Georgia was ranked the fourth-safest country in the world in 2020 by the quality of life researchers Numbeo, and this is how it feels. The internet is great in Tbilisi – and in the second city, Batumi on the Black Sea – but disappears elsewhere. I learned this the hard way, when I went hiking in the Caucasus Mountains for the weekend, got avalanched-in, and went AWOL from work for two days. … More Working remotely from Georgia – for Lonely Planet
St. Petersburg is a gorgeous – and surprisingly boisterous – city full of mesmerising art, impressive history, and unforgettable hospitality. It is one of the world’s great cities. But a trip to Russia can still seem daunting. Luckily for travellers for whom the Winter Palace, Hermitage Museum and Mariinsky Theatre have felt out of reach, Europe’s fourth-largest city is becoming much more accessible. … More 2021 travel guide to St. Petersburg, Russia
It was lunchtime at Chorsu Bazaar, and the wooden benches of the choykhona were filling up with hungry families. The room was dark from the smoke of cigarettes and shashlyk. I took a space opposite an older middle-aged couple, sitting with a boy of about six. … More A miracle in Tashkent
‘Grandad! Ata! How did you even stay alive? How did you live to be a hundred in such good health and sound mind?’ my loved ones asked.
‘I’m surprised myself,’ I answered. ‘Probably the Almighty wanted you all to be born, and he had to keep me alive to drag me through the fire and ice of the godless people.’
– Bayangali Alimzhanov – A Hundred Years on the Steppe … More A Hundred Years on the Steppe – my translation of a novel by the Kazakh author Bayangali Alimzhanov
About half an hour outside Ulan-Ude is a vast forest park, dotted with model villages, representing the traditional cultures of the peoples who live in this part of Siberia – the Buryats, Evenks and Old Believers. The park is called the Ethnographic Museum of the Peoples of Transbaikalia, but it is more than a museum. … More The prize-winning camel of Ulan-Ude
The next day he drove me south, to Tatev monastery: on the way he gave me time on my own, to explore and contemplate at Khor Virap, climb up the wall of Noravank monastery, and wander through the Zorats Karer stones. These places fascinated me – but more than that, the journey was breathtaking. I am still mesmerised by how the towns of Yeghegnadzor and Vayk felt, and the landscapes we passed between Areni and Tatev. … More Saying goodbye to Armenia