Travels

2016 – A Retrospective

2016 was a year full of surprises for many people.  Looking back on it, few people – myself included – were sad to see the year end. But then I began going through my photographs of 2016.  I realised that, beyond the year’s horrible headlines, I can look back on some great moments and trips to fascinating […]

Isfahan is half the world!

Isfahan is a highlight of any visit to Iran.  A city of boulevards and bridges, palaces and parks, mosques and minarets, it retains much of its past glory and is famous for its Persian–Islamic architecture.  With a strategic position on the main north–south and east–west routes crossing Iran, the city was once ranked alongside Baghdad […]

Shiraz

Shiraz, in the south of Iran, is known as the city of roses and nightingales.  It’s also renowned for its poets, literature and wine.  Indeed, it’s from Shiraz that the eponymous grape, so beloved of wine drinkers, comes – although under the country’s strict alcohol laws you’d struggle to find any wine on sale here. […]

Yazd

In my first post about Iran I said that there was much more to the country than tiled domes and minarets, and classical Persian architecture in ancient cities surrounded by desert.  This remains true, but the domes, minarets and classical architecture do, of course, exist. Yazd, Esfahan and Shiraz are three places which feature on […]

Le Château de Versailles et ses Jardins

The Palace of Versailles is one of France’s top tourist attractions.  In recent years, internationally renowned artists have been invited to display their works in the palace and its grounds.  In 2016 it was the turn of Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, known for his unusual pieces.  Having not been to Versailles for some time, this […]

Åland

Åland is a group of islands at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia in the Baltic Sea, just 38 km from Sweden and 25 minutes from Stockholm in a small propellor plane.  Home to some 29,000 people, Åland is part of Finland but has autonomous status.  It is the only region in Finland where technically Swedish […]

Iran

Mention Iran and many people will think of classical Persian architecture in ancient cities surrounded by desert.  While such places do of course exist, there is much more to Iran than ‘just’ tiled domes and minarets.  Iran is a big country – 54 times the size of Belgium – and its landscapes incredibly diverse.  From […]

Tajikistan

Tajikistan is a mountainous country nestling in the heart of Central Asia.  Traditionally, it has been at a cultural crossroads and over the millennia has formed part of various empires that have straddled the region.  Over two thousand years ago it came under the sway of the Persian Achamenids before in 336-330 BC falling to […]

Berbera

In ancient times the port of Berbera in Somaliland was known as Malao.  Ships would sail into its harbour on the Gulf of Aden bringing tunics and cloaks, cups, copper and iron and left carrying frankincense, myrrh and cinnamon.  Berbera is also thought to be the town of Bobali, referred to by the 9th-century Chinese […]

Somaliland

When I told people I was going to Somaliland most people thought I meant Somalia and once again assumed I was trotting off to a war zone – something I do not actually do but for which I seem to have acquired a reputation.  In fact, Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1992 but has […]