Travel on the periphery
“What are we DOING out here?” The woman who is now my wife said this to me after we’d been sitting on a rock at Neist Point, the westernmost tip of the Isle of Skye, for the better part of 30 minutes, staring out at the Little Minch, part of the strait that separates Scotland’s Inner Hebrides from the Outer Hebrides. What were we doing out there? I was trying to tamp down my nerves, having brought them to a gut-wrenching boil over my imminent proposal of marriage, and my soon-to-be fiancée was being drained of every last ounce of her patience. I suppose I could have proposed somewhere that was equally beautiful yet more urban — Rome’s Spanish Steps, say — but there was something alluring about the moment happening on the periphery of a place. I thought about that idea a lot while working on this issue because I realized that, by coincidence, I’d assigned writers to destinations that are, like Skye, on the periphery and no less enticing. Take Kate Harris’s story about sail-in spring ski touring in Finnmark and Troms, Norway’s northernmost counties, both of which are entirely above the Arctic Circle. Or Dee Hon’s gustatory exploration of the Magdalen Islands, which, as he explains, “can feel like the edge of the world — as remote as they must have been in the 18th and 19th centuries, when people commonly arrived by shipwreck and never found a way to leave.” Or Ed O’loughlin’s journey along the border that separates the Republic of Ireland ( ABOVE, at Templetown Beach in County Louth) from Northern Ireland, two entities that could be facing a new chapter in a story of age-old division, this time in the form of Brexit. So by all means, go ahead and be a flâneur in Paris or sip scotch in the Park Hyatt Tokyo’s New York Bar à la Bill Murray in Lost in Translation. But seek travel experiences on the periphery, too — more often than not, they’re just as incredible.