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Europe

Adrift in the Mid-Atlantic

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It’s a group of nine islands straddling the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a third of the way across the ocean from continental Europe. The people speak Portuguese, but the islands were undiscovered and uninhabited until 1432. They’ve suffered pirates, invaders, religious persecution and serious crop failures. Today they’re an isolated paradise for hikers and nature lovers. Welcome to the Azores. I made my...

Will Europe End With Marching Boots — or Malaise?

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Where were you when the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989? I was sitting in the back room of our old house watching music videos on TV. We didn’t have the specialty channels back then, but the cable company was running a free promo all week, and we could watch the movie channel and the music channel for free. I was 17 years old, and glued to MuchMusic — the Canadian version of MTV — when the...

Wandering Through the Crucible of Western Civilization

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To journey back to Athens was to exit mythological time and step into the historical. We walked the winding streets of the Plaka in silence, as though on pilgrimage to a sacred place. As narrow-alley Antifioki wound ever upward, I reflected on my first visit to the Acropolis: eagerly awaited and long overdue. I’d read so much about ancient Greece, from Classics lectures in university to a...

On the road to Epidaurus

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The road to Epidaurus passed through ancient groves and valleys which induced a sense of stillness the nearer we got to our destination. This entire territory was considered sacred to Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. Injured or sick pilgrims in search of a cure would make their way here to a vast ritual site known as the Asclepieion, where they would first go through a stage of...

Drifting Through Heroic Time

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Standing atop the citadel, it was easy to see how the rulers of Mycenae could command the surrounding Argive plain, a self-contained world of rich agriculture and high pasturelands, walled off by mountains and easily defended passes. Their city dominated the overland routes from the southern Peloponnese to the Isthmus of Corinth and the rest of the Greek mainland. Well-fortified dependencies of...

Nighttime in the Vatican Museum

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I was in Rome a few weeks ago playing tour guide. Now, I won’t play tour guide for very many people, but one of my oldest friends was visiting. It was her first trip to Europe, and Rome was the city at the top of her list. We did the usual rounds, paying our respects at the Colosseum and Forum, and all those essential buildings, shops and squares that crowd into the ancient centre. But I’d been...

Adrift in Europe’s Capital of Cool

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A group of four shirtless guys sat on the grass, smoking pot and rolling a soccer ball in slow listless circles. Across the clearing, a man in a leather costume, with a mask and a long graceful tail, was pulling a two-wheeled cart. The lingerie-clad driver smacked him with the reigns and urged him to trot faster. At first, I took a small group of people sitting together on the ground to be a...

Getting the Drift in London

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I’d only been in London for a few hours, and I was already thinking I’d have to scrap a year’s work. We were at the British Museum, sitting one row away from Michael Palin and Sara Wheeler. The topic of their sold out talk was, “What Makes Great Travel Writing.” I’m finishing up a new book about Malta, and I expected to nod knowingly along with the speakers, patting myself on the back for a draft...

Adrift in Berlin

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The latest issue of Outpost hit newsstands across Canada a few weeks ago. This time in my Adrift on the Continent column, I’m taking you to Berlin. Well, I suppose I should say “bringing you to Berlin”, since I live here. But you won’t find any of the usual stuff in this story. No Berlin Wall or Brandenburg Gate, and definitely no tedious tales of yet another all night excursion to a techno club...

A Shift in My Trajectory

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<= UPDATE: You can read all of my columns for The Shift here => I’ve started writing a series of articles for an independent Maltese news site called The Shift. One of the paper’s founders contacted me at the beginning of November to ask if I would comment on things that appear completely bizarre to an outsider, but which are accepted as normal in Malta. Some of the topics I’m writing about...

Ryan Murdock

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

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