Carnival Imagination 2000
Carnival Imagination 2000
Carnival Ecstasy 2001
Carnival Paradise 1999
John Cleese’s Letter to the US
To the citizens of the United States of America, In the light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today. Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah, which she does not fancy.
Your new prime minister (The Right Honourable Tony Blair, MP for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a minister for America without the need for further elections.
Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed. To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:
1. You should look up “revocation” in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up “aluminium”. Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘favour’ and ‘neighbour’, skipping the letter ‘U’ is nothing more than laziness on your part. Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters. You will end your love affair with the letter ‘Z’ (pronounced ‘zed’ not ‘zee’) and the suffix “ize” will be replaced by the suffix “ise”. You will learn that the suffix ‘burgh is pronounced ‘burra’ e.g. Edinburgh. You are welcome to respell Pittsburgh as ‘Pittsberg’ if you can’t cope with correct pronunciation. Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up “vocabulary”. Using the same twenty seven words interspersed with filler noises such as “like” and “you know” is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. Look up “interspersed”. There will be no more ‘bleeps’ in the Jerry Springer show. If you’re not old enough to cope with bad language then you shouldn’t have chat shows. When you learn to develop your vocabulary then you won’t have to use bad language as often.
2. There is no such thing as “US English”. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter ‘u’ and the elimination of “-ize”.
3. You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents. It really isn’t that hard. English accents are not limited to cockney, upper-class twit or Mancunian (Daphne in Frasier). You will also have to learn how to understand regional accents – Scottish dramas such as “Taggart” will no longer be broadcast with subtitles. While we’re talking about regions, you must learn that there is no such place as Devonshire in England. The name of the county is “Devon”. If you persist in calling it Devonshire, all American States will become “shires” e.g. Texasshire, Floridashire, Louisianashire.
4. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as the good guys. Hollywood will be required to cast English actors to play English characters. British sit-coms such as “Men Behaving Badly” or “Red Dwarf” will not be re-cast and watered down for a wishy-washy American audience who can’t cope with the humour of occasional political incorrectness.
5. You should relearn your original national anthem, “God Save The Queen”, but only after fully carrying out task 1. We would not want you to get confused and give up half way through.
6. You should stop playing American “football”. There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as American “football” is not a very good game. The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays “American” football. You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should instead play proper football. Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American “football”, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like nancies). We are hoping to get together at least a US Rugby sevens side by 2005. You should stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the ‘World Series’ for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.15% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. Instead of baseball, you will be allowed to play a girls’ game called “rounders” which is baseball without fancy team strip, oversized gloves, collector cards or hotdogs.
7. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry guns. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous in public than a vegetable peeler. Because we don’t believe you are sensible enough to handle potentially dangerous items, you will require a permit if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.
8. July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 2nd will be a new national holiday, but only in England. It will be called “Indecisive Day”.
9. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean. All road intersections will be replaced with roundabouts. You will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.
10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips. Fries aren’t even French, they are Belgian though 97.85% of you (including the guy who discovered fries while in Europe) are not aware of a country called Belgium. Those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called “crisps”. Real chips are thick cut and fried in animal fat. The traditional accompaniment to chips is beer which should be served warm and flat. Waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.
11. As a sign of penance 5 grams of sea salt per cup will be added to all tea made within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this quantity to be doubled for tea made within the city of Boston itself.
12. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all, it is lager. From November 1st only proper British Bitter will be referred to as “beer”, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as “Lager”. The substances formerly known as “American Beer” will henceforth be referred to as “Near-Frozen Knat’s Urine”, with the exception of the product of the American Budweiser company whose product will be referred to as “Weak Near-Frozen Knat’s Urine”. This will allow true Budweiser (as manufactured for the last 1000 years in Pilsen, CzechRepublic) to be sold without risk of confusion.
13. From November 10th the UK will harmonise petrol (or “Gasoline” as you will be permitted to keep calling it until April 1st 2005) prices with the former USA. The UK will harmonise its prices to those of the former USA and the Former USA will, in return, adopt UK petrol prices(roughly $6/US gallon – get used to it).
14. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you’re not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you’re not grown up enough to handle a gun.
15. Please tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us crazy. Tax collectors from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all revenues due (backdated to 1776).
16. Last but not the least, and for heaven’s sake…..it’s Nuclear as in “clear” NOT Nucular.
Thank you for your co-operation and have a great day.
Rear View Clearer: No, Hilary Swank didn’t accidentally put her dress on backwards, but this painted-on sapphire-blue Guy Laroche number immediately calls to mind Celine Dion ‘s reverse white tux tragedy, a fashion memory so painful it still gives us an involuntary eye tic. While we adore the ruched gown’s skin-tastic rear, which puts the Best Actress winner’s super-sculpted back on display (although she apparently had her million-dollar butt crack surgically removed for the Oscars), the high-necked, long-sleeved, get-thee-to-a-nunnery front seems to be lifted directly from Mary Lou Retton ‘s new leotards-as-formalwear collection.
Grecian Formula: Natalie Portman appears to be having trouble letting go of Princess Amidala as she hits the Oscars in a dress made from recycled Jawa cloaks. This precipitously plunging tulle goddess gown with gem-encrusted bands from hot designer Lanvin is a marked improvement over the “Star Wars ” stunner’s shapeless Greek nymph number at the Golden Globes, but it loses points for the drab dirty dishwater hue and unbecoming — and slightly see-through — pleated skirt. Portman also stumbles with her decision to don that 7th grade staple, the headband. Sure, this one is jeweled and worth major bucks, but it’s still a headband, and it makes Natalie look like she should be cramming for her Algebra final, not schmoozing with the A-list.
Film Noir: Somewhere, Beyonc� ‘s mother is trying to chew through the ropes she was bound with to prevent her from dressing her daughter in her typically disastrous designs on Oscar night. The chart-topping singer may have offended French speakers and lovers of Andrew Lloyd Webber with her multiple Best Song performances, but she rocks the red carpet in a black strapless velvet dress that looks like a modern-day interpretation of John Singer Sargent’s portrait of Madame X. This vintage Atelier Versace provides the perfect complement to Beyonc�’s impossibly teensy waist and glowing skin, which she sets off with shoulder-sweeping, earlobe-stretching diamond earrings and a diamond cuff. Our only quibble is the chanteuse’s overly processed coif, which is too red, too stiff, and too souffl�-like on top.
White Stripes: Hard to believe it was just a year ago that a fabulously shapely Ren�e Zellweger was spilling out of the top of her white Carolina Herrera gown as she collected her Oscar. Now, she appears to be doing her best impression of a strawberry Twizzler in her standard strapless Herrera creation with ivory tulle trim, which evokes both her red-and-white-loving ex-boyfriend Jack White and Mrs. Claus. If only the painfully petite (and pale) Ren�e had eaten a few bags of the sugary treats prior to slipping into what should have been curve-hugging couture. Also not working for the rapidly disappearing star is her dull, dark ‘do, which she seems to have stolen off the head of Alfalfa from the “Little Rascals ,” and shoulder blades so sharp they could shave parmesan (not that she’d eat any of it).
Hideous Kinky: Don’t be alarmed. Despite appearances to the contrary, no baby chicks were harmed in the making of Scarlett Johansson ‘s frizzy red carpet coiffure. The “Lost in Translation ” starlet is in dire need of a cream rinse as she sports feather-like tresses that some have compared to Courtney Love — and that ain’t no compliment. Sadly, Scarlett draws attention to her desiccated tufts by donning a 19th century tiara, an accessory best left to Queen Elizabeth or creepy child beauty pageant contestants. ScarJo is only slightly more successful in her binding black asymmetrical Roland Mouret gown with mermaid hemline, a skirt style so prevalent at this year’s ceremony we half expected Daryl Hannah to show up in her “Splash ” costume.
Trip to Bountiful: Oscar host Chris Rock just couldn’t resist commenting on the tremendous talents of presenters Pen�lope Cruz and Salma Hayek . Unfortunately, with his attention drawn to their loaded d�colletage, Rock failed to notice that Pen�lope, in a strapless iridescent yellow silk taffeta Oscar de la Renta with a show-stopping butt bow, and Hayek, in a breathtaking (seriously, how can she breathe?) midnight blue beaded and bow-laden Prada, had been accosted by the same crazed hair-and-makeup artist. The delicate features of the beautiful “Bandidas ” co-stars are nearly obscured by smoky eyes rimmed in so much kohl that raccoons might attempt to mate with them and hair so high Snoop Dogg will likely try to smoke it.
Blue Crush: Kate Winslet may not have gone home with an Oscar, but she definitely deserves a prize for brightening up the red carpet in this eye-catching Badgley Mischka design. Not only does the cheerful cornflower color match the actress’ sunny personality but its low-cut beaded bodice and hip-hugging skirt show off her fantastically fit figure. And while Kate doesn’t need jewels to sparkle, she adds some extra zing to her look with diamond clips on the straps, diamond bracelets, and dangling diamond earrings, which she shows off to great effect with lovely swept-back blond waves and understated makeup.
Mullet Madness: There are many occasions when the Femullet makes just the right statement, like, say, a monster truck rally or a Billy Ray Cyrus concert. But at the Oscars, AKA the biggest fashion show in the world, it’s just wrong — so wrong that it makes a sleepover at Michael Jackson ‘s seem right. Did Laura Linney inadvertently insult her stylist’s mother or run over his puppy? Otherwise, we can’t explain how she ended up beneath this calamitous, product-laden coif. Too bad it’s not her only red carpet misstep. The “Kinsey ” actress looks wan and lifeless in a dingy J. Mendel strapless gown with a sweetheart neckline (a ubiquitous silhouette at this year’s ceremony) and an asymmetrical tiered and frayed hemline, which was apparently created by dozens of cats working together to claw their way through her couture.
Puff ‘N Buff: If we had Gisele Bundchen ‘s perfect figure, the last thing we’d do is hide beneath a gown so ginormous you could show the Best Picture nominees on our butt. Still, with so many “sophisticated” (read: blah and boring) dresses on this year’s red carpet, we must give the Brazilian supermodel props for taking a chance with this straight-from-the-runway billowy Bohemian Dior number, which she wisely pairs with flowing surfer girl blond locks and just-off-the-beach bronze skin. In contrast to his girlfriend’s free-spirited empire-waist frock, Leonardo DiCaprio is Cary Grant cool in a crisp black tux and slicked-back hair. It’s the most mature and handsome he’s ever looked, although it doesn’t hurt that he has one of the world’s most sought-after women on his arm. Our prediction is that before too long, the previously under-the-radar pretty pair will assume the golden couple title vacated by the estranged Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston .
Cane and Able: Melanie Griffith hobbles onto the red carpet in a tragic blue-green Versace gown that was last in style the same year she was — specifically 1988, when she was up for a Best Actress prize for “Working Girl .” There are so many problems plaguing the shiny-faced star’s silk nightmare that we’re not sure where to begin. Maybe with the snaking, Sin City showgirl-style embroidery? Or the drooping sleeves (and bodice)? Or perhaps the bunching, nude-hued fabric covering her back, which was seemingly salvaged from Michelle Kwan’s old skating outfits? And is it just our imagination or does the area above Melanie’s butt form a frowny face? It’s the perfect commentary on her catastrophic couture, which is made even worse by her decision to flash her plaster-encased broken foot and carry a glam-free cane. Hey, Mel, if Star Jones can bling up a microphone, you could have at least found a more stylish way to keep from falling on your face.
Lemony Pick It: Few actresses elicit as strong a reaction on the red carpet as Cate Blanchett , whose sartorial selections are either beloved or belittled, with almost no middle ground. At the Oscars, we come down firmly on the love side of her one-shouldered buttery Valentino with a burgundy satin sash. Sure, the yellow silk taffeta is a little close to her wavy blond locks and skin tone. And, okay, maybe the bejeweled pin on her shoulder is a wee bit overpowering, but somehow the luminous Cate makes it all work. Maybe it’s because her brand spankin’ new gold accessory, which she won for essaying Katharine Hepburn in “The Aviator ” (by the by, she’s carrying the late legend’s glove in her purse for luck), just happens to go perfectly with her frock’s bright and shiny shade.
Lacy and Racy: For the last several months, Kirsten Dunst has been captured by paparazzi wearing unsexy granny gear, including the dreaded sock-and-sandal combination. We had no idea what to expect from her at the Academy Awards, but we’re happy to report the “Spider-Man ” cutie cleans up nicely in a black lace Chanel column that is anything but dowdy. Still, is there something slightly amiss with Kirsten’s dress? In an exercise we recommend only for the most diehard fanboys, try squinting your eyes and cocking your head to the left. Your Spidey-sense just might start a-tingling as you spy the outline of her unmentionables. After you’re done trying to peep out Dunst’s delicates, check out her fab new ‘do, a side-parted platinum bob that is oh-so-reminiscent of Gwyneth Paltrow during that long-ago time when she and former fianc� Brad Pitt wore matching manes.
Depp-eche Mode: Johnny Depp seems to be pulling a Dorian Gray with his wardrobe — his handsome visage doesn’t age, but his sartorial style is becoming positively antiquated. In his outmoded blue tux with black piping and black-and-white wingtips, the Best Actor nominee looks like he should be introducing Henny Youngman in the Catskills (thank you — try the veal!). Don’t get us wrong — we love us some Depp and can usually get on board his eccentric ensembles. But this unsightly suit, which he pairs with an unkempt coif, evil genius facial hair, and Poindexter eyeglasses, goes too far by obscuring his good looks, a fashion felony that deserves the most severe punishment (we’re thinking small talk with Joan Rivers ). Vanessa Paradis fairs much better in sparkly Chanel with a tr�s chic scarf and red, red lips. Depp’s blonder and Frencher half gets the thumbs up for finding an individual look that veers more towards couture than costume.
Tulle Fox: With Nicole Kidman absent from this year’s Oscars, it was left to Charlize Theron to make a movie star fashion statement on the red carpet. That statement? “Get the hell out of the way! Massive Dior gown coming through!” The actress, who successfully returns to blond in a glam, Grace Kelly -esque ‘do, is sporting so much seafoam satin organza and silk tulle that Christo could have wrapped the Kodak Theatre — twice.
Squeeze Play: The last time Gwyneth Paltrow wore pink to the Oscars, she received a critical lashing for failing to fill out the bodice of her Pepto-Bismol-hued Calvin Klein gown. Thanks to little Apple, the slouchy Oscar winner no longer has to worry about her cups being half-empty, but that doesn’t mean her fitting problems are over. In her pale-pink-to-the-point-of-nude Stella McCartney number, Gwyn’s assets are painfully squished into a too-tight corset top, which forces her cleavage skyward … and not in that good check-out-my-new-Wonderbra kind of way. Despite her busting-out bustline, Paltrow is still a winner with her cascading waves chock-a-block with chunky blond highlights and vintage diamond accessories, including a gorgeous bracelet that earns kudos as our favorite of the night.
And how to keep the neighbors from stealing yours….
When I moved into a new neighborhood last week, I expected the usual hassles. Then I found out I’d have to wait more than a month for a DSL line. I started convulsing. If I don’t have Net access for even one day, I can’t do my job. So, what was I supposed to do? There’s an Internet caf� on the next block, but they close early. I had no choice-it was time to start sneaking on to my neighbors’ home networks.
Every techie I know says that you shouldn’t use other people’s networks without permission. Every techie I know does it anyway. If you’re going to steal-no, let’s say borrow-your neighbor’s Wi-Fi access, you might as well do it right. Step one: Lose the guilt. The FCC told me that they don’t know of any federal or state laws that make it illegal to log on to an open network. Using someone’s connection to check your e-mail isn’t like hacking into their bank account. It’s more like you’re borrowing a cup of sugar. (Unless you hog their bandwidth by watching lots of streaming video-that’s like hijacking a sugar truck.)
In the end, it’s your neighbor’s Internet service provider-not your neighbor-who will pay for the added traffic, and the ISP has already factored a small amount of line-sharing into their price plan. It is true that your surfing could cause the folks next door to break their service contract-many broadband providers do specifically forbid home customers from sharing a connection. But let’s deal with those abstract ethical issues later-you have important mail to answer!
If you want to find a Wi-Fi network, don’t start by looking on the sidewalk for chalk marks. “Warchalking ,” a technique for writing symbols in public places to alert neighbors to nearby wireless access points, is a cool concept that’s been undermined by the fact that no one has ever used it . The best method to find some free wireless is to treat your laptop like a cell phone. Since Wi-Fi and cell phone signals travel on a similar radio frequency, the same tricks you use for getting a better phone connection might work on your computer. Sit near a window, since Wi-Fi signals travel better through glass than through solid walls. Stay away from metal objects. Pay close attention to your laptop’s orientation-rotating your machine just a few degrees could help you pick up a network that you couldn’t see before. Raise your laptop over your head, put it flat on the floor, tilt it sideways while leaning halfway out the window-get out the divining rod if you have to. You might get a reputation for being some sick laptop yoga freak, but isn’t free Internet worth it?
If you live downtown or in a suburb where the houses are close together, a few minutes of laptop gymnastics will probably reveal several Wi-Fi networks. Certain names are a giveaway that a network probably won’t be password-protected. Look for “linksys,” “default,” “Wireless,” “NETGEAR,” “belkin54g,” and “Apple Network 0273df.” These are the default network names for the most popular wireless routers. If a network owner hasn’t taken the time to change the default name, that’s a good clue that they probably won’t have a password either. You should also look for signs of hacker culture. Since hackers love giving away Net access, an all-lowercase name like “hackdojo” is most likely an invitation to log on. On the other hand, a name in all caps is typically a network under corporate lockdown.
If you do get prompted for a password, try “public”-that’s the default on many of Apple’s AirPort units. You can also try common passwords like “admin,” “password,” and “1234″-or just check out this exhaustive list of default passwords. You should also try using the name of the network in the password space. A generic password could mean that the network’s owner didn’t have the sense to pick something less obvious or that they’ve decided to welcome outsiders. But who cares? You’re in. And again, there’s no specific law barring you from guessing the password, as long as you don’t crack an encrypted network and read other people’s transmissions.
You can tell that you’ve successfully joined a wireless network when your laptop’s IP address changes as it’s assigned a local number by the network’s router. To watch it happen on a PC, keep the Network control panel in Windows open; if you have an Apple notebook, look at the Network section of the System Preferences program. (And if you’re running Linux, I don’t need to tell you where to look.) Once your laptop has an IP address, your next hurdle is getting DNS to work. DNS stands for Domain Name Service-it’s what translates Internet domains like “slate.com” into IP addresses like 188.8.131.52. On most networks, DNS works automatically. But if you get a browser error like “Cannot find server,” go back to your network menus and configure your laptop to use a public name server -184.108.40.206 in Dallas, for instance.
Once DNS is working, you should be good to go. While you should be able to surf the Web with no problems, you may have trouble sending mail from Outlook or other desktop programs because of restrictions on e-mail routing that have been set up to stop spammers. If you have problems, just use a Web-based mail service like Hotmail or Gmail instead.
Keep in mind that the neighbors may not be thrilled that you’re sharing the line. One guy next door to my new building shut off his network the day after I moved in, probably because he got spooked by all those blinking LEDs on his router. Even neighbors who are happy to share may see you in a different light if they check their router’s URL logs and find a few hundred hits on porn sites. While your browsing will show up under an anonymous address, the short range of Wi-Fi means that they’ll at least be able to figure out that one of the laptop owners within 100 feet of their living room is a stuffed animal fetishist. (As a San Franciscan, I need to point out that a stuffed animal fetish is perfectly normal. It’s your neighbors who have the problem.)
Since everyone isn’t as eager to share their network as I am, it’s only fair to explain that there’s an incredibly easy way to keep neighbors and drive-by geeks off your network. All you have to do is set a password that isn’t as obvious as “1234.” There’s an eye-glazing list of Wi-Fi security measures you can implement to block overachieving Russian teens from monitoring your keystrokes, but in real life the only people sniffing your wireless signal are jerks like me who need a place to log on until the phone company wires the apartment. An unguessable password sends as clear a message as a shot of Mace: Go find a Starbucks, creep.
Clarification, Nov. 22, 2004: There are some laws that could be used to charge you with unauthorized computer use, but my legal sources say that because there are so many networks left open to the public on purpose, it would be tough for an individual to make the legal case that their intent was to keep everyone off their network if it’s not password-protected. If you stick to surfing the Web and not other people’s PCs, you’ll probably be safe from prosecution.
On a great drive, the destination never surpasses the journey. In Europe, with the densest highway system in the world, good roads are easy to find, but great drives come once in a blue kilometer.
The drives that follow are more than means to an end, more than concrete curls along countryside contours or asphalt assaulting towering peaks. They transcend the danger of the road, the thrill of driving, or the response of a well-tuned machine. Rather, they are sublime sensuous weaves of man-made and natural beauty.
1. The Amalfi Drive, Italy
The Amalfi Drive winds for 45 miles along sheer rock cliffs just south of Naples and Pompeii. Though traveled for centuries, the drive with only a squat three-foot wall separating the road from a precipitous drop to the sea, still retains an unspoiled grandeur. The day-long Amalfi Drive is best experienced traveling south from legendary Sorrento, where the sirens sang their deadly songs to Ulysses.
2. The Causeway Coast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Curving around the northeast corner of Ireland, from Larne to Dunluce Castle, a thousand shades of Irish green play against the deep blue of the Atlantic. Here you’ll find the Giant’s Causeway, a fascinating geological structure of crystallized basalt. Legends provide plausible interpretations of its formation. The locals were convinced that the walkway was built by a Scottish giant who upon arriving in Ireland was tricked by the Irish giant, Finn McCool, and retreated to Scotland destroying most of the causeway behind him, thus the name for the sight.
3. Through the Dolomites, between Bolzano to Cortina, Italy
Far in northern Italy, only a one-hour drive south of the Brenner Pass and two hours north of Verona, the soft Dolomite limestone and the winds of erosion have created a fantasy lunar-like landscape where the shifting play of light creates colors that change with the moment. Head for the jagged hills on this 65-mile winding road squeezed between sharp peaks. The tortuous route weaves its way through spectacular scenery from Bolzano to Cortina.
4. Around the island of Madiera, Portugal
Plan an early start for this full-day drive twisting and turning – kilometers along the coast and across the rugged interior of Madiera. Start from the capital city, Funchal, and head counterclockwise around the island. The road tunnels through cliffs, skirts the ocean inches above the raging surf and passes not under, but through a waterfall – you’ll swear you’re in a movie. After successfully timing the surge of the ocean, dodging the pounding surf, and splashing through the waterfall you can’t help but step out of the car and breath in the brisk salty wind.
5. The Ard�che, France
Fifty miles north of Avignon in Provence the emerald Ard�che River races to the Rhone River between precipitous white limestone cliffs dotted by ancient castles, tiny villages and natural caves and arches. The road curving with the lip of this grand canyon dips to the riverbank and climbs hundreds of feet above the swirling water. There are numerous lookout points with plenty of parking. On hot days, tiny sandy beaches tempt drivers to swim in the surprisingly warm water.
6. The Via Mala and the San Bernadino, Switzerland
Connecting Chur with Belinzona in southeastern Switzerland, the San Bernadino pass provides some of the most dramatic driving of any Alpine crossing. The partially restored castle of Hohen Ratien stands guard over the entrance to the Via Mala, Switzerland’s deepest gorge. Turning off the modern highway the old Via Mala road enters the ominously dark chasm. It clings to the rocky walls with views upwards to but a sliver of sky and down to the ribbon of water thrashing below.
7. The Picos de Europa, Spain
Twenty miles southwest of Santander stands the Picos de Europa, the highest mountain range on the Spanish Atlantic coast. In this perpetually snowcapped fortress the final Christian enclave withstood Moorish attacks and eventually began the Spanish reconquest. The range is encircled by 150-miles of narrow, twisting two-lane roads that for the most part follow rivers which trace the perimeter of the mountain reserve. These roads provide a challenging seven-hour drive and frequent opportunities to explore the rugged mountains themselves. Here changing shades of rough rocks and pliant vegetation combined with the rivers’ wildly swinging shifts and narrow gorges make for a magical drive.
8. The Rhine River, Germany, from Koblenz to Bingen
Castles perch on every possible hilltop and overlook the riverbends; waters swirl below the Loreley; riverboats glide downstream or churn slowly against the flow; and vineyards step down the steep banks. Perhaps no other thoroughfare is so steeped in legend nor praised in story. Over the last few years the drive along the Rhine – once natural and rugged – has been changed by relentless urbanization, which has produced a picture-postcard visage. But even through the traffic the beauty of this valley shines.
9. The Grossglockner Road, Austria
The grandfather of all modern Alpine highways, the road was opened in 1935 and inspired other Alpine road builders to begin the modern road conquest of the Alps. Today the engineers’ esthetic sense of road design still impresses. The modern drive over this pass will take just over three hours with time to scan the alpine peaks. Only open during the summer, the 47-mile drive begins south of Salzberg near the town of Zell am See. The Grossglockner Road skirts storybook waterfalls and weaves through wooded valleys so narrow the sun shines only a few hours a day.
10. The Ullapool to Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland
Northwest Scotland offers the perfect blend of moor with woodlands and sea with mountains. Opposed to anticipation of visual thrills around the bend, this drive has a soothing meditative effect of natural balance. Start with a full tank of gas. Some road stretches may be crowded with tourist traffic but the next turn will bring you back to the solitude of the road and nature. At times only one lane wide and often overrun by wandering sheep, the route offers surprising steep climbs and tortuous turns with incomparable views over the rocky headlands.