This week we are exploring Romania's largest and most iconic region,mistaken by many Americans and others as a country in its own right. In fact Transylvania is a name that most of the western world still associates with Dracula, werewolves and folk legend. But this land beyond the forest defies all preconceptions and remains one of the most culturally important and beautiful parts of Eastern Europe.
2018 • Travel
Join us for a cultural odyssey through little known parts of the southern Carpathians starting at the majestic Iron Gates and the ancient Roman Spa town of Baile Herculane. Charlie Ottley explores the remote Cerna Mountains finding historic working mills, and legendary rock formations. On our journey east we stop at a boutique winery and the stunning Cosia National Park with its grottos and picturesque monasteries. Crossing Saxon Transylvania Charlie visits the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler and meets a Romanian Princess at her ancestral home, majestic Peles Castle. In the second part we leave the mountains behind and meander down to the Danube where it branches to form the largest wetland in Europe. Here Charlie explores tiny fishing communities, fragile forests and labyrinthine waterways teeming with rare birdlife. We also see why this vital ecosystem is under threat and look at what is being done to preserve it.
Ray follows in the footsteps of an unsung British hero who helped put modern Canada on the map. John Rae from Scotland was the first great Arctic explorer and came to be regarded as the foremost authority on First Nation methods of Arctic survival and travel. Ray Mears follows the story of how John Rae found the Northwest Passage - the Holy Grail of 19th-century exploration. Yet this man, who should have been a hero of his day, was vilified by the British establishment. Ray believes it's time to put the record straight.
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.
The cherry blossoms are out, and James hits the streets of Tokyo with his new guide Yujiro. As James discovers, this unique city is home to some of Japan’s greatest eccentrics and ideas. From obsessive trainspotters, musicians and baffling hi-tech gadgetry to cat superfans, penis festivals and mind-blowing computerised art shows, James tries to understand what makes Japan tick.