View Photos of Sailaway Poolside BBQ: CLICK HERE
View Photos of Sailaway Poolside BBQ: CLICK HERE
View photos: CLICK HERE
He says that it’s a good sign because fog keeps the sand from blowing over the Great Namib Desert and spoiling the view of the red dunes and other surreal landscapes from the air.
Nearly two thirds of the days on this 18-day cruise on ‘Silver Wind’ from Las Palmas to Cape Town are spent ‘at sea’, simply sailing, and that’s the whole attraction.
In hindsight, I’d repeat the experience, but not for the ports included on the itinerary. They are by and large – forgettable! Maybe a trans-Pacific cruise in the future would give me plenty of ‘sea days’?
The big surprise in ports has been the Cape Verde Islands, about 300miles off the bulge of West Africa in the Atlantic. I had high hopes for Dakar in Senegal that weren’t realised, and other than being able to say “When I was in Ghana”, that visit to Takoradi was simply a lost day.
High hopes for Namibia tomorrow though
Life on board . . . to come
iew Photos – CLICK HERE
The sound of cutting through calm seas is soothing whether propped up on two soft pillows in the cabin or stretched out on a towel with a book reclining in the shade on deck. And, a pot of tea or a cool drink is only a lift of the finger away.
Position of the sun gives me a clue as to the time of day. However, in these waters off the West Coast of Africa, the loss of satellite signal for cable News channels takes away any clue as to the day of the week.
If the Ship’s Bulletin lists the Rabbi’s gathering, so then it must be Friday; and when stock prices are not listed, it must be the weekend. But trying to recall if either was the previous day or two days ago is futile.
Imagine. When I find one of the enrichment lectures by a conservationist, who talks of his traipsing all over the Gobi Desert in search of a threatened specie of camel, so interesting, it must serve as some indication that I’ve reached a plateau of contentment.
All I need to do now is throw the laptop overboard.
I have this vision of straight-backed women walking through aisles of colourful local produce, yellow bananas and red tomatoes overflowing from tables in the Market just waiting me to come and seek permission to snap away.
So far from the truth!
I’m up early for breakfast on the aft deck to watch the ship berth, and yes, I do go into Takoradi on the first shuttle bus expecting to be dazzled by the colours of the famed Market Circle.
Maybe I was too early, but as I pick my way over broken footpaths outside dilapidated buildings, and gingerly negotiate open drains choked with plastic, blasting music assaults my ears. All I see is lots of dried fish being stacked on trays by not so friendly locals, and a few baskets of tomatoes and piles of hulled coconuts and huge yams. I get into trouble for photographing a pile of oranges smelling in the heat on the footpath. “Permission!” One lady screams as she appears from nowhere as if brandishing a machete, and I my make a quick retreat back to the shuttle bus.
Children in school uniforms look fresh, and again, it’s the ladies who seem more industrious than the men. Unfortunately, unlike the very elegant and proud Creole women in the Cape Verde Islands, these poor souls look beaten. Perhaps the men are away working on the oilrigs or in the manganese mines, but the ones I see here are sweaty layabouts.
Wonderful for photos, but a small sweaty policeman in crisp uniform stops me, officiously warning with trumped-up importance that it’s an offence.
Back to the taxi to find Adam with his head under the bonnet, stripping cables and twisting wires together trying to get the car started. And we have less than an hour to before the ship sets sail for Namibia!
Edmundo keeps his cool, but I fear he’s silently conjuring up how he’ll eventually tell this story of a shore trip that he didn’t want to make in the first place.
View Photos CLICK HERE
View Photos. CLICK HERE
The colonial town centre of Praia is on a plateau with colourful ancient buildings and monuments attesting to the Portuguese past, but today the Creole population and lifestyle is more akin to that of West Africa. Women carry everything from vegetables to fruit and fish on their heads, and witnessing this colourful local custom adds special attraction to our visit to the Municipal Markets in the centre of town.
View Photos CLICK HERE
A day of dramatic peaks, valleys and volcano, ending up with fresh fish right from the fishermen’s boats that come in through the surf to sell their catch on the sand outside the restaurant for lunch.
View Photos – CLICK HERE.
We board the ‘Silver Wind’ at lunch time and then have two days at sea before our first ports of call in the Cape Verde islands; Porto Novo on Santo Antão, and then Praia on Isla de Santiago. Dakar Senegal the next day is the first port in Africa. Going ashore on three days in a row – oh well!
But then I have three more days at sea before Takoradi in Ghana. I’ll know a lot more about the history of the slave trade, greed and human misery after visits to these West African centres. I’d always imagined that it was the Americans who started this inhumane transportation, but I’m already learning that European powers did battle for supremacy in the seaports along the West African coast and in the Cape Verde Islands from as early as the 15th century to get the upper hand. Stronger African tribal chiefs also profiteered by capturing people from weaker communities and selling them to the Europeans.
I can dwell on this sailing on down the coast for four more lazy sea days before hitting Namibia with the Skeleton Coast and high sand hills, and finally, Cape Town in South Africa.
More photos to follow when internet speed improves
About an hour’s drive from Milan this 15th century Monastery that used to house a cloistered monastic order of Carthusian monks rises from the fog to greet us in the early morning. We are in time for Mass in one of the smaller decorated chapels.
Later a monk from Eritrea walks us through the snow-covered cloisters into the locked Holy of Holies in the main Basilica, which shares the same architect as the Cathedral of Milan. Stained glass, and ceilings coloured blue with powdered lapis lazuli are but small first things that grab the eye as we enter this cavernous structure, an example of Renaissance architecture.
The sun is starting to break through as we get to the Sunday Markets in the university town of Pavia. Tastes of local salami and cheeses at the stalls has me ready for good antipasti for lunch.
But it’s seafood that I settle on. Fishermen friends of the owners of the trattoria make a stop here in Pavia every morning on their way to the Fish Markets in Milan to deliver them the freshest seafood, straight from the seas around Puglia. Homemade Scialatielli alla Pescatora is my pasta dish, leaving barely sufficient appetite for the grilled scampi. I miss the extra garlic and a touch of chilli that I’m now accustomed to with Walter at La Vecchia Cucina in Sydney. A jug of local Puglia white wine, so light and frizzante tops off the simple meal.
In the afternoon, a visit to a Monet Exhibition in the 14th century Castlello Visconteo in Pavia completes a perfect winter’s Sunday. I learn from Monet . . .
First day of Summer in Australia, but very much my first day of Winter here in Italy.
Love that smell of the cold as I emerge into the aerobridge at Malpensa Airport. But very soon, it’s the feeling of creeping cold seeping through to my bones in the Airport car park that has me rummaging in my luggage to retrieve my good old NZ possum and merino jacket.
Driving into Milan as the early morning grey becomes steelier and more sinister, the only light becomes the occasional flashing yellow sign ‘Neve’, a warning of snow for motorists. Doesn’t take long for the rain to change to sticky little patches of white splattering the windows.
All precipitation has stopped by the time I wake and step out to dinner in an authentic little Sicilian trattoria on Via Savona. The simple cuisine of Sicily has a sweetness rather than spice. I can leave the spleen tasting like fattier aerated slices of fried liver, but enjoy the slices of raw tuna and swordfish, smoked instead of the sashimi that I’m accustomed to. Home made pasta with squid is a pretty tasteless affair, simply filling. Crushed almonds in with the breadcrumbs on a breaded veal cutlet with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of salt, makes for a plain but wonderful main meal.
And so back to the Principe di Savoia Hotel for a good night’s rest.
Thank you Wilbur’s manager, Anthony, for the bowl of chips, the juice in a paper cup, sensibly presented with a lid on, and then the ice cream with cooking-chocolate bits added to amuse ‘the child’, and finally the babycino. And not a broken glass or plate in the whole evening.
“It’s so funny”, says ‘the child’.
After the Mass, one parishioner tearfully summed-up the experience recalling his late wife always saying, “you’ll know you’re in heaven when you hear the music!”
As we arrive at Gerhard’s in Kurrajong Heights, the rains came, and thank God they went, allowing the visitors to traipse down through the soggy green grass around the dams, and through the gardens of Gerhard’s Blue Mountains property..
All the while, the big leg of lamb that he had put in the oven on low heat earlier this morning is cooking to a tender loveliness. And the addition of tomato and onion to the rosemary garnish adds such great flavour to the juices that I’m soaking the slices of meat in before putting on the sandwiches.
Yes, hot roast lamb – on a sandwich, but not an ordinary sandwich. Warmed, crusty soft bialys from my favourite Langkelly Place diner, Wilbur’s, and lashings of Agnes Stuart’s ‘Royal Show’ chutney, make for a most delicious repast – with a fresh salad, lettuce from the garden, of course.
On the way home, we take tourist Bill to see the Francis Greenway Anglican Church in the small early settlement town of Windsor. In the churchyard, it’s even more interesting to see a grave of one of the convicts who arrived in Australia on a ship of the First Fleet.
It’s almost impossible to better the experience of a beachside table at Doyle’s Beach Restaurant – Established 1885 in Watson’s Bay.
Doyle’s is a bit of a tourist trap, but if I manage to land one of the beachside tables a couple of metres from the sand and sea, it’s worth paying them to let us sit down! And now that they’re finally accepting the American Express Card, I will be back.
The famous Australian whiting was on the menu today – you can’t go past it for delicate flavour, and I love that dash of brown vinegar to dip it in as a change from the tartare sauce.
Portofino! Villefranche-sur-Mer! Sydney!
Railaco Children’s Feeding Program:
Simply routine for long-time volunteer, Christina and the novices from the convent nearby to the Railaco Mission, but there’s many a heart-wrenching moment for city slickers like us unfamiliar with being at the ‘coal face’ and witnessing the gratitude of little children in this Railaco Feeding Program in three remote mountain villages.NIne years ago, motherly instincts ignited fellow-traveller Sue’s passion for doing something about the dreadful malnutrition and undersized babies that she saw on her first visit here. It was incomprehensible to her seeing goats that weren’t being milked and chickens producing eggs, such great sources of protein, that wasn’t being used to feed the children.
The opportunity to provide education of this most basic nature, coupled with finding a way to provide a nutritious meal for these children could not be ignored. This imperative emboldened a support group, recently formed by Fr Steve at the St Canice’s Jesuit parish in Sydney to stand in solidarity with modern-day missionaries like Filipino doctor and Jesuit Fr Bong, and others to provide funding for the existing Jesuit Mission in Railaco to do the job.
Eight years later, volunteer nurse Christina is still running the Children’s Feeding Program in Railaco Mission preparing and taking a nutritious meal to children in three villages three times a week.
And we were privileged enough to tag along.
CLICK HERE to view Picasa Photo Album
Click arrow to play video.
I was a special guest at the Shiffers, close neighbours from a previous apartment building in Double Bay, Bibaringa, last night for the Jewish evening home ritual to ‘welcome the Shabbat’.
fter working hard for six days, following God, we welcome the seventh day for rest.
What’s happened to that ‘day of rest’ in this modern world?
After being initiated in this Jewish of Jewish traditions by a Jewish Jesuit in Jerusalem last week, and visiting the synagogue for the evening service, there was even greater significance in being part of this ritual in a Jewish home here in Sydney. While at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, I picked up two yarmulkes, the Jewish skull caps, and brought them back for Sidney and me to wear on this occasion.
As I mentioned in my recent blog, it’s hard to believe that it’s taken 71 years of my otherwise ‘worldly’ pursuits before participating in this special Jewish tradition. I can’t blame my education, and disregard of other Faith traditions solely on ‘blinkered’ Irish nuns – they were out of my life more than half a century ago.
But better late than never!
Just been to M & S and love the ease of their prepared baked gammon (especially in a strange kitchen) – just slip it in the oven . . . some grilled pineapple and a salad (hope he has oil and vinegar!)
Will that do?
PHOTOS: Click here to view
St Augustine says “He who sings prays twice”, and I can tell you that witnessing these special moments, influenced me to stop, and at least say a pray, once . . . on each of these occasions.
At the Greek Melkite Catholic Church inside the Old City in Jerusalem on Sunday, both the Byzantine Mass ,and the singing were in Arabic.
For an added treat on this my last morning in Jerusalem . . at the end of the Mass, a visiting group of pilgrims sang a rousing hymn to Mary – “Star of the Sea, I salute you” “He Who Sings, Prays Twice” – in German.
Click on arrow to view 2-minute YouTube video