Valletta: A city in transition

Malta's new Parliament

I look forward to returning to Valletta one day. And perhaps then it will be finished… Because our trip coincided with a huge building and restoration programme, being carried out in preparation for the city’s role as European Capital of Culture in 2018. Quite a few of its popular tourist destinations, such as St John’s […]

Berlin: Palaces and Pride

Sanssouci

In 2004 we went on our first holiday together, to Berlin. It was January, blisteringly cold and snow fell periodically on the grey city. But I fell in love with it. We always said we’d return to see the German capital in summer and we finally got round to it in July 2016, when we found a […]

The magic of Matera

Matera and the gorge

For an ancient Italian town perched on the edge of the Murgia National Park, Matera didn’t look promising when we drove into the suburbs. It was poor, dirty and scruffy. But then came the historic centre and one of the most remarkable places I’ve been to in Europe… We’d driven up from the airport on the […]

The castle at Sintra in Portugal

The Moorish Castle has plenty of atmosphere

Sintra’s an easy day trip on the train from Portugal’s wonderful capital Lisbon. Hilly, with great views and some fairy tale architecture, it’s easy to see why the rich, the famous and royalty built their mansions around the village as an escape from the big city. Sintra itself is touristy and busy but the real […]

Tenerife: A drive to La Laguna   

Casa Salazar

If I learnt anything in Tenerife, it’s never to trust a sat-nav. After the traumas of getting to Teide, this expensive piece of tech managed to land us, somewhat embarassed, in the pedestrianised shopping streets of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of La Laguna. All we wanted was to park the car but it took […]

Tenerife: The epic Mount Teide   

Cinchado with Teide in the background

When the clouds weren’t hovering threateningly over Tenerife, we couldn’t miss the island’s magnificent volcano – Mount Teide. Descending from 35,000ft in our Airbus on that first day, it stood out powerfully in the sun, dominating the island that it helped to create, its upper slopes covered in snow. And from our hotel grounds in […]

Japan: From Kyoto to London

The gates of Nijo Castle

The long journey home. My least favourite part of any holiday. And this particular one had always promised to be more arduous than most. With a morning departure from Narita Airport – situated well to the east of Tokyo – there was no way we’d ever get there from Kyoto without breaking the journey overnight. […]