Posts from the “Travel Writing” Category

Palmyra

Posted on February 8, 2012

“Not been to Palmyra?” said my friend with incredulity. “How long have you been coming to Syria?” I muttered something inaudible and left trying to hide my embarrassment. I had travelled all over this beautiful country but had never visited its most important historical site. With an empty weekend approaching, I had no excuse this time. Two days later, we leave the swarming suburbs of Damascus behind us and veer eastwards towards the Syrian Desert, a vast expanse of uninhabitable land. A road sign indicates Palmyra, Deir ez Zhor and Iraq and the landscape suddenly changes to scrubland and high plateaux. A vast limestone steppe stretches to the horizon. The road is remarkably quiet with only a few, heavily laden trucks heading for the…

Bulgarian Etiquette

Posted on February 5, 2012

There are some basic essentials you need to learn before going to Bulgaria. Nodding means no and shaking ones head means yes. This can be an endless source of embarrassment as I discovered to my chagrin when emerging from the swimming pool shower at the Sofia Princess, clad only in a miniscule towel. A large, buxom lady in a white coat accosted me and insisted that I have a massage. In my panic, I kept shaking my head, which encouraged her to try and drag me into her cubicle. There followed a tug of war with the towel in my endeavour to preserve my vanity and I was only rescued when a small, elderly Japanese gentleman replied to her advances by bowing and nodding…

The London Dungeon

Posted on February 1, 2012

If you want to walk in the footsteps of Jack the Ripper, London’s most notorious serial killer, sit in Sweeny Todd’s infamous barber’s chair or face the hangman’s drop at Newgate Prison, then the London Dungeon is the place for you. Not for the squeamish or for those of a nervous disposition, you will travel back in time to a London teetering on the edge of collapse from disease, pestilence and man-made disasters. Watch as the Great Fire of London destroys the whole city in 1666 and the Black Death sweeps through the streets killing young and old alike. See the torturers at Newgate Prison demonstrate their skills in exacting confessions with an array of terrifying instruments, or watch the surgeons practicise their anatomical arts on corpses stolen from…

Hampton Court Palace

Posted on February 1, 2012

Only thirty miles up the River Thames from the Tower of London and 35 minutes by train from Waterloo station stands one of Britain’s most magnificent palaces, Hampton Court Palace. Built by Cardinal Wolsey in 1520, and seized by Henry VIII after his failure to broker his marriage to Anne Boleyn, it stands as a monument to his reign, his consolidation of power and most notoriously to his six wives: two of whom were executed, Anne Boleyn and her cousin Catherine Howard; two divorced, Katherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves; one who died in childbirth, Jane Seymour; and one who surprisingly survived, Katheryn Parr. Wander through the old Tudor Palace, visit the Great Hall, the Great Watching Chamber, the Chapel Royal and the largest surviving Renaissance kitchen in…

Amman and Jerash-Jordan

Posted on February 1, 2012

The Private Half Day Jerash and Amman City Sightseeing Tour provides a dramatic insight into the extraordinary growth of two cities. Amman, the capital of Jordan, formerly known as Philadelphia, exploding from a small, sleepy town into a modern metropolis with 2.4 million people, almost half of the Kingdom’s population; and Jerash, a city of 30,000 at its zenith and one of the most important centres in the former Roman Empire. The tour begins at the blue and white King Abdullah Mosque near the centre of the city and moves on to the up-market district of Abdoun, home to the rich and famous in their beautifully ornate, multi-million dollar houses. You then descend into the downtown area with its bustling shops and street markets before winding your way up to the Citadel,…

Verona-Sightseeing by Bus

Posted on February 1, 2012

If you want to view the sights in this beautiful Italian city, then there’s no better way than to board the Verona Hop on-Hop off bus and relax in the comfort of the open top deck. Listen to the multi-lingual commentary, enjoy the stunning scenery and jump on and off at an array of stops of historical interest and with breathtaking views. The ticket is valid for 24 hours and you can follow Line A and Line B around this wonderful city famed for its opera house (L’Arena) held in the Roman amphitheatre, the birthplace of gnocci, and, of course, Romeo and Juliet. Both Lines start from the Piazza Bra next to the Arena and in front of the Pallazo Barbieri. Line A follows the route south by…

Venice, Walking Tour and Gondola Ride

Posted on February 1, 2012

Escape into the myriad of alleyways in San Marco, explore hidden Venice and glide effortlessly on a gondola down the Grand Canal. Learn the secrets of the construction of this jewel of the Adriatic and the race against time to preserve it and all its splendid magnificence. The Venice Walking Tour and Gondola Ride starts near St Mark’s Square and pauses in front of the Hotel Bauer, famous for the filming of Don’t Look Now starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. You follow a narrow alleyway, the crowds disappear and Venice’s famous opera house, La Fenice suddenly emerges. The birthplace of Verdi’s La Traviata, it was destroyed in an arson attack in 1996, but completely re-built using the exact original plans. Hence its name meaning The Phoenix. In the Campo…