Torun – 1

Excerpt from the new book about visiting Poland and The Baltics.

The city of Torun lies on the Vistula River in northern Poland. The Old Town sustained little damage during World War II and is almost all original. The city was the birthplace of the great astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, the first man in modern times to formulate the model of a heliocentric universe, presented in his book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), published just before his death in 1543. 

I travelled to Torun on the train from Gdansk. The station is on the opposite side of the river from the town. I turned right out of the station and followed the tree-lined footpath by the road until I saw the bridge heading over the Vistula with the old town nestled within its own walls to the right. The hotel Petite Fleur was easy to find and close to the main square. This hotel has a fabulous breakfast buffet – salmon, rollmop herring, real cheeses, fruit, yoghourt, cereal, eggs, jams, preserves, honey – and I didn’t need any lunch. 

The reason why I travel

I have written six books about the history of places I have travelled to. If you are interested in history and / or travel then you should check out these books. I travel because my own father always said he would travel after he’d retired, but he never got the chance because he died from cancer when he was 49. I travel for him when I go to places as well as for myself.

These books are travelogues rather than travel guides and so cover only the places I visited, because I don’t feel I can write about places I haven’t been to.

They are as follows:

Armenia and the UK

Armenia is full of monasteries, fortresses, and people who are passionate about their past. The traveller is always aware of the importance of religion and history in this little-visited country, whose only open borders are with Georgia and Iran. In the UK, I describe visits to Leicester, Derby, Manchester, Bristol, and Cardiff.

South-eastern France

A truly fascinating part of the world. Most people are familiar with Provence and the Cote d’Azur, but Languedoc and Roussillon have much to offer, especially if you like mysteries and the history of religion. There are spectacular castles such as Montsegur, Peyrepertuse, Queribus, and Puilaurens, there are the cave paintings at Niaux, and the restored citadel at Carcassonne.

Greek Islands

This book keeps it simple and covers nine Greek Islands: Symi, Patmos, Samos, Syros, Paros, Tinos, Delos, Mykonos and Rhodes.

Northern Ireland and Scotland

A series of essays about visits to the murals of West Belfast, the award-winning Titanic Centre, The World Heritage Site of the Giant’s Causeway, the seven little-visited stone circles at Beaghmore, and the dramatically situated Dunluce Castle perched high on the cliffs in Antrim in Northern Ireland. There are further stories about the island of Lewis and Harris, Edinburgh, Dryburgh Abbey, and Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland.

The Balkans

The North Macedonians build a fountain and upset the Greeks. Villages on the road to Lake Ohrid fly Albanian flags instead of North Macedonian ones. Kosovan taxi drivers believe fundamentalists are being sponsored in their country by former foes. Dubrovnik is so popular a one-way system is now in operation on the city walls. In Sarajevo, the place the First World War started is not easy to find, but evidence of more recent atrocities is. Memories are long in The Balkans, contrasts and contradictions are all around. History is always in your face, reminding you nothing stays the same for long in this most fascinating corner of Europe.

North-East England

This is a travelogue about my visit to certain parts of the North-East of England and all the history a visitor can see in a very short time. Places vary from the large city of Newcastle with its iconic bridges across the River Tyne to smaller gems such as Durham with its magnificent Norman cathedral. Tourists can find Roman ruins in abundance and large, modern sculptures along with lovely market towns, small villages with a Brigadoon feel to them, and vast swathes of open countryside that hasn’t changed since The Romans looked northwards from Hadrian’s Wall.

My travel books

I have written six books about the history of places I have travelled to. If you are interested in history and / or travel then you should check out these books. I travel because my own father always said he would travel after he’d retired, but he never got the chance because he died from cancer when he was 49. I travel for him when I go to places as well as for myself.

These books are travelogues rather than travel guides and so cover only the places I visited, because I don’t feel I can write about places I haven’t been to.

They are as follows:

Armenia and the UK

Armenia is full of monasteries, fortresses, and people who are passionate about their past. The traveller is always aware of the importance of religion and history in this little-visited country, whose only open borders are with Georgia and Iran. In the UK, I describe visits to Leicester, Derby, Manchester, Bristol, and Cardiff.

South-eastern France

A truly fascinating part of the world. Most people are familiar with Provence and the Cote d’Azur, but Languedoc and Roussillon have much to offer, especially if you like mysteries and the history of religion. There are spectacular castles such as Montsegur, Peyrepertuse, Queribus, and Puilaurens, there are the cave paintings at Niaux, and the restored citadel at Carcassonne.

Greek Islands

This book keeps it simple and covers nine Greek Islands: Symi, Patmos, Samos, Syros, Paros, Tinos, Delos, Mykonos and Rhodes.

Northern Ireland and Scotland

A series of essays about visits to the murals of West Belfast, the award-winning Titanic Centre, The World Heritage Site of the Giant’s Causeway, the seven little-visited stone circles at Beaghmore, and the dramatically situated Dunluce Castle perched high on the cliffs in Antrim in Northern Ireland. There are further stories about the island of Lewis and Harris, Edinburgh, Dryburgh Abbey, and Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland.

The Balkans

The North Macedonians build a fountain and upset the Greeks. Villages on the road to Lake Ohrid fly Albanian flags instead of North Macedonian ones. Kosovan taxi drivers believe fundamentalists are being sponsored in their country by former foes. Dubrovnik is so popular a one-way system is now in operation on the city walls. In Sarajevo, the place the First World War started is not easy to find, but evidence of more recent atrocities is. Memories are long in The Balkans, contrasts and contradictions are all around. History is always in your face, reminding you nothing stays the same for long in this most fascinating corner of Europe.

North-East England

This is a travelogue about my visit to certain parts of the North-East of England and all the history a visitor can see in a very short time. Places vary from the large city of Newcastle with its iconic bridges across the River Tyne to smaller gems such as Durham with its magnificent Norman cathedral. Tourists can find Roman ruins in abundance and large, modern sculptures along with lovely market towns, small villages with a Brigadoon feel to them, and vast swathes of open countryside that hasn’t changed since The Romans looked northwards from Hadrian’s Wall.