Itinerary- Day Three

12 03 2007


There are very few things, if you ask me, that are as exciting as planning a trip. Well, maybe going on the trip is as exciting, but…I love to peruse maps, read books, make notes, research on my computer- so many possibilities to explore, so many adventures to anticipate. At the same time, we don’t like to over-plan; in other words, to attempt to micro-manage every last detail like booking our hotels in advance and reducing the trip to a grocery list of places to go and things to see that one can check off like, well, like a grocery list. We like to leave room for the pleasant surprise, the serendipitous, the unexpected. So, with these thoughts in mind, here then is our itinerary:

First stop: Paris, to meet Marcel and arrange for our transportation on the first leg of the Grand Tour. We will, bien sur, meet him at the Ritz (GPS coordinates:N48.52.0625 E002.19.7538). Next, we’ll take the old Roman road to Arles, France, to check up on Vincent and bring him some much needed painting supplies from Pere Tanguey in Paris. We’ll stay with him in the yellow house for a few days, depending on what kind of mood he’s in. Then we’ll proceed to Siena, Italy (GPS coordinates N38.01.37 E12.43.05), a town that’s said to remain closest to it’s Medieval origins and is therefore of interest to Marcel for it’s architecture and to me for it’s pottery and ceramics. Next stop will be Delphi, Greece, for reasons which will become clear later. Onward through Konya, Turkey, home of the Sufi mystic and poet Jalal al Din Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes, and Catal Hoyuk, to participate in the dig there. In Syria, we’ll visit the ancient city of Mari on the banks of the Euphrates and Aram, the oldest inhabited city in the world. Down through the Levant to the Alexandrian Mouseion in Egypt (GPS coordinates N29.97.7712 E31.13.2604) to learn what we can from the scholars. From Alexandria we’ll take a newly established train line all the way across the top of the African continent to Morocco. In Morocco I hope to learn the art of making tangines and the foods one can make inside them. On to Spain, to visit the Alhambra and take the St. James of Campostela pilgrimage in reverse, then back to Paris. We plan to follow the dictates of previous Grand Tourists, who would “…return with crates of art books, pictures, sculptures, etc..” and the dictates of our hearts, meaning we plan to buy things that will have an essence of the place in them that speaks to us. Some items will be for inclusion in the Riversleigh Mouseion, some will be for gifts, some Marcel will keep, and some will reside with us.

The day for departure nears, the pile of luggage grows, the goodbyes are being said. Be with us on our journey, and we’ll share as much as is possible of what we learn and experience. Bon voyage!


Bamberg Bavaria

10 03 2007

Winding lanes, narrow alleyways, baroque and romantic façades and a medieval atmosphere make up the Old Town of Bamberg. Darryl and I were convinced that we had entered a fairy world when we arrived in Bamberg. Bamberg offers Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture, and some of Germany’s finest art. Bamberg’s architecture greatly influenced northern Germany and Hungary from the 12th century onward, and is listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Every corner provided a photo opportunity and we soaked in the Venice like quality of this old town.

What neither of us fully appreciated at the time was that Bamberg’s has a dark secret.(as do most places)

During the 16th and 17th centuries more than 100,000 people in Germany were tortured and murdered as a result of being accused of being witches. The witch hunts were led by fanatical rulers, spurred on behind the scenes by the Catholic Church. Using torture and inflicting horrible deaths on men, women and children over 100,000 people died.

Some of the worst persecutions took place in Bamberg, a small state ruled by Gottfried Johann Georg 11 Fuchs von Dornheim. Dornheim established an operation of full time torturers and executioners. A witch prison was built in Bamberg and a network of informers was established. Accusations were not made public and the accused were denied legal rights.

Torture was the rule and was applied to all those accused. Victims were put in thumbscrews and vises, dumped in cold baths and in scalding lime baths, whipped, burned with sulphure, put in iron spiked stocks and subjected to other forms torture. Thr torture did not stop even after condemnation. As they were led to the stake prisoners had their hands cut off.

Many rich and powerful people fell victim and had their property and assets confiscated in Bamberg. Anyone who questioned what was happening was also tortured and killed.

Photographs by Darryl Blakey 2001

A Portal Passage — Day 2

4 03 2007

As goodbyes from the Riversleigh Manor residents still reverberate in the distance, deep fog in the woodsy landscape swirls about me. I find myself taking cautious steps, arms outstretched in front of me. Within minutes my hands touch a damp wall of mossy wet granite. I am perplexed; I do not remember rock formations in this part of the forest. The mist turns into rain, but luck is with me, for I fdiscover an opening in the rock. I duck into the drippy hole, a small cave in which I can barely kneel upright. As I move further inside the space diminishes, until I can only continue by slithering on my belly.I push my pack through the hole, wriggling it back and forth until it slides forward. Then Pigeon struts through, flapping its wings in excitement. But before I can follow, there is a firm tap on my back. I look into the shadows and am surprised to see le Enchanteur motioning for me to come to her.

“I have a gift for your journey, my dear. See? A tiny bag,” she says, smiling and holding a silken pouch towards me.

Curious, I inch towards her. I open the bag’s tie strings, emptying its contents on a clean cloth she has spread upon my lap. There is a tiny metallic paper packet marked ‘Ten Dream Seeds. Use with care!’ Then I find a pair of spectacles, old-fashioned granny glasses, but I see nothing remarkable when I gaze through the lenses. Next I pull out a candlestick, (why a candlestick?), a tiny anchor which is surprisingly heavy in my palm, a well-worn medallion with the imprint of a faded Unicorn on it, and a set of miniature wings which unfolds like a very large map. I catch a speck of writing on one of the wings. There IS a map imprinted lightly on the nylon mesh. A double use — a set of wings and a map combined! “How clever,” I whisper to myself.

Le Enchanteur hears me and dips her head slightly. “One more gift,” she says in a pleased voice.

I search in the bag and in one of the corners, I find a wee bit of gossamer. Opening it in my hand, I discover a pair of amber scissors set with crystal blades.

“Be careful. They are so sharp they can cut through a brick of diamond ,” cautions le Enchateur, “and do not let this bag out of your site. Hang it around your neck and keep it well-hidden until it is needed.”

I place the pouch under my shirts, resting it against my heart. When I look up to thank le Enchanteur, I see only the swish of her cape as she disappears into the rain. Breathing heavily, I return to squiggling through the hole. Ahead I see Pigeon illuminated by light, watching and waiting for me.

I finally poke my head into the light, blinking my eyes as I pull myself through the portal. I am awe-stricken. Before me lies the land of Lemuria. I lean my back against the cave’s wall to catch my breath and nearly fall. There is nothing but air behind me. The hole has evaporated into space. I am alone in a mystical country of strangers with no means of returning to familiar land.

I think of this only momentarily. Then all of my senses are magnetized. As my eyes adjust, I see I am surrounded by pure light, but it is a light without sun. The luminosity is spread across an endless sky. I wonder if night ever falls in Lemuria.

A breeze drifts across my face, singing a whistling melody. I strain to hear the sound as it fades, then crescendos, then fades again. Aromas float in the air — a mild scent of mint and lavender. I become even more aware of my surroundings — it is forever a greenery of shrubbery and plants of all types, sizes, and color. I recognize only a few common herbs, nothing else in all of this vast region.

I take a step back, stunned with the beauty surrounding me. And suddenly I gasp in surprise. I bump into rock — again! I turn around and see that I am standing on a rocky outcropping protruding from a tall mountain. I now understand why the view has become so magnificent. I am high and I can see everything succulent and lush, shining in its glory. The country feels welcoming; I feel relaxed.

Gradually I feel drowsy. I sink down onto the rock ledge, lean against the mountain, and use my pack as a pillow. I sleep deeply. Until I am jolted awake by a deafening sound.


3 01 2007


My plan is to take an oceangoing vessel into London and then proceed by train to Glastonbury,  immersing myself in Arthurian splendor.

From there, I shall cross the channel into France and go directly to Paris, where I shall seek out art and la vie boheme.

Traveling into Italy, I plan to seek out not only the fine museums and Vatican City, but also to find a woman of the countryside to teach me some authentic cookery skills and legends of the area.

Greece beckons next, and then on into the Eastern European countries, up through Romania into Poland, my ancestral home.

I shall wind my way through Germany and Belgium, returning to Britain for the summer Solstice at Stonehenge.

To my dear aunt I leave the travel details. Who knows what interesting side trips may occur?