This is a travelogue about my visit to certain parts of the North-East of England and all the history a visitor can see in a very short time. Places vary from the large city of Newcastle with its iconic bridges across the River Tyne to smaller gems such as Durham with its magnificent Norman cathedral. Tourists can find Roman ruins in abundance and large, modern sculptures along with lovely market towns, small villages with a Brigadoon feel to them, and vast swathes of open countryside that hasn’t changed since The Romans looked northwards from Hadrian’s Wall.
The Macedonians build a fountain and upset the Greeks. Villages on the road to Lake Ohrid fly Albanian flags instead of Macedonian ones. Kosovan taxi drivers believe fundamentalists are being sponsored in their country by former foes. Dubrovnik is so popular a one-way system is now in operation on the city walls. In Sarajevo, the place the First World War started is not easy to find, but evidence of more recent atrocities is. Memories are long in The Balkans, contrasts and contradictions are all around. History is always in your face, reminding you nothing stays the same for long in this most fascinating corner of Europe.
This is a short travelogue for independent travellers to Poland and the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. In particular, this travelogue covers the Polish cities of Gdansk, Wroclaw, Poznan, and Torun and describes the history and the sights that can be seen there. When visiting Gdansk, Poznan, and Wroclaw it’s difficult to believe that these cities were largely destroyed during WWII by both sides in turn. I describe the sights that can be seen in Lithuania including the unique places called the Grutas Park with its collection of Communist statues and the Hill of Crosses with its millions of religious symbols. I also visited Tallinn in Estonia as well as Riga and the Rundale Palace in Latvia.
A series of essays about visits to the murals of West Belfast, the award-winning Titanic Centre, The World Heritage Site of the Giant’s Causeway, the seven little-visited stone circles at Beaghmore, and the dramatically situated Dunluce Castle perched high on the cliffs in Antrim in Northern Ireland. There are further stories about the island of Lewis and Harris, Edinburgh, Dryburgh Abbey, and Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland. On Lewis and Harris, I visited the Callanish Stone Circles, the Arnol Blackhouse, and the Dun Carloway broch all of them redolent with history from different eras. In Edinburgh, I walked along the Royal Mile and was astounded at the plants in the Botanical Gardens. I also describe the tranquil Dryburgh Abbey, where Sir Walter Scott is buried, and Rosslyn Chapel, whose many secrets are buried deep in its lavishly decorated interior.