Travel Stories

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McMinnville, Oregon: Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose folly

2 Mar 2006  |  4 min read

In a flat field outside the small town of McMinnville in northwest Oregon is a building so large that cars visibly slow on the highway so the occupants can take a look at it. Even in America -- the birthplace of bigness -- this enormous squat A-frame with its frontage of glass panels is an outstanding structure. And it houses one of the biggest and most eccentric aircraft in the world.... > Read more

Naples, Italy: You have been warned

2 Mar 2006  |  5 min read  |  4

"The thing with Napoli," said Alfonso leaving a pause for effect, "is the tourist people they love it or they do not. But I understand why they do not. The city, she is . . . " To be honest I can't remember exactly what he said next about his birthplace, but it could have been something like this: that Naples is noisy and polluted, the roads are congested, and you can... > Read more

Berlin: Another brick in the Wall

2 Mar 2006  |  7 min read

The first thing you see when you come out of the Bernauerstrasse underground station in Berlin is the ruin: no houses down one side of the road, just overgrown and scrappy wasteland spotted with slabs of crumbling concrete and rusting reinforcing steel. It is as if the homes which once stood here had been hastily bulldozed and their skeletons left for the weeds to take possession of and grow... > Read more

East Coast, North Island of New Zealand: Hawkes Bay the long way

17 Feb 2006  |  8 min read

The handbrake might give you a bit of trouble, says John as he finishes a litany of idiosyncrasies about his beautifully restored 1957 Mark Two Zephyr. I have already heard it can pop out of second, to put in a measure of Valvoline with the petrol, to check the water daily, and that riding the brakes downhill might lead to them overheating and not functioning properly. And now the handbrake... > Read more

The Dalles, Oregon: Hill in a high place

6 Oct 2005  |  5 min read

Sam Hill had a vision fairly common among the wealthy: an agrarian utopia where happy workers would toil in fertile fields, their cheery lives overseen by their benign master -- himself, of course -- from a bastion high on a hill above. Unfortunately Sam -- a railway man and an incurable builder of roads -- picked the wrong hill in the wrong place. It is near The Dalles in north... > Read more

Central Australian Outback: And miles to go before I sleep

6 Jan 2005  |  5 min read

Somewhere about 300km southwest of Alice Springs on a largely featureless strip of the Lasseter Highway I slow down for the laughably named Mount Ebenezer. It is little more than another flat bit, but with a shop, a petrol station and five Aboriginal woman sitting under a tree. Within a minute the car is back on cruise control set at an easy 120kph and I am once more lazily gazing... > Read more