Wieliczka Mines: A World of Salt

On my daughter’s school visit to the concentration camps and the Stasi prison in Berlin, the organisers wisely added lighter activities to the agenda, including a swimming stop at a tropical island inside a Nazi hangar – and a tour of Wieliczka Salt Mine. Leonardo, in salt! 40 years ago, the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural […]

Melk Abbey and the Wachau Valley

Just like the landscape of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley is protected by UNESCO, the Danube has its own area of special significance: the 40-km Wachau Valley in Austria, between the towns of Krems and Melk. And like that Rhine stretch, Wachau has hilltop ruins, castles, vineyards, historic towns and quaint villages. As UNESCO calls […]

Day out Bordeaux: Vauban’s military trilogy

Once an orphan living in poverty, later an engineering genius with a prestigious career. A familiar story, perhaps. Yet that doesn’t diminish its power to inspire. That is also the story of Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban: military engineer, advisor to Roi Soleil Louis XIV, France’s most famous king, and most importantly for this little piece, […]

World at a Glance: Snorri’s hot tub

Do you remember I mentioned Snorri Sturluson in this post? Teller of tales, scribe of sagas, author of adventures, narrator of novels, editor of epics? Some say he was the most important writer of all in medieval times. Without Snorri, we wouldn’t know much about the Vikings – or Odin, Thor, Loke and the other […]

Your favourite 9

I was about to write the traditional Best of post, but let’s change things up a bit. A picture paints a thousand words, so we’ll give Instagram some attention instead. Here, without further ado, is your faves, the best nine of 2017 Instas from Sophie’s World. It’s all about Europe this year; home, and near to […]

Law & Order: Thingvellir edition

I come from a long line of people going west. At the turn of the century (19th/20th), many Norwegians left home for America, some for a brief spell and some forever. Some to try their luck, some for curiosity, some just for the kicks: a new country, new people, a new language, a melting pot of […]

The Principal Manchester: a gorgeous space in a gutsy city

You know how you sometimes wander around – or drive around – a city, searching for the hotel you’ve booked, increasingly wanting to put a curse on the annoying SatNav lady for leading you astray yet again? Well, that won’t happen with The Principal Manchester. You simply can’t miss this impressive Baroque building with a […]

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