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 🙂
We had an amazing time in Norway, the highlight of this was our fjord journey up the west coast to Tromsø – more on that later 😉 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.
Fort Cochin is such a fabulous place, I don’t know where to begin to describe how wonderful this place really is.
There are many layers of history and culture in Fort Cochin, making it a fascinating visual feast in an architectural sense. Elegant 15th Century Portuguese Mansions sit side by side with English Colonial Style buildings and colourful shacks painted many different colours. There are some beautiful churches, mosques and Hindu temples, again, sitting peacefully side by side.
The thing that is most wonderful is the people. Their warmth and good nature melts religious differences, making this community one of diversity and harmony. Many other countries could learn from Kochi people.
Here are a couple of maps that track some journeys around Fort Cochin, with links to my EveryTrail maps.
It is now more than 10 years since I visited the lovely city of Tallinn and it remains in my mind as one of the most beautiful examples of a medieval walled city. In 2004, I was very fortunate to go there to present a paper at the ISEA2004 Symposium, which was an amazing event in itself – see this summary by Brisbane media artist Keith Armstrong. I also wrote a review of an artwork presented by Trish Adams Wave Writer: Vital Forces (PDF), which was published in Eyeline magazine.
For a long time it was under Danish rule also being the birthplace of the Danish flag:
On the slopes of Toompea hill between the city wall and Lower Town is an open, garden-like area that happens to be the legendary birthplace of the Danish flag.
This relaxing spot is called the Danish King’s Garden because it was supposedly here that King Valdemar II of Denmark and his troops camped before conquering Toompea in 1219.
13th-14th-century Tallinn was part of the Danish Kingdom, marking the beginning of seven centuries of foreign rule in Estonia. The majority of the town’s population was formed of ethnic Germans who called the town Reval – a name which Tallinn was known for many centuries to come.
Mr Wikipedia says:
In 1285 the city, then known as Reval, became the northernmost member of the Hanseatic League – a mercantile and military alliance of German-dominated cities in Northern Europe. The Danes sold Reval along with their other land possessions in northern Estonia to the Teutonic Knights in 1346.
It is a definitely place with some very rich history. I love that the town has undergone many name changes over the years:
In 1154 a town called Qlwn or Qalaven (possible derivations of Kalevan or Kolyvan)was put on the world map of the Almoravid by the Muslim cartographer Muhammad al-Idrisi, who described it as a small town like a large castle among the towns of Astlanda. It has been suggested that the Quwri in Astlanda may have denoted the predecessor town of today’s Tallinn
The origin of the name “Tallinn(a)” is certain to be Estonian, although the original meaning of the name is debated. It is usually thought to be derived from “Taani-linn(a)” (meaning “Danish-castle/town”; Latin: Castrum Danorum). However, it could also have come from “tali-linna” (“winter-castle/town”), or “talu-linna” (“house/farmstead-castle/town”). The element -linna, like German -burg and Slavic -grad originally meant “castle” but is used as a suffix in the formation of town names…The German and Swedish name Reval (Latin: Revalia, earlier Swedish language: Raffle) originated from the 13th century Estonian name of the adjacent Estonian county of Ravala. Other known ancient historical names of Tallinn include variations of Estonian Lindanise (see Battle of Lyndanisse), such as Lyndanisse in Danish, Lindanas in Swedish, and Ledenets in Old East Slavic. Kesoniemi in Finnish and Kolyvan (Колывань) in Old East Slavic are also other historical names.
One of the things I also remember was the great antique and secondhand shops and I found a lot of Soviet memorabilia, which tells a story about another layer of Tallinn’s past. There was also a great market, where I some beautiful souvenirs. Here is a photograph of the Christmas market, which looks just magical. I was there in September, so didn’t see any snow.
You can also access an online 3d app that shows you Tallinn Old Town:
Tallinn Old Town is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The aim of the 3d.tallinn.ee is to allow anyone interested in this Medieval pearl to access the Old Town by using 3D computing technology.
Today was our first day exploring K Road, the site of my latest Augmented Reality project: Finding the Ghosts of K Road. We met up with K Road historian, Edward Bennett, who has generously shared with us much of the local history of this part of Auckland.
St Kevin’s Arcade
St Kevin’s Arcade
St Kevin’s Arcade
St Kevin’s Arcade
St Kevin’s Arcade
St Kevin’s Arcade
We had coffee at Alleluya, a wonderful coffee shop in St Kevin’s Arcade. St Kevin’s is a lovely 1920s arcade with many of the original shop fronts, complete with lead lighting windows, which feature lots of fab recycled fashion and secondhand goodies.
St Kevin’s was originally the site of a mansion which was the home of Lawrence David Nathan. Here is some of the history of the original site as documented on the K Road website:
In 1845 the merchant David Nathan built a house for himself on the Karangahape ridge with a view of the fledgling town of Auckland (which at that time extended no further than about Victoria Street)…In 1916 the Nathan family gave a 20ft right of way along the eastern boundary of their St.Kevens property to serve as the entrance to Myers Park from Karangahape Road.
The Nathans were possibly already contemplating moving from their house, as indeed they did around 1918. Their house, St Kevens, was demolished around 1922 and as a result of their gift part of the site was redeveloped as St Kevin’s Arcade in 1924.
St Kevens certainly was an impressive building and the image of the dining room shows the elegant life that the Nathan family had in this house.
It is really exciting to be finally discovering these places in the flash, rather than through old photographs and Google Street View. After our coffee, Edward took us for a walk around some of the places that are explored in Finding the ghosts of K Road. I feel like I have only just scraped the surface of this fascinating place in my project and hope to learn more over the coming days.
Today, I am staying in the region of Kerala to explore the coastal city of Kochi. Although Thiruvananathapuram is formally the capital of Kerala, Kochi is considered the financial capital of region. Kochi has a population of more than 2 million, making it the biggest urban centre in Kerala. It is also one of the major tourist destinations in India.
One of the events I am drawn to is the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, held in December. I am also curious the explore Kochi as one of my good friends loves it so much she spends 4 months a year based in Kochi.
The Biennale sounds like a fabulous event. Here is some information from the website:
The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is an international exhibition of contemporary art being held in Kochi, Kerala.
The first edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale was set in spaces across Kochi, Muziris and surrounding islands. There were shows in existing galleries and halls, and site-specific installations in public spaces, heritage buildings and disused structures.
Indian and international artists exhibited artworks across a variety of mediums including film, installation, painting, sculpture, new media and performance art.
Through the celebration of contemporary art from around the world, The Kochi-Muziris Biennale seeks to invoke the historic cosmopolitan legacy of the modern metropolis of Kochi, and its mythical predecessor, the ancient port of Muziris.
I love the idea of the engaging the ancient world and culture through contemporary art and emerging media, very appealing. I think it would be an amazing experience to witness the biennale.
The story of the ancient city of Muziris is also fascinating. Located 30 km from Kochi, Muziris was a prosperous seaport and financial centre in the 1st Century B.C. It is believed the city was washed under the sea during the 1341 AD Periyar river flood. Muziris was a key link in the Indo-Roman Empire and Indo-Greek trade routes and drew legions of Roman, Greek, Chinese, Jewish and Arab traders.
Something else I find really interesting is that Kerala and Kochi are world-famous for the ancient healing art of Ayurveda. This 5000 years old healing tradition is known to heal chronic illnesses naturally. Apparently there are hundreds of government-run and private Ayurvedic hospitals and treatment centres are spread across the state that offer Ayurvedic treatment for almost every health condition. This is also something that I am drawn to as I have had an interest in Ayurveda for many years and would love to learn more about this natural healing tradition.
The more I learn about India the more curious I become, I can’t wait to experience some of these places for myself. I am sure it will be an incredible journey.
Earlier this year I wrote about Thiruvananathapuram, the capital city of the Kerala region, which is situated near the southern tip of India.
This region of India is quite different from the majority of India as large parts of Kerala did not come under British Rule; even though it was the place in India where European colonisation first started. The Portuguese were the first to discover a direct sea route between Lisbon and Kozhikode in Kerala, and this marked the beginning of European colonisation in the country. Soon the Dutch, French, Italians and British were all drawn to the wealth of spices and silk, coming with the intention of forming colonies.
Wiki Travel says:
Large parts of Kerala were not subject to direct British rule. Malabar was a district of Madras Presidency under direct British rule, but Tiruvithamkoor (Travancore) and Kochi (Cochin) regions were autonomous kingdoms ruled by Maharajas during the period of the British rule in India, and were known for their progressive attitude which resulted in various welfare reforms, particularly in the areas of education and health care.
I imagine that this part of India might be quite different culturally with the Portuguese influence and history.
It is said to have a very diverse ecology, with beautiful beaches and rain forests as well as spectacular hills, like in this image of Munnar above. Kerala, is very close to equator and has a tropical climate. Kerala experiences heavy rains almost throughout the year, and is considered one of the wettest areas on the earth.
One of the reasons I am attracted to Kerala is the fact that people in this region of India still live a largely traditional lifestyle. I think it would be wonderful to witness a site in India where much of the rich culture and heritage is well-preserved. From what I understand India is a country of great contrasts and many cities are fast becoming contemporary urban centres. It would be refreshing to experience a place where traditional lifestyles are still maintained.
No journey to India would be complete without visiting Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal.
But the Taj is not the only thing worth visiting in Agra as it has three UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort in the city and Fatehpur Sikri nearby. There are also many other buildings and tombs from Agra’s days of glory as the capital of the Mughal Empire.
The Taj Mahal is world-famous as a monument to love. It is an immense mausoleum of white marble, built between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife. The translation of Taj Mahal means Crown Palace. The Taj is well-preserved and considered one of the masterpieces of Indian Muslim architecture.
The Taj Mahal has a life of its own that leaps out of marble, provided you understand that it is a monument of love. The Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore called it a teardrop on the cheek of eternity, while the English poet, Sir Edwin Arnold, said it was Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor’s love wrought in living stones. It is a celebration of woman built in marble, and that is the way to appreciate it.
From what I understand the best way to get to Agra from Delhi is by train, though I understand that the fastest way is via a new freeway which opened recently. Agra is about 200 km southeast from Delhi and is one of the points of the tourist’s Golden Triangle of Agra-Delhi-Jaipur. Agra is also very well connected via rail and road to other nearby cities and tourist destinations.
The Taj Majal and Fort Agra are two key sites to see in Agra, but as I mentioned earlier, there are many, many more. For example, Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb (sometimes called the Baby Taj), Mariam’s Tomb and the Jama Masjid all sound like very interesting places to visit.
Agra is one of those places that you have to see when you visit India – we will certainly make sure it is on our list of destinations.
In The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the residents of the hotel in Jaipur venture on a trip to the nearly city of Udipur, famous for its beautiful lake.
Udaipur is referred to as the “Venice of the East,” the “Most Romantic City of India” and the “Kashmir of Rajasthan” (a reference to Dal Lake) because of the lake and the building which surround it. The city is situated in the heart of the Aravalli Hills, and has three interconnected lakes: Fateh Sagar Lake, Lake Pichhola and Swaroop Sagar Lake.
It is also a place that is famous for its beautiful palaces and temples. For example, the City Palace Museum looks like a definite place to visit.
Udipur certainly sounds like a colourful place with a very interesting mix of people. Wiki Travel says:
The city is still inhabited by people of the Bhil tribe. Udaipur dwellers are really friendly and good to be with. Here, people usually prefer wearing bright colored clothes. Colorful festivals and fairs depict the cultural prosperity of Udaipur.
From what I have read, the most famous festivals are the Mewar Festival and the Shilpgram Fair. At these events, many of the tribal desert people take part in the festival activities, making them a very colourful affair.
This is another destination on our dream trip to India, which we are currently planning for later in the year.
Udipur sounds like a beautiful and fascinating place – I can’t wait to visit!
Earlier this week we watched a wonderful film about a bunch of English retirees who move to this wonderful, falling down, chaotic palace in Jaipur. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a wonderful tale, full of great characters, a lovely story and a stunning setting. It also featured some of my favourite actors including Judi Dench and Bill Nighy.
The shining star of this movie had to be this wonderful city in India, which was presented as a complex place, where old traditions and new technologies collide, against the background of a city full of colour, noise and activity..
Jaipur is known as the ‘Pink City’, which is a reference to its distinctly coloured buildings, originally painted this colour to imitate the red sandstone architecture of Mughal cities. Wiki travel says:
The present earthy red color originates from repainting of the buildings undertaken for a visit by the Prince of Wales in 1876.
In this part of the world, pink is traditionally a colour associated with hospitality. The tradition of painting buildings pink has been maintained ever since the visit of the Prince of Wales, when Maharaja Ram Singh made the request. Interestingly, today all residents in the old city are compelled by law to keep the pink colour. Maharaja Ram Singh also built the Ramgarh Lake to supply water to the burgeoning city.
The city gets its name from its founder Maharaja Jai Singh II (1693-1744), who was known as a great warrior and astronomer. He came to power at the age of 11 after the death of his father Maharaja Bishan Singh.
There is a fascinating history in the region of Rajastan of feudal alliances and rival families. Jai Singh’s lineage can be traced back to the Kucchwaha Rajput, clan who came to power in the 12th century. They were long-term rivals to the Sisodia Rajputs who ruled from Mewar. This rivalry led them to ally with the Mughals, and this alliance resulted in them eventually gaining a pre-eminent position in Rajasthan.
Jaipur was also India’s first planned city and the largest city in Rajasthan. It was also a city that gradually came under control of the British after the war of independence in 1857. Wiki Travel says:
After Jai Singh’s death in 1744, his sons squabbled for power and without a monarch, the kingdom became open to invasion and neighboring Rajput states and the Marathas usurped large areas of kingdom. The core, however, remained part of the kingdom, which lasted during British times. As with the Mughals, Jaipur maintained good relations with the British and during the war of independence in 1857 remained loyal to the Raj. Yet, the British gradually began to undermine the independence of the state and exercised greater control over the administration.
Aside from this rich history, I understand the Jaipur is rich in markets, monuments and temples- all things I love to explore when I am travelling. Jaipur is also known as the gems and jewelry capital of the world, and it is famous for its many jewel merchants, which is something else I would love to see.
We are planning a trip to India and Jaipur is one of our planned destinations. I can’t wait to see this wonderful city and all that it offers. I hope too that we might find the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – just for fun.
Getting ready: 7 August
Contributed by Gerald Maclean
Donna and I leave from Heathrow for Turkey first thing tomorrow morning. Why are we doing it again? Taking to the saddle to ride horses for weeks across central Turkey?
The 2014 plan is to ride from Avanos southwards, beneath the foothills of Hasan Dagi, the ancient volcano whose eruptions of tufa caused the strange geological formations that bring tourists to Cappadocia. We will continue southerly, skirting Nigde and Ereğli before turning westward to pass south of ancient Konya, home of the whirling dervishes. It will be very, very hot for the horses. We then ride northerly through ancient Pisidia and on past Afyon to join up with the UNESCO designated Evliya Çelebi Way at Kütahya, which we will ride to the south shores of the Sea of Marmara, passing Bursa and Iznik.
One simple answer for setting out on another expeditionary ride is that many of us who explored the 2009 route vividly recall just how horrible life was AFTER that ride ended. Donna and I had a six-day lay over in Istanbul before we could fly home, and I have never felt so depressed in a city that I have loved since my first visit in 1975. To put things another way:
When we set out in 2009 to ride the first stage of Evliya’s 1671 route from Istanbul on his pilgrimage to Mecca, one of our unexpected discoveries was how travelling for weeks with horses meant that every hour in the saddle, even when tired and sore, was experienced as pleasure.
As your route unwinds limitlessly before you, with each ridge of the horizon promising something previously unknown, being ‘on the road’ becomes addictive. Horses bred for long distance riding know this, and eagerly eat up the miles in search of the next lush green space and the next source of water. This equestrian delight in being on the road is something that Evliya must have fully understood since he made travelling with horses his entire life.
If all goes to plan, we set out on Saturday 16 August, and will be in touch when we can find three bars!