'Everyone you meet is a bar-room historian'

Quotes of the year from our travel correspondents
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The Independent Travel

"The sky and the sea had merged into an ugly grey damp which the wind, direct from Greenland, was washing across the promenade." - Jim White in Blackpool, 28


"At the city's heart is a cathedral that knows few equals in Europe, with a spire of such flaky delicacy it seems the work of the confectioner's rather than the mason's art." - Tim Salmon in Strasbourg, 11 February

"Washing facilities for perspiring hikers comprise a bowl of hot water carried from the kitchen through a field of friendly sheep" - Teresa Allan at Black Sail Hut youth hostel, 18 February


"Captain (one), disc jockey (one), gentlemen escorts (eight)" - the staff list on the Queen Elizabeth 2, 11 March

"Suddenly, the texture of the snow changed; it became lumpy and relatively heavy, leading one of our number to take an awkward but fortunately survivable fall. We had skied into an avalanche." - Chris Gill in the Silvretta ski area on the Swiss-Austrian border, 25 March

"The glittering soft sand went on as far as the eye could see. Bit by bit the kookaburras began their rude caw-caws. Then from nowhere a boy on horseback appeared, crashing through the waves, arms thrown back in glee." - Esther Oxford in the Gambia, 25 March


"They seem to like Hulme - some of them say it reminds them of East Berlin before the Wall came down" - Robin Pike, proprietor of the Mr Beds hostel in Manchester, on why Germans are his biggest customers, 1 April (but not an April Fool)

"The pick-up point was Huddersfield station on Christmas Eve morning, 1986. A man with a clipboard pointed to three buses and shouted 'First coach goes to Moscow, t'second goes to Leningrad, t'third to Bingley market." - Alex Shorrocks reminiscing about the late, great Yorkshire Tours, 15 April


"There are plenty of fluffy puppies gambolling around - which the Bataks eat. Horses too, in fact anything going. They used to eat each other." - Harriet O'Brien in Samosir, Indonesia, 3 June

"Frinton has a feel of the Fifties about it. There are plenty of ladies in cardigans and old gentlemen in ties. It looks like the kind of place John Major had in mind when he spoke of spinsters on bicycles and cricket on the village green." - Anne Spackman, 17 June


"Down at the village hall, people staked their territory around the floor by lining up their whisky bottles next to their chairs. Then they hit the dance floor." - Marion Hume in Scotland, 26 August


"This is our guest house. We use it for storing our enemies' heads" he said, smiling. We smiled back." - Charlie English in Sarawak, 23 September

"History is something you learn by the ton on the 250-mile journey along the borderlands of Northern Ireland; here, everyone you meet is something of a bar- room expert in history and folklore." - Jonathan Glancey, 30 September


"Outside the terminal, the air has a distinctive loamish smell of cowdung fires, cheap beedi cigarettes and earth that's been ploughed for a millennium. Hundreds of sleeping bodies lie on the pavement; they are labourers waiting for the next morning's flight to the Gulf but their presence gives an impression that the airport is the highwater mark of some catastrophe." - Tim McGirk, Delhi, 4 November

"New York City is heading back to its waterways. The restless city, erected mostly on islands has nowhere to move so it reclaims riverfront and wetland, rebuilds rotting docks and piers." - Reggie Nadelson, 18 November

"The problem with France these days is less the French than the British. We're everywhere, and boy are we ugly." - Serena Mackesy, Calais, 25 November


"Back in the bar, the faces on a huddle of Norwegians reveal the grim desperation of drinkers who realise they will shortly be back in the land of the pounds 5 pint.'' - Simon Calder aboard the Color Viking, 23 December