Essence of Armenia

This small landlocked country in the Caucusus mountains groans under the sheer weight of its own history.

For the visitor Armenia offers a great deal. It’s studded with ancient monasteries and churches, set in a majestic, rugged landscape.

The experience can be rustic, but the tables are always full of delicious food. And if you’re lucky, you will find a mysticism and spirituality in this ancient land.

Here’s what I found on my Armenian journey…

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Cuba Libre!

Welcome to the biggest island in the Caribbean which boasts 11 million inhabitants.

Cuba still sits in the shadow of its socialist revolution led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara almost 60 years ago, with slogans and monuments everywhere.

It’s a country with two currencies, monthly rations and quaintly limited internet access.

But most photographers flock here for the vibrant colour palette, faded architecture and vintage cars crawling the streets. Havana and other urban centres had this in spades. Delicious and irresistible!

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Land of fire

This was a fleeting visit to an oil-rich country on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

Azerbaijan boasts a showpiece capital in Baku, with contemporary architecture and wide, pleasant boulevards.

Outside of Baku, the country boasts fortresses, ancient rock carvings and plumes of fire from the earth.

But the landscape is sometimes barren and unforgiving, while the opulence and modernity of Baku doesn’t extend much beyond the city.

Here’s what I saw…

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A taste of Greece

It’s taken me a long time to get around to visiting Greece, a favourite of Britons and all tourists alike.

I chose the island of Santorini, famed for its azure seas, cliff-clinging villages and magical sunsets.

It delivered all of this and had a fantastic light for photography.

But I have to be an honest traveller. Santorini is incredibly popular and crawls with visitors. Quad bikes choke the roads and destinations like Oia trap tourists like flies. Departing from the oversubscribed airport can be an uncomfortable experience.

If you want to relax in the Greek islands, choose one of the many others which still enjoy relative anonymity. A lesson learned…

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Manchester haven

Here’s a complaint about Manchester city centre. There just aren’t enough decent green spaces – lungs for the metropolis.

But if you board a tram south to East Didsbury and take a leisurely stroll of around 15 minutes, you will find Fletcher Moss Park.

On a July visit when the weather had turned more unsettled, I was enthralled by the botanical garden, woodlands and the park’s tree-lined avenue.

Who said that Manchester doesn’t have any green havens!

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