Quirky Things to See and Do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Fringe Festival Actors on the Royal Mile

This year I’ll make my fifth trip to the Fringe Festival and my seventh trip to the city – Edinburgh, I’m unashamedly under your spell. It’s not just the Fringe that draws me in (I’ve been here in rainy October and still found plenty to do), as there’s always something new or unseen to discover. It’s constantly changing, with a buzzing art scene and some really tempting vintage shops, not to mention the art exhibitions, in particular the Printmakers’ Studios in the Old Town.

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Omni Parker House Hotel, Boston – Malcolm X, Charles Dickens and… me.

My hotel in Boston had enough history to qualify as a tourist attraction in its own right. It was the birthplace of the Boston Cream Pie, had its own clubs for 19th century men-about-town, was Charles Dickens’ crash pad during his American lecture tour, and once had Malcolm X as a staff member. But what was it like to actually stay here? I visited with my family for a four night city break, looking to see the sights.

The Accommodation

I shared a twin room with my sister and we were lucky enough to have huge beds, a flat-screen TV, dressing gowns and a seriously tempting snack selection on offer from the minibar. We settled down to watch a news piece about a jelly bean that looked a bit like Kate Middleton and were soon really chilled out, if a little bemused about the jelly bean.

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Photo Essay: Canada’s BC Landscapes

It’s nearly 14 years since I went to Vancouver in Canada (wow, I feel old saying that), but I can still remember so much about being there – my first trip on a plane; the time we went whitewater rafting; the mountains we casually drove and walked and caught a ski lift up in the middle of the August heat, only to find snow on the peaks and an amazing frozen yogurt stand (another first). But the longer it becomes since I’ve been there, the harder it is to recollect things clearly, which is why I’m so glad I still have the photos to look back on.

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I Went to Gettysburg and Only Took One Photo

There’s been a lot of travel press focus on Washington DC and Gettysburg recently, thanks to the Lincoln effect (two films – Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Lincoln – have recently been released), propelling American politics and the man with great taste in hats back into the travel spotlight. I started to think about the time I went to Gettysburg, during a sixth form college Politics trip to New York and Washington DC, which saw us stopping off at the famous battleground with absolutely no knowledge of its significance.

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Travel Blogging in the Future: Time, Space and Cryogenic Freezing

I love the travel blogging community – always one step ahead of technology, never afraid to try something new, these guys really are fearless. So, knowing what an intrepid lot they are, I let my imagination drift towards the future, about 100 years from now, imagining what they’d all be up to (assuming most of little old Planet Earth had been done to death). Here’s what I came up with, based on brief Twitter-style updates.

  • Check out my new post: discovering a new wormhole on my lunchbreak #wormholetravel
  • Still undecided on whether to take your Gap Decade on Mars or Jupiter? See my 3D videos
  • Cryogenic freezing blogger meet-up: don’t forget to request your defrost date for Independence Day in 2200, people! #Brr
  • So, I went back in time to the Middle Ages and made this virtual reality photo diary…
  • Clone holidays: what it’s really like to go on holiday with yourself and fight over the breakfast buffet
  • An expat’s view: why I emigrated to the Planet Zog
  • Read my new e-book guide on holidays for the over-120s – greycationers rule
  • Google Psychic: now Google can read our thoughts, what does this mean for bloggers?
  • Exclusive: vintage photos of the lost Brazilian rainforest
  • #TravJournoReq Can anyone recommend hotels in Hollywood with great flying car parking?
  • Street food on southern Mercury: my top ten suggestions
  • National Rail live debate: will trains ever run on time?
  • Post-Apocalypse travel seminar: how to beat the odds and survive

Whatever weird and wonderful inventions and discoveries that come to affect how and why we go on adventures, you can bet that a travel blogger will be the first to report back and they’ll give you the inside track. I, for one, can’t wait to see what happens next.

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Someone Once Told Me – A Global Project

Yesterday, whilst at a Travel Massive meet-up,  I took part in what can only be described as an awesome photo project which is set to go viral. The brainchild of Mario Cacciottolo, a BBC journalist based in London, Someone Once Told Me has a simple aim: to document those words of wisdom (or anger, or affection) that have stayed with you and been etched into your brain. Having six years of experience under his belt, Mario is a great photographer with an eye for detail, but he admits it wasn’t always this effortless. “When I first started, I had this really old camera from communist Germany and I didn’t even know what an aperture was,” he says candidly. He soon learned the ropes, posting one photo a day on his website for five years, which built a huge back-catalogue of personal experiences and memories brought to life under the lens.

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Holocaust Memorial Day: Kindertransport Statue, Berlin

As today is Holocaust Memorial Day, I thought I’d show you the poignant memorial statue that I came across in Berlin, which focuses on Kindertransport – the process of evacuating Jewish children to safety, but sadly without their parents. What made it even more touching was that there was a little boy visiting the statue with a bunch of flowers, which he divided into small clumps and added carefully to each of the bronze children and to their suitcases.

The end of the statue’s caption is bleak but honest – it reads: Trains to life, trains to death. Whilst the children were whisked away to be taken in by British families, their relatives back home were left under Nazi rule and, most likely, transported to death camps. The horrible dichotomy of what a train journey could mean for the Jews is expressed simply but effectively.

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Five Things to Do in Between Travelling (apart from sleeping)

We can’t always be having adventures in far-flung countries, as much as it pains me to say it, or we’d all be digital nomadic explorers. But we’re not, or at least, I’m not. So, how do you quench your travel thirst in between ticking another place off your Trip Advisor map, aside from doing practical things like catching up on sleep and, of course, getting yourself a kick-ass career? Here are a few of my suggestions.

1. Go to your local supermarket and find the ‘Beers of the World’ section. Then rejoice.

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Boston’s Most Famous Graveyard: Granary Burial Ground

Gravestone in Granary Burial Ground, Boston, MA

The more I travel, the more I become aware that it’s actually quite normal for tourists to visit graveyards, despite the fact that it jars with stereotypical Western attitudes to death (we tend to talk about the dead in hushed tones and use euphemisms such as ‘passed on’ and ‘no longer with us’, rather than confront the truth). Boston’s Granary Burial Ground is so embedded in the city’s Freedom Trail that it’s almost a travesty not to visit, so it’s the perfect place to test your tolerance for morbid thoughts. This is where I saw some very plain epitaphs for famous people and some very cool ones for the not-so-famous, amongst the estimated 5,000 bodies placed here.

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Travel in the Media: Peru

So, here’s the thing (without trying to sound like Siobhan Sharpe from the spoof documentary 2012). I was going to do one of those Travel Wishlist posts, but it got so long that I started separating it into categories like Long Haul, then smaller categories, and things got a bit ridiculous. It seemed only right to kick things off by focusing on the one country that’s on everyone else’s mind right now, as well as my own, and that’s Peru. Land of Paddington Bear and his marmalade sandwiches, photographer Mario Testino and a snazzy new documentary on BBC4 with a presenter who fearlessly jumps on rafts in jeans… I’m intrigued – are you?

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Calavera (Span. feminine noun) = skull. A travel blog with a love of culture, dark tourism and the unconventional.

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