A Friar walks into a bar …

It was April 2016. We were in Ireland to witness the centenary of the 1916 Easter Uprising. After three fabulous days in Dublin we drove to Killarney in County Kerry, after stopping overnight at the sad used-to-be seaport of Cobh. Cobh (pronounced ‘Cove’ and called Queenstown when the English ruled Ireland) was the Titanic’s last…

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Looking for Geoffrey – An Outback adventure

I always think that when you travel it’s good to have a quest or a goal to shape your adventures. It could be finding the Seinfeld diner in New York, following in the footsteps of John Lennon in Liverpool, or having a glass of wine in every café in Paris frequented by Oscar Wilde. You…

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There is no such place as Asia

There is no such place as Asia. Or rather, there are a dozen different Asias. Asia is much more diverse than Europe, which is by comparison relatively homogeneous. The very concept of Asia is an invention of European cartographers. Even today, Europe is regarded as a separate continent when it is in fact nothing more…

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Confessions of a Buenos Aires tour guide

This is a true story. It is the tale of how I came to be a tour guide one of the world’s most wonderful cities. A few years ago I was taken down to South America by IBM to speak at a series of computer conferences. Our first stop was Buenos Aires, the wonderful capital…

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A visit to Bob Dylan’s hometown

I was in Minneapolis on business, visiting the University of Minnesota. About three and a half hours north by car is the small city of Hibbing, home town of Bob Dylan. I was so close. I felt I just had to go there. For many people of my generation Dylan was quite simply the greatest…

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When (and how) to travel light – and when not to

There’s lots of advice out there that you should always travel light. That’s true – but only up to a point. There are times when it simply doesn’t matter. But even when it doesn’t, there is no reason to take more than you need. Let me explain the reasoning. There are basically two types of…

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Bangkok to Penang by Train

Many years ago I resolved to one day make the thousand kilometre journey from Bangkok down to Penang in Malaysia by train. Now I have done it. Train 35, the grandly named International Express, leaves Bangkok’s cavernous Hua Lamphong station every day at 2:45pm. It arrives at Penang’s Butterworth station at lunchtime the next day.…

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