I’ve done a little travelling in my time and learnt a bit from my numerous short breaks. Whether the Christmas market delight of Hamburg or Prague, the ancient city of Rome, , the Colosseum or the Acropolis of Athens, Ephesus and Istanbul; relics of a bygone era. These have held new fascination, wonder and an enlivening of distance times but also a reminder of the transience of life. Even within countries, one senses differences. In Hamburg, an open city where I felt unthreatened (surprisingly, given my preconceptions of Germany) to Frankfurt where even at the airport people were rude and disrespectful. In Spain the cruelty of a bull fight, to the architectural quiet, of Toledo the former capital. The reputation of Parisians as rude proved correct, though exceptions to the rule, of a kindly couple that helped me along my way. Malta; Gozo the smaller island, a Mediterranean delight, to Paphos in Cyprus, an over commercialised holiday resort and retirement destination, for the British. All provided new awakening of the senses, learning, marvel and appreciation of the world. At the same time, an escape from the mundane, often, stressful daily living. I pick 3 of my favourites, to share.
Hong Kong - China. The best thing I found about Hong Kong was travelling to the small islands that dot the main island of Hong Kong itself. Lantau, beautiful, rural; Macau, urban and modern. It was the scenery that catches the attention. In the morning mist, a thick fog cover the sea and visibility is low giving an eerie, mystical feel that slightly disorientates the senses. The ship wreck, used as a location for a James Bond film (Man with A Golden Gun), adds a slight disquiet, like seafarers venturing into the unknown, in Homer’s Odysseus. It was magical, never forgotten. As we crossed to Lantau, the mist slowly lifts and you see the island from afar. Shopping can never beat this!
Marrakech – Morocco. The name sounds exotic and it is. There are few choices, for travel to Morocco, Fez and Casablanca among the most notable. I chose Marrakech, simply because of its name; a good as any, for choosing a holiday destination, I say. In the Southern part of Morocco, it did not disappoint. The blazing sun, the colourful cacophony of the souks and endless Squares, the leather works, the spices/ herbs, the traditional displays, wow, its overwhelming. The warmth of people, all made it a pleasure. I enjoyed bargaining at the souks; a must. Bought eucalyptus, saffron from Berber pharmacy. Be careful of being lured of the beaten track to the souks, by random individuals, claiming the souks are closed and they’ll show alternatives, free. Really just a way to draw you to buy something from another section of the market and then demand a tip. Even a simple request for directions can elicit a request for money. I don’t begrudge, staying at a Riad, in the Medina, I understood. Anyway, it is better than theft or pick pocketing.
One of the most spectacular sights I’ve seen, is viewing the Atlas mountains as the sunsets, a journey I made by camel in the Agafay dessert, where I was driven by car. Apparently Prince of Persia was shot there. It doesn’t surprise, that Morocco is frequently a film location.
Hurghada – Egypt. Having visited Cairo, primarily for the Pyramids, Sphinx of Giza and the museum, before making my way to Sakkara and Dashour, to visit even more pyramids and to wonder at the ingenuity of ancient African people…….. yes the ancient Egyptians or Kemites were entirely African. The 2nd time round, I chose Hurghada. This definitely takes the cake!! I thought the view from Agafay, wouldn’t be beaten anytime soon but I was wrong. From the descent into the airport, the first thing you notice is the sky of the colours of the rainbow. Looking down at the landscape, combined with the skyline, gave the impression you were on another planet. Then the Red Sea, 4 colours of aqua marine, deep blue, light blue and almost black (from the reflection of the coral reef). On an excursion to snorkel, swim with dolphins and generally laze, the gentle waves sparkled as the sun bounced off them. What a beautiful planet! Then the coral reef and fish of many colours. I’m not a teenager but let me borrow … the word “amazing”!! Then looking up at the night sky, the moon seeming so close, that a few blocks up, you could touch it. Such a beautiful place and contrast to Cairo. Lots of activities on this trip, to a Bedouin village, the landscape again catches the attention. The Red Sea Mountains, not as impressive as the view of the Atlas Mountains but the surrounding haze made them delightful to the eye. The topography alone did wonders for my state of mind and took me away for what seemed an eternity, from the cold winter of London.
Where would you recommend? I’m planning Petra and 1 day trip to Jerusalem, sadly the Israeli – Palestine issue means of principle, I won’t stay there longer. I love visiting ancient towns and cities, marvelling at the ingenuity of people and being reminded of my own mortality. What will I leave behind, for people to ponder 3,000 years from now? … if we haven’t self- destructed, that is.
©Photo: Agafay Dessert, Morocco.