I interrupted university studies in my home state of California in 1976 to teach English in Colombia. While I did eventually get that degree, my rambles in South America ruined me for polite society forever after, and I subsequently travelled extensively in South Asia, Kenya, Europe and the Middle East as well, hiking, writing and photographing much of the way. As of 1988 I've divided my time between London (I'm a dual UK/US national) and the Mediterranean, my spiritual home. Since 1987 I've also been working full-time as a travel journalist, after spells in such varied, occasionally bizarre and ultimately unsatisfying jobs as tending kiwi vines, hunting for weevils in grain shipments, feeding laboratory mice, and soldering sound-system components for a David Bowie concert.
Areas of specialist knowledge
I'm familiar with the length and breadth of this large Mediterranean island, from the scuba opportunities of the entire coast to the iconography of the frescoed post-Byzantine churches of the Troodhos, by way of the hidden mezÚ houses of old Nicosia and Pafos and equally obscure traditional hill villages.
I first arrived in Cyprus in 1992, having previously immersed myself in the complexities of Greece and Turkey, the parent cultures of Cypriot society. Three subsequent visits have taken me to almost every settlement on the island, and along a considerable fraction of its road (and trail) network. My network of contacts on the ground, and my Greek/Turkish language abilities, have afforded me insights into the problematic division of Cyprus denied to most visitors.
I first arrived in Greece in 1978, a year out of university, and immediately got hooked. I began returning annually in 1981 for periods ranging from three to seven months, and since 1989 have lived part of the year on the island of Samos, where I'm currently enlarging the old village house which I bought in 1993. In the course of researching my numerous guidebooks to this ever-surprising country, on foot or by scooter, hydrofoil, boat or my own VW combi-van, I've travelled in every province of Greece. That said, my areas of special expertise are Athens, the Peloponnese, Epirus, Thessaloniki and Macedonia, Thessaly (including the up-and-coming Pelion peninsula), the Cyclades and Dodecanese archipelogos, and of course my "home" group, the Northeast Aegean islands.
Since my baptismal vist in 1978, I've acquired a pretty thorough knowledge of all things Greek. I started out with an immense advantage compared to most other visitors and researchers: a good grounding in spoken and written modern Greek, thanks to two consecutive university-level courses. This immediately gave me an entrÚe to some of the more arcane aspects of Greece - and helped me avoid the misconceptions and linguistic howlers so common in pieces researched on flying visits.
Having acquired near-fluency, I've most recently worked as a translator (Greek to English) for a major publisher in Athens. My love for the isolated and unspoiled island and mountain regions led me to do several stints as a tour leader in 1983-84, so I am familiar with the logistics of planning for a limited-time stay. My residence on Samos island, and visits to most corners of the country at various seasons of the year, has given me an in-depth knowledge of non-touristic cuisine - I cure my own olives, gather rock samphire from secret cliffside locations, have learnt the whats, wheres and whens of the best seafood, and can turn intimidatingly bitter winter greens into delectable stew and salad ingredients.
As a result of this hands-on knowledge, I'm now beginning my fifth season as the London Greek-restaurant reviewer for the prestigious Time Out Eating and Drinking Guide. Along with the language and food, I was inevitably exposed to traditional Greek music, both at various village festivals, and through my enormous and ever-growing collection of recordings stretching back to the Seventies. This has resulted in two stints co-authoring the "Greece" section of the Rough Guide to World Music, and a current role as the main Greek CD reviewer for Songlines Magazine, for whom I've just written a comprehensive guide to rebÚtika, one of the best-loved Greek music genres.
As with sound, so with vision: I've accumulated an enormous archive of 35mm photos of Greece in the course of my travels, many of these used by various clients! (see below) and which, with sufficient notice, are always available directly through me.
I first reached Turkey in autumn 1982, hitching on a Greek-driven truck which deposited me on the northern outskirts of Istanbul. Since then I've returned on average two years out of three, visiting nearly every region of this vast country, using every conveyance available from my hiking-boot-shod feet to scuba fins by way various rattle-trap vehicles (including my own VW combi van). My most current areas of expertise are the popular coastline between Antalya and Ayvalik, as well as Istanbul itself. I also possess prior knowledgeof Cappadocia, the breathtaking Kaškar range, the Armenian/Georgian monuments of the far east, and the old imperial centres of Bursa and Edirne around the Sea of Marmara - together, in my opinion, the most compelling attractions of Turkey.
After several extended visits - including 1984 participation in a "Blue Cruise" along the southwest coast, long before this began its meteoric rise in popularity - I came to live in Turkey for six months in 1987 while researching my first book to the country, Trekking in Turkey (see below). Of necessity this meant spending considerable time in the rural areas that conventional tourists rarely see, becoming conversant in spoken and written Turkish, as well as getting familiar with village etiquette and cuisine. Together with trekking partner Enver Lucas, I explored the previously undocumented (in English) mountain ranges of Kaškar, Aladaglar, Bolkar and Uludag, as well as numbers of isolated peaks such as Ararat. In 1989 and 1990 I returned for four months as part of a three-member team to research Turkey: The Rough Guide, which pretty well filled any remaining gaps in my knowledge of the country. I've subsequently used by PADI scuba certification to become familiar with diving opportunities in this Kas/Kalkan area, considered among the best in the Mediterranean. Along the way I've acquired a considerable recorded collection of the best in Turkish music, both archival and contemporary, such that I can turn my pen to the occasional CD review for Songlines Magazine.
My expertise extends across the entire Spanish Pyrenees, from the Catalan Costa Brava to the Basque province of Gipuzkoa, by way of the permanently snow-capped Maladeta and Posets massifs. I'm equally knowledgeable about the French side of the range, as reflected in the balanced coverage of my guidebook Rough Guide: The Pyrenees.
Near-fluency in Spanish (and a solid grounding in French) acquired by age 20 has served me well in the Pyrenees. In the course of numerous visits, I've experience first-hand the joys of parapenting and river-rafting, as well as hiking a considerable fraction of the GR11, GR10 and HRP, the main-long distance trails in the area. At a relatively advanced age I began downhill skiing, quickly acquiring easy red-run proficiency, and have now personally sampled nearly a dozen of the best resorts on both sides of the border. Chronic and omniverous indulgence in the excellent mountain cuisine resulted in a complete turnover of wardrobe one year (1997) owing to a ballooning waistline. My large photographic archive of the Pyrenees covers both sides of the range, with special emphasis on Romanesque churches or monasteries and the alpine scenery (including wildflowers) visible only on high-country walks.
I'm sole author of Cyprus: The Rough Guide, topped in annual sales only by the AA volume, and the guide with the most objective and thorough coverage of the entire island. Since its first appearance in 1993, making it one of the oldest established guides available, Cyprus: The Rough Guide has earned praise from journalists and diplomats as a well-researched source of historical/political facts. Vacationers also love its discerning recommendations for eating or accommodation, and incisive highlighting of the best sights. It is, tellingly, the only guide available for sale at selected bookshops in both the North and the South -- a testimony to its objectivity and accuracy.
My first book on Greece appeared in 1982, a brief guide to hiking the backcountry for a long-vanished publisher. I was able to enlarge and re-issue it as Greece on Foot for the Mountaineers (Seattle) in 1986 - still in print, and a much-loved cult artefact - just after I began contributing regular columns to the also-vanished (and much-missed) Greek affairs magazine, The Athenian. At about the same time began my enduring association with the top-rated Rough Guide series, for whom I've authored or co-authored the Greece, Greek Islands and Dodecanese/East Aegean titles - together the longest-running and most comprehensive coverage of the country currently available in print. Another, final hiking guide, Trekking in Greece, appeared with Lonely Planet in 1994, and I'm preparing to do the first English-language regional guide to walking in the Pindus, one of Greece's most rewarding hiking areas. Since 1994 I've also pitched in with the Fodor's Guide to Greece, the Insight Guides to Athens, Greece and the Greek Islands, and the Dorling Kindersley volumes on the mainland and the islands, for which I was the main consultant and contributor. My photos first appeared commercially with Greek postcard companies in 1984, and subsequently in a stunning 1986 engagment calendar, Images of the Greek Islands (Pomegranate Press, California), followed by a 13-strong postcard series with the K-Art company in Athens.
Outraged at the fixation with kebabs displayed by most travellers in Turkey in the early 1980s, my first writings on the country (for LAM Magazine, 1983), drawn on extensive gastromic experience, profiled the stupendous variety of Turkish cuisine. My hiking guide, Trekking in Turkey, was published in 1989, the first English-language guide to the best of the country's mountains; it remained in print for 8 years, and still contains the best detailed maps for most of the areas covered. The Rough Guide to Turkey, which first appeared in 1991, is now in its fourth acclaimed edition, having earned plaudits from an audience varying from Tourism Concern to Tapestry Holidays - I'm the only member of the original trio still actively involved in this guide. In the course of my travels I've built up a huge archive of 35mm slides covering the rare and beautiful (including the frescoes of Cappadocia and the highest mountains), which are available for editorial use.
When Rough Guides asked me to rescue someone else's troubled manuscript on the Pyrenees in 1992, I jumped at the chance. Since then, I've made this book my own, overhauling, adorning and rewriting it to the highest standards. The Pyrenees Rough Guide has just emerged in its fourth acclaimed edition; it is the only surviving English-language general touring guide to these superlatively scenic mountains, and is also enjoying considerable success in its Dutch-language translation. My four-week east-to-west trek through the best of the Spanish side of the range (staggering underneath at 23-kilo pack) formed the core of my Lonely-Planet-issued Trekking in Spain (1990); at the time Spaniards hailed this as the first comprehensive English-language walking guide to their country.
My main clients for Cyprus-related text and pictures are Rough Guides and APA Insight Guides.
My most important authorial client is Rough Guides, though my relationship with Insight Guides also remains active. I'm a regular contributor on matters Greek to the weekend travel supplement of the Telegraph, Times and Independent newspapers in London. I currently also serve as the main Greek music reviewer for Songlines magazine, and Greek restaurant reviewer for the Time Out Eating and Drinking Guide. My vivid photos of Greece have appeared in such disparate magazines as Elle, Hello!, Outside, and Islands, as well as in books of all the above-named publishers.
My main client for Turkey-related words and pictures remains Rough Guides, though I have also sold pictures to Dorling Kindersley, the Daily Telegraph and Skyways (the Turkish Airways magazine).
For my work on the Pyrenees, my principal current client is Rough Guides, though my photographs of the region are used by a wide variety of editorial customers. Lonely Planet's Pyrenean chapter in their Walking in Spain guide is still based largely on my original work for them of the early 1990s.
$35/half hour, the minimum consultancy period, which should suffice for most simple queries by phone. More extended itinerary planning or lists of recommended establishments by e-mail may requre an hour to ninety minutes.
Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Guide Athens and the Mainland
Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Guide Greek Islands
Greece On Foot
Insight Guide Athens
Insight Guide Greece
Insight Guide Greek Islands
Rough Guide Cyprus
Rough Guide Greece
Rough Guide Greek Islands
Rough Guide Pyrenees
Rough Guide Turkey
The Rough Guide Dodecanese & the East Aegean Islands, 2nd edition