Travel Stories

Some of Graham's travel stories with an emphasis on odd destinations, or a different view of the familiar. Must-see places and some to avoid. and encounters with unusual characters, usually in colourful places in Elsewhere. All stories copyright Graham Reid.

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Prague; Czech Pepublic: White Light, White Heat ...

26 Sep 2017  |  4 min read

Deep below a park in an outer suburb of Prague – some four narrow flights down a circular stairwell – is an extensive warren of chilly tunnels and bare rooms. This was a nuclear fallout shelter built during the Cold War of the 50s and, as the largest of a few around Prague, was designed to hold at least 5000 of the local civilian population when bombs dropped by the... > Read more

Holmenkollen, Oslo, Norway: Up, up and away . . .

2 Sep 2017  |  2 min read

Aside from a couple of gentle coasts down a few small, snow-covered hills, the closest I've come to skiing is watching Eddie The Eagle. For those who missed that gentle, funny and mostly true film, it followed the story of a try-hard and decidedly un-athletic English bloke Eddie Edwards who decided he would become a ski jumper so he could enter the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.... > Read more

Sarawak, Borneo: Hotel Headhunter

5 Mar 2017  |  8 min read  |  1

In these minutes before you realise how foolish you are being, you could imagine yourself as Martin Sheen going up-river to seek out the mad Marlon Brando: the prow of the longboat pushing through muddy water; humid jungle steaming its way down to the riverbanks; bowing branches and vines hanging so low you sometimes have to duck beneath them . . . The sudden and unexpected clearings,... > Read more

Jerash, Jordan: A city of goats and ghosts

5 Mar 2017  |  3 min read

The Bedouin boy smacks a stick on a bleached rock and his small herd of goats, alarmed, leap forward a few metres then begin again fossicking for weeds and tufts of grass in this parched landscape. As the late afternoon sun creates long shadows and the blue sky turns a watery orange, you might wonder how often – over thousands of years – this same scene has been acted out... > Read more

Stockholm, Sweden: Reach for the sky

25 Feb 2017  |  3 min read

Atop a sheer bluff northeast of central Stockholm, overlooking one of the city's unglamorous port terminals on the far shore, a massive statue of Poseidon – holding a huge fish — takes in the view. Nearby a winged Pan plays a strange flute and behind them both a glowering, bull-headed figure from Swedish mythology sits menacingly astride a muscular horse. Over there the... > Read more

Copenhagen, Denmark: Walking off the art

26 Nov 2016  |  4 min read

Make no mistake, this art stuff can really take it out of you. It can get your step-rate up, the wind in your face and your aorta working overtime. Especially if you're in Copenhagen and choose to visit two different galleries — one south of the city, the other way north — and start your day with a couple of beers. Which is what I did. In my defense, the breakfast... > Read more

Copenhagen, Denmark: Beer, the breakfast of champions

30 Oct 2016  |  4 min read

Here's what we know about a tour of a brewery, vineyard or distillery: The interesting bit — the only important bit, unless you are into fermentation or like digging your paws in hops — comes at the end. In the tasting room. Five'll get you 10 that no one who's done the tour of the Guinness factory in Dublin can tell you two facts about the brewing process of this gold... > Read more

Christchurch, New Zealand: A suite fit for a king-in-the-wings

12 Oct 2016  |  4 min read

Because it was late in the season and we were the only guests at Hall and Miles' luxury lodge, they put us in the suite where Charles and Camilla had stayed a few years ago. Just to press home the point of what that means . . . we remind you Charles is the fellow who is going to be the next British king. So he doesn't slum it. Our suite at Otahuna Lodge, about 20 minutes south... > Read more

Dubai International Airport: Aww mama, can this really be the end . . .

3 Sep 2016  |  5 min read  |  3

If a bug no bigger than a pinhead flying into your mouth is a memorable moment in your day, then your short time on this earth is being frittered away needlessly. Such a bug flew into my mouth as I needlessly frittered away a precious day. Only a crazy person would want to spend 24 hours in an airport, even a fancy one. But by circumstance then choice, that's what I did in Dubai... > Read more

Singapore: Drinking with an angel

22 May 2016  |  2 min read

It's always a pleasure — and sometimes even necessary given the humidity — to just plonk down in one of those cheap street-corner eateries in Singapore and take in the passing parade of diverse humanity over a cold bottle of Tiger beer. But sometimes you might want for ambience which is a little more classy . . . and for that you need Divine, a huge bar (maybe half the size... > Read more

Stockholm, Sweden: Full moon party with a wind-chill factor

10 Apr 2016  |  2 min read

Just before 7.30pm at Koh Phangan the kitsch fairy lights wound around the trees and handrails of the bungalows start to flicker. Suddenly there is an enormous clap of thunder overhead, a terrified two-year old runs back from watching fish in the little stream to cling to Mum and everywhere people are visibly startled. Then there is another, even deeper but slightly more distant,... > Read more

McCloud, California: You are what you eat

26 Mar 2016  |  4 min read

This is just an opinion: but nowadays it seems more difficult to find a really bad meal than a good one. That is unless you are in McCloud, a small town at the base of photogenic Mount Shasta in northern California. McCloud isn't on too many tourists' agendas---it is well off the highways and seems to be at the end of long dead-end road---and that is probably just as well if the kitchen... > Read more

Rarotonga, Cook Islands: Clocking Off

22 Mar 2016  |  3 min read

At 3.20 in the afternoon the clock on the bus taking us from the airport to the hotel reads 9.07. This could be an early and welcome sign that things here in the Cook Islands -- as in most such balmy places in the Pacific -- run to a different clock. And so it proves a few hours later when I am sitting in the bar at cocktail hour. The hotel is heavily booked so we have been... > Read more

Newcastle, Australia: Whiskey and taxidermy

31 Dec 2015  |  3 min read

When I was told the bar-cum-restaurant was speakeasy-themed that seemed enticing enough, but then it had three other attributes which were beguiling: it “specialises in fine whiskey, taxidermy and provisions of the Europas” the note said. Dunno 'bout you, but they had me at “taxidermy”. And when I mentioned I was keen to check out a particular bar to the... > Read more

Newcastle, Australia: Walking on sunshine

19 Dec 2015  |  4 min read

It's only when you get to Newcastle – which few New Zealand tourists do – that you're impressed by it. As I learned, this is the Australian coastal city – about 90 minutes drive north of Sydney – which gave the world coal and steel, Arnott's biscuits and the rock band silverchair. I also didn't know the famous Star Hotel – which closed with a riot in... > Read more

Melbourne, Australia: Little photos, big stories

6 Dec 2015  |  4 min read

Barely two minutes walk from furiously busy Flinders Street Station in central Melbourne is an extraordinary sixth floor museum which few locals know about. And even fewer visitors to the city. “Amazing, isn't it?” says Andrew Gaynor when we get back down to Bourke Street afterwards. “I didn't know about it myself until 18 months ago.” And if anyone might... > Read more

Central Coast New South Wales, Australia: Killing care on the road

27 Sep 2015  |  4 min read

About halfway across, when traffic slows to a fume-filled crawl, I glance sideways to see the city's most famous icon. And it occurs to me this is the first time in three decades I've been across Sydney Harbour Bridge. As the Opera House falls behind I also realise I don't have a clue where I'm heading – north is all I know – but that somewhere up ahead will be the luxury... > Read more

Buenos Aires, Argentina: Days of Heaven

19 Sep 2015  |  3 min read

There’s a typewriter in Heaven. I’ve seen it -- and for me, who has spent a good part of my life tapping on a keyboard, this was a depressing discovery. I’d thought Heaven, if I got there, would mean happy-hour all day and my favourite bands playing every night. Seems it’s going to be Groundhog Day at an old Underwood instead, not even a laptop with... > Read more

India, Outside the Window

16 Jul 2015  |  9 min read  |  1

The three hatchet-faced young men behind the desk at the upmarket hotel made it clear by their haughty indifference they didn't want us there. And frankly -- impressive as their vast, luxurious, light-filled but conspicuously empty lobby was -- I didn't want to be there either. But they were stuck with us. And we were stuck with them in a place which was allegedly Goa . . .... > Read more

Everywhere Elsewhere: These are grave matters

27 Jun 2015  |  3 min read

Last year another of those annoying e-mail arrived, and it wasn't offering subsequent riches from Nigeria. It seems some years ago I subscribed to a newsletter from the Jimi Hendrix estate – and you'd be surprised how much on-going news there is about a man who's been dead for more than 40 years. There are limited edition reissues of albums on vinyl, live concerts remastered... > Read more