[…] When a friend of mine, realizing that her last summer of unrestrained pleasure before entering into careerdom was upon her, asked me to take her on an adventure I thought what better place to go for a little culture and excitement than the crossroads between Europe and Asia … Turkey.
Turkey – more than just a good kebab (September 2003)
I have dreamt of moving to Spain – permanently – for a long time. I’ve travelled extensively across the Iberian Peninsula but it’s not as ideal as living there, or at least owning your own property … for long summer holidays or short winter getaways whenever you want. There’s a lot of expat advice about but a good place to start is with something concrete. A browse around the property sites will give you a feel for what’s out there. I’ve used Ideal Property before as it brings together homes and villas available through hundreds of different real estate agents and the map helpfully displays how many homes are listed in each province. The only problem is now, how will I ever decide where to live with so many beatutiful properties to chose from???
To mark the centenary of International Women’s Day events are taking place globally to highlight not only the outstanding achievements of women over the past 100 years but also the work that still needs to be done for women who are desperate to have their voices heard, who are living with the daily threat of violence and rape, or who simpy wish to attend school or control their own fertility.
Omoshiroi ne! A little you tube intro to Nagaskai, my home for two glorious years.
I first read ‘Before Night Falls’ (Antes Que Anochezca, 1992) while studying for my under-grad degree. Then I discovered the movie, and if Javier Bardem, Johnny Depp, Sean Penn and Olivier Martinez (plus a small part by the then unknown Diego Luna) aren’t four reasons-enough to watch the film then there’s also the amazing black and white actual footage of Castro triumphantly entering Havana in 1969. An autobiography of the Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, both paper and celluloid describe vividly his life under the repressive socialist rÃ©gime, his sexual experimentation, stints in and out of prison, the danger and importance in defending freedom of expression and the life-threatening lengths people will go to in order to find liberty.
China’s president Hu Jintao was on a four-day tour of America last week, which was hailed as the most important state visit from China in over 30 years. The Obama adminsitration planned to use this time to heal the rift which has developed between the two world powers, along side raising concerns about nuclear energy and currency protection and broaching the terrible human rights record of the Chinese government, highlighted by the protests outside the White House by supporters of the persecuted Falun Gong and a ‘Free Tibet’ for example.
‘Roma are the largest pan-European minority, with a significant presence in every major European state’ (Oakley 2005, pp.2) existing at ‘a level of destitution almost indescribable’ (Refugee Council 1999, pp.37) and yet until recently they have been largely ignored by European institutions and the international community.
Anybody interested in Japanese culture has read at least one Haruki Murakami novel, and it is likely that one novel would be the emotional and nostalgic Norwegian Wood (1987) – the tale of sex, loss and mental illness that brought Murakami world-wide success.
To read a Japanese newspaper they say you need to know at least 2000 kanji charaters – and more like 4000 if you really want to ‘get it’. I lived in Japan for two years and learnt by heart two of the three alphabets: hiragana – used for basic Japanese words, and katakana – to capture foreign words or ideas. I also committed to memory about 200 kanji – nowhere near enough to read a magazine but I could read roadsigns, bus timetables, and more importantly, menus and cocktail lists.
V!VA, the online travel community that won the 2009 Mashable award for Best Mobile Travel Site, has just released its first iPad and iPhone travel app for Ecuador – on sale for just $9.99, with sample chapters available for free. And you can get more food for your travel thoughts buy reading online interview in PC Mag with Viva’s editor-in-chief, check out Viva’s free online content for countries such as Guatemala, or buy value-for-money PDF chapters for others like Colombia or Nicaragua – all soon to be apps in their own right.
gunpowder treason and plot’, as the children’s rhyme goes.
Bonfire Night is a great night in the UK to get out in the brisk autumn air, mingle with the locals, eat lots of sugary holiday treats (toffee apples, treacle toffee, candy floss) and see some impressive pyrotechnics.
In the spirit of sharing and improving our knowledge, and the world, here’s the beginning of a movie blog to match the book blog.
The first movie I’d like to highlight has just been released this weekend – Africa United: a road movie with a difference. Five kids on a mission to get to the World Cup in South Africa, hitching a ride all the way from Rwanda. Ultimately this is a very uplifting film but it is still very real and manages to tackle some of the heavy issues affecting Africa – the thousands of AIDS orphans, child soldiers, teenage sex workers, internal refugee camps and the DRC, Africa’s heart of darkness. Go support it!
This time last year my boyfriend and I were sitting on a beach in Costa Rica. It was just coming to the end of the rainy season and subsequently there were still relatively few tourists around. Those that were there were surfers, typically North Americans or Europeans, who had rented a room for six months to take advantage of the cheap long-term ‘green season’ rates, the epic waves and the empty beaches. We were also coming to the end of our own six-month trip, during which I’d been working as a freelance travel writer in Ecuador and Guatemala. And Santa Teresa, on the Nicoya peninsular, was the perfect place to stop, re-group and take it all in.
As Eat Pray Love has just opened in the cinemas it got me thinking about all the stories which have made it from printed page to celluloid and how much more I prefer the personal journey found within the smooth cover of a book to the Hollywood interpretations (however much I adore Javier I will not spoil my relationship with a such an irresistible story of philosophical enlightenment, even if it was a little weak in the middle and often too self-conscious).
Magnificent Nunhead Cemetery
London may be known for being one of the most expensive cities in the world but what a lot of people don’t know is that there are loads of totally free activities to fill your days and nights, leaving you with more pennies to save for your next trip. London’s museum and galleries have been free for some time now but there are lots of other cheap, cheerful and less-well known attractions just waiting to be discovered. So here it is: an insider’s top five tip-off to get you started (and when you’ve got through these, pick up one of the many free newspapers given out on the underground to give you even more ideas).
Japanese origami peace cranes
When I was 12 I got myself a pen friend, through an old school pen and paper pen pal club. Befitting of my then burgeoning obsession with karate (due to having watched the original Karate Kid) I chose a Japanese girl to befriend.
Here are three great courses coming up on travel writing and photography in London this
autumn (info brought to you by Travellers’ Tales):
– BRADT WRITING SEMINAR
One-day introduction to writing travel articles and guidebooks, with speakers
from Bradt Travel Guides. September 26.
Travel photography for beginners, with the editor of Outdoor Photography
magazine. Choose one day or all weekend. November 13 & 14.
Antigua, Guatemala, may not be at the top of just anyone’s must-visit list but the fact is it should be at the top of yours, especially if you’re a discerning foodie also partial to a fine tipple. In 1997 Antigua became the first ever designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, an accolade it well-deserves. The setting is stunning: surrounded by the lush green peaks of the Agua and Fuego volcanoes (the latter occasionally letting out a sigh of smoke), the evocative cobblestone streets and tended ruins (homage to the tenacity of the inhabitants who survived and rebuilt the city after numerous earthquakes throughout the 1700s), the Maya in bright traditional dress with their horse-drawn carts around the plaza central reminiscent of a simpler time, all this comes together to create a fairy tale-like setting where the pressures of reality seem suspended. And within this oasis of calm you’re free to wander and discover the hundreds of gastronomic gems. In fact, there’s a different restaurant here for every day of the week so you are literally spoilt for choice. However, if you only had a week these are five of the best you should not miss.