Page 4 of Weir travels Travel Blog Posts

Middle East » Lebanon » Baalbek June 1st 2010

“You would have kicked yourself had you not got to Baalbek (or I'd have kicked you!!),” promised Nick who lives in the Middle East. For anyone with any knowledge of Roman ruins and/or the Middle Eastern history, Baalbek is a must-see. For me, ignorant of Classical remains despite the best efforts of two Classicist parents, this was my first “real live Roman ruin” and, quite literally, it took my breath away. Relatively few man-made creations have that effect on me. The natural world, scenery and wildlife: yes; man’s efforts, generally no. Maybe it’s because the impact and scale of impressive scenery cannot be conveyed by even the best television cameras. Maybe it’s because our relatively higher exposure to the world’s great monuments makes them familiar long before we see them for ourselves: a film scene set ... read more
Baalbek's not that exciting...
roof detail of one of the circular exedra in the Great Courtyard
Baalbek's Propylaea

Middle East » Lebanon May 31st 2010

I tried very hard with Lebanon. I really did. And I’m not used to having to try at all: brand new territory for me mentally as well as geographically. But I never quite got there. And somehow that conclusion - reluctant as I have been since my return to voice it even to myself - makes me feel as if I failed. The history is mind-blowing, I’ll readily admit: from fossils millions of years old to the most incredible Stone Age, Greek, Roman, Phoenician, Arab and Crusader ruins, often all piled on top of each other like a giant four-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. The wine is delicious, the beer perfectly palatable, and I never quite managed to tire of hummus and tabbouleh. But something didn’t click for me. Maybe I never quite got over the traffic, and ... read more
the Corniche, Beirut
the well-shelled monument of the Place des Martyrs
the remains of the winter snow through the cedars

With A difference? With a HUGE difference, more like. Make that a multitude of differences. For starters, I was, with one exception, entirely without family or friends of more than a few days’ acquaintance. For another, I was in the Tropics. On a Caribbean island. In 24/7 five-star luxury. Oh, and I started the day with a yoga class. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Having reluctantly resigned myself to a summer of that nasty w-o-r-k stuff, by the end of April I was finding that it wasn’t all going quite to plan. Yes, I was lucky enough to have been taken on by a City firm’s innovative locum-lawyer programme, but the paperwork was dragging its heels and the initial apparent plethora of opportunities seemed to be drying up. So, when Kate mentioned over pizza and ... read more
no tee-ing off today
view from our room
caught with my mouth full

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Lincolnshire May 3rd 2010

The groundsman nodded at the pilot and made a rotating motion with his right arm, gesturing at the inner of the two propellers on the right wing. Slowly it began to turn. Whop…. whop... whop… whirr…. and the blades were suddenly a blur. He moved closer to the roped-off crowd and gestured likewise at the outer propeller. The pilot acknowledged, touching his forehead, an informal salute. Whop… whop… whop… whirr…. On the other side, the inner propeller seemed a little more reluctant. Whop… whop… whop… whop… pause… whop… whop… whop… Like a car engine on a chill morning, it seemed to reluctant to kick in. I could sympathise. It was knife-edge bitter in the northerly wind, notwithstanding the May sunshine. I already had my hood up, anchoring my cap in place, and was regretting I hadn’t ... read more
formation flying
"oooh what big wings you've got"
face on

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Varanasi April 3rd 2010

I returned to the UK in mid-February for a friend’s 40th, the penultimate snowfall of what had been, to all accounts, a dreadful winter, and the rueful acknowledgement that I should really be sensible and think about Doing Something to top up the “war chest” of my travel funds. But I’m a 1970 baby, and this is my generation’s year, so when I was reminded by a Delhi friend’s wife of my promise at his 39th last year to re-materialise in time for his 40th this year, it was a no-brainer. Happily, I postponed progressing the w-o-r-k thing for the time being, and hopped on a plane to Delhi for a week. With each trip I’ve made to India since I jettisoned the rat-race I have tried to explore another part of this vast, hypnotic, tantalising ... read more
view from my guest house window
my first sight of Ganga Ma
some protection against the dust, pollution and "aroma"

Oceania » Australia » New South Wales » Broken Hill February 9th 2010

After a week of uncharacteristic luxury in Fiji for a cousin’s wedding in mid-January - what I do in the name of representing my branch of the family! - I headed off to the distant reaches of western New South Wales to see how an erstwhile elephant scientist was adapting to life with marsupials for company. Sadly the elephants of Namibia’s Kaokoland had not weathered the global financial crisis well, and a lack of funding had driven the principal scientist to look for a “real job” back in his native Australia. Mind you, the “real job” he found involves running a research station in the middle of serious amounts of nowhere north of Broken Hill for the University of New South Wales - not exactly a nine-to-five desk job, and one in a landscape not dissimilar ... read more
grooming mum
dust storm and thunderstorm approaching

Oceania » Australia » Tasmania » Sorell February 8th 2010

As I wandered through to the kitchen for the first of the day’s essential injections of caffeine, a movement outside the front door caught my eye. The old doe was back, with her own joey and the adopted trio in close attendance, hopeful, as ever, that something edible might materialise from the humans’ den, their curiosity emphasised by the smudged nose- and paw-marks on the glass. From the shards of orange on the ground around them, I guessed that Keith had already obliged with a carrot or two. I went out to give the old girl a scratch. The orphaned trio kept their distance, still wary despite their habituation, but her own joey, head deep in her mother’s pouch to suckle, allowed me gently to stroke her too. I wondered if the old doe was carrying ... read more
illuminated trees
some of my 16,000 companions on Hogmanay
body art

Africa » Uganda December 6th 2009

And here are a few more! No apologies for my usual indecision over which photographs to upload. It's a gorgeous place, even in the rainy season, and, quite frankly, you can't have too many elephant photos... can you? (Watch this space: I'm putting this principle to the test with kangaroos...)... read more
Jackson's hartebeest
hippo in the Victoria Nile
Murchison Falls from above

Africa » Uganda December 5th 2009

Water, wildlife and wilderness: exploring the jewel of Africa I have to confess I didn’t get to know Uganda. We didn’t sit down and shoot the breeze. We didn’t travel long distances together, me and as many people as a matatu can hold, with a good few more squeezed in for luck, with or without attendant farm animals. We didn’t exchange life stories and aspirations. We didn’t sit at the side of the road and watch the world go by. And yet I spent two weeks here. To that extent, I feel as if I cheated. My base was a backpackers in Kampala. I went on backpacker trips. Wall-to-wall muzungus. Nice and isolated from the real Uganda and real Ugandans. OK, so I arrived from Rwanda and travelled on to Kenya by public transport, enjoying the ... read more
the source of the Victoria Nile
Bujagali Falls
grey crowned cranes

Africa » Rwanda November 15th 2009

Reviewing my photos towards the end of five weeks in Rwanda/Goma/Bujumbura, I realised that I had accumulated quite a number of entertaining shop signs and the like. Rather than put them into a word-less blog (after all, isn’t my erstwhile profession paid by the word?), I thought I’d accompany them with a précis of some of the delightful quirks I’ve encountered in day-to-day life in this part of the world. (For those of an eagle-eyed persuasion, I had better confess upfront that most of the photographs came from Bujumbura, but most of the quirks are based on my experiences in Rwanda.) Food and drink are always going to attract local differences, though I felt that Rwanda went in for more than most. The staple in this part of the world is “ugali and sauce”. Ugali can ... read more
my kind of shop!
wonder if the bull knows he's on the menu too?
minibus shows its colours

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