Remembering Bruges

Remembering Bruge

 

Bruges, Brugges, Brugge – there are as many variations on the name as there are languages spoken in this medieval town.

I visited in late autumn, and found a magical town. Bruges is a delight for wandering, for eating, for museums (an exhibition of the Flemish Primitives was showing) – and for chocolate. I was lucky enough to see the famous Dog of Bruges before he died. The old town is criss-crossed with canals, and cars are few.

A delightful place to explore the past. This photo brings back the smell of damp leaves after a crisp autumn day.

 

Sailing Into Kotor – and a Fairytale

 

 

The church bells were calling as I sailed into Kotor. I had entered a fairytale. The soft light of dawn danced across the Adriatic. Rugged mountains rose from the water, the stretch of lush land at their feet peppered with quaint villages and the spires of churches. I expected to see a horse and carriage trotting along under the morning light.

The Gulf of Kotor, Montenegro, is a fjord. Limestone cliffs plunge into a water coloured the blue of minerals. No wind ruffled the surface, as if the bay lay magically protected. When a soft rain fell the place became even more beautiful. Continue Reading →

A Love Affair with Barcelona

 

I fell in love with Barcelona as soon as I arrived. She is designed, it seems, for tourists: transport is easy (most of the cars on the road are taxis and the subway is excellent), the food is amazing, and there are simply too many sights to see. Barcelona is great for wandering and getting totally lost, while the Catalonians seem to have an Australian way of looking at the world. Perfect.

Continue Reading →

Memories: Balloons and a Cathedral in Saigon

 

Saigon

Memories of Saigon where I was treated to a spectacular sight: hundreds of balloons released into the sky. They gently drifted away on the breeze, as a procession of a few score priests, (including one in full Orthodox regalia) crossed the road and walked into the cathedral.

I never found out the occasion, yet it was something I had not expected to see in a Communist country. Yet this is part of the reason I will always call her Saigon, in memory of he past, although Ho Chi Minh races to the future.

Convent Stays – A Unique Type of Accommodation

Convent Stays

A heavy wooden door separated the convent from the outside world. As it closed behind me, I stood surrounded by silence. Flying anywhere from Australia takes a long time, and after a night and a day and a night I was exhausted. In true Roman style the taxi driver had careened down tiny streets where footpaths were more a suggestion than reality, before double-parking on the wrong side of the road.

The convent Le Soure di Lourdes was just a short walk from the top of the Spanish Steps. Once inside, the world became peaceful. Large wooden doors shut out the chaos of the street, and I stood in the quiet of a marble foyer.

Continue Reading →

On Finding My Great Uncle’s Grave

My great uncle's grave from anneharrison.com.au

On the 8th September 1916, my great-uncle died from wounds sustained during the Battle of the Somme. Second Lieutenant Henry Byron, 1st/5th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment, was twenty-two. His brother – my grandfather – enlisted at the age of fourteen, had a kidney shot out in Ypres, contracted TB while convalescing, and was shipped home with six months to live. Deciding escape was the only way to survive the miasmas of war-time Liverpool, he worked his way to Australia, jumped shipped in Perth, and died at the age of ninety two. He could never bring himself to return to France and visit his beloved brother’s grave – my daughter and I were the first in the family to do so.

Continue Reading →