Author Archives: awtytravels

Elegy for gentrification. Yes, you read it right.

There are a few words as laden with meanings, almost entirely of negative connotation, as gentrification. Say it and your mind will conjure images of invading toffs, an irresistible volkswanderung of genteel professionals with no fear but for white carbs, descending … Continue reading

Posted in Europe, UK | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

A good day to be in America.

Waking up at silly o’clock in a corporate hotel room (describable by the colour “beige”) on the 25thfloor of a Magnificent Mile high-rise in Chicago, I felt a genuine, good-spirited sense of excitement. It was a cocktail, I decided as … Continue reading

Posted in Americas, USA | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

And the bumblebee buzzes by.

There’s a mammoth-sized hydrangea bush sprouting on the street we normally take on our way to the tube; think an explosion of pink and green caught in the moment of deflagration. As we passed it we heard an ominous buzzing, … Continue reading

Posted in Europe, UK | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Beirut people watching.

Humanity is the best spectacle, in this city where gated communities rub shoulders with bombed-out, charred shells. Pneumatically-enhanced bimbos and babes driving Dodge Camaros on one end of the spectrum and ragged Syrian children tapping on their rolled-up windows for … Continue reading

Posted in Middle East | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

You Were Filthy But Fine.

“You were filthy but fine” sang James Murphy in that LCD Soundsystem jewel that is New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down and I, for once, think that it could very well fit to Beirut. Spotless, it certainly … Continue reading

Posted in Lebanon, Middle East | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Remembrance for scatterbrains.

Landing takes place at night. We descend into the warm Mediterranean air, those of us sat on the left-hand side being treated to a royal view of the entire city of Beirut lying, invitingly, beneath us. Here is Ras Beirut, … Continue reading

Posted in Lebanon, Middle East | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Approaching Beirut.

Beirut, Paris of the East. Beirut, mother of laws. Beirut, the city that can be Rio, Miami and 1943 Stalingrad all within the same block. Beirut, the filthy. Beirut, the ironic (another French legacy I suspect). Beirut, you’ve got the … Continue reading

Posted in Lebanon, Middle East | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Songs for the Road 7 – Now with even less sense!

The hot season is definitely upon us (at least, as much as it can be for London) and the poor algorithm that chooses the Your Mix selection on Youtube must be excused to be thinking that the heat has made me … Continue reading

Posted in Music review, Odd ones out | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

To the last city.

No, that’s a misnomer. Tashkent was, if anything, Uzbekistan’s first city, at least in the modern sense of the term. First one to be occupied by the Russians, first one to be reached by a railroad, first to host all … Continue reading

Posted in Central Asia, Uzbekistan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Looking up in Uzbekistan.

Remember shoegazing, that 1980s genre? Well, had any of those musicians been in Ulug Beg Madrasa, in Samarkand, they’d have missed this. Sometimes it’s useful to be walking with one eye to the heavens and one to the floor. Especially … Continue reading

Posted in Central Asia, Uzbekistan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments