We dream of islands in the sun. Exotic places where we can get away from it all. We spend hundreds if not thousands of whatevers getting there and then come home full of the experience. Too often, we forget that just down the road there might be somewhere just as interesting, somewhere that offers an opportunity to explore, to get away from it all, but because it’s so near, we don’t consider it travel. Travel seems to be measured by a physical distance rather than a metaphorical one, even if just ten minutes from home a whole new world awaits. Kányavári sziget is just an example.

I have a fondness for islands. For water. For bridges. And for quiet. And were I to ask any of you for your recommendation, that one place that has all that and more, I’d be reading for a week. There are myriad places around the world that would fit the bill but I’m fortunate to have all that and more within walking distance. Practically at the end of the garden.

Hungary is known for the Balaton, the Hungarian sea, the massive lake that is choc-a-bloc in the summer with Hungarians on holiday and tourists on vacation. And in the winter, it’s quiet. And it has water. But I’m not talking about the Balaton. I’m talking about the Kis-Balaton (the little Balaton), even farther to the south-west. It has its own island, Kányavári sziget and its own bridge.

Kányvári sziget

Wooden bridge on Kányvári sziget

Part of me is reluctant to do anything that might put this place on the tourist map but that’s me being selfish. It’s a gorgeous spot that I’ve written about many times. We went down there this evening, for a walk, to catch the sunset. We passed two couples fishing and a couple of lads trying their luck. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone catch anything, but it’s certainly not for want of trying. Perhaps though it’s the fishing that’s important, not the catching. We passed another couple out walking their dog and then two other friends scuffing through the leaves. It was quiet and peaceful, the only noise coming from the ducks and the geese.

Kányavári sziget sunset kis-balaton

viewing tower on Kányavári sziget

We climbed the 44 steps to the top of the tower and watched the sun go down. Beautiful. Peaceful. Rejuvenating. And it’s only down the road. Perhaps 2018 might be the year to go local, to explore more of Zala megye and the surrounding counties.

Sunset on kis-balaton Kányavári sziget

I’m easily confused. I have no sense of direction. I couldn’t find my way out of a paper bag on a good day. Had I been on my own, I’d still be walking around the old part of Zanzibar City known as Stone Town (Mji Mkongwe in Swahili, which means old town). The maze of narrow streets and the sameness of the shops made it all difficult to navigate. But occasionally, I recognised where I was. Those rare moments of recognition built on each other to the point where I almost felt at home.

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I’m not a particularly strong swimmer. And I like having control of a situation. No surprise then that snorkelling isn’t high on my list of thing to do. But I’ll admit to being the victim of the modern-day curse: FOMO – fear of missing out. Read more

High on my list of things to see in Zanzibar was the slave monument by Swedish sculptor Clara Sönäs. I have a peculiar fascination with the worst of human history and am drawn to places that commemorate atrocities committed in the name of religion or commerce. Read more

A visit to Prison Island – called after a prison that was never used as a prison – is listed as a top attraction in every guidebook (entry fee $4) under the heading of Zanzibar. I left feeling sorry for the prisoners on show today. Read more

I like to think I can go with the flow, but deep down I want to know what’s happening and when. I struggle with this a lot. I’m getting the hang of pole pole but perhaps this is something I need to get a hold of, too. Read more

@zanziresort

We landed in Zanzibar after a three-hour layover in Nairobi on schedule at 1.35 am, robbed by darkness of that all-important first impression. Read more

I’m usually well prepared. I have my rituals. I’m packed at least 24 hours before departure. Clothes ironed and folded. Presents bought. Phone, kindle, camera all charged. Boarding passes printed, vaccinations up to date, currencies exchanged. That’s how I usually travel. But this is 2020 and something’s changed. Read more

Just days before our gift voucher expired, we decided to book a city walking tour of Budapest with Mysterium Tours. It was a miserable, wet winter’s night. We had our guide to ourselves when we turfed up to the zero-mile marker at Clark Ádám tér. Read more

Ireland has five official cities: Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, and Waterford. By official, I mean administrative. Kilkenny, usually referred to as a city, is an exception to the rule. Why I’m not exactly sure, but if you’re interested, I’m sure this will explain it all. For a while back in the seventeenth century, Kilkenny was the unofficial capital of Ireland with its own parliament. Read more

Wowed by the grandeur of Lillafüred, we continued on our way towards the town of Diósgyőr, now part of the northern Hungarian city of Miskolc. Himself had gotten wind of a castle-castle this time and since it was sort of on our way back to Budapest, we thought: Why not? Read more