The Pirates of Barbary Coast

The Coast of Barbary extends from the Straits of Gibraltar to Tripoli. Barbary is derived from Barbarians, but in fact it shouldn't be applied to its inhabitants. The term describes the truly barbarian pirates operating from there who were for a greater part Europeans. 400 years ago, cruising in the Mediterranean Sea was not the ideal holiday destination.


Saint Helena, Empress of Rome

Flavia Iulia Helena is one of the few early saints that really existed. She must have been an energetic lady, and this into high age. She shared the Roman Emperors' penchant for building representative stone piles and went on a spending spree on churches. According to legend, she was the first archaeologists and an avid collector of assorted bric-a-brac.


How Many Monarchies Exist in Europe?

Looking for a good pub quiz question? This one might catch some people out. Europe has a surprising number of monarchies, ranging from the well known to the obscure. They cover the spectrum from constitutional monarch through power sharing to absolute ruler. The youngest monarchy was instituted in 1929 (and that's a clue).



The Queen Astrid Chapel

Queen Astrid of the Belgians was born a Royal Princess of Sweden. She married Prince Leopold of Belgium who would later become King Leopold III of the Belgians. She died aged 29 in a car accident in Switzerland while the Royal Family was on a holiday at their residence near Lake Lucerne.




Lausanne, World Capital of Sports

The Swiss city of Lausanne is best known as the world’s Olympic capital; sometimes it is called the World Sports Capital as well because it houses both the International Olympic Committee as well as the CAS. But it is also a charming small town on Lake Geneva with a friendly population that makes you feel very much at home anytime you visit.


Doors to The Otherworld

Besides many other jobs assigned to him by God, St Michael is the foremost door warden. As such, his churches and chapels may often be found on doorways to the Otherworld. Therefore, whenever you find some building dedicated to St Michael, it is worth while investigating its history. It might stand on one of the doorways to the Otherworld.


The Invention of George Eliot

In a time when open adultery was officially frowned upon and perpetrators faced social stigma and exclusion, (unlike to today when it is everyday life to a senile Italian prime ministers, dwarfish French presidents, and the despicable classe politique in general) George Eliot was born. He was to become one of the most read, most mocked, and best earning writers of the 19th century. Oh yes, and he was a she.


United Nations World Capital Geneva

Geneva is mostly seen as the seat of the United Nations and the International Red Cross. This is flattering, but it is also a very old city full of history with a unique international charm. At some time or another, it was capital to three kingdoms, home to a handful of saints and to many more less saintly. Situated on Lake Geneva (in French Lac Leman), it is a beautiful place to spend some days of a holiday.