Bill at White Sands National Park, New Mexico
In August's Talking Travel we chat to Bill Lehane (BillLehane), a journalist and writer from Dublin whose hobbies include: "Hanging out with Megan, writing in all its forms, drinking coffee, visiting art galleries and churches, and seeing the world."
You're a Dubliner living in Prague who's also lived in the US and China, where's been your favourite place to date?
I think I would have to say New Mexico, my wife Megan Eaves' home state! We spent almost a year there after a six-month teaching stint in China, it was really great to see the American Southwest – still a bit of an unknown for most Europeans, I think - and get to know all of my wife's family at the same time. But no-one can go to China without being wowed I think, it was great to be able to do that as well. I really enjoyed seeing places like Shanghai and Beijing, as well as our little port of call for most of our time there, Lishui City.
As a journalist, how does your travel affect your writing and perspective on the world?
That’s an interesting question. I think that you grow as a person as you see more of the world, and of course that helps mature your writing. My experience as documented on the blog has been more about living abroad than just visiting new places however, which is definitely a different kind of travel. I think when you stay longer in a place you get a better sense of how people live in that city, and it's always different.
What are your must-sees for the Czech Republic?
The best is probably the most obvious – Old Town Prague. The Old Town Square itself is just magnificent no matter how many times you step on to it, I was just thinking the same the other day when walking out onto the square and seeing the Týn Church (we have nicknamed it the Disney church J ) - it still amazes me how great it looks after a whole year living here.
Aside from that, I would have to say the historic medieval town of Český Krumlov, a fresh pint of Svijany - Prague's beer of the moment – and getting a sausage at one of the outdoor markets (that are most famously at Christmas but actually pop up regularly throughout the year.)
Bill and Megan outside Prague Castle
Tell us more about book 'Interculturalism in Irish Public Service Broadcasting' and your inspiration...
Well back in my home town of Dublin there's been a massive immigration boom linked to the Celtic Tiger economic boom where the foreign population that was basically at next to nothing in 2000 rose to 10 percent of the population by 2006.
I was inspired by this change, and while I was working for the website of Ireland's biggest TV network at the time I completed a Masters in Intercultural Studies and wrote a dissertation on that part of the issue. That was in 2007.
A German academic publisher then called me out of the blue nearly three years later when I was staying in a historic hotel in downtown El Paso, Texas (where my wife was researching one of her books) and offered to publish it in paperback format. So that was just fantastic.
Speaking of Germany, I would just like to note that while the poor Irish economy is obviously doing really terribly at the moment, the German immigration experience does show that immigrants do not leave their adopted homes in significant numbers during a recession, so hopefully this is a text that will still be of some small use in the years to come.
You're an active member of the Travellerspoint community, what do you like about the site?
I think the Wiki Travel Guide is a great idea because it gives travellers instant access to all the relevant info they need without having to scroll through pages of stuff that doesn't interest them. It's a bit of fun as well just to update the various pages by spotting things you know that haven't been mentioned and adding them to the rundown.
Where are you off to next?
Well as it happens I just took a job in London, so I'll be there by early September. I think while Prague has lots to offer in terms of historic sights, beer and so on, myself and Megan will really relish the huge selection of dining and cultural things going on in such a large, multicultural city. And of course we’ll be there for the Olympics!
Check out these recent interviews in the Talking Travel series: