There’s snow debate about Sarajevo in the winter

Visiting Sarajevo in mid-winter may mean that your toes go numb and your cheeks flush with the cold, but the snow-covered mountains form a magical backdrop for exploring this fascinating city: for a stroll across the triple-arched stone bridge opposite where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot, triggering the chain of events that led to WWI; […]

Catia Sophia

Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia may have been the most magnificent orthodox basilica in the Byzantine Empire, crowned with a stunning dome centuries before they were used in the western Catholic church, and subsequently one of the most important mosques in the Ottoman Empire, but in recent years felines have stolen some of the limelight. Gli, a […]

Black Sea is not plain to see

On first contact with the Black Sea I was disappointed to discover that the water is not really black! That said, when I returned on a gloomier day the name naturally seemed more appropriate. The reality is that the precise etymology is subject to debate and may not reflect the Sea’s colour at all. Theories […]

Orava Castle, Slovakia

Built in the thirteenth century in response to Tatar raids, this stunning castle has a colourful history, but, as tends to happen when Hollywood scatters its stardust, it is better-known as a film location. Various scenes from Nosferatu, the first-ever Dracula movie, were shot here in 1922, with castle exteriors doubling for Dracula’s Castle in […]

The pagan strikes back

If you take a photo in Vilnius’ main square from a certain angle, it appears that the bronze statue of Grand Duke Gediminas (1316-1341), Lithuania’s most celebrated medieval ruler, is smiting the Cathedral’s bell tower with his sword. A cheap trick perhaps but one that is apt for one of Europe’s last great pagan rulers, […]

Tallinn 2021

The past oozes out from between the bricks in Tallinn’s ancient city wall; it clacks along with the feet ascending steep cobblestoned streets to viewpoints overlooking the red-tiled roofs and turrets of the old town; and it flutters proudly from watchtowers and palaces, a horizontal triband of blue, black and white. According to the most […]

Photostory: through younger eyes

Village of Tchikala, Angolan Highlands, 2009. This welcome from the village kids was as refreshing as the temperate climate, a welcome respite from the confused furnace of Luanda where we lived and worked behind heavily-guarded Embassy walls, meeting only those Angolans who worked in government or for NGOs. I had come here with my Ambassador […]

Photostory: ship cemetery

Summer 2010. Praia de Santiago, Angola, otherwise known as shipwreck beach for obvious reasons! Over thirty boats lie stricken at varying tilts and states of corrosion, from petrol tankers to cargo vessels, making it the largest ship cemetery in the world by some counts. Some local fishermen told me it was really a giant aquatic […]

Photostory #13

River Douro, Porto. For centuries, these rabelo boats brought barrels of wine to Porto’s cellars from vineyards up the River Douro. In the 1700s, English merchants added brandy to fortify wine for shipping to England, inadvertently inventing the sweeter, stronger Port wine. English brand names like Taylor’s, still emblazoned on Port bottles and riverside cellars, […]

Photostory #12

Cēsis Castle, Latvia, 2016. One of the largest mass suicides in European history took place here in 1577 when 300 defenders blew themselves up to avoid capture by the brutal Muscovite forces of Ivan the Terrible besieging the castle.