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.
Held each November at the time of the Kartik Purnima full moon, Pushkar Camel Fair is one of India’s most highly-rated travel experiences, a spectacle on an epic scale, attracting more than 11,000 camels, horses and cattle and visited by over 400,000 people over a period of around fourteen days.
For visitors it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the colour, spectacle and carnival of one of the last great traditional melas, which brings livestock, farmers, traders and villagers from all over Rajasthan.
What is really interesting is that during the camel fair, the town’s population swells from 15,000 to 200,000 during the two weeks. Visitors are accommodated in tents, though from what I understand, this is glamping at its best. For those initiated to glamping, it is camping with style – a lot more effort to set up but usually with all the comforts of home, just under canvas.
I also love the etymology of the word Pushkar. Wikipedia says:
Pushkar in Sanskrit means blue lotus flower. Hindus believe that the gods released a swan with a lotus in its beak and let it fall on earth where Brahma would perform a grand yagna. The place where the lotus fell was called Pushkar.
Pushkar is also one of the oldest cities of India. The date of its actual founding is not known, but legend associates Brahma with its creation. It is also one of the few places in the world where they are temples to Brahma and the Brahma Temple in Pushkar is very famous, being built during the 14th century CE . Although Pushkar has many temples, most of them are not very old because many were destroyed during Muslim conquests in the region, causing many to be rebuilt. Pushkar is also considered one of the five sacred dhams or pilgrimage sites for devout Hindus.
We are very much looking forward to visiting Pushkar, it sounds like a paradise for photographers and the thought of the camel fair with its colour, movement and dust is really enticing.
Al-Hind: The Slavic Kings and the Islamic conquest, 11th-13th centuries, p.326
Where would you like to go today: Pushkar Camel Fair http://www.kashgar.com.au/articles/where-would-you-like-to-go-today-the-pushkar-camel-fair (accessed 27 August 2014)
As promised here is another place I love in the old city of Istanbul – the Grand Bazaar.
I love this place because it symbolises the essence of Istanbul: bright, colourful, noisy, confusing and utterly seductive. It is a place that is rich in history and beauty, plus having the honour of being the oldest and one of the most visited bazaars in the world.
The Grand Bazaar also boasts being the largest covered bazaar in the world. The construction of the Grand Bazaar’s core started during the winter of 1455/56, shortly after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. Sultan Mehmet II had an edifice erected devoted to the trading of textiles.The Hurriyet Daily News states that:
The bazaar in Istanbul’s historical Fatih district employs 25,000 people and features 64 avenues and streets, two “bedestens” (covered bazaars), 16 khans and 22 gates containing its 3,600 shops.
You need a couple of hours at least to see the Grand Bazaar, to really get a sense of how large and wonderful this place truly is. It is also well worth heading out to the street and checking out the many other stalls. We discovered a wonderful cafe tucked away down a side street, which had been converted from an old hamam. It was a lovely quiet place to escape the activity outside.
Some things to note
Like most historic places in Istanbul, it will usually be very crowded with tourists. Busloads and busloads of tourist buses go there every day. A couple of hints:
Keep an eye on your wallet. Istanbul is a relatively safe place, but crowded places like the Grand Bazaar are tempting for thieves.
Don’t forget which gate you entered from – it is big and confusing inside and too easy to get lost (which is fine if that is your goal).
Bargain, bargain, bargain. The prices are very inflated here so do a check of prices beforehand. My rule of thumb is paying 1/2 to a 1/3 of the asking price. Ultimately, if you really want something you won’t feel too bad if you get ripped of a bit.
We also avoided the rug shops here, the apple tea is very tempting but I do not feel comfortable getting trapped in the store – the pressure is on for you to buy! There are also lots of copies of designer gear with varying levels of quality. I bought a beautiful fake Jimmy Choo bag, which I realised later was a copy, I didn’t care or realise as I am not one for brands, I just like what I like. Just be aware though that you are probably getting sold a fake. Most store holders we met told us when their stock was fake and would usually tell you what level of quality the copy was – #1, #2,#3, etc.
Something to also be mindful of is that sometimes the bazaar is closed, Eid and also Turkish Republic Day are two days we noticed it was shut.
How to get there
Catch the tram to Çemberlitaş (the stop after Sultanahmet), go down Vezirhan Caddesi (you will see the Çemberlitaş Hamam on the corner) to the end of the street. You will see the Nuruosmaniye Mosque on the left and then the Bazaar is just behind the mosque. Have fun!
This morning I woke up to see that we now have over 300 WordPress followers to our Geokult Travel blog – how exciting!
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Day 56: The Valley Markets, fortitude Vally, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Today, I am posting about a favourite market that was a regular haunt when I was living in my home town of Brisbane.
The Fortitude Valley Markets, affectionately known as The Valley Markets, is a great place to look around, check out some great art and craft by local artists and designers and then head to one of the Valley’s many coffee shops to escape the midday heat. It is also a market which always surprises, as the market stalls vary from week to week.
Also, the market has the added benefit of being on both Saturday or Sunday (9am – 4pm), which is great as you can still get to weekend sports, work and other weekend commitments.
What I also love is that you can get to the market very easily via public transport, with regular buses and trains stopping in the Valley precinct.
Day 53: Nightcliff Markets, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
When I first moved to Nightcliff in 1977, there was only one market – at Rapid Creek on a Sunday. Over the years, many other markets have popped up: Mindil Beach, Parap and then one opened in my home suburb of Nightcliff about ten years ago. The Nightcliff Market is situated at the Progress Road shops, nestled under the trees, making it a cool respite from the midday heat.
It is a slightly smaller market than Parap, with more emphasis on craft, as well as a few food stalls and some plants and fresh fruit and vegetables. While we were there, we had another lovely juice from the same stall as the one from Parap Market (a lot of stallholders do Parap Markets on Saturday and Nightcliff on Sunday). We also bought a gorgeous painting, from an artist from Utopia, whose work I had admired last time I went to Darwin. I will write about her work in a later post. I also bought some beautiful Frangipani Oil perfume from Viva la Body, a local skincare and fashion house. They make beautiful things and also do wonderful gift packs, which they will send on your behalf.
Here are some random pics from the market on Sunday. I just love seeing so many different varieties of orchids, they are so beautiful and a feast for my eyes as they do not grow very well in the cold Canberra climate.
Day 47: Handmade Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Today I am cheating a bit as I am talking about an event, not a place – but don’t hang me on a technicality.
The Canberra Handmade Market is held four times a year at the Canberra Convention Centre and brings together some of Australia’s most innovative designers and craftspeople. It started in 2008, the brainchild of Julie and Rachel who saw a need for such an event. Since then it has become a massive affair, and the girls now have a shop in Civic – which I wrote about in an earlier post – No, Canberra doesn’t suck!.
Just as a quick aside: Emma Pearse recently reported in the New York Times that Canberra was in fact a cool place to be – and that is not just literally! If you are interested, check out Emma’s article 36 hours in Canberra, Australia for more information.
Back to the market. This time around there were around 150 stalls with a broad range of products including skin care, lighting, jewellery, clothing, and craft. For me there were a few standouts. We loved the fragrant soaps from bodybar and had a lovely time chatting to Steve and Viv, who incidentally come from the Coff’s region. The soaps use lovely natural ingredients like goat’s milk, coconut oil and essential oils. One of the soaps smelt so good I wanted to eat it, which is sort of funny considering I was often threatened to have my mouth washed out with soap, when I was a naughty kid and caught swearing. Anyway, what I really love about this product is the care taken in all stages of the product lifecycle to be sustainable and care for the environment. Their website says:
We take the greatest care in sourcing the finest fresh and natural ingredients and make them with a strong ethical commitment to our environment. We do all the regular stuff, recycling our waste etc, however we also put a lot of work into other aspects of our production cycle. Our bars are made locally from local goats milk, our bags are made by us out of newspapers that we buy and read, and we minimise package and waste wherever possible.
Above is a pic of Steve and Viv and their lovely products. Needless to say, we walked away with some goodies from their stall 🙂
The other stall that had some stand-out work for me was a jewellery stall – John Hablitschek Gems. Most of the pieces on this stall were one-off works of art, featuring very rare gemstones, like Australian Turquoise. Check out some of these beautiful pieces below.
We had a lovely morning checking out the market and look forward to the next time it is on – October 4 and 5. Here are some random images from our travels around the many stalls.
Day 42: Brindabella Hills Vineyard, New South Wales, Australia
The Brindabella Hills vineyard is just a little further along the road from Surveyor Hill, a vineyard I talked about in an earlier post for 365 Places.
Yesterday, we headed to Brindabella Hills vineyard for lunch before going to Surveyor Hill for the night, to celebrate our wedding anniversary. The cafe has only been open for around 6 weeks and it was great to go somewhere close-by for lunch, where could enjoy some fine food and wine while taking in the stunning western views of the Brindies.
We opted to try a number of the entrée sized tasting plates so we could get some ideas about what to order next time.
This was our lunch order, which was accompanied by a glass of very good Pinot Gris:
Ciabatta Bread with Homeleigh Olive Oil, Caramelised Balsamic and Two Girls Dukkah $7
Chorizo, Potato and Mozzarella Croquettes with Two Girls Tomato Chutney and Rocket $16
Zucchini and Haloumi Balls with Two Girls Chili Jam, Mint Yoghurt and Rocket Salad $16/$24
Popcorn Shrimp with Black Salt, Spicy Aioli and Lime $16/$26
It was all totally delicious, and we followed it with sharing some Sticky Date Pudding and Coffee.
Here are some pictures of Brindabella Hills vineyard.
What I love about having a weekend in this area is that although we are about 5 kilometres from home as the crow flies, it feels like we are a million miles away.
This morning after a delicious breakfast at Surveyor Hill, we headed over to the monthly Hall Markets. This month was a bit of a disappointment as many stall holders and market goers stayed home as it was a rainy Sunday.
Vineyard Cafe Opening from 12th October for lunch on weekends and public holidays
Bookings essential – phone 02 61619154 or email email@example.com