IT LOOKS quiet in Porvoo Old Town. Too quiet. I’m looking at the cathedral that dominates the skyline of this lovely old village of red-ochred wooden houses sprawling down a hillside to the river. Sadly, it was the target of an arson attack in May 2006, which destroyed its roof and damaged its priceless medievalContinue reading “Finland: Porvoo”
IT’S HARD NOT to go to a country from the former Soviet Bloc without a James Bond moment. I had a perfect one on arrival at Yerevan Airport, a pleasing concrete flying saucer of a building. A police officer kept staring at me. Perhaps I should have been a tad more nervous but, despite theContinue reading “Armenia: Taste of the old order”
TAKE a beautiful, old country house in ancient, rolling Kildare parkland, spend millions on extensions, modernisation, spa facilities and an Arnold Palmer golf course and you’re going to have something pretty special.
THE FIRST time I went camping in Brittany, I found the perfect ice-breaker. Having nearly run out of meths for my camping stove, I went around the various chemists in the tiny fishing port of Camaret, showing them the dregs of purple liquid and asking in my rudimentary French if they had anything like it.
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”
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”
‘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”
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”