Somewhere near Dohuk and the 4,000 year old town where the three wise men possibly began their journey to Bethlehem is a Christian monastery set high on a mountain with commanding views of tremendous scenery. Sadly, our driver had no idea where it was and I only managed to get directions by e mailing a friend in Hawaii.
Hiking and camping isn't so simple. It has taken me a month of trial and (mostly) error to realize that I didn't need to bring anything at all. I could have bought everything I needed in the camping shop by the bus station in Chanea, Crete's main port, where I did in fact buy an excellent sleeping bag and mat.
Everyone's read the Lonely Planet and knows the whereabouts of Big Ben. But there are some more helpful hints that every Australian should know when first coming to this fair city. I've been here a few times over the years and have learnt the hard way. I've been on the receiving end of eye-rolls that have left a bruise. So this is my personal guide to surviving London without being called a twat.
A heavily worked phrase used by the tourist industry is to describe a particular destination as a "country of contrast". Sri Lanka is surely such a country - at one level a popular tourist destination... In contrast it also detains its citizens without trial, restricts freedom of expression, arrests members of the judiciary, stands accused of committing war crimes and routinely tortures.
Let's face it; Romania isn't a tourist hotspot. Visitors don't flock to it like they do to Paris and it is definitely no Costa del Sol. In fact, at many of the obvious tourist points such as train stations and guide book attractions, it's difficult to find anyone who speaks English. This is no bad thing at all.
If it's possible to capitalise on the idea that your city is special because it perennially has one of the highest homicide rates in the Western world (2012's stats: around 400); or because people flock from around the globe to experience its unique brand of 'ruin porn'; or because it's a badge of honour to survive such a notoriously dystopian landscape - then Detroit is setting a new standard for self-promotion.
I am going away to Mayrhofen in the Ziller Valley in Austria next week with a group of around 10 friends. I lived and ski guided there for a winter (and then summer) season. If this were a French resort, would I not be allowed to show my friends around? Would I have to shell out for a guide to show me around an area I already know and want to show my friends?