Latest Posts:

Danube Travel – BP Portrait Awards

Thursday, 5 July 2018

The National Portrait Gallery in London (half way between Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square, right behind the National Gallery) is one of my favourite London museums or galleries and each year the BP Portrait Award – ‘the most prestigious portrait painting competition in the world’ – is one of my favourite events there. It’s on right now until 23 September 2018.

Short listed painters who don’t take out one of the big prizes are also eligible to apply for the Travel Awards, which funds them to go travelling and bring back portraits from their travels to be shown at the following year’s exhibit. This year I was one of the judges for the Travel Awards and we decided the winning painter was Robert Seidel, who is German from Leipzig.

◄ This is David, his entry in the BP Portrait Award from a visit to San Francisco. Robert is going to travel down the Danube River using a variety of forms of transport including bicycle and paint portraits of the people he encounters.



The Danube flows through four European capitals and coincidentally I’ve visited all of them in the past few years. In March this year I was in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.

▲ Looking down on New Bridge or Nový most and other Danube River bridges from Bratislava Castle. Officially it’s SNP (‘Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising’) but it’s often referred to as Most Slovenského národného povstania or the UFO Bridge because of what looks like a flying saucer landing on top of it.

▲ Our MGBs board a Danube River ferry as we cross from Bulgaria into Romania.

Last year my Silk Road trip – driving from Bangkok to London in an old MGB sports car – took me through Budapest in Hungary and Vienna in Austria on the last week of our long drive. I had visited both cities on earlier occasions. Two years earlier in late-2015 I visited Belgrade in Serbia, hometown of Nikola Tesla. The international airport is named after him and he also has a fine museum in the city.

Richmond, Struggletown & Modern Architecture

16 February 2018 | Living

A large chunk of my life in Melbourne, Australia was spent in Richmond. Maureen and I lived in a rented house in Richmond from 1976, then bought it for A$20,500 in 1980, renovated it and lived in it until 1988 when we sold it for $144,000. At that time it was the high...

View Post

Tesla Can’t Get You There … and Jaguar?

4 February 2018 | Transport

▲ Me and a Tesla Model S – promoting Lonely Planet’s Epic Drives – in Wales. I don’t have a Tesla in my garage in Australia – if the Tesla Model S was just a little bit smaller I probably would have one, but it was a real squeeze fitting one in and I could see I’d hav...

View Post

The Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah

1 February 2018 | Media

The story line in The Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah is straightforward – Adam Levinson scores a job as program coordinator for New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus and uses his time in that UAE capital as a springboard to explore the region – Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq,...

View Post

Donald Trump Promotes Global Trade in T-Shirts

31 January 2018 | Living

Donald Trump may be fiercely against global trade (unless it’s all-American global trade), but he certainly does wonders for world trade in the T-shirt business. Now I don’t believe in buying T-shirts, they’re something you get free with the donor’s trademark, name...

View Post

Kiribati Missing Ship – 50 People, was there a A$369 EPIRB?

28 January 2018 | Living

On January 18, the MV Butiraoi, a 17.5 metre catamaran ferry with 50 people on board set out from the Kiribati island of Nonouti on a two-day, 240km trip to the main island of the nation, South Tarawa. It never arrived and a New Zealand Air Force Orion aircraft has be...

View Post

Melbourne Street Art

27 January 2018 | Living

Melbourne – Australia’s second largest city – is noted for its street art, there are laneways in the city centre with a constant procession of photographers documenting the art. Lou Chamberlin’s Burn City book is particularly good for dramatic large scale portraiture,...

View Post

Dan Gurney & an Epic Drive

17 January 2018 | Living

I’ve always been a bit of a petrol head and Dan Gurney, who died at the age of 86 on Sunday 14 January, was my favourite ever racing car driver. After winning the 24 hour race at Le Mans in 1967 he invented the now customary practice of spraying champagne over the ent...

View Post

Trump, Shitholes, T-shirts

14 January 2018 | Living

Like much of humanity I’m disappointed if a day goes by without another incident of the US President Donald Trump opening his mouth and seeing how far he can get his foot into it. Last week it was his ‘shitholes’ outburst and, predictably, a dozen different shithole T...

View Post

Journey – An Illustrated History of Travel

10 January 2018 | Media

Journey - An Illustrated History of Travel from Dorling Kindersley bills itself as ‘a must for every armchair traveller’ although it probably needs a warning that you’re going to need a big armchair. It is a substantial tome. Moving through section by section from ...

View Post

Airline Mysteries

5 January 2018 | Transport

Airline mysteries are always intriguing although when people die they are no fun at all – like the two Malaysian Airline 777 disasters in 2014. Of course we know who shot down MH17 over Ukraine and although it’s unlikely Putin is going to confess anytime soon that it ...

View Post