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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Bern, Switzerland: Just another day by the Kindlifresserbrunnen

15 Jan 2018  |  4 min read

The day dawns bright and clear as the train glides out of Gare de Lyon, coasts gently through tower-block suburbs and past the graffiti and indecipherable tagging which seems generic to railway sidings everywhere. Within a few minutes the speed increases, the factories and warehouses giving way to farmland. We are travelling south towards Italy -- but before then have decided to... > Read more

Frankfurt, Germany: Reach for the sky . . .

15 Dec 2017  |  2 min read

Those of us lucky enough to travel – and given the crowds at airports everywhere that seems just about everyone these days – have our list of common complaints: delays, queues, longer and longer walks to the gate (has anyone ever had Gate 1?), kids running around the baggage carousel, important but inaudible announcements . . . Usually people grumble quietly to themselves... > Read more

Prague; Czech Republic: Wipe that smile off your . . .

4 Dec 2017  |  3 min read

The pleasant middle-aged woman at the private museum in central Prague looks baffled by my simple question. I don't need one, but I ask again: “Do you have a toilet here?” I haven't seen a bathroom as I've walked around, so I'm just curious. But therein lies her confusion . . . because here there's no shortage of toilets, chamber pots,... > Read more

Arizona, USA: Into the valley . . .

26 Nov 2017  |  4 min read

Kayenta is little more than a wide spot on the highway through north east Arizona. There’s not much worth reporting: a chainstore outlet, a small and somewhat pitiful town which shimmers in the dry heat, a few motels and a Holiday Inn. Kayenta -- not far from Four Corners where Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico meet -- offers no reason to stop, unless you are looking for a... > Read more

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