Thursday, 25 July 2019

Irish countryside days

From our trip to Ireland

Beach escape one day..

Bettystown- it was a nice beach, the town itself was run down and boring.

and some green time the other days

We were driving criss cross the hilly landscapes of Irish countryside one week ago. We focused our stay on the east-coast, north of Dublin. This was for practical reasons, because our son joined the rugby-camp in the capital town and we wanted to have a peaceful week surrounded by the green fields with our daughter. We got what we asked: serene beautiful landscapes, spiced with some interesting history from the county Meath. 

I forgot to take a nice photo from our little cottage near the town of Navan, but let's keep it a secret. One detail I can tell: a beautiful, young horse was kept just beside the house on the field. It was trained by a Ukrainian circus artist, who made some incredible acrobatics on the horse. One morning around 6.30 I woke up for the sound of a running horse and I saw him standing on top of the animal. The horse looked a bit lonely on the field during some days, but I saw it had a good connection with his trainer. 


I was surprised how old the history of Ireland really is. The ancient human beings made sacred tombs about 5000 years ago from the big stones and masked those to fit to the green landscape. These important landmarks are older than the pyramids of Egypt and the Stonehenge in England. Over the time some of these man made "hills" collapsed and were later discovered under ground. A small hill looking curve turned out to be a huge, collapsed stone made grave tomb with a narrow path to the space in the middle. We visited two of these tombs on our journey: The tomb of Knowth and the famous Newgrange

The size of these toms is big, but the inner space surprisingly small. The hilly shape was made by a special way with stone layers. Bigger stones turned on a right angle by the support of the smaller stones on the other side. This prevented the stones to collapse and and made a safe roof structure possible. It was only allowed to visit the Newgrange tomb from the inside. You walk a small path with a small group of people and a guide to the small space in the middle. The ancient carvings on the huge stones are symbolizing things that we can't be sure of. But for sure a huge effort was made to transport the big stones from far away and building these monuments for so many years. The people who started the project newer saw it ready, so long it took. You can read more information from the links in the end of the previous chapter.

The tomb one Knowth

Newgrange is best known for the illumination of its passage and chamber by the winter solstice sun. Above the entrance to the passage of Newgrange there is a opening called roof-box. It's purpose it to allow sunlight to reach the chamber during the shortest days of the year around 21st of December. For a few days the light will daily reach the chamber and lighten the stones inside for about 17 minutes. The intent of the Stone Age farmers who built this remarkable spot was to mark the beginning of the year. Amazing architecture and also spiritual feeling in these old places.

Typical carved symbols on a big, supporting stone of the tomb of Knowth.

The river Boyne

Movie sceneries

The central attraction of the village of Trim is the castle. It stands beside the river Boyne and is surrounded with green fields and from the one side it is very centrally located just in the centre of the village. Inside tour is available only with a guide. This castle if famous, because the film "Braveheart" starred with Mel Gibson was filmed here. It is nice to walk nearby the caste and along the river, but that's it. My daughter was suffering a bit when we were visiting these historical sights - she felt bored. We tried to make the rounds short enough. I can understand that a typical teenager doesn't have a big appetite for history.

The Trim Castle

The hill of Tara

We really much liked the big views of Ireland. The best places to  see the green horizons are the nice hills. From the country roads is difficult to see sometimes the fields, because they have so high bushes just beside the roads. 

The circled shape of the symbols on top the the Hill of Tara are only well seen from the air. This place was for a thousands of years a special place for the island of Ireland. It was a spiritual and cultural meeting point, the capital of old times. It was a ceremonial and a burial site, a very important place also for the high kings of Ireland.

The hill of Tara from the air (not my picture)


The distances between villages and the sights are quite small in county Meath. We also got some good advice from our cottage owner about the interesting spots to visit in the area. We drove to the village of Slane for a lunch one day. The small hotel on the main street was cute and the food was tasty. We went there also for a dinner one evening, when our sporty boy was back from the camp. We learned that the dinner is not as good as the lunch was. Anyway worth to visit if you are around the corner one day! They also serve traditional afternoon tea and the interior of the house is cosy.

I would like to visit Ireland again and see the more dramatic landscapes of the West coast. Dublin was also nice place to visit, but I really prefer more the beauty of the rural Ireland.

Summer hot continues.
We will be reaching almost 40 degrees of celsius today in Amsterdam.
Luckily we are going to see some Mediterranean waves soon. 
I hope to feel a cooling breeze over there.
*Make the best of your summer* 
(or the season you have now in your country)

Sunday, 7 July 2019

“This is ours” - greetings from the planet Oosterend

This was our third summer in Oerol Festival on the island of Terschelling. This time I enjoyed the most this one particular day at the beach of Oosterend. The longest day of the year at the beach: the 21st of June. A midsummer journey on the sand and a kilometeres long walk to Heartbreak Hotel (a 50's style beach restaurant) for a dinner. Almost no other people on the beach. The world was in our arms, hugging us and we loved playing with the sand and watching to the horizon. 

During the other days we saw a few nice Theater plays and intimate monologues about the memories, how our personal histories are shaping us. One evening going back as far as the Ilias and Odyssey by watching a modern historical drama, played on top and down the high dunes. Watching that was like being part of the war scene...and witnessing some personal dramas. The nature and the theatre together are bringing the stories to the next level. A four days full of new perspectives. I could give you more details, but I feel like just showing you some pictures from the beach. These memories!

This is ours - the end 

a video from the Oosterend beach
( from youtube)


Sunday, 21 April 2019

Oh Marseille

I don't know exactly why I wanted to go to Marseille. I only had read an article about this southern French City: those typical travel stories about shopping, eating and sights, written for modern cityhoppers. I did not really know anything about the place. Maybe it was just the name "Marseille", it had been echoing in my head for a while. I love to listen to french language even I do not speak it myself. There was something about the imaginary vision of this place that spoke to my soul. In February we needed a break and it was time for Marseille.

Vieux port pavilion

I was smiling and feeling relieved when we landed at the airport. The sun was shining and I could store my dutch-finnish life and identity for a weekend somewhere between the Netherlands and France, above the clouds to get some early spring light and sun. Meanwhile I could be walking and filling my lungs with the mediterranean air and my mind with surprising details of this Frech harbor town.

The first steps down the hill from the Central Railway Station, towards the hidden see. Light beige buildings everywhere, mostly in bad condition. Thick air, smelling like dust and gas, mostly urban surfaces to see. Nothing was looking green, also because the season. There are hardly any green areas in the centre of Marseille. The blue sea view is giving the feeling of space down by the harbor and in the open areas near the waterfront. It was not love at the first sight, even our first lunch experience (sea food) was everything else than fresh. 

On our way from the airport to Marseille we were passing many suburban areas in bad condition. This city is a gate to Europe, there is a lot of poverty giving a contrast to the glittering surface of the sea. Trendy people having their fabulous lunch on the cool spots near the modern harbor area and at the same time the hard reality hitting the nerves just a few hundred meters away. I could not just stay in my touristic bubble, I felt the deeper tones of mediterranean blue. The best places to visit are the places that make us think and feel unexpected depths. The location of Marseille has made it a cosmopolitan melting pot of different cultures and immigration.

Old harbor, vieux port - the spot where the history of Marseille began.

Les Voyageurs (sculpture by Bruno Catalano)
Old town

Marseille Cathedral

We had only two days time to explore Marseille. It was good to watch to the horizon at the waterfront and get into more relaxed vibe after the winter and the grey months. It is possible to take a bus and visit some beaches too or take a a boat trip/tour to see the beauty of the coastline of Provence. 

Maybe influenced by our short City trip we are going back to France this summer with our friends. This will be fun also for the kids and  my son can practice his french. We have rented a house about 45 minutes drive from Marseille, so I think we will visit this place again. I really enjoyed my visit, even my first impression was not very good. We had two nice dinners and the night lights at the old port area with boats were beautiful.

I checked the life quality index of Marseille and as I suspected the pollution is a problem (pollution index 65.02= high). Sometimes I am disturbed of the air quality in Amsterdam (pollution index 30.28= low), but I wonder how bad the air can be in Marseille during the hot summer months. Sometimes I really miss the fresh air of Finland (Helsinki, pollution index 12.81= very low).

Check the life quality index of Marseille here. You can also find any information about other cities all over the world or compare the life quality between different places.

Villa Mediterranee by Stefano Boeri

Interesting wall in front of the Musèe Regards de Provence 

Harbor area of Marseille

Marseille is the second largest city of France after Paris and the main city of the historical Provence. Marseille was found circa 600 BC as the Greek colony of Massalia. Marseille is now France's largest city on the Mediterranean coastline and the largest port for commerce, freight and cruise ships.

The famous bridge to Museum of European and Mediterranen civilizations.
Visiting historical locations is giving perspective and building bridges from the past to this day. The story of humanity is continuing and making me think every story matters and we can choose meaningful paths to improve our life.

Reflection of us