It was Mentana to be…

There’s nothing like immersion to help with language learning. Along with “seeing everything I’d missed last time” and “escaping the rut I had found myself in”, one of the main reasons behind moving to Italy was to put myself in an environment where I could become a lot more proficient in the language than I [...]

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Chicken into Kiev…

"Okay, before I head to the airport, have I forgotten anything? I feel like I have..." Passport? Check. Wallet? Check. Phone, tablet, extra socks? All check. Something was bugging me. What had I forgotten... ...oh, that's right. Tiananmen Square. I forgot to visit one of the most important sites in Beijing. I mean sure, I [...]

Beijing Part 3: Peeking Duck

My next rule of travel? Never be afraid to do more research, even after you've arrived. Between China and Ukraine, most of my planning went into the latter - I knew very little about Kyiv, so I wanted to find out what was there other than tour companies offering trips to Chernobyl. For China, I had [...]

Beijing Part 2: Hidden Dragon

I'd done a lot of research on the Great Wall before leaving, and had a good idea of which section I wished to visit. Hiking from Simitai to Jiankou was my first choice, but it was closed. Jianshanlong was my second choice, but only if I could find a reasonably-priced tour heading there. Mutaniyu was [...]

Beijing Part 1: Crouching Tiger

I stepped out of the unlit hutong alley, dodging rubbish and stray dogs as I headed closer to the main strip. I turned the corner onto a side street filled with small shops adorned with neon signs all in Mandarin. No English signs suggesting these stores welcomed Western customers, no flags showing what languages other than Chinese [...]

Rolling down to Jaffa

My second rule of travel? Check the local sporting fixtures when planning. I've got two maps - one keeping track of all the countries I visit, the other all of the stadia. I don't really watch sport on TV - back home I'll cheer on the Hurricanes or Wellington Phoenix in person, but televised sport doesn't do it [...]

Jerusalem, if I forget you

My first memory of Israel? Being woken up by the flight attendant. Israel is a place I've for years dreamed about visiting. Never though I'd be visiting while dreaming! The distance finally caught up with me, and at some point during the flight I'd fallen asleep. The flight attendant roused me shortly before we began our descent into Tel [...]