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…

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]