Category: Travel

  • Review: A Diplomat in Japan by Ernest Mason Satow

    Review: A Diplomat in Japan by Ernest Mason Satow

    The book A Diplomat in Japan, by Ernest Mason Satow describes Satow’s work and life from his arrival in Japan in 1861 to his first home leave in 1869. Satow maintained a diary throughout his working life, and this book is essentially a reworking of the diaries of that period into a more abstract chronological description…

  • Flying fish

    Flying fish

    Flying fish in the Science Museum, Coimbra I took a photo of this flying fish in the Science Museum of the university of Coimbra. It is perhaps not the most impressive animal on display, but it caught my eye because I have a weak spot for animals that swim through the air. (Of course a…

  • Review: On Persephone’s Island: A Sicilian Journal by Mary Taylor Simeti

    In 1962, Mary Taylor came to Sicily on a graduation trip to do social work in the Dolci Center in Partinico. There she met Tonino Simeti, married him, and stayed on the island permanently. Only eighteen months after their marriage, Tonino’s elder brother died, and the dreams the couple had of a nomadic life doing development work…

  • The sad history of the Japanese tower and the Chinese Pavilion in Brussels

    The sad history of the Japanese tower and the Chinese Pavilion in Brussels

    In 1900 there was a world fair in Paris. The Grand Palais and Petit Palais, as well as the nearby Pont Alexandre III, were built for this fair, and are famous Paris landmarks to this day. The fair showed novelties such as Rudolf Diesel‘s engine (running on peanut oil!), Russian matryoshka dolls, talking films, and escalators. The…

  • Things to do: Visit the Saitama railway museum

    Things to do: Visit the Saitama railway museum

    The history of Japanese railroads goes back as far as 1872, when a railroad was opened between Yokohama and Tokyo (just in time for Isabella Bird to use it in 1875). The network was quickly expanded, but the highlight of the modern Japanese railway system is the Shinkansen, a network of high-speed trains with a remarkable track…

  • Review: The Roads to Sata, A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan, by Alan Booth

    Review: The Roads to Sata, A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan, by Alan Booth

    Japan seems to inspire long walking trips; pilgrimages are an old and respected tradition. Even by that standard, what Alan Booth did is remarkable: he walked from the northernmost tip of mainland Japan (Cape Soya on the island Hokkaido) to the southernmost tip (Cape Sata on the island Kyushu), a distance of more than 3000 kilometers.…

  • Review: Isabella Bird – Unbeaten tracks in Japan

    Review: Isabella Bird – Unbeaten tracks in Japan

    Isabella Bird is one of those travelers and writers that only the 19th century could produce. She was born in 1831 as the daughter of  Reverend Edward Bird and Dora Lawson. Because she had poor health from her youth, the doctors recommended an open-air life. Her family encouraged her, for example by letting her learn…

  • Things to do: use the channel tunnel

    Things to do: use the channel tunnel

    Admittedly this is mostly a symbolic thing to do, since all tunnels look alike. Nevertheless, the channel tunnel between Calais and Dover, connecting France to Great Britain, is a very impressive engineering feat, and that makes it worth visiting. See on: Google maps, OpenStreetMap (Image courtesy of wikimedia commons)

  • Park of the Fiftieth Anniversary in winter

    Park of the Fiftieth Anniversary in winter

    The Parc du Cinquantenaire (Park of the Fiftieth Anniversary) in winter. This is an area that is a little outside the center of Brussels. The arch commemorates 50 years of Belgian independence from the Netherlands. Considering the size of the arch, it must have been a great relieve at the time to be independent, although King Leopold…

  • Review: The Way of the World by Nicolas Bouvier

    Review: The Way of the World by Nicolas Bouvier

    In June 1953 Nicolas Bouvier and Thierry Vernet finished the exams of their studies in Geneva, and without even waiting for the results, they started a road trip in their Fiat 500 “Tipolino”. Their epic journey would last until December 1954, and would take them through Yugoslavia, Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan and eventually to the…