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My year in travel

yir_barcelonaBarcelona, Catalonia. January 2014

yir_wawa1Warsaw, Poland. January 2014

yir_senakiSenaki, Georgia. January 2014

yir_denhaagDen Haag, Netherlands. February 2014

mosc4Moscow, Russia. March 2014

yir_londonLondon, England. April 2014

yir_vilnius2Vilnius, Lithuania. May 2014

yir_brest2Brest, Belarus. May 2014

yir_krakowKraków, Poland. May 2014

yir_jerusalemJerusalem. May 2014

kirzatluzaKirzat Luza, Samaria. May 2014

pal3Sebastia, Palestine. May 2014

yir_jasKdumin, Judea and Samaria. May 2013

yir_israelZihron Ya’akov, Israel. May 2013

yir_belBelgrade, Serbia. June 2013

yir_srpskaIstočno Sarajevo, Republika Srpska. June 2014

yir_mostarMostar, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. June 2014

yir_hvarStari Grad, Hvar Island, Croatia. July 2014

yir_turdaTurda, Romania. July 2014

yir_chisinauChisinau, Moldova. July 2014

yir_odessaOdessa, Ukraine. August 2014

fuc2Fiumicino, Italy. September 2014

yir_carthageCarthage, Tunisia. September 2014

yir_rubicSavignano Sul Rubicone, Italy. October 2014

yir_sanmarinoSan Marino. October 2014

yir_brightonPeoples Trotskyist Republic of Brighton. November 2014

yir_biertanValea Viilor, Transylvania. December 2014

31 comments to My year in travel

  • I like the water tower too, but I’m not sure what the story is…

  • Dom

    I have to ask — do you have your work?

  • Very retired

    Transylvania, huh?

    Ok, let’s see a photo of you in front of a mirror watching the sunrise, holding a crucifix in one hand and garlic in the other.

    Or do you only work the night shift?

  • Dom

    What exactly is that in Brest Belarus?

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    Once I left the West Bank, I wasn’t mentally in tourist mode any more, and I didn’t take many photos, as I was instead hanging with you and eating ravioli while drinking good local wine. (It’s particularly easy to mentally relax when one suddenly finds oneself with first world comforts after being without them). My silly rules for these posts allow me one photo for Israel proper. My choice was the water tower, one of a few pictures of the beach in Hadera in fading light, or a photo of Tel Aviv from my final day before I headed to the airport in the evening. I’ve done Tel Aviv before, though, so the water tower won. I suspect it is somewhat more exotic looking if you are not Jewish or Israeli.

    My basic rule is one photo for each country I visit on each trip, but an extra photo is allowed for autonomous regions with some of the properties of independent countries and/or remnants of history as separate countries. Also, an extra photo for territorial disputes is allowed. The weakness of this rule is that a lengthy visit to a large country will only get one photo, whereas a shorter trip to places where the countries are small will get more photos. I have vast numbers of fascinating photos of Russia and Belarus from this year – I made lengthy, enormously interesting trips to both places – but I have only one photo of each in this post.

    Of course, the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is crisscrossed with dotted lines and/or lines of various colours. If I define every case in which land is inside one of these lines and outside another as a different territorial dispute, I can probably keep posting additional photos for months. As it was, I posted five photos from one rather brief journey to the holy land, and only one from a trip to Russia that was about twice as long as that.

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    It’s an enormous statue of a head. It’s part of the monument / museum at the remains of “The hero fortress of Brest” which fought a bloody and futile defence for a few hours at the beginning of the German invasion of the USSR in 1941. The Soviet invasion of Brest from the other direction in 1939 is not mentioned much.

    This was only one of a great many items of weird shit I saw in Belarus.

  • I knew there’d be a story after all 🙂

    an extra photo for territorial disputes is allowed.

    We are trying to do our best – no need to thank us.

  • Mr Ed

    Brighton I hold the least hope for, after the West Bank. I bought some nice Moldovan wine for New Year from Adnams, partially to spite Putin. I see that the Left in Catalonia still plaster the place with their graffiti, as if to retrospectively vindicate Franco.

    I shall endeavour to visit San Marino this year, thank you for sharing these fascinating images.

  • Andrew Duffin

    Very witty.

    I particularly like the Odessa Steps picture.

    Alea jacta est!

  • Yup, the pram at the top of the Odessa steps is a good one, well done sir!

    I love Vilnius, I’ve been there four times over the past two years. Great food, nice civilised people, cheap, and unknown to British stag parties (who prefer Riga). I like Lithuania a lot, were it not for the long, harsh winters I’d have bought an apartment in Vilnius.

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    Inexpensive and really good beer, too, plus nice civilized bars in which to enjoy it. Very nice place for a weekend. I only spent a couple of days there, as the main point of that trip was to go to Belarus and I also wanted to visit the Sugihara House in Kaunas (which I wrote about on this blog) which also took time. Impressive also was the feeling of serenity I felt when I crossed the border from Belarus back into Lithuania. Nice to be in a sane place backed up by NATO once more. I have plans for another trip to Lithuania in May. The plan is to go to Klaipeda and explore the Lithuanian and possibly also Latvian coast.

    There was an interesting young Lithuanian lady who I met in Albania but who lives in London. She lost interest in me after a bit, which is a shame as I rather liked her. But I digress…..

  • Shaun Bourke

    Great shot of the top of the Potemkin Steps in Odessa!!

    Does the cable lift beside the steps still work?

    Did you go for a ride in the cable car down to Otrada beach?

  • JohnK

    Sadly, Lithuania has just joined the Euro. Now all three Baltic states are members of this accursed currency union. I just hope it does not crush their economies, but they have certainly surrendered a large part of the independence they so recently regained.

  • peter

    in all seriousness, what is “palestine” as distinct from the the other places e.g. samaria?

  • Roughly, historic Palestine includes modern-day Israel, plus Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

  • Mr Ed

    Those Potemkin steps, are they genuine?

  • Mr Ed

    JohnK, interesting that Lithuania has joined the €, a bit like flying to the Azores to catch a connection with the Titanic, but forewarned of the peril. It is truly astonishing how determined they are to press on regardless.

    That blue line in the road on the bridge over the Rubicon should be across the bridge, not along it. Whatever the Romans did for us, a sense of humour doesn’t seem to have featured in official functions.

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    What name you use is highly political, and different groups use different names to each other and like to object to the names used by other people. I have labelled the photos with the name used by the people occupying the place, in order to perhaps suggest that there is something absurd about all this, by using a combination of names that is likely to offend as many people as possible at least somewhere. The whole area (including Israel) was once the Palestinian Mandate, but you can use the world “Palestine” to now refer to all the areas at least partially under the control of the Palestinian Authority: i.e. “Palestine” as the name of a quasi-state. Sebastia is in such an area (although Area B rather than Area A, so actually less Palestinian control than nearby Nablus, for instance). The areas that were controlled by Jordan between 1948 and 1967 (excluding Jerusalem) are generally referred to as “The West Bank”. This is a geographical description rather than the name of a state or quasi-state, and is politically relatively neutral, although hardline Zionists sometimes object to it. The State of Israel refers to the regions of the West Bank under its administration as the “Judea and Samaria region”, after the biblical names for the area. Kdumin is an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, so in that case I have referred to it by the name used by Israelis. Kirzat Luza on the other hand is a village on the top of Mount Gerizem. The people who live in it are some of the few surviving adherents of the Samaritan religion, so in this case I am using the term “Samaria” to mean “a place occupied by Samaritans”. This is a little joke, as the term is not often used that way.

  • Yes, the beer in Lithuania is good with one of the best coming from a brewery in Klaipėda: hardly surprising when you consider it was German until fairly recently. I was reading the label on it and sure enough, the brewery was founded by a German.

  • Paul Marks

    On the “Palestinian Authority” – well the money has to be cut off now (now they have done what they were clearly told not to do – in relation the “European Criminal Court”) or the Israeli government will look absurdly weak. A paper tiger that makes threats that turn out to be bluffs.

    Of course the PA will then go back to being the PLO terrorist group, but then it has never really stopped being that……

    I am glad you got to go the San Marino at last – the last country in Europe you had not visited I believe.

    I can see why the barbarians did not take the place.

    The building in Belgrade looks interesting – a combination of Church and fortress. A museum?

  • The Belgrade fortress sits on a hill overlooking the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers. Like most central European fortresses, it contains at least one church, yes. One of the things in the fortress is the military museum, which is what I have photographed.

    Almost all the conflicts (in the world, I suspect) that have been frozen or semi-frozen by governments paying the various parties off are slowly becoming unfrozen, alas. The most depressing place I visited all year was not the West Bank but Bosnia-Herzegovina. The two photos pretty much sum it up. The Serbs in Sarajevo chose the hundredth anniversary of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand to unveil a statue of the assassin, for no other reason that that they thought it would piss off everyone else. In Mostar (where the former front is still a line of burnt out buildings) the photograph I have posted is of a monument to the supposed peace that somebody has recently smashed to pieces. As Patrick Crozier and I stood looking at it, a local person came up to us and told us that this was a horrible fucking place and he just wished he could leave it.

  • Ah, Karkow. The trumpet sounding from the castle tower, suddenly cut-off. The last act of a 1241 trumpeter shot by a Mongol arrow. And they still, every year, reenact it. Strange how I remember that, and the tiny streets of the old city, but not the people. Language issues and I had work to do. Sad that.

  • BTW, can you take your beer off the book, so that I can see what it is?

  • James Waterton

    In Mostar (where the former front is still a line of burnt out buildings) the photograph I have posted is of a monument to the supposed peace that somebody has recently smashed to pieces. As Patrick Crozier and I stood looking at it, a local person came up to us and told us that this was a horrible fucking place and he just wished he could leave it.

    It’s these little diamonds of insight into places that you can only get from having been there. God I miss travelling!

  • RAB

    Michael. Can I have a word about you sub-letting your London flat? After all you don’t seem to use it much do you?

  • Paul Marks

    I like fortresses – especially old ones, with churches or chapels (but not ruins).

    And that rock formation above the river in Romania is very attractive – like the wave pattern or a sword made of Indian style steel, associated in the West with the Syrian city of Damascus.

    By the way, under the Ottomans, the area that is now Israel and (two thirds of it) Jordan, was known as “Greater Syria” – a point that Syrian nationalists were fond of making (as they had their own plans of conquest).

    I notice the P.A. has had some of its funds cut off – one should not fund a body that looks like a government of a state (with its own civil service and so on) and then be surprised when other governments start “recognising” it.

    American government advice tends to be bad – as Chang in China, Yeltsin in Russia (and on and on) found out the hard way.

    One can not buy peace with money.

    That is the policy of “Danegelt” – and if you keep paying “the Dane” they do not go away.

    In war – one side wins and the other side loses, and the loser dies (or goes away). That is true in the Balkans and everywhere else – trying to buy peace will not work. Neither does “talking to the Taliban”, in Afghanistan, or all the rest of the insanity of the “liberal” elite.

    Happy New Year everyone.

  • Paul, officially the funds that have been “cut off” are taxes (tariffs and VAT) collected by Israel in the West Bank territories under its control on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. As to what is going on in practice, your guess must be as good as mine.

  • Michael Jennings

    It’s neither a river nor a rock formation. It is a rowing lake in an immense underground cavern that was carved out over 800 years of salt mining. It also contains a Ferris wheel and other amusement park facilities, sports fields, and other entertainment facilities. And it has free WiFi.


  • Paul Marks

    Yes I know Alisa – interesting times as the Chinese are supposed to say.

    Good Michael – very good.