Category

Europe

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...

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...

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...

Philip II’s golden hoard

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I’m just back from a short trip to Northern Greece.  Thanks to this seemingly endless pandemic, I hadn’t left Berlin since last summer’s hiking in the Slovakian High Tatras. In fact, I only left my neighbourhood twice since I moved to a new flat at the start of December. It was strange to be on the road again — and strangely tiring after nearly two years of introverted lockdown routine...

The ‘Forbidden City’ just outside Berlin

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The largest Red Army base outside the Soviet Union was a 40 minute drive south of Berlin. It was just beyond where the new airport — and the old Schönefeld SXF — is today. Wünsdorf-Waldstadt was completely off limits to East Germans during those long, dark Iron Curtain years. They called it Die Verbotene Stadt (the Forbidden City). Others called the massive base ‘Little Moscow’, and I guess it...

To The Lake: A Balkan Journey of War and Peace

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Kapka Kassabova is taking us back to the Balkans. I’ve been looking forward to something new from this wonderful writer since Border, which was my top travel read of 2018. That earlier book touched on the author’s childhood in Bulgaria, and To The Lake takes us deeper as she journeys to her grandmother’s place of origin in the mountainous Macedonian lake district. The region was once an important...

Hitler’s Scientists Put Men on the Moon

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The second-largest island on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast is a summer vacation paradise. But it once housed a massive secret weapons program that the Nazis hoped would allow them to snatch victory from the closing jaws of defeat. I made my annual summer pilgrimage to the island of Rügen last weekend — much later than usual in this year of pandemic, but it was still just warm enough to swim. The...

Loss and change in a post-pandemic world

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In my last blog, we talked about what the future of the European Union might look like in a post-pandemic world. I’d like to add a few more random predictions as we pull back the lens to consider the globe. In short, I think we’ll see a move towards de-globalization, where items deemed essential are manufactured ‘on shore’ rather than pieced together from parts sourced in China and other regions...

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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