Norway by Isaak, Belarus by Natalia

Friday, May 27, 2011

I've had a map of Norway in my 'drawing Europe's countries' project for a few years. But I'm not quite sure that it's Norway (it could be an upside down Finland...). This is it:

Norway, by anonymous?

So, in Norway, I decided to ask someone to draw another map. Isak - who works in a theatre - drew a map of Norway - very accurately - pointing out Tromso, Kirkenes and Oslo, the place where all the money is.

Norway, drawn by Isak

Recently, out of the blue, through the postcrossing site, I received a postcard from Natalia in Minsk on which she'd drawn a map of Belarus.

This was fantastic. I'm not sure whether I'd ever meet someone from Belarus so I'm very pleased that Natalia sent me her map, which shows Belarus' biggest cities and towns.

Belarus, drawn by Natalia

Experimental travel

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I've had The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel on my bookshelf for about 7 years. It's one of those books you read with lots of things to do, but that you never actually get around to doing.

Well, no more. I took it from the shelf, perused it and found the following ideas which I'm going to  try out in London.


  • Choose a town to visit from A to Z. Find the first road beginning with A and the last beginning with Z, and draw a line between the two. Walk the length of this line and discover the city alphabetically.


  • Leave your home. Take the first road on the right, then the next on the left, then the next on the right, then the next on the left, etc. Carry on until something blocks your path and you can't carry on.


  • Insert the name of your home town into the index of a world atlas (if it's not there already). Throw a dice then count that number of lines down from your town. The one your finger lands on is the destination of your trip.
  • So for example if you live in Melbourne, Australia:
    • One will take you to Melbourne, USA
    • Two will take you to Mele, Cap, Italy
    • Three will take you to Melekess, Russian Federation
    • Four will take you to Melenki, Russian Federation
    • Five will take you to Mélèzes, Rivière aux, Canada
    • Six will take you to Melfi, Chad


  • Take a bus, tube or train out of a city and travel until the end of the line. Find accommodation to stay the night and explore the suburb that you find yourself in.


  • Explore the area on a town plan or map that sits in the square marked K2. Take full advantage of all cultural attractions, gastronomic delights and watering holes in that area.


  • Go to your favourite pub and order your favourite drink. Ask the barperson where their favourite pub is and what they drink there. Go there and order their recommended drink, and then repeat the exercise with whoever serves you, and so on. 


  • Travel a synchronised path with your friends and discover whether parallel lines ever meet.
  • Participants travel around a chosen location using a 10-stage set of common directions, taking notes and photographs to record their experiences at each stage. Where directions don't match the environs, improvise.
  • The first stage is your starting point.
  • Walk in any direction for 50 to 100 paces, and then turn 180 degrees.
  • Continue walking in that direction until you see something blue.
  • Make a left turn and walk 50 to 70 paces.
  • Walk in any direction until you see something that either is or looks like the number 7 or 11.
  • Take the first left, and continue walking until you find somewhere to sit.
  • Choose any direction and walk for 25 to 50 paces.
  • Continue walking until you see an unusual colour, shape or texture. Turn 180 degrees.
  • Keep walking in any direction until you see an archway or an unusual architectural feature.
  • Head for home, but continue looking for something that catches your eye. 


  • Create an itinerary by drawing on a map.
  • Using a pencil or GPS, super-impose a drawing on a map, which will then form your itinerary.

There are lots more ideas on the Lonely Planet's Experimental Travel page.

In fact, the book was so good, I was inspired to make my own experiment:


  • Each person writes a letter on a sheet. These are organised to create name of place (or nearest place in index). Go there.

So, I'm going to try out some of these in London (and maybe elsewhere!). I'll let you know how I get on.

Nordkapp - Europe's most northern point

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I've just spent a week or so in Norway. I had decided to go all the way to the top, to Nordkapp. That's considered to be Norway's most northerly point and also Europe's northernmost point (sort of... everyone seems to just plain ignore the fact that there are other headlands further north).

Sadly, I didn't quite make it. I got 34 kms away, a small village called Honningsvåg. The road further north was closed because of strong winds. So I went as far north as possible.

I took great comfort in an exhibit in the town's museum which noted that, in 1905, Queen Maud of Norway didn't make it either. Bad weather also stopped her journey northwards.

So instead of photographs of the real thing, here are a few arty views from the Nordkapp Museum.

The real Nordkapp may have looked like these - lots of icy, snowy mountains in the north of Norway, taken during my two 17-hour  trips on the Norwegian ferry Hurtigruten.

Northern Norway mountains

By happy coincidence, in February, when I travelled from Gibraltar to Seville, I passed through Tarifa, mainland Europe's most southern point. It's fair to say, it was warmer.

I've also been to mainland Europe's most westerly point, but the most eastern may elude me (because there is no exact location), but I'll console myself with the staggering fact that Honningsvåg is further east than Athens, Belgrade, Riga and Tallinn. Wow.