Sunshine state

Is this a trip to the tourist haven of Florida? No. It’s a nod to this nation’s vibrant flag – a yellow, beaming sun rising on a bright red background. It’s one of Europe’s lesser visited countries but is worth a glance.

This landlocked Balkan state has been known as North Macedonia since February, resolving a long dispute with neighbours Greece. It was the southern flank of Yugoslavia until that country began to fragment in 1991.

A short tour through North Macedonia took in the capital city Skopje, which is littered with grand buildings and countless statues, some of them peculiarly oversized. You have the sense this country is grasping for an identity.

Travel to the south-west of the country and you’ll find the tranquil shores of Lake Ohrid where North Macedonians take their holidays. The small city of Ohrid is laced with old architecture, churches and magnificent ramparts.

North Macedonia isn’t yet a tourist hotspot – surely the best time to visit?

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South Island

New Zealand is a country that neatly falls into two halves, with a pair of main islands in the South Pacific.

I’ve already introduced you to my view of the North Island, where most of the population reside. 

The south is more rural and rugged, studded with mountains and shimmering blue lakes. Its few cities include Dunedin and Christchurch, which continues to recover following the devastating earthquake of 2011.

For a British traveller, both islands have a comforting familiarity among the peace of fewer people. Overall South Island just edges it for me, while New Zealanders definitely have an affinity with north or south. Which side wins it for you?…

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Travelling made easier

Soon it will be a year since I took time out of work to see some of the world. My numerous trips and experiences have turned this into a travel blog. I’ve now made it easier for you to navigate posts from around the globe and pinpoint countries and destinations that interest you.

If you’re viewing on desktop, simply click on TRAVEL and the list of countries and destinations will appear for you to look at. Some have more than one post containing my travel impressions and of course photo galleries.

If you’re viewing on a mobile device, tap MENU and you’ll see the same list. At the moment there are 20 international destinations to choose from, a number which is going to grow in the coming months – keep checking by for new posts.

And I’m rounding this off with an image of Chile’s Atacama Desert, a country which wowed with its variety of landscapes and sheer majesty. 

The magic of Iceland

Spectacular, awe-inspiring, amazing. Just a few of the superlatives that are given to Iceland and its magical landscapes.

This relatively small volcanic island close to the Arctic is packed with snow-capped mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, spurting geysers and a fantastic coastline scattered with glacial chunks and black sand.

I was lucky enough to visit some of these wonders on a tour of the country’s south in May and was even treated to a blanket of snow. If you enjoy landscape photography, Iceland is up there with the best of them.

But a note of caution. It’s now a popular destination and is organised to cope with many visitors. Some attractions are very busy and you may have to go further to experience real wilderness. Even so it’s hard to deny this country’s awesomeness.

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