Category: Blog (Page 1 of 5)

Arty Farty in Isfahan

It was my last morning in Isfahan. My wonderful, chatty hotel owner, Sam, was surprised I didn’t see this wonderful palace, called Chetel Sofun.  So, as I had booked a half a day tour of the city, starting at midday, I raced out after breakfast, only to find that it didn’t open until nine o’ clock.

You wouldn’t believe it but next door was the contemporary art museum, where this kind and friendly man let me go in early, before they were officially open! There was a sculpture show on from Tony Cragg, an English man who happens to live in Germany. It was a magnificent building, rather small, but so intimate, it was just absolute magic!

These little gems keep coming up on a daily basis. Have I told you that I have fallen in love with this country? It is just amazing. After this magic show, I went to the palace, just before the tour buses came!  The palace  Kakh-e Chetel Sotun was  built as pleasure pavilion and reception hall. The name means the palace of the forty pillars! There are only twenty pillars, but normally, when there is water in the long pool, there are forty pillars reflected.  

It is richly decorated. And some amazing paintings! I was in awe, like I have been on a daily basis, over and over again!! I walked around the gardens, there was water at the back, which adds so much more to the beauty of the place. Most places are being cleaned up for NoRooz the up coming new year!

Before I knew it time was up! I had to rush back to the hotel, change and get ready for my last adventure in Isfahan! My half day tour, which was over eight hours long! And turned into the most amazing afternoon EVER!

Amazing Armenian quarters


The Armenians had fled the genocide in 1915, where over 1,5 million people died. The Armenians, who are amazing crafts people, settled in Isfahan, but due to the fact that they were Christians were given a sections of land across the river, where they received the freedom to practise their religion. Two major churches were built, the cathedral of St Joseph and the church of Holy Bethlehem. Near the cathedral, is also a genocide museum and a memorial.

The Church itself is overwhelmingly impressive. The whole ceiling and walls are covered in frescoes. I found them rather reminiscent of the churches I saw in Ethiopia. Moments like this I wish I had the energy to carry my good camera, with the excellent Tele lens. Shame that as I get older, each kilogram counts! I bought postcards instead. I met two lovely young women, who where Muslim and were told of, because they were eating ice cream! They both spoke excellent English and after the “compulsory” selfies I went on my way.

The genocide museum is impressive, and very depressing too. Over one and a half people were starved to death or just murdered. The Armenian people were one of the first Christian countries, if not the first. It is high on my list to visit too. The museum had an interesting collection of old hand written bibles, beautiful decorated with paintings.

After my church visit I walked to Jolfa square, where a group of architecture students were drawing. I looked at their work and could chat very lit little, as my twenty words of Farsi are not enough, and very little English was spoken, or the young people were too shy to speak. Not to worry. I asked for directions to visit the second church.

The church of the Holy Bethlehem. Not as big as the first church, still very impressive. I had promised Seymiak at the hotel I would visit the music museum, where the good news was that my entry was free, and the bad news was that the life performance had just finished. I chatted with the people in the coffee, and one of the girls called me an “uber” taxi! Indeed! One third of the price of a normal taxi, this young man drove me home for less than an Australian dollar!

Incredible Isfahan

What a city! What an incredible city. What an enormously interesting place! Such history. Hard to sum it all up in one page. I stayed at Hotel Iran, an amazing gathering place. Run by three brothers, a place of kindness and friendliness. Siyamak, Sam for short, is a story teller, who lived for over twenty years in Canada. The hotel is within walking distance of the main square.

Imam Khomeini square where most of the important buildings are situated. Less than fifteen minutes walking, one gets to the biggest square I have ever seen. At the top, instead of a cathedral , there is the big mosque, Jaame Abbasi mosque, with the most amazing acoustics ever. I was very fortunate that my new friend Hamid, sang parts of the Q’ran for me. It gave me goosebumps.

There is a big palace, with frescoes, and the whole square is surrounded by the Bazar. Shopping seems to be a major past time, until I found out it was about shopping for NoRuz, the Iranian New Year! One of the first things one notices in Iran is all the white plasters on women’s, and some men’ s noses! Plastic surgery is very big here. Nose jobs being number one! Had I known that I would have booked in to remove the bags under my eyes, than travel for six months and come back totally rejuvenated. Hm! This still can be done! People watching is one of my major hobbies and there is plenty opportunities in the square. Just sitting on a bench and watching the world go by.

There are so many buildings of interest here. I saw only a small part of it. Mainly because my knee is giving me a lot of grief and I need to pace myself, not easy to do when everything is fascinating and stunningly beautiful. The night life is interesting too. I only managed to have the energy to go out twice in the evening, and watch families shop. It is a little bit like Christmas, but people buy food and new clothing rather than presents and toys, it is all very exciting, it is springtime here in Isfahan, and during the day it can be rather warm. The trees are budding and the flowers are starting to bloom. What a great time of the year to celebrate a new beginning! There is a high energy in the air and the children and adults are all full of energy and expectations.

I spend most of my days walking, from one mosque to the next. Resting where ever possible and tasting the amazing ice creams! I had spaghetti ice cream twice now. It is a required taste. It has of course nothing to do with spaghetti. In Farsi it is called Falode, and it is really a speciality of Shiraz.

One of the highlights was the Armenian quarters. Isfahan has several really old bridges, which look fabulous at night, and one of the bridges leads to the Armenian quarters. The first thing I saw was a craft market, which I love. I wanted to buy a small, hand made little bag, and the girl gave it to me! This is how it goes all the time! Be careful what you say, people give it to you immediately! Just to make sure she wouldn’t miss out, I bought one also. The friendliness of the people is overwhelming, have I already written that?


Kool Kashan

The village of Nushabad, where my small apartment was, has underground cities. (which I never got to see!) The taxi driver Saleh, took me back to Kashan, early the next morning. He had been told by my host to spend the day with me, but since he spoke NO English I dismissed him as kindly as possible.

Kashan was impressive. So many really old houses which are slowly being restored. As soon as I entered the first museum house, I was asked for a selfie, I ” snarled” that they could take one and then leave me alone! Oops! This is very unusual for me, I am friendly most of the time, then I realised I had nothing to eat since lunch the day before. I needed a coffee and some food. By sheer luck I found “Mister Coffee”, a trained barista, who just opened his shop only ten days ago! Iranian omelette and two cups of wonderful coffee later I felt human!

I visited Khan-e-Boroujerdi, which was stunningly beautiful with its six sided, domed badgirs, and frescoes painted by the famous Iranian painter, Kamal al-Molk, of the VIP blob. khan-e-Tabatabaei, which is renowned for its intricate stone reliefs and lastly Khan-e- Abbassian which has many courtyards. Then I wandered into the Hammam Sultan Mir Ahmad, which was build over five hundred years ago!

I wandered around the ancient bazar, where trading has been going on for over eight hundred years! It was beautiful, and compared to the bazar in Tehran, very quiet. Shopping is a main past time, especially just before No Ruz, the Iranian New Year.
My host ignored all the messages and calls until seven at night. Again, no dinner, but luckily I had a fabulous cheese cake with my superb coffee, so I wasn’t really hungry. He did stop at a stand so I could buy some bananas, where I met a lovely young fellow, who had lived and worked in Germany. So a good time to practise my German!

The next morning, after a lot of hassle, I finally got the taxi driver to drop me of at the same place as yesterday, as I had booked a tour, which would take me to Isfahan, and drop me of in front of my hotel. This tour took me to the old picturesque village of Abyaneh. It is at the foot of Mt Karkas (3899) . It is a warren of steep, twisting little streets, red mud brick houses that are deteriorating rapidly. The houses have lattice windows and lovely little balconies. The men and women still dress in their traditional clothing. I was on a tour with a lovely young Dutch man, rather than the French couple, which I was told would come with me.

After about two hours of walking we visited the old mosque Masjed-e Jameh, built in the early 14 th century. Our taxi driver had to be taught, very early in the trip, NOT to use his mobile! And after several prompts, he got my drift! He would pull over to use his phone! Well, done, ineke!! I arrived at the Iran Hotel at four thirty, and thought I was in heaven!! Great room, friendly English speaking staff and a very, very hot shower to ease my aching bones! Welcome to Isfahan or Esfahan! The city of MAGIC!

Ouchy Couchy

Couch surfing in Kashan! My host, Javad, met me at the bus stop, hurried me through lunch to take me to the Bagh-e-Fin gardens with a group of his English students. A very scary exercise as he used his mobile phone all the way, to film me, to look for music, to text! This by the way is extremely common, but terrifyingly scary. The traffic being mad as it is without the added complexity of mobile phone!

Bagh-e-Fin Gardens were beautiful. It is the place where the martyr Mirza Taqi Khan, better known as Amir Kabir was killed or killed himself. History is a bit vague on the how and what exactly happened. Either way he ended up dead. The water at the gardens comes from a seven thousand year old spring, it is luke – warm. I wished it was boiling hot so I could sit in it for hours.

Just before I left home, I had a fall off my bike, same as I did three years ago. (My father would say it is stupidity, to make the same mistake twice! )But due to this stupidity I am in a lot of pain. A hot soothing bubble bath is just what my inner doctor would order! Not so. I ate my very first pistachio ice cream. Have I told you about the Iranian ice cream?? I could do a whole blog about it! Last night I had saffron ice cream and tomorrow I hope to eat SPAGHETTI ice cream! REALLY,! In’shallah!

The worst things in Iran are, the traffic, I might have mentioned that before, the money, it has so many zeros, but people say fifteen when they mean a hundred and fifty thousand!! The official money is rial but people tell you the price in toman! Just to make sure it is even more confusing! Luckily people are really honest.the taxi driver whom I gave five hundred thousand to, gave back my money, went through my wallet to find the fifty thousand note. Personally I would suggest to drop at least five zeros, and call the money by just ONE name. Now there is rial, but people call it toman all very confusing!

The thing I hate the most is the request for selfies, hundreds, no thousands in a day! I have spoken to other people in the hotel who don’t have this problem, but with my blue eyes I resemble Angelina Joli, ah, the weight of fame! All young women want selfies with me and put them on Instagram!

Now I have been introduced to Insta- gram by my daughter, who sat me down for a serious talk about the facts of life! She has been running my Instagram account for the last year, but I am now considered old enough to do it myself. Another bloody thing to do on top of e -mail, Facebook and TripAdvisor!! And of course my famous blob! It all feels terribly like homework to me!!My next trip is certainly going to be without any gadgets! Although to be fair, here EVERYONE has Insta, as they call it. It is rather hard to get onto Facebook as it is blocked by the government. It is worth for American apple products. I need an app called VPN on my i pad to get to Facebook!!

Okay, after I was relieved from the papparazie, I was taken to an English school. For just ” half an hour” which turned into over two hours. I was exhausted! At least I could understand this English teacher, but he had some ” strange” expressions. He asked me if I was knackered! I nearly fell of my chair! I WAS knackered ,but that is NOT how to ask an elderly woman how she feels! I wish he had left the room, there were seven woman there and we would have had a lovely chat about womanly things. Instead the women had to ” intuit” what kind of a person I was! Very judgemental!! The next class was beginners and was lovely.

By now I am completely ” knackered” to stay in the local language. I was then taken to a friend’s house where I was told to draw a picture for their eight year old child, as there was a city wide competition and if I drew it, she would win! Duh?? I offered to help the little girl, which impressed no one! Then music was put on and I was ordered to dance! Since I have never , ever, done anything in my life, that others have ordered me to do, I said NO, this went down like the proverbial. I am NOT performing monkey! It was now nine thirty, no dinner, up since five am. Totally ready to go home to bed.

My host drove me out of town!! What the……..? Nine kilometres later of horrific driving and texting, I arrived at my small independent apartment. It was eleven o’ clock!! Still NO food!! Thank god for some small mandarins and biscuits left from the bus trip. I washed some clothes and at twelve thirty I was ready to drop.

Very VIP

Time is flying! This country is just so amazing! On Tuesday, my young friend Shabnam, came to pick me up. What an adventures we had! First we took the metro! Wow! I mean, I live in a town where we have three traffic lights and 15,000 people! The metro has special carriages for women, which was lovely. We went to this palace first, but the coffee shop and the palace were both closed. ( the palace for renovations)  but we were allowed to walk in the amazing garden! Which would be even more amazing in about two weeks time! Spring is in the air, it is lovely during the day. Very pleasant for walking.

Well what to do next? Ah, we are near the museum and library, let’s go there! Good plan! Except minor little detail, there had been an ISIS attack just a few weeks back, and now one has to apply TWO weeks before! The museum has the biggest collection of  Kamal Ol-Molk, one of the greatest Iranian painters. Well, having Shabnam with me proved really helpful, we were invited to have lunch in the staff canteen, where we had a fabulous home cooked lunch, dirt cheap.

Two hours later, we caught the bus! Shabnam had bought me the most delicious smoothie ever, with pistachio nuts on top! Oops! I had two back teeth removed this year, and l and behold I cannot eat nuts any more, bummer! So here I am standing on the bus, hanging on for dear life, hand on pole, other one on smoothie, Shabnam whispered that my scarf had fallen down! Okay, now what!? I only have two hands!! She was so incredibly sweet.  Gently she pulled my scarf up!

Finally we arrived at her beautiful where I met her gorgeous sister, Shiva, and her lovely mum. Shabnam is an incredibly gifted water colourist, and after a magnificent diner which could have fed an army, we looked through her works, before I was dropped off at my hostel again! What an amazing day! Overwhelmingly friendly people, the way three men put their job on the line to accommodate a complete stranger,  the hospitality of Shabnam’s family, I want you all to know that I appreciated every effort you all took today! It was just magic! A big heartfelt THANK YOU!

Persian birdsong

It was five am. The incredible birdsong woke me from some pleasant dream. I kept my eyes closed. The birds were singing in Persian! Slowly a smile crept over my face. I am in IRAN! I am HERE! I felt totally relaxed and rested! It took me from Friday night till Monday morning to get my body back to normal. I showered early, I love this quiet time in the hostel, before people start to wake up. I plan my day slowly afterwards.

There was a city walk, all the way down to the palace and the Grand Bazaar. After breakfast I set out on another adventure. The sun was shining, the birds kept singing in my heart. The smile stayed on my lips. As soon as I opened my Lonely Planet for guidance, people would stop, asking if I needed any help. Five people standing around me, how to get to Golestan Palace. Opinions were divided. Finally, an elderly man took control. Straight across the enormous roundabout, then right, then left. It sounded rather simple! This roundabout is HUGE! Traffic coming and going, what to do? This workman, holding his toolkit in one hand, was strolling across, I  skittered over to him, made sure I had him between me and the oncoming traffic, and got across. He was talking to me in Parsi. I have no idea about what. I just told him that the traffic was absolutely crazy, he smiled, obviously no idea what I was saying either. I have mentioned the traffic, haven’t I?

The palace was enormous! Entry fees were 500,000 rials. Before I got a heart attack I asked how much it was in U$ . Ten dollars? PHewww. Sounds so much better. It was beyond words to describe. I was speechless. My inner child loves anything that sparkles, glitters or mirrors. So I was in my prime playing time. Plastic booties over my sandals meant I could skate on the marble floors. School groups were plentiful, all wanting selfies with the blue-eyed foreigner and practice their English! My Instagram followers are increasing daily! I could have spent many more hours, but it was time to go shopping.

The Grand Bazaar was just around the corner, and oh boy, it was chocker block packed! Unbelievable! So many shoppers, never seen before. Hard to get in. I had planned to buy a manteau( overcoat)  but size 44 is the largest there was. This wouldn’t fit over my winter top! Fortunately, a lovely French back packer had given me her coat the day before. Too small as well, but as it is getting warmer daily, it will do for the time being. I took a taxi back to the hotel. Expensive! A whole A$5

At two pm. My dear old friend from twenty -five years ago was coming to pick me up. We were going into the mountains. Ah, this feeling, this incredible feeling, when you meet up with like-minded people after such a long time,  and you realise, that nothing has changed! It was as if we met yesterday. We gossiped about old friends, people who have since passed away. Reminisced about our adventures and stupid things we did, so many, many years ago in a country far, far away. We went to this magic place, high up near the mountains. Shame the rain started, and last weeks snow and rain damaged had not yet been cleared. I had an excellent fish kebab, and of course tea.

Tea is one of the main things in Iran. I had hoped to lose weight by not drinking alcohol, fat change, the tea comes with a stick of yellow sugar, I have forgotten the name, and it is just sooo delicious that I can’t resist! So far I have resisted the Iranian sweets. I remember from the good times had with my Iranian friends in Mysore, India, that they can be irresistible!

All art!

You may, or not, have noticed that my image problems have been solved! Hallelujah! Thank god for young people who know what they are doing! This morning I walked to the cathedral, yes, indeed, a cathedral! There was a Mass going on, so I sat quietly in the back until my phone rang! Now my new non i phone is as quiet as a mouse, but not during Mass! It was SO loud. Totally embarrassed I snuck out to answer! It was my dear friend, from twenty five years ago! I was not aware that people worked on Sundays! They only have Friday off! Bit of getting used to! 

I caught a taxi from the cathedral to the museum of modern art, which cost me 150.000rials! I nearly had kittens, until I realised it was just under $5 ! Oops! I gave the taxi driver too much money, but he gave it back, went through my wallet and explained in his language that I gave him the wrong money! As the entree to the gallery was the same and this man spoke English I could ask him how much it was in U$ indeed only three dollars!! Phewww! This money is not for the faint hearted, the good news is that I am a millionaire! In rials that is.

The Museum for modern art was an absolute gem. There was an exhibition on of  Ali Akbar Sadeghi, indeed it did not mean anything for me either. At the entrance I met a lovely woman who spoke excellent English and who explained a lot to me. Fascinating stuff! Amazing building as well. I felt inspired, and was ready to paint!! Instead Fara shouted me a drink! You wouldn’t believe it, but they had MOJITOS at the cafeteria! Okay, so it was Iranian , not Cuban! ( no alcohol) Still deliciously refreshing with lots of lemons, and yeah, sugar!!

This sums up how I feel about technology!! Good night to all!


Money matters

The hostel was found after an hour and a half ride from the airport. My taxi driver’s English was limited, but he starts at five in the morning till ten at night! This humbled me enormously, I complain after three hours of work! I didn’t realise the Khomeini airport is more than thirty kilometres from the city centre. The drive took forever. I was so incredibly tired couldn’t keep my eyes open, I also couldn’t shut them as I didn’t want to miss anything! ” I am in Iran” this mantra kept playing and playing. It is true , I AM in Iran! Traffic is mad, like rice, my taxi driver said, you must be quick! But it all flowed.

The hostel is situated in a small side street. It looks very humble from the outside. I received a lovely cup of coffee, which didn’t counter act the fact that I was, after 44 hours of being awake, dead on my feet! Check in, room keys. A lovely room two single beds, plain, but very clean. Toilet and shower next door. I thought I would have the energy to have a shower, I didn’t. Put gadget on charger, two prongs popped out which I didn’t need! Pushed them back in while converter was plugged in! Bad idea! Auch! A BIG shock! Okay, now I know for sure, without sleep I am stupid! Let gadget sort itself out I am going to sleep!

Breakfast is included. Lovely crispy sort of bread. Must ask what it is called. Feta cheese, cucumbers and tomatoes. With the tea, fill up your mug with hot water, very strong tea sits on the top, wonderful! Started to draw the lounge room. Spoke to the lovely Mahsa at the front desk, she is an artist too. She protested against women against wearing the scarf. I forgot to put mine in this morning! Oops! My mistake. On the eight of March there will be a BIG rally against the restrictions of women. Shame I won’t be here. Seems like something worthwhile to protest against!  Women wear mainly black, which is a tad depressing. I hope to buy a red manteau, a sort of long coat! To wear over everything. I had a big walk to the square where money changes hands. Long, long queues. Oops! May be the money gets given away here? Ah, these are Iranian people WANTING dollars or Euros. I was allowed in immediately, and without any proof of identity ( forgot to bring my passport) was allowed to change my money, or some of it, I am travelling with an enormous amount of  cash, as Visa card nor master cards are not accepted here. ( ban comes from visa and master NOT from Iran) on the way back to the hostel, I wandered into a lovely cultural centre where my face book page got solved. I needed an extra app to by pass the restrictions that the government has put on Facebook. I still can’t post photos or anything else on Facebook so bear with me on that one.  The same here on the blog, my media insert does not work at all! Today I woke up at 5 am, mind you I was in bed at 3 pm. The old bod is no longer what it used to be! I didn’t sleep all the way though, few hours in between I was awake. Dreaming about what I am going to do today! Hopefully visit the art gallery and the big bazaar. I will keep you updated. When stressed, carrot juice AND. Chocolate chipped ice cream!

Awesome combination for an upset stomach!

Terrific Tehran

I have arrived! In Tehran. As I left Sydney and checked in at the airport, there seemed to be an issue with my visa for Iran! Apparently three days AFTER my visa expired I had an ongoing flight from Dubai. The airline required proof of my ferry trip from Iran to Dubai. Well, duh, I haven’t booked my ferry as yet as there is NO visa payment possible, so NO on line booking possible! Well, according to the lovely lady from Lebanon, I would have to buy a new visa on arrival in Tehran! As my Iranian visa was the most expensive visa EVER, you can imagine my shock at the prospect that it was not going to be valid! Ah well, I’ll see what happens, I thought. If worse comes to the worst I will buy a new visa, it is only money.

The flight was long and exhausting. Met a lovely lady, Dianna from Lebanon. Well, from Sydney really. I watched quite a few movies and arrived in Abu Dhabi, were I was singled out, and put in the naughty corner, as there was something WRONG with my Iranian visa!! My first thought was that the woman in Sydney put a RED flag on my ticket! I had to wait for the manager to arrive, which he or she didn’t do. In the end, I was told I would have to buy an ongoing ticket from Iran to Dubai. I sagely nodded my head and agreed to everything they told me!! Just don’t send me back!!

On arrival in Muscat, my boarding pass was taken from me, and I was told to wait in the corner AGAIN! This time however, there was a big mob of Iranian people, who all asked me what was wrong! As my boarding pass was put through the machine all the red lights started flashing and bells started to ring! by now three young men, who all spoke perfect English all tried to re assure me that all would be well. In the end the man gave me my OWN boarding pass back and said nothing.

You can all imagine how I was by now very concerned about arriving in Tehran!! What if I was send back? All the Iranian people re assured me that I would be fine. On arrival in Tehran my by now two musketeers promised to wait for me to see what would happen at immigration. I was friendly and polite, he salaamed me, I salaamed back, he smiled, I smiled back, he stamped my passport and welcomed me into Iran! Problem? What problem? He didn’t even ASK if I had an ongoing ticket! So all this scare mongering was totally useless.

The first thing, after finding a toilet, was to exchange some money so I could catch a taxi to my hostel in Central Tehran. Well, said the man at the exchange boot, you get much, much better rates in the centre of Iran. I have very high exchange rates! Can you imagine a business in Oz saying, don’t buy from me I am too expensive?? Unbelievable. I also saw that I could buy a SIM card at the airport! My young rescuers bought me my SIM card, PAID for my taxi!! And apologised that they had family commitments and couldn’t drop me off at my hostel! Unbelievable!! We exchanged phone numbers, and they followed me on Instagram!! By the time I reached my hostel one and a half hour later, there was already a message to ask if I had arrived safely! Friendly? It is beyond friendly!! I felt incredibly humbled, by the whole experience. Can you imagine anybody doing this in Australia? Well, I can’t!

When I told the friendly young man at the hostel about my experience with the three musketeers , he nodded his head, as if this was a common experience, and said, welcome to Iran! Iran, I have already fallen in love with the people here! I am not so sure however about the traffic, nor the pollution! Pedestrian’s lives are very, very cheap, I think! I just stand with other people who want to cross the road, make sure those people stand between me and e oncoming traffic and pray that I won’t be run over today! There are no atheists on the streets of Tehran! ( I have difficulties posting photos, here and on Facebook, hope to get this sorted in the near future!)

Cold, tired and miserable

Ah, the delights of air travel! Not all enjoyable for sure! I had visited the doctor before I went, to pay an immense amount for sleeping pills, to be taken for the nearly fifteen hour flight! I was fortunate, only a little lady from Lebanon was sharing our three seats. It still didn’t make for comfortable sleeping! I have no problems on buses or trains, I fall asleep in seconds, but on planes I just can’t get comfortable.  So here I am in Abu Dabi, cold, miserable and still a full day to go!  I do this whinging for all the people who glorify air travel out there, unless of course you travel business or first class it is just a necessary evil! Mind you I saw the movie about the three bill boards, the darkest hour, and Jerry McGuire,  and one more I think which made no impact what so ever.

I had an interesting intermezzo in the coffee shop down from the Central Station in Sydney. I had some time so I went to order a coffee and something to eat , when this familiar looking man walked in. Immediately I dismissed the idea that it was somebody I knew! I only know my friend Libby in Sydney. Mind you the more I looked and listened the more sure I became. I HAD to know! So I went up to him and blatantly asked him if he used to work in Yuendumu, and Lo and behold it was a teacher I worked with in the Centre of Australia in 2003! It is a small world after all, needless to say he is also retired and was catching the bus to Queensland. An amazing little intermetzo  that could change lives, which it didn’t of course. But we caught up with all the people we knew and a pleasant time was had. May be it was the second cup of coffee that counter acted all the pills I took! Probably. Here is to Serendipity! Bring it on! ( p/s these are all practise entries until I find my blob Bing feet again!)m

Day dreams

And so the days do pass. Slowly but surely , minute by minute, the time has been filled and the moment of saying good bye has come. Suddenly realised that my adventure is now starting for real. Mixed emotions, I want to stay here and re connect with my beautiful daughter. I want to stay here, because it is known, and I feel safe. I want to stay here , because I speak the language, know the money and it is HOME!n

what can one call these small attacks of excitement and anxiety? Anx-itement? Ex- ciety? Do you know how difficult it is to make up words on an iPad? Autocorrect kicks in immediately, telling me I am wrong! Never have I been more right. These are the same feelings as when I used to start a new job, knowing full well I am capable and  knowledgable, at the same time I feel like I am only little, and somebody, someone should hold my hand! Preferable my father! I used to feel so safe as a child, holding my father’s hand. Mind you, my Dad was NOT. Traveller, so he would not sympathise with me on doing this. One of my last conversations with my Dad was when I was on the way to Africa, for the first time. I was going for twelve months. ” but WHY?” He would ask, totally bewildered . ” Why do you want to go and travel THERE.?”  Because it is there was not qualified as a proper answer, I didn’t know what to say. He never realised that it was him, borrowing the National Geographics from the library, that opened the door of my mind to this wild and wonderful world of ours! ( hey, is that where www. Comes from?) today my gorgeous dad would have turned 94 years young. Where ever you are papa, I am wishing you a very happy birthday! And I am going to Iran, because I can, and it is there and I am so curious! Let the adventure begin! I am READY,

Weekend wonders

I am not in Kansas anymore!! What has Alice in common with a wandering, waffling woman?  Well, we rented a car for the weekend and drove via Kurri Kurri to Pokolbin, where we visited the magnificent Hunter Valley Gardens. The gardens won several New South Wales tourism awards and rightfully so. Sixty acres of spectacular display gardens. Of course I loved the story book garden!

As I am still a child at heart! The rose garden, with over 35,000 rose bushes was mightily impressive. It happened to be an extremely hot and humid day, which was a shame. The entry fee was not for the faint hearted, and it will take a few hours to see a big chunk of the sixty acres.  We did sit down in the shade enjoying the water features, even a waterfall! But after two hours my energy was completely depleted. Luckily there was an art and craft village attached to the gardens, where one could eat, drink and spend lots of money . The shops had excellent air conditioning, and to be honest , I found that to be the biggest advantage there.

For me personally it was about spending quality time with my daughter, it didn’t really matter what we were seeing or doing. We had planned to stay in a B& B overnight and go deeper into the  Hunter Valley. As Michelle’s precious cat is not used to being on her own overnight, we gave up on the idea, returned home and went out in a completely different direction again on Sunday.

Sunday we drove to Old Bar to visit my friend from the Tiwi Islands, a fellow artist and teacher, Jenni. Jenni was preparing for a solo show which needs to be hung next week, so we were able to have an excellent sneak preview. I admire Jenni’s easy flowing watercolours and strong charcoal drawings. It was as if we saw each other only last week!  This is NOT a given!! We left after several hours of catching up, only to be caught in a torrential rain! Adventurous to say the least!! I for one was glad to be back home safely and to relax for the next few days before I fly out and start my real travelling again! Mind you, I hav



On the road AGAIN!

Welcome back to all my ” blob” followers! I just found several ” blobs” I have not published. Often it feels like homework! While travelling I draw my diary, take notes to remind myself of what I am experiencing, but to also update my ” blob” is often just that little bit too hard! As I am going away this time, for six months, I will attempt a regular update.At the moment I have this ” Alice in Wonderland” kind of feeling! ” I am not in Kansas anymore”! I had my first ” strange” reaction, to wearing a headscarf, as I tried to stay under the required 7 kilos of hand luggage for Tiger airlines, which by the way now also includes women’s handbags!! I wore my winter top and headscarf as every little bit helps! ” you’ve got a nerve, stepping in the lift with us” this man said in a very nasty way. I have to admit, it took me by surprise, and not knowing what to say I gave him my ” drop dead fast” kind of look which used to result in me being send out of the classroom as a child. I am proud to say the ” LOOK” still works, he blushed!

diary day one

After spending some time with my gorgeous son and his beautiful wife Katrina, time moved fast. A quick visit into Adelaide, to the new Royal Adelaide Hospital to say good bye to a dear friend ,a look at the Convention Centre’s Art, a walk to the Art Gallery of South Australia, an expensive and small cup of coffee, and delightful new life news from another dear friend, I flew to Sydney. In case people didn’t know, I had quite a nasty fall with my bike, on the rail road tracks ( again) so by the time the plane landed, I was stiff and sore and not able to lift my arms up to collect my hand luggage! Sigh! Thank god for kind and friendly people. With a little help I could put on the back pack. I am sure the collective thought was that it was time I got a case on wheels. Hm. I am considering this as I write. I just missed the train to Central station, due to the young woman texting in front of me while stopping every third step. Just a short wait. At Central Station I missed my train by just a minute, due to the same problem. People going in all directions, a young woman texting, obviously something rather important, people coming up the stairs, no way to pass her, every third step she stood still! Hm. I don’t often feel like pushing people down a stairway, but I was having this fleeting thought, may be I could just give one good push? An hour wait for the next train to Newcastle. I went for a delicious coffee and raisin bread down the stairs. Read the paper and the hour had passed. Michelle was waiting at the Hamilton station, and we walked home.

Exhibition currently showing in Port Augusta, Plus interview

Big thank you to all that attended the opening last week and for those who weren’t able to make it, know that ‘The Reluctant Pilgrim’ exhibition will run until February 17 at the Port Augusta Cultural Centre, Yarta Purtli Gallery.

Had a radio interview that aired that week, as well as a great article in the Transcontinental that you can find by clicking here. 



Reluctant Pilgrim Exhibition Opening

Exhibition Opening Notice: The Reluctant Pilgrim

Reluctant Pilgrim Exhibition OpeningTHE RELUCTANT PILGRIM

An exhibition inspired by a 65 day walk undertaken in 2015, when I walked 880 kilometres along the
Camino de Santiago, from St Jean Pied de Port, in France, over the Pyrannees to Finisterre, Spain.


At The Onkaparinga Arts Centre, 22 Gawler St, Port NoarlungaSA

Exhibition on display until Monday 6 November 2017


Twirling Dervish artwork

Twirling Dervishes currently on show at Yarta Purtli Art Gallery

IMAGE GATHERERS is a Group Exhibition that is currently on show at the Yarta Purtli Art Gallery, in Port Augusta

Had a lovely time at the opening on Saturday, meet some great people, and got such great feedback on the Twirling Dervishes, so thrilled that people are enjoying them as much as I enjoy painting them.

The Dervishes are inspired through my time watching this meditative dance in Turkey – which in turn was inspired by the poet ‘Rumi’.

Such flowing grace, robes and love of life – that made it watching them a most mesmerising to divine experience.

In the words of Rumi Daylight, full of small dancing particles and the one great turning, our souls are dancing with you, without feet, they dance. Can you see them when I whisper in your ear?”.

Curdnatta Art Gallery February 2017

My work will be hanging in Curdnatta Gallery in Port Augusta for the month of February, so be sure to pop in and have a look.

Current Exhibition at The Barn, McClaren Vale

Exhibition ‘In Shadow of the Clouds’, is currently hanging at:

The Barn,
252 Main Rd,
McLaren Vale SA 5171

Drop by and have a gander, while you sample some of South Australia’s finest Restaurant.

Onwards to Amasya end beyond

After Trabzon I had to return to Ordu, which was not too bad as I missed seeing the point where Jaons and his Argonauts had rested after they had captured the Golden Fleece. However I had so hoped to go further East! The troubles in the East of Turkey between the government and the Kurdish rebels is escalating and I was strongly advised NOT to go any further!  Shame! As two months ago lol was still well in that area. However I decided to go to Amasya instead. What a lovely, lovely surprise this little town was! Nestled between large sheer rock face mountains, with a river in between, lays this cute little Ottoman town, with lovely houses, Pontic rock caves and a great museum and lovely old mosques. I could have stayed forever! I found a gorgeous little hostel, with such friendly staff, I felt directly at home! I had a great view over the river and a private balcony! Life is just so good at times! The rock caves, bridge and old houses lit up in the evening in a most garish fashion, that appealed to the little child within! I walked around for hours, meeting people, enjoying myself. Even shouted myself a, very expensive, beer after finding out that Turnbull had taken over from Abbott!

All good things come to an end! I had planned to go to Sivas from here, but after several people told me it was much better to go directly to Corum(pronounce Chorum) I took the advice and indeed within an hour I was in the next town! Nobody spoke English here, and according to my book the hotel was just around the otogar(bus station) there was no mention of a NEW Otogar out of town! Oops! In the end this bus driver pushed me onto a dolmus, and dropped me off nearby a very LARGE hotel! Luckily the manager spoke a smithereen of English, enough to make him understand I didn’t want to stay at his  five star hotel but at the three star somewhere in the neighbourhood of his expensive hotel! Sweet as he was he walked me all the way to the hotel of my choice! Here I am for half the price in, for me, a luxury hotel! I took it easy, and relaxed. Made friends with the lovely manager in the eatery across the road, and had to try all his specialities! My gosh one meal was enough for three people! And all that for five dollars! Amazing!

the next morning I went exploring! A great museum just around the corner. Fabulous statues and stone carvings. I never get enough to seeing a well presented museum!   Wandering the streets afterwards in search of the castle, I heard knocking sounds, and there they were, the copper pot makers! I stood in awe at their skills. Was offered chai, which I declined, I am drinking twenty cups of tea a day, and need to be near a tuvalet (toilet) at all times! Declining a cup is bad manners, but sometimes necessary. I watched some men playing rummy cup in the streets, and was told to sit down and have tea! One of the men spoke German and at least we could have a chat! I passed a lovely hour watching them play and moved on. The castle was closed for renovations, but the lovely little mosque was open. The young man let me have a sticky beak inside even though I didn’t have my scarf with me! Oops! Breaking all the rules! From there on I wandered through the lovely little streets in search of the clock tower. These were all the attractions in this town. Easy to do! Three places to visit! While sitting down relaxing watching the world go by I noticed the Hamam nearby, since 1573, I decided to visit an Hamam again! Nearly stepped into the men s entrance, oops, social faux pas. It was to be one of the best decisions I have ever made! My massage was utterly superb. The lady used to be a doctor, then after her husbands death retrained as a masseuse. She literally fixed my shoulder problem in two sessions! She had thumbs of steal, and was so strong she massaged the marrow inside my bones! My gosh, I was scrubbed, massaged, scrubbed again and washed. Was quite funny as nobody spoke English, the woman just grabbed my knicker elastic to swing me around, which cracked up all the women present! One of the women spoke German and became the translator to the thousands of questions these women wanted answered!  So funny they were! The main question

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