How now Chișinău

Chișinău feels like the Soviet Union fell yesterday and no-one’s still quite sure what to do next. However, once you get past its shortcomings, Chișinău reveals a capital city that oozes sights, quality eateries and is a genuine treat for any traveller.

After a five hour delay and an erratic taxi drive through some pretty ropey areas of the Moldovan capital, I arrived at my Communist-era hotel in a pretty foul mood. I dumped my bags in my room and ran my fingers along the wall-to-wall carpet, but even this crime to interior decoration failed to raise a smile.

So, I braved the bitter winter air and ventured out in search of something, anything, to elevate my disposition and rekindle the excitement I felt 12 hours earlier when I checked in at London Luton…

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Yo! Tokyo

Bizarre and dignified in equal proportions, Tokyo is an endless city that never fails to surprise at every corner.

Nothing can prepare you for Tokyo. From the moment you step off the plane, you enter a colourful and ultramodern world full of bizarre gadgets and cute cartoonish mascots, but one that is steeped in tradition and precision.

Everything you’ve read about Tokyo is true; from the ultrarealistic plastic models of food outside restaurants enticing in diners, to the futuristic toilets that play sound effects to hide your bodily functions. It’s a bonkers city, but one that’s easy to fall in love with.

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(Almost) 48 Hours In Geneva

How the search for an unusual birthday present paved the way for a surprisingly affordable city break at this Swiss gem.

Knowing what to get my partner for his birthday is always an arduous task. I love him dearly, but he never wants for anything and knowing that his Mum had bought him two pairs of shoes – that he so desperately needed (his previous trainers were practically held together with string, brown paper and sealing wax) – I was at a loss at what to get.

Then, all of a sudden it came to me… via, of all places, Genève Tourisme – the official tourist board of Geneva in Switzerland. As part of their generous #InvitedByGeneva campaign they were offering 1,000 free nights in the city over summer 2016, so as soon as I heard about it, I jumped at the chance and put my name in the hat.

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Remembering the Merry Hill Monorail

Celebrating a unique Black Country icon

25 years since it first carried passengers around one of the UK’s largest shopping centres, a new exhibition is celebrating the anniversary of the much-missed Merry Hill Monorail.

I try not to have regrets, but one that I do have is that I never got the chance to ride on the Merry Hill Monorail. Opened in June 1991 and closed in 1996, its UK lifespan ended several years before I moved from Yorkshire to live in the West Midlands.

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Skirting the Danube

Road trip across Romania and Bulgaria

As the UK prepares to leave the European Union, I travelled to Romania and Bulgaria – the EU’s two newest states – where the two nations are clearly embracing being part of the single market. Dramatic renovations in the Romania capital and improvements to infrastructure along the Black Sea coast clearly highlight the pace at which the two countries are embracing EU membership, which is also making them more accessible to tourists than ever before.

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North Korea

I really don’t know where to begin. The last week has been one of the most strange of my entire life – totally eye-opening and thoroughly enjoyable, but very, very weird.

I made it across the border and after nearly 24 hours on a train, I’m back in Beijing – and back to a land where I can walk freely along the street, use the Internet and not be presented with spiced cabbage at every meal.

I really don’t know where to begin. The last week has been one of the most strange of my entire life – totally eye-opening and thoroughly enjoyable, but very, very weird.

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