Zanzibar and a quick favour to ask… (reader poll + giveaway)

Image Flickr creative commons Yoni Lerner Zanzibar is one of those places I’d heard of but couldn’t exactly point to on a map. I knew it was off the east coast of Africa, but that was about it. But when a flight deal came up with Rwandair on their newly launched service via Kigali out…

Visiting Tana Toraja – an unforgettable stop on your Sulawesi trip

“Do you know the story of why the Torajan people have houses with roofs shaped like boats? It’s said that our ancestors arrived from the north in a fierce storm and their boats were badly damaged, so much so that they couldn’t take to sea again. So instead they used the boats as shelter.” Tana…

10 best views of Sorrento, Vesuvius and the Amalfi Coast

  Italy is one of my favourite places and yet, until last week, I’d only been there twice. So another visit, this time to Sorrento on the Bay of Naples, was long overdue. Somehow being surrounded by orange and lemon groves, walking around in sandals in April, surrounded by the bluest of seas really gave…

La Palma, the Canary Island with a unique link to Venezuela

It’s a small place, La Palma. Not only on a map; I was sure I’d heard this tale of growing up in Venezuela and moving back home to La Palma to avoid military service before. Maybe this guy was a relative of the driver from the previous night. La Palma, one of the smallest and…

Travel inspiration: An Evening with Levison Wood

Did you know that there’s a ‘wanderlust’ gene (DRD4-7R), commonly found in explorers, risk takers and people who love to travel, but only 20% of us have it? Levison Wood is definitely a man whose genetic makeup may go some way to explaining that insatiable desire to get up, head out and get as far…

A night on a Dutch navy ship

It’s not often I spend a Friday night surrounded by tall Dutch sailors, but who am I to turn down a golden opportunity to spend some time on a visiting Dutch naval ship? (Don’t worry, my Dutch husband was the reason for the invite, so I kind of had to take him along which limited…

Whale-watching in the Lembeh Straits, Sulawesi

The limpid waters of the Lembeh Straits lapped the black sands of Tangkoko as our outrigger canoe pushed out in search of pilot whales. The fuzzy edges of the nearby volcano slowly sharpened into view as dawn broke over this little-visited corner of Indonesia’s 17,000 or so islands. The hot roti hurriedly  collected from a…

A Sulawesi state of mind (tips for where to visit in Sulawesi)

What image does the word Sulawesi conjure up for you? Have you even heard of it? Maybe if you’re older you might know it by the names of Celebes. Sulawesi is one of the largest islands in the Indonesian archipelago, oddly shaped like an octopus or spider. Its northern tip and southern province welcome some tourists…

Cologne Christmas markets – the essential guide

When it comes to Christmas markets, Germany is one of the best (if not the best) places in the world to sample the delights of gluhwein, warming winter food and wooden chalets packed full of gift ideas, from wooden toys to glass baubles. Last weekend I was lucky enough to visit the Christmas markets in Cologne…

A dream fulfilled at Borobudur

It’s been a long-time dream of mine to visit Borobudur, a 9th century Buddhist temple in Central Java and a few weeks ago my dream was finally fulfilled. I couldn’t quite believe I was there, just 12 hours after arriving in Yogyakarta after a very long journey from the UK. Borobudur is one of Java’s…

2 weeks in Java and Sulawesi – trip highlights in photos

The stupas of Borobudur, central Java The incredible Hindu temple of Prambanan, central Java The keraton (sultan’s palace) in Yogyakarta Javanese dance in Surakarta An amazing sunrise boat ride spotting pilot whales, Tangkoko national park, North Sulawesi   Relaxing in paradise a.k.a. Bunaken island, North Sulawesi The fascinating cliff burials of Tana Toraja, Sulawesi Torajan…