Category: Travels

THE CASTLE OF TREASURE

Alexander was a lawyer at a Swiss bank in Geneva. He was immensely bored of it, as we well understand. One day, he dropped everything and took his family away to a new life. With his initiation, they purchased a large castle in the south of France, in Ariège, in the middle of a little-known…

KIZKALESI CASTLE

Many years ago, while travelling along the southern coast of Turkey, I stopped in the ancient village of Silifke, the Seleucia of Antiquity. Across it, in the middle of the sea, stood the towers of an imposing medieval castle that seemed to emerge from the water. Legend has it that in memorial times, be it…

EVRIKLES

I was searching with Fivos for an illustrious character that lived in Palaipolis during the Roman Era. “No one known,” he tells me. In fact, barely anything is known of the city’s history. The only character tied to the Roman Kythira was called Evrikles. It was at a time in Egypt when Cleopatra and Mark Anthony…

THE SHAH’S TREASURE

Back in the days of the Shah, every time went to Iran, I rushed over to the Melli Bank because I loved looking at the crown jewels on display there in a basement room. I would begin with the Throne of the Peacocks, which was not in fact the dismantled original, but instead a facsimile:…

THE MAGICIAN’S CHAMBERMAID

  Over twenty years ago, Marshal Alan Brooke’s descendants invited me to their castle in Northern Ireland. Theirs was a courageous and enterprising household; they had decided to restore the family domain and open it to the public. They were endearing, welcoming, intelligent and warm. The surprising thing is that I cannot remember the name…

THE DIWAN AND THE DANCER

  In Queen Ahilya’s inner circle there was a diwan, a minister of whom she was particularly fond. His name was Boliya Sarkar Chatri. She found him so remarkable that she offered him one of her relatives, a princess from Indore, in matrimony: but the diwan was smitten with a beautiful and loving dancer. He…

THE MAHARAJAH OF GWALIOR AND THE BANDITS

Many decades ago, we had been the guests of the sumptuous Maharajah of Gwalior, government minister and huge personality. He had told us of his dacoits. They were the local bandits that occupied the savannah. They were organized in gangs, the most famous of the time lead by a woman, Phoolan Devi, which had been…

On Dracula’s Footsteps V

In 1459, during the course of a devastating raid in Transylvania, Vlad attacked Brasov. He burned the poor suburbs, in particular the church of Saint Bartholomew, today full of factories. He bombarded the ramparts, particularly the stronghold of weavers. On Quinta Hill, in full view of the besieged, he impaled dozens of prisoners. One of…

On Dracula’s Footsteps IV

Tuesday, 21 June The ancient city of Brasov is now besieged by hideous factories and modern quarters. We stared down upon it with horror from a high vantage point, a sharp contrast to the overflowing beauty and charm of the old city. The neighborhood around the famous Black Church is extraordinary. Vaguely Austrian despite having…

Inca Secrets

During the 1970s, Marina and I took a three-month voyage to Latin America. Our travels brought us to Peru, and in particular to Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire. Upon arriving, we started our journey by resting in the airport for a few hours to acclimate to the altitude. We then made our…