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The Balkan surprise

I spent much of last year in the Balkans. Before April 2013, I’d never set foot in the region in my life (bar Greece, which I’ve never really seen as Balkan). And, looking back, I loved it. More than I ever thought I would. Back in 2007, when I first visited Europe, I thought I’d […]

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View from the Office Days 61-70

By mid-June it had well and truly hotted up in the Balkans. I was travelling at a rate of knots; Bosnia, Serbia and Bulgaria in successive days is just one example of how many kilometres I was clocking up. My four nights in Greece every fortnight was sort of like a mini-holiday; sure I was […]

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View from the Office Days 51-60

By this stage, I was settling into a bit of a rhythm out in the Balkans. Only two protests had threatened to shut down the entire respective cities of Sofia and Istanbul. The Albanian elections had gone relatively smoothly – I stress the word ‘relatively’. Better yet, I hadn’t lost anyone and my groups had […]

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And then they stole our towels

‘Nah, nah, there’s no nudity. You get a towel, yeah, you definitely get a towel.’ And with that ringing endorsement, I talked five relative strangers into accompanying me to the Cemberlitas Hamami in downtown Istanbul. When I call them relative strangers, I suppose that’s not entirely true. I’d known them for a total of six […]

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View from the Office Days 31-40

I had a goal this year on the road. For every day worked, I would post a picture online, entitled ‘View from the Office’. I did it. I published 173 photos this year, with my office ranging from a San Sebastian pintxos bar to a Sarajevo bazaar. On only a couple of occasions did I […]

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Getting naked in public

Hamam. Onsen. Sauna. Bath. To some, they are words associated with indulgence and luxury. To others though, they are reason for white-knuckled panic. For one main reason. You have to get naked. In public. Most Westerners freak out at the very thought of parading around in nothing but a birthday suit, myself initially included. The […]

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The Trojan horse

I am somebody who loves her history. I love discovering ‘old’ tidbits which make the world today make a bit more sense, and appreciating remnants which have withstood time. However, I’m also someone who doesn’t have a particularly good sense of imagination. This is one of the principal reasons why I don’t like cartoons or […]

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Lest we forget

Just two weeks after I visited World War I’s Western Front, I travelled almost three thousand kilometres to the Eastern Front. The plains and farmhouses of Flanders were replaced with hills and beaches. If you weren’t already told, it would be hard to believe that these two areas were the major stages of the Great […]

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Turkish delights

We always swear that we would never do it again. Yet we do, and constantly end up disappointed. We all do it, even though we scoff at others who do. And we know it won’t be worth it. I’m talking about following guidebook restaurant recommendations. Istanbul is widely known as one of the most picturesque […]

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The land of the giant flag

I’ve been to some countries which are quite proud of themselves. I actually live in one at the moment; one of my favourite sayings Paul says repeatedly is “As a finishing touch, God created the Dutch.” But I had never been to a country with so many flags until I visited Turkey. And not little […]

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