Malta: Knights’ Treasure

FROM my restaurant terrace, I can look out over Grand Harbour towards the fortifications of Valletta. Intimidating even now, in the age of aerial assault and cruise missiles, the massive walls must have seemed impregnable when they were first built. Made of the same honeyed sandstone as the island of Malta itself, they grow organically out of the rock. It is hard to believe they are the work of mere men and best not to think of the suffering endured by the slaves who built them here under the searing Mediterranean sun. Continue reading “Malta: Knights’ Treasure”

Morocco: Imperial Cities

IT IS always easy to get lost in Fes. The narrow alleys lined with shops at the center of the medina give way to even narrower cobbled paths that meander, take sudden right-angled turns or end suddenly at a wall. Of course I can ask anyone for directions and they will happily point me the way or even show me to my door – perhaps at the cost of a detour to their cousin’s shop. A cousin who will not take “no” for an answer. “If I didn’t try to sell a carpet to everyone who says they do not want one, I would never sell a carpet,” as one salesman says. Continue reading “Morocco: Imperial Cities”

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, in its more usual calm mood, it can be one of the most idyllic places on Earth. Continue reading “Star Clipper: Sail through the centuries”