SOLSTICE DEPARTURE

We set off early on Saturday morning for our long journey to Bali. The sun was shinning and the swifts were flying over our heads as we left our home and the ‘Shire’ behind. Although compact our bags seemed too heavy. We were very careful not to take too much, but at the last minute we decided to fill an entire bag of food as we read that it was not too easy to find vegetarian food on the Trans-Siberian. We  took very little clothes, and apart from three travel guides have no books. It is not easy to pack for fifty days.

And appearances do not tell the whole story. Yoel’s daypack is much heavier than it looks. We have been blessed by the generosity of two friends who sent us some fine video and photographic equipment to document our journey. Yoel has taken an interest in making videos and our friends have offered to mentor him in the art of film making. Obviously this is just the beginning and he is going to learn by doing. The video equipment is very compact and takes very little space considering what it can do  – but when you add the battery packs, the chargers and sound recorder… the weight can be felt on little shoulders. The equipment reached us three days before leaving and we have had to adapt our packing accordingly. Yoel is very pleased with it though and some short footage may appear on this blog shortly. Here is a picture of the two of us in London outside St Pancras station.

St Pancreas

As you can see from the photograph, I have shaved my head before leaving and look less like a hippie. My large rucksack however gives away the fact that I am more of a globe-trotter than a monk. Yoel and I were offered, in the Tibetan tradition, two white silk scarfs by some friends. Yoel wore his and I packed mine away so as not to damage it. We stayed with Mary-Ann and her dad outside the station until the last minute before checking in. Little did we suspect that we would be asked by the custom officers to empty our large bags. By the time they had fine-combed the entire content, I had ten minutes left to put everything back and board our train before the doors closed. Without being superstitious, I wondered if I would have been stopped if had worn my white scarf. Being at the very end of the train, we were able to wave good bye to Mary-Ann and Micheal as the doors of the Eurostar closed.

The rest of the journey was very smooth and we ended up in Cologne four hours later. We bought a city map and walked through the pedestrian streets to our friends’s house. Although our friends were away, they had left the keys at a Cafe for us to pick up so we could make ourselves at home. The apartment was a haven of peace. We rested a little, snacked on their balcony and went out exploring this charming city almost empty handed. We were in awe with the Cathedral:

Cologne's cathedral

After eating, we discovered that the Cathedral was still opened to the public and that there was live singing. The inside of the cathedral was also magnificent and the atmosphere was made more special by hundreds of candles and the angelic voice the woman singing. Yoel found the inside even more amazing and sorry he could not film it.  We were given two small candles which we lit and place at the foot of the altar and had a special moment of calm in the nave. When we came out we walked across the railway bridge over the Rhine and were mesmerised by the number of locks left there by countless visitors and lovers.master lock yoel

Locks2
As you most probably know, the World Cup is on, and Germany was playing against Ghana. From the bridge we heard thousands of voices yelling and cheering when Germany equalized. We walked back through the streets and got immersed in the football fever. We wondered what would it have been like if Germany had won the match!

The next morning we were treated to a most delicious pancake breakfast freshly made by our host. We talked about trees, Bali and the Green School and even had a crystal bowl mini concert.

pancakes

We were taken to the station to catch our train to Berlin which was 25 minutes late…

The fist leg of our journey was a good start and we are so grateful for the hospitality we received.

Affectionately,

Loic

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