Eating like honoured guests in North Korea
Many people worry, unnecessarily, at the idea of visiting North Korea. Is it safe? Are the rules too strict? Will the food be tasty, and adequate? The latter question is perhaps understandable, given the well-documented periods of famine suffered in the country, but tourists, as honoured guests of the regime, have nothing to fear on that score.
A visit to the Real Alcázar of Seville
Once upon a time, when Seville was the capital of Al-Andalus, the ruling Almohade caliphate built a palace in the city which they named ‘Al Mubarak’ or 'The Blessed'. It was the hub of both the city's government and its artistic and literary life. Little of that palace remains today, apart from some foundations. On these, in the thirteenth century, the conquering Castilians built their own palace to serve as both seat of government and royal residence, a function the Alcazar performs to this day.
Gallery: motorbike ‘art’ in South East Asia
From time to time while travelling I find myself taking photos on a theme, even if I hadn’t intended to when I set out. In Cuenca and Tallinn it was doors; in New Mexico it was Harley Davidson motorbikes. And in Indochina it was not only the motorbikes but the bike helmets.
Gallery: seeing animals in black and white
You can’t get much more black and white than a zebra! But actually many animals look good in monochrome. I’ve had a go at editing some of my favourite wildlife shots – mammals, reptiles and birds – with my favourite software. Let me know which versions you prefer, colour or black and white?
A walk in the gardens of Seville’s Real Alcázar
The most intriguing gardens to explore often feel like a series of rooms, each with a distinctive style of decoration. We wander from area to area, never knowing what might be around the next corner. We get glimpses through trees and over hedges, and sometimes wider views that draw us on, ever eager to see more. Such are the gardens of the Real Alcázar of Seville.
Day into night in the Jemaa el-Fnaa
Sooner or later it seems, all paths in Marrakesh lead to the Jemaa el-Fnaa. The name (sometimes spelled Djemaa el Fna or Jamaa el Fna) means ‘Assembly of the Dead’ in Arabic; but a visit here suggests life in all its vibrancy. To call this the city’s main square doesn’t begin to do justice to it. This is a meeting place, a shopping centre, a performance space, a happening. It is surrounded by restaurants and cafés, each with a roof terrace to offer a ringside seat from where to observe…
Gallery: the serenity of dawn on Lake Atitlàn
Early morning by Lake Atitlàn. A lone fisherman drifts past, checking his lines. Volcanoes dot the horizon. In the distance a small motorboat speeds past; empty now but likely to be full of passengers when the lake’s ferry services start up soon. The jetties too are quiet, waiting for the lakeside villages to wake up.
Gallery: a walk in colourful Kapana
Plovdiv’s Kapana district is an object lesson in how to transform run-down into lively, neglected into loved. In this part of the city , a maze of small streets follows much the same pattern as the Ottoman souk which once stood here, although the mainly wooden buildings of that era are long since gone. The very name, Kapana, recalls that maze, as it means ‘Trap’; once among these streets it was hard to find your way out!
Gallery: the colours of the season
Red and green should never be seen without a colour in between. Whoever coined that old phrase clearly didn’t have Christmas in mind. Surely there are no two more seasonal colours than red and green?
Gallery: all that glitters is not gold (or silver)
Martin Luther said, 'For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver. But while he makes a good point about the glories of nature, there are still times when we need a bit of bling in our lives. And now is probably one of those times!