Europe, a continent of 50 countries, famed for cities and ancient civilizations, home to some 700 million people, and yet with a staggering diversity of natural wilderness teeming with wildlife.
Carriers of myths and legends, castles strongly mark our imaginations, appearing most often as the pivot of a dark and barbaric period. Reality is different. They are full of mystery and grandeur, emblematic abstractions of the Middle Ages, they testify to medieval civilization.
2018 • Travel
A hundred miles south of Cairo a stretch of the Nile was once considered Egypt's main highway, used by Cleopatra to travel the country. More than 2,000 years after her, Bettany visits a vast desert catacomb where tens of thousands of mummified animals were once left as an offering. Further upstream, there is a chance to swim in the Nile, and look inside the tombs where Tutankhamen's discoverer, Howard Carter, first got hooked on Egypt. Bettany explores the longest tomb yet found, before heading to the Dendera temple, where Cleopatra herself may have once wowed her lover Julius Caesar.
Throughout Burma, temples, stupas, and statues of gold pop out in the lush, green landscape. This golden architecture has become Burma's calling card, but how and why did that become the standard here? Join us as we travel across Myanmar, the jewel of Asia, and reveal the history and myths surrounding these shrines, each one created as an offering to the Buddha. We will visit such treasures as the golden pagoda of Mt. Kyaiktiyo, which rests perilously atop a huge boulder, the 344-foot Shwedagon Pagoda, and the revered Mahamuni Buddha Temple.
Adventurer and journalist Simon Reeve heads to Vietnam to uncover the stories behind the nation's morning pick-me-up. While we drink millions of cups of the stuff each week, how many of us know where our coffee actually comes from? The surprising answer is that it is not Brazil, Columbia or Jamaica, but Vietnam. Eighty per cent of the coffee we drink in Britain isn't posh cappuccinos or lattes but instant coffee and Vietnam is the biggest supplier. From Hanoi in the north, Simon follows the coffee trail into the remote central highlands where he meets the people who grow, pick and pack our coffee. Millions of small scale famers, each working two or three acres, produce most of the coffee beans that go into well known instant coffee brands. Thirty years ago Vietnam only produced a tiny proportion of the world's coffee, but after the end of the Vietnam war there was a widescale plan to become a coffee growing nation and Vietnam is now the second biggest in the world. It has provided employment for millions, making some very rich indeed, and Simon meets Vietnam's biggest coffee billionaire. But Simon learns that their rapid success has come at a cost to both the local people and the environment.
2014 • Travel
Simon travels from Texas to southern Mexico, meeting a woman who risks her life to take supplies to migrants stranded on the Mexican side of the border in Reynosa, one of the country's most violent cities, which is dominated by a powerful criminal organisation. He also ventures into the rainforest to explore the Maya city of Yaxchilan, and meets the modern-day descendants of this civilisation, who are increasingly marginalised and treated as second-class citizens.
To really understand Rome, you must understand its people - or the mob, as they were known in ancient times. As Giorgio Locatelli and Andrew Graham-Dixon explore Italy's iconic capital, they are in search of the generations of ordinary Romans who have left their mark on the city's culture and gastronomy.
2018 • Travel