Living the sweet life in Galicia

In 2007 Lisa Wright left a promising career as a UK ecologist catching protected reptiles and amphibians, and kissing frogs, to move to beautiful green Galicia in northwestern Spain. Her new memoir Plum, Courgette & Green Bean Tart is an engaging mix of anecdotes, letters, recipes and stories from the stunningly beautiful area she now calls home.

Boiling in Berlin

Berlin, I am led to believe by numerous books and websites, has a temperate climate “characterised by moderately warm summers”. Hell, Hades, blazes, a monkey’s bum, an oven, a Carolina Reaper chilli and a dingo’s sphincter, on the other hand, are all generally considered to be extremely hot, and it has honestly never occurred toContinue reading “Boiling in Berlin”

A cruise among the waterlilies on Lake Skadar

The boat chugs out of Virpazar harbour along a reed-fringed channel backed by stands of willow. Dense thickets line each side, blocking any view. The water is dark, cloudy, murky. Lake Skadar, we’re told, is the largest lake in the Balkans, but as yet there is no actual lake to see.

In Finn’s footsteps on the Giant’s Causeway

Stick a geologist in front of the Giant’s Causeway and this is what they’ll say. Sixty million years ago, give or take a week or two, molten lava erupted through the chalk beds of the Irish Channel and formed a huge, bubbling lava field, hundreds of thousands of square kilometres in size.

InterRail – a journey into the past

What were you doing forty years ago this summer? (I will accept the answer ‘not being born yet grandad’). As it happens, I know exactly what I was doing on 11 August 1980 – waiting at Mürren station in the Swiss Alps for the mountain railway and funicular ride down to Interlaken. Memories of thatContinue reading “InterRail – a journey into the past”

Huddersfield – the Naples of the North

Once, on a research trip for the Rough Guide to Italy, I went to a remote hill-town with sensational views from the main square over a summer-parched patchwork of wheat fields below. There was a church, its doors locked, a few dusty side streets, and an old man sitting outside a nearby bar on aContinue reading “Huddersfield – the Naples of the North”

Titanic Belfast – where the story began

Titanic. It’s a famous story, but the bare facts lose their power over time. The last survivors – babies on the voyage – succumbed to old age and not an icy sea, and the Titanic story has largely become one of myth and legend. Fiction intrudes upon memory, so that Leonardo and Kate speak to us – “I’ll never let go, Jack” – in a way the actual passengers never could.

Among the ruins in the Lost City of Stari Bar, Montenegro

The Montenegrin Pompeii, some call it – crumbling houses facing streets that go nowhere; sketchy foundations that refuse to give up their mystery; wild flowers spreading through heaped stones; and empty windows framing isolated walls and distant views.

The Bernina Express – Europe’s greatest train ride

NEW VIDEO! To see Europe’s greatest train ride in under 4 minutes, check out my new video – filmed on the Bernina Express on 30 July 2019. The greatest train ride in Europe starts under the cavernous vaults of Zürich’s main railway station, where the 7.07am to Chur is about to depart. Grab a breakfastContinue reading “The Bernina Express – Europe’s greatest train ride”

Over & out – Milan, via the Bernina Pass

Stazione Centrale, Milan – 1,558 miles, and the end of the trip Day 8 of my big summer train trip around Europe finishes in Milan, after a thrilling ride on the Bernina Express train from Zürich that travels right across the roof of the Alps. All I can say is – wow, what a finish!Continue reading “Over & out – Milan, via the Bernina Pass”

In & out – Liechtenstein & Zürich

Sargans Bahnhof – 1,374 miles into the trip Day 7 of my big European summer train trip means I spent Night 6 on the train. On the face of it, taking the night train from Zagreb to Zürich seems both like an incredibly odd yet romantically adventurous thing to do – pick two random EuropeanContinue reading “In & out – Liechtenstein & Zürich”

In & out – Zagreb

Zagreb Glavni Kolodvor – 840 miles into the trip Day 6 of my round-Europe train trip – 9 countries in total, from Germany to Switzerland via a very roundabout route – puts me in Zagreb, capital of Croatia. It’s a lazy two-and-a-half hour trundle along the river from Ljubljana, but I saw precious little ofContinue reading “In & out – Zagreb”

In & out – Bratislava

Bratislava-Petrzalka – 520 miles into the trip Day 4 – and, frankly, it’s too hot to blog – too hot to breathe – let alone travel to Bratislava, but needs must when you have promised to cover every station en route from Berlin to Milan. And this blog won’t write itself, so here goes. MindContinue reading “In & out – Bratislava”

In & out – Prague

Praha Hvalni Nadrazi – 217 miles into the trip Day 2 of my round-Europe summer train trip and it’s Prague, capital of the Czech Republic – half of what used to be Czechoslovakia if you’re reading this in black and white and smoking Soviet-era roll-ups, also Stag Party capital of Europe and purveyor of devilishlyContinue reading “In & out – Prague”

How to get your new book noticed and reviewed

It’s easier than it’s ever been to write a book and get it published. First, you write a book. And then second, you publish it on Amazon or another platform of your choice, with a minimal amount of formatting work and couple of clicks. It’s that easy. Even I did it, with Takoradi to the stars (via Huddersfield).

A week on Windermere – 7 ideas for seeing England’s largest lake

Taken at face value – 10 miles long, not very wide, not very deep – and England’s largest lake, Windermere, doesn’t seem too impressive. But it’s the biggest we’ve got, and it’s extremely beautiful, set within the stunning Lake District National Park.

Travel writers – scourge of the planet?

On Friday 24 May, a record number of flights took to the skies over the UK – more than 9,000 planes in the air in 24 hours (the same day, incidentally, that schoolchildren around the world staged their latest climate strike). That won’t be the last record broken. But it might be the one that forces you to have a serious conversation with yourself as a traveller or, like me, a travel writer.

No one says ‘mush’ – and other things they don’t tell you about husky sledding

“Hold this” says our guide. “You don’t have to do anything else. The dogs will just run. They follow the ones in front”. Come on, I’ve seen the movies. This doesn’t sound right. “So there’s nothing else I have to do? Don’t I shout – well, you know, ‘mush’ or something?” “If you want”. AudibleContinue reading “No one says ‘mush’ – and other things they don’t tell you about husky sledding”

6 rules for finding a great local restaurant

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? All you want on your travels is a decent restaurant, where the food’s good, authentic and inexpensive – the kind of place the locals would eat. However, it’s not always so straightforward, and I should know – I’ve spent many years seeking out the best places to eat for my readers,Continue reading “6 rules for finding a great local restaurant”

How to launch an e-book – we’re going to need a lot more white wine

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away I got roped in by my publisher to help with launching Rough Guides as a travel guidebook series in America. I say ‘roped in’. I mean ‘flown to New York, put up in a swanky hotel and asked to drink white wine with beautiful people’.

Sometimes lunch is the only answer

Let’s not worry too much about why I was in Ibiza. Not really my kind of place I’d always thought, until it turned into exactly my kind of place by virtue of the bargain airfare and the promise of some winter sun. Still not really my kind of place I thought as we exited the airport past posters for clubs featuring DJs called things like XXXMixx and not Disco Dave.

Elvis, burgers and Tupelo, Mississippi

Not much moves on a scorching hot summer’s day in downtown Tupelo, Mississippi. Even the tarmac melts, and when there’s a breath of wind it’s like an oven door opening. Which rather makes you wonder where Elvis Presley – whose hometown this was – got the energy to curl his lip, let alone wiggle a hip.