The heat is on and according to some reports it’s not going to get turned down for a while as we reach the mid point of what is predicted to be one of the hottest European summers on record. This is great news, but don’t underestimate how important cooling off will be once the mercury starts to rise, especially in Europe’s cities.
Ernest Hemingway once said “…it is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.” The same is true for cities, you get to cover more ground quickly, feel the shape of the land you peddle over. With recent years seeing more and more urban areas around the world introducing public bike-sharing schemes and miles of brand new bike paths to encourage exploring on two wheels, there are so many amazing urban bike routes out there. Here are just a few of my favourites you should coast along one day. Continue reading
So far this summer everything seems to be about watching men I don’t know kick balls about, seeing men I wouldn’t admit to knowing whizzing about in questionable Lycra and wondering how David Beckam ended up at Wimbledon dressed for a Grouse Shoot c. 1922.
Thanks be then for the blissful breath of Alpine air that is The Salzburg Music Festival. Five weeks of opera, drama and classical concerts in one of Austria’s most beautiful cities where sporting is sharing your bag of Mozartkugel and any biting is strictly verboten. Apart from a few ancient Zen gardens in Kyoto, I can’t think of anywhere more civilised than Salzburg this July and August. Continue reading
Passion and independence define Madrid’s booksellers. They don’t just give you a bit of peace and sanctuary from the Emperor’s New Clothes or the likes of J. K. Rowling’s agonisingly alliterative attempts at adult angst or another 50 shades of purple prose. They have a reverence for books born of necessity, not really surprising when you think about Spain’s 20th century political history. Continue reading
A young country that’s indescribably ancient, Morocco is fascinating and exotic and inescapably lovely. Not too much of surprise to find so many influences and cultures clustered across its landscape, Morocco has always been much coveted. Before Independence in the mid 1970’s the country had variously been home to the Ancient Romans, the French, the Portuguese and – in a less proprietorial fashion – some of the world’s most glamorous and famous writers, artists, designers and bon viveur.
The challenge for UNESCO in Morocco has always been to balance their commitment to protect and preserve with respect for the fact that most of the country’s ancient and historic sites are still living and working environments for many Moroccans. The magnificent Medinas, mosques and monuments don’t exist in aspic; they’re at the heart of the country’s culture and commerce. Continue reading