Time Marches On

People don’t stay the same, so why should a destination?

Pink, ochre, blue, green. The cobblestone streets of Wismar, Germany, are a parade of color. Each centuries-old building I pass is a different shade, an optical whimsy that pleases the eye.

Paint is such a small thing, really. But here I know what such colors mean: change, optimism and a new future. It wasn’t that long ago that these same buildings stood gray and crumbling, the victims of life during Communist days. East Germany looked so different then … because it was.

In the East Germany I remember, people didn’t speak their true feelings. But here in Wismar now, I see laughter and open faces. New businesses seem to have sprung up all over town — a pizza shop here, a high-end boutique with designer clothing there. I’m touched by how friendly everyone is to me, here in this tiny town by the sea. They forgive my rusty German, and eagerly share their stories with me.

And once again, I’m in awe of the strength of the human spirit. Wismar has seen its share of change, from conquering Swedes in the 1700s to Hitler’s regime, to the Communist forces. Yet they continue on, placing new cobblestone in the streets, building new businesses and homes, and making their future as best they can.

It’s been a pleasure to observe the changes here in eastern Germany (see “Castle Vacations: Northern Germany Road Trip”). People don’t stay the same, so it’s obvious that places can’t, either. Countries evolve and grow and change, adding new dimensions with each passing year.

This sense of change is very apparent in another story in this month’s issue: “Power of Language: Cardiff and the Welsh Renaissance.” The story describes the modern architecture and contemporary style of a very traditional Welsh city that is rapidly becoming a political and cultural center, but, in a twist, it focuses on how the Welsh people are rediscovering the importance of their roots by reinvigorating their ancient language.

With the cold weather setting in, we thought you would enjoy stories about tropical places. This month we feature many sun-drenched stories, fairly bursting with adventure. Among them are features about hot springs, volcano viewing and zip-line fun in Costa Rica (“Arenal, Costa Rica: Fire, Mist and Shades of Green”) and a visit to a pre-Colombian architectural site, a traditional silver-mining city and a popular tropical city in central Mexico (“Ancient Legacies: Mexico’s Hilltop Cities”). The warmth-based stories just keep going, with a stay in an Australian rainforest lodge (“Rainforest Repose: Queensland’s Sanctuary Eco-Lodge”) and a South Seas cruise (“Freighter to Paradise: Cruising French Polynesia”).

On the light side, writer Seth Rosenblatt demonstrates how travel can sometimes offer up unexpected moments of hilarity in “Go West, Young Paco: Indian Camel Safari,” and Michael Stusser summons up lighthearted memories of childhood bribes that kept him going on family hikes in “Cadbury Cravings: Childhood Day Hikes.”

And, as a bonus, we offer a guide to off-the-beaten-path spots to visit in California’s City by the Bay, in “Ten Things You Didn’t Know About … San Francisco.”

Whether it’s the intellectual fascination of places in transition or the allure of sunny locales that captures your fancy, this is the time of year to plan journeys that would make your life special.

Happy Travels!

Janna Graber

Managing Editor