culture savants are bowled over with emotion as they crack the spine of Patti Smith's latest book about 'grief, coffee and travel' in their first-ever book club episode
Hiking back in time on Burgess Shale
The world famous Burgess Shale Slope offers a visually stunning hike that pays off with a teeming selection of rare invertebrate fossils, sealed into the geological timeline by an underwater avalanche of fine mud
By Alan King
FIELD, B.C, -- Science fiction writer H G Wells didn’t know the half of it. Time travel sometimes takes more than imagination and clever engineering; it can take a lot of nimble, arduous footwork, the kind that gets you up to 7,500 feet above sea level.
Unlike Wells’ lucky Time Traveller who was effortlessly transported millions of years into the future where he met some strange life forms, my son Christopher and I went back half a billion years in the other direction to the Burgess Shale -- an ancient fossil bed where the life forms are even stranger. Its location is a swath of scree 11 km up the side of Mount Wapta, a spectacular hunk of geology looming majestically over Field, British Columbia.
The fossils here are from the Cambrian ...
A Magical and Mild Adventure in Valencia
An ancient city inside a new one beckons Jay Stone to the surprise-filled birthplace of paella
By Jay Stone
VALENCIA, Spain — We came here by chance, the way people used to travel when they were in their 20s and it was all about moving and a destination was just a name to drop, a place to rest on the road. We came in that spirit. We stayed for the paella.
It was invented here, in this bustling city on the south coast of Spain (the Valencia orange was invented in California). It’s delicious too, although I’m not the one to ask. It was delicious everywhere. I like to think I have good taste in movies, but I don’t have any taste in taste.
So, Valencia: magical, all the more so if you don’t expect anything except a place to stop 3½ hours from Barcelona because 3½ hours is about all you want to do. An old city surrounded by a new one: outside, there’s the famous City of Arts and Sciences — an IMAX theatre, an aquarium, a science museum, an arts complex all in ...
Dispatches from Abroad: The Gentle Yens of Girona
Jay Stone explores an ancient Spanish city to discover a slow parade of humanity on cobble stone streets and the prosthetic digits of Edward Scissorhands
By Jay Stone
GIRONA, Spain -- There's a great lassitude that settles over Spain on a Sunday -- or perhaps, that settles over the visitor to Spain on a Sunday -- that is somehow ideal if you wash up in Girona. It's a medieval city just east of Barcelona whose historic district, all cobbled streets and narrow alleys, were built circa 1000. Little wrought iron balconies are set in the stone walls, and I saw an older couple sitting at a bistro table, having lunch together and each looking at their own cell phone.
The stores aren't open, but the museums are free -- a mixed blessing -- and so you climb the steep steps behind the cathedral to the famous Jewish quarter, or El Call, one of the oldest in Europe. Once again, Jewish people have their historic roots on a hill all the better -- at least in this telling -- to come down ...
Dispatches from Abroad: Dilly Dali-ing in Cadaques
Jay Stone ventures into the Spanish mountains to visit the very real birthplace of the seminal surrealist
By Jay Stone
CADAQUES, Spain -- This pretty-as-a-postcard town lies at the end of a long twisty road up and down a mountain a couple of hours southeast of Barcelona. You wouldn't get here by accident, but it's worth the drive: whitewashed buildings on gently rising hills, tucked around a small harbour with cafes and restaurants that crowd against tiny beaches. Everything is white and blue, cobbled and ancient. You could stay here forever.
To get here, you pass through Figueres, where Salvador Dali was born and lived for a while, and home to a museum dedicated to his honour. Its thin curved corridors are lined with his bizarre constructions -- headless dolls, outlandish jewelry -- and even more bizarre tourists, who arrive in groups to press their noses against glass cases and to take photos of everything that doesn't move. Dali once said that the only difference between ...