When the sun goes down…

When you travel, there’s nothing better at the end of a long and often exhausting day exploring new places than relaxing for a while by watching the sun slowly going down over the horizon. That short moment when the early evening turns into dusk has always been my favourite part of the day, and I have collected hundreds of pictures of beautiful sunsets. Picking up only a few of them was super hard, but here is the result: ten memorable sunsets, from all around the world.

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1/ Rocca di Capri Leone, Sicily, August 2014

If you are a regular follower of this blog, you probably read my recent article or saw my gallery of pictures about the holidays I spent in Sicily in 2014. Looking back at the photos I took reminded me of the stunning sunset I witnessed on my last evening there and inspired me to write this new article.

Taormina, SicilyIt was the day after our cruise in the Aeolian Islands. On the following afternoon, my friends and I were going to take a ferry from Palermo to Genoa, and then drive all the way up to Switzerland where we were working at the time. It was going to be a long journey, so we decided to quietly spend our last evening at home. We observed a couple of gorgeous sunsets on the days before but we were always out for something and I never had my camera with me, so I decided to climb to the rooftop terrace of the building where the family of my friend Luca was living in Rocca di Capri Leone to finally capture this last sunset.

Sunset in Sicily

The sight during the next half hour was simply breathtaking. It looked like the sun was slowly falling into the Mediterranean Sea, while the sky was successively turning yellow, orange, purple and pink. I was speechless, simply enjoying the beauty of the moment. And then suddenly, the sun disappeared over the horizon, leaving behind the memory of perfect holidays.

2/ Kyoto, Japan, April 2018

When I think back to my trip to Japan, I always have memories of Kyoto coming first. I loved this city so much. The bright lights of Tokyo were cool and the parks of the Japanese capital were beautiful, but nothing compared to the unbeatable beauty of Kyoto. I could talk hours and hours about all the things I liked in this city, but here is just a sample of my favourite pictures instead (have a look at my entire gallery to see more).

On the last evening I spent there, I went to the temple of Kiyomizu-dera, in the eastern part of the city, close to the famous Philosopher’s Walk. It’s one of the 17 Unesco World Heritage Sites of Kyoto, and with its situation up on a hill, it’s also a great place to admire the city. The temple was under restauration during my visit and access was restricted to some areas, but thanks to the beautiful sunset it was still a great visit, and the view was stunning. Have a look by yourselves!

3/ Quebec City, Canada, September 2017

When I thought about making this list, I struggled a lot to pick up only one sunset between the many gorgeous ones I saw in Canada. Maybe that evening in Rivière-du-Loup, on the banks of the Saint-Lawrence River? Maybe that beautiful view over Toronto (pictures below), during my first trip in the country in 2015? Or maybe that sunset on Vancouver Island with my Danish friends? But there was one moment that outreached all the others: one of the most stunning sunsets I ever saw, moreover in a city that I liked a lot.

It was at the end of my two-week road trip around the wild and beautiful region of Gaspésie in the South-East of Quebec. I had one day left in Quebec City before taking a bus to Montreal the next morning. After bringing back my car to the rental agency, I decided to take the ferry to Lévis, a town on the South bank of the Saint Lawrence. This is where all the postcard pictures of Quebec City are taken: it’s clearly the best perspective over the city, especially with the impressive fortress-like architecture of the Château Frontenac overlooking the houses and lanes of the Petit Champlain district further down.

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It was a beautiful Indian summer day, and I thought that it could turn into a beautiful sunset. The result exceeded all my expectations. Around 6pm, the sky started to take a golden-yellow colour, with the black silhouettes of the Château Frontenac and the Price Building (the tallest tower in the Old Quebec historical district) in the foreground.

Then some shades of red and ochre slowly appeared…

…and finally, after the sun had disappeared over the horizon, I was able to take that fabulous picture of the city lights in front of an incredible pink and purple sky. A magical moment and an unforgettable evening!

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4/ Lavaux region, Switzerland, December 2013

The Lavaux region is located in Switzerland, in the French-speaking part of the country, between the cities of Lausanne and Montreux on the shore of Lake Geneva. The entire area is part of the Unesco World Heritage List, and it’s one of the most beautiful places of the country with its stunning terraced vineyards and the summits of the Alps nearby.

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I always loved this part of Switzerland. I often took the road that winds through the vineyard (called “Route de la Corniche”, literally the “Cliff Road”), with pretty villages along the way and impressive views over the lake and the mountains on the other side. The best moment to visit the area is at the end of the summer, when the vine is fully-grown (picture below), but the sight is lovely 365 days a year… even in December, when I took the pictures below. I went for a snowshoe hike in the mountains with a friend of mine that day, and on our way back home in the evening we took the “Route de la Corniche” through the Lavaux region. The sunset was so beautiful that we decided to stop to take a few pictures. We didn’t expect to stay for a long time, but we ended up spending quite a while admiring that magnificent view!

I often came back there afterwards, but I never had the chance to see another perfect sunset such as this one!

5/ Mauna Kea, Hawaii, October 2017

It is said that Hawaii is the best place in the world to watch sunsets. I have good reasons to believe that this is true. I spent less than three weeks in Hawaii, but yet had the chance of seeing so many extraordinary sunsets that limiting myself to only one for this list was, again, very challenging.

There was this sunset on a beach in the North of Oahu, next to a couple of sea turtles; the peace of Kiholo Bay on Big Island, where I was completely on my own; the pink clouds of Lahaina, on my last evening in Maui… But the most memorable of all was from the top of the Mauna Kea, 4,207m above the sea level.

I booked a tour to go there, as driving on the track leading to the summit might be dangerous. I will never forget the extraordinary beauty of this sunset high above the clouds, with volcanic craters around me and the last lights of the day reflecting in the giant telescopes. They have been installed here because it’s one of the best places in the world for stargazing, which we also did after the sun was completely gone. I never saw the Milky Way so bright and so “close” than that night!

6/ Rotorua, New Zealand, March 2018

The three days I spent in Rotorua were the highlights of my stay in the North Island of New Zealand. Everything here was extraordinary: the geyser and the surreal colours in the park of Wai-O-Tapu, the giant trees of the Redwoods, the view from Rainbow Mountain… There was so much to see and to do!

One of the best activities in Rotorua is to wander around Kuirau Park, a large park in the middle of the city. There’s a lot of thermal activity here: hot springs, bubbling mud pools… Smoke is coming out of everywhere, and there’s a constant (and quite unpleasant) smell of sulphur. The most impressive part is a pond crossed by a wooden bridge: sometimes the steam rising up from the hot water is so dense that you can’t even see the other side anymore!

Kuirau Park, Rotorua

Church of OhinemutuI spent a couple of hours in Kuirau Park when I arrived in Rotorua, followed by a short hike in the Redwoods forest. At the end of the afternoon, I went to the lovely Maori village of Ohinemutu on the shore of Lake Rotorua (picture to the right; yes, that’s in New Zeland, even though it clearly could have been a church of Iceland!). I left shortly before sunset, and as I was driving next to Kuirau Park, I noticed that the light was beautiful. I pulled over my car, took my camera, and walked to that little pond. The sight was amazing: the combination between the last lights of the day and the steam created a foreboding and very intense atmosphere. Maybe not the most beautiful of all the sunsets I ever saw, but certainly one of the most uncommon and impressive!

7/ Nantes, France, May 2019

I often mentioned Saint-Nazaire in some previous articles, the place where I’m working and where I also grew up, but I never really talked about Nantes, the city where I live now, 60km away. This mistake will soon be fixed, as there are a lot of things to say about this place with a very rich history and a profusion of beautiful monuments.

For now, let me introduce you to Nantes with the picture below of a gorgeous sunset during spring 2019. It was taken from the balcony of my apartment, on the Île de Nantes, a large island in the middle of the Loire and close to the town centre. The church to the left is the beautiful Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, while what looks like a little bell tower to the right is actually the LU Tower, one of the most iconic buildings of the city. The former Lefèvre-Utile biscuit factory was located here for almost a century, since the end of the 19th century. It has been turned into a cultural place 20 years ago, and it’s one of my favourite spots in Nantes… but more details about that in a future article!

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8/ Los Angeles, California, May 2018

I didn’t like Los Angeles at all. This is where I had my worst experience as a traveller, when I got kicked out of a hostel, as I complained that there was too much noise because of construction work at night (entire story here, at the letter R as in “Really bad moment”). Apart from this bad experience, I didn’t find any beauty in the city itself; public transport was terrible, the Walk of Fame in Hollywood was completely uninteresting, and I didn’t see the point in exploring Beverly Hills just to see where rich and famous people live. I only liked two things about my visit: the peaceful atmosphere along the canals of Venice Beach (pictures below) and the view from the Griffiths Observatory.

I arrived at this observatory overlooking Los Angeles at the end of the afternoon and stayed until it was completely dark. My goal was simple: taking a few pictures of the city, from the exact same spot but at different moments, and later put them all together to create a single picture. It took me exactly two hours between the first and the last picture, during which I could see in every detail the colours of the sky slowly changing, while the lights of the city were switched on one by one. Here’s the result of that experiment!

los-angeles-day-night

9/ Lindau, Germany, July 2017

When I came back from my first year in Australia in June 2017, I wasn’t completely ready to stop travelling. I only stayed a couple of days at home with my parents before beginning a road trip around Europe, visiting six countries in one month.

lindau-mangturmOne of my stages was the city of Lindau in Germany, close to Austria and Switzerland, on the bank of Lake Constance. It was already my second visit: the first one was 8 years earlier, while I was doing an internship in Germany, and I was impatient to come back as I had very good memories of that first visit. I wasn’t disappointed: it was again a great pleasure to meander around the streets of the old town, located on an island in the lake and only connected to mainland via a bridge. The entrance of the harbour is especially beautiful, with a lighthouse on the right side and the giant statue of a lion (the Bavarian Lion) on the left side.

It was already a perfect day, but it got even better in the evening, with the gorgeous sight of the sun setting down over Lake Constance. It was the kind of enjoyable moment that I would have liked to stretch as much as possible, but the night eventually supplanted the day… and the next evening I was already gone to another destination.

📷 For more pictures, have a look at my gallery of photos of Lindau.

10/ Great Ocean Road, Australia, December 2016

One of the first thing I did after I arrived in Australia at the end of June 2016 was buying a van and beginning a road trip on the East Coast of the country. It was amazing: I had the most extraordinary feeling of freedom, going wherever I wanted to, exploring stunning places and sleeping in beautiful areas. After three months, I arrived in Melbourne, searched for a share-house and for a job, eventually found both, and started working full time as a barista. But after a few weeks, I started to miss that freedom feeling, so in the middle of December I took a couple of days off from work and started a road trip on the Great Ocean Road.

I left Melbourne in the middle of the afternoon, after finishing a morning service in the place I was working at. I only drove until the beginning of the Great Ocean Road with the plan of spending the night in Torquay, the surfing capital of Australia. The iconic Bells Beach is nearby: that’s where each year during Easter the Rip Curl Pro (one of the greatest surfing competitions in the world) takes place.

Before the night came, I decided to go a little bit further until a place called Point Addis, a cape overlooking the Austral Ocean with a stunning view on both directions (Bells Beach is a little bit further to the left). I arrived just before sunset and spent a couple of hours there, cooking something for my dinner while enjoying the sight of the end of the day. And what a beautiful sight! I couldn’t have hoped for a better start for that road trip.

I witnessed so many extraordinary sunsets in Australia that I decided to ask for your opinion: this last picture was the one you chose among a pre-selection of 10 pictures on my Facebook page. Thank you for your help! But after I published my selection, I realised that I forgot to include the picture below, taken in Darwin during my very last days in the country. I reckon it might have received a lot of votes, what do you think? Never mind, this will be the subject of a future article!

darwin-mindil-beach-sunset

Where was the best sunset you ever saw? Do you have pictures? Share it in the comments!

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