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Why the City of London is an open history book

I’ve mentioned this before on this site, but the history you can uncover with even a minimal effort on a walk through London never ceases to surprise me. Take last week for example… We popped into the church of St Martins Within Ludgate, just down from St Paul’s Cathedral, to admire one of the few surviving […]

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Lake Bled and a memory of never-ending rain

Lake Bled is a place where it never stops raining. At least that’s the way it will appear in my mind whenever I hear or read about it. It was pouring with rain when we boarded the bus in Ljubljana last month; it was raining even harder when we arrived in Bled. By the time […]

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Skopje – dazzling capital or monumental folly?

Take a walk for the first time through central Skopje and you’re bound to scratch your head in bewilderment. Mammoth statues of warriors adorn the main public spaces, while neo-classical palaces dominate the banks of the Vardar river. Figures of dozens of poets, musicians and artists line the bridges and embankments. And the bulldozers and […]

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An unremarkable bus journey through northern Kosovo

As border crossing go, it was one of the quickest I’ve ever encountered. A burly policeman boarded the bus, shook hands with the driver, exchanged a few jokes with the passengers at the front and left, waving us through. We had crossed from Serbia to Kosovo or, according to the border police and every one […]

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Erm, erm, erm… Mr President

It’s not every day you address the person sitting across the table from you as Mr President. Neither is it every day that you interview a man for whose freedom you marched as a teenager. Whether or not these are sufficient reasons to explain my bumbling questioning of Lech Wałęsa, Poland’s first democratically-elected president after […]

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Lübeck, York and the Baedeker Raids

What links the German city of Lübeck, a well-known guidebook and the several of England’s more attractive cities? Wandering around Lübeck recently I was struck by the way the city has been so comprehensively rebuilt since the end of the war.  As with much of central Europe Lübeck was not spared the ravages of war and […]

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On the trail of the Tatars in Poland

Drive through many of the villages in the north east of Poland and the eerie silence might lead you to believe there is no-one left to tend the miles of flat farmland, stretching beyond the horizon in every direction. A handful of ramshackle wooden homes occupy well-defined plots along either side of the road. An […]

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Knocking on doors in search of a good story

I’m sure many writers will identify with this. Your story gets published and while you might be pleased with the finished article there’s something that the readers will never know: that what you’ve shared with the reader is only half of the story. Indeed the untold back story to an article is often more illuminating […]

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Topless in Montenegro: a convertible calamity

Driving a convertible had never appealed to me. I’m more inclined to cast disparaging glances at those who ‘go topless’ in their otherwise mundane family cars. I smile at the thought of how much extra they’ve paid just to be able to enjoy the wind messing up their hair on the two or three hot […]

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Taken for a ride: the price of top tourist attractions

  People travel thousands of miles to see the world’s top tourist attractions. When they arrive they are hardly likely to be deterred by an overpriced entrance ticket. With this in mind, is it reasonable for tourism chiefs to charge any amount they can get away with, or is there any benefit in providing a […]

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