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In the wee hours, I awoke with a start. Something ‒ or someone ‒ kept switching on the bathroom light. It would shine for a few minutes, then go dark. My husband snored on despite my persistent prodding, so I got up to gaze across the moonlit garden and fields, listening for clanking chains or deathly moans. Ikke noget!
Officially, the aurora-borealis comprises electrically charged particles from the sun colliding with gas molecules but the more arcane among us know these celestial emanations mark the entrance to a twilight paradise lit by a twin sun, where assorted beings, including Germans from the Vril Society, a few pixies, giants, and Lemurian descendants, have lived in perfect health for hundreds of years
Budapest wears her dark Communist past lightly, defiantly mixing fin de siècle garb with modern, stylish accessories. Like a courtesan, Pest reveals coquettish glimpses of her Austro-Hungarian grandeur in sumptuous facades and Hapsburg eagles on rooftops. Scented flower stalls and roast coffee aromas entice tourists and locals alike.
A circus looking for a tent is how Will Durst described San Francisco, but he might just as well have been speaking about Fisherman’s Wharf.The northern waterfront area is full of surprises from scary Laughing Sal at the Musee Mecanique to pelicans and sea lions on Pier 39’s concrete slabs.
Since Norway is eye-wateringly expensive – think R500 for a pizza or R180 for a beer – we filled a cooler box with our favourite foods and wines; later consumed al fresco amid soul-cleansing scenery, or surreptitiously on hotel balconies, at a fraction of restaurant prices.
Refined by the minarets of many mosques rising like middle-fingered salutes to the Serbians, Mostar lurks in a birch-forested valley. Across the river, twice the length of the tallest minaret, stands the Croats’ new Catholic Church spire. And on the hilltop high above the town, a cross heralds what might be an uneasy truce, but time will tell.