Cruising the Chao Phraya riverÂ just northÂ of Bangkok this afternoon, I came upon the most amazing sight: a trio of domesticated elephants out for their daily bath.
Sailing east of Crete we dropped anchor near the island of Spinalonga for an afternoon swim stop in water so intensely blue that you’d be forgiven for thinking the photoÂ above had been digitally manipulated. (It hasn’t.) Harking back to the Venetian occupation the name is Italian, meaning “long thorn,” which perfectly describes the island’s prickly shape. For most of the 20th century the land was used as a colony for the lepers of Crete before being laterÂ abandoned. Today, it remains unoccupied, save the random swimmers who chance upon its silent shore.
At last, a proper computer where I can jot down a few words: Â I’ve arrived on the island of Rhodes and am happily ensconced atÂ theÂ Sheraton Rhodes Resort, the only internationally-managed hotel on the island. (Most of the accommodation in the Greek isles is still family-owned and run) My deepest desire on landing was a headlong plunge into the Aegean -Â andÂ that’s exactly what I did. The beach is accessed through a vine-covered pergola, which leads under the road and out to a wide stretch of powdery sand, with the coast of Turkey in the foreground. The actual swimming part of the beach, however, is pure pebbles. Or rocks, more to the point, which have been tumbled to smoothness by the relentless crash of the waves. The water is a deep blue, almost iridescent, and warm as a bath. This is the northern, windward side of the island, so the surf is challenging, yet I am still surprised at the depth of clarity to the water, despite the churning. There is a musical element to my wading swim, too: theÂ stones hurtle low toward the shore carried along by the force of water; when the tide pulls out they tumble back from whence they came, making the most pleasant of sounds in the process, like a rack of billiard balls coming into play, or the start of a game of skee-ball. It’s rhythmically sporadic, like wind chimes, making me eager to drift off to sleepÂ tonightÂ with the windows wide open.
I’m not sure if the swimming pool onÂ theÂ 118th floor of the Ritz Carlton isÂ technicallyÂ the highest swimming pool in theÂ world, but when I’m reclining in a lounger with Hong Kong more than a third of a mile beneath me can you blame me for not bothering to read the fine print?
PROVINCETOWN:Â How it’s taken me forty-plus years to get to P-town is beyond me but I’m glad I made that ferry across Boston Harbor this year. (Coincidentally it was while on the boat that I received a phone call informing me that hereafter my obit would need to read “award-winning writer,” thank you, thank you very much.) Prime season had yet to begin, which meant it was bit more like Montauk in December than The Pines in August and that suited me just fine.Â The tip of Cape Cod is stunningly beautiful: the flowers were in bloom, the dunes pristine, and theÂ surprisingly clear water was unseasonably mild, meaning just this side of bracing and perfect for swimming.Â As befits seemingly every Land’s End community, the vibe was not only eccentric and eclectic, but also addictive. And now I can honestly say that, yes, finally, I get the allure of Provincetown.