It is three years since I left my last corporate position, determined to launch into a less predictable and more adventurous lifestyle (*). Extensive traveling was not part of a formal plan – I did not have any plan anyway. I ventured into the unknown with a taste of fear in my mouth and a flame of faith in my heart, mustering the courage to dive into an intangible flow and let the current take me to vast oceans and new shores. Little did I know that I was about to turn into a modern (female) Ulysses, landing on several exotic countries and filling my travelogue with experiences I never thought I would have. And, as months passed by, traveling became not just an integral part of my identity (even though I had been a frequent traveler since childhood), but, mostly, an indivisible part of my consciousness. On a perpetual quest for Ithaca – the mysterious home which is permanently luring the voyager deeper into the corners of the psyche – I do not travel anymore for recreational purposes, nor for business: I travel to keep exploring myself through the heartbeat of the lands and the eyes of humanity. [Read more…]
By the time we had reached the upper plateau of the Citadel’s stronghold, it was already mid-day. The city of Tripoli in Northern Lebanon unfolded through a composition of multiple canvases, each framed by the square shape of crenellations and windows. On one side, the Nahr Abu Ali river – one of the most important, culturally and historically, rivers of Lebanon – licked the foothills of the fort, and, were we to bend a bit outside the apertures, we would see the humble white dome of Takiyya Mawlawiya, the 17th c. Sufi hospice. At our backs, the old walls revealed ten centuries of history, from the Crusaders to the Mamluks and the Ottomans, all intertwined as tightly as the fortification structure itself. And on the other side, there spread a panoramic view of the old city. The elegant minaret of the Al Mansouri Great Mosque protruded above a densely-knotted cluster of shabby buildings, the lot much smaller than the multistoried atrocities that surrounded them in similar compactness. Decaying colors, curtain-like tents hanging from the balconies, endless strings of tattered-looking clothes, and worn posters of politicians everywhere. I secretly admitted to myself that the scenery below was not very inspiring, and the praises for the city sung for centuries by numerous travelers might be a memory of bygone times. But Lebanon is not a country to be experienced only through the senses; rather, it is a land to be felt with the heart. [Read more…]
The evening was mellow; Venus and Mars glistened playfully on a clear, ink-blue sky, and there was a floating brightness in the air, bestowing an illusion of glow on the marble ruins of Athens. Plaka’s narrow alleys remained empty, dotted with a few scattered pedestrians whose presence reinforced rather than softened the quiet solitude of the dusk. It was Wednesday, on a February night.
We entered Amaltheia creperie on Tripodon street – both the shop and the lane being unusually quiet, as if in a reverie of their own. [Read more…]