Ryan Murdock

Writer, Traveller, Reader of Books

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Nigel Barley: The Innocent Anthropologist (Episode #8)

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Nigel Barley Nigel Barley is the author of some 22 books, including White Rajah and A Plague of Caterpillars. He studied Modern Languages at Cambridge before completing a doctorate in Social Anthropology at Oxford. His first book, The Innocent Anthropologist, was based on his fieldwork in west Africa amongst the Dowayo people of North Cameroon. Barley left academia to work as a curator at the...

Byzantine travels in Thessaloniki

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Dinner views from the city walls We ended our brief Greek travels back where we’d started: in the second-largest city, with one foot in the Byzantine past. Thessaloniki was founded in 315 BC by King Cassander of Macedonia (one of those who squabbled over Alexander the Great’s empire). When the Kingdom of Macedon fell in 168 BC, the city was absorbed into the Roman empire. It soon became an...

Jeremy Seal: Modern Turkey and the 1960 coup (Episode #7)

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Jeremy Seal Jeremy Seal is the author of six books, including A Fez of the Heart and A Coup in Turkey. He also contributes to a wide range of publications as a travel writer, journalist, and book reviewer, including the Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph and the Australian, and runs cultural tours to Turkey.   He’s been described as England’s pre-eminent travel writer on Turkey, a country he’s been...

The Power of Geography

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Geography limits us and defines our possibilities in fundamental ways.  A nation’s physical location — at a vital choke point, like the outlet of the Red Sea; commanding the waves on Europe’s northwest fringe; at the vulnerable end of the wide open North European Plain — does much to dictate its strengths and fears. As does its store of resources, and its location in relation to...

The shameful self-destruction of the West

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I’ve read a lot of quotes from Western leaders claiming the Taliban’s rapid reconquest of Afghanistan came as some sort of surprise to them.  Here in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, “We misjudged the development.” Her foreign minister Heiko Maas added, “All of us – the federal government, intelligence services, the international community – misjudged the situation.”...

Halkidiki’s picture perfect coves

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Early morning swim, with Mount Athos in the distance We’d climbed Mt. Olympus, and paid our respects to Zeus at his sanctuary in Dion. It was time to cross the Thermaic Gulf to the beaches of Halkidiki, whose three peninsulas pierce the Aegean like a trident just below the northern city of Thessaloniki. Our destination was the middle prong. Sithonia is just far enough from the city to avoid being...

John Gimlette: Madagascar, and ‘walking the dead’ (EPISODE #6)

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John Gimlette John Gimlette is the author of five books, including Wild Coast and At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig.  He’s a regular contributor to The Times (London), The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, and Condé Nast Traveller. And he’s won the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize and the Wanderlust Travel Writing Award. John writes about overlooked places...

Paying my respects to Zeus at Dion

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Dion I took a bit longer than normal to haul myself out of bed the day after we climbed Mount Olympus.  My legs had already begun tightening up, and my hip flexors felt like guitar strings. But there was no time for strumming with a three hour drive ahead of us. We had one stop to make on the slopes below the mountain before hitting the highway to Halkidiki. Dion was once the most important...

Hiking to the home of the gods

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At 2,917m (9,570 feet), Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece.  The three-peaked massif broods over the Thermaic Gulf and the three-fingered peninsula of Halkidiki in the Aegean distance, on the border between Thessaly and the province (not the country) of Macedonia. Most choose to climb it in two days, with an overnight stop at one of the mountain huts that sit just above the tree line, but...

Sara Wheeler: Russia, Antarctica and how we shape stories (Episode #5)

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Sara Wheeler (photo by Amit Lennon) Sara Wheeler is one of my favourite writers on place. She’s the author of 10 books, including Mud and Stars, Terra Incognita, and Travels in a Thin Country, as well as biographies of polar explorer Apsley Cherry-Garrard and adventurer Denys Finch Hatton. She’s a regular contributor to The Guardian, The Observer, The New York Times, The Spectator, The Telegraph...

Ryan Murdock

Author of Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Columnist at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

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