Cuban Bizarre: the foreigner’s room at the Cathedral of Ice-Cream

Catch Cuba while it’s still there, people say… Get a taste of the island and its revolutionary quirks before the opening-up of relations with the USA sweeps all its strange tropical-Soviet otherworldliness away, and it becomes just like any other country, like… (what? In this part of the world, maybe, the Dominican Republic, that shining success story).  Cuba […]

Mexican Courtesies/Cortesías Mexicanas

Mexico is a paradoxical country, where people can at times be brusque, sharp, smart-alecky, but more often show an elaborate, amiable courtesy.   México es un país paradójico, donde la gente a veces puede ser brusca, acérbica, listilla, pero más a menudo te tratan con una cortesía elaborada.   In the Colonia Condesa, a district […]

Whatever happened to tapas?

Tapas: Spain’s foremost modern culinary export, leaving paella for dust, copied from Tokyo to Toronto via many other places in between. An old tradition perfectly suited to modern habits, ideal for grazing, eating on the hoof, informal with none of that restaurant fuss. So much so there are now umpteen books on how to do […]

Discoveries: Écija, Andalusia

There are places everybody’s heard of, so everybody goes to, and others that you discover just by accident. Recently, without ever really having planned it, I found myself spending a week in Écija. Where is Écija? It’s in the middle of the dusty plains of Andalusia, roughly halfway between Seville and Córdoba. Mention it to […]

Print the Legend: The Strait of Messina

In ancient mythology the Strait of Messina between Sicily and mainland Italy was the home of Scylla and Charybdis, two fearsome monsters of the kind the Greeks loved to come up with – both were female, and both, at least in several versions of their story, had previously been renowned beauties, who were turned into scabrous horrors […]

Iceland, the eccentric country

One in particular stands out among several unusual instructions given to new arrivals renting cars at Iceland’s Keflavik airport. ‘Please, always park your car facing the wind’, says the impeccably charming, smiling woman behind the desk, ‘never with your back to it’. Apparently, they have a significant problem with tourists who ignore this request, park […]

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