The Harem. Ugly Beauty. We were standing at the heart of four hundred years of Ottoman intrigue. If I half closed my eyes I saw black eunuchs and concubines, diaphanous fabrics, ewers, jewels, court musicians and the sultan’s dwarves. When I opened them I saw selfie-clicking tourists and tunnels of thick polythene sheeting hiding no-go areas. Not so much the soothing sound of water fountains, … Continue reading Istanbul – Topkapi Palace.
My mum burst out laughing when I told her I was tired. I could almost hear her thinking. ‘You tired? You don’t do anything’. Or as another friend recently put it. ‘How is it going with your walking from tea-shop to tea-shop’? I don’t blame them. I do lead a life of Riley. But sometimes life on the move becomes too much. Our ‘Orient Express’ … Continue reading Grandma’s House In Bran.
When I heard about Budapest’s cafe history I was in pastry heaven. At one time the city was bursting with around five hundred cafe’s. How I wish I’d been able to see it then, before wars and communism changed things so. The cafes were visited by all and sundry. Ordinary folk, at weekends for a spot of the latest news with coffee and cake; while … Continue reading Kávéház in Budapest.
We were hemmed in by one of Cadiz’s narrow old-town streets. The ‘You are Here’ souvenir shop to our right, clothes and shoe shops all around, most of them shuttered. It was four in the afternoon and still siesta time. Wider than some, the street was still slightly claustrophobic; cobbled underfoot, and lined with enormous, seemingly impenetrable arched doorways. We were early and no one … Continue reading ‘Our’ Watchtower in Cadiz.
The only thing Google came up with when I did a quick search of tourist attractions around Buntingford was Royston Cave. ‘Not interested’, I thought, and resigned myself to three weeks of reading books, sorting out Tokyo photos and playing catch up with blog writing. But after a week of damp, mist, and leaden skies I was going a little stir-crazy and suddenly a visit … Continue reading Royston Cave. One Of The Most Mysterious Places In England.
Tokyo’s obsession with cats. ‘Hello Kitty’, cat-ears in pop culture, maneki neko lucky cats, the home of the original cat cafe – Japan is seemingly obsessed with moggies, and Tokyo is no exception. There are temples dedicated to cats. In a small corner at Gotokuji there are hundreds of lucky cat figures, their little arms raised in greeting. Small ones perched on stone ledges, looked … Continue reading Hello Kitty!
‘When they told me were mounting an exhibition of artworks with cheese as the subject I thought there can’t be that many paintings of the yellow stuff’, Oscar, a volunteer at the Stadsmuseum Woerden told me. I thought the same. My interest was piqued. And now, here we both were, he leading and me listening. Everyone knows that cheese and Holland go together. Cheese is … Continue reading I Do Like A Nice Bit Of Cheese…
Breakfast: Omelegg. For a great start to the day, omelettes of every description. Leaving Omelegg, turn right and walk up the Ferdinand Bolstraat to the Albert Cuyp Market, after 350 metres on the right. The best known market in Holland, and with over 260 stalls, possibly the largest day market in Europe. When the fish stalls close down for the day, and the street is … Continue reading Foodie Heaven: A Tour of Amsterdam’s De Pijp.
On a Sunday morning in November I stood on the Magere Brug in Amsterdam, surrounded by the under-tens, waiting for the Sint to roll up on his steamboat. The weather was throwing everything at us: showers, the occasional icy blast and an even more occasional burst of sunshine. The Sint probably wished he’d stayed in Spain, where he spends most of his year, but needs … Continue reading It’s Christmas!
Shelley likened them to ‘moths of which a coffin might have been the chrysalis’. Travelling down the Grand Canal on a vaporetto is wonderful, but the gondola is the ‘crème de la crème‘ of the water craft. To simply sit in one of those beautiful hand-crafted vessels is to feel like royalty. In the sixteenth century there were ten thousand gondolas in Venice. Today the … Continue reading The Gondola.