The snowy winged gulls of Alderaan bring springtime to Aldera for a pleasant stroll amongst the grand archways of the planet’s royal heart. I followed their flight path to land in the spired shadows of the Mountain Palace, the peaks above in their glistening thaw crowning it in its name. It’s there I remain as I come to the courtyard of the capital city’s prestigious university, the House of Organa towering ever above on this small island enshrining the heart of all that Alderaanian culture represents. Wherever one walks, they will feel they are among the spirits of myth which come down, once in a new moon, from the great height of Appenza Peak to select an adventurer destined for something much greater than themselves.
For all its prestige, the university gates stand open to welcome travellers, and professors and students use their free time to give tasters of their majors to any and all. I learn of the flora and fauna of the Isatabith rainforest from the young biologists, their displays practically glowing with the preserved leaves and flowers of the tropics on the other side of the planet. From the impassioned geologists, I learned of the supple synthstone from which every structural surface of the city was carved. The sample of stone close up was as flawless as the high walls seemed from the ground, flowing seamless into the mountain as though they themselves had held Aldera, carved away by time to unveil it to the galaxy. Truly, every aspect of ‘the planet of beauty’ is free and open to all, a purifying embrace of a world.
Aldera alone is a destination that cannot be approached with an itinerary. The air of relaxed open-mindedness its people share is essential to adopt, if any visitor is to gain the utmost from their stay. I speak from experience, as I brought my own list of what I felt were unmissable activities if I were to do this planet any written justice. But the taste of Toniray wine (sweet and crystalline as Starblossom petals floating on the River Wuitho) would be but water without the views from the many verandas overlooking Lake Thun. It bears Aldera like a glacier enduring and magnifying the sun. I thought I’d already seen the best view coming in to land, but seeing where I’d come from as still more shuttles arrived gave me pause to reflect on the beauty I’d found here.
The very same vines which produced my flute of Toniray stepped down to the water’s edge. I swore I could see each grape shimmer like a pearl in the sunset. My meticulous schedule all for naught, cast adrift as the palace was closed for tours, I found a seat in a restaurant and watched the evening pull the golden lake further inland.
At night, Aldera became a reflection of the chambers below the castle, hidden in the heart of the mountains. Despite its fame, retaining a modesty and secrecy under a moon shadowing the synthstone walls in silver grey. A planet of peacetime, an oasis of elegant, cultured tranquillity in a galaxy where one can’t swing a lothcat without upsetting some imperial bigwig or other. Quiet as the passing of a day. A place to be still, and silently hopeful.