David Nicholson gets itchy feet

Hitch-hiking to Russia, GQ magazine

It all began with Ismo, a Finnish horse doctor who stopped at a garage in mid-Sweden and nearly fell out of his car. He was completely out of control, swinging the wheel of his Merc station wagon into the traffic and the trees, fishing out fruit, pictures of racehorses and tapes of reincarnation philosophy from underneath the driving seat. As night fell and his driving worsened to a careering lurch, he expounded the wisdom of tuning in to previous lives. His first, he told me, was 36,000 years ago, "and my last one was as a red Indian in Canada".

...Middle-aged Swedish women all seem to have the same expression. Their mouths and eyes have a slump about them, as though they've just been in a car crash and spent all night hanging around in a hospital waiting room. Maybe it's only the present generation, who had so much sex back in the 70s that they've looked shagged out ever since. Read full article...

Journey to the Western Isles, The Sunday Times Magazine

"They're a different race," says Erica Preston-Smith as we sit by her open fire eating stew and dumplings. "They see things differently." Once an actress, she still gives off a residual glow, sweeping long thick strands of brown hair back from her cheeks, rings flashing. "You should see them eat!" she giggles, holding her fists out over her plate. "They're animals. I think it's because they're not used to cutlery." A storm whips up outside, sending water through the gaps in the polythene roof of her kitchen and flickering the candlelight. She has no electricity but "the views over the bay are superb". Read full article...

Introduction to Bucharest, The European Black Book

Bucharest is a crazy mess of a city, encompassing architecture of grandiose refinement and squalor of unspeakable grimness, pleasant leafy residential districts and hideous concrete monuments to the folly of communism.  It has little truly great dining or accommodation, few sights worth more than a passing glimpse and barely any shopping facilities that you might expect in a major capital city.  

And yet.  And yet.  Somehow the city has a vibrancy and rush to it which so few other capitals can muster.  It has something of New York's insistent pulse, something of the urgency of Bombay, the clamour of Bangkok.  Anyone put off by beggars or general lack of hygiene should beware Bucharest.  Certainly don't come here looking for refinement.  But if you fancy a dose of unmediated city life, with daily reminders of a once great civilisation turned to dust, then this is the place.  

Cruising on the West Coast of Scotland, The Observer

Best of all is the feeling of elation as the Corryvreckan powers down the Sound of Mull in a force five or six, rushing waves pushing and lifting yet faster, brilliant sunlight dancing on the sea. High curves of land surge by, spray refreshes the face, birds call high above the mast and you think, This is it, this is what the dream was like, this is sailing. Read full article...