The World Atlas of Street Food Out Now!

Almost exactly a year ago I lost my job in quite spectacular fashion. The company I worked for didn’t just close down and send us on our way, our misfortune was splashed across international newspapers and websites. The closure didn’t just leave hundreds of employees across the globe without work or pay or what we were owed, but it left a lot of other disgruntled (and rightly so) people too. Despite that, many of those who the closure affected most, reached out and offered huge amounts of support and kind words which meant a great deal. 

Despite the support, this time last year I was sat on the sofa, under a blanket, crying between each job application I completed. Times have thankfully changed. Now I have a job which I have thrown myself into and find hugely rewarding. I get to think, write and speak about food all day long.

While things are great now, going through the experience of losing my job was hard. I can’t pretend otherwise and it isn’t easy to forget. However, it did force me to take risks and do other things. Since last year I have consulted and worked for a few start ups, landed my new job working for a major brand and contributed a chapter to a book – words, images and a recipe. It’s the latter I’m most proud of. The offer came in just days after losing my job. If I’d still been working I’d have said: “Thanks but I can’t take time off work.” Instead I said: “When do you need it by?”

I won’t pretend it was the most lucrative gig! I had to pay for flights to Krakow and stay in a hotel, the cheapest I could find. There was a slight incident with some raw bacon which didn’t go too well but thankfully (possibly due to large amount of cheap red wine consumed just after) I survived unscathed if a little out of pocket.


Hugely proud to see my chapter on Krakow in print. Words and photos. #WorldAtlasofStreetFood

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Bavarian Forest National Park Celebrates 40th Birthday

The Bavarian Forest National Park, the oldest National Park in Germany, will celebrate its 40th birthday this year with a range of events and the active support of its National Park Partners. The 76 Partners – hotels, guesthouses, bed and breakfasts, restaurants and self catering accommodation providers – work with the Bavarian Forest National Park to provide holidays in harmony with nature right through the year. One of these is ‘Bavarian Forest Holidays’ in Bayerisch Eisenstein, whose English owners came to the Bavarian Forest from England in 2004.

More and more English speaking international visitors are making their way to the Bavarian Forest – thanks to the marketing activities of Margaret Leach and Martin Holborow who have also designed their 9 holiday apartments
(8 with 5 stars and 1 with 4 stars, awarded by the German Tourism Association) to specifically meet the needs of international guests.

Bavarian Forest

The National Park, which includes the largest area of forested wilderness between the Atlantic and the Urals, offers opportunities for peaceful walking and cycling as well as seeing rare indigenous wildlife such as lynx, wolves, brown bears and capercaillie in vast enclosures in the forest. The National Park visitor centres also provide education and
entertainment related to the National Park. The Bavarian Forest National Park also directly borders the Sumava National Park in Czech Republic, providing access to nearly 100,000 hectares of protected nature.

The National Park Partners offer quality accommodation and comprehensive information on the area to their visitors. They make an important contribution to sustainable tourism and exceed the usual criteria for eco-friendliness and quality. All are passionate supporters of the motto of the National Park ‘Let nature be nature’. Once they have qualified to become
Partners they are obliged to attend regular briefing sessions and hikes in the National Park in order to keep their knowledge up to date.

This year the Bavarian Forest National park celebrates its 40th birthday with many events during the year and a major celebration on 9th-10th October in the Lusen National Park Centre.

For more information on Bavarian Forest Holidays visit Forest Holidays.

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Top 10 Things To Do In Belgrade

Belgrade - Serbian FlagSearching for a cheap city break this year proved somewhat elusive, even in Eastern Europe.  However, on in-depth investigation a three-night/four-day break in Belgrade still seemed to be offering a veritable bargain with direct flights and hotel accommodation costing just £500 for two people.  So a few weeks ago, I boarded a plane from Heathrow Terminal 5 and set off to explore yet another Balkan country.  Belgrade is a great city, with tons of cultural and gastronomic offerings.  Yet, it is actually quite small in comparison to cities such as St Petersburg, even London.  This means that you can easily walk around it without needing to pay for transport.  Not that transport costs much – the bus from the airport charges just 80 dinar for a ticket into the city centre (that’s less than £1!)

So what is there to do?  So many people were shocked when I said I was visiting Belgrade for a holiday.  They seemed to be under the illusion that it would still be war-torn, and that it would be a place filled with oppressive buildings and a depressing vibe.  This is not the case at all!  Of course there is poverty, but there is poverty in Britain and many other, so-called advanced, western countries.  There were a few domineering buildings built during the Communist era but many of the buildings were typically Austro-Hungarian in design.  I think too many people forget that Serbia has a rich cultural history; this country was not formed and built solely in the Yugoslav period, it has taken centuries to compile this, albeit complicated, land, people and culture.

Here is my top 10 list of everything I think you should do when you visit Belgrade:

1) On arrival, take the bus from the airport into the city centre – it costs less than £1 though be prepared with change for the bus driver!  There’s a shuttle bus every hour but I’d rather opt for the local No. 71 any day, of which they arrive on, and at, half-past the hour.  After passing through customs, simply turn left and go up the escalator.  Continue walking straight on (into domestic departures) until you reach the end of the building.  The bus stops just outside the final, automatic door, on your right and takes about 30 minutes into the city centre, near Trg Republik.

2) Spend half a day wandering around the Kalmegdan Tvrdjava or Fortress.  If you love history then this is the place to head.  It really does illustrate the regions military might over the last 2,000 years.  There are turrets, towers, bridges, museums in abundance for you to explore.  However, even if history, particularly military history, isn’t your thing, the fortress itself offers some spectacular views across the Danube and Sava rivers and out into the surrounding countryside.  There are also temporary exhibitions in the grounds – at the moment there is an art exhibition illustrating how Russia is viewed by non-Russians.

3) Stroll along Knez Mihailova – the city’s main shopping street.  You’d be mistaken for thinking that the latest fashion trends have not hit Serbia.  There are designer and fantastic high street offerings in abundance.  Time it right and visit during the sales because there really are some fabulous bargains to be had!  Plus, this street is just overflowing with beautiful buildings, so make sure you take in the gorgeous facades which date back to the zenith of the Austro-Hungarian influence in the region.

4) Travel back in time at Konak Kneginje Ljubice (Princess Ljubica’s House).  Situated a few minutes on foot from the city centre this surprisingly large house whisks you back to the Ottoman Empire.  The 19th century mansion was home to Princess Ljubica, wife of  Miloš Obrenović and her sons.  It was converted into a museum and houses ornaments, furniture, books, clothes, portraits, landscapes, glasses, medals, and so much more.  The design of the house is particularly impressive, with several large rooms built for the sole purpose of conversation.  The grand hallways are most spectacular.

5) Just a few metres down the road from Knoak Kneginje Ljubice stands the Saborna Crkva Sv Arhangela, Belgrades ornate Orthodox Cathedral or Holy Archangel Michael Church.  The facade, with its glistening golden icons is visually stunning.  Inside the walls are adorned with gold, chandeliers hang from the ceiling and locals pray to, touch and kiss the icons.  This is quite a different experience from a Catholic or Protestant church.  Believers are much more interactive with their icons and God.  It really is interesting to watch, even if not particularly taken with religion.

6) Take some time out at Ruski Car (Russian Tsar).  This traditional kafana was originally called Zagreb, however, after the civil war during the 1990s, it was re-named and re-decorated.  On the walls hang portraits of the Tsars and Tsarinas dating back to Ivan the Terrible.  A grand piano sits in one corner and chandeliers hang from the ceiling.  The menu is vast but it is the cake counter which is not to be missed.  Order some tea čaj (with rum if you desire) and my favourite borovnica torta which is a blueberry tart with hazelnut cream and chocolate.  The decor and the food are the ultimate in decadence!

7) If you’re looking for a more substantial meal, be it of local cuisine (čevapčiči, burek, sarma, gibanica etc.), or something a little more international (pizza, pasta etc.) then visit Skadarska ulica.  This is a very pretty area of the city, with one main cobbled street, lined with restaurants.  It’s not too pricey either so you can enjoy some great food and some house wine without breaking the bank.  It can get pretty busy here in the evenings and it always has a great atmosphere.

8) If you are like me and love food and culture then supermarkets and markets are not to be missed.  There is a great market, Kalenic Pijaca, where locals sell their home-grown produce – arguably the best fruit and vegetables you’ll see in Europe – as well as quirky souvenirs, old books, communist memorabilia etc.  Go on Friday or Saturday when it is at its most bustling.  As always with such places, do beware pickpockets.

9) A little further out of town is Sveti Sava (St Sava’s Church).  Much like Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the cathedral remains unfinished.  Yet its sheer size is impressive, as are the icons on its facade.  The construction of the building began at the end of the 19th century.  The original marble work is incredible.  Unfortunately, most recently the builders have opted for concrete.  Nevertheless, the scale of the project is something to be marvelled at.

10) In the same direction (walkable but for those who would prefer to get the bus, take trolleybus 40 or 41 both of which stop by the rather imposing and grand post office, near the parliament building) is the Kuva Cveca – Tito Memorial Complex or House of Flowers.  The complex has three museums: a museum of artefacts (interesting for those who enjoy social and cultural history), the dictator’s mausoleum which also displays presidential rooms and a collection of batons used in the Presidential Day ceremonies, and a museum of diplomatic donations which houses gifts to Tito from the people of Yugoslavia and heads of state from other, generally sympathetic to a form of communism, nations.  The mausoleum is surprisingly airy and boasts spectacular views across the city.

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Order A Free Germany Brochure & Win Prizes!

Want to cruise down the Rhine, stand on top of the Reichstag in Berlin or have a cold beer at the Oktoberfest? Then order the new Discover Germany brochure!  Just make sure to fill in the survey and you could be in it to win a trip to your favourite German destination. Plus, the brochure will enable you to learn more about the many facets of Germany’s towns, natural scenery and cultural attractions.  And if you don’t win the ultimate prize then there is still a chance to win one of 20 rucksacks with lots of German goodies!  Visit FreeGermanyGuide to find out more.

Prizes will be drawn from all questionnaires completed before the 15th of August 2010.

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A Summer of Fun in Estonia

This summer there are all manner of events taking place in Estonia which will no doubt attract many visitors.  First there is the Medieval heritage celebration, when participants dress in Medieval costume and for markets, workshops and street theatre.

Tallinn at night
Tallinn at night

A full list of events throughout the summer are listed below:

Medieval Days, 8 – 11 July
Visit Tallinn’s Old Town between 8th and 11th July 2010 and you’ll think you’ve slipped back in time. A medieval procession opens the event followed by workshops, events and theatre performances, with participants in full Medieval dress. In Town Hall Square a large medieval market is manned by Medieval merchants while musicians and dancers perform on stage. Children are invited to participate in workshops, knight tournaments and other exciting activities and the whole town reverts to a time when Estonia was a major player in the Medieval Hanseatic League.

American Cars in a Medieval setting, 9 – 11 July
To see American cars in a Medieval setting head for Haapsalu from 9th – 11th July when an expo of American cars takes place in the castle grounds, followed by drag-racing and a cruise through the streets of Haapsalu on 11th July.

The Baltic’s biggest beer festival, 14 – 17 July

The Baltic’s biggest beer festival and the largest open air event in Estonia, the `Summer 2010’ takes place in the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds from 14 – 17 July 2010 when up to 80,000 music fans are expected to attend to see performances by over 100 international bands, including Calvin Harris, the Scissor Sisters and tributes to Sting and George Michael.

Tallinn Maritime Days, 16 – 18 July
Between 16 and 18 July, Tallinn’s Maritime Days – the biggest free family event in Tallinn this summer – will be bringing a sailing regatta, a swimming competition a Jazz arena and an amazing boat dance show with a police and Border Guard flying squad to Tallinn Bay.  The 2010 festival will offer more seaside entertainment than ever before.

Birgitta Festival, 12 – 21 August
Tallinn’s Birgitta Festival is a spectacular and unique opera and ballet festival, held in the ruins of St. Bridget’s Convent, just outside Tallinn centre. This year’s programme includes performances of “Orpheus and Eurydice”, Bizet’s ballet Carmen, Richard Wagner’s opera “Lohengrin”, Rossini’s `Barber of Seville’ and a concert of jazz arrangements of opera music on the final evening, including arias from Carmen, Travita, Don Giovanni and the Magic Flute, Turandot and Tosca.

Rotermann Estonian Food Market running until 30 September
In the heart of a modern city, experience rural Estonian producers bringing their produce from Estonia’s farms, smallholdings and gardens for sale in the Rotermann Quarter. The food market is open from 10am – 7pm, Weds – Sun (10am – 4pm at weekends), with handicrafts for sale each Sunday from 10am – 5pm,

For a full list of events and to find out what’s on in Estonia, visit and

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Highlights from Lithuania’s Curonian Spit

Last week I visited Lithuania with several other British journalists.  First we visited the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site Nida on the Curonian Spit, then the industrial town of Klaipeda.  Check out highlights and sights from the trip here…

Curonian Spit Church

Picture 1 of 23

Curonian Spit Church

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Lustica Project in Montenegro

Lustica, Montenegro
Lustica, Montenegro

The number of tourists visiting Montenegro is increasing each year and so it came as little surprise to hear about this new development in Lustica.  Orascom Development Holding AG plans to build a fully integrated town covering a total area of 6.8million square meters in Lustica, in the municipality of Tivat on the Mediterranean’s Traste Bay.  The project will create 2,350 residential units, hotels, a town centre, a marina on the Adriatic Sea and an 18-hole golf course. The first phase is expected to be open by 2015.

Orascom Development will retain a 90 per cent stake in Lustica Development AD Podgorica, while the Government of Montenegro will hold the balance.  This project is Orascom Development’s third in Europe and is a further extension of the company’s integrated town model. Now operating in nine countries including Switzerland, United Kingdom, Egypt, Oman, Morocco, UAE, Mauritius, Jordan and Montenegro, the group portfolio covers approximately 141 million square meters.

For more information visit

Spring & Summer Events in Lithuania

Uzupis District, Vilnius
Uzupis District, Vilnius

Tourists and locals alike enjoyed the exceptionally festive year Lithuania had in 2009. The country celebrated two significant occasions during 2009: the official 1,000th birthday of its name; and the European Capital of Culture was awarded to Vilnius, encouraging tourists to uncover more about the Baltic gem.  The festivities have not stopped their and this year should prove to be just as much fun…

Kaziukas Fair, 5-7 March, Vilnius
The festival is dedicated to St. Casimir the patron saint of Lithuanian born in the 17th century. It is one of remarkable calendar festivals with deep traditions, each time presenting ingenious handworks, and having no rivals in the surrounding areas. For more information visit

Street Musicians Day, 1 May, Vilnius, Klaipėda
On the first Saturday in May thousands of people go out to the streets to play music. Street Musician Day is the event which unites all who speak the world’s most universal language – the language of music.

15th International classical music Festival “Pažaislis Music Festival”, 30 May – 29 August, Kaunas
The listeners of the most particular taste may find in the schedule of the festival something what interests them, starting from the old music and finishing with jazz, from the subtle chamber music to the grand vocal instrumental pieces, from the modern music premieres to the impressive pageants of Lithuanian dramaturgy in the surroundings of Kaunas Castle.

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Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism

baat-logoThe Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism (BAAT) was established on in 1998 as a national tourist non-government organization. At present BAAT has more than 95 members: non-government organizations and regional associations in the field of tourism, including the Bulgarian hotelier and restaurant association and a number of NGOs, some of which integrating owners of B&B establishments in rural areas, local tourist councils, incoming tour operating companies, hoteliers, guesthouses, producers of traditional Bulgarian food and products, nature parks, and individuals with business interests in alternative tourism. It is the most progressive public association in the field of tourism in the country.

Folklore Group in Orehovo
Folklore Group in Orehovo

BAAT participates in the most important events and initiatives related to tourism, regional development and ecology.  The association is a member of the National Tourist Council and the Council for Education in Tourism.

  • Creating the Quality Standards Chart “Bulgarski Dom” (“Bulgarian Inn”) that established consistent guidelines for accommodation in guesthouses, family hotels and other B&B establishments (1998); conducting training courses that help providers raise and maintain quality.
  • Founded a project for rural tourism and sustainable development in Strandja Mountains (1998), in co-operation with the Bourgas Association for regional development and Association “Mountains and People”;
  • Initiated the project “The Rhodope craftsman trail” for sustainable development in the Rhodope Mountains. In May 2001 an association with the same name was established;
  • Made a research and completed a database with 99 addresses of guest houses, family hotels and monasteries, situated in mountain and rural areas on a French project with the participation of two French volunteers (2001);
  • With other French volunteers a selection was made among 30 Bulgarian monasteries for the most convenient places for accommodation and receiving tourists and a brochure was published (2002).
  • Participated in the organisation of an international campus for studying the Balkan architecture with participants from Bulgaria, Macedonia, Turkey and Greece (September, 2002) as a project of the French organization GEC.
  • Worked with Bulgarian-Suisse Biodiversity Program for creating a new Plan for management of Pirin National Park (2002);
  • Participated as a partner with the Agency for regional and economic development, Vratza
    on a PHARE Programme project in the field of tourism for cross-border collaboration with Romania (2005, 2006);
  • Won and implement a project under VEGABTD Programme for “Research of the needs and consulting of SME’s in alternative tourism in Bulgaria” (2005).
  • Cooperated in a project “Authentic Bulgaria”, for certifying accommodation places representing authentic Bulgarian architecture and hospitality, within Vega-BTD Program (2006);
  • Applied with a project in the sphere of tourism in cooperation with the Agency for regional and economic development – Vratsa before Phare International Cooperation (2006);
  • Participated in a project of Glavinitsa Municipality for popularization of Malopreslavsko swamp (2007).
Bulgarian Crafts
Bulgarian Crafts

Since 1998 BAAT has been working on:

Since its creation in 1998, BAAT has played a vital role in providing training:

  • Held 8 training courses in co-operation with Association “Tetraktys” (France) during a 3-year project, financed by the French Ministry of Exterior Affairs and the Ministry of Trade & Tourism (1999-2000);
  • Completed training courses on “introducing the profession of a mountain guide” for the regions of Karlovo and Chiprovtzi (2001-2002) which have very high unemployment rate – a project of Beautiful Bulgaria 3 Program.
  • Created training system for mountain guides and realized 2 training courses in Bankso and Ribaritza for representatives of the national and natural reserves – a project financed by the Bulgarian- Suisse Biodiversity Program (2002); The project was selected to present Bulgaria’s NGOs activities on Rio+10 World conference on sustainable development (Johannesburg, September 2002);
  • Organiseed 15-day on route seminar for providers of rural and eco-tourism services with lecturer Mr. Yoan Mansfeld (leading expert from Israel) in the mountain towns Vratza, Chiprovtzi, Elena, M. Tarnovo, Smolyan and Sofia;
  • Accomplished training for preparing a Tourism developing strategy for Batak Municipality (2005)
  • Implemented training on “How to create and establish alternative tourism quality. Best practices”, Samokov and Smolian (2005);
  • Organised experience exchange travel for guesthouse holders between Northwest region and Ezerovo and Mogilitsa (2005).
  • Organised two trainings for 26 attendants in the mountain for the area of Chudnite Mostove under a project financed by PHARE Eco tourism (2006);
  • Conducted a training dedicated to alternative tourism for 25 representatives from municipalities Rudozem and Nedelino with the partnership of Bulgarian Foundation “Biodiversity” and “Rhodope” project (2006);
  • Made a guide with descriptions of trekking routes for the region of “Wonder Bridges” and a small “Manual of the mountain guide” (2006)
  • Carried out trainings for hosts of guesthouses and family hotels in Dobrich, Gyrmen, Chiprovtsi, Berkovica, Belogrdchik, Chuprene, Gorno Damyanovo (2007).
Dishes from the Black Sea region
Dishes from the Black Sea region

In addition, BAAT has led the way in research and provided a much-needed consulting service:

  • Organised the first National round table on the problems of tourism in mountains and villages with French experts from government and non-government organizations (1999);
  • Completed the first SWOT analysis for Bulgarian alternative tourism, which was presented on numerous forums in Bulgaria and abroad (2001). Updated analysis was presented in 2004;
  • BAAT collaborated in the preparation of the National Eco-tourism Strategy (2002-2004);
  • Participated in the debates for the Tourism Law (1998,2001,2002,2003,2004), The Law for VAT (2000,2001), SAPARD Program, PHARE – Program “Culture Tourism” (EU pre-accessing programs);
  • Participated in a working group to prepare the standards for guest rooms and guest houses in the National Decree for categorising in tourism (2002).
  • Consulted the Ministry of Economy during the preparation process of a booklet about eco-tourism in Bulgaria (2002);
  • Consulted creation of an “Alternative Tourism development project” in Antonovo municipally and accomplished 2 trainings for starting small family business (2004);
  • Participated in generating “Developing tourism Strategy” and “Creating a tourism cluster” in Smolian municipally(2004);
  • Provided help for creating “Strategy for tourism development in Central Balkan National Park” (2004);
  • Witnessed the presentation of “Possibilities for financing regional growth projects trough tourism” Sofia (2004);
  • Took part in presenting the new “National plan for climate change” – Sofia (2004);
  • Consulted economic activities with the help of an international experienced American volunteer from VEGA International (2005);
  • Co-organized with the help of VEGA International a study trip to Ireland for BAAT members (2005).

Arguably BAAT’s greatest achievements have been the persistent promotion of tourism in and outside Bulgaria:

  • Printed so far four editions of “Guidebook of Bed & Breakfasts and Guesthouses in Bulgaria” (2003, 2004/2005, 2005, 2006);
  • Initiated and supported the printing of two series of 10 posters in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of environment and waters and Bulgarian-Suisse Biodiversity Program (2002);
  • Organized 6 promotion trips for representatives from the Bulgarian media and press, under the heading “The other Bulgaria”, which were completed in the period 2002 – 2004;
  • BAAT authored and edited materials about walking tours and national parks in Bulgaria in two guide books of Activity series (UK) – “Natural parks in Europe” and “Walking in Europe” (2000);
  • Gave input and supported the publication of an information booklet “The Monastery Route”, financed by the Ministry of Economy as a part of the National PR campaign;
  • Published different materials in leading press Media and specialized editions in the field of tourism in Bulgaria and abroad.
  • Edited 2 brochures for its activity (a run of 10 000) and calendars (1999 – 2007);
  • Represented its members on different national and international tourist fairs and events – “Vacation” – ’98 – ’04 SOFIA; “Nature, hunting, fishing and tourism” – ’99 -’02”- PLOVDIV, “ Tour-expo 2000-2004” VARNA, Philoxenia – Thessalonica;
  • Participated in the Rhodope Tourist Market and made a presentation on “International rural and ecotourism market –Where is Bulgaria”
  • Printed new advertising materials of the association – flyers, T-shirts, calendars. The folders are under construction (2004);
  • Our activities and experts opinion were quoted in 139 Bulgarian media – newspapers and magazines;
  • Presented the members on the 21st , 22nd , 23rd and 24th National Tourist Fair “Vacation 2004”, “Vacation 2005”, “Vacation 2006” and “Vacation 2007”;
  • Organized tour operators trip to Berkovitza with the aim of presenting the city and the new tourist services (2005);
  • Prepared guidebook with description of pedestrian routes for the area of Chudnite Mostove and a short “Handbook for the mountain guide” (2006);
  • Issued new advertising materials in English popularizing BAAT activities (2006);
  • Renovated the web site of BAAT with new vision and more information about alternative tourism and the association on (2007);
  • Presented BAAT’s members at the Bed & Breakfast expo 2007 in Brussels.

For more information on BAAT visit or telephone BAAT’s Secretariat – +359 (0)2 980 76 85.


София 1301, бул. “Ал. Стамболийски” 20 – В, партер (вход от ул “Лавеле”)

Тел: 02/980 76 85, Факс: 02/980 32 00

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