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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

Away from the Races at Saratoga Springs: Swampland Mansions, Spas and Casinos on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted July 20, 2014 | 7:00 PM

Saratoga Springs in upstate New York may be best known to many as home to a world famous race track for thoroughbred horses, the second oldest in the United States that began its long life in 1863. It may also be best known to James Bond film fans as the...

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Lazy Daze on the Caicos Islands: Low Key, High Cost on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted July 17, 2014 | 5:54 PM

They may lack the dramatic peaks of St. Lucia's 2,500-foot Pitons, the lush jungles of Dominica, the plunging hollows of Jamaica's Cockpit Country and the magnificent hilltop vistas of the Virgin Islands, but the equally Caribbean though often scrubby Caicos Islands have a laid-back charm that surreptitiously seduces and ensnares.

...
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White Gold, Black Slaves, Red Blood: Countless Years a Slave on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted July 7, 2014 | 1:56 AM

White gold, they called it, the salt that made white men rich and black slaves wretched with a horrendous plight beyond all suffering in the salt pans of Grand Turk. Today the pans spread out their reddish waters across this small Caribbean island off the north coast of Haiti, virtually...

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Greece's Jewish Community - Over 2,000 Years Old: Down Memory Lane on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted July 1, 2014 | 12:45 PM

It is not only Salonika, the major intellectual and cultural centre of Greek Jewry for over two millennia, or the ancient community of Rhodes, nor such famous members as Colonel Mordechai Frizis, the officer who fought valiantly against the Italian invasion in 1940, that recall how widespread Greece's Jewish community...

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Greece's Rock Portrait Gallery, From Craggy Ogres to de Gaulle's Nose: Suspended in Mid-Air on the Looney Front, Part II

(0) Comments | Posted June 23, 2014 | 12:27 AM

When it comes to seeing human, animal or any other likenesses in Mother Nature's giant crags, rocks, cliff faces and mountain outcroppings, nobody can be more obtuse than Yours Truly. Others see the image of the Virgin Mary; I see a rock. Others see a crenelated castle turret; I see...

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Greece's Rock-Pinnacle Churches: Suspended in Mid-Air on the Looney Front, Part I

(0) Comments | Posted June 17, 2014 | 3:39 PM

Some say it started 10 million years ago, other 25 to 30 million, yet others 60 million years ago. Just for the heck of it, let's say 25,636,666 B.C., give or take a week. It was then that Mother Earth got a bad case of tectonic indigestion and burped up...

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Nature Changes Site of History's Most Famous Last Stand: Bang Go Greece's Defences on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted June 9, 2014 | 4:55 PM

If Leonidas, the storied king of Sparta, and his 300 heroic warriors were to return today to Thermopylae, arguably the most famous last stand in history, they would not recognize the site where treachery thwarted their valiant attempt to keep King Xerxes and the invading Persians out of southern Greece...

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In the Lap of the Gods on Mt. Olympus: At Home With Zeus on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted June 4, 2014 | 4:08 PM

This is where the gods of ancient Greece lived, loved and laboured mightily to complicate the lives of us poor mortals struggling far below; where, if you believe Homer and others, they quarrelled and brawled in their council; where Zeus continually pissed off his both wife and sister Hera by...

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Following in the Baby Steps of Alexander the Great: Game of Thrones On the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted May 25, 2014 | 8:34 PM

Before there was Alexander the Great, there was Alexander the young prince, gallivanting round the boondocks of Macedonia, taming the mighty steed Bucephalas, learning at the feet of the great philosopher Aristotle, even possibly master-minding his own father's assassination - all at sites within easy reach in the Greece of...

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Some Corner of a Foreign Field, Part II: British and Commonwealth War Cemeteries on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted May 18, 2014 | 7:14 PM

If Rupert Brooke, the British World War I poet whose sonnet The Soldier immortalised the sacrifice made by the hundreds of thousands who fell in 'some corner of a foreign field,' lies alone in a solitary grave on a Greek island, he is the very rare exception.

As the...

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Iconic War Grave 100 Years On: British and Commonwealth War Cemeteries on the Looney Front, Part I

(0) Comments | Posted May 15, 2014 | 5:09 AM

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England...

Thus wrote Rupert Brooke, the famed English war poet, in 1914 in his iconic sonnet, "The Soldier," envisaging his own death on the field of battle...

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The Far North, Part 2 -- The World's Northernmost University: Going Arctic on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted May 6, 2014 | 2:54 PM

If Longyearbyen on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen boasts of being the world's northernmost city, just 813 miles south of the North Pole, then Tromsø, 595 miles further south but still 218 miles north of the Arctic Circle, prides itself on being the Capital of the Arctic, with the world's...

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The Far North, Part 1 -- The Glaciers of Svalbard: Going Arctic on the Looney Front

(2) Comments | Posted April 27, 2014 | 3:12 PM

It prides itself on being the world's most northerly city, albeit with only about 2,000 residents; it's way beyond the Arctic Circle, just 813 miles from the North Pole, yet thanks to the Atlantic current it is much warmer than parts of Greenland and Canada lying a good bit further...

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5 Ways to Enliven a Flight Lay-Over in Oslo: Screaming on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted April 20, 2014 | 9:15 AM

Oslo may be one of the less notable European capitals, but there's plenty to do that is accessible if you have a few-hours lay-over before your flight to Norway's rightly famed Arctic far north. First and foremost the journey into the city from Gardermoen airport, 22 miles (35 kilometres) to...

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5 Flights of Fancy I'd Rather Not: On a Wing and a Prayer On the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted April 14, 2014 | 4:48 PM

There are flights, many hours long, that pass in a daze as you slip into and out of somnolence, or get engrossed in a film or book. Then there are those, sometimes short, even an hour or less, when you really wonder what the hell you're doing suspended in mid-air...

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Mute Witnesses to Horror in Rwanda and Cambodia: The Stations of the Skulls on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted April 6, 2014 | 11:42 PM

As the world marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the Rwandan genocide on April 6, the macabre human remains of that terrible massacre have become grim stations of the cross on the tourist circuit in the otherwise magnificently beautiful country -- just as they did years earlier in...

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There Are Guides, Then There's the Galápagos: Going Rogue on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted March 18, 2014 | 5:44 PM

Dante had the Roman poet Virgil to guide him through the nine circles of Hell in the Inferno part of his Divine Comedy, and the Florentine beauty Beatrice to take him through Purgatory - and onward and upward to Paradise. Yours Truly has Class A war criminal Tojo to guide...

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Clams -- Velvety Jewels of the Sea: Aladdin's Cave on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted March 10, 2014 | 9:53 PM

Clam chowder. Clam bake. Clam up. Tight as a clam. As happy as a clam. OK, but you don't normally associate the filter-feeding, plankton-feasting bivalve mollusc -- you probably won't use that term either -- with gems. Oysters, yes, but clams?

Yet the clam's mantle, the fleshy outer layer...

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Crimea, Now Scene of a Russian Invasion, Is a Tourist Gem: A Photo Essay

(0) Comments | Posted March 10, 2014 | 12:22 PM

From soaring mountains to craggy shores, from Tsarist palaces to rock-clinging monasteries, from the palace of the Crimean Tatar Khans to the site of the one of the most famous and futile battles in history, Crimea has much to offer the traveller, whatever his/her predilection -- once Russian President Putin...

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Diary of a None Too Happy Camper: Camping Down Under on The Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted March 4, 2014 | 3:05 PM

I'm not a fan of organized tours or camping. But when you're in hyper-expensive Australia, unwilling to waste zillions on a 4X4, a camping tour of The Kimberley, one of Western Australia's premier sights, may be your best bet. That's how I find myself on a nine-day, eight- camper for...

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