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Boundary line

As we made our way to the start of the trail we spoke to a local who said he was from West Germany. This confirmed what we were thinking: that with every idea there is always a consequence.

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The Berlin Wall in Germany was such an idea that has led to numerous consequences, even today. This consequence led us to explore this 50km long vast section of the Berlin Wall Trail on a bike, all the while being intrigued by this boundary line that runs through the centre of Germany’s capital, Berlin.

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For the downloadable GPS track, go to http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=11704415

This post tells our Tale on this north to south section of the Berlin Wall Trail.

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Today, roads and tramways cut through this line all over Berlin…

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Sections of the Berlin Wall still stand – a sombre reminder…

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The Berlin Wall used to pass in front of the Brandenburg Gate, central Berlin.

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The East Side Gallery is a 1.3 km stretch of the Berlin Wall still intact which is an international memorial for freedom.

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Dotted along the line at various points, reminders along the way keep us from forgetting the consequences.

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While the wall is gone, the memories and consequences are not forgotten…

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Sojourning so far

Sojourning so far

 

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Railroad Coffee – szklarka BISTRO

Just north of the Czech Republic border and 70 kilometres east of the German border there lies a little town in Poland called Szklarska Poręba.

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Sojourning so far showing Szklarska Poręba.

World famous for its incredible cross-country ski slopes, this place immediately warmed our hearts as we disembarked the train at its own railroad station called Szklarska Poręba Górna.

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Enter szklarka BISTRO – this little gem provided much relief and joy as we completed 8 connections from Prague en route to this quaint little town.

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Started, owned and run by local Polish entrepreneur Milek Zyromski, szklarka BISTRO boasts a simple café menu in a prime location as locals and tourists alike make use of the railroad between the Czech and Polish countryside.

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szklarka BISTRO proved to be one of those needed comforts that was required at the right time at an amazing place called Szklarska Poręba.

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Passing through FE

Passing through

Sadness and happiness. That’s what we sometimes feel at the same time as we leave a place or site. Unlike usual travel, Sojourning in 2015 has been about passing through – places and sites. Usually setting this almost daily goal in our minds, we do everything we can to get there. The sadness has been inevitable, but not something we think about as we arrive at a new place or site – then its happiness.

One of our favourite wild camping places: beside a 4th Century Synagogue ruin on the Jesus Trail, Israel (we define wild camping as camping where no formal campsite exists and where self-sufficiency is paramount for survival. This can be legal, illegal or dangerous, depending on the country. In Israel it is legal and safe).

One of our favourite wild camping places: beside a 4th Century Synagogue ruin on the Jesus Trail, Israel (we define wild camping as camping where no formal campsite exists and where self-sufficiency is paramount for survival. This can be legal, illegal or dangerous, depending on the country. In Israel it is legal and safe).

These places and sites are camp sites. Not the most ‘romantic’ of places, a flat pitch is where we make home, and call home for a few days. Why the sadness? Maybe it’s because we feel we leave a small piece of ourselves behind, yet at the same time we take a small piece of that place with us – all as we pass through.

Camping San Nicolò, Venice: after a tropical storm, we awoke to find hundreds of worms that made their home on our tent after dropping from a tree that we had camped under!

Camping San Nicolò, Venice: after a tropical storm, we awoke to find hundreds of worms that made their home on our tent after dropping from a tree that we had camped under!

The destination is not the goal, although the small daily ones keep us going, but the journey is the motivation to sojourning. Passing through, unlike usual destination-type travel is heart wrenching and keeps us grateful for the snippets of those places we can enjoy. Sojourning means movement, and so although there is a tendency to want to stay and enjoy more, we cannot, and so perhaps this adds to the sadness.

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Explorer or consumer traveller: you make the choice. Għajn Tuffieha Campsite, Malta, which happens to overlook the Radisson Blu Hotel!

But then we continue passing through, and as we realise that the destination nor the journey is the goal, so it’s the lessons we learn about ourselves and how we respond to them that is what it’s ultimately about.

Tent with a view: the evening of Day 6 of the GR20 trail in Corsica was one of those ‘in the right place at the right time’ kind of evenings…

Tent with a view: the evening of Day 6 of the GR20 trail in Corsica was one of those ‘in the right place at the right time’ kind of evenings…

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GR20

It was the night before and we struggled to fall asleep. Trepidation had mounted as we could not help but think about what the next 12 days and nights would hold on what we knew is known as the toughest trail in Europe.

For the downloadable GPS track and waypoints, go to http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=11277241

For the downloadable GPS track and waypoints, go to http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=11277241

The GR20 (Grande Randonnée), Corsica’s long distance trail, is 200km long and traverses diagonally, over and through the rugged mountain range across the island from Calenzana in the North to Conca in the South. It covers over 14 000 metres in accumulative assent and the same in accumulative descent. This post tries to tell our Tale on the GR20 in what we describe as nothing less than a remarkable experience.

 

Day 1: 12.14 km, 7h32, 1439m↑(ascent), 143m↓(descent)

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Trepidation? Perhaps, and fully self-sufficient, including all food and a tent for 13 days and nights (one day back up).

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Day 2: 8.84 km, 8h21, 803m↑, 1076m↓

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Rainbow promises! Day 2 displayed the grandeur of the Corsican Creation.

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Day 3: 8.3 km, 6h48, 819m↑, 664m↓

The Corsican mountains are known to be more extreme than their Alpine counterparts (and arguably more beautiful).

The Corsican mountains are known to be more extreme than their Alpine counterparts (and arguably more beautiful).

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Day 4: 13.44 km, 11h47, 1519m↑, 1504m↓

Summiting Monte Cinto, Corsica's highest point at 2707m was an added privilege; as the route today took an alternative track away from the famous Cirque de la Solitude (currently closed)which claimed the lives of 7 hikers on 10 June 2015 due to a rock fall.

Summiting Monte Cinto, Corsica’s highest point at 2707m, was an added privilege; as the route today took an alternative track away from the famous Cirque de la Solitude (currently closed) which claimed the lives of 7 hikers on 10 June 2015 due to a rock fall.

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Day 5: 15.3 km, 8h07, 812m↑, 847m↓

True colours - hiking the GR20 in late September/early October displayed Northern Hemisphere autumn.

True colours – hiking the GR20 in late September/early October displayed Northern Hemisphere autumn.

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Day 6: 17.3 km, 6h49, 662m↑, 444m↓

The GR20 is famous for its lakes.

The GR20 is famous for its lakes.

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Day 7: 20.63 km, 12h28, 1294m↑, 1518m↓

Awaking to this Lunar Eclipse was an unexpected delight!

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Day 8: 11.68 km, 7h33, 1196m↑, 1187m↓

Forests were plenty as we made our way South to the halfway point at Vizzavona.

Forests were plenty as we made our way South to the halfway point at Vizzavona.

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Day 9: 29.48 km, 11h51, 1327m↑, 908m↓

Halfway, and a relief to finally wash our hair after 8 days! 4 days and about 90 kilometres to go...

Halfway, and a relief to finally wash our hair after 8 days! 4 days and about 90 kilometres to go…

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Day 10: 15.75 km, 6h31, 1147m↑, 994m↓

"Day of the Sicilian Salami!" Received as a gift from fellow travellers in Sicily, we decided to keep it for 'one of those days'. This was the day - just over 6 hours of non stop hiking through continuous torrential rain, gale force winds and freezing temperatures. It went down really well after a rather humbling day out on the GR20.

“Day of the Sicilian Salami!” Received as a gift from fellow travellers in Sicily, we decided to keep it for ‘one of those days’. This was the day – over 6 hours of non stop hiking through continuous torrential rain, gale force winds and freezing temperatures. It went down really well after a rather humbling day out on the GR20.

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Day 11: 16.9 km, 8h01, 1054m↑, 1247m↓

Traversing the tops of mountain ridges is what makes the GR20 so tough.

Traversing the tops of mountain ridges is what makes the GR20 so tough.

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Day 12: 30.38 km, 11h12, 1323m↑, 2212m↓

There's more behind those smiles as we came to an end of the GR20.

There’s more behind those smiles as we came to the end of an adventurous journey on the GR20.

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We could not resist - completing the GR20 deserved it's own number plate!

We could not resist – completing the GR20 deserved it’s own number plate.

Sojourning so far

Sojourning so far

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Journeying – Part 2

We are all on a journey. Each of our journeys have reasons behind them. The Apostle Paul had a reason behind his well-known Missionary Journeys. Christianity, the only religion in the world which places so much significance on places, largely has Paul to thank in its spread. The Apostle Paul has been one of the reasons for us embarking on our Sojourning in 2015. Following on from Part 1, this Tale, Part 2 of 3, focusses on the places in ancient Greece where the Apostle Paul first Trailblazed with the Christian message and which we were privileged to visit.

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Paul’s Missionary Journeys within ancient Greece

White marble, lavish structures and culturally similar civilisations to the world we live in today, ancient Greece never ceased to amaze (click on the pics to view larger images; brown words are clickable links).

 

Kavala (Neapolis in antiquity)

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Philippi

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“And when they had inflicted many blows upon them [Paul and Silas], they threw them [Paul and Silas] into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks” – Acts 16:23-24 (brackets added)

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Paul would have used the Via Egnatia as he journeyed through ancient Greece in spreading the Christian message.

The letter Paul writes to the church in Philippi, known as Philippians, is as a result of his passing through this Roman outpost.

 

Thessaloniki (Thessalonica in antiquity)

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“Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews” – Acts 17:1

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In referring to his persecution and imprisonment in Philippi earlier, Paul writes in one of his letters to the church in Thessalonica: “But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict” – 1 Thessalonians 2:2

 

Athens

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“Then the brothers immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there. Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed. Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols” – Acts 17:14-16

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“So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring’” – Acts 17:22-28

 

Corinth

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“After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth” – Acts 18:1

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Paul writes in one of his letters to the church in Corinth:

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While white marble lies in ruins, the Christian message continues to spread…

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Victoria Lines

Britain has the Hadrian’s Wall. China has its Great Wall. Malta has the Victoria Lines. Stretching across the width of its main island, the Victoria Lines in Malta was built by the British army in the late 19th century along the edge of a natural escarpment to defend the island from invasion.

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Utilised in the Second World War, the Victoria Lines consist of fortified walls, deep ditches and military ‘bases’, which made for an interesting and exciting day out – all while navigating and running ‘the lines’.

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For the downloadable GPS track and waypoints, go to http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=11011752

Beginning on the East, we made our way Westwards along this wall as best we could follow it. This Tale highlights our journey as we discovered a rather hot, yet unique side of Malta.

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Ancient ‘cart ruts’ – nobody quite knows how they came about or why they exist!

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Overlooking Fomm ir-Rih Bay from inside a ruined Second World War defensive ‘Pillbox’.

Running ‘the lines’ was as much of a unique experience as it is that they are still standing…

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Sojourning so far

Sojourning so far

Crossing borders

Crossing Borders – Relationships Matter

The title gives it away – it’s all about relationships. Sojourning 2015  has enabled us to cross many international borders. Crossing borders has highlighted to us that these are based on prerequisites of permission, but underlined by a relationship between our own nation and that of the one(s) we pass through.

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So, using permissions as a backdrop, let’s talk about relationships in the context of sojourning. Sojourning 2015  has highlighted certain relationships that we come across on an almost ongoing basis. In no particular order, these relationships stand out the most:

 

With each other – husband and wife

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Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? – Ecclesiastes 4:9-11

Two really are better than one, but a whole that would not be complete without its parts. It just would not be the same. One of us has travelled alone in the past, and it cannot be compared. Permissions play an important role here in watching each other’s backs, leaning on each other in times of trial, ‘carrying’ the other when one is down (this happens often) and relying on that sense of trusting each other when a situation just doesn’t feel right. It’s a privilege, a joy, a wonder…

 

With locals we meet

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Moshe, a local from Tel Aviv, Israel, opened up his home to accommodate us.

Often based on permissions of exchange, usually money, this permission can be broken the more we give up our permission not to share. This sharing of our stories, beliefs and even a cup of coffee brings about relationships that are so sweet, one is sad to say goodbye. Often the hardest of relationships to build, this one certainly brings some of the greatest joy. The net result is humility in essence simply because our own weaknesses are exposed and judgements are dissolved.

 

With fellow travellers

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Having a braai with fellow traveller Khalied, from Belgium, at Al Nawatef Campsite in Dana Biosphere, Jordan

The permission to share is already there – just sharing brings about encouragement and inspiration, because the more one shares the more one is encouraged and inspired in return. This makes us feel like we are not alone in our sojourney and even if it’s for a brief time, these people have played a pivotal role in a certain aspect and time that fuels us to continue. These people always have a place we remember them by, having gone through a similar permission process to get there too.

 

With our God

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And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. – Ecclesiastes 4:12

The permission is granted, it is up to us to respond. God is everywhere, anywhere and always available. He is the Creator, Sustainer, Giver and Taker of relationships, so we don’t take them for granted. He is that strand that keeps the most important relationship in tact, and is always the One that gives Himself permission to be relational, consistently.

 

Lessons in permission? No, it’s lessons in relationships that we learn and hopefully grow through. Not taking relationships for granted whether they exist or not, the relationships and their permissions are key to understanding where we each are at – emotionally, cognitively and Spiritually.

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Triglav

There is a tradition that exits that every Slovenian is expected to summit Triglav (2860m) at least once in their lifetime. The ‘conquering’ of this summit is usually celebrated in rather the most bazaar of ways.

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For the downloadable GPS track and waypoints, go to http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=10792605

This cultural norm is underpinned by an inspirational active lifestyle value that most if not all Slovenian’s adhere too. It is no wonder that Slovenia boasts the most number of sport awards per person than any other country in the world!

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This Tale is about our day out with other local Slovenian’s in summiting their incredible mountain in the Triglav National Park, located in the Julian or Eastern Alps.

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On a knife-edge

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Triglav summit, 2860m, Slovenia’s highest point

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A young Slovenian receiving the traditional ‘treatment’ with a climbing rope after summiting!

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It was another one of those incredible days on an incredible mountain…

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Sojourning so far

Sojourning so far

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Coffee Treat – the Cookie Factory

Zagreb, Croatia’s capital and city of blue, is well known for the invention of the cravat and home to the very first telephone conversation. Today, Zagreb is known for its incredible coffee culture. With café’s dotted all over the city, each Saturday at midday, people enjoy their favourite cup of gold at their favourite spot while they people watch. It’s just what’s done in Zagreb!

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Without actually planning on doing so, we ‘happened’ to pass through Zagreb on a Saturday! After speaking to a local, we were directed to the Cookie Factory for our midday Saturday Zagreb treat. This little gem was certainly well worth the visit.

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There was no time to people watch as we were each treated to a bowl of tasty brownie and ice-cream of our choice. The coffee offered was a BOU Café blend from Spain.

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A certain highlight – the Cookie Factory is a place where treats are made!

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Eden?

“I wonder what Eden must have been like?” was one question that came across our minds as we ran through the popular Plitvice National Park, central Croatia.

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For the downloadable GPS track go to http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=10690483

A UNESCO World Heritage site and most visited of all of Croatia’s National Parks, Plitvice boasts incredible scenery that embodies raw Creation in its clear blue lakes and unique travertine rock formations created by cascading waterfalls.

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Plitvice was one of those places that made us wonder if it is anything close to the Garden of Eden…

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Sojourning so far

Sojourning so far