Transylvania, Romania

Transylvania instantly conjures images of vampires, bats and Dracula. But there’s far more to this region of Romania, which Nicola and I set out to discover on a surprise trip for my thirtieth birthday. The day before my birthday, Nicola handed me a little box that contained a little hand-drawn map declaring that we were going on a Transylvanian road trip that very afternoon. So … Continue reading Transylvania, Romania

Ithaca, Greece

I’m not really used to taking particularly relaxing holidays (see Vietnamese cave trek; driving through Bosnian mountain passes etc.), but Ithaca is one of the calmest, most serene and beautiful places I have ever been. Ithaca, a tiny Greek island in the Ionian Sea, is perhaps best-known as the home of Homer’s Odysseus. A small island of just 3,000 people, the wonderful thing about Ithaca … Continue reading Ithaca, Greece

Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi was our final stop on our adventure through Vietnam, and we were looking forward to visiting the capital city, with its 19th century French architecture, modern skyscrapers and ancient narrow streets. Although by this point we realised the entire place would likely be filled with mopeds. And it was. After our last few days spent in the relative tranquility of Hạ Long Bay and … Continue reading Hanoi, Vietnam

Hạ Long Bay, Vietnam

Hạ Long Bay is a ridiculously beautiful part of the world. Thousands of limestone karsts tower out of the clear blue water, in which secluded white beaches nestle among caves worn by millennia of waves. It is a stunning, magical place. Before planning our trip to Hạ Long Bay, we had carried out some careful research. The bay has earned a reputation for being full … Continue reading Hạ Long Bay, Vietnam

Phong Nha-Ke Bàng, Vietnam

We were on the train to Đồng Hới when I first read about the tigers. I secretly thought I could outwit the snakes. But with tigers, I wasn’t so sure. We had caught the train from Huế to go to Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park, an area in central Vietnam which borders Laos. The national park is home to the world’s largest cave (a five-day … Continue reading Phong Nha-Ke Bàng, Vietnam

Huế and the Hải Vân Pass, Vietnam

The 2008 Christmas Special of Top Gear, irritating as the programme may be, had drawn our attention to a winding mountain road called the Hải Vân Pass. The mountain pass was superseded by a tunnel a few years ago, meaning the route is quiet, and ideal for scenic mountain road driving. Due to various Vietnamese laws which I won’t pretend to understand, we weren’t allowed … Continue reading Huế and the Hải Vân Pass, Vietnam