I grew up traveling, moving through airports and having my passport stamped. I’ve landed in countries with no plan whatsoever, and I’ve created complex itineraries full of reservations and appointed times. It’s all good; I love it all. Here is a gallery of places I’ve been to in the last five years.
Norway is part of me, and one of my homes. Mostly, I stay in the southern region, Sørlandet, where my mother is from. It’s known for coastal towns where all the buildings are painted white, as well as lush forests full of blueberries and mushrooms (see my story in Gourmet about Wild Foods of Norway). But, I have an adventurous mother and we’ve also traveled to Longyearbyen in the Arctic Circle, and in the northern, Lofoten Islands. Norway is phenomenally beautiful.
For a brief window of time in late 2016, it was possible to visit Iran. With a cultural visa to experience the production of Gabbeh rugs outside Shiraz, I was also able to tour the Islamic architecture of Isfahan, the unforgettable feat that is Persepolis, and the gorgeous markets of Tehran where they press fresh nut oils, and make tahini in front of your eyes. Nothing compares to Iran; it was enchanting.
Some travelers swear by not doubling back, but I’d go to Morocco anytime and any number of times. Nowhere else saturates my senses quite the same (the spices, the mosaics, the blaring muezzin, the oils) and the streets are like walking in ancient texts and storybooks. But then there’s the Sahara: the starkest, barest, most soundless place, where shooting stars zoom every few minutes, all night long. Morocco is magical.
Nothing prepared me for Iceland and how wild and alive it is: a living, heaving body that seeps, oozes, explodes, steams, soaks, freezes, shudders, and gushes. The country literally expands and recedes several centimeters per year. Yes, it’s very female. It’s a goddess of a country, described by myths that overlap with reality, and temperaments that flare at will. I will return. I can feel Iceland in my body.
Not everyone should go to India, honestly. India forces a reckoning. It pushes everything life is out into the open, bare naked. You can’t hide or pretend in India. All you can do is to receive it, unconditionally. I was lucky to travel with a close friend first, and then with my son, Blue––both people willing to look India in the eyes. Jaipur is majestic and savory. The Taj Mahal remains the single most astonishing, man-made creation I’ve ever laid eyes on, and Varanasi was a teacher with no mercy. I can just hear India laughing at me, trying to describe it.
I went to Chile for love…which is a really great reason to go there (or, anywhere). Traveling with a local meant touring a biodynamic, organic vineyard with alpacas (Emiliana, in the Casablanca wine region), scoring a reservation at Francis Mallman’s restaurant in the Apalta Valley (in another vineyard), relaxing at a family home on a lake, and flying way south, over snow-capped volcanos, to the edge of Patagonia. Tropical turquoise waters and waterfalls. Wild foxes. Pisco sours with ceviche. Lush, pure, abundant Chile. So much to love.
Portugal is one place I visited thinking, I could live here. It has everything: beauty, history, perfect food and wine, great and diverse people. How can you not love a place where streets are paved in art? (Hint: wear non-skid shoes in Lisbon.) Another tip: take a ride share car to the coast and eat at Azenhas do Mar restaurant, one of my best-ever-meals. Here’s a word to add to your vocabulary forever, the Portu-gaze. It’s when you look and love everything you see.