Category Archives: Travel

Missing in Action

Dear readers, it has been some time since we have posted a blog.

Although we have been missing in action online we have still been having some adventures. For example, Tracey was in Norway for three months doing some creative research into her ancestry. Her project Waters of the Past has resulted in some wonderful collaborations and connections. The project was also presented in a number of exhibitions and symposium, such as Balance UnBalance 2017 and RIXC Open Fields 2017.

Tracey’s project was also featured in the Drammen newspaper. Please don’t ask for a translation ūüôā

We had an amazing time in Norway, the highlight of this was our fjord journey up the west coast to Troms√ł – more on that later ūüėČ Here is some teasers:

This year we don’t plan to go too far from home ground. We have lots of short trips planned and we look forward to sharing with you some of the great places we enjoy here in the Australian Alpine region – better known by Aussies as ‘the high country’.

We will publish a new article from us each month as well as feature some guest writers. Contact us if you would like to submit something for publication.

Ps – we are now also in Instagram – follow us at geokult_travel

An article about Tracey
An article about Tracey
Advertisements

The Johanna TG326 #TheClippertonProject

The Johanna with sails up (Photo by Ingi Sorens√łn https://youpic.com/photographer/Ingis/)
The Johanna with sails up (Photo: Ingi Sorens√łn https://youpic.com/photographer/Ingis/)

This post is a dedication to the lovely Johanna TG326, our main mode of transport when we were in the Faroe Islands on a residency with The Clipperton Project.

Johanna under Sail
Johanna under sail (Photo: Martin Drury)

History
Johanna was built in Rye, Sussex in the South of England in 1884 at the famous shipyard owned by James Collins Hoad. Johanna was initially named Oxfordshire, with the first owner being John William Haylock from Dulwick in Surrey.

Shackle from the Johanna
Anchor shackle from the Johanna (Photo: Martin Drury)

In October 1894 Grimsby shipownder Greorg Edv. James Moody bought the Oxfordshire, though sold it December 1894 to J√°kup Dahl, a general merchant in V√°gur in the southern most island of the Faroes, Sudaroy. It was the first sloop owned by Dahl, who later established the company A/S J. Dahl and purchasing several sloops and schooners over the next thirty years. A/S J. Dahl was one of the most important companies in the Faroes in the 20th century, operating more than 20 sloops and schooners and having several other businesses in V√°gur.

Some of the ropes
Some of the ropes (Photo: Martin Drury)

The Johanna was part of the companies fishing fleet until the outbreak of WW2, when most of the Faroese sloops began to ice fish for the British market. Johanna remained part of the fleet as a fishing vessel until around 1972.

In the early 1970s only a few sloops remained in the Faroes, one of them being the Joahnna. From 1972, she remained in the Vágur harbour and was considered a nuisance. In 1980 A/S J. Dahl planned to sink Johanna, which had been the fate of many of the other sloops.

Ropes and rigging
Ropes and rigging (Photo: Martin Drury)

The Johanna was saved at the last-minute when a trust was formed to save Johanna and restore the sloop to the original condition. In 1981, The Trust Johanna TG326 bought the sloop Johanna from A/S J. Dahl for one Danish Kroner.

It took eight years to fully restore the Johanna, many timber parts have had to be replaced, but today the Johanna still retains her elegant shape and form.

The day we sailed into Sandoy was really special as another sloop, the Westward Ho docked beside us. Check out this great picture from Mhairi Law when she climbed up the mast.

Westward Ho docks beside the Johana (Photo by Mhairi Law)
Westward Ho docks beside the Johana (Photo: Mhairi Law)

Here are some more pictures of some of the details of the Joahnna.

 

The Snæfellsnes and journey to the centre of the earth #SIMResidency

Yesterday was an amazing day as I set off with some of the artists from the SIM Residency on a road trip to the Snæfellsnes peninsula, north-west of Reykjavik.

Our first stop was the historic town of Borgarnes, where we went to the Settlement Center. We had a lot of fun in the exhibit, where there are some 3d fibreglass interactive maps, a bow of a ship that moves and some great information about the early days of the Icelandic Sagas and the creation of the parliament in Iceland¬†in 930AD (located in √ěingvellir). Lots of buttons were pressed and plenty of laughs were had on the recreation of the viking boat. We also took a few pictures of the fjord behind the museum.

From there we headed to Stykkishólmur, where we enjoyed some great fish and chips on the wharf before heading to the Library of Water and checking out the incredible church.

We took our time heading west, taking lots of photographs along the way before stopping at √ďlafsv√≠k and checking out the triangle church.

Everywhere we went there were lava fields – I was amazed at how soft they felt – I always imagined them to be really hard. I think they would be dangerous to walk on as you could fall through the sections that are sparsely covered, or covered in moss.

The next stop was at the Saxhóll Crater, where you walk 300 metres up a flight of stairs to arrive at the top of the crater. There are fantastic views of the surrounding landscape, especially the Snæfellsjökull volcano.

The¬†Sn√¶fellsj√∂kull volcano, glacier and surrounding landscape was the inspiration for Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, which incidentally was one of my favourite books as a child. Although we were keen to go to the glacier, we were informed that it takes about five hours, you need shoes with metal spikes, an all-wheel-drive vehicle – none of which we had. We also learnt that much care was needed as there were cracks in the glacier as it is summer. We decided that it might be better to go with a guide another time.

On the way back to Reykjavik,we were so lucky to see some Gray Seals at Ytri Tunga. When we arrived we were told by some other tourists that there was only one on a rock, but we thought it was worth walking along the beach anyway. When we got close to the rocks we saw the big one basking on a rock and then over the next 20 minutes around half a dozen appeared. Also the sun was just gorgeous, sparkling and golden as it was reflected on the water. Here is a short video of the seals Рit is bit wonky as I only had my phone with me.

After leaving at 10am, I finally arrived home by around 1.30am – a huge day and biggest thanks to the awesome driver Ella <3. It was an amazing day and a taste of what an incredible place Iceland truly is.

Finding bearings in Reykjavik #SIMResidency

Tracey’s first blog post from Iceland ūüôā

Tracey M Benson

The past few days have been much of a blur since finishing the residency with The Clipperton Project.

I arrived in Reykjavik to enjoy a few days as a tourist before starting my residency with The Association of Icelandic Visual Artists (S√ćM) at Korp√ļlfssta√įir.

The residency is located in what used to be Icelands largest dairy farm, on the outskirts of Reykjav√≠k with gorgeous view of Mt. Esja. Korp√ļlfssta√įir has 40 S√ćM artist studios, a textile workshop, a ceramic workshop, an artist run gallery as well a golf club with a golf course outside. I have also heard you can get a good coffee from the golf course.

When I first arrived in Reykjavik, I stayed in a lovely AirBnB on Laugavegur, one of the main tourist streets. It was very handy to walk to lots of places including the Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral and museums and galleries downtown.

Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral Hallgrímskirkja…

View original post 641 more words

Mykines, Faroe Islands

Yesterday we caught the ferry from S√łrv√°gur on V√°gar to Mykines – the most westerly island in the Faroes.

Mykines is a beautiful place, famous for its Puffin population and beautiful cottages with grass roofs.

The other thing Mykines is well-known for is the unpredictability of its weather, which affects reliable transport to the island. The ferry only runs during the Summer months and if there are southerly or westerly winds then the ferry cannot dock. The other transport option is helicoptor, but it is also reliant on the weather.

We are all hoping for good winds tomorrow as we head back to V√°gar, though if we are stranded there are plenty of potatoes to cook ūüôā

Kirkjub√łur, Faroe Islands

Yesterday the TCP crew went on a bit of an adventure to Kirkjub√łur, a historic village located on the southern point of Streymoy Island.

Kirkjub√łur village is considered the Faroes most important historical site and has a number of ruins dating back to the 1100s.

Kirkjub√łargar√įur (Faroese for Yard of Kirkjub√łur, also known as King’s Farm) is one of the oldest still inhabited wooden houses of the world, if not the oldest according to Wikipedia.

The old farmhouse of Kirkjub√łur dates back to the 11th century. It was the episcopal residence and seminary of the Diocese of the Faroe Islands, from about 1100. The legend says, that the wood for the block houses came as driftwood from Norway and was accurately bundled and numbered, just for being set up.

The ruins of the Magnus Cathedral (Kirkjub√łm√ļrurin), built by Bishop Erlendur around the year 1300 is very impressive. The medieval building was never completed and still remains unfinished and without a roof.

The grass roofs of the traditional houses are very beautiful and something I have not seen anywhere else.

What I am finding even more beautiful is the landscape of rocky outcrops, cliffs and islands jutting out of the sea. It is the stuff of dreams and magic and we can’t wait to experience more of this beautiful place.

Scandinavian adventures have begun!

Well here we are in Denmark! This trip has been a very long time in the planning and we are really excited to finally be here. After what seemed like the mother of all long hauls, we landed in Copenhagen this morning and will be staying in Drag√łr overnight.

Tracey was very keen to see Drag√łr, as she had created an Augmented Reality walk for Cultura21, the Nordic Network for Culture and Sustainability in 2014. At the time she created the work, it was never a thought that we might actually visit there one day.

Drag√łr is a well preserved fishing and market village, situated south east of Copenhagen. Drag√łr’s history goes back to about 1200, when it was the market place of huge Herring catches and much trading throughout the Middle Ages. There are some beautifully restored cottages, complete with thatched roofs and it is a real pleasure to walk along the little cobblestone streets. We are staying at the Strand Hotel, which is a very cute place and also full of history.

Tomorrow we are on the move to the Faroe Islands where we will be participating in a Clipperton Project journey. We are really looking forward to being a part of one of these projects and hope we will make some good connections on the way and learn lots about the Faroes and its people.

Well, after more than 30 hours in transit and a big walk this morning in the drizzle, we are officially in recovery mode – trying to avoid jet lag!!

Why India is Not Expensive For Tourists

By Rohit Agarwal

Visitors have been visiting India for thousands of years. They have left a variety of comments on their observations. Some reported on the advanced level of civilization. Some reported on the wealth and majesty of the ancient kingdoms. Some reported on the variety in the terrain. And even more reported on the variety in the people. From human-eating Aghoris to God-like Kings, there are reports on the beauty of the women. Always accompanied by more reports of the beauty and lustre of their ornamentation. There is, however, not a single comment on India being an expensive place to visit or live in.

Jama Masjid - Photo by Dennis Jarvis, CC BY-SA 2.0
Jama Masjid – Photo by Dennis Jarvis, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://www.flickr.com/photos/archer10/2215082618

This has in fact led to a new trend today. Many expatriates, especially pensioners, have decided to not just visit India, but to in fact spend their lives here. This phenomenon is also seen in many other countries in South East Asia. The availability of all necessities at a reasonable rate is the primary factor. In many of the popular places where you can find expatriates living in India, such as Goa, Jaipur, Agra, Lucknow and many of the hill stations in India, such as Darjeeling, Ooty, Mussoorie, Manali and Naniatal, the cost of living is much lower than in any developed country.

Accommodation

First of all, everyone needs a place to stay or spend the night. The availability of economic accommodation is, in fact, on the rise in India. Although the rents and prices are quite high in the big cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, this has led to smaller cities, which very earlier not so confident, offering much better alternatives. For those on a very short visit of less than a month and wanting to cover as much territory as possible, there are even sites where locals host guests in their own houses for free. Such sites include couchsurfing.com and globalfreeloaders.com. These are very popular in India, with Indians wanting to host guests to learn more about the world through their guest’s experiences.

Asians are very hospitable by nature and Indians are no exceptions. If you are able to strike a real rapport with the locals, they will usually offer you some food and drinks. And if you actually like it and let them know, you will get enough to fill you up and more.

Some useful economical accommodation options:

Salvation Army’s Guesthouse at Colaba, Mumbai. This is a stone’s throw behind the famous Taj Mahal Hotel, which fronts the Gateway of India. YMCA & YWCA have an extensive network in India. Youth hostels are a great option. The added advantage here is that you will get a chance to mingle with locals, as youth hostels are popular with the locals too. You might even end up making a friend or more for life.

Travel

Thanks to the British, and then India’s social politics, travelling in India is easy. Travelling by train is the best and most economical way to transit between one city/town and another. There is a special quota reserved for foreign visitors, so it is usually not a headache to get a seat. But do try to always book your tickets at the earliest, as the trains in India are always full.

The canteens at railway stations are an economical refreshment option. The hygiene is better than in most other small outlets in India. You would usually get some simple western-type food, such as sandwiches or cutlets, and drinks as well as the staple Indian cuisine.

Other common modes of travel include the airlines, buses and taxis. Rickshaws operate in most big cities for travel within the city.

Food & Beverage

India offers some of the spiciest and some of the sweetest food in the world. As anybody who has eaten at any Indian restaurant will know. The Samosa has become our mascot for cultural exports.

The cuisine in India varies with its people. As you move from one social group to another, you will find a different cuisine. And the variety in India beats any other country, hands down.

The variety in the beverages is also just as splendid. From the thick Lassi of Punjab to the refreshing Chaach of Gujarat to the invigorating Nariyal Pani (Coconut Water) of the coastal belts, your thirst will be quenched in India.

Shopping

Almost everybody who visits India wants to take back a souvenir. There are so many monuments in India and all of them would be replicated in small souvenirs that you can buy. India is also famous for its handicrafts. As it has a huge tribal population.

India was also the only source of diamonds in the entire world till about only a century ago. It has again become the largest diamond cutting and polishing centre in the world. Gems and jewellery is a very popular shopping item in India. Many tourists buy things in India which they can sell in other countries for a profit. This is a smart way to reduce or even totally compensate the cost of your trip to India.

As you can see, coming to India is never a question of money. It is only a question for the heart. India beckons; will you answer the call?

Exploring Christchurch

My journey to Christchurch to work on a book project is my first time travelling to the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. Although I have been to NZ a few times over the last decade, I have never ventured any further south than the region of Taranaki.

Christchurch, as many readers would know, was devastated by an earthquake in February 2011. It has been a difficult and expensive process to rebuild the city and although a lot of progress has happened, many heritage buildings may never be restored just because of the sheer cost.

Today I spent the day walking around the city centre and also rode the inner city tram which was a really nice way to learn about Christchurch. It is a little pricy at $20NZ, but you can hop on and off all day. The drivers also share a lot of local knowledge so I think it is worth the money.

There are some fabulous¬†places to visit when in Christchurch. I had a great time exploring the Re:START¬†markets. The market stalls are mainly set up in shipping containers and the area was the first to be reopened after the 2011 earthquake. There are some great shops with lots of local products. My favourite shop has to be¬†HAPA¬†– I just love all the handmade jewellery, ornaments, cushions and knick knacks. Unfortunately my budget is very tight this trip so no spending sadly though perhaps this is a blessing in disguise ūüôā

The other place I enjoyed visiting is the Canterbury Museum, which is free entry and open 7 days a week. There are some great exhibits, including a replica of the street from the early 1900s. It is also worth noting that the museum is located close to the Botanic Gardens which is a lovely  place to walk around.

Street art is in abundance in the city centre, making the cityscape lively and colourful. It is also a nice distraction from the many damaged buildings and empty city blocks.

It will take a long time for Christchurch to rebuild entirely, but what I find inspiring¬†is that the residents of Christchurch¬†are helping to shape the future of the city. For example, many people love the shipping containers at Re:START, so they may become a permanent fixture. Also the community has asked that the city’s skyline have less high-rises in the future, so the only high-rise buildings that will exist into the future are the ones currently standing.

There are some great art and technology projects that have focused on the city:

  • Soundsky: Artist/designer Trudy Lane and sound artist/musician/developer Halsey Burgund have been the main coordinators of the project to-date with significant input from Michael Reynolds of A Brave New City, and increasing numbers of local artists interested for their audio works to join the environment.
  • Sensing City: The Sensing City Trust is a non-profit organisation working with Christchurch stakeholders to help them understand how data can inform decisions about city management. The Trust has two active projects – one focussed on the impact of air pollution on respiratory disease, and the other on cyclists generating data to inform cycleway development.
  • SCAPE Public Art installs free-to-view contemporary public art in Christchurch city. Their vision is for Christchurch people to be excited, engaged and stimulated by the contemporary public art that is well-regarded and known by the national and international art world.

 

This evening as I write this post a small shake has been recorded south of Christchurch – though only 2.4 magnitude. I did not notice anything ūüôā In any case, I am very much looking forward to¬†working on the ADA book project and learning all about booksprinting!

Katmandu, Nepal – A Photo Essay

The recent earthquake in Nepal has bought back memories of an unforgettable trip I did the Nepal in late 2008, I hope most, if not all, of these places are still standing.

Also see my subsequent post Ama Dablam Trek, Nepal ‚Äď A Photo Essay.