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McIlroy: golf’s next superstar?

(Sportsview: published June-24, 2011) ONLY a very special occurrence could thrust a golf story to the top of the sports news bulletins on a day when there’s an England Test match going on and on the eve of Wimbledon. But Ulsterman Rory McIlroy’s triumph in the US Masters was a very special event and even … Continue reading

The province of Naples: the essence of Italy

(Published May 2011; visit March 2011) SEARCH for the spirit of Italy, the sunny, smiling, arm-waving, chaotic face that the rest of the world knows so well, and you’ll find it alive and thriving in the province of Naples. Way down on the west coast, Italy’s most densely populated city and its surroundings attract tourists and … Continue reading

Rotterdam: Dutch with a difference

(Published May 2011; visit March 2011) It’s no beauty queen but Europe’s largest seaport has plenty to recommend it ROTTERDAM is a city whose image is in need of a makeover. Selling it as a tourist destination is a stiff challenge for even the sharpest marketing team. When it comes to looks, it is eclipsed … Continue reading

Smile – you’re in Krakow!

(Originally published in 2009) Poland’s most historic city offers a warm welcome “IT’S part of our marketing strategy,” confided the smiling waitress when asked why everyone we encounter in Krakow is so fluent in English. She may have been half-joking but there’s no doubt that the residents of Poland’s most historic and iconic city do … Continue reading

Berlin: a city reborn

(Originally published in 2007) YOU don’t need to spend long in Berlin before all your preconceptions come crashing down like so many chunks of wall. Germany’s capital city cannot escape its tortured past, nor does it seek to, but history has somehow lent the place an edge that brings an intriguing extra dimension to its … Continue reading

Culture calling

(Published in 2007) Theatre, modern art, sculpture – Chichester has plenty to offer   IN the competitive world of culture, the compact cathedral city of Chichester punches well above its weight, but that achievement can be as much a challenge as a cause for pride. With a population of just 25,000, it needs to promote … Continue reading

Salento – authentic Italy

(Published in 2007; visit in 2006) HERE’S a teaser for you: it’s the very end of November and the sun is blazing down from a cloudless azure sky. The sea is indescribably blue, clear as gin and still warm, and the white sand beaches are deserted. Where are we? If you said the Caribbean, North  … Continue reading

Innsbruck – a classic slice of middle Europe

INNSBRUCK looks good under a dusting of snow – and, given its alpine location, that’s probably just as well. Snow is routine when winter reaches this part of south-east Austria. From almost every vantage point in this small but beautifully formed city, the soaring Nordkette mountain ridge forms a breathtaking backdrop for a region not … Continue reading

Mosaic magic in Ravenna

(Published in 2006; visit made in 2005) A SERENE and understated beauty, enlivened by the buzz of busy restaurants, bars and hotels – it is the hallmark of so many historic Italian towns. But Ravenna’s locals know what it is that really draws tourists to their city. It is the collection of mosaics universally acclaimed … Continue reading

Pompeii – a legend that lives on

(Originally published 2005) EVERY cloud, the saying goes, has a silver lining and the murderous cloud of ash and rock that buried Pompeii 2,000 years ago provided modern man’s most accurate picture of everyday life in a thriving Roman city. When Vesuvius erupted in 79AD, redrawing much of the map of the Gulf of Naples … Continue reading