Tuesday, 30 June 2020

TRAVEL TUESDAY 242 - KRAKÓW, POLAND

“Krakow is one of my favorite places on earth. It is a medieval city full of young people. A wonderful, striking combination.” - Jonathan Carroll
Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel.

There is only one simple rule: Link your own creative work about some aspect of travel and share it with the rest of us. Please use this meme for your creative endeavours only.

Do not use this meme to advertise your products or services as any links or comments by advertisers shall be removed immediately.
Kraków, also spelled Cracow or Krakow, is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River (Polish: Wisła) in the Lesser Poland (Polish: Małopolska) region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life and is one of Poland’s most important economic hubs. It was the capital of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland from 1038 to 1569; the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1569 to 1596, the Free City of Kraków from 1815 to 1846; the Grand Duchy of Cracow from 1846 to 1918; and Kraków Voivodeship from the 14th century to 1998. It has been the capital of Lesser Poland Voivodeship since 1999.

The city has grown from a Stone Age settlement to Poland’s second most important city. It began as a hamlet on Wawel Hill and was already being reported as a busy trading centre of Slavonic Europe in 965. With the establishment of new universities and cultural venues at the emergence of the Second Polish Republic in 1918 and throughout the 20th century, Kraków reaffirmed its role as a major national academic and artistic centre.

The city has a population of approximately 760,000, with approximately 8 million additional people living within a 100 km radius of its main square. After the invasion of Poland by the Nazi Regime at the start of World War II, the newly defined Distrikt Krakau (Kraków District) became the capital of Germany’s General Government. The Jewish population of the city was forced into a walled zone known as the Kraków Ghetto, from which they were sent to German extermination camps such as the nearby Auschwitz never to return, and the Nazi concentration camps like Płaszów.

In 1978, Karol Wojtyła, archbishop of Kraków, was elevated to the papacy as Pope John Paul II — the first Slavic pope ever, and the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. Also that year, UNESCO approved the first ever sites for its new World Heritage List, including the entire Old Town in inscribing Kraków’s Historic Centre. Kraków is classified as a global city with the ranking of high sufficiency by GaWC. It is cited as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, as well as one of the most unique destinations in the world.

Kraków has extensive cultural heritage across the epochs of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque, and its architecture includes the Wawel Cathedral and the Royal Castle on the banks of the Vistula river, the St. Mary's Basilica, Saints Peter and Paul Church and the largest medieval market square in Europe, the Rynek Główny. Kraków is home to Jagiellonian University, one of the oldest universities in the world and traditionally Poland’s most reputable institution of higher learning. In 2000, Kraków was named European Capital of Culture. In 2013 Kraków was officially approved as a UNESCO City of Literature. The city hosted the World Youth Day in July 2016.

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Tuesday, 23 June 2020

TRAVEL TUESDAY 241 - ATHENS, GREECE

 
“In cities like Athens, poor houses lined narrow and tortuous streets in spite of luxurious public buildings.” - Stephen Gardiner

The Zappeion (Greek: Ζάππειον Μέγαρο, Záppeion Mégaro) is a building in the National Gardens of Athens in the heart of Athens, Greece. It is generally used for meetings, conferences and ceremonies, both official and private.

In 1869, the Greek Parliament allocated 80,000 square metres of public land between the Palace Gardens and the ancient Temple of Olympian Zeus, and also passed a law on 30 November 1869, “for the building works of the Olympic Games”, as the Zappeion was the first building to be erected specifically for the revival of the Olympic Games in the modern world.

The ancient Panathenian stadium was also refurbished as part of the works for the Olympic Games. Following some delay, on 20 January 1874, the cornerstone of the building was laid; this new building would be designed by Danish architect Theophil Hansen. Finally, on 20 October 1888, the Zappeion opened. Unfortunately for its benefactor, Evangelis Zappas, he did not live long enough to see the Zappeion built, and his cousin Konstantinos Zappas was nominated by Evangelos Zappas to complete the building. The Austrian Parliament Building was also designed by Hansen and followed the same theme in the exterior.

The Zappeion was used during the 1896 Summer Olympics as the main fencing hall. A decade later, at the 1906 Intercalated Games, it was used as the Olympic Village. It served as the first host for the organising committee (ATHOC) for the 2004 Games from 1998 to 1999 and served as the press centre during the 2004 games.

In 1938, the Athens Radio Station, the country's first national broadcaster, began operating in the premises. The building continued to house the National Radio Foundation until the inauguration of the House of Radio in 1970. A number of historical events have taken place at the Zappeion, including the signing of the documents formalising Greece’s accession to the European Community in May, 1979, which took place in the building’s marble-clad, peristyle main atrium. The head of Evangelos Zappas is buried underneath his statue which is located just outside the Zappeion.

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Tuesday, 16 June 2020

TRAVEL TUESDAY 240 - DOVER, UK


“There’ll be bluebirds over The white cliffs of Dover Tomorrow, just you wait and see…” – Vera Lynn (lyrics by Nat Burton)

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The White Cliffs of Dover are cliffs that form part of the English coastline facing the Strait of Dover and France. The cliffs are part of the North Downs formation. The cliff face, which reaches up to 110 m, owes its striking appearance to its composition of chalk accented by streaks of black flint. The cliffs stretch along the coastline for 13 km, spreading east and west from the town of Dover in the county of Kent, an ancient and still important English port.

The cliffs have great symbolic value in Britain because they face towards continental Europe across the narrowest part of the English Channel, where invasions have historically threatened and against which the cliffs form a symbolic guard. The National Trust calls the cliffs “an icon of Britain”, with “the white chalk face a symbol of home and war time defence.” Because crossing at Dover was the primary route to the continent before the advent of air travel, the white line of cliffs also formed the first or last sight of Britain for travellers. In World War II, thousands of allied troops on the little ships in the Dunkirk evacuation saw the welcoming sight of the cliffs.

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Tuesday, 9 June 2020

TRAVEL TUESDAY 239 - ARCHES NATIONAL PARK

 
“All experience is an arch wherethrough gleams that untravelled world whose margin fades for ever and for ever when I move.” -  Alfred Lord Tennyson 

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel.

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Arches National Park is a US National Park in eastern Utah. The park is adjacent to the Colorado River, 6 km north of Moab, Utah. It is home to over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, including the world-famous Delicate Arch (shown here), in addition to a variety of unique geological resources and formations. It contains the highest density of natural arches in the world.

The park consists of 310.31 km2 of high desert located in the Colorado Plateau. Its highest elevation is 1,723 m at Elephant Butte, and its lowest elevation is 1,245 m at the visitor centre. Forty-three arches are known to have collapsed since 1977. The park receives on average 250 mm of rain a year. Administered by the National Park Service, the area was originally named a National Monument on April 12, 1929. It was redesignated as a National Park on November 12, 1971. 

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Tuesday, 2 June 2020

TRAVEL TUESDAY 238 - GIZA, EGYPT

 
“Drowsing, they take the noble attitude of a great sphinx, who, in a desert land, sleeps always, dreaming dreams that have no end.” - Charles Baudelaire

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel.

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Giza, is the third largest city in Egypt. It is located on the west bank of the Nile River, some 20 km southwest of central Cairo. Along with Shubra El-Kheima, Cairo and Helwan, the four cities form the Province of Greater Cairo metropolis. The city’s population was 2,681,863 in the 2006 national census.

Giza is most famous as the location of the Giza Plateau: The site of some of the most impressive ancient monuments in the world, including a complex of ancient Egyptian royal mortuary and sacred structures, including the Great Sphinx, the Great Pyramid of Giza, and a number of other large pyramids and temples. The plateau and its monuments have been recorded in the Giza Plateau Mapping Project run by Ancient Egypt Research Associates, directed by Dr. Mark Lehner.

Visiting the Giza plateau and seeing the great pyramids, temples and the Sphinx was one of the most memorable of our travel adventures. Crawling inside the Great Pyramid of Cheops and seeing the burial chamber in the heart of the pyramid was an awe-inspiring experience. Looking at the face of the enigmatic Sphinx and stepping on the sand trodden by billions of feet over the centuries, one could experience a tantalising taste of eternity. Egypt is old and hides in its sands thousands of undiscovered secrets. The wind blows and as it soughs against the stones of ancient temples it is as though it whispers the answers to age-old riddles – although they are spoken in forgotten tongues…

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Tuesday, 26 May 2020

TRAVEL TUESDAY 237 - BURANO, ITALY

 
“The Creator made Italy from designs by Michelangelo.” – Mark Twain

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Burano is an island in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy; like Venice itself, it could more correctly be called an archipelago of four islands linked by bridges. It is situated near Torcello at the northern end of the Lagoon, and is widely known for its fine lace work, which is very expensive because it is extremely time-consuming to make.

Burano is also known for its small, brightly painted houses, which are popular with photographers and artists. The colours of the houses follow a specific system originating from the golden age of its development. If someone wishes to paint their home, one must send a request to the local government authority, which will respond by making notice of the certain colours permitted for that lot.

Other attractions include the Church of San Martino, with a leaning campanile and a painting by Giambattista Tiepolo (Crufixion, 1727), the Oratorio di Santa Barbara and the Museum and School of Lacemaking.

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Wednesday, 20 May 2020

CORONAVIRUS DIARIES IX

 
“If you don’t know how to die, don’t worry; Nature will tell you what to do on the spot, fully and adequately. She will do this job perfectly for you; don’t bother your head about it.” – Montaigne

The Coronavirus Verses

“Stop!” He said, “I’ve come to tell you
To prepare yourself for the journey
That you shall make but once.
Leave all behind,
And naked as you came into this world,
So shall you leave it.” 


“I am not ready yet…” She answered,
Come back in a little while,
For I still have much to do,
I need more time.”
 


“No, your time is up,
Your last journey must start now.” 


“Come then and take me now
For I have grown tired of this life;
The world that beckons from the great beyond
Is much more attractive,
More amenable to my weary soul,
Which yearns for respite.


This illness a God-sent gift
For those like me who crave eternal rest.
Make my demise swift and easy,
Snuff out my breath
As if it were a candle flame.”
 


“I am the messenger, so blame me not,
I come to grant you forgetfulness,
Peace, silence, sleep everlasting.
The black Angel follows in my footsteps,
He’ll be the one to carry you off.” 


“I welcome him, my friend,
And as I gaze into your awful face,
And as your frightful eyes bore into mine,
I am not afraid.


The day is nigh that I shall fall into
Your Master’s icy cold embrace,
Praying that my demise is a gentle slumber
Devoid of dreams,
My rest eternal.”


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Tuesday, 19 May 2020

TRAVEL TUESDAY 236 - FRASER ISLAND, AUSTRALIA

“I feel we are all islands - in a common sea.” - Anne Morrow Lindbergh 

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel.

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Fraser Island (K'Gari, Gari) is a heritage-listed island located along the southeastern coast of the state of Queensland, Australia. It is approximately 250 kilometres north of the state capital, Brisbane. Known as Fraser Island, it is a locality within the Fraser Coast local government in the Wide Bay–Burnett region.

Together with some satellite islands off the southern west coast and thus in the Great Sandy Strait, Fraser Island forms the County of Fraser, which is subdivided into six parishes. Among the islands are Slain Island, Tooth Island, Roundbush Island, Moonboom Island, Gardner Island, Dream Island, Stewart Island, and the Reef Islands, all part of the southernmost parish of Talboor.

Its length is about 120 kilometres and its width is approximately 24 kilometres. It was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1992. The island is considered to be the largest sand island in the world at 1,840 km2. It is also Queensland's largest island, Australia's sixth largest island and the largest island on the East Coast of Australia. It was formerly the homeland of the Butchulla tribe.

The island has rainforests, eucalyptus woodland, mangrove forests, wallum and peat swamps, sand dunes and coastal heaths. It is made up of sand that has been accumulating for approximately 750,000 years on volcanic bedrock that provides a natural catchment for the sediment which is carried on a strong offshore current northwards along the coast. Unlike on many sand dunes, plant life is abundant due to the naturally occurring mycorrhizal fungi present in the sand, which release nutrients in a form that can be absorbed by the plants.

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Tuesday, 12 May 2020

TRAVEL TUESDAY 235 - THE GRAMPIANS, AUSTRALIA

 
“I love a sunburnt country, A land of sweeping plains, Of ragged mountain ranges, Of droughts and flooding rains. I love her far horizons, I love her jewel-sea, Her beauty and her terror – The wide brown land for me!” ― Dorothea Mackellar

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel.

There is only one simple rule: Link your own creative work about some aspect of travel and share it with the rest of us. Please use this meme for your creative endeavours only.

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The Grampians National Park (also known by its Aboriginal name: Gariwerd), commonly referred to as The Grampians, is a national park located in the Grampians region of Victoria, Australia. The 167,219-hectare (413,210-acre) national park is situated between Stawell and Horsham on the Western Highway and Dunkeld on the Glenelg Highway, 260 kilometres west of Melbourne and 460 kilometres east of Adelaide. Proclaimed as a national park on 1 July 1984, the park was listed on the Australian National Heritage List on 15 December 2006 for its outstanding natural beauty and being one of the richest indigenous rock art sites in south-eastern Australia. The Grampians feature a striking series of sandstone mountain ranges.

Gariwerd and the Grampians National Park has been a popular destination for recreation and tourism since the middle of the nineteenth century. The extension of railways to nearby Stawell, Ararat and Dunkeld were an important factor in the mountains' increasing popularity in the early twentieth century; growing car ownership and the construction of tourist roads in the ranges during the 1920s were also significant. The Grampians is a famous rock climbing destination, with the first routes being established in the 1960s. Notable routes include The Wheel of Life (V15 / 35) and Groove Train which attract world class climbers.

To the Jardwadjali and Djab Wurrung peoples, Gariwerd was central to the dreaming of the creator, Bunjil, and buledji Brambimbula, the two brothers Bram, who were responsible for the creation and naming of many landscape features in western Victoria. Grampians National Park (Gariwerd) is one of the richest Indigenous rock art sites in south-eastern Australia and was listed on the National Heritage for its natural beauty and its past and continuing Aboriginal cultural associations. Motifs painted in numerous caves include depictions of humans, human hands, animal tracks and birds. The rock art was created by Jardwadjali and Djab Wurrung peoples, and while Aboriginal communities continue to pass on knowledge and cultural traditions, much indigenous knowledge has also been lost since European settlement of the area from 1840. The significance of the human handprints  at Gulgurn Manja is now unknown. 

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Tuesday, 5 May 2020

TRAVEL TUESDAY 234 - LIÈGE, BELGIUM

 
“Maybe from the outside, Belgium looks complicated to understand, but from the inside, actually, every country is complicated.” - Vincent Kompany

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel.

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Liège (Walloon: Lidje; Dutch: Luik, German: Lüttich), is a major Walloon city and municipality and the capital of the Belgian province of Liège. The city is situated in the valley of the Meuse River, in the east of Belgium, not far from borders with the Netherlands (Maastricht is about 33 km to the north) and with Germany (Aachen is about 53 km north-east).

At Liège the Meuse river meets the river Ourthe. The city is part of the sillon industriel, the former industrial backbone of Wallonia. It still is the principal economic and cultural centre of the region. The Liège municipality (i.e. the city proper) includes the former communes of Angleur, Bressoux, Chênée, Glain, Grivegnée, Jupille-sur-Meuse, Rocourt, and Wandre.

In November 2012, Liège had 198,280 inhabitants. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of 1,879 km2 and had a total population of 749,110 on 1 January 2008. This includes a total of 52 municipalities, among others, Herstal and Seraing. Liège ranks as the third most populous urban area in Belgium, after Brussels and Antwerp, and the fourth municipality after Antwerp, Ghent and Charleroi.

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Tuesday, 28 April 2020

TRAVEL TUESDAY 233 - CORONAVIRUS DIARIES VIII - AT HOME

 
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” - RobertFrost 

Here we all are, cooped up indoors, observing the isolation and social distancing guidelines. We are all protecting ourselves from the invisible enemy, hoping thus to win the battle against the dreaded Coronavirus. Suddenly, many things we all took for granted have been wrested from us – but then again, most of us did not put up much resistance and willingly let go: Any sane, logical, thinking and educated person gave up those things willingly. We stayed home and protected ourselves but also our friends, our neighbours, our workmates, the strangers that we encountered every day, our whole community.

We gave up our visits to concerts, sporting events, the hairdresser, the pub, friends’ houses. We stopped going to the beaches, the picnic grounds, the malls, the cafés, the restaurants. Seeing relatives in distant suburbs or other towns was not an option any longer, visiting the elderly in nursing homes and hospitals was forbidden. Schools and churches closed, and numerous restrictions were placed on a number of social gatherings, including funerals, weddings and other celebratory events. Anything “non-essential” was postponed or cancelled.

Moreover, travel for pleasure is completely out of the question. Airports are no-go zones, railway stations for interstate or international travel are all but closed, while ships have been shunned, cruising for pleasure being unthinkable given the extremely high number of infections and deaths due to COVID-19 on board. Thus, all of us who relish travel and jump at the opportunity to pack suitcases and fly off at every opportunity remain grounded, our wanderlust frustrated…

Home suddenly has become more than simply the place we come to in the evening and spend some time at, before we venture out into the wide world again the next morning. Home is the place that we live in all the time, really live in, all of the sudden. The place where we eat, sleep, interact with family/housemates, where we amuse ourselves, where we must do things that we used to do elsewhere. Some of us cope better than others with this housebound existence. Some of us worked at home even before this crisis. Some of us are homebodies in any case. But those who lived out there for work, for pleasure, for socialisation, for meals are suddenly thrown into the deep end of the “home” and it is no wonder that they are disgruntled, bored, angry, stir-crazy.

Yet, we must be grateful for having that home to take refuge in. Think of the thousands of homeless people who must weather the pandemic any way they can. How many of those unfortunates will succumb to the virus? Think of the refugees, the institutionalised, the transients, the prisoners, the elderly confined in aged care facilities. All of those who are sitting ducks, extremely susceptible to becoming infected and possibly dying of COVID-related illnesses. Home is becoming a very attractive place even for those who spent precious little time in it under normal circumstances.

I, as a person who has travelled a lot, as an inveterate traveller if you like, am also a bit of a homebody. I enjoy being at home and never get bored here, my varied interests, multitudinous hobbies, countless projects and numerous pastimes fill every available slot of my time. Even when I travelled constantly in the past, every time I came back home, a surge of bliss filled my being. “Home, sweet, home” was all I could think of, never mind how exotic the place that I had just visited was, no matter how good a time I had had, no matter what interesting things I had seen, great people that I met, or marvellous experiences that I had had.

Now, at home, I am enjoying my “confinement”. Enjoy yours, take it as a holiday. Do things at home that you would do while travelling: Dress for dinner, organise special activities, surprise yourself and others. Become an armchair traveller in your own living room: Watch travel documentaries, see your old travel photo albums again, watch your travel videos, reminisce on good times you had while away with your family, housemates. And of course, visit the links below where fellow travellers drag their old snapshots from the archives to kindly share with us…

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Thursday, 23 April 2020

CORONAVIRUS DIARIES VII

 
“How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!
She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: Among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: All her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies.” – Lamentations of Jeremiah the Prophet 1:1-2 


Yesterday afternoon I had to go into the City for work. I took my car in as the traffic was light and a parking spot was provided for me. In these days of COVID-19, the roads have become a pleasure to drive in and the traffic jams of a couple of months ago have disappeared. Add to that the tumbling price of petrol, which we have not seen the likes of for decades! To drive for pleasure would be good, were it not for the “Stay Home” directive, which most people (I, included) observe. Driving nowadays means going to work (if one can do that!), or alternatively go out for shopping (locally!) or other specified activities that observe the social distancing rules.

In the evening, after work, driving back home was also easy to do, even in the gloaming as the streets were all but deserted. I decided not to take the freeway home as driving in the deserted City was a strange thing, which I wanted to experience. Strange and unusual soon became disturbing and depressing. The empty streets, the few cars, the occasional tram – that too almost empty – gave me the willies. The darkness falling and the street lights eerily shining on the clear tarmac and the desolate pavements put me in a mood of despondency and melancholy. The radio started to play the lovely aria from Bizet’s “Pearl Fishers”, “Je Crois Entendre Encore”, which further heightened my dolefulness, my nostalgia of pleasanter times past.

Going past the Victoria Market, not a soul was to be seen in its brightly illuminated and empty covered corridors and arcades. The major hospitals that I drove by next had illuminated windows and I knew well what life and death struggles were being played there every second, every day. The University buildings across Royal Parade were dark and the students that normally walked in droves around the grounds and surrounding streets were absent. The pubs – their usual haunts – across the way, they too empty and dark. I turned into College Crescent and on my left the Cemetery loomed large, it too dark and gloomy. How many COVID victims had been interred there? How many more till this pandemic peters out?

As I turned into the smaller streets that I usually follow from habit, avoiding the main thoroughfare that leads to the freeway and which in the past was teeming with bumper-to-bumper traffic I became aware of a curious activity on the roads. Bicycles, scooters, motorbikes zooming up and down the streets, each driven by a masked and gloved rider, each carrying a large cubic box in the back. I looked more closely and yes, they were the food delivery workers from the take away food shops. Earning their wages perilously, risking life and limb on their flimsy, ill-balanced conveyances, endangering their health by possibly exposing themselves to the virus, taking their chances on encountering a mean or violent customer. I thanked fate that my work was safe, secure and low-risk on all counts…

The nearer I drove to home, the greater the darkness and the more marked the deserted appearance on the roads. The radio new bulletin began. It was then I heard of the fatal accident on the Eastern Freeway. Yes, the one that I avoided that evening… Apparently, the driver of a black Porsche was pulled over for speeding near the Burke Road exit at Kew during a routine check at about 5.40 pm. The driver was allegedly speeding at about 140 km/h when he was pulled over. A fluid test was conducted, allegedly returning a positive result for drugs. Two officers called for back-up from colleagues and were preparing to impound the car when a semi-trailer ploughed into the group. The crash killed four police officers while the Porsche driver (a mortgage broker, who was on bail – as I learned later) left the scene of the accident on foot. Today the driver was apprehended and is in police custody, while the semi-trailer driver is in hospital, supposedly having suffered a medical episode on the road.

I was out driving for work today, doing something that is allowed under the current COVID restrictions. It is conceivable that I could have been on that freeway, going home and I too could have been involved in an accident with a car driven by another driver who had no business being on the road. All these past weeks, I have been staying home, doing what every sensible, community-minded person does. Yet we hear every day of idiots who flout the restrictions and party, hold social gatherings, organise dinner parties, go out on joy rides, irresponsibly putting the lives of others at risk. And they can kill, through these actions of theirs: If it is not through infecting other with COVID, it is through their brainless behaviour such as this driver who set in motion a series of events that robbed the lives of four police officers, who in these difficult and trying times were out there protecting us.

COVID has changed the world. It has brought out the best and the worst in people. I daily see people doing the right thing, or even going out of their way to help others. There are emergency workers such as ambulance personnel, firefighters, police; health workers: Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, diagnosticians, laboratory technicians; supermarket employees, essential services shop staff, cleaners, rubbish removers, security staff, and so many others who risk their lives in order to prevent more infections and deaths in our community. Ordinary people who have lost their jobs or have been placed on leave, are staying home, doing the right thing. Elderly people who have isolated themselves willingly and have been missing their family and friends, not daring to go out of their house. Children at home, learning remotely by teleconference.

Then there are the irresponsible and egotistical nincompoops who defy everything and flaunt every rule and regulation. They who carry on as usual (or worse!), not fearing the virus, placing their trust in God (not remembering that God helps those who help themselves!), or embracing Lady Luck (gamblers never win, do they?), or having the egomaniac’s mentality of “it could never happen to me – I am SPECIAL!”. The lamebrained who turn to alcohol or drugs to allay boredom, or seek nirvana, or shirk responsibility, or wallow in some chemically-induced stupor that distances them from a painful reality. Yes, they too suffer in the end, they are harmed, but through their thoughtless actions, how many innocents are harmed also?

Four families today are mourning four dead: They were sons, brothers, fathers, daughter, wife, mother, partners, workmates. Four dead police officers who never went home last night, whom their families will never see again. The man who caused the situation that put them in mortal danger, the man who ultimately was so intimately involved in their needless death walked away unharmed, ran away and hid – but not before taking explicit photographs of the carnage he left behind him and which photographs he posted on social media. The same man talked idly about the accident in a chemist shop the following day. Seeking fame? Seeking social approbation? Am I looking for reason, a rational explanation for such actions in the few irrational neurones that man possesses?

We have living amongst us many sociopaths. Every day their actions and words chip away at our society, everyday they demolish our social mores, brick by brick. Their fellow sociopaths observe them and “like” their sickening, mindless posts on social media. Disgusting displays of antisocial behaviour become viral on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Yes, Twitter has been a means of publicising the workings of the dark, labyrinthine, irrational and warped minds of many a sociopath – even if they are rich, famous, or the holders of offices of great responsibility, power, influence and prestige…

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

TRAVEL TUESDAY 232 - BRIGHTON UK

“The highest form of bliss is living with a certain degree of folly.” ― Erasmus

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel.

There is only one simple rule: Link your own creative work about some aspect of travel and share it with the rest of us. Please use this meme for your creative endeavours only.

Do not use this meme to advertise your products or services as any links or comments by advertisers shall be removed immediately.
Brighton is a seaside resort on the south coast of England. It is part of the ceremonial county of East Sussex, within the historic county of Sussex. Archaeological evidence of settlement in the area dates back to the Bronze Age, Roman The town’s importance grew in the Middle Ages as the Old Town developed, but it languished in the early modern period, affected by foreign attacks, storms, a suffering economy and a declining population. Brighton began to attract more visitors following improved road transport to London and becoming a boarding point for boats travelling to France. 

The town also developed in popularity as a health resort for sea bathing as a purported cure for illnesses. In the Georgian era, Brighton developed as a fashionable seaside resort, encouraged by the patronage of the Prince Regent, later King George IV, who spent much time in the town and constructed the Royal Pavilion in the Regency era. Brighton continued to grow as a major centre of tourism following the arrival of the railways in 1841, becoming a popular destination for day-trippers from London. 

The Royal Pavilion, also known as the Brighton Pavilion, is a former royal residence located in Brighton, England. Beginning in 1787, it was built in three stages as a seaside retreat for George, Prince of Wales, who became the Prince Regent in 1811. It is built in the Indo-Saracenic style prevalent in India for most of the 19th century. The current appearance of the Pavilion, with its domes and minarets, is the work of architect John Nash, who extended the building starting in 1815. Between 1815 and 1822 the designer John Nash redesigned and greatly extended the Pavilion, and it is his work that is still visible today. 

The palace is striking in the middle of Brighton, as its Indo-Islamic exterior is unique. The fanciful interior design, primarily by Frederick Crace and the little-known decorative painter Robert Jones, was heavily influenced by both Chinese and Indian fashion (with Mughal and Islamic architectural elements). It is a prime example of the exoticism that was an alternative to more classicising mainstream taste in the Regency style.
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Wednesday, 15 April 2020

CORONAVIRUS DIARIES VI

“Before you call yourself a Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or a believer of any other theology, learn to be human first.” ― Shannon L. Alder

I recently found myself in the emergency department of one of our major public hospitals in Melbourne at 4:30 a.m. I was accompanying someone who had need of assistance (no, not COVID-19!). The place was deserted at that time and we were seen to immediately after a rapid and efficient triage. The set-up was impressive and the care given was exemplary. Six hours later, the person I was accompanying had been seen by nurses, doctors, radiographers, had been given appropriate medication that relieved her acute, severe pain and was ready to be discharged. She had been given a prescription, and the first lot of suitable medication to last her a couple of weeks, but also a referral to see a specialist and have some more imaging done, all within the next two weeks.

At that point in time I thanked my lucky stars that I am living in a country where in the midst of a pandemic that is causing havoc in most countries around the world, I could still rely on our public health care system to deliver timely, efficient and effective emergency intervention. There was adequate, appropriate diagnostic equipment, care by experienced and courteous medical professionals and also immediate access to medication that relieved excruciating algesic symptoms.

Up till now, in Australia, our intensive care facilities have been able to cope with the increased demand that has been placed on them with the COVID-19 cases. At the time I am writing this, Australia still has a relatively low rate of infection and fewer deaths than other countries of a similar development status. Diagnosed Coronavirus cases here presently are: 6,447, while total nymber of deaths is: 63, with recovered cases: 3,686. The death rate per million population in Australia is 2 per million, compared say to Italy, 348 per million population, or USA, 79 per million population. The response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Australia was drastic, timely and universal. This proved to be a life-saving intervention.

We still have an effective public health system, despite the increased demands placed on it by our ageing population and the decreased funding it receives. One of the reasons it remains effective is because of the dedication, conscientiousness and professionalism of our health care workers. Paramedics, orderlies, nurses, doctors, diagnosticians, laboratory workers, specialists, surgeons, physical therapists, dieticians, cleaners, kitchen staff, etc, etc, all of these people who work within our public health care system, deserve our appreciation and gratitude for a hard job done well.

Unfortunately, though, we still have a problem in that many health care workers are being subjected to abuse, verbal and physical, by the people they are desperately trying to help. Seeing someone doing their best to save someone’s life and at the same trying trying to defend themselves from abusive behaviour is more than disheartening. One questions the norms of the society we live in, the kind of behaviours that people are raised to believe are “normal”, the types of persons out there that find it “OK” to shout obscenities at paramedics, physically abuse nurses, refuse to co-operate with doctors.

I was talking about this with a friend of mine who is a medical specialist. He said that many of the violent patients that are encountered in a health care setting are on drugs or have psychological or behavioural problems. In their minds, whatever they do is excusable because of their “problem” and later, when they sober up or realise what they have done, they cite their “problem” as an excuse and expect instant and absolute forgiveness. Fortunately, legislation is changing nowadays and that type of excuse is becoming untenable. If you commit a crime and you are high on drugs, you will be punished to the full extent of the law, while “being on drugs” is no longer a valid defence.

We live in a strange world. Times have changed rapidly and people behave in quite disturbing and extremely selfish and antisocial ways. The values of typical, large, post-industrial Western societies have deteriorated, and unchecked capitalism seems to have created a mindset where all is possible, all is allowable all is excusable if one has money. The pursuit of wealth has become the be-all and end-all of existence and our humanity has suffered as a result. Rampant development, widespread exploitation of resources, unthinking consumerism and pullulating globalisation have created massive social, economic, moral and ethical problems.

Perhaps we did need a wake-up call of the order of a pandemic. Perhaps COVID was a necessary evil that we desperately needed in order to stop, rethink our existence, and if we survive through it, change our lives for the better. Perhaps we needed this worldwide emergency to highlight everything that is wrong with our modern civilisation. Perhaps we needed to be afraid, very afraid, of our individual future, and contemplate our own untimely and rapid death in order to consider the survival of our species, the good of our society, the repercussions of our actions on others – people, animals, plants, society, ecosystems, the planet…

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

TRAVEL TUESDAY 231 - TAJ MAHAL, INDIA

“India has always had a strange way with her conquerors. In defeat, she beckons them in, then slowly seduces, assimilates and transforms them.” ― William Dalrymple

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel.

There is only one simple rule: Link your own creative work about some aspect of travel and share it with the rest of us. Please use this meme for your creative endeavours only.

Do not use this meme to advertise your products or services as any links or comments by advertisers shall be removed immediately.
The Taj Mahal (Persian for ‘Crown of Palaces’) is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (reigned 1628–1658), to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The tomb is the centrepiece of a 42-acre complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall.

Construction of the mausoleum was essentially completed in 1643 but work continued on other phases of the project for another 10 years. The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed in its entirety in 1653 at a cost estimated at the time to be around 32 million rupees, which in 2015 would be approximately 52.8 billion rupees (US$827 million). The construction project employed some 20,000 artisans under the guidance of a board of architects led by the court architect to the emperor, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.

The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”. Described by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore as “the tear-drop on the cheek of time”, it is regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture and a symbol of India's rich history. The Taj Mahal attracts 7–8 million visitors a year. In 2007, it was declared a winner of the ‘New 7 Wonders of the World’ (2000–2007) initiative.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday,
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Tuesday, 7 April 2020

TRAVEL TUESDAY 230 - SITHONIA, GREECE

“On a summer night, I have sat on the balcony drinking ouzo, watching the ghosts of Greek heroes sailing past, listening to the rustle of their sail cloths and the gentle lapping of their oars.” - Phil Simpkin 

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel.

There is only one simple rule: Link your own creative work about some aspect of travel and share it with the rest of us. Please use this meme for your creative endeavours only.

Do not use this meme to advertise your products or services as any links or comments by advertisers shall be removed immediately.
Sithonia (Greek: Σιθωνία), also known as Longos, is a peninsula of Chalkidiki, which itself is located on a larger peninsula within Northern Greece. The Kassandra Peninsula lies to the west of Sithonia and the Mount Athos peninsula to the east. The neareest big city is Thessaloniki to the Northwest.

Sithonia is also a municipality, covering the Sithonia peninsula. The seat of the municipality is the town Nikiti.Spathies Beach is typical of the beaches in this region, with crystal clear waters and pine trees that come down almost to the water. The beach is about 44 km southeast of Polygyros and south of Nikiti. 

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.


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