A Silent Contemplation – The Łódź Jewish Cemetery

Why do I find such peace and mindfulness walking in cemeteries? Over the years I have learned that many people do. I also have my own favourites. Père Lachaise in Paris and Highgate in London. But since I visited The Warsaw Jewish Cemetery, I have come to understand, that nowhere else you will find… that special mood.

Jewish Cemeteries have a beauty of their own. They are all abandoned, and speak of a deep sadness over the dead souls and over all sons and daughters lost. There is no one left to care for the graves.

Ivy clad and hidden – and the silence is complete.

The Łódź Jewish Cemetery, also known as the New Jewish Cemetery, was once the largest Jewish cemetery in Poland, and one of the largest in the world. It was opened in 1892 and occupies around 44 hectares of land.

According to Wikipedia, the cemetery contains from 180,000 to 230,000 marked graves, as well as mass graves of victims of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto and the Holocaust.

Out in the open, the many names stood facing the sun. Maybe even more impressive seen in black, from behind.

From 1893 to 1896, the basic construction of the necropolis was completed by the well-known architect Adolf Zeligson.Today over a hundred of historical grave sites have been declared historical monuments and are in various stages of restoration. The cemetery also continues to function as a Jewish burial site.

The mausoleum of Izrael Poznański is perhaps the largest Jewish tombstone in the world and the only one containing decorative mosaic. It is towering like a white elephant over the old stones…

…But I prefer the little things…the ornate carvings and the rusty old fences…

And, the intense stillness and beauty. Thank you for walking with me.

 

Annonser

600 Years and More – of Wisdom and Beauty

They say oak trees grow for 300 years, and stay in their glory for another 300 years, and then decay and die their last 300 years.

One of my favourite places to meet a 600 years old friend, is Gökalv in Blekinge, Sweden.

We have many things to talk about, and I have learned so much about life from him. He may be rugged to touch, but his wrinkles are mild and forgiving.

I visited last week again, and found him standing there as usual, waiting for me. This time in splendid evening light.

His advice I always follow – stay true to yourself and help others to do the same. Be kind and helpful to all living beings on this earth. That is why we are here together.

When I looked at my photos, now uploaded…I realized his voice was not just in my head or in my mind –

 

 

Galápagos – Floreana, Santa Cruz – Dragon Hill

Floreana is best known for its colourful history of buccaneers, whalers, convicts and early colonists. In fact our guide told us the most horrible stories of intrigues, mass murder and strange colonists…Hard to believe, but in fact the stories are true. At least three books were written about this, and I bought and read the one Juan preferred: The Galápagos Affair by John Treherne.

Galapagos 3 and 4 580_copyI really loved the Palo Santo trees. They seem to cover the whole island, making it look very arid – but also very beautiful, sculptural and silver shimmering.

Galapagos 3 and 4 654_copyThe shore line is very jagged, and even here the Palo Santo rules.

Galapagos 3 and 4 581_copy

The beach is full of shells and not that pleasant to walk on, but in the waters you will find Brown Pelicans swimming and diving, Blue Footed Boobies and also…

Galapagos 3 and 4 666_copy

…the endemic Galápagos Penguin, a smooth swimmer in the bay. Further inland, along the paths, we surprisingly found more colours – astonishing!

Galapagos 3 and 4 596_copyThe volcano has been long extinct, and is now eroding, supporting the vegetation with important nutrients.

Galapagos 3 and 4 609_copyThe Palo Santo would be all green in a couple of weeks…according to Juan, our guide. I loved these silvery trees, but it would be a dream to visit when they are green as well. Mimosa grows here too – just imagine everything here green and yellow!

Galapagos 3 and 4 676_copy

We had to stop at Post Office Bay, where whaling Captain James Colnett established the wooden post barrel in 1793. In fact the first post office in Ecuador. Here, the outbound ships would drop off letters and returning ships would pick them up and mail them. In fact people still do! Tourist ships let their passengers post letters and cards, and then bring home the mail possible to hand over when in your home country. We brought home one letter to a family on Gotland.

Next post will be the last one from these enigmatic islands: Santiago and Genovesa.

Landscapes of the Galápagos Islands – San Cristobal and Española

San Cristobal is the easternmost island of Galápagos and also the oldest one. Eroded volcanic peaks in the northern part of the island, and rich vegetation in the southern part.

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is the provincial capital and the second largest settlement in the islands.

We anchored in the harbour and walked down the beach to see animals and humans enjoying the evening, peacefully, together.

Galapagos 3 and 4 013_copy

Next stop – Española – the southernmost and also the oldest of the southern islands. Here a wide range of endemic species evolved.

This became our favourite island of the archipelago. Why? Because it perfectly matched our imagination of what the Galápagos islands would look like! And, it is home to the Waved Albatros – this magnificent, endemic, giant. We saw their mating dance and saw them waddle clumsily to the cliff and off…just to ”own” the air! I dare say Walt Disney managed to portray this bird very accurately in his movie…

Our magnificent day on Española ended in splendid evening sun, and,  as usual,

Galapagos 3 and 4 396_copy

our Cachalote and her crew were waiting for us to come back with the pangas.

Galapagos 3 and 4 412_copy

I wish you all a Good Night !

Galapagos 3 and 4 044_copy

Landscapes of the Galápagos Islands

The Galápagos Islands are of volcanic origin, and situated in the Pacific Ocean, about 100km east of mainland Ecuador. There are 19 larger islands, 42 islets and and numerous emerging rocks. Five of the islands are inhabited, and the population is around 25000.

Last December, we got the opportunity to visit 10 of these islands, and M/S Cachalote was our home for 8 days. I have posted about our journey on my blog Leya, so now I also want to show you some of the magnificent landscapes out here in the archipelago.

Let us start with Santa Cruz, where the giant tortoises live in the wild of the lush highlands. This island is the most populated island and Puerto Ayora a most charming town.

The islands are known for their vast number of endemic species and were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle, as his observations and collections contributed to his theory of evolution by natural selection. The Charles Darwin Station has a Giant Tortoise and a Land Iguana breeding program, and also a program for saving the Mangrove Finch.

Next stop was two tiny islands uplifted from the sea – Islas Plazas. Here the landscape is rather flat, and the tall opuntias are impressive. The ground is covered in carpet weed, portulaca, castela and grabowskia. Iguanas eat opuntias and portulaca.

On the beach the big male rules his hareem of ladies…but there was also a Sea Lion bachelor colony where the young males slept lazily in the sun, only giving us a brief one eye glimpse…saying: ”not interesting at all”…

Amazonas 2 och Galapagos 1 787_copy

More sunbathing – this giant male of Marine Iguana was really impressive. He had found a spectacular place to show off his dominance.

Amazonas 2 och Galapagos 1 785_copy

Endemic species everywhere – and the next stop, Santa Fé, one of the smaller, older islands, is no exception.  Here the trail is steep and uneven, and you are surrounded by tall Opuntias, Palo Santo, salt bush, yellow cordia, thorn shrub and more. Mocking birds are different on each island, just like the lava lizards. The Galapagos Hawk was vigilant, but did not bother about us wanting him to lift and spread his wings.

After one more interesting day, we returned to Cachalote, patiently waiting in the lagoon. The crew taking care of us as if we were their children…

I wonder what tonight´s dinner will bring?

Amazonas 2 och Galapagos 1 971_copy

Ziga, Baztan – Natural, Yet Sophisticated

In Navarra, Spain, there is a green valley of rolling hills where I left a piece of my heart.

We stayed a couple of days at Casa rural Zigako Etxezuria.

Everything here so neat and clean, rustic and authentic. Our hosts were genuinely kind and helpful with everything from sightseeing to choosing the right thing from the menu.The gastronomic traditions of Navarre makes eating a social event and all products come from the local farmers. Furthermore, Chefs from Navarre are among the most prestigious in the world of Nouvelle Cuisine.

After a delicious meal, it is time for a walk through the charming little village!

Navarra region is one of the regions with the highest quality of life indicators in Spain. And one of the greatest joys for me was all the farm animals – so many horses, cows, sheep, cats, dogs, hens and donkeys – and they were all well kept. Although some cats seemed to lead a rough life…

The last evening I had some difficulty in handling my feelings. Ziga and all its inhabitants had gone straight to my heart. I could live and die here. So I went out in the misty night to think.

Of all the places I have been to during my travelling years, I guess Ziga in Baztan, Navarre is the one that reminds me the most of my childhood at my grandmother’s and grandfather’s. All the animals I grew up with and the kindness and authenticity of the people. The landscape is of course even more beautiful here among the green hills, but still…

In the morning I waited for him to say goodbye…but I knew he would not come. I am glad we once met.

He Discovered Me – Love at First Sight

In the little village of Ziga,  Navarra, Spain, I met him.

He discovered me already the first day at the hotel door.

Our eyes met, and it was instant Love, and it was mutual.

”Follow me”, he said, and I do not know who followed who that short day…

He led the way at an elegant, fleeting pace, played around with this little boy, and then …

…inspected many interesting smells along the road. But still keeping an eye on me.

I noticed his red necklace and was happy that he surely had an owner. An owner who cared for his well being –

Because obviously he was well nourished – greatly loved by someone, someone more than me…

I kept telling him how handsome he was – and he liked it. I gently touched his ears and face, and he jumped up on the stone fences and posed for me – like a Best in Show dog…

As both he and I knew the tour was coming to an end, I just had to take a close-up photo – and he gladly let me do it. (My own dog at home never does… )Then he jumped up and posed for me one last time. He secretly flashed his lovely brown eyes, puffed my hand from behind – and was gone.

I looked for him the next day, and when we were leaving, but never saw him again during our stay in Ziga village. He is forever in my heart.

Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai

Another of the most famous gardens in China, is the Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai. Read my post on the Lingering Garden in Suzhou, to get more facts about what a Chinese garden stands for.

 

Yu Garden or Yuyuan Garden, means Garden of Happiness in Chinese. Yuyuan Garden is located in the center of Shanghai’s Old City, a few blocks south of the Bund, and it has a total area of about two hectares (five acres). People say that the Yuyuan Garden is so exquisite that it can be comparable to the Humble Administrator’s Garden in Suzhou,

Just outside the entrance of the garden is a lake with the famous Huxinting teahouse, built 1784. It is standing on stilts, and there is a zig-zag constructed bridge leading up to it. According to traditional Chinese beliefs, this zig-zag design is not only for aesthetic appeal. It is also important for keeping the evil spirits from getting into the pavilion – evil spirits can not turn around corners…

Many famous people have visited here – for example the Queen of England.

Something I noticed immediately was the fact that the traditional male and female lions were a bit different here compared to all the other ones I have seen in China. These two are looking at each other instead of straight forward, and the female has a cub, or child, standing upright instead of lying on its back under her paw. The male has his usual power grip on the ball…Somehow these differences made the statues feel much more human.

Yuyuan Garden is believed to have been built in the Ming Dynasty, 1559, more than 400 years ago. At first it was the private garden of the Pan family in the Ming Dynasty, and it was the largest and most prestigious of its era in Shanghai after it was completed. The exquisite layout and the artistic style of the garden architecture have made the garden one of the highlights of Shanghai.

A centerpiece, and one of the highlights of the garden is the Exquisite Jade Rock. It is a 5-ton, porous, beautifully-shaped rock, which is said to have been carried from Taihu (Tai Lake) in Wuxi, Jiangsu province. The rock is characterized by its wrinkled appearance, slender shape, translucent nature and numerous holes eroded by water. Rumour has it that it was meant for the imperial palace in Beijing, but was salvaged after the boat sank off Shanghai.

Yu means ‘peaceful’ in Chinese, and so it really is. This despite its closeness to the big shopping area of bazaars.

Yuyuan Garden was first conceived by Pan Yunduan, an officer in the Ming Dynasty, for his parents to spend a quiet and happy life in their old age.

However, during the Opium Wars, the garden was badly damaged. In 1961, after five years of repairs, Yuyuan Garden was re-opened to the public, though it was not as charming as the original one. It was also partly destroyed in the Great Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). During 1986-1993, the government made another effort to repair the garden, the results of which we see today.

Feeding the Koi fish is popular. Fish is a must here as in every garden. It stands for prosperity.

Today, Yu Garden is divided into six general areas laid out in the Suzhou style with halls and chambers, an Inner garden with rockeries, ponds, pavilions and towers.

Each area is separated from the others by ”dragon walls” with undulating gray tiled ridges, each terminating in a dragon’s head. Sometimes just hiding behind a tree trunk and surprising the visitor with its huge head.

Chinese dragons are legendary creatures in Chinese mythology and Chinese folklore. The dragons have many animal-like forms such as turtles, and also imaginary creatures, but they are most commonly depicted as snake-like with four legs. In yin and yang terminology, a dragon is yang and complements a yin, a phoenix.

Chinese dragons traditionally symbolize potent and auspicious powers. The dragon is also a symbol of power, strength, and good luck for people who are worthy of it. The Emperor usually used the dragon as a symbol of his imperial power and strength.

In Chinese daily language, excellent and outstanding people are compared to a dragon, and a number of Chinese proverbs and idioms feature references to a dragon, for example: ”Hoping one’s son will become a dragon”.

Being a tree lover, I immensely enjoy Chinese gardens. One of my absolute favourites here, was a 400- year-old Ginko Biloba.

A perfect mix. And the dragon…is everywhere…

Details are essential in a Chinese garden. Perfection.

Detta bildspel kräver JavaScript.