Journeys: Of Regions, Cultures, Landscapes

A Wine Journey: The Ribera del Duero

Spain Gourmetour
Madrid, 1999, 3,800 words; extract

On a trip around Castile León's vineyards in 1998 I met two superlative winemakers, Alejandro Fernández in Ribera del Duero and Manuel Fariñas in Toro. Meeting and talking to them at length persuaded me that the impact of human character, even individuals, may help shape terroir.

Also see: Alternative Agriculture: Organic Wines


Exploring Tarragona: Priorato and the Ebro

Insight Guide (Catalonia: Costa Brava)
London-Singapore, 1991, 1,500 words; extract

Tarragona is not much written up by comparison, say, with Girona, but its farming landscapes and magnificent architecture give it a resonance of its own. Here you can explore as much as visit, without knowing exactly what you will find around the corner.


In Madrid On The Tapas Trail

Time Out/Spain Gourmetour
London-Madrid, 1995/2001, 1,000 words; adapted extract

The question I'm asked more than any other by friends or family who come to Madrid is: how do people get by with so little sleep? The second question is: where can we pick up some good tapas? Here's the answer to the second question, written in a roundabout way. Today the quirks of Madrid’s bars seem more pleasurable than ever.

Also see: Across Madrid. Tapas Culture


Night On The Town: Benidorm

Insight Pocket Guide (Costa Blanca: Alicante and Murcia)
London-Singapore, 1991/2001, 1,000 words; extract

It is easy to knock Benidorm, especially if you have never set foot in the place. I first glimpsed its high-rise blocks from the coastal road as a child and it made an impression, so out of place below the wild headland to the north. Thirty years later I went back for Insight Guides. This is what I found.


Santiago de Compostela: Pilgrims' City

Insight Guide (Northern Spain)
London-Singapore, 1998, 4,000 words; extract

Galicia was the first place in Spain that I visited as a thinking adult. Friends from Lugo invited me. Their love for the region and culture was so palpable and big-hearted that it rubbed off on me. Everyone told me I needed to see Santiago de Compostela in the rain. Twenty years later I went back for Insight Guides and the rain came.

Also see: Cliffhanger: Percebes Hunting / Nadal: Galician Christmas


The Balearics: Formentera

Insight Guide (Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca & Formentera)
London-Singapore, 1989, 1,800 words; extract

Formentera, the smallest of the Balearic islands, sitting just south of Ibiza, has a fascinating network of dirt-track roads lined by dry stone walls inland, away from the coast. Scale and modernity recede there and the landscape becomes almost completely abstract.

Also see: In Search of a Speciality: Balearic Food