Gallery: London from the top of the Shard
When the Shard opened in London in 2012 it did so to quite a fanfare, and to a rather damp squib (in my view) of a laser show. But despite the laser show disappointing, the tower never has. Although not to everyone’s taste (the fractured ‘shards’ at the top that give it its name divide opinion), I have always found it striking.
Koprivshtitsa: a Bulgarian time capsule
Koprivshtitsa is no ordinary town but rather a time capsule. Several of its houses are associated with significant players in the 1876 April Uprising against Ottoman rule. The uprising failed, but a fire had been ignited. The brutalities committed by the Turks while suppressing it led to widespread condemnation across Europe which was the trigger for the Russo-Turkish War. This ended in Turkish defeat. Thus the April Uprising can be regarded as having eventually achieved its original aim, the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire.
Gallery: staring up at the steps
There have been many times when travelling that I’ve stared up at some steps. I’m not the best at climbing stairs, but the incentives to do so are often great. A wonderful view, an interesting building, a slice of history … Any of these is likely to entice me to climb.
Sweet freedoms in Tirana
Under the dictatorship of Enver Hoxha many freedoms were denied to Albanians. Among them the freedom to travel abroad, the freedom to express dissent, and the freedom to worship. Hoxha declared that ‘the only religion of Albania is Albanianism’.
Tallinn’s TV tower in black and white
On 20th August 1991 the Estonian government declared the country’s independence from the Soviet Union. In retaliation the following day Soviet troops wanting to seize control of the country’s communication channels stormed the TV Tower on the outskirts of Tallinn. Four employees working there locked themselves in rooms on the 22nd floor and kept the troops at bay by inserting a matchbox between the door of the lift and its frame to stop it working.
Exploring the sights of downtown Medellín
It’s not enough to bring peace to a city, you also need prosperity. So while the transformation of Medellín from no-go drugs capital of Colombia to a safer and more visitable city started in its outlying comunas, the city centre has been vital to its continued development.
A stroll around Villa de Leyva
Colombia’s Villa de Leyva is one of those places where time seems to have stopped still. Or at least, it would seem that way were it not for the large number of visitors, both Colombian and international, who descend on the town to see its perfectly preserved colonial architecture and huge main square. This is a town that is as much museum as place to live.
A walk in Patan, the City of Beauty
Patan is said to be one of the oldest Buddhist cities in the world. It is also known as Lalitpur, which means the City of Beauty. The name recognises its tradition of arts and crafts which continue to define the city.
Gallery: the doors of Nepal
Whether ancient and beautiful, old and battered, or newer and colourful, there was something about the doors in Nepal that charmed me. And yes, some could have come straight out of a fairy tale perhaps.
Gallery: looking back at buildings
One of the (many) things I like to photograph when I travel are the various buildings I see. Buildings tell us so much about how people live, how they work, how they worship. Or, if they are old buildings, how they once lived/worked/worshipped.