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Through Savage Europe

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As part of my ambition to visit all the countries of Europe, I’ve lately been travelling through the former Yugoslavia. With hindsight, it seems impossible to believe these seven republics ever existed as part of one state as they have evolved in such different ways in the near-40 years since the death of Tito. The   …Continue Reading


One man can make a difference

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The port of Granville in Normandy, at the foot of the Cherbourg peninsula has been welcoming tourists for a very long time. Its famed carnival, now in its 145th year, brings tens of thousands of people from far and wide in early spring. Even more turn up in summer to sunbathe, swim or sail. There   …Continue Reading


Learning is addictive

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Here in the northern hemisphere, spring is well on the way. At the other end of our planet, autumn is looming. Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to exchange winter for summer on board the Hurtigruten expedition ship Fram, sailing south to Antarctica. It was utterly amazing, even more than I’d expected. See my   …Continue Reading


Birdbrain

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  Squawking seagulls are an inevitable part of seaside life. In my part of Normandy they gather at 06:30 to discuss the coming day before taking to the air to menace holidaymakers, steal abandoned fries and poo on Parisians. I admit a secret admiration for these feisty birds; they always keep a beady eye on   …Continue Reading


Grace under pressure

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The gas arrives in the early morning. Forty tons of liquified natural gas is pumped on board the Viking Grace in the Swedish capital while sleepy foot passengers embark and lorry drivers park up for the long journey ahead. This is the first ferry to be powered by LNG, sailing through the beautiful archipelagos of   …Continue Reading


Highs and lows of a weekend in the Balkans

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The clue is in the name. There are plenty of mountains in Montenegro. To get anywhere you have to negotiate steep mountain roads, frequently with snow in the cooler time of the year. On occasion, there are crash barriers but don’t bank on it. But it’s worth taking your time to marvel at the views,   …Continue Reading


Feeling bleu over cheese

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Charles DeGaulle once asked how could it be possible for anyone to govern a country that has 247 varieties of cheese. Back in the day, it was a treat to sample artisan fromages of all kinds and ponder a suitable wine to accompany them. Now, alas, I am becoming somewhat concerned about the state of   …Continue Reading


Do you accept credit cards in Yugoslavia?

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OK, I’ll admit it, I’m a historian. To a former student of the Habsburg Empire like me, Tito is almost a contemporary character and the war of the 1990s happened yesterday. Although the conflict ended 20 years ago with the Dayton peace agreement. I got a timely lesson in its role for modern Europeans earlier   …Continue Reading


Speaking Welsh in Patagonia

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Ten years ago, with the aid of a small windfall, I splashed some cash on an amazing holiday to South America. I stayed at many unforgettable places in Argentina; not least, the coastal town of Puerto Madryn, named by the first Welsh settlers in 1865. So I was interested to catch up this evening with   …Continue Reading


World-shattering inventions

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Every now and again, journalists compile lists of the most important breakthroughs over the last decade or two. The Internet, antibiotics and the contraceptive pill are usually on the list. Thinking about travel (as I often do), I reckon we should honour the bright spark who first put wheels on suitcases. Remember the bad old   …Continue Reading


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