Marrakech: The spice of nightlife

“THE BEST analogy I can think of is fishing,’ says superstar DJ Pete Tong. ‘You put some hooks out into the crowd and see what they respond to.” We are sitting on a sunny rooftop terrace of the exotic Riad Lotus Ambre in Marrakech, having a lamb tagine lunch and discussing his set at PachaContinue reading “Marrakech: The spice of nightlife”

Mount Sinai: And, lo, there was light

I AM freezing cold, yet pouring with sweat, my heart is banging away as if about to burst and my legs feel like jelly. After three days of battling post-Cairo stomach problems (the details you don’t want to know) I’m already weaker than a decaf latte. And I’m still only 30 minutes into the three-hourContinue reading “Mount Sinai: And, lo, there was light”

Star Clipper: Sail through the centuries

WE TEND to think of the Mediterranean as a small sea, almost a lake. But, when you’re actually on  it, you find it is  a pretty big place. From Gibraltar to Sicily, Alexandria to Dubrovnik, it spans three continents and many countries and cultures. It can turn fierce, sink ships and pummel shores. Or, inContinue reading “Star Clipper: Sail through the centuries”

Milan: Putting on the style

CHECK into the luxurious Principe Di Savoia hotel in Milan and you know you’re somewhere special. In fact, you probably don’t want to check in at all unless you’re sure you can do the sumptuous, over-the-top decor justice. You’ll want shiny-new Italian shoes, this season’s sunglasses and a new haircut. I shudder to think whatContinue reading “Milan: Putting on the style”

China: A Kunming plan

PERHAPS, if I could read it, the graffiti etched into the rocks of Kunming’s Stone Forest might seem less picturesque. For all I know, the beautiful calligraphy is the equivalent of ‘Kilroy was here’. However, for me, the Chinese script merely adds to the charm of this 400sq km ‘forest’ – actually an ancient seabedContinue reading “China: A Kunming plan”

Switzerland: Good, best, Bettmeralp

‘HAVE a pleasant day,’ said my hotelier.  ‘I’d have to work quite hard not to have a pleasant day here,’ was my reply. The quip was light-hearted  but led me to wonder at how much truth there was in it. How exactly would I have a bad day in this remote alpine hideaway? Obviously, theContinue reading “Switzerland: Good, best, Bettmeralp”

France: Land of the Musketeers

WHERE IS the world’s largest brick building? The Cathedral Metropolitana, in Medellin, Colombia? The Qabus tower in Gonbad-e Kavus, Iran? Or Battersea Power Station? All lay claim to it, as well as the Basilica of Albi. Well, having now been to Albi, all I can tell you is that the other contenders are ‘aving aContinue reading “France: Land of the Musketeers”

Beijing: Thronging to see Zedong

THE QUEUE is four wide and stretches endlessly into the distance. We shuffle along at an efficient, if not quick, pace. I’m the only foreigner among the thousands of tourists around me – curious glances are sneaked, the odd stare. We’re waiting to see the embalmed body of China’s most famous son, Mao Zedong, theContinue reading “Beijing: Thronging to see Zedong”

Beirut 2004: The good times roll

AFTER ONLY A few hours in Beirut, you wonder how these wonderfully warm and kind people could ever have fought a bloody civil war so recently. Step outside your hotel and get into a taxi, or just try and cross the road, and that question might answer itself. Whether it’s homicidal or suicidal tendencies, Lebanon’sContinue reading “Beirut 2004: The good times roll”