Salvador’s indoor market sells everything from knick-knacks to traditional instruments and clothing, and you can grab a Brahma beer and watch football on the communal TV with the locals.
The meat is slow-smoked over wood and covered in a thick tomato and molasses-based sauce. It’s a plate of bovine delight and being a visitor, I’m removed of all guilt, so can lip-smack, finger-lick and enjoy pulling apart the burnt ends and brisket.
Luxury riggers are just a way for the super-rich to spend their money once they’ve bought a footie team. OK, so I mock their Napoleon complex, but, really, it’s a loathing that stems from jealousy, and now I want to be part of their world. I want to dip my toe in the turquoise waters of the Adriatic and shout ‘Ahoy!’
I hear it said that this ‘natural’ potion can be embraced without the repercussions of a hangover. Those people are wrong. I attempt to keep up with the zealous drinkers and, come morning, the effects kick like a mule.
Later that evening, the modest town of just over 4,000 gather to give salty-worship. Locals dress in traditional early-Slovenian attire and visitors are encouraged to wear the pointy, straw hats worn by salt farmers. Ear-bleeding music booms from speakers as Slovenian basketballers are introduced.
The sun shines, but there’s a fierce, skirt-lifting wind threatening the modesty of the unprepared. Unwelcome and unannounced, it blows through the region, flapping flags from poles and dismantling umbrellas.
The women in traditional Bahian dress are out frying balls of dough into acaraje. The area is filling up; happy hour is early and long-running...”
From the Hoe around the harbour, the swell of the public looked out to sea, as my floppy limbs failed in their duties. I could see the red and white stripes of Smeaton’s Tower and the 196ft wheel. Sea Cadets were performing drills and The Royal Marines Volunteer Cadet Band marched and beat drums.
There’s an international sparkle, a heightened sense of celebrity and fame about the place, perhaps more than anywhere else in the world. Infinitesimal lives become exaggerated in the dynamism of one of the greatest cities on earth...
As with my last visit to the Middle East, entering Beirut is a simple process until passport control. My passport and the genuine article are compared and studied, the immigration officer’s head nodding up and down searching for resemblance.
Tuscany is the welcome mat of Italy. It’s where the renaissance started and the British come to die. Its history is a glittering mosaic of wars, wines and wonderment, and we Brits continue to relocate to the mountainous region of Toscana; out of our element, believing that the artistry will seep into our souls. Or maybe it’s just for the wine?
Huskies are cute. They have something exotic and rare. An Arctic charm. They are dogs with a purpose; everyday dogs, work dogs and you never see one stuffed into Paris Hilton’s handbag.
Attending a ‘football’ game in America though is not about the score. It’s not even about the game, thankfully for the Chiefs. It’s about the fans. Facepaints, fantasy football, family, friends, fundraising, fried chicken, the fundamentals and football fanaticism. All the Fs.
Budapest does not live in its nostalgia but neither can it focus too far ahead. The city is from a time before, ever so slowly awakening. Its expectations are scuppered by its economy. Tourism is one of Budapest’s largest incomes, but not Hungary’s.
On average, the sun shines 300 days a year in Antalya and there are always going to be people chasing the orbed heat-fan in the sky. The decision by EasyJet to put on low-budget and direct flights to Antalya has assured that you can bath with hauls of peeling Essex beauties and tattooed Northern men smelling of wallpaper.
It may seem a strange thing to visit Ischgl in Austria during the off-season, but when the crowds have followed the snow and disappeared, you’re left with real towns and real people; locations reveal themselves. Such a timely visit allows you to uncover otherwise out of reach and overcrowded locations.
The cathedral, with its famous octagonal dome, is one of the most recognised examples of architectonics in Parma. Stone lions guard the porch while at the pinnacle a gilt copper angel watches over all. During my visit she was undergoing surgery and closed to view after an unfortunate accident in which she was struck by a bolt of lightning; God’s finger-zap frizzing the poor angel beyond recognition.
The mussel is a regular commodity in the Northern waters, clinging to seabeds and to the roots of bridges and pier structures; eventually ending their days entangled in the fisherman’s catch. They are the neglected cousin of the oyster and the common familiar of the mollusc family. Here, in Copenhagen, they are known as ‘blue gold’ or due to their simplicity and high abundance, the ‘potato of the sea’.
Israel is a work in progress. The Israeli people want to be loved. They know that it’s more than the world reads in newspapers. There is no other place in the world as gilded with great expectations as the Holy Land. It is a centre point and more than a religious heartland. Its heart is religion but its veins are in the earth. It has one foot in its archaeological history and the other firmly marching ahead through the fireworks of the twenty-first century.
Kartlis Deda stands all the way up there, upon the hill and over-looking her capital. She is silent; a shining tall construction watching over Tbilisi. She is perhaps the most important woman in all of Georgia: its protector and a standing definition to others of what Georgia is, has been and will be.
During a recent visit to Belfast, where the Titanic was built by Harland and Wolff - today, celebrated through The Titanic Experience - I dined at Rayanne House in Hollywood, County Down, where Chef Conor McClelland has meticulously re-created the First Class menu.
My snow boots crunch in the powder and I struggle to clear my throat through the wheeziness and coughing. I can feel my lungs working in full; they expand easily enough, but have difficulty relaxing, compressing that quick intake of Alpine air. It’s like a brain freeze, but deep into my sides.
Seeing my friend compete in the arena, in the enviable colours of a Great Britain vest, I felt privileged to experience such an historic moment. Wrapped in national pride and gushing patriotism, I bellowed at every pistol start; every run, jump, throw and lap of honour. Few occasions in my life have left me feeling so British, so proud.
Perhaps the popularity of tucks, lifts, firming, lipo, implants, grafting, tightening, otoplasty, mammoplasty, rhinoplasty and many other physical manipulations is due to the cost. To have plastic surgery in Lebanon is relativity cheap compared to other surgical capitals.
I notice that the older skier dresses in more layers than an onion, and in a diverse collection of wacky illuminate gear – with their inherent assurance and voracious inhaling – they wrap up tight and compare snowploughs and drink hot glödgat vin during regular office hours. My carriage to Gstaad was full of them.
A place of postcard scenery, rich agriculture and wine sipped under inky cypresses. Across the horizon you can spot a dozen or more ancient churches, their distant bells sounding out each passing hour in a country rich in Catholicism and wine worship.
Plenty of people ski The Alps. Some, with more grit, hike the rocky terrane. I’ve done both, across Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy, but not Slovenia, Liechtenstein or Germany, where the ranges stretch across Upper Bavaria and the Allgäu. I’ve now cycled The Alps. Up The Alps. That sounds more impressive when written like that.