Travel
Out of Africa

Out of Africa

I’ve got this thing about airplanes. Especially if I am taking them in the forgotten corners of the world. There was that Yerevan to Moscow flight, stopping off in Vladikavkaz for fuel paid for by us, the passengers, dropping various currencies into our begging pilots’ cap. There was that Yak40 linking Ulanbaatar to God knows where in rural Mongolia, with more goats and clucking hens than humans as passengers. More»

African Streets

African Streets

Berlin’s U6 train stops at some lesser-known local oddities. African Streets station – a nondescript platform in Wedding – seems strangely ordinary given its history. Döner shops. Sports bars with frosted windows, and occupants with frostier stares. Names on doorbell buzzers betray a big mix of peoples. Croatian restaurants are in vogue here, whilst the window of a Middle Eastern restaurant advertises Türkische Pizza. More»

Gentrifying Turin

Gentrifying Turin

Whenever European cities decide to renew themselves, they tend to look to American models: Austin, Texas; Portland, Oregon. Even San Francisco, despite the fact that the California city has long since stopped being an alternative urban area, in the same way more affordable towns like Portland remain. More»

Welcome to Kislovodsk

Welcome to Kislovodsk

Kislovodsk, or Sourwater, lies wedged between two autonomous Republics in the north Caucasus. With the anxious patriotism of the borderland, it’s aptly known as the city of Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time. Kislovodsk’s effervescent Narzan spring water – “the drink of heroes,” according to its Kabardian name – is often tasted in souvenir glazed cups bearing stereotypical figures of Gortsy (“mountain people.”) More»

Greetings From Nalchik

Greetings From Nalchik

Nalchik is the capital of Russia’s autonomous region of Kabardino-Balkaria, nestled in the foothills of the Caucasus and Mount Elbrus. 550 metres above sea level, its air is crisp and pungent with the scent of tourist repellent, the unfortunate result of its proximity to such hotspots as Ingushetia and Chechnya. More»

The Coffee Republic

The Coffee Republic

“Turkish coffee?” The throaty Armenian was clearly affronted. “Sure, it’s Turkish when I buy it. But when I make it, it’s Abkhaz coffee.” Insisting eyes awaited an apology, which I promptly offered. I never made the mistake again. More»

Abkhazia’s Abandoned Railway Stations

Abkhazia’s Abandoned Railway Stations

The Republic of Abkhazia was once the destination of choice for thousands of Soviet holiday-makers, including Stalin. The nation’s one railway line was constructed in a regal fashion. Burnt out buildings from a vicious secessionist war in 1993 scar the landscape amidst the breathtaking beauty of rural valleys – scars of a history sometimes tactfully glossed over. More»

Putin Gave You Traffic Jams

Putin Gave You Traffic Jams

As Russia’s ruling tandem switches places yet again, Dmitri Medvedev ambling slowly off centre stage, legions of internet users offer a canned outrage that even the most vehemently anti-government newspapers hesitate to express. Vladimir Putin returns yet again – a superb pole vault of the vertical of power. More»

Seoul Bomb Attack

Seoul Bomb Attack

My first impulse was to run. Seeing the footage on the video screen, I feared for the worst. The North had attacked, and we were watching it on TV, somewhere deep underneath Seoul. “I’m gonna have to photograph that,” I erupted, hoping that I was being neurotic. As the sequence of events flashed in front of me, depicting a staged raid on South Korea’s capitol, I came to my senses. This was just a training video. More»

Wrong Side of the Mosque

Wrong Side of the Mosque

Driving into Old Lahore, the streets narrow, crowded with motorbikes zipping dangerously close to brightly-painted busses packed with passengers spilling out of their doors. Cracked concrete steps lead into doorways. Clusters of men sip tea served from steaming cauldrons in front of shabby looking cafés. More»

How to Brand Berlin

How to Brand Berlin

If you think you’re in New York, no one will disagree with you. So heavily overladen with graffiti, at times, Berlin resembles an American city in the mid-1980s. The fact that internationals are heavily responsible for the art (including a heavy dose of New Yorkers) does little to dissuade such comparisons. However, push a little deeper into the German capitol, and you’ll begin to notice some serious differences. More»

Stalin’s Last Statues

Stalin’s Last Statues

The lush Fiagdon Valley in North Ossetia hides the tip of one of the most peculiar icebergs to emerge from post-Soviet Russia. A small medallion portrait of Stalin, solid as granite, clings for dear life to a stunning cliff-face – the work of an Ossetian artist, Daurbek Tsagayev in the late 1970s. The North Ossetian capital of Vladikavkaz has seen a new Stalin monument unveiled as recently as 2009. These are only two examples. More»