A day in Cobh and my new Asian-Irish haircut

On my recent visit to Ireland I stayed for a few days in Cobh, a picturesque sea-side town, a few kms from Cork.

I arrived in Ireland 3 days beforehand and was staying in a lovely little hotel in Cobh, on top of a hill, overlooking the bay. I felt blessed with that glorious view, over breakfast, every morning. A hot plate of porridge or a comforting full Irish Breakfast and I was ready to tackle another day.

But after a couple of site-seeing days, with quite a few kms in between, that particular day I woke up feeling lazy.

Over breakfast, allowing my thoughts to wander over the blue water, hovering like a seagull, I decided to have a laid back day and simply stayed in Cobh. (more…)

Have you been hibernating for the Winter? Well, Spring is here!

Have you been hibernating for the Winter? I have. There’s this general apathy I’ve felt for the last few months. And I just can’t seem to shake it off. Do you feel the same?

Firstly it was Xmas, and New Year, and evaluating travel prospects for 2017. Early in January I had a feeling this was going to be a year of beginnings. And I still do. But I’m getting impatient waiting for them, though… (note to self: have to work on my anxiety control capacity)

Secondly, some annoying budgetary constraints made me give up (for now) on my travel project for February. I didn’t tell you about it as it came crumbling down pretty early in the beginning of the year. It was quite the bummer as I had completely set my mind to it. Oh, well… It got shoved back into the drawer, waiting for better days.

But now, Spring is finally coming! Hurrah!

And, although my budgetary constraints still bug me, the monsoon is beginning to drive me once again.

In other words, my wanderlust is calling, loud and clear.

Yet I’m still divided between some other emerging interests – which have taken up most of my free time lately – and the call of the “road”.

Unfortunately I don’t have any vacation days until the end of April.

On the other hand, I don’t need vacation days to explore my surroundings, right? There are tons of things to do, not far from home. And I tend to neglect that.

Plus, the last weekends have been rather rainy and I don’t feel like getting out of the house.

But I really must put a stop to this hibernation mode. Enough is enough! I’m usually not this lazy!

So, I’d better get started planning, don’t you think?

Any suggestions?

From Italy to Switzerland: Riding the Centovalli train to Locarno

In October 2014 I spent 3 days in Lake Maggiore, Italy (read about it here) and took the opportunity to ride the Centovalli all the way to Locarno, on the Swiss part of the lake. It was a magic ride.

The Centovalli Railway is a panoramic train that connects the Italian city of Domodossola to the Swiss-Italian city of Locarno, by lake Maggiore.

It crosses the Hundred Valleys’ region (Centovalli), passing deep ravines and narrow viaducts, up in the mountain tops.

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Georgian religious chant, in Aramaic language

Why did I fell in love with Georgian culture?

Here is one very good example…

Georgian polyphonic religious chants were originated in the IX and X centuries. Usually the highest voice provides the melody and is supported by two other voices.

A curiosity: in the district of Mtskheta (a few kms from Tbilisi) there is a big community of Christian Assyrians, who still speak Aramaic.

 

Lake Maggiore on a rainy day

I visited lake Maggiore, in northern Italy, on an impromptu decision, in October 2014. And it rained the entire weekend.

Early that year, in January, me and my better-half had spent a weekend in Milano. And, since that weekend, I was curious to visit the lake region.

So, when I had the chance to get away for a long weekend, in early October 2014, I chose one of the lakes.

My choice was lake Maggiore, on the south side of the Alps, one fifth Swiss and four fifths Italian. It felt less trendy than its most famous counterparts, lakes Como and Garda. Yet, there was plenty to see, including two islands with Renaissance and Baroque fairy-tale Pallazzi (palaces) and a panoramic train ride across the Alpine mountains.

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Layover in Athens: tourism inside a bubble and the effects of the crisis in Greece

Last year, on my way to Georgia, I had a 17 hour layover in Athens. And I didn’t like it the least bit!

Of course there were some interesting things. But, all in all, I didn’t like the experience. I won’t say I was disappointed, but that’s just because my expectations were low. I had heard so many conflicting opinions about the city that I didn’t dare expect too much.

But I will let you draw your own conclusions. Here’s what happened…

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"The Knight in the Panther's Skin", by Shota Rustaveli - Georgia's nostalgic soul

The Knight in the Panther’s Skin” is one of the most amazing medieval epic poems I’ve ever read (yes, I’m a nerd, I read medieval epic poems).

When I visit a country (specially if I know nothing or very little about it) I always try to buy books by local authors. It’s a way to continue my education about the country’s History and Culture.

During my visit to Georgia, last year, I heard this book mentioned, several times, specially over my tour of the Vardzia caves (read about it here). And I was curious.

This epic poem was written by the Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli, by the end of the XII century, beginning of the XIII century, during Georgia’s Golden Age. The same time Vardzia prospered under Queen Tamar’s rule.

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