The meaning is sometimes lost in translation

The tradition of mangling English in restaurants, hotels and public places continues

The meaning is sometimes lost in translationPARIS - Gerard Hoffnung was a raconteur and wit on the BBC in the 1950's. His speech to the Oxford Union, available on iTunes, is a classic piece of period of humour - a must listen to recording. Amongst the gems on that CD is a selection of letters received after inquiring about hotel accommodation…

The Bohemian jewel in Europe’s glittering crown

Český Krumlov often catches the first-time visitor by surprise, arousing a feeling of wondrous awe

The Bohemian jewel in Europe’s glittering crownČESKY KRUMLOV, Czech Republic / The child in all of us yearns for a magical land where we can hide away from all our cares – places like Camelot, or Brigadoon, or Shangri-La., or Český Krumlov. Český Krumlov? Graced with a name that to the North American ear sounds like a suppressed sneeze, this medieval…

A town-to-town hike along the Ligurian Sea

Cinque Terra offers astonishing vistas of beauty and a rigorous test of your hiking fitness

A town-to-town hike along the Ligurian SeaWhen I was first asked about going to Cinque Terra, I didn’t have a clue where it was. “Northern Italy – on the west coast, north of Pisa,” I was told. “Not quite on the French border. At the top of the boot!” I consulted my iPhone Google atlas and read some travel essays. What…

Discovering Monet’s lifelong fascination with architecture

London’s National Gallery exhibit offers rare glimpses into the artist’s examination of the play of light on human structures

Discovering Monet’s lifelong fascination with architectureOne of the great things about being a retired museum and art gallery CEO is that you know most of the basic tricks of the trade. For instance, you can get a very quick gauge of an exhibition’s successes and high points by talking with the gallery security staff. So as soon as we had…

Giverny and Monet’s Gardens

Stop in Giverny at least for a few hours to wander among Monet's gardens and you'll feel like you've entered one of his paintings

Giverny and Monet’s GardensIf you love Impressionist paintings, why not plan a visit to Giverny, in France, and see Monet’s garden, flowers, pond and bridges for yourself? It’s been said the Impressionist art movement acquired its name from one of Monet’s paintings called “Impression, Sunrise.” Giverny was Monet's home during the last half of his life. He painted…

Everything you’ve ever heard about Paris is true

But like a flirtatious mistress, she will drive you to distraction while capturing your soul

Everything you’ve ever heard about Paris is trueEverything you’ve ever heard about Paris is true: Expensive. Unfriendly. Grimy. Noisy. Gaudy. Congested. So why do I ache with longing whenever I hear the name? And why do I spend every cent I can spare to fly there again and again when there are a thousand-and-one other places in the world I’ve yet to…

Our tips for planning your vacation to France

Planning a vacation in France can be a daunting task, but here are some short cuts which can help

Our tips for planning your vacation to FrancePlanning a vacation in France can be a daunting task, but there are some short cuts which can help. First, understand France as a group of very different provinces. For example, the Riviera is a very different kind of place from the Luberon which is again different from Normandy. Read about the regions and link…

A minibus ramble through Scottish Highland history

As our minibus pulled to a stop, I felt suddenly that my grandmother’s love of the Highland landscape was surrounding us all

A minibus ramble through Scottish Highland historyI count myself lucky to have had a Scottish grandmother. She was a Graham of Montrose, and came from humble beginnings. I remember her describing something called a byre, and explaining that her mother lived in a crofter’s house with the cattle. From the moment I learned this, I have wanted to travel to northern…

The hardships of Orkney link to Canada’s early days

Displaced from their homes, many citizens of the Orkney islands ended up in Canada working for the Hudson Bay Company

The hardships of Orkney link to Canada’s early daysThe Standing Stones of Stenness on Mainland, the main Scottish island of Orkney, date back to approximately 3,100 BC. Stonehenge, to put the Orkneys in time perspective as a Neolithic parent to western Europe, was constructed from 3,000 to 2,000 BC. What was it about these outpost islands that attracted the earliest agriculturalists to their…

Decoding Orkney by channelling the subtle Norse air

Part 1: A Scottish contribution to Canada’s Arctic genome can be found in the deep history of these remote islands

Decoding Orkney by channelling the subtle Norse airWhen you hear mention of the Orkney islands, off Scotland’s northeast coast, what do you think of? For me, they conjure up a northern vision of Orkneymen, the founding of the Hudson’s Bay Co. on May 2, 1670 (I still recall this date after wearing hundreds of HBC clothing labels over the decades), the Arctic…