Crowned with a Ksar

Tataouine, Tunisia Jan 15, 2019 The rugged landscape around Tataouine is riddled with hillocks, many of them topped with what looks like a cardboard cutout with jagged edges. Each is a ksar built by the Berbers in the 13th or 14th century. Built as fortified granaries, some incorporated entire villages and trailed along the ridgeline. … More Crowned with a Ksar

A Berber Welcome

Toujane, Tunisia Jan 12, 2019 The road from Matmata to Toujane winds its way through scrubby hillsides with views of small towns and villages all the way east to the thin blue line of the sea. There are goats and sheep being taken to pasture, mostly by young boys but sometimes by men and women. … More A Berber Welcome

Inside the Medina

Jan 10, 2019 Sousse, Tunisia Scrambling up the narrow spiral stairs in the Ribat tower, I am rewarded with a panorama of the city. Built in the eighth century, this was once a watchtower. Today it gives tourists a birds’ eye view of the medina. The austere lines of the Aghlabid Grand Mosque lie below. … More Inside the Medina

Ruins of Carthage

Carthage, Tunisia Jan 6, 2019 Although founded by Phoenicians, stories of its founding trickle down to us, not from the Phoenicians but from Greek and Roman writers. Like all self-respecting Greek sagas, the story has lashings of avarice, the requisite murder and intrigues guaranteed to satisfy the most bloodthirsty soul. The story unfolds with King … More Ruins of Carthage

Introduction to Tunisia

Tunis, Tunisia Jan 4, 2019 Broad palm-lined boulevards mark the new city, dotted with iconic landmarks. Sidewalk cafes line the streets under bright canopies. Shops, restaurants and patisseries are busy with customers and the air hums with the sound of conversation. Several of the side streets are pedestrianized and thronged with shoppers. At the end … More Introduction to Tunisia

The Giants of Malta

Qrendi, Malta Jan 2, 2019 A long, long time ago, there lived in the island of Gozo, a giantess named Sansuna. For reasons known only to her, she decided to build a temple. She carted massive stone blocks several kilometers to the chosen site – a feat easily accomplished with strength derived from an unvarying … More The Giants of Malta

Many Shades of Malta

Valleta, Malta Dec 30, 2018 Crisp sunshine, sparkling blue seas and brightly painted fishing boats frame the once-weekly fish market in Marsaxlokk, at the south-eastern edge of the main island of Malta. My incurable addiction to bazaars dictated a mandatory wander and off I went. Low-key albeit busy, the crowd is almost all tourists, mostly … More Many Shades of Malta

Auld Lang Syne

Dogubayazit, Turkey Aug 17, 2018 Five years ago, when I was traveling through south-eastern Anatolia, I had stopped in Dogubayazit, the last town in eastern Turkey. In the few days spent there, I had stayed in a hostel called Otel Tahran. It was owned by Bilal and it was his friend Mustafa, who had shown … More Auld Lang Syne

The Ghost of Ani

Kars, Turkey Aug 15, 2018 On a wind-swept plateau bounded by the deep gorge of the Akhurian river on one side, is the site of Ani. Begun in 961 AD, it flourished between the 10th and 11th century as the capital of the Bagratid kingdom of Armenia. Its position on lucrative trade routes ensured that … More The Ghost of Ani