DUBROVNIK: WANTED, DEAD OR ALIVE

Dubrovnik is sometimes described as a “living museum”, where its people live alongside one of Europe’s most stunning medieval walled cities. Naturally, locals commuting to work, doing the school run or their weekly shop may seldom pause to admire the finer points of the old town’s baroque architecture or even its picturesque location, squashed between […]

The scars of war

There can be few places where the scars of the Bosnian War remain so evident today: buildings pocked with bullet holes, split by shells or shorn of their roofs, and the quaint old town, with its iconic medieval bridge, looks as sparkling new as a Vegas imitation. Of course, the immediate aftermath of the Bosnian […]

Ti(p)toeing around the issue

The polished marble of Tito’s tomb is as flawless as his legacy in the eyes of those Yugoslavia nostalgics who are still sprinkled liberally across the lands of the former Socialist Federal Republic. The tomb is set within an oasis of tranquillity, flanked by lush vegetation within a mausoleum that in turn nestles within genteel […]

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 […]

Caving in to time

Every day for some thirty years an orthodox monk had lived and prayed in that cave carved into the cliffs at Old Orhei, Moldova. But the day we visited he was not at home. “I’ve no idea where he is, it’s only the second time this has ever happened”, my guide, Slava, explained sheepishly as, […]

When is a catacomb not a catacomb?

You could walk from London to Edinburgh and back (twice!) in the time it would take to explore the entirety of Odessa’s underground tunnel network. But you wouldn’t need a hard hat, or pass through a Soviet cold war bunker, or walk the plank over roughly hewn, slippery stone, or admire underground street art or […]

Squaring up to history

Kiev’s iconic Independence Square was naturally the focal point earlier this year when a young democracy celebrated 30 years of independence. And worthy of celebration it was too given the obstacles overcome during this period. There has been continued interference from Russia (most notably the annexation of Crimea in 2014), described as “the worst aggressor […]

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 […]

Lviv is authentic

Lviv is authentic. The past is not preserved; the past just is. It crumbles around you in random constellations as it once did in Europe’s other great medieval cities, the Lisbons and Pragues of this world, before the tourists flooded in and beautification works commenced. Granted tourist dollars bring improved infrastructure, fancier restaurants and a […]