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People and Places

Hate LA? No way!

Few cities seem to generate such extreme opinions as Los Angeles. Do a quick online search and the ‘I Love LA’ crowd will be mirrored by the ‘I Can’t Stand LA’ contingent. Many of the ‘love LA’ers are paid to say so – the marketing and tourism boards, and the hotels and businesses anxious to draw visitors. So what…

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The Geneva Flower Clock and Other Snapworthy Sights

We have a history, Geneva and I. As a child I visited often, courtesy of my father’s obscure international job. In time I returned for a year to study law. As I stepped off the night train from Paris my first encounter would be with just that – the law. Exhausted, I lugged my two suitcases across a deserted…

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When Art Takes Over: The Case of Nantes, France

What do you do when people consider your city dull, boring and grey – and won’t visit? You try something different because you know, deep inside, that your home (in this case Nantes, France) is anything but non-descript. You just have to bring out its beauty. Nantes did this with a single word: art. “We decided to develop…

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Visiting Oakland: Does It Get a Second Chance?

Sitting across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco, Oakland is a bit of an unruly kid brother, smaller, rebellious and trying hard to be noticed. When questioned, friends arch their eyebrows in wonder: Why Oakland? Well, take a look at the Fox Theater and tell me. Wouldn’t you make the trip just for this magnificent building?…

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The Surprising Sights of San Francisco

If I were looking for naked men, Latino street art and hippies within minutes of one another, I’d head to San Francisco. I don’t surprise easily so, San Francisco, well done! From the slightly perplexing to the jaw-dropping jolt, here are a few of the surprising sights of San Francisco that caught my eye during two visits in July and…

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Djemaa El Fna, Marrakech: A Sensual Attack

My first evening was the worst. Like a slap in the face, leaving me bruised and winded, not knowing where to look. The central square of Marrakech, Djemaa El Fna, shocked me physically, its enormity making me feel as though I had dived into a whirlpool, pulled apart and assaulted from all sides by motion and smell, by bright,…

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The Ardeche, France: 7 Things That Surprised Me

On 24 June 2014 the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc cavern was inscribed on Unesco’s coveted World Heritage list, which had this to say about the complex: “They are of exceptional aesthetic quality, demonstrate a range of techniques, including the skillful use of colour, combinations of paint and engraving, anatomical precision, three-dimensionality and movement.” The Ardeche, France: best known for its…

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Meet Mr Mohammed from Mhamid, Morocco

The dust sprinkling the streets of M’hamid Elghizlan, as Mhamid is formally called, comes from the desert’s edge a few minutes away, where the Saharan wind and sand eat into what was once a thriving crossroads along the salt caravan routes to Timbuktu. Against a red brick wall, a former shop door opening is partially…

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Desert: A Sahara Night

The stars hang like an unfinished choreography, dancers suspended in mid-air. The North Star sits straight above – or is it Venus? It would land on my forehead if it fell. The space between each speck of light is deep navy, the kind of blue that exists only when light is absent and here, in the…

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