“You must remember that there was virtually no air travel in the early 1930s. Africa was two weeks away from England by boat and it took you about five weeks to get to China. These were distant and magic lands and nobody went to them just for a holiday. You went there to work. Nowadays you can go anywhere in the world in a few hours and nothing is fabulous anymore.”
Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl
Midnight. Every now and then a sharp whistle and a flash or two of light illuminated the cabin from the crack in the window blind. I lay on my narrow top bunk in a state of semi-sleep. The train rolled south, the clank and blatter of machinery somehow peaceful. I slept. Smoked fish, pine forests and icons visited me in my dreams all the way to the capital.
Moscow. A city of squeaky-clean-newness, works-like-clockwork-efficiency, labels and bling.
“For this I weep all my days and throughout my lifetime grieve that I swam from my own lands and came from familiar lands towards these strange doors to these foreign gates.”
The Kalevala by Elias Lönnrot
The train stopped. The announcer spoke first in Russian then in English. Five minutes, she said. 10:37. I looked out the window. Travellers poured out onto the platform and lit up. Venders met them with trays of smoked fish and wild berries. I watched smokers cough into their berry breakfasts and then rush back onto the train. It jerked back into action, leaving the sleepy hollow of Svir. 10:42. Five minutes exactly. Continue reading Russia part 3: Karelia: Petrozavodsk, Taiga, Kizhi, Valaam
“Red wine with fish. Well that should have told me something.“
From Russia with Love by Ian Fleming
Our first view of Saint Petersburg (pronounced Sankt Pyterborrg or just Pyterborrg by Russians) was from the window of the Meteor (hydrofoil vessel) from Peterhof. A cheerful, high pitched woman’s voice shrieked and crackled over the loudspeaker in Russian – no doubt telling us the mysteries and wonders of Saint Petersburg. However, the Meteor was packed full of Chinese tourists and we three auspicious caucasians squished like sardines in among them.
“If so, better let him be named after his father. His father was Akaky, so let the son also be Akaky. Thus it was that Akaky Akakievich came about. As the child was being baptised, he cried and made such a face as if he anticipated that he would be a titular councillor.”
The Overcoat by Nicholai Gogol
It seems that Putin and Zuma have formed an unholy alliance. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. I hear your groans. I see your rolled eyes.
“It is always hard to see the purpose in wilderness wanderings until after they are over.”
The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
By popular demand, I give you our 12 fellow travellers on our South African #roadtrip:
‘Petrol Man’: outside Bloemfontein:
We took a country road towards the Lesotho mountains. TomTom was not pleased. Petrol Man explained that his car had run out of petrol. In parts of the Free State you get the feeling that you’re driving from the middle of nowhere to the middle of nowhere. So we drove on. Eventually we came to a juncture. There was’t even a tiny pin-prick of a suggestion of a village, but with nothing else to suggest we turned down the dust track. What materialised eventually was a twilight-zone-like-derelict-one-stop-hamlet consisting of a road, 6 dwellings, a couple of people and a petrol station! Continue reading Our short interlude into the lives of 12 walkers
“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone,” said Gandalf. “I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them,” said our Mr. Baggins.