My five favourite spots in Reykjavik

Reykjavik's rugged inhabitants deal with constant volcanic activity along with earthquakes, avalanches and even and occasional glacial flood

My five favourite spots in ReykjavikI spent three exhilarating days in Reykjavik, Iceland, a self-reliant city whose rugged inhabitants deal with constant volcanic activity along with earthquakes, avalanches and an occasional glacial flood thrown in to keep them alert. Geothermal heat provides inexpensive, reliable, and environmentally safe energy. Seventy drill holes varying in depth from 500 to 2,000 metres provide…

Christmas in Germany

German Christmas markets, a kaleidoscope of colors and lights, are street markets that are usually held in town squares and spill over into adjacent pedestrian zones

Christmas in GermanyGerman Christmas markets, a kaleidoscope of colors and lights, are street markets that are usually held in town squares and spill over into adjacent pedestrian zones. While there are Christmas markets all over Europe, the tradition in Germanic speaking parts of Europe seems to go back to the Middle Ages. The markets generally coincide with…

Sampling Trappist Monastery beers in Belgium

If you don't know it already, beer and Belgium go together

Sampling Trappist Monastery beers in BelgiumIf you don't know it already, beer and Belgium go together. Trappist Monastery beers are a unique and terrific little sub-set of Belgian beers, and you could set up a great Belgium tour to include sampling what the monks so lovingly produce. The Trappist monks have been brewing these beers for centuries. Six of Belgium's…

Taking a broader, ecological view of Venice

How many of us think of the Venetian lagoon and its imperilled circumstances when we imagine a trip to Piazza San Marco?

Taking a broader, ecological view of VeniceVenice has been a feast of art, archaeology and escape for tourists since it began to attract them in the 15th and 16th centuries. But it is under attack. One of the world’s first cities to be founded almost exclusively on the conduct of financial transactions, its promotion of mercantile capitalism led the way to…

The Algarve: Portugal’s magnificent beach of a south coast

Imagine golden sand, 25C with a blue sky in May, and the cleanest blue-green ocean you’ve ever seen. Add boardwalks stretching for kilometres and fabulous food

The Algarve: Portugal’s magnificent beach of a south coastImagine golden sand, 25C with a clear blue sky in May, and the cleanest blue-green ocean you’ve ever seen. Add boardwalks that stretch for kilometres across salt marshes and sand dunes. Every so often, include colonies of beach lounge chairs, arrayed under stretched blue canvas canopies. Add swirls of swallows and gulls above, and cue…

Travels and hikes in Italy’s mini Canada

The shared borders with France and Switzerland have clearly contributed to a multilingual society in this very northern and beautiful corner of Italy

Travels and hikes in Italy’s mini CanadaNewly retired and eager to explore some new territory, I admit I knew nothing of the Italian Alps. We flew into Switzerland, and then drove south through the 11-plus km of the Mont Blanc Tunnel into northern Italy. We were with old friends who know the area well because they have a son who lives…

The Bohemian jewel in Europe’s glittering crown

Český Krumlov often catches the first-time visitor by surprise, arousing a feeling of wondrous awe

The Bohemian jewel in Europe’s glittering crownThe child in all of us yearns for a magical land where we can hide away from all our cares – places like Camelot, or Brigadoon, or Shangri-La., or Český Krumlov. Český Krumlov? Graced with a name that to the North American ear sounds like a suppressed sneeze, this medieval town in the South Bohemian…

Travelling with Greta Thunberg in mind

Living with your environmental choices and the ones others make for you while on the road

Travelling with Greta Thunberg in mindWe must reckon with the environmental impacts of our personal travel decisions in this time of climate crisis. For us, it was our current trip – to hike in northern Italy with friends, just after my wife’s retirement and, coincidentally, climate activist Greta Thunberg’s trip to New York from Sweden on a sailboat – that…

A fine deception at a fine Paris hotel

It doesn’t do to embarrass oneself in front of the waiter in the lobby bar of the Four Seasons George V hotel

A fine deception at a fine Paris hotelWhen we were dating, my wife-to-be made the mistake of mentioning that it would be nice to stay in the Four Seasons George V hotel with me in Paris. I took this idle chat as a mission. Twenty years went by, but I remembered my assignment. I had some business in Geneva and suggested that…

Five of the best castle stays in Scotland

Five of the best castle stays in ScotlandThere's no more Scottish an image than that of a castle surrounded by swirling mist, and most of Scotland's castles ooze a colourful and turbulent history ... the stuff of swashbucklers, legends and ghost stories. All the classic imagery can be found in abundance: secret passageways, spiral staircases, dungeons, haunted rooms, four-poster beds, old oil…

Everything you’ve ever heard about Paris is true

But like a flirtatious mistress, she will drive you to distraction while capturing your soul

Everything you’ve ever heard about Paris is trueEverything you’ve ever heard about Paris is true: Expensive. Unfriendly. Grimy. Noisy. Gaudy. Congested. So why do I ache with longing whenever I hear the name? And why do I spend every cent I can spare to fly there again and again when there are a thousand-and-one other places in the world I’ve yet to…

Riding in Riccione and the unsurpassable beauty of Tuscany

The beauty and hospitality of Italy soon becomes apparent whether astride a bicycle or driving down its twisting, narrow country roads

Riding in Riccione and the unsurpassable beauty of TuscanyThe Most Serene Republic of San Marino is located in the middle of Italy. At 62 square km, it's one of the smallest nations in the world. Although only a few dozen kilometres from Italy’s Adriatic Coast, San Marino’s summit is almost 800 metres above sea level. And crowning this mountainous micro-state is the medieval…

Overwhelmed in Rome, overfed in Matera

Basking in the splendour, charm and hospitality of southern Italy, particularly when you wander off the beaten track

Overwhelmed in Rome, overfed in MateraOn a lonely country road near Ostuni, in the province of Puglia – the heel of Italy’s boot – I stopped to photograph a field of poppies in an olive grove. After a few happy snaps, I jumped back in the car and motored on. Fifteen minutes later, I reached for my daypack and realized…

Onwards to St. Michael’s Mount, across fields and marsh

We had a destination draped in history and instructions on how to get there offered with a smile and pride of place

Onwards to St. Michael’s Mount, across fields and marshWe were on foot on our first morning in Cornwall, walking from the tiny village of Ludgvan in search of St. Michael’s Mount. At Crowlas, we turned right onto the motorway headed to Penzance. A narrow paved footpath followed the right side of the road, which cut through the green fields on either side of…