Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Pilgrimage, UK

Eid celebrations around the world

The best way to learn about a culture is to go where they play and pray so the disruption to the Eid celebrations around the world diminishes us all.

I have a special connection with Eid.

As it was one of the early stories I covered as part of a column ‘Church News’ which I broadened beyond Christianity.

Eid ul-Adha, to give it its first full name, means ‘the celebration of the sacrifice’.

And it brings to an end the holy month of Ramadan.

All our story

It marks the story of Allah asking The Prophet Mohammed in a dream to sacrifice his son Ismael.

Which Jews and Christians will know as the Abraham and Isaac story.

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The way it usually is

It should come as little surprise to us that Judaism, Christianity and Islam have the same roots and stories.

But it is nowhere more evident than at the crossroads of the great religions in the Jordan valley and in Israel.

Ever the diplomat

Where I would readily recommend my G Adventures host Zuhair Zuriqat.

His diplomatic prowess in managing our international party surely marks him out.

To broker the peace in this part of the world.

Now you know I love a festival as much if not more than the next man or woman…

And that those festivals normally involve drink.

Festival time

But not always.

I am transfixed by religious festivals too and will gladly travel the world to witness or take part in them.

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Joy in our hearts

Of course, the world being a smaller place, particularly now, we should also acknowledge that many of these festivals are on our doorstep.

Which is why it is alarming to hear that the lightning lockdowns in the north of England on the eve of Eid weekend may be deliberate.

Eid is all about extended families coming together at each others’ houses.

And there is more than a hint of mistrust from our politicians here who do not think that Muslims can adapt their customs accordingly to the pandemic.

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Our cup of tea… and I love reship

When in fact they are already doing so around the world with Turkey a prime example.

Of course Istanbul as we saw on our televisions with the Hagia Sofya celebrations last week is even more epic when its citizens come out to pray.

But they too are adapting their Eid to the current circumstances.

Sing out

That means communal prayers are cancelled to be replaced with broadcast prayers from the minarets of mosques.

Now just think about that… would our Government cancel Christmas, and with just a few hours’ notice?  Time will tell but you have to think not.

EID MUBARAK OR (AS THEY SAY IN TURKEY) BAYRAMINIZ KUTLU OTSUN

 

America, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe

Happy World Friendship Day Pt 1

Happy World Friendship Day and this post is dedicated to the friends we make around the world on our travels.

And whom we’re all missing so much.

Winnie the Pooh is the patron of World Friendship Day.

And who better than the silly willy-nilly old bear all stuffed with fluff.

I’m forever indebted to Mississippian Zach who looked after me (and the rest of the group but mostly me).

On the second leg of my American Odyssey in the Deep South.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King and honouring the two other Kings, Elvis and BB King.

Hit the road Zach

If it had been left to me it would have been more Tragical than Magical Mystery Tour.

With me leaving my mobile phone back in Cleveland, 124 miles from state capital Jackson.

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Zach keeping an eye on me

Where we were assembling for the opening of the Two Mississippi Museums, the Museum of Mississippi and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

Zach only organised for a friend who he said was travelling up to the opening himself, but who may very well have been enlisted to help this dopey Scotsman, to take the mobile with him.

The story doesn’t end there though.

And when I put my phone down in the huge hall in the convention centre in Denver Zach appeared to warn me:

’We’re not getting someone to travel 100 miles if you forget your mobile phone this time!’

Geraldine, my Soca friend

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We binge-watched American sitcoms when the children were younger (whaddya mean? we still do).

And that meant following the misfortunes of old divil Arthur who had to be walked by his daughter Carrie’s friend Holly.

I’m obviously too young for any of that only I’m not.

And Geraldine walked me and my new Virginian friend Patsy when I went in search of Rihanna at Club Barbados in Barbados

As well as being a reason for getting up early Geraldine went the extra mile for me.

When I showed an interest in Soca music by singing King Bubba tunes.

And on the last day of my trip a CD of her favourite Soca music was waiting for me at reception.

Ich bin ein Dresdener

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If only I’d had Ingrid as my teacher when I was young.

Ingrid took us on a walk through Dresden and Saxon history at the German Travel Mart.

Her grandmother had talked to her about the Red Heaven firestorm that set alight their city at the end of the Second World War.

And told us of life under Communist rule. So good I went back for the same tour after my booze cruise on the River Elbe.

I wear the wrist band pass for the tour to this day.

And also others from my Travels which includes Denver, Los Angeles, the Czech Republic and Portugal.

Jose, the real Special One

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Life’s a beach

I can’t take her anywhere.

Jose Madomis  is taking us around Portugal Centro , wining and dining and us.

And explaining at any given opportunity why his home town of Coimbra is the centre of the Portuguese (and wider) world.

When El Scary One pipes up about how she doesn’t like Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho.

Suck-up that I am I mentioned how inspiring they both were and got my wine glasses filled up and beers bought for me.

What Amann, what a man, what a mighty good man

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Do I pass as Jordanian? With Zuhair

It’s Zuhair, as in zoo hair, our Jordan guide told our G Adventures party.

It’s never easy being a guide and even tougher when you can’t eat and drink while the rest of your party are stuffing their faces and lubricating.

But Zuhair cheerfully took us all around Petra, the Dead and Red Seas and the baptism sites of Jesus, Mt Nebo.

Where Moses looked out onto the Promised Land and Wadi Rum.

And waited for the end of the evening Call to Arms before putting fork to food.

We were an interntational party and it’s well seen that Jordanians are the peacebrokers in the Middle East if Zuhair is anything to go by.

Friends all and friends for life…

And now I’ve begun I’ll bring you more of the guides who have made my trips and the friends from the parties I have been on.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

 

 

 

 

Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Pilgrimage

The Sunday Sermon – the Hagia Sofia

Hate has no place in the house of God – Desmond Tutu

The anti-apartheid hero and man of God was talking in metaphors, and about South Africa, but his balming words fit Hagia Sofya in Istanbul just as well.

When Turkey President Recip Erdogan championed Hagia Sofia’s return.

In prayer

From a museum to a mosque it drew 250,000 of the faithful to pray on the streets of Istanbul.

And it roused an outcry from the Christian churches, the Roman Catholic, the Russian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox.

Which rung way beyond the ancient high walls of the iconic Istanbul building.

Orthodox

Iconic, yes, to the Orthodox churches.

For whom it is one of their holiest places and who focus on icons for their worship.

Fount of all wisdom

So the sight of drapes covering the mosaic of Our Lady was bound to have raised their ire.

Of course central to Islam is that Allah and the Prophet Mohamed, and Jesus or Our Lady, cannot be represented by images.

Crossroads

Istanbul is unique among the great cities of the world, one foot in Europe, one in Asia.

Royal splendour

Which is why the great Christiian churches of old which called Constantinople, Istanbul’s old name, home are prefixed with their country of origin.

Powerplay

There is, as there always has been in this part of the world, a powerplay going on.

And we, those of us who have been to Istanbul, and those who have yet to, must not fall for it.

Circle of trust

Because this should not, or ever be, about Islam v Christian.

And yes President Erdogan is tapping into Islamic popularism but that does not have to equate to anti-Christianity.

Icons

And we will still be able to visit it as a mosque which we will do.

Our house

Because as I discovered in Sarajevo with Marian Pilgrimages and Jordan with G Adventures and The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time God is the same whichever house you’re in.

Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, UK

The Sunday Sermon – asylum seekers

The angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream saying ‘arise and take the young child and his mother and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word – Matthew 2:13

My home city of Glasgow www.peoplemakeglasgow.com was stunned by the knife attack in a city centre hotel ‘used to house asylum seekers during lockdown.’

Now as a journalist of 30 years standing I know of the importance, nay duty, to give a full account.

Glasgow’s miles better

But does drawing attention to it being a temporary home for asylum seekers not point to this being the motive for the attack?

And, of course, it doesn’t take much in this climate to ratchet up distrust of asylum seekers.

Those very same critics though use the name of Our Lord God daily.

Glasgow has made great strides since I was a boy.

I was educated in a privileged all-Catholic, all-boys, private school in a predominantly Pakistani area.

And the poor corner shop owner had to put up with all kinds of abuse.

School’s out

Us boys were on the surface taught about Christian equality.

But we were in fact indoctrinated to believe Catholics were the master race.

Of course Our Lord and God was an asylum seeker himself when his family took refuge in Egypt from the infanticidal King Herod.

Like Jesus, Moses was a refugee too, in modern-day Jordan www.visitjordan.com.

Jordan could teach us a thing or two about how to welcome assylum-seekers.

Palestinians welcome

And two million Palestinian refugees calling the Middle Eastern statehome.

I saw first hand how hospitality is at the centre of the Islamic faith.

And our guide Mr Jordan himself Zuhair was quick to remind our mainly Christian G Adventures International group www.gadventures.com and The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time of tolerance.

And that Islam, Judaism and Christianity shared the same story and prophets.

We would do well to remember when we are quick to demonise asylum seekers.

Asia, Countries, Europe

Give us this Day – the wee chapel

Our places of worship have shrunk with the lockdown but we can still give thanks to Our God from here in our homes.

Our forebears did during the days of repression in the Catholic and Protestant wars.

And the oppression of the Jews and discrimination against Muslims.

I saw evidence for it myself in Ann Boleyn’s Hever Castle in Kent in the south of England, through a hidden door behind a closet.

Where they boasted what was one of the smallest chapels and where, on occasion, they celebrated Mass clandestinely

Point towards Mecca

While Christians rely on their set Sunday services Muslims who cannot get to mosques can build their own places of worship.

With stones and a keen sense of direction for Mecca.

Set yourself up a mosque

Which I found in the Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan www.visitjordan.com.

With my ethically-responsible tour providers www.gadventures.com The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time

Small churches too can be found just around the corner when you go walkabout in a city.

Prague Protestants

As in Prague https://www.czechtourism.com/home/ and Hope springs eternal  from where Jan Hus and the first Protestants http://Give us this Day – The First Protestants (of Prague) hailed.

And the holy man stands with his back to you.

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Prague Protestant history

Again on Mount Lycabettus where stands the highest church in Athens, https://athensattica.com St George and My Greek odyssey.

Athena herself is said to have built the hill herself so she could inspect the erection of the Parthenon herself.

Ice love you

Small churches can be found anywhere really.

That they can put up a cross and one of the funkier churches was an ice one.

In Soll in Austria Soll Mates and https://www.wilderkaiser.info/en/destination-austria/region-wilder-kaiser-skiing-tyrol.html with Top Flight www.topflight.ie.

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Ring of truth: In Austria

While in Italy it helps if you’ve got your own chapel with your hotel.

Which I discovered on my Via Francigena www.ViaFrancigena.com and Small roads lead to Rome.

While in The Vatican http://m.museivaticani.va/content/museivaticani-mobile/en/visita-i-musei.html itself you can always find a small chapel.

In one of the alcoves of St Paul’s Basilica.

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Your own hotel chapel… in Lazio

Where my own Scary One disturbed my peace at the end of my Via Francigena by phoning me up to give out about my phone bills!

Me, I’m off down to my own carefully created Wee Chapel in my back garden.

Where sits a wooden grotto with a holy water bottle from Lourdes and http://www.lourdes-france.org The Lourdes prayer.

MEET YOU IN THE AISLES

Africa, America, Europe, Ireland

Elections – a general view around the world

Ireland has a proud record as a democracy, one of the oldest in Europe with its first elected MP, Constance Markiewicz.

Your choice

And this weekend Ireland goes to the polls although whichever parties form the next government they will have to do it without me.

Contender: He’s had three parties already

Because I’ll be back in Scotland… anything happen in the 13 years since I’ve been gone?

I always vote.

Man down

Not just because it’s hard to keep me quiet but because of the struggles my forebears and others have endured for this privilege.

Gone, but not forgotten: Saddam in Jordan in the Middle East

I heard first hand from the black South Africans in the Eastern Cape how they queued overnight in the Voting Line in 1995.

Any visit to South Africa will bring you nose up to the glass of Apartheid history. www.southafrica.net

Port Elizabeth’s Voting Line

And where better to start than in Nelson Mandela’s home province of the Eastern Cape… What’s new pussycat?

Where you can learn the unique Xhosa clicking language… https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KZlp-croVYw.

With Freedom Fighter Amos

Of course democracy is a fragile way of life.

And it is eerie to think that you can see Saddam Hussain propaganda in peaceful Jordan… The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

On a G Adventures trip www.gadventures.com to Jordan www.visitjordan.com.

Well, he is half-Scottish

I had also been around four years previously with la famille.

For a New York Halloween www.nycvb.com where they were carving Obama’s face into pumpkins.

They prefer ski jumping here

And visited the Austrian Tirol on the day of their election. And Gamisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria where Hitler held the 1936 Winter Olympics.

With Topflightforschools… www.topflightforschools.

But this on German National Day where it was as quiet as a monastery.

MEET YOU IN THE BOOTH

Africa, America, Countries, Europe, Flying

13 years an Irishman

Some people just get more handsome with age…

The last piece of the jigsaw: With Laurie at the start

Purple reigns

Barbados: Foreday Morning at the Crop Over carnival and rum.

Meeting the legendary Brian Lara and asking if he liked cricket, rum.

Winning a limbo competition. Soca music. And rum. Let’s rumba in Barbados and My kiss with Rihanna. Visit www.visitbarbados.org.

Our war heroes

My Great Uncle’s grave in Flanders

Flanders and the Somme: Presenting the wreath at the Last Post at Menin Gate.

Finding my Great-Uncle’s grave in Ieper and his brother’s name on the Thiepval arch.

Drinking one of Tom’s 100-plus beers in Tom’s Bierhaus out of a horn in a wooden clasped implement. In Flanders fields.

And https://gtitravel.ie and https://www.visitflanders.com/en/?country=en_GB and https://www.visit-somme.com/great-war.

Natasha, LA and I

Los Angeles and Southern California: These words are her own… Natasha Bedingfield.

Marilyn, Donald Duck, The Beach Boys, Jason Derulo.

And Star Wars’ Galaxy Edge. California, the Golden Globes State. Visit https://visitanaheim.org, https://disneyland.disney.go.com/destinations/disneyland/?CMP=OKC-dlr_themeparks_gmap_38.

Better Dead than Red

Mud, glorious mud

Jordan: Floating in the Dead Sea, obviously. Snorkelling in the Red Sea.

Site of John the Baptist’s baptism of Jesus Jordan/Israel and Moses looking out onto The Promised Land in Mt Nebo.

Petra, Indiana Jones et al and Wadi Rum and Lawrence of Arabia. See G Adventures www.gadventures.com and www.visitjordan.com. The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

American Trilogy

With Fannie Lou Hamer in Misssissippi

Memphis and Mississippi: Martin Luther King, Myrlie Evers, The Underground Railroad.

BB King, Beale Street, Stax Records.

Elvis, Graceland, Sun Studio.

Visit https://visitmississippi.org and https://www.memphistravel.com. And my American Trilogy… The Promised Land, The story of the Blues and The King of Kings.

Under African skies

Sisseko, me and Nelson

South Africa: Tigers, Springboks, rhinos with their horns sawn off.

Bottlenose blue dolphins, spekboom, the magic plant which is countering climate change.

Nelson Mandela, xhosa, that clicking language which our guide Sisseko and Madeba speak and the Voting Line sculpture in Port Elizabeth.

And I’ve only scratched the surface… What’s new pussycat? And www.southafrica.net.

Tomorrow: My Sporting Five

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food

The best hot chocolates

I’d given up on finding my ciocolatta di calda densa after the owners of Campo de Fiori in the next town went home to Italy,

But Tomasso at Caffe Delle Stelle here in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, put a bit of colour into my grey winter’s day.

Chocolate is a gift from the gods so much so that the Incas believed it had magical spiritual powers.

So who am I to disagree?

And here are a few of my favourite hot chocolate dens.

The Caffe Pedrocchi, Padova https://www.caffepedrocchi.it Venice has its St Mark’s Square and Rialto Bridge and its masses but there’s a quieter, hidden Veneto city.

Where Giotto’s handiwork inspired Michelangelo and you can find St Anthony’s tongue!

This grande cafe dates back a hundred years and hits the right note between posh and prego.

And for more Padova perambulating… Padova – city of frescoes.

The Old Chocolate Shop, Bruges, Belgium: I can’t recall Colin Farrell sipping hot chocolate here in the cult movie In Bruges.

But he would have been more chilled if he had.

This canal city is famous for its choccies but don’t press your noses up against the windows… come in.

The Old Chocolate Shop https://www.oldchocolatehouse.be looks straight out of a nursery rhyme… and you should deffo try the gingerbread and truffles too.

And Bruges is a great release at the end of my World War One Battlefields Tour with https://www.gadventures.com. A pilgrim’s prayer

Jacques Torres Chocolate Shop, New York: I’ve developed a mantra as I’ve evolved… only choose friends who hail from wonderful places.

And it also helps if they have fantastic jobs… as is the case with my old University pal Kate.

She is the Editor of a Food and Drinks magazine in her native New York and took La Famille Murty to…

Jacques Torres’ Chocolate Shop https://mrchocolate.com/blogs/locations/soho-hudson near Greenwich Village where we sampled the rich and silky Wicked.

That is after sampling the bacon-flavoured chocolate in their tasting kitchen. We left with a hamper. And you know what I think of New York but here’s a reminder… Old New York: Hamilton

The Cafe Savoy, Prague: Everyone raves about Vienna, and it’s not to be missed.

But cafe society permeated throughout the whole of the old Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg Empire.

And finds itself stamped all over Prague… Hope springs eternal

The Savoy http://cafesavoy.ambi.cz/en/ is the place to go for your hot chocolate (or two hot chocolates)!

Its Savoy Hot Chocolate which uses hot milk hails from the Dominican Republic; the Savoy dessert hot chocolate is made of Valrhona chocolate and hot chocolate.

It is served with whipped milk and you can add it to the cup to melt with the chocolate.

Hot chocolate is one of life’s little gifts to yourself.

Barcelona for hot chocolate

It can be drunk in hot and cold weather despite what my waitresss Mardy Maria thought as we lunched inside from the 30C Barcelona heat… Surfing the seas in Barcelona

My Catalan isn’t that great but her hand gestures suggested f****** eeji or something like that.

Tell me where your fave hot chocolate is and I’ll share the love.

MEET YOU IN THE CAFE

Adventure, Culture, Pilgrimage

Give us this Day: the day Jesus was baptised

You’d be glad of a cool down in the 30C heat of a Jordan May. but Jesus wasn’t complaining.

Today is designated the sacred day when we commemorate The Baptism of the Lord.

It is in truth a little cooler in Jordan than when I went, at 11C but I can’t imagine the Lord was shivering.

So for the day that’s in it let’s take a deeper look into baptisms.

The first question is: where exactly was Jesus baptised.

The Jordanians claimed that he was doused further inland at Al-Maghtas.

Here in ‘Bethany beyond the Jordan’ in what is modern-day Jordan.

The Israelis for their part believe that he was baptised on their banks.

And this is where the Russian Orthodox Christians believe there are healing waters and they go full immersion.

The Jordanians claim Jesus was baptised here

All of which I learned on my G Adventures trip to Jordan last year…. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/culture/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/, http://www.visitjordan.com, http://www.gadventures.com.

While decide for yourself which you think it is…. or like me just soak it all up and maybe sneak some holy water… http://www.baptismsite.com

So for us Gentiles it’s worth reflecting that of course John, Jesus and all those who were being baptised were all Jews.

And that John though the most famous baptist would not have been the first.

Today at Mass

Ritual immersion had been part and parcel of Jewish culture, or mikvehs for some time.

Jews would ritually immerse themselves for spiritual purity before worshipping.

Washing is, of course, central to the daily and spiritual life of Muslims.

Water of Islam

As I have found out on my trips to Marrakech http://www.visitmarrakech.com and Morocco http://www.visitmorocco.com.

And more recently in Istanbul www.visitistanbul.com and Turkey www.goturkeytourism.com.

And Sarajevo in Bosnia & Herzegovina www.visitsarajevo.ba

The boys in the Blue Mosque

It is, of course, a primal act to wash as well as being hygienic.

And you can find it in Sikhism through Amrit Sanskar.

While in Hinduism they like to immerse statues of Durga and Ganesh during the final stages of the festivals Durga Puja and Ganesh Charturthi.

Water of death

And purification is as much part of death as it is a spiritual birth.

A ritual bath in pure water is performed for the dead in many religions including Judaism and Islam.

For more on this pilgrim’s progress… read https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/culture/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/ https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/pilgrimage/camino-a-pilgrims-prayer/, https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/ https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-lourdes-prayer-pyrenees/ and Fatima in https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal-classy-centro/

Uncategorized

The faces of 2019 – Crossroads of history

What do you do when you’re at a crossroads? Look both ways.

Which is what the Croatians and Bosniaks, the Turks and the Jordanians have done throughout their history.

And they continue to do so.

It was no coincidence then that it was Sarajevo http://www.visitsarajevo.ba where the First World War broke out.

It was there that a Bosniak Muslim separatist Gavrilo Princip assassinated the heir to the Catholic Hapsburg Empire, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

Because Sarajevo is where the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire met.

It may be 105 years ago.

But it is little changed from the August day when Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophia’s carriage was halted by the bridge across the Miljacka River.

And you can see the very gun schoolboy Princip used and other historical artefacts from the day that changed the world for ever… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/21/sarajevo-the-scot-that-was-heard-around-the-world/

The Museum of Crimes against Humanity and Genocide http://yihr.hr/en/the-sarajevo-museum-of-crimes-against-humanity-and-genocide-1992-1995-learning-from-the-past-through-emotional-overwhelm-2/ provides a heart-rending and thorough examination of a difficult subject but is a must-visit in Sarajevo.

And you should look out too for how a Hollywood action man played his most important role too.

In showing his softer side to victims of the conflict.

At the heart of Sarajevo is the beautiful Bey’s Mosque.

It stands comparison with any of the great Islamic temples anywhere… https://sarajevo.travel/en/things-to-do/gazi-husrev-beys-mosque/176.

The Blue Mosque is Istanbul’s https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/wham-bam-thank-you-hamam/ and https://visit.istanbul greatest calling card.

And while it is epic I want to sing the praises like a call to prayers of the Hagia Sophia https://www.hagiasophia.com.

It is revered both by Muslims and Greek Orthodox Christians.

The latter who place it as the headquarters of their church (they still call it Constaninople).

Hakan’s tales

Better still if you have a guide like Hakan who will place you in a Medieval daytime soap opera of life in the Great City with the Great and Good.

Which is every bit as enthralling as Game of Thrones.

There’s a story too to be told in Athens around the Acropolis… and that’s just the taxi drivers Georg and Antony… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/21/acropolis-later/and https://www.hagiasophia.com

You can find the Orthodox influence, the Romans and the Nabataeans in Jordan... https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/ and http://www.visitjordan.com

What Zuhair and G Adventures http://www.gadventures.com don’t know about Petra, the Dead and Red Sea and Wabi Rum isn’t worth knowing about.

The turn of the year is a crossroads for us all but for those who live at the junctures of the world every day is a crossroads.

And the wonderful guides who share their cities and countries with us show us the way.