Skopje: where crime sometimes pays

The last time I was in Skopje, I had come to persuade the Macedonian interior minister to sign up to a trans-Balkan action plan for tackling organised crime to be launched at a ministerial conference in London. This time, many years on, the only crimes in evidence were a most curious and incongruous collection of […]

Kosovo: a friend indeed

I cannot claim it to be universal law, but I often find the friendliness and hospitality of a country’s inhabitants to be inversely proportionate to their recent troubles. So it was when I snuck behind Burma’s iron curtain in 2005 where, despite (or because of) the brutal military rule, the locals were overjoyed to see […]

Kotor

Arriving into Kotor by night, dizzy from sharp turns around the shores of the narrow, fjord-like bay that winds inland from the Adriatic, I was puzzled to see a yellow halo hanging overhead. At daybreak, the mystery was soon solved: the ‘halo’ became gravity-defying fortifications slung down the steep mountainside behind town from a small […]

Country 7: Belgium

As I close in on 100 countries visited in a lifetime of roaming… I’m retracing my route… What could I say about Belgium back then?… I left pretty much as I had arrived, with a jumble of impressions…

Country 6: Greece

As I close in on 100 countries visited in a lifetime of roaming… I’m retracing my route… A family holiday in Crete gave free reign to a young mind that had been devouring Greek mythology…

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 […]