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“If you want to find the trail, if you want to find yourself, you must explore your dreams alone. You must grow at a slow pace in a dark cocoon of loneliness so you can fly like wind, like wings, when you awaken.”
Francesca Lia Block, Dangerous Angels

 

After our leisurely start to the day “P” and I set off in glorious sunshine, with the top down and Sasha, the pooch ensconced in the back. The air was so crisp, the wind brisk, despite the breeze from our travel I didn’t feel in the least cold. It was invigorating and brought back memories of England.

I had absolutely no idea where we were or where we were going, apart from the promise that I would be dropped off at my hotel in Fribourg.  One stretch of our journey took us along a winding mountain road. There was a stream on my left, and I could hear the water rushing along over the sound of the wind in my hair. On my right was the mountain.

 

Suddenly, I saw the water rushing down the mountain, pure snowmelt, cascading over the ground towards the stream on my left. We pulled over to the side of the narrow road, just before a quaint wooden bridge where the water ran underneath. The roar of the water as it finally went under the bridge and joined the stream was louder than I expected. I could imagine the side of the mountain suddenly slipping down and washing everything away. The smell of ice crystals in the air was amazing.

Further along the snowmelt had made the road impassable and we carefully turned around and backtracked until we found another road to turn onto. Asked about lunch I realised the fresh air had made me hungry and we made our way to a small town in the mountains, Neuchâtel, and had a beautiful cheese fondue, for which the town is famous. Once again, gazing around at the scenery, it all seemed surreal, the backdrop to a movie. Everywhere I looked I saw either verdant green pasture or higher up, the snow-capped mountains. It felt like a peaceful interlude and I was truly grateful that “P” had brought me here.

It was a wonderful gesture, a gesture of true friendship. “P” had asked me what my plans were in Switzerland, especially Fribourg, which isn’t really on the main tourist route. I had made arrangements to meet up with friends there, however, just before I left Athens I received an email to let me know they had a family emergency and had to leave, an absence which they were unable to return from before I had to leave.

We finally arrived in Fribourg at day’s end and as “P” helped me get my bag out of the car he made me promise to return to Geneva early if I was lonely. Checking in to the hotel I found I was feeling tired, another first, which I put down to the bracing air and the car with the top down. After settling in and a light snack, once I curled up in bed to read I fell quickly asleep.

The next ten days past swiftly as I wandered around the ancient town.  Part of Fribourg is French whilst across the Sarine River is the German-speaking area of Switzerland. The Bern Bridge is completely covered and the only wooden bridge left today.

As I walked around I saw amazing examples of architecture from many different eras. The Cathedral of Saint Nicholas seemed to draw me almost every day.  It has been the Cathedral of the diocese of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg since 1945.

The narrow cobbled streets and cafes made it a beautiful place to stop for coffee and watch the world roll by. The time seemed drawn out and at the same time condensed as I was swept away in daydreams. Each day I would end my trip with a walk to the Zaehringen Bridge, 165m long over the Sarine River. Gazing at it I was always drawn to the cliff face and the sight of the many buildings clinging precariously to the edge. It seemed to embody the tenacity to survive that you can sometimes see when there seems no logical reason for them to be able to survive the winters for those many hundreds of years.

Only a short train ride from Fribourg was Lausanne, a beautiful city with the towering Notre Dame and Lausanne Cathedral.  It is actually a city in Romandy, the French-speaking part of Switzerland. There are so many incredible buildings, historical buildings of note that I had a crick in my neck trying to take it all in. The gardens in the centre of town were full of spring flowers.

I saw “P” and his friend one day in Lausanne. He had called the hotel and asked if I would like to meet there for lunch, and even though I had been there only a few days before it was delightful to go back and have a relaxing lunch in one of the many cafes.  The trains are so quiet and fast in Switzerland that I was back in Fribourg in little time.  A quick trip to see the bridge and I was back at the hotel for the evening.

As agreed I left Fribourg early to stay in Geneva. The more metropolitan air was so different after Fribourg and as I walked around Lake Geneva I spent many hours pondering the differences we feel about certain places as we “travel through life”. I sat and watched the swans in their nest on the bank of Lake Geneva. Their regal bearing has always enchanted me and to see them so close, after such a long time was truly magical. I could see the Alps surrounding Geneva, felt the special quality in the air that only the Alpine air could provide and became lost in daydreams, or were they memories?

I saw ladies in ankle length gowns, men in tailored suits, walking leisurely around the lake. I heard the quietly spoken conversations, which must have been in French and yet I understood what they were saying. I felt as though I was walking along with someone, looking out of someone’s eyes, and seeing these things as though I was there.  I could see the old gaslights being lit along the walkway as the light began to fade.

I finally came back to myself, realising that I was going to be late meeting “P” if I didn’t hurry. It was strange, but hurry did not seem to be a word to use in Switzerland and I knew he wouldn’t mind if I was late.  None the less, this was my last night in Geneva and I had to leave the next morning to begin my journey home.

We once again talked late into the night, but this time I asked to be woken early so that we could make our way to the airport without worrying about traffic problems, which he said were common in peak hours. Just like any big city!

Leaving was smooth and effortless and as the cloudbank hid the land beneath me I caught one last majestic sight of the mountains, as their snow-capped heads rose above even the clouds.

 

Next week – Going Home

 

Blessings, Susan ♥

© Susan Jamieson 2014

 

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#The Grass is Greener on the Other Side

image from shangrillama.blogspot.com             This is not a llama?

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”   ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

How often do we hear that people have uprooted their lives, their family, given up their jobs, homes, all they ever knew for the possibility that “the grass is greener on the other side”? Between 1915 and 1921 a total of 12 million people of Irish or British nationality left those shores to travel to America, Canada or Australia, the lands of ”milk and honey” for a better lifestyle. The government of the day thought they were relieving themselves of their paupers, a burden on society however, a large number were not the poor labourers but farmers looking to acquire land in the “New World”, because “the grass is greener on the other side”. Quite a mistake!

#The Grass is Greener on the Other Side

image from http://www.pbase.com      The English Countryside

This was by no means the first migration of people. Records of early man show the chalk images of man following herds of animals to secure food. Our history is founded on finding somewhere better because “the grass is greener on the other side”, in order to make life easier, more comfortable, a guarantee of survival better than that which already existed. That man has survived until now has, in some ways been through chance rather than through planning. Reliance on animal migration was no guarantee of survival, as many of the great herds were slowly decimated by other predators and to changes in climate due to natural cyclical climate change.

From the days of the Industrial revolution when farmers left seeking better conditions because “the grass is always greener on the other side” there has never been any certainty this was correct. Throughout Canada and America they had to contend with the native Indians. The pre-eminent predator of his time, they were only defeated through the illnesses brought by the emigrants, the addiction to alcohol, also courtesy of the white man, and the vast number of settlers supplanting them. For the Indians it was a war of attrition which they lost and for the settlers a war of survival which they won.

#The Grass is Greener on the Other Side

image from http://www.123rf.com                The American Countryside

In Australia the native Aborigines were nomadic and stayed away from the settlers where possible. They were content to live in the way their ancestors had and remained away from the new settlers – by and large. There is no denying atrocities were committed on both sides at different times, such was the way of man. Take by force or eliminate the competition or both.  It has happened throughout the world and is still happening.

I am not debating the rights or wrongs which have occurred during history. From what I have read, neither man nor beast has changed their methods of supplanting others of their kind to ensure their survival.  Why have they done this? Do  they have work on a conscious or subconscious belief that “the grass is always greener on the other side”.

The real question; is “the grass is always greener on the other side” correct?  The answer, Yes and No! It must be since there are always people moving back from whence they came. Some return again and others do not. Humanity is a sea moving back and forth and when they find their place they stop moving.

“The grass is always greener on the other side.” I wonder. If I had been asked that as we left England I would have shouted a resounding YES! When I hopped off the train in Brisbane I would have shrieked an appalled NO! At different times throughout my life I would have said Yes or No, all depending on how my life was travelling. There were times when I longed for…… snow at Christmas when it is so hot and I am a disappearing puddle on a chair. At Thredbo, Canberra and Sydney I was enchanted and entertained. Tasmania was a green delight for the senses – and I had snow!

#The Grass is Greener on the Other Side

images from bluepowder.com.au              Thredbo

I am told that the outback has a grandeur and majesty unlike anything else on earth. In pictures it looks immense and otherworldly, yet in the ‘flesh’ I fear I would be unbearable as the heat and the flies destroy my equilibrium. Never having seen it I couldn’t say if “the grass is always greener on the other side” of the Black Stump. I’m not sure if I have the urge to find out.

#The Grass is Greener on the Other Side

image from http://www.genkin.org –           Australian Outback  –    Sturt National Park

I feel there will always be people who believe “the grass is always greener on the other side” and uproot themselves and their families because we need the constant ebb and flow of humanity. It ensures our gene pool is constantly mixed (seriously!), and it helps us to grow, as individuals, as a family, as a people, but more importantly as spiritual beings.

#The Grass is Greener on the Other Side

image from http://www.acrossoceania.com              The Kimberley Region   West Australia

We must constantly ‘taste’ all this world of ours has to offer so that we understand all its many varied aspects. We need our artists and novelists, scientists and unique individuals so that everyone is able to share in the majesty and splendour we are surrounded by.

So, No, I do not believe “the grass is always greener on the other side,” but I believe we need ‘the other side’ so that we can tell when we have found the place we want to call home.

#The Grass is Greener on the Other Side

image from properties.mitula.com.au –             Farmland at Byron

 “The most important thing is to enjoy your life—to be happy—it’s all that matters.”   Audrey Hepburn

Blessings,  Susan x

© Susan Jamieson 2014

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It's partly cloudy, outside and inside

It’s partly cloudy, outside and inside

When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.  Albert Einstein

It’s been a strange day, partly cloudy with sudden showers and then fine periods.  That’s the weather forecast, and they managed to get it right – which is a novel experience.  There are days when you feel it’s almost ‘flip a coin and choose an option’ to see what kind of weather we’re going to see.

It’s also been a very apt description of the kind of day I’ve had, partly cloudy (brain fog) and fine periods when thought has been sharp and clear. Needless to say when the cloudy periods hit I’ve been a tad frustrated because it has stopped me doing things I wanted to.  Like this blog, and in deference to “Clear Thinking” I am delving into a time when Lyme dis-ease hadn’t overtaken me.

I decided to escape for some ‘me time’ and organised a trip overseas. For many years I had wanted to visit Israel and since Mum had recently passed away I decided it would be a great chance to take her with me in spirit. I didn’t do much pre-planning, I walked into my nearest travel agent and sat down, telling her I wanted to go to the Middle East. Several hours later I walked out with my plans formed and told my family I was flying out in three weeks.

The  Acropolis, Athens

The Acropolis, Athens

After a short stopover in the middle of the night at the airport in Singapore I landed in Athens.  Jet lag not withstanding I only had four days here before my next leg of the trip. It passed in a whirlwind of sights and sounds. Madly driving vehicles rushing past, risking life and limb to jay walk across the roads.

Athens

Athens

It was with mounting excitement that I headed out to the airport after being thoroughly spoilt by hotel staff and everyone I met.  My next experience was unexpected.  Arriving at the airport I was shuttled off to the side and asked to open my suitcase(s)! Oh No!! They  were packed to the max – and it was a struggle getting everything in, in an orderly fashion and the case closed. Not only was I scanned and dope tested (my suitcase!) my case was thoroughly examined. Everything, and I do mean everything, was taken out and checked. Not only did I have to then hurry to try to pack everything back in, I had to rush back into the terminal as I was over my allotted baggage limit.

Once more I had a wonderful Greek attendant  guiding me along to the right place and then back to complete my check in. My first flight on El Al was an experience I have never had anywhere else. Everyone was talking to everyone else (except me – I think I had a stamp flashing saying ‘foreigner’), and standing up, walking around and generally behaving as though we were on the ground and not in the air.

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv, a walk around this city is a walk through history. From moment to moment you see ultra modern hotels and history side by side. It truly was walking with the past as we went to major historical sites with our guide and listened to the origins of each place from Byzantine, Romans, Crusaders and Israeli history. Magical.

Tel Aviv was the starting point. The tour visited Capernaum, Haifa, Akko, Jerusalem, Masada, Nazareth, Bethlehem, The Dead Sea where I proved it was possible NOT to float, and with so many incredible sunsets. Here is a snapshot look at this incredibly historical land ending with one of the magical sunsets.

On top of Masada

On top of Masada

Jerusalem at night

Jerusalem at night

A frantic rush through Jerusalem was necessary to buy a new suitcase. Damaged beyond further use I had no option but to replace it. Kebabs in the mall and chocolate mousse, sinful and delicious made the visit even more exciting.

The Old Town, Jerusalem

The Old Town, Jerusalem

Walking through the Old Town, along the Via Dolorosa, The Way  of the Cross and seeing the bazaar stalls was stepping into another world entirely.

Israel, history at a glance

Israel, history at a glance

The old, truly historical land and the modern at a glance.

Glorious sunset over the Mediterranean.

Glorious sunset over the Mediterranean.

I was gifted with more glorious sunsets like this than I could count. Each time I thought it couldn’t get better – it did! A fabulous way of ‘ending’ each day.

“You can learn as much about the history from reading about the present as you can vice versa, that is learning about the present through history, which is what I do for a living.”     Ken Burns

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