Harriet O'Brien

Harriet O’Brien is a travel writer and award-winning author. Her first book Forgotten Land, a rediscovery of Burma was published just before she joined The Independent, her second Queen Emma and Vikings, a few years after she left. She was on staff at The Independent during the 1990s and subsequently worked in Canada and then as managing editor at Conde Nast Traveller before going freelance in order to travel more. She mainly covers the UK, Europe and Asia, where she grew up.

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Casa Gangotena Hotel, Quito

Quito: A capital city that's high and mighty

This Ecuadorian gem is in the process of dramatic change, as Harriet O'Brien reveals

Full spectrum: temples in Jaisalmer

Rajasthan: Land of many colours

There's nowhere quite like Rajasthan and now is the perfect time to visit. So get ready for cities of pink, white and blue, for dazzling Indian festivals, and for deserts, palaces and luxury trains

Peak district: The Auvergne's Chaîne des Puys

Land of sleeping green giants: Volcanic appeal in The Auvergne

The Auvergne's volcanic heart is now easier to visit thanks to a  new railway to the top of its landmark peak, says Harriet O'Brien.

In the pink: Albi, Toulouse-Lautrec's birthplace

France: At home with Toulouse-Lautrec in Albi

A newly revamped museum devoted to Albi's most  famous son offers an intimate look at the artist's work, as well as an insight into his short life, says Harriet O'Brien.

Light up: Mysore Palace illuminated at night

Mysore: a dazzling indian summer in Karnataka

In the south of India, little-visited Karnataka has plenty of surprises, from the bright lights of Mysore Palace to rare wildlife sightings in the jungle

An worker harvests grapes in a vineyard in Nashik about 100 miles north-east of Mumbai

Filling in the blancs: Indian wine is young, but maturing nicely

Is this the new Napa Valley? Harriet O'Brien takes a trip to the vineyards of Nashik, near Mumbai, and discovers some fresh flavours to savour

Frontier spirit: A new flight to Amritsar opens up India's Punjab

The peace was palpable. Around the temple courtyard pilgrims were reading, praying, and sweeping the gleaming marble. Meanwhile the air was filled with music and chanting, relayed via discreetly placed speakers from the golden inner sanctuary that glowed magnificently through the darkness. It was just after 4.30am at Amritsar's Golden Temple. Here, in accordance with Sikh philosophy, all are welcome – including slightly spaced-out women just arrived from England.

Jetty set: The stunning Bandos Island Resort

Traveller's Guide: Maldives

A visit to the Indian Ocean's most alluring archipelago will redefine your idea of the perfect beach holiday.

Hérault havens: the big six

Hostellerie St Alban, Nézignan l’Evèque

Set in an atmospheric old village close to the historic town of Pézenas, this gracious 19th-century mansion offers 13 comfortable bedrooms, a fine-dining restaurant and an attractive garden with swimming pool. The Mediterranean coast and the hills and wilds of Haut Languedoc are within easy reach to the north. Doubles from €98 per night, room only, logis-herault.fr

Off Duty: New Haven

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Day In a Page

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Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
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Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

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How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
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By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
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Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
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Vince Cable interview

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Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat