The Best of Iceland’s Ring Road (Part 1)

Back in 2004, as I was finishing my final months at the University of Virginia, I had a once-in-a-lifetime moment of Halloween costume inspiration. Having already spent 22 years with black hair and bangs (and the last several being told that I resembled a certain Icelandic singer), I set off for the local Michaels craft store. A few feather boas, stuffed-and-stitched tube socks, and scraps of felt later—I was Björk herself, in all of her swan dress glory at the 2001 Oscars.

3 Days on Whidbey Island, Wash.

As the 18th century came to a close, the British explorer George Vancouver set sail to survey the wild coast of the Pacific Northwest. Among his findings was a narrow pass at the tip of Fidalgo Island, where the tides moved with such force that Vancouver believed he had found the mouth of a great river. It wasn’t until his lieutenant, Joseph Whidbey, explored further that he realized he had discovered a second island—one that stood on the other side of this confounding Deception Pass.

Lisbon

3 Days in Lisbon, Portugal

Perhaps it was what Lisbon had in common with San Francisco that first had me hooked. A majestic suspension bridge painted a familiar shade of international orange? Check. Antique cable cars that rattle and shudder their way up steep city streets? Check. A treacherous position on a fault line, a long and storied seismic history, and one devastating earthquake that nearly burned the city to the ground? Check, check, and check.

2 Days in Essaouira, Morocco

Since 1998, lovers of music, art, and North African folklore have gathered in Morocco each June for the Gnaoua World Music Festival, a four-day event that draws nearly half a million attendees. It’s a vibrant celebration of contemporary world music and skilled Gnaoua musicians—descendants of African slaves who have left their mark on Moroccan culture as healers, mystics, and keepers of a spellbinding musical tradition.