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Mike Arkus
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An inveterate traveler, Mike Arkus worked for more than four decades as a Reuters journalist, much of it as foreign correspondent, being based in posts as disparate as France and Cuba, Israel and Brazil for over three years at a time.

He has so far visited 273 of the 321 countries and territories listed worldwide by the Travelers' Century Club - from Greenland and Iceland to Antarctica, Patagonia and the Falklands, and from Papua-New Guinea and Borneo to Sao Tome and Principe and Gabon. In a typical year he spent a week in the Virgin Islands; another week in Saba, Statia, St. Barths and Anguilla; a month in the Galapagos and Ecuador's Andean and Amazon regions; and seven weeks in Angola, both Congos, Djibouti, Somalia (Somaliland) and Ethiopia.

Entries by Mike Arkus

Where Orpheus Played -- And Lost His Lyre, Love and Life: Natterings From Northern Greece on the Looney Front, Part 4

(0) Comments | Posted June 28, 2015 | 9:14 PM

OK, there's absolutely no evidence that Orpheus, the mythical musician who set the trees and rocks a-dancing with his melodies but lost his wife Eurydice forever with that fateful, most verboten backward glance on the way up from Hades where a nasty snake bite had dispatched her, was born here...

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Drama in the Wild Rhodope Mountains: Natterings From Northern Greece on the Looney Front, Part 3

(0) Comments | Posted June 22, 2015 | 12:18 PM

No, not psycho-drama, nor social drama, but a town in Macedonia at the foot of the Rhodope Mountains about an hour by bus from Kavala -- thus called not for any Thespian reason but apparently shortened from its classical name Hydrama meaning rich in water, which it indeed is.

Drama,...

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A Day, or More Than Two Millennia, in the Life of Salonika: Natterings from Northern Greece on the Looney Front, Part 1

(0) Comments | Posted June 8, 2015 | 12:00 AM

In the year 353/2 B.C. a daughter was born to Alexander the Great's father, King Philip II of Macedon, on the very same day that he won the Battle of Crocus Field over the Phocians in Thessaly, central Greece, with the help of crack Thessalian horsemen. Let her be called...

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Beersheba -- Where Abraham Swore an Oath: Near Israel's Fraught Border with Gaza on the Looney Front, Part 3

(2) Comments | Posted June 2, 2015 | 5:45 PM

Some 3,500 or more years ago Abraham, patriarch of the Jews, settled a water dispute in what is now Israel's Negev desert with Abimelech, king of the Philistines, swearing an oath that the well the Philistines had seized was his, dug by his own hands.

The two signed a...

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Netivot -- The Varanasi of Israel: Israel's Fraught Border With Gaza on the Looney Front, Part 2

(2) Comments | Posted May 29, 2015 | 1:40 AM

If Sderot is known as the Bomb Shelter Capital of the World (previous blog) Netivot, eight miles further south along the fraught border with Gaza, has been called the Varanasi of Israel, likened to Hinduism's holiest city because of its links to Jewish mysticism and miracles as home of one...

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Sderot, Bomb Shelter Capital of the World: Israel's Fraught Border With Gaza on the Looney Front (Part 1)

(2) Comments | Posted May 24, 2015 | 12:06 PM

This photo documentary on the Israeli border town of Sderot is not intended to get into the political argument between Israel and Palestine over who is right and who is wrong but merely to take a walk through a town that has earned the title of Bomb Shelter Capital of...

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An Atheist in Athos -- Part 3: Greece's Most Famous Monasteries on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted May 22, 2015 | 12:58 PM

If my cheating in 'following in the footsteps of intrepid Brit traveler Patrick Leigh Fermor' was major-league big-time from Stavronikita to Megisti Lavra, I've turned it into an extreme sport for the onward journey.

Leigh Fermor got a fishing boat to take him to the west coast where he...

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An Atheist in Athos - Part 2: Greece's Most Famous Monasteries on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted May 18, 2015 | 12:21 AM

Megisti Lavra Monastery (Great Lavra) at the south-eastern end of the Athos Peninsula claims to be the earliest and largest on the Holy Mountain, founded in 963 by the monk Athanasios. As such it is the mother monastery of all 20 in the monastic Athonite State.

In its heyday...

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Kavala, Thasos, and the Joys of Off-Season Travel: Natterings From Northern Greece on the Looney Front, Part 2

(0) Comments | Posted May 15, 2015 | 1:37 AM

Even if some restaurants are still closed and bus services are reduced to a minimum, travelling off season in Greece is a pure delight.

There's no problem in getting a seat on the bus from Thessaloniki to the port of Kavala, whence the ferry leaves for the nearby island...

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An Atheist in Athos - Part 1: Greece's Most Famous Monasteries on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted May 14, 2015 | 4:34 PM

In the first century A.D., the Virgin Mary was travelling from the Judaean port of Jaffa to Cyprus when she was blown violently off course, so tradition has it, coming ashore far to the northwest on Athos, easternmost tentacle of Greece's Chalkidiki peninsula.

Overwhelmed by the savagely wild beauty of...

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Of Ice Fields and Icebergs in Frozen Nunavut: Nanook of the North on the Looney Front -- Part 5

(0) Comments | Posted May 10, 2015 | 4:18 PM

Doing in reverse in 40 minutes what it took Mr. Cheltenham and his friend seven days to complete with skis and spiked boots down below, I gain a magnificent bird's eye view of the craggy splendours of Nunavut's Auyuittuq National Park on the flight from Pangnirtung to Qikiqtarjuaq.

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On the Greenland 'Riviera' in the Depths of Winter: Going Barmy Instead of Balmy on the Looney Front - Part 3

(0) Comments | Posted March 30, 2015 | 9:14 AM

When Erik the Red landed in Greenland in 982, arguably the first European to do so, during his three-year exile for killing some people back home, it took him forever to get here just from near neighbour Iceland, not a mere hour or two, and it's highly unlikely he ever...

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Around Greenland's Coldest Settlement in the Depths of Winter: Going Barmy instead of Balmy on the Looney Front - Part 2

(0) Comments | Posted March 23, 2015 | 5:48 PM

Greenland's indigenous Inuit, inured though they were to the rigours of the far north, never established any permanent settlement in Kangerlussuaq at the top end of a 118-mile-long fjord on the west coast of the world's largest island. It wasn't that it was 60 miles above the Arctic Circle; many...

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Loaded for Polar Bear in Nunavut: Nanook of the North On the Looney Front -- Part 6

(0) Comments | Posted March 21, 2015 | 6:31 PM

I still haven't seen a polar bear in the wild in Nunavut, land of Nanook of the North, and they definitely roam hereabouts on Baffin and Broughton islands near Qikiqtarjuaq, just north of the Arctic Circle.

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Broughton and Baffin islands from the frozen...
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A James Bond Park in Canada's Frozen Nunavut: Nanook of the North on the Looney Front -- Part 4

(0) Comments | Posted March 19, 2015 | 3:42 PM

This is the place where James Bond went north beyond the Arctic Circle and skied off the 6,000-foot granite monolith of Mt. Asgard with a Union Jack parachute in the 'The Spy Who Loved Me.' Or at least Hollywood stuntman Rick Sylvester did in the film's opening sequence, sparing Roger...

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Moving up Baffin Island in Nunavut's Arctic Spring: Nanook of the North on the Looney Front - Part 3

(0) Comments | Posted March 18, 2015 | 5:04 PM

I still have enough time in Iqaluit, Nunavut's capital, to recoup for my earlier failure to find Sylvia Grinnell territorial park. I find an office in a shack and enquire. "First right, first left, you can't miss it," I'm told.

I'm quite insulted. How dare he question my ability to...

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Dog Sledding in Nunavut, Arctic Canada: Nanook of the North on the Looney Front -- Part 2

(1) Comments | Posted March 17, 2015 | 12:10 PM

Now what would a visit to Nunavut in the depths of early spring be without a "Yoiks tally ho," and a bit of dog sledding? Okay, I don't suppose you actually shout: "Yoiks tally ho," when you're crisscrossing the Arctic on a sled, as those nasty British fox hunters do...

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In Canada's Inuit Territory of Nunavut: Nanook of the North on the Looney Front - Part 1

(6) Comments | Posted March 16, 2015 | 4:31 PM

As the last blogs were on Greenland in the depths of winter, here is a series on the Inuit territory of Nunavut, northern Canada in the depths of early April from a trip I took a couple of years back.

The 1,303-mile flight from Ottawa to Iqaluit, Nunavut's capital, is...

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Greenland's Massive Ice Cap in the Depths of Winter: Going Barmy Instead of Balmy on the Looney Front -- Part 1

(0) Comments | Posted March 16, 2015 | 12:00 PM

Talk about wrong way Mike! Everybody else is escaping the extra harsh cold in the north-eastern United State by flying south to the Caribbean, so how come I'm flying north to deepest Greenland in the depths of winter?

Notwithstanding Mother Earth's late February planetary rigor mortis on the Ice Cap...

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Let Loose the Sled Dogs of War in the Depths of Greenland's Winter: Going Barmy instead of Balmy on the Looney Front (Part 5)

(0) Comments | Posted March 11, 2015 | 5:17 PM

You don't try and pet the Greenland sled dog with a cheery Mickey Mouse-like "Come here Pluto," a pat on the head and a treat in your hand, because the treat will be your hand.

The Greenland Husky, a handsome, powerful, sturdy creature with slanted eyed, is a direct...

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