The third leg takes him from the illegally annexed peninsula of Crimea to the historic Baltic city of St Petersburg. Crimea is part of neighbouring Ukraine but was annexed by Russia in 2014. President Putin's government is investing heavily in the illegally occupied territory - building a huge bridge linking Crimea to Russia. Simon meets the eccentric and fearless owner of a safari park who likes to get up close and personal with his pride of lions. The owner is struggling to get water to his park after a canal that supplied much of Crimea's water was shut off by the Ukraine. And it is not just the lions that are affected - the diminishing water supplies are now beginning to threaten a humanitarian crisis.
This week, Julia arrives in the Dodecanese, a far-flung group of islands at the gateway between Europe and the East. In the medieval capital of Rhodes she uncovers a treasure of trove of Byzantine Art Travelling inland to the mountain village of Apollona; Her trip ends with a visit to the neighbouring island of Symi, an architectural wonder like nowhere else in Greece.
Giles and Monica arrive at Royal Mansour, one of the world's most discreet hotels, hidden deep in the heart of Marrakech's ancient Medina. In stark contrast to the developing country it inhabits, the 'jewel of the city' was built with a limitless budget by royal decree to showcase the kingdom to world leaders and to billionaire and celebrity guests.
From stunning heights, witness the mountains, rivers, and people that make up China's great interior. Visit celebrations at the center of the Buddhist world and on the edges of river cities, soar over the world's most famous peak 29,000 feet in the air, and dive into an ancient city submerged under a lake. China's heartland is a place where urban and rural communities embrace the challenges of a changing 21st century world.
Japan's central island of Honshu is home to over 100 million people, and its biggest city, Tokyo, is one of the largest urban metropolises on earth. But it has a wild heart - most of Honshu is mountainous. This wilderness is home to an astonishing range of wildlife - black bears, monkeys, exquisite fireflies and even cow demons. But all across this island, from the mountains to the edge of the sea, people and nature are drawn together in the most unexpected ways.
At the centre of this great sea, and surrounded by crystal clear waters, is Simon's first stop, the beautiful island of Malta. Driven by a surge of tourists, modern-day Malta is booming. But beneath the picture-postcard image lies a country accused of being a haven for money laundering and organised crime, where journalists can be murdered by car bombs. When Simon takes a ferry to his next destination, Calabria in southern Italy, he discovers a region in the grip of Europe's most powerful mafia, the 'Ndrangheta. With rare access to police and customs investigators, Simon follows an armed convoy carrying a ton of seized cocaine, joins a stakeout of a high-level suspect, and crawls through a huge underground warren of tunnels and bunkers built by fugitive mafia bosses. Travelling east along the southern tip of mainland Italy, Simon visits a turtle conservation centre, meeting Raoul, a loggerhead turtle rescued after swallowing huge quantities of plastic, a massive and increasing threat to Mediterranean wildlife. Simon helps release him back into the sea. Taking the overnight ferry from the heel of Italy, Simon arrives in one of the least-known but most beautiful corners of the Mediterranean, Albania. Under communist rule, Albania was isolated and shut off from most of the world. In a country now hoping for EU membership, Simon discovers an ancient culture of vendetta, where if an adult commits a crime, a child can be killed in revenge. Simon ends the first leg of his journey at a spectacular wildlife reserve where bird life is now recovering following the country's groundbreaking ban on hunting.