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Day out Alicante: El Palmeral de Elche

So – you’re in the busy Costa Blanca, lounging on its lovely beaches. But for a bit of variety, you might be looking for something a little different to do. Perhaps away from the hustle and bustle? If so, may I recommend tranquility among palm trees? That’s what you find at El Palmeral de Elche, […]

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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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World at a Glance: Heidelberg’s Student Prison

From its foundation in 1386 and until World War I, Heidelberg University had jurisdiction over unruly students. Depending on your misdemeanour, you could land a sentence of anything from 24 hours to 4 weeks in the Studentenkarzer (student lock-up). The most common offences? … loud singing in the city lanes, inappropriate behaviour in public as […]

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In Flanders Fields the poppies grow…

“Listen, our guns have stopped.” “Maybe the war is over. Maybe it’s peace.” “Oh hurray! The big knobs have got around the table and yanked the iron out of the fire.” This exchange from the last few minutes of the final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth is what I think about while visiting Flanders Fields […]

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A Tale of Two Villas

30 kilometres from Rome, you’ll find two villas. Two very different villas. In fact, the only thing they have in common is being on UNESCOs list of properties worthy of special protection for the future. The bus from Rome (from the station Ponte Mammolo on Metro line B) takes me to Tivoli in the hills […]

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World at a Glance: The Bellinzona castles

In my World Heritage quest, I’ve seen a lot of military architecture lately. Not something I thought I’d be particularly excited about, but I’ve found these sites surprisingly interesting, including the three Bellinzona castles. Quite a few of these engineering feats are now on my wish list (heritage listed or not), such as Beelitz Heilstätten […]

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A Day Like Any Other Day

It’s a chilly winter day and I’m in the state where the wind comes sweeping down the plain. The Sooner state, the Boomer Paradise, the core of Tornado Alley, the only state with an active oil rig next to the state capitol building. Lately, also home of earthquakes, very possibly man-made. Among all the nicknames, […]

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