Travel
Hungary's Memorial Wars

Hungary’s Memorial Wars

In most European cities, the propaganda of public monuments is much more tasteful. However in the last several years, Freedom Square, often a starting point for Budapest’s 2.7 million annual visitors, has become an increasingly complex public riddle with each chunk of cultural neurosis dropped by government decree for every tour-bus rider, pub-crawler, and clueless backpacker to ponder. More»

Holiday in Bosnia

Holiday in Bosnia

Bogdan Bogdanovich’s Partisan Memorial Cemetery should be Mostar‘s second major tourist attraction. Built in 1960, the park is something between a memorial, and Gaudi’s Park Buell. High stone walls climb narrow paths in disorienting labyrinths. Ramps lead to a plateau engraved with stone flowers, the nameless graves of Partisans who fought against the Croatian Ustasha, Mussolini, and the Nazis. More»

'Devil Worship' in Armenia

‘Devil Worship’ in Armenia

“My nation is Yezidi, my language is Ezdiki, my religion is Sherfedin” reads a poster in Cyrillic script on the wall of a Yezidi family home in Zovuni, a village on the outskirts of Armenia’s capital of Yerevan. A portrait of the tomb of Sheikh Adi in Lalish, northern Iraq – a major pilgrimage site for Yezidis – hung on the wall beneath it. More»

Ravaged by War

Ravaged by War

Viktor produced a thick volume from the Yugo’s trunk for me to read while he drove. Inside were maps and graphics of red replacing blue with each subsequent year, reminiscent of the famous map of Palestinian displacement. The landscape itself was not so different either. More»

Long Krajina Road

Long Krajina Road

In the Lonely Planet guide to Croatia, the Sibinek-Knin county of Dalmatia is called “underrated.” Hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to the coastal cities of Split, Dubrovnik, and the dozens of nearby islands each summer. Only a fraction make it anywhere inland, where only Krka park’s waterfalls and the nearby Serbian Orthodox Monastery are recommended. More»

Farewell to Café Aleppo

Farewell to Café Aleppo

“So how are you leaving Armenia?” Levon asked, with a smile. After six months in Yerevan, I was soon to return home. I regretted my decision. Levon, the composite character of Syrian-Armenian refugee and kebab stall owner I had come to know during my stay, was arranging triangular Khachapuri, Georgian cheese pastries, on a baking tray. When tessellated, he grinned at his handywork, then up at me. More»

Armenia for Handsets

Armenia for Handsets

Du kap unes! (You’re in touch!) So read the adverts for Armenia’s VivaCell-MTS telephone network, one of the country’s major mobile providers. Telecommunications in the south Caucasus republic are dominated by Russian firms MTS and Beeline, which were joined in 2009 by France’s Orange. All three companies have impressive network ranges, shown in their offices as bright red arteries winding through relief maps, from Vanadzor all the way to Meghri. More»

The Mayor of Gosh

The Mayor of Gosh

The tourist season had long since left Gosh. It packed its souvenirs and memories and returned to Yerevan, squeezed into a vacuum-packed minibus. At least that’s how I got here. Gosh, a village of just over one thousand people, at the end of a small valley in Armenia’s heavily wooded Tavush Province, is known for its twelfth century monastery of Goshavank, burial place of the founder, monastic scholar Mkhitar Gosh. More»

Café Aleppo Revisited

Café Aleppo Revisited

A moustachioed face emerged from a bundle of coats and scarves. Levon, talkative as ever, is warming his hands to the festive glow of a slowly rotating Döner kebab at Café Aleppo, Yerevan. Shwarma can take a while to prepare, especially with numb fingers. Business could be better. Customers don’t hang around in the cold weather. More»

Cinema Armenia

Cinema Armenia

Nadya Sadoeva owns Dimitrov. Well, the concrete bust of him anyway. The village of the same name, formerly known as Koilasar, lies in Armenia’s Ararat Province, not far from the regional centre of Artashat. I’ve visited this region of Armenia several times over the past few months in my research into the country’s Assyrian community. More»

Transcaucasian Border Blues

Transcaucasian Border Blues

“I’ve driven to Yeraskh more times than I can count,” says Artash, Yerevan veterinarian and part time tour guide. “It always amazes me.” Mount Ararat, on one of those crisp Armenian autumn days, is visible from the city’s centre. Cynics might, and do, see it as Turkey looming over what remains of the Armenian state. More»

Marlboro Man in Yemen

Marlboro Man in Yemen

I’ve been living in Yemen for two weeks now. One of the reasons I have had difficulties adjusting to life here is because I’ve been trying to quit smoking. Few tasks are as hard in the Middle East. More»