A new look for 501 Places in 2014

2013 was a quiet year on 501 Places. I barely published 30 posts in the whole year and anyone who was paying attention and cared would be forgiven for thinking that the site was in terminal decline. Wednesday marks a new year and with it, an excuse to start afresh with new enthusiasm for this […]

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 […]

2013 – a year of travel, near and far

19 countries, 22 flights and around 100 nights away from home – whichever way I look at it 2013 has been my busiest ever year of travel. Most of my travels were made on the back of pre-commissioned work, but a few were done just for fun (because everyone needs a holiday). My wife Sam […]

A guide to free toilets in London

Having visited London quite literally hundreds of times in recent years and being cursed with a well-documented weak bladder, I’ve often been caught short on my trips around the city. Central London is a haven of presentable and reasonably hygienic toilets and there’s absolutely no reason why you’d ever need to pay any money to […]

Taxi drivers and the inevitable ‘tourist tax’

Almost every foreign trip is going to involve taking a taxi at some point. It’s also true that wherever you go, there’s a high chance that you’ll step out of at least one taxi knowing that you’ve paid too paid for the ride. Taxi drivers appear to have an exemption from the universal code of […]

13 universal truths of travel

1. Hotel shower bottles are designed to be enough for exactly 0.8 showers. 2. You will always get the seat behind the compulsive recliner. 3. Your bag will be first off the conveyor belt on the one occasion you have several hours to waste before your connecting flight. 4. The length of the hotel check-in […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Painting a picture with a thousand words

I’m forever fascinated by the crowds that gather at popular tourist places and the combined obsession with taking thousands of photos of pretty much the same thing. Was it really like this back in the days of film, when 2 rolls of 36 photos would last for a fortnight’s holiday and even allow a token […]