Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

Yappy 150th Anniversary Greyfriars Bobby

Yappy 150th Anniversary Greyfriars Bobby, the loyal dog who slept by his dead master’s grave, and let’s put more animals on pedestals.

There were pipes and prayers to mark the milestone in the Edinburgh kirkyard.

And I dare say a whisky or two in his memory at the local inn, named after the West Skye Terrier who Walt Disney brought to the world.

Bobby’s statue is, of course, the best in the Scottish capital, nay the world.

And, yes, those no-name figures of Empire should be taken off their plinths.

Replaced by popular and cultural figures of our age and recent memory.

Pets on plinths

Pups: An earlier Jimmy, and Bobby

And let’s be radical here… women.

And animals.

So here’s our menagerie of all creatures great and small.

And on the grounds that we’ve got the best wee doggie, here in Scotland.

And that all God’s creatures have a place in my choir let’s sing the praises of…

The Puck stops here

King of Ireland: Puck

King Puck, Killorglin, Ireland, Now we’re not acting the goat here.

And I’m all about the goats, from my time racing them in Tobago.

In Kerry, in the south of Ireland they have been crowning a goat and throwing a festival around it since the 17th century.

When a goat alerted the village of Oliver Cromwell’s coming.

King Puck is in truth a better fit than any of the chinless wonder monarchs England imposed on them.

Before they broke free a hundred years ago.

On the Bosfurus

Turkey treats: For Tombili

Tombili, Istanbul: And no, I’ve not lost my dictionary… and if I had I’d always return to the book section of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.

How Bazaar: Cats in the Grand Bazaar

Cats have a special place in the hearts of Turks, and none more so than diva Tombili.

Tombili became a global hit after she was photographed reclining on a pavement… give her some Kite-Kat turkey treats.

Bear with us here

Bear hug: The Winnipeg statue

Winnipeg the Bear, Canada: The silly willy-nilly all stuffed with fluff is, of course, more prone to napping than scrapping.

This is the real Winnipeg, a Canadian military mascot bear cub, whom AA Milne and Christopher Robin visited at London Zoo.

The Wolf of Rome

Suck it up: The Wolf and the Babes

Capitoline Wolf, Rome: And where’s a she-wolf when you need her?

Rome, that’s where. And lucky that she was for Romulus and Remus.

Because she rescued the babes from the Tiber and they went on to found Rome.

The Romans have never forgotten, and you’ll see fountains adorned with wolf taps around the city.

While they’ll wish each other well with the time-honoured greeting: ‘In bocca al lupi (in the mouth of the wolf).

Those wacky Germans

On the shoulders of giants: Bremen

The Town Musicians of Bremen, Germany: And why celebrate one when you can have four?

The story goes that four old domesticated animals, a donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster, escape their mistreatment.

To go in search of their fortune in Bremen as musicians, obvs.

They get distracted by a house robbery, take over the gaff and live there happily ever after.

And so as we say Yappy 150th Anniversary Greyfriars Bobby and all your furry and feathered friends.

All of whom are deserving of being pets on plinths.

 

Asia, Countries, Europe

Turkey with all the trimmings

I love my Turkey with all the trimmings and still like to get stuck in well after Christmas.

And the new year is when we’ll get back out to one of our old favourite destinations, Turkey.

Now going off on a tangent, or Turkey run, let’s revisit why the country and the fowl are interchangeable.

The story of the turkey

Where you from? Turkey, you say?

The turkey that we know, and scoff, is actually not the turkey that came to define the post-Ottoman Republican country to us.

That turkey is from Mexico which would make school geography schoolteachers and children’s heads turn.

Whereas the Turkey of our Europe and Asia- straddling country is actually the guinea fowl which was transported through eastern Africa to the OE.

And how it all got mangled into the word turkey is because of the similarities to the region Turcia.

Before he got stuffed on turkey: Jonny as Hank

It is also thought to have been passed around the courts of Europe.

With King Henry VIII said to have been the first English monarch to have eaten turkey.

Department of Turkey

Your Onur: With Onur, my pal from Turkish Airlines

That’s all something to chew on then as we digest the latest offerings from our pals at Travel Department.

Istanbul is the only place to start with Turkey.

Where obvs you’ll explore the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and go shopping for Turkish treats (and cats) in the Grand Bazaar.

I’ll always seek out war history wherever I go.

And next up is a visit to Gallipoli.

And if you were dreaming when that was taught in school then listen up to The Pogues’ And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.

I, of course, worked like a Trojan at school, at least at history and this scribbling lark.

The joy of Troy

Trojan heroes: And not too Brad

Which is why I’d just scoop up the half-day excursion to ancient Troy.

You’ll also discover Ephesus, an Ancient Greek city which housed the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Deal me in

My cup of tea: Turkey

Priced from €1299pp it includes flights, transfers, seven nights’ accommodation on a B&B basis and expert guides.

Departures from 12th March with a selection of dates up to 11th October 2022.

I’ll take that: Turkey with all the trimmings and put it in a kebab for me.

For more information https://www.traveldepartment.com/holiday/istanbul-ancient-turkey

America, Asia, Countries, Culture, Music

Give us this Day – Happy Iranian Millennium

Aidé shomā mobarakto Iranians everywhere, and this year is a very special one with it being the dawn of a new Millennium.

The Iranian New Year, celebrated at the Spring Equinox. is the type we all like, lasting for a good fortnight.

This year is marked in the Iranian calendar as the Year 1400 which is the number of years since Mohammed.

And it is celebrated by 300 million people around the world and has been designated International Nowruz Day by the UN.

Hamam bam: Istanbul

Of course everything stops in the motherland but also in Afghanistan, Albania, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, areas of India. And Turkey.

And among the Iranian diaspora around the world.

Who knew, of course, that one of the largest populations outside Iran is in Los Angeles.

Where we all know they love a party but where this year they will be celebrating online.

No, it’s not me

Like all festivities in the Middle East the festivities revolve around the table.

You’d expect candles and wouldn’t be disappointed and you’ll also see touches that are familiar in Eastern worship such as decorated eggs.

The Haft Sin table includes seven symbolic items starting with the Farsi letter ‘S’.

Typically Persian

‘Sir’ is the Persian word for garlic and gives protection from illness and evil and ‘Serkeh’, or vinegar, represents longevity and patience.

Of course these are mere flavours for the much bigger dishes of sumptuous Middle Eastern stews,

You’ll eat fish, meats, rice, noodles and beans with a cornucopia of spices.

Hot, hot, hot

There are a choice of dinners, my favourite sounding Fesenjan, a duck, or chicken, stew in walnut and pomegranate sauce.

There are few better-read people than the Iranians and poetry books and the Quran are centrepiece.

Persian rituals

Though why there is a goldfish…. well, does it matter.

Or why they spend these days throwing wheat grass into flowing waters… something about absorbing negative energy.

So how could us non- Iranians join in?

Don’t try this at home

Well we can send children into the streets to bang their pots and jump over fires… a typical weekend in Glasgow!

Just like Western civilisation there is a gift-giving figure, Amoo Nowruz (Uncle Nowruz).

Ancient stories

So here’s some Iranian New Year party music to get into the spirit.

Of course all of this I should have seen first hand, only for my much-anticipated trip to Iran being cancelled.

I prefer to think of it as only delayed.

Aidé shomā mobarak.

Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Pilgrimage

Go on, go on, go on to Istanbul

You’d expect Father Ted’s housekeeper, Mrs Doyle, to either snub the Turkish tea.

Or lay into it on Pilgrimage: The Road to Istanbul.

Mrs Doyle, aka Pauline McLynn, is yet to reveal her true self on the BBC2 show, next on on Friday, March 26 and available on Catch Up.

She, in fact, comes across as a bit ditzy and not at all religious.

Here come the girls: Edwina Currie, Fatima Whitbread and Pauline McLynn

I can vouch for that.

With Pauline effing and blinding like a true modern-day daughter of Ireland when I met her.

She was the speaker at an Australian Irish Chamber of Commerce lunch in Dublin.

My cup of tea

I was as a guest of the-then newly opened Flight Centre store in Dawson Street.

Pauline is joined on the Sultans Trail by six other celebrities, only four others who I recognise.

That’ll be javelin queen Fatima Whitbread, sports presenter Adrian Chiles, ex-politician Edwina Currie and comedian (and I use that term loosely) Dom Joly.

Here come the boys: Dom Joly, Mim Shaikh, Amar Latif and Adrian Chiles

The Sultans Trail is new to me.

But not the pilgrims who have been walking sections of the 2,200km stretch from Vienna to Istanbul.

Our super seven set out from Belgrade, and I am surprised that they didn’t check out its hidden palace.

What’s in a name?

And they make their way through Serbia and a little bit of Greece.

On their 1,000km two-week trip to the great city on the Bosphorus.

Our Lady in Medjugorje

In the first episode we see them walk through forests, pick lemons, climb castles (and one pilgrim, Amar Latif is blind).

And partake in a Serbian celebration to Our Lady. She’s big in the Balkans.

Before in a few episodes’ time we reach Istanbul and the Suleymaniye Mosque.

Cruise the Bosphorus

Istanbul is one of the great cities of the world.

And it has at various times been known also as Byzantium and Constantinople.

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It’s still the centre of the Greek Orthodox Church and is still known as Constantinople across the border in Hellas.

A bit like Derry and Londonderry… know your audience.

I’d recommend that when our pilgrims do get to Istanbul they have a blow-out then on a boat trip on the Bosphorus.

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Now you all know I love a good oul’ pilgrimage and unbeknownst to me there have been two previous series.

Where’s my invite?

Eight celebs have already been out to Santiago de Compostella and Rome following, I guess, in my footsteps.

With Onur in Istanbul

I was, of course, with my friends at CaminoWays and FrancigenaWays.

And I know the question you’re asking… why wasn’t I one of the celebs chosen to go to Istanbul to complete the set?

Yes, you’d be right… the BBC Director General has already had his knuckles rapped for that oversight.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

America, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Hungry and Thursday – Weird Vending Machines

To think they used to only save you from starting a family.

Which is why today Hungry and Thursday turns its attentions to those magic boxes, vending machines.

And a big thanks to my Japanophile friends who have set me off on this latest ramble.

Where’s the larvae?

Something with a sting in it

Canned bees and wasp larvae, Japan: To sip down the coke.

Bees and wasps larvae are harvested from their nests.

And they are cooked in sugar and soy sauce to make the delicacy of Hachinoko… and yes, it’s crumbly.

Stock up on it in Inokashira Park, Tokyo and nibble away on your Three Star Road route.

Start out in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, and trace an arcing line through the mountains to Ishikawa Prefecture.

The best bar none

Anyone want a bar?

Gold, Abu Dhabi: As you never know when you’ll put your hand in your pocket and realise that you’re down to your last bar!

The five-star Emirates Palace Hotel installed the first bullion ATM in its lobby.

Bubbles

Champagne, Selfridge’s, London: If you’re having to slum it without your comp champagne which is changed daily with the laundry at Sandals in Barbados.

And you’re in the vicinity of Selfridge’s in London then you won’t be able to get through the day without your bottle of bubbly.

Hair today

It’s all her own

Hair extension, Philadelphia: OK, so it might be too late for me but there was a time when I tried a pony tail.

Although it met with a putdown from my old late pal Gadge who maintained that ponytails should only ever be on ponies.

These tails belong in Phabulous Philadelphia, Freedom City, so that’s all right by me.

The cat’s whiskers

Form an orderly queue

Stray cat and dog feeder, Istanbul: I can’t say I saw these when I visited the Bosphorus.

In fact the kitties are well looked after judging by how they’re pampered in the Grand Bazaar.

But if you do want to spoil the cats and dogs of Istanbul.

Then slot in a plastic bottle into the machine and then pop out come the goodies before poop…

Africa, America, Asia, Countries, Europe, UK

Fiveday Friday – take those drinks outside

Just on a whim, and because this is how we’ll be drinking in the future, here is a new feature Fiveday Friday.

Five of the best travel experiences from around my world of travels (and some of them won’t involve drink).

I’m spurred here by a radio shout-out for the sprawling 500-year-old The Lindsey Rose.

The Rose lies near Ipswich, Suffolk in England’s East Anglia http://www.thelindseyrose.co.uk and https://www.visiteastofengland.com.

Southwold in Suffolk, which is about 118 miles east and a two-and-a-half hour drive from London, was recommended to me by my old boss.

And with its dainty beach huts and English Country Garden pubs it was very much like ‘somewhere different but the same’ for this Scottish family within your own country.

Which is what we’ll all be reengaging ourselves with more and more now.

That’s not to say we won’t be reflecting on those awesome outdoor drinks dats we’ve enjoyed around the world.

Beer o’clock in South Africa

The Brewery and Two Goats Deli, Nieu-Bethesda, South Africa: And this beer garden deep in the heart of Afrikans country even has a wooden hammock.

Where you can sleep off your wooden smorgasbord sample of beers and stouts.

There’s nothing wooden though about this little haven in Nieu-Bethesda. Visit https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en/ and What’s new pussycat?.

On the Bosphorus

TTG Travel/Turkey Travel Group: And if the back garden can be a stretch of water which splits two continents….

Pleasure cruises are perfect for small groups and you can work off that Turkish spread with a boogie on board.

While looking out on two continents on the Bosphorus.

See https://www.turkeytravelgroup.com, https://visit.istanbul, www.turkishIrlines.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

Swiss for Prosecco

Interlacken, Switzerland: Well, you do build up a thirst whizzing through a wood and the main road on your tutti bike.

It’s an electric scooter hybrid, you understand.

And you’ll find a bar in the valley where your Prosecco Spritzer has never tasted so good.

See www.myswitzerland.com and Swhisskey on the rocks.

Der Plague and Der Great Outdoors

Oberammergau, Germany: And not a bad place to drop in on as the good burghers of this Bavarian town know all about pandemics.

They made a pact with God back in the Middle Ages where they would put on a Passion Play if He rid them of the plague.

And you’ll want to sit outside anyway to take in the murals that tell the story of Oberammergau.

See https://www.passionsspiele-oberammergau.de/en/home and https://www.topflight.ie and www.topflightforschools.ie.

Jocky Mountain High

Salt & Lime, Steamboat Springs, Colorado: Now Coloradans are ideally placed for this COVID crisis because they’re outdoors people.

They freestyle up the Rockies, white water raft on the French Powder River and then sit down in the open air on their ranches.

And rooftop restaurants such as this one, Salt & Lime Morning www.suckandlime.com in Steamboat Springs www.colorado.com.

Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Hungry and Thursday – the kebab

It’s been an oasis in a desert of closed stores – the kebab shop here in North Berwick, south of Edinburgh.

Where a haggis supper (that’s battered haggis and chips) is even better than your most succulent T-bone steak.

Heck, it always has been.

And also a doner, or shish kebab, or pakora.

A stick-on

Tastes of our adolescence which have stayed with us into adulthood.

And not just if you live in Turkey or the Middle East, but very much a staple growing up in Scotland.

How Bazar!

And in the Bazar restaurant https://www.hotelbazar.nl/en/restaurant-bazar-amsterdam/ in the Middle Eastern De Pijp district of Amsterdam.

Which is a converted mosque and harvests the spices and flavours of North Africa and Asia.

Which are showcased out on the Albert Cuyp Markt on Albert Cuypstrasse in Oud-Zuid (Old South).

De Bazar in De Pijp in Amsterdam

They had come to Amsterdam (https://www.iamsterdam.com/en and Pictures of Amsterdam) to work in the Heineken factory.

A taste of Jordan

Where you can take in the whole Heineken Experience https://www.heineken.com/gb/agegateway?returnurl=%2fheineken-experience.

Our server Rasha was fresh into the great old Dutch city from Jordan.

And regaled us with stories of her homeland.

Which I was lucky enough to visit with G Adventures https://www.gadventures.co.uk and http://www.visitjordan.com.

Portable cooking in the desert

And eat in the Wadi Rum desert… The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

It was, of course, the Turks who introduced the kebab to this gastronomically-challenged Glaswegian.

Which introduced me to Turks. And I’m very glad it did.

Family holidays

I introduced myself to Turkey on a family holiday to Bodrum https://www.bodrum.org where they took to us immediately.

And particularly the Son and Heir who they swirled around at the market on account of his near-Muslim name Ally.

He knows my order

I returned a couple of years ago, to Istanbul https://visit.istanbul.

As a guest of Turkish Airlines https://www.turkishairlines.com to their headquarters.

And to see the new $12bn Istanbul Airport, the biggest in the world.

And eat their speciality kofte meatballs, and kebabs, at the Istanbul institution, the Sultanahmet Koftecisi http://www.sultanahmetkoftesi.com.

I’d even fly myself

The Turks https://www.goturkeytourism.com and their kebabs have been part of British culture from my childhood and before.

They have helped to feed me since I were a boy, and not just after a slew of beer on a Friday and Saturday night.

Thank you Turkish Airlines

And they are here for us again in our time of troubles.

With Turkish Airlines at the heart of the mercy mission to cargo PPE to the UK.

They deserve our gratitude and acknowledgment.

And on this their National Sovereignty and Children’s Day an apology for the insults thrown at them during the Brexit referendum.

Countries, Europe, Flying

Holidos and Don’ts – saunas

Saunas are definitely a Holido… the best fun you can have with your clothes on, or off.

Us Brits, or Irish like to take our togs. trunks, bathers, bikinis with us to the sauna.

So here’s my sweltering saunas to relax in.

Aviemore

No, not that hut

Not, what you might expect but my first sauna experience, in the Scottish Highlands, left its mark on me.

And Clare, my then-girlfriend, who I ran over on the nursery slopes.

And whose thigh swelled up into a lovely rainbow colour.

I ended up spending the rest of the holiday on my own. Still the sauna was a great hiding place.

See www.visitaviemore.com.

Soll, Austria

I’ll slip off to the sauna

I moved on, and thankfully had learned my lesson, when myself and my Snow Queen went to Soll on a Topflight trip a few years ago.

Sarah didn’t fancy the sauna so I went myself and decided to go au naturel with the other Austrians.

Though I kept my eyes front and centre (honest!).

The next day I was sorely tempted to say to the handsome dude at the next table at breakfast (and within earshot of Sarah): ‘I didn’t recognise you with your clothes off’

Visit https://www.wilderkaiser.info/en/destination-tyrol/region-villages/soell-winter.html and www.topflight.ie.

And visit Soll Mates.

Czech Republic

Sweat off the beer

The pick of my Czech saunas has to be in Marianske Lazhny with Czech Tourism www.czechtourism.com.

When I took a Japanese woman’s bathrobe (and they’re small) by mistake, and she called me out.

Then there was Prague last week in my Aspen Hotel, the Golden Key… https://goldenkey.astenhotels.com/en?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI9azstJHy5wIVzbHtCh3vZQmYEAAYASAAEgI6GvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds and the Hotel Beethoven, Teplice.

Where the sauna, massages and medical treatments take years off you.

Some of the ninetysomethings looked like octogenarians.

Istanbul, Turkey

My cup of tea

Well, if it’s good enough for Florence Nightingale, Rudolf Nureyev, John Travolta, Kate Moss and East 17.

The 300-year-old Cagaloglu Hamam https://www.cagalogluhamami.com.tr is ornate and also offers trained assassins with karate chop hands for massage.

And then there’s the Turkish tea, or stronger. See www.visitistanbul.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

Finland

It’s blowy outside

Kuusamo, where even Santa sheds his big red suit… don’t worry, he puts a towel over his lap.

At Kuusamo Airport, eight to ten people can sit comfortably on its U-shaped benches.

And while cooling down on the terrace, you can admire the views of the runway and the tiny Kolvanki Lake.

The basic fee is €50 (for two hours) + €10pp.. Extra hours are €15.

How to book? At . You can also call +358 (0)20 708 8810 or send an email to ania.murtovaara@finavia.fi .

You can also check out the saunas at Helsinki and Kittila. Visit https://www.finavia.fi/en/newsroom/2016/would-you-enjoy-sauna-airport

Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland

Thirteen years an Irishman – My capital cities (and Istanbul)

I belong to Glasgow,

Dear Old Glasgow toon,

But there’s nothing the matter with Glasgow

Because It’s going round and round.

I’m only a common-or-garden chap,

As anyone here can see.

But when I have a couple of drinks on a Saturday,

Glasgow belongs to me

I’m a city boy, always have been, always will be, and am going back to one of my favourites.

Edinburgh, or Embra as we say in Scotland.

But what of the others, I’ve been keeping you going with my top cities so here we go again:

Capitol idea

Washington DC: Four score and seven years ago (well, three years in my case) I fulfilled a lifelong ambition by visiting the US capital.

It’s still to be beaten for me as an American city.

The Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King Memorial, the Washington Monument.

All the Smithsonians, and particularly the National Museum of African American History and Culture https://nmaahc.si.edu/splashify-splash and the National Museum of the American Indian https://americanindian.si.edu.

Arlington https://www.arlington.ie, the Kennedy graves, Robert E. Lee’s house, Frederick Douglas’s house. Oh, and the Capitol https://www.visitthecapitol.gov and the White House https://www.whitehouse.gov too.

Visit https://washington.org/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIx66X0f2v5wIVh7HtCh1YpQ9FEAAYASAAEgL9uvD_BwE.

Roman holidays

I’ll be back… and I was

My former colleague and still my pal, the office PA, Rebecca, is in Rome and asked me for some pointers.

Well, she’ll know the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, the Forum, the Spanish Steps.

St Paul’s Basilica, the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel.

But she should try out the Capuchin Crypt where the bones and skulls of dead monks were used to build the three altars. Now that’s eternal.

Visit http://www.cappucciniviaveneto.it and https://www.rome.info and Small roads lead to Rome.

And before Rome there was Athens

An old relic… and the Acropolis

Socrates was here and so was I and two very helpful taxi drivers who got me here after I was late the first time… a case of Acropolis Later.

Athens is beautifully chaotic which is why I feel I belong there, there where you can get stuck in a restaurant lift for half an hour.

And walk in on an elderly couple post-coitus because the rooms were mixed up and the manager sends you up a couple of bottles of wine as an apology.

Visit Athens www.athensattica.com/things-to-see/ and My Greek odyssey.

And the crossroads – Istanbul

With my good pal Onur from Turkish Airlines

The crossroads of Europe and Asia and where I’d planned to get engaged 25 years previously.

On the Bosphorus where I made up for last year.

On a boat cruise with me singing along to Abba’s Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy (A man after midnight) and my pal did his Dancing Ian.

And, of course, the Hagi Sofya, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, whirling dervishes and the hamam where Florence Nightingale and Kate Moss went (https://www.cagalogluhamami.com.tr.

Visit https://www.turkishairlines.com/en-int/index.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIu9Tm8aSw5wIVhbTtCh3HQwB5EAAYAiAAEgIwDPD_BwE and https://visit.istanbul and of course Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

Harbour of my dreams

Valletta, a safe betta

I’m going to have to put this in as it was Malta where I actually did get engaged. I’d bent down to tie my laces and she yelled ‘Yes’.

The harbour is the most beautiful in the world… my survey and you should sail between the islands.

And Valletta’s Fortifications and the Caravaggio in the St John Co-Cathedral.

Visit www.maltaireland.com and Malta easer.

And tomorrow, five more from Northern Europe.

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/