• Places

    memories of chios

    This time of year it’s hard not to reminisce on summers passed. The clouds start to lift. A reminder of a different kind of light grows, another world, rocky and spare, washed in bands of blueness unlike elsewhere. Chios now calls like the echo of waves. A tide swirling, tugging at my ankles as if to prompt my feet. It is not much like other islands. The Aegean. A sea flecked by the dust and rubble of ancient civilizations. Fragments. Faded postcards, from which Chios stands apart. It almost seems disinterested in being known, or iconic in the manner of the other islands with which it shares its sea. Make no mistake, though, there is history, both personal and grand, carved deep into the land, memory jagged as its coast. A haven for families seeking refuge from the daily weirdness of life. There is much memory, but it can also…

  • Books & Lit

    beer hiking switzerland: a test walk

    Lately Zürich, though not especially cold, has been relentlessly grey. Some days the impenetrable, overcast sky seems to descend on your head, which makes it all the more unappealing to move yet all the more important to do so. However, thanks to Monika Saxer, and her book, BEER HIKING SWITZERLAND: The Most Refreshing Way To Discover Switzerland, there’s plenty of motivation to go outdoors. So weather notwithstanding, I decided to test it out over the last week or so. Full disclosure: the book was given to me by its publisher, Hadi Barkat of Helvetiq, but it had already caught my eye at Orell Füssli. Either way, I was inclined to like the title as it’s the kind of idea I wish I had conceived. The book is also attractively designed with superb typography and easy to use, allowing you to choose your journey based on the location or the beer. For my…

  • Photography,  Places

    ticino: switzerland’s mediterranean

    Hailing from a country as vast and underpopulated as Canada, the idea of escaping the dominant cultures surrounding you in a significant way without boarding an aircraft once seemed a serious undertaking. Massive expanses of incredible nature surround you, making the absence of human culture the best option to escape your daily reality. Living in Zurich, you can hop on a train and witness dramatic changes in both landscape and culture in the time it takes for some people to commute home in a big city. Which is why I recently caught the train to Ticino canton. Just over two hours from the main Bahnof, Ticino canton is hailed as Switzerland’s Mediterranean. Given the lack of seaside, it’s most likely the fact that the primary language here is Italian, which in and of itself delivers a refreshing jolt of energy. Italian, when it smacks me upside the head, still feels…

  • Places

    avon calling

    Hello from the land of grey skies and green grass. That’s right, England again! This time I’m in Bristol, a place I haven’t seen in more than a couple of decades. England’s not the only one that’s getting a bit grey. Must say, I’m loving the vibe of this place. Lovely people, real ales, great food, shops, all in a walkable city package that’s bursting with art, culture, music and really good coffee too. And did I mention the towering trees? This city might just be the paragon of urban virtue.  I barely even noticed the rain occasionally fogging my lens. Above is a small glimpse of the area around Clifton Suspension Bridge, the world’s very first suspension bridge, which spans the Avon River Gorge, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel — an engineering feat which no doubt helped pave the way for our much more recent intercontinental bridges back in…

  • Places

    fire and water: urfa

    Şanlıurfa, El Ruha, Edessa, Riha or perhaps just plain old Urfa (as it’s most commonly referred to) is a welcome surprise. The drive in from the airport, however, is not encouraging.. An imposing and ugly housing boom has left much of the outer fringe of modern Urfa looking like a victim of its own success. Then, however, you penetrate that encircling ugliness and find an ancient land associated with the prophet Abraham/Ibrahim and the local traditions of its Kurdish population as well as a very large Arabic minority and you begin to sense that you’re in for something different and possibly wonderful. Make no mistake: this is the East of Turkey, close to the Syrian border. Yet despite its proximity to that troubled land, it did not seem at my first, and very cursory glance, especially affected by the troubles on the other side of the border, nor too interested in…

  • Mind / Body,  Places


    Ever wonder where you are? I do frequently. Last week I was in Western Quebec, gazing at lakes, examining a cottage reconstructed from a 150 year-old barn surrounded by trees and silence, eating pizza “stix” from a baker person — now I’m back in the middle of traffic, chaos and noise, trying to get myself back up to speed. It’s no wonder life seems like such a dream sometimes with the ability to transition between so many distinctly different landscapes in such short time expanses. I’m not always sure my mind is ready to catch up with my current experience. Perhaps it doesn’t always want to.

  • People,  Places

    Sofia’s Minibus Magic

    PROVING IT’S THE JOURNEY AND NOT THE DESTINATION LIKE NOTHING ELSE: THE MINIBUS. At the risk of sounding like some elitist, snobbish expat with delusions of grandeur, I have a confession to make: I don’t think Istanbul’s minibuses are the most stately mode of transport. No offense intended, this is just an observation. One of my earliest recollections involves veering in and out of traffic while the driver, mobile phone propped between shoulder and ear, cigarette clenched in teeth, drove and sorted change. Now that’s multitasking. On another trip, quite recently, the driver requested that all standing passengers crouch or squeeze three to a seat as the police were right behind him and he didn’t want to be fined for being overcapacity. THE FRONT SEAT: THE MOST COMFORTABLE, REMEMBERING THAT COMFORT IS RELATIVE. Not having a car (or wanting one) at my disposal, and being a firm believer in public…