Alps. Alsace-Lorraine. Auvergne. Bordeaux. Burgundy. Corsica. Côte d’Azur.
Massif Central. Normandy.
Paris. Provence. Pyrenees. Strasbourg.
Emilia-Romagna. Florence. Milan. Northern Italy. Rome. Sardinia. Sicily. Tuscany. Venice.
Austria. Belgium. Czech Republic. France. Germany. Hungary. Liechtenstein. Luxembourg. Monaco. Netherlands. Switzerland.
European Russia. Poland. Slovakia. Slovenia.
Denmark. Finland. Greenland. Iceland. Norway. Sweden.
Baltic Russia. Estonia. Latvia. Lithuania.
Albania. Bulgaria. Croatia. Cyprus. Greece. Malta. Macedonia. Moldova. Montenegro. Romania. Serbia. Turkey
Recent European articles
- Taking Tea and the Waters at the Pump Room, Bath, England - You’d think after a lifetime of drinking tea I’d be undeterred by thorny problems of etiquette. But here in the elegant, eighteenth-century Pump Room in Bath I’m suddenly overcome by nerves. Because, as anyone who’s ever picked up a Regency romance — let alone gone within touching distance of a Jane Austen novel — will [...]
- Re-visiting Sir Walter Scott at Abbotsford in the Scottish Borders - I had to read Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe at school and vowed never to open one of his books again. So what am I doing visiting Abbotsford, his house in the Scottish Borders? It’s re-opened to the public after a refurbishment (the Queen did the honors on July 4th 2013) and it’s only a slight [...]
- Following the Roman Legions Along Hadrian’s Wall - As I left the car park at the side of Cawfields Quarry, I was glad of the breeze, for the day promised to be hot. I followed the footpath along the pond’s edge, past the tall quarry face and gently uphill to the walls of Milecastle 42. The section of Hadrian’s Wall through which I [...]
- Stepping Back in Time in the Almshouses and Beguinages of Bruges, Belgium - I must be honest. I’d never heard of a beguinage (or begijnhof, in Flemish) until I came to Bruges. Somehow the concept passed me by in my preliminary pass through the guidebook: I was too busy getting excited about bell towers, boat trips and windmills. And even the friend who comes to show us round [...]
- Imagining the Lives of the Harem Women at Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace - The surroundings are stunning. Sumptuous Ottoman architecture, Moorish arches, and Iznik tile mosaics. This was where the Sultan lived with his numerous wives, children and concubines, and I am trying to imagine what it must have been like to live here. In Your Bucket Because… The architecture and interior decoration are magnificent. You will gain [...]
- Attending the Traditional Cart Marking Ceremony in London, England - What do Montgomery’s Rolls Royce and a butcher’s handcart have in common? They appeared in a London ritual dating back to 1667: Cart Marking. The first time I heard the name of this ceremony — Cart Marking Under the Worshipful Company of Carmen — I admit wondering who Carmen was. We now call them truck [...]
- Discovering the City of Bruges (Brugge), Belgium, by Boat - “Where are you from?” roars the boat’s captain into the microphone. He rattles out our various nationalities. French, Flemish, Dutch, Welsh, Scottish, Turkish, Spanish. “No Germans?” he bellows. “Excellent!” And then to ease our collective wince he sighs: “My German is not good.” So. We have a character as guide and captain on our boat [...]
- Appreciating Chippendale Furniture at Dumfries House, Ayrshire, Scotland - If it hadn’t been for Prince Charles, we wouldn’t be walking through the grounds of Dumfries House. In 2007, the House and its extensive grounds were put up for sale by the owner, the 7th Marquess of Bute. The Prince heard of this and, realizing the importance of the house to British heritage, rallied various [...]
- Spinning Yarns at New Lanark, Scotland - We stood at the top of the slope and gazed down at the grey sandstone buildings nestling in the valley along the banks of the river Clyde. We could hear the water far below rushing from the Falls of Clyde past the village and through the trees onwards to the city of Glasgow. It was [...]
- Seeking the Birds of Portugal’s Castro Verde Steppe - Jorge, our guide, certainly knew where to find the birds. And when. He had convinced us to abandon the comforts of our hotel at 7 am, and had negotiated with the management to provide us with a packed breakfast to bring with us. In the early morning light, even the white storks nesting on the [...]
- Paying Homage to King James V at Stirling Castle, Scotland - It’s the color that strikes us at first. How could sixteenth century Scotland be so full of color? Even on this dull, rainy day (dreich as the Scots call it) the outside of the Great Hall of Stirling Castle is a luminous cream. One of the many guides explains that it was painted thus so [...]
- Shopping for Masks and Crafts in Venice’s San Polo - “Bellissima,” he exclaims as I look into the mirror he holds for me. “Better than without the mask?” I retort and we both laugh. The mask maker is trying to help me solve my problem with any mask. I wear glasses, so unless it’s thin and close-fitting enough to wear the glasses over, I risk [...]
- Shopping for Glass on Venice’s Island of Murano - “Signor, signor,” the voice and running footsteps followed us alongside the canal. We turned to see the man from the glass shop we’d just left. “Il prezzo sta bene!” Resignation infused his voice, expression and gesture as he said it – “the price is OK.” We were already several doors down the fondamente, my husband [...]
- Walking Beside the Orange Trees at Córdoba’s Alcazar - The gardens of Córdoba’s Alcazar may be smaller than those of rival palaces in Seville and Granada, but they are still impressive. Even in the rain. I had walked through Córdoba’s UNESCO listed historic centre, from the magnificent La Mezquita and through little winding streets where Spanish culture vies with Moorish influences to create an [...]
- Birdwatching on the Estuaries of Portugal’s Alentejo Coast - We spotted our first birds within half-an-hour of leaving Lisbon Airport. Crossing over the Tagus estuary on the 17.2 km Vasco da Gama Bridge, the longest in Europe, we gazed over a vast area of mud flats, dotted with waders too distant to identify. On reaching the eastern bank, however, we detoured onto ever narrowing [...]
- Crossing Jersey’s Intertidal Reef to the Seymour Tower - Along the south-east coast of Jersey, stretching from St Helier to Gorey, the seabed is so shallow that at low tide an area of 17.5 square kilometres becomes exposed, making this one of the largest intertidal reefs in the world. Because of this, the area was declared a wetland of international importance in 2000, under the [...]
- Sailing to Les Ecrehous in the English Channel in the Early Morning - As the boat slowly sailed past the St Catherine’s breakwater, on the north-east corner of Jersey, a small flock of Brent geese, winter visitors from the Arctic, took off ahead of us. Clearing the breakwater, our skipper, Richard, revved the motor, sending the inflatable leaping over the first wave and crashing down beyond it, shooting [...]
- Sleeping like Monks in the Caves of Goreme in Cappadocia - As an independent traveler, it happens every so often: You find yourself walking beside a road in the middle of the desert, cars whizzing by you with little regard, no more than a bottle of water and a book in your bag. It was that way one afternoon in middle of Turkey as I made [...]
- Ferrying to the Princes’ Islands in Istanbul - On the ferries to Princes’ Islands, I would always drink copious amounts of tea. Waiters with dangling trays roamed up and down the decks touting chai for less than a dollar, delivering a tear-drop Turkish tea cup on a little glass saucer, complete with spoon and paper-wrapped sugar cube. Usually, I’d buy a simit, a [...]
- Crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northeast Wales - From my vantage point in the field below, the structure rising from the riverbed looks like a bridge—a magnificent one, certainly, with graceful 200-year-old stone and iron arches. But wait a minute and an incongruous sight appears: A boat slowly making its way across the span, barely keeping pace with pedestrians walking alongside it. How [...]