Countries

Crosses we bear around the world

It’s a truism to help us on life’s journey and never more so than today when we consider the crosses we bear around the world.

Now we’re not going to get all heavy on you… we hope to lighten your load in this space.

But it is intriguing to see how the rest of the world marks Jesus of Nazareth’s death in Jerusalem 2,000 or so years ago.

On a hill in Jerusalem

This is my son, my beloved: Jesus on the cross

And that hill which we might remember from the Bible is Golgotha in Aramaic, or the place of the skulls, or Calvary in Latin.

Eerily the Jerusalem mound where Jesus and the two robbers were crucified is shaped like a skull.

Join the pilgrims in the Holy Land (get there early) on the walk up the Via Dolorosa and go through the Stations of the Cross.

I’ve been practising all my life (Lourdes, Fatima, the Camino, the Via Francigena, Medjugorje and all stops in between) and God willing, will get there.

When in Rome

This way, that way: The Pope

And, of course, when in Rome and on Good Friday, the Pope takes centre stage.

Francis leads a torch-lit procession, the Via Crucis from the Colosseum to Palatine Hill.

And yes, it wouldn’t be worth a denarii without stops for prayers at the traditional 14 Stations of the Cross.

Francis also likes to carry a cross at least part of the way. Of course he does.

Good Eggday Jamaica 

Good fortune: For Jamaicans

Yes, it would probably work better as Good Fryday but I won’t let the facts get in the way of a good Easter story.

No, our Jamaican friends bring a new spin on the Easter Egg story with this Good Friday tradition.

You add an egg white to a glass of water before sunrise on Good Friday.

And then look at it as the sun goes up to see if the white settles into an image that may hint at the future.

Now, if only they’d tried this at the Last Supper.

And Judas is carried out in Trinidad & Tobago

Take that you Judas: In T&T

Further down the Caribbean and Trinidad & Tobago zoom in on the treacherous Judas Iscariot.

With their stuffed clothes effigies, the Bobolees.

And that’s when the Trinidandian and Tobagonians go to town on them with sticks.

It’s not just Judas though with other hate figures getting stick too.

Carrying it too far in the Philippines

Too realistic: In the Philippines

And isn’t it always the case that someone takes it too far.

We’ve all seen them, at this time of the year, on our TVs…

Those have-a-go-heroes who literally get themselves nailed to the cross to show their devotion.

The Catholic Church discourages this practice but still the zealots of Pampanga persist.

Oberammergau

Do you need any extras? Oberammergau

And not forgetting too God’s own children of Oberammergau in Bavaria in Germany.

With this year being particularly special as the ten-year iteration of the Passionspiele will go ahead.

After it took an abeyance two years ago because of Covid.

Yes, they are all crosses we bear around the world.

 

 

 

 

Countries, Europe, Pilgrimage

Wunderbar Germany is open again

Ja beauty Wunderbar Germany is open again. Neujahr!

In the best booster of all, the UK has been recategorised as a ‘high-risk area by Germany’.

It sounds scary but it is in fact one down from ‘an area of Covid concern’ which meant temporary banned entry.

A high risk worth taking

A holy place: Oberammergau

Over to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office who gave us all a late-night pep.

They said: ‘From 23:00 GMT on 3 January 2022 the UK is designated a high-risk area.

‘You may enter Germany from the UK for any travel purpose if you are fully vaccinated.’

Right, if you’re not why not (and I need a note signed by a parent)?

And you rightly won’t be treated like the rest of the staff.

Jab, jab, jab

Our prayers are answered: The Bavarian town

They go on: ‘This means that travellers arriving from the UK, who are not fully vaccinated, are subject to 10-day quarantine, and test and release is available after 5 days.

“Fully vaccinated and recovered individuals are exempt from this requirement, once they have uploaded their proof of status on the pre-departure digital registration portal.

Yes, it’s not untrammelled entry but der baby steps.

And we’ll need a negative PCR test result that is no more than 48 hours old at the point of departure, if travelling to Germany via plane, train, bus or ferry.

Our prayers are answered

Der Jesus: A German Jesus

It sounds as if our Christmas prayers have been answered.

And I think I know who has been behind this.

Yes, the most connected man in Travel only got in touch with Jesus himself last year.

And I asked him if he would get the show back on.

Jesus prophecy

Auditioning: For Oberammergau

By Jesus, of course, I mean Frederik Mayet who I interviewed last year ahead of the renewal of the Oberammergau Passionsspiele this year.

I had, of course, done my prep work in the Bavarian town on my Top Flight For Schools trip to Ehrwald in the Austrian Tyrol.

And Frederik assured me that he has been growing his beard assiduously since the lockdown in preparation for his big part.

All of which I recognise as the mark of a holy man as I’d done.

By growing a beardie on the same on the Camino to Santiago.

Oberammergau

Slice of Bavaria: Town life

And so you can plan for your Oberammergau either independently.

Or as we discovered on a quick browse through agents McCabe Pilgrimages.

They are offering a one-week, two-centre holiday combining a choice of Austrian resort hotels with the 2020 Oberammergau Passion Play.

With prices starting at £1,670.

Germany, here we come

Plague history: Oberammergau

Jesus won’t be the only Second Coming to Germany in 2022.

We aim to be back too having kept in touch right through 2021 with our German friends.

While Daddy’s Little Girl aims to fulfil her trip to Berlin (we might just follow on).

Ja, it’s a beauty, and Ja Wunderbar Germany is open again.

And we’re open to clink steins, look into our pals’ eyes and bark Prost.

Just like I’ve been doing since I first fell in love with Germany 37 years ago.

And yes, if it’s good enough for our Teuton pals, then what’s keeping notre amis en France?

 

Countries, Europe, Pilgrimage

Growing your beardie for Obeardammergau

So I HAVE been using my time productively in the last year… growing my beardie for the rescheduled Oberammergau, or Obeardammergau, for next year!

In a world of imitations and accessories the ten-yearly Oberammergau Passion Play keeps it real.

The main man

And they require of their participants to grow their hair and beards from a year out of the Passion Play.

Our friends at Der Passionspiele have been updating us on their preparations for next year’s renewal of the world-famous spectacle.

The Spanish Flu

Giddy up: Always a showpiece in Oberammergau

And our Bavarian friends have experience and precedence in these matters having been down this route 100 years ago.

When the Spanish Flu ravaged the world in 1920 the organisers gave themselves another two years before putting on the Passion Play.

That should fir me

Such prescience should come as little surprise to us.

Because as we all know the Passion Play itself was born out of The Black Death.

The Lord is a listening Lord

Giddie up: Always an occasion in Oberammergau

The villagers had promised to put on a tribute to Our Lord in their village if they were rid of the plague.

And God being a listening God, it worked.

Fast forward to today and Passion Play Oberammergau 2020 was in full flight when an all too familiar intruder knocked.

And only eight weeks out of Jesus taking his first steps they had to rearrange their plans.

All of which means that Oberammergau 2022 will be even better for the organisers having had two more years to plan.

Der youth

Medieval man: When in Oberammergau

Oberammergau 2022 will be putting the emphasis on the youth of today and tomorrow.

And they have special offers for tickets for the spectacle.

Oberammergau truly is a spectacle, in and out of Passion Play.

I saw for myself on my Top Flight trip out there on how it wears its history on the side of its buildings.

While the locals like nothing better than dressing up.

Whether it be in the fashions of Palestine 2,000 years ago or in liederhosen.

Written on the walls: In Oberammergau

And, of course, it’ll put a smile on your face to be sat opposite historical figures and be able to clink steins and say Prost, at the end of the day.

We’ll be keeping you up to date on all that’s going on as the year progresses.

But now that I’ve no place to go thanks to our politicians…

I just think I’ll sit here and watch my hair grow and dream of Germany.

 

 

 

 

Countries, Deals, Europe

Uber Oberammergau and get on your bikes to Berlin

Guten Tag. And our prayers are being answered with miraculous deals from Oberammergau, while they’ve got on their bikes in Berlin too.

Our German friends have been regaling us with all that’s been going on in Deutschland in the last little while in anticipation of us returning this summer.

And there’s always a bar

Der best Passion Play yet

Oberammergau, or Der Passion Play, dates back almost 400 years.

To when the villagers retold the story of Christ’s passion on their streets in thanks to the Lord for delivering them from the plague.

Sound familiar?

I don’t remember the prams in the original

The Passion Play, as we all know is held only every ten years.

And it was due to be performed last year but has now been pushed out to next year.

All of which gives the good burghers of the Bavarian village more time to make next year the best Passion Play.

Since, well maybe the one 2,000 or so years ago!

That’ll fit me

There’s good news too for the under-28s (a bit arbitrary but an age which I’m sure I can blag).

With a humungous reduction in prices through the Oberammergau site.

All for the new two-day World Youth Days spin-off on May 7 and 8.

The week before the main event, when 8,000 young people will descend on the picture-perfect village.

You probably won’t believe your eyes but they are offering a ticket with accommodation as a two or three-day arrangement.

With costs between €34-92pp in a double or multi-bed room including breakfast.

How they used to do it

And single rooms are available for an extra charge of €23- 34.

And as you know we’ve got a hotline with the Man Who Matters.

So we’ll keep you abreast of all that’s going on in Oberammergau through the year.

The Wheel Berlin Wall

Vibrant Berlin

It was anything but a picnic in No Man’s Land by the Berlin Wall back in the day when the city was divided into East and West.

But now that’s where Berliners recline on the grass with their food and wine, or beer.

Those that is who don’t cycle along the Wall.

Yes, Erich Honecker would turn in his grave which is, of course, in Chile, and not far enough away from Berlin, wethinks.

Now, it may all be more than 30 years ago, but then history is obviously all around you in Berlin.

And the Berliners are always rebuilding their city.

The new must-visit attraction in Berlin is the cultural multi-purpose Humboldt Forum.

While for history buffs you will want to check out the Potsdam exhibition, particularly when we actually get back out there to see it in person.

And the journey there on the S-Banh or regional train will make you feel that just like Churchill, Attlee, Stalin and Truman did way back in 1945.

Now how did that all work out.

And there’s more to come

Now our German friends gave us an expansive tour of what Germany 2021 and 2022 has to offer.

But once they got to the beer that distracted me and had me scurrying off to mein bierkeller.

So I’ll have to get back to you with the rest. But in the meantime check out their official site.