The Magic Of Happening To Look Up

October 6th, 2022
The Magic Of Happening To Look Up

We reach the top of the hill, and turn around.

“Well, there you go, Mike. As I said: best view in Graz,” my friend says proudly.

It is indeed a terrific place to take in Austria’s second-biggest city, with its Renaissance and Baroque architecture fanning out between forested, palace-studded hillsides.

A Morning in Morocco

September 16th, 2022
A Morning in Morocco

Each footfall upwards sends you slightly back again. Sand slips beneath your feet. It’s still dark, the western sky pocked with stars. As you gain ground, this sea of sand grows luminous, reflecting the gentle eastward light. The Saharan dunes come to life after a night of cold.

The Future Of Travel Is – Silence?

September 9th, 2022
The Future Of Travel Is – Silence?

The walls of the carriage vibrate, the distant train engine makes a couple of odd, unhealthy-sounding noises - and everything rattles away into complete silence.

No, not quite. My ears fight to get accustomed - the lack of noise is like fierce pressure against my eardrums, which have spent the last 7 hours being gently but incessantly pushed the other way, as the train and its carriages noisily worked their way north out of Italy and up over the Alps.

Why Nothing Kicks Like An Italian Espresso

August 25th, 2022
Why Nothing Kicks Like An Italian Espresso

“No, wait, uh - I ordered a coffee?”

It’s the mid 90s, and I’m in Italy for the first time in my adult life. Tragically I’m only in transit, so all I’ll see of this magnificently handsome country on this trip is gray, functional-looking train stations - a world away from the Italian countryside that will capture my heart a few years later.

This Georgian Word Means Guilt-Free Cuisine

August 12th, 2022
This Georgian Word Means Guilt-Free Cuisine

What’s your meal-time limit on resigned self-disgust?

The more you explore the world, the more you realise that other cultures are better (ie. more honest) than yours at facing the brutal realities of certain aspects of a life well lived.

For example, if you’ve ever felt the weight of that post-lunch part of the day when the rigours of the morning combine with the heat of the early afternoon and it’s just agony to fight your way through to mid-afternoon, take a lesson from Spain, or Greece, or many other parts of the Mediterranean.

The Crazy Plan To Save Europe By Draining The Mediterranean

July 29th, 2022
The Crazy Plan To Save Europe By Draining The Mediterranean

As you may have seen from the news, Europe is having a bit of a problem with its energy levels right now. 

Not the kind where the sun’s out and you’ve just opened this bottle of wine and hey, what a perfect time for a nap (I firmly believe the Spanish siesta should immediately be formally adopted by every country of the world). 

Unfortunately, it’s the other kind: the soaring prices of gas and electricity triggered by Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine.

Why Egypt Is Upside-Down (And Why ‘North’ Is All In Our Heads)

July 1st, 2022
Why Egypt Is Upside-Down (And Why ‘North’ Is All In Our Heads)

Have you ever looked at a map of Egypt and wondered, Why is ‘Upper’ at the bottom and ‘Lower’ at the top?

But if you stop to think about it - isn’t that entirely logical? Surely the “upper” part of a river is where it flows from, because water only flows downhill, right? (What kind of camel-trampled fool would argue that water flows upwards?)

If you think this is a strange way to see the world, please turn this assumption on its head (where it actually belongs). Take a glance at medieval maps from the Islamic world and you’ll find what we now call “South” commanding the top of the map - including the one produced in 1154 AD by Arab geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi.

How Sicily Put Dessert First (And Made It Breakfast)

June 3rd, 2022
How Sicily Put Dessert First (And Made It Breakfast)

One of the great joys of travel is encountering what feels to you like a really weird breakfast - a chance to have your expectations challenged, overturned, tidily cleaned away and replaced with something you’ve never thought of facing the day with. 

Being English, wherever I go it’s usually assumed by other folk that I’m wanting an English Breakfast, a big plate groaning with greasy, glistening protein and carbohydrates: sausage, mushroom, bacon, potato of some kind, fried tomato, beans, toast, and that eternal mystery to non-Brits, the slice of black pudding (pork or beef blood & fat - which actually ounds a lot wore than it tastes).

I’m very much in the minority with my fellow Brits, but to me, this is more a recipe for misery than one for breakfast.

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