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World at a Glance: Medieval Rhodes

Medieval Rhodes is beautiful. My favourite thing about this gothic city, however; is that it’s all but impossible NOT to get lost. No new world grid construction here, no straight Roman roads. Within the 4-km city wall, there are hundreds of little streets that don’t even have names. There are gates and squares. Temple ruins, […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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, […]

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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 […]

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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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Grandhotel Cosmopolis: a concrete utopia

In Augsburg’s old town, Grandhotel Cosmopolis is perhaps the most curious hotel in all of Germany; certainly the most unusual I have seen. This particular Grand hotel, you see, functions not only as a hotel, but also as home for asylum seekers, as artists’ studios, open work-spaces, a venue for concerts, exhibitions and other artistic […]

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