Diving into cool, salty water. Stopping the car to look at a view. Moonlit dancing with beautiful strangers. A bracing walk that makes your cheeks sting. The stench of a local fish market. Getting caught in a downpour that smells the way only tropical rain does. Wearing no shoes for a week. A scalding drink clasped in icy fingers. Barbecue smoke on the evening air. Kaleidoscopic fruits haggled from a roadside shack. A park bench in a different city. Playing cards on a balcony late into the night. Lemon Fanta and too-salty crisps. Fluttering linen. Getting genuinely lost. Anticipation. Anonymity. Freedom. The unknown. Coming home again.
The ways in which we revive ourselves are so often intertwined with travel in some form. Above are a few of the things that make us feel alive and many of them have been absent, as they have been for you. When we chose the theme for this issue, we weren't quite sure how much, if at all, the world would be on the road again. As the last of summer fades, we wonder what stage we're all at in our quest for revival, whether you've ventured overseas or are eagerly awaiting your first foray.
In many respects, the following pages feel like some of our most wholesome to date. While we've never been ones to stampede across sand and snow with a devil-may-care attitude, now more than ever you'll find a gentleness in the stories. We've explored hard but trodden softly. We've reconnected both with loved ones and nature, discovering a renewed sense of childlike wonder for our surroundings, and each other.
As the world stirs, we've been dipping our toes into seas far and wide, seeking snapshots of reawakening in corners both familiar and offbeat. We're taking you from the mountains and valleys of deepest rural Albania to the perch-filled streams and berry-strewn forests of the Finnish Lakeland. We'll spend time with a self-sufficient hutting community near Glasgow; seek out young bodybuilders challenging conservatism in India; meet lighthouse keepers in the Scilly Isles. Together we'll dance through Accra before getting a dose of white-sand escapism in Nevis. Finally, we'll stride beyond the headlines in China, where a "forgotten" city is as ethereal as it is enchanting.
Of course, this is just the beginning. As you set off exploring once again, we take our job as your source of inspiration more seriously than ever. We want to help you discover what matters now. We've brought you more content, more editor-approved recommendations and have launched a new column, The Muse, in which we spotlight our favourite young artists. We'll be making more exciting changes in the coming months, so keep your eyes peeled.
As we prepare to navigate travel's comeback, we hope this issue is a tonic. In the face of adversity, beauty is often found in the rawness, courage, grit and determination that pave the way for new beginnings and growth. What better time to capture the world than in this vulnerable, brave period of renewal?