As Europe begins to open up to travelers again, it is more exciting than ever to think about the cultural treasures that lie ahead. For me, one of the greatest joys of travel is to personally associate with great art and architecture – which I have collected in a book. Top 100 Masterpieces in Europe. Here’s an old favorite:

The cave in Lascaux is amazing for how fashionable the human cave is. The walls are painted with animals – bears, wolves, bulls, horses, deer and cats – and even some extinct animals, such as the woolly mammoth. Homo sapiens are rarely seen, but there are human handprints.

All this was done about 20,000 years ago in the Stone Age, now in southwestern France. Before the advent of writing, metalwork, and agriculture, it was about four times older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. The caves were painted not by the Hulking, herbaceous Neanderthals but by a fully formed Homo sapiens known as Cro-Magnon.

These are not raw doodles with charcoal-tipped sticks. Cave paintings were a sophisticated, expensive, and time-consuming engineering project designed and implemented around 18,000 BC by dedicated artists supported by a unified and stable culture. First, all their materials had to be taken to a cold, pitch-black, hard-to-reach place. (They did not live in these deep limestone caves.) The “canvas” was huge প্রধান the main caves in Las Vegas are longer than a football field, and some animals are depicted as being 16 feet tall. They built scaffolding to reach the roof and high walls. They ground the minerals with a mortar and pastel to mix the paints. They worked by torch and oil lamp. They prepared the scene by creating the main outline of the image with a Connect-the-Dots series point. This Cro-Magnon Michelangelos then built their Stone Age Sistine Chapels, balancing on the Vara.

The paintings are impressively realistic. Artists used wavy black outlines to suggest moving creatures. They use different pigment scores to get a range of colors. For their paint “brush”, they employed a kind of sponge made from animal skin. In another technique, they will draw an outline, then fill it with spray paint – blown through a tube made of hollow bone.

Abhishek Kalpana. Visitors will be taken deep into the cave, with the help of flashlights, into a cold, resonant, and other mundane chamber. Someone will light a torch and a lamp in the dark, and suddenly – Hush! Creatures running around caves like prehistoric movies will shake lives.

Why did the Stone Age people – whose lives were probably hard and uncertain – bother to create such an apparent luxury as art? No one knows. Maybe because, as hunters, they were magically drawing pictures to increase the supply of game. Or maybe they thought that if they could “master” the animal by drawing it, they could master it later in the war. Did they worship animals?

Or maybe the result of a universal human drive to create paintings, and these caves were the first art galleries in Europe to bring in the first tourists. While the caves are closed to today’s tourists, the carefully crafted replica caves give visitors a vibrant Stone Age experience.

Today, visiting Lascaux II and IV, as these replica caves are called, allows you to share a common experience with a caveman. You may feel a bond with these longtime people … or you may be amazed at how different they were from us. After all, the art remains the same as the human species – a mystery. And a surprise.

For me, one of the greatest joys of travel is to personally associate with great art and architecture – which I have collected in a book. Top 100 Masterpieces in Europe. Here’s my favorite one:

Nowhere more beautiful than the splendor of the Moorish civilization – the last and greatest Moorish palace in Europe.

For seven centuries (711-1492), most of Spain was Muslim, ruled by Islamic Moors in North Africa. While the rest of Europe slept through the Dark Ages, Spain flourished under Moorish rule. The end result was the Alhambra – a sprawling complex of palaces and gardens on a hill in Granada. And the highlight is the magnificent Palacios Nazaris, where the Sultan and his family lived, worked and ran the court.

You enter through the perfume court of Myrtles, a world of ornately decorated rooms, stucco “stalactites”, filigree windows and bubble fountains. Water – so rare and precious in the Islamic world – was the purest symbol of life. Alhambra water, equipped with water everywhere: standing still, cascading, with secret conversation masks, and drip-dropping play.

When you explore the labyrinth of rooms, you can easily imagine the sultans smoking hookahs, sitting on pillows and Persian carpets, lighting heavy curtains and lamps in the windows. The walls and ceiling are covered with intricate patterns carved in wood and stucco. (If the Alhambra’s built-in patterns show Escheresk, you’ve got it back: the artist MC Escher was inspired by Alhambra.) Because Muslim artists avoided painting living creatures, they embellished it with calligraphy – engraved in Arabic and quotations from poetry. Verses. A phrase – “Only Allah wins” – has been repeated 9,000 times.

The General Leaf Garden – manicured hedges, reflective pools, playful fountains and a summer palace – where the sultans took a break from palace life. Its architect, in a way, was the Qur’an, which says that heaven is like a succulent oasis, and “those who believe and do good deeds will enter the gardens through which rivers flow” (Qur’an 22.23).

The courtyard, where many pictures of the Alhambra lion have been taken, has been named for the 12 marble lion fountains. The four channels carry water outwards – figuratively into the corner of the earth and literally into the Sultan’s private apartment. A poem carved on the Alhambra wall says that the fountain flows “crystal-clear water” like “a full moon shining from a cloudless sky.”

The largest room in the palace is the ornate throne room – the grand hall of ambassadors. Here the Sultan, seated on his throne under the star-domed roof, received the spectators. The ceiling (like a giant jigsaw puzzle) made of 8,017 pieces of wood, indicates the complexity of God’s infinite universe.

In Spanish history the throne room represents the ephemeral of the torch. It was here that the last Moorish king surrendered to the Christians in 1492. And it was here that the new king, Ferdinand and Isabella called Christopher Columbus “Sí, señor”, embarking on his voyage to a new world that would enrich Spain. But the glory of the Alhambra has survived, adding a charm and grace to Spanish art for centuries.

Today, the Alhambra stands as a thought-provoking reminder of a fascinating Moorish world that may have blossomed throughout Europe – but it did not.

As Europe begins to open up to travelers again, it is more exciting than ever to think about the cultural treasures that lie ahead. For me, one of the great joys of traveling is meeting the great art personally – which I have collected in a book. Top 100 Masterpieces in Europe. Here’s my favorite one:

For 2,000 years, the Parthenon temple in Athens was almost completely intact. But in 1687, during the siege of Athens, the Parthenon was used to store a huge cache of ammunition. (See where this is going?) Pow! A huge explosion sent huge portions of the Parthenon everywhere. Then in 1801, the British ambassador, Lord Elgin, took the most valuable surviving bits of carved stone to London, where they still fascinate visitors today – “Elgin Marble”.

The British Museum in London displays the statues and relief panels that once housed the now-empty outer top of the Parthenon. Reliefs carved around 430 BC, part of a 500-foot-long fridge that once ringed in the temple. They show 56 snapshots of the most festive ceremonies in ancient Athens: a great parade on Mount Acropolis to celebrate the city’s birthday.

The parade begins with the men on horseback, fighting to rein in their spirits. Then came the musicians playing the flute, while the women danced. Prominent citizens rode chariots, children rode side by side, and priests led the official bulls for the sacrifice. At the heart of the procession is a group of teenagers. Dressed in elegant clothing, they carried gifts to the gods, such as burning incense and wine jugs.

The most important gift of the girls parade was given: a folded dress. As the parade ends inside the Parthenon, the girls symbolically present the Athena costume to the temple’s 40-foot-tall gold-and-ivory statue.

Realism is incredible: the well-defined muscles of men, the swollen veins of horses. The intricately decorated garments of the girls look as stable as their flute columns, but they come out naturally – human form derived from stone. These panels were originally painted in dark colors. In the busyness of the details, the fridge has a unified element – all the heads are at the same level, moving in the same direction, creating a single ribbon of humanity around the Parthenon.

The main entrance to the Parthenon was adorned with a magnificent view depicting the birth of the city of Athens. These statues are located inside the triangular shaped pediment above the door. It shows the Greek gods walking around at an Olympian banquet. Suddenly, there is a stir of activity. The gods are leaning towards a miracle: Zeus has just split his head to reveal Athena, the symbol of the city. (Unfortunately, that original view is missing – it’s empty space at the top of the triangle.)

These pediment sculptures are realistic and three-dimensional, leaning in a completely natural and relaxed manner. Women’s clothing naturally grips and dyes, revealing their perfect physique at the bottom.

A final set of relief panels (so-called metophos) depicts a Greek legend that encompasses the entire Parthenon. They show that the ancient Greeks were fighting with the brutal Centurion. It’s free to pull hair, squeeze the throat, kick the shin, and hit the knee with the groin. Ultimately, people are on the rise – a symbol of how civilized Athenians have triumphed over their barbaric neighbors.

In real life, the Greeks came out of a brutal war and limited their recovery by building Parthenon. Precious Elgin marbles represent the largest crop cream of Greek temples. And they capture the moment in human history when civilization triumphed over barbarism, over rational thought over animal will, and over discipline.

As Europe begins to open up to travelers again, it is more exciting than ever to think about the cultural treasures that lie ahead. For me, one of the great joys of traveling is meeting the great art personally – which I have collected in a book. Top 100 Masterpieces in Europe. Here’s my favorite one:

The ghostly face of this woman immediately makes it clear that – despite the great beauty of this figure – it does not tell a happy story. The Lady of Shalt knows she is floating in a river for her destruction.

English artist John William Waterhouse depicts the dramatic climax of a legendary story. The Lady of Shalt spent her entire life confined to a castle near King Arthur Camelot, and was forbidden to look outside in agony. He could only observe the world indirectly through reflection in his mirror. But one day, the handsome Knight Lancelot climbs past. He was so hurt that he broke the rules and looked straight at her. Now she has followed her track and boarded a boat, leaving the mooring chain, when she set off unknowingly to find her loved one, whatever the cost.

Riverside landscapes – reeds, ink water, dark atmospheres, and even flying birds – evoke the melancholy beauty of the moment. Mrs. Shalt is glowing brightly, her white gown and red hair radiating from a dark background. Waterhouse focuses on provocative details, such as the lady’s discreet hair, pearl necklace, light rumple dress and clothed hands. For the lady’s face, he drew his own wife. The colors – red, green and blue – shine bright, clear and bright, like stained glass windows.

The whole scene looks medieval, yet it was painted in an industrial era when Britain was leading the world in new technologies such as electricity and trains. As Victorian Britain progressed, its artists looked to the past. The Waterhouse was inspired by a group of British artists known as the “Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood”, who painted medieval brides and legendary lovers with heartbreaking beauty.

Pre-Rafalites hated overacting. So – even in the midst of great tragedy, high spirits and moral dilemmas – this lady has just raised an eyebrow. But there is a lot of talk around him. Night is coming down, predicting his dark fate. The first leaf of autumn has fallen, near her thighs. He brought bright tapestries woven into captivity, with a view of the world of comfortable illusions that he once knew. Now he is led only by a faint lantern of Prove, a small crucifix to strengthen his faith, and three fragile candles – one of which is still burning.

Victorians of all ages knew this romantic legend (which was also Tennyson’s best-selling poem). Everyone can read their own meaning in the painting: the lady has chosen to leave her safe-but-confused existence to follow the truth. She is following her heart despite the danger. Even at the cost of losing herself in the process, she risks finding intimacy, love, and sex. His facial expressions show a mixture of fear, hope, weakness and a perception that – whatever it is – is his destiny.

He leaves the chain. Then, Tennyson writes, “like some brave spectator in a trance,” he “went down the fading expanse of the river.” Legend has it that the Lady of Shalt’s boat sailed down and washed ashore at Camelet, where Lancelot saw it and mourned for her. He surrendered under the curse of seeing the world as it is.

“Covid and Anti-Waxers”

JK, this is a picture of 13th century hell from Florence Baptistery. Europe has been plagued by many plagues and epidemics for centuries – and in the Middle Ages (before they performed the miracle of the vaccine), they thought it was the wrath of God or Satan that was making their lives miserable. There was no science to ignore them – like today, when many in our society insist on bringing this avoidable misery to our community.

At the time, life was “wicked, brutal, and short-lived”, obsessed with what came after medieval people: would I go to heaven or hell? And this mosaic made clear the fate of the wicked. You will be sent to hell, where the soul is swallowed up by horned ogres, bitten by snakes, harassed by spoke-eared monsters, and roasted in eternal fire.

The Baptistery of Florence is even older than this 13th century mosaic. Built on top of the Roman Foundation, it is the oldest surviving building in the city – about 1,000 years old. Baptistery is best known for its bronze renaissance doors (including the “Gates of Heaven” of Ghibarti), but its interior still retains a medieval mood. It is dark and mysterious, topped with an octagonal dome of gold mosaics of angels and biblical scenes.

It is the mosaic of Judgment Day to be mastered. Christ sits on a throne, extends his arms, and gives the final thumbs-up and thumbs-down. The righteous go to heaven, others to hell.

Of course, in medieval times no one knew what hell was. Even the Bible lacked anything specific, only describing a place that was dark, underground, burning, unpleasant, eternal, and detached from the kingdom of blessing.

The mission of the artists who made this mosaic: to bring hell to life. It is a chaotic entanglement, scattered corpses, scattered snakes and flames of fire. In the center sits a bull-headed monster, his arms outstretched like Christ’s monstrous Doppelganger. He jumps on a poor spirit, grabs the next path with his hand, and jumps on two more spirits, while snakes can catch more prey from his ears and tail.

Such graphic descriptions were groundbreaking in pre-Renaissance times. We see the beast’s six-pack abs, braided beard and wrinkled red cloak that echoes the blazing fire. Cursed people have natural postures – crouching, bending, gestures – and their sore faces tell a sad story of eternal torment.

The reality of this mosaic proved to be extremely influential for proto-Renaissance artists such as Giotto, and the building itself inspired Renaissance architects such as Brunelleschi. And shortly after this mosaic was completed, a small child named Dante Alighieri was immersed in the Baptismal font just below it. Dante is well aware of this hellish scene. When he wrote his epic, Inferno (“Hell”), he described it with the same vivid imagery: crazy landscapes, crowds of naked people, a minotaur in the center, and so on. Dante’s motifs have inspired other artists over the centuries (such as Giotto and Signorelli) who created European altars, paintings, novels, and paintings. These have shaped the imagination of people all over the world. And much of it can be found in the Florentine Baptists and the anonymous artists who labored here in the 13th century, determined to give them hell.

I believe the memory of regular travel can be good for the solar. Here’s my favorite one And I want to hear some of your most memorable travel stories.

It’s the summer of 2008, and I’m hanging out with my hosts Hans and Marjet in my B&B living room on the outskirts of Amsterdam in Harlem. Reaching my Heineken, I noticed that it was sitting in a handbook that the Dutch government had created to teach prostitutes about safe sex. Thumbing through it, I tell Hans, “It’s both artistic and clear.”

“It’s Victoria without a secret,” he whispered jokingly.

“Isn’t that shocking to a lot of people?” I ask.

“Only to the English and the Americans,” he replied. Remember, this is Holland. Last night we saw a local TV documentary. It was about body piercings, in full graphic detail – tits, penis, everything. There was a special on Kamasutra last week. I have never seen sexual gymnastics. These were two more documentaries for our Dutch. . . It doesn’t matter. These would probably be big hits on American TV. ”

“I don’t know,” I say, realizing that I found the handbook more interesting than Hans. “But do you know which is the most visited page on my website? A silly little article comparing the two sex museums in Amsterdam. “

“Sex is not a click here. This is not a ban in Holland, “said Marget. “But we are not reckless about sex. Dutch teenage pregnancies are half that of Americans. “

Save money on B&B. As a bonus, I find that B&B hosts are often great students of intercultural human nature and like to share their results. They give me an intimate glimpse of a culture I couldn’t get from the front desk of the hotel.

This is certainly true of Hans and Marjet, who encourage guests to thoroughly prepare themselves at home. And in their living room, with its well-worn chairs, crowded books, fun near-antiques, and a steep piano that is jammed with shattered music, it’s easy to feel at home.

Hans and Marjet live in three rooms and rent five. Hans would like a place to stay a little longer. Like her neighbors, she could glass her backyard, but she couldn’t stand her juicy but pint-sized garden business. He brought me another beer and asked, “How long are you going to stay here?”

“Not long enough” is my regular response. I’m Hans’s pet Yankee. He is in a personal crusade to slow me down. To Hans, I’m a fine-grained, goal-oriented American.

Hans provides their guests with more insight into the cultural differences. “We Dutch are in the middle,” he said. “We are as skilled as the Germans – that’s why there are so many American companies in Holland. But we want to live like the French. “

“And cracking jokes like the English,” Marget added. “Everyone here appreciates the British sense of humor. We watch BBC for comedy. “

Hans also sees cultural differences in the way their guests eat breakfast. “Americans like tough advice and want to be guided. Europeans – especially Germans – know what they want. It took the French three days to defrost. But Americans talk and make friends quickly. Europeans, even if there is no language difference, put their personal formal island on the breakfast table. “

He leans forward, pointing to two of their kitchen tables. “If the Germans were sitting here and the Americans were sitting there, I would break the ice. Introducing the Americans to the Germans, I say, ‘OK, they left their guns in the state.’ We are like Dutch Germans – but with humor. “

Coming back to our discussion of how different cultures interact with sex, Margaret tells Hans, “Tell Rick the story of the‘ Dutch boys on the English beach ’. This body thing can be stressful for the Americans, but it sends the English under their pillows. “

“As a schoolboy I traveled to England with a friend,” Hans began. “We changed our pants on the beach without the hassle of towels – no problem. We are good Dutch boys. As usual, there was a visitor to the beach: bench-loaded retired Britons enjoying the fresh air, suffering through their wet sandwiches. When my friend starts to change his swimsuit, all the people turn their heads. Rejoicing in our power to remove the English masses, we repeated this step. I pulled my trousers down and all heads turned again. “

“We don’t see much English on our beach,” said Margot, smiling as if she were hearing the story for the first time.

“We get most Americans,” Hans said.

“We would be happy to fill our house with only Americans,” Marget said. “It’s easy to communicate with Americans. They’re open. They’ve taught me to express myself, to say what I think.”

Hans pauses to mimic a Tony Tiger tourist, “Oh wow, that’s great! What a beautiful home you have here!”

“Americans are shocked,” Marget added.

“The English don’t know how to be shocked,” says Hans.

I think you almost surprised them on that beach, “Margett said.” When we went to Colorado, my trip got better when I learned to say ‘wow’ a few times a day. “

“When an American asks, ‘How are you?’ We say, ‘OK’ means ‘good’. The American says, ‘It doesn’t feel good.’ We explain, ‘We are European.’

Hans says, “Then the American answers, ‘Oh, yeah – you’re honest.'”

“There are big ‘smiles and winning’ signs in the market, even in the shopping bags of the supermarket,” said Marjet, fascinated by the sincerity of America’s smiling face.

“It’s true,” I agree. “Only in America can you find a bank that fines tellers if they don’t tell every client to ‘have a nice day’.”

Hans says, “Did you know that the Dutch are the most desirable workers at Disneyland Paris? Because most Dutch are open-minded. We can laugh all day. And we speak our language.”

Marget explains, “When someone in Holland asks, ‘Do you speak your language?’ They mean: Do you speak Dutch with French, German and English?

Hans continues. “And for us, friendly performances may be less tedious than French ones. Can you imagine a Frenchman laughing all day?”

Hans closes my Heineken glass. “God created the whole earth. It was wonderful. But France. . . It was just so perfect. So he spoke French to keep things in balance.

“And Canada could have it all: British culture, French food, American knowledge,” said Marget.

“But they have messed up and got British food, French knowledge and American culture.”

As I climb up the steep Dutch stairs to my bedroom, I think of the value of friends on the street. The most memorable moments of this day came after visiting my sights.

Although I know otherwise, I often find myself wondering if the name “Afghanistan” comes from an ancient word for “tragedy.”

Afghanistan is in the headlines again – quickly, and almost without resistance, occupied by Taliban leaders who envision a medieval-style caliphate. To some of my generation, this weekend’s events seem like a daunting task to look at that turbulent corner of a lifetime. First, during the decade-long war that raged around in the 1980s, Afghanistan held the USSR hostage. And now – after two decades, nearly a trillion dollars, and thousands of American lives – the United States is learning the same lesson: reluctant to rule this despicable land.

Easy to point fingers: Should George W. Bush have invaded the country in 2001? Should Donald Trump have reached an agreement with the Taliban in early 2020? Should Joe Biden have withdrawn American troops so soon? But in the end, no one has the answer … that’s why we find ourselves in this same place.

One thing is clear: the repeated failure of powerful countries to impose our will on the Afghan people is a reflection of our nationalism … our inability to understand what motivates them. And using Afghanistan to score political points with American voters ignores the horrific human cost of instability that has ruined the lives of everyday Afghans for generations.

In my case, that tragedy is even more difficult to observe because I have enjoyed people-to-people contacts in Afghanistan. As the news unfolded, I was swimming through the memories of my journey from Istanbul to Kathmandu in 1978 at the age of 23 on the “Hippie Trail”. It was a trip of a lifetime – which is not possible now. Every border crossing was a drama, and every rest stop was a lifelong memory.

On the Iran-Afghanistan border – surrounded by abandoned VW vans separated by drug-seeking guards and telling the story of European, Aussie, and American backpackers staring at dusty glass displays who were caught with drugs and spending time in Afghan prisons – we We kept (so that no one could put anything illegal in them) and we were waiting for the doctor to test our vaccine. My travel companion, Jean, needed a shot, and I still remember turning the dull needle as it struggled to break his skin.

Once on the streets of Afghanistan, on our way to Herat in our packed minibus, the driver stopped, pulled out a knife in the blazing sun, and said, “Your ticket price has gone up further.” An Indian traveler calmed the religious uproar from our Americans, and we are all welcome in Afghanistan.

In Herat, a city and cultural center in western Afghanistan, we spent the night watching flashlight chariots on the roof of our hotel. There was an Odyssey every day – not just sightseeing, but just wandering around the market and gardens and random surroundings. This was in the aftermath of a communist coup backed by the USSR. A Soviet tank was parked in the main courtyard, and the restaurant had a menu whose price was literally marked and a note: “Thanks for the Soviet liberation.”

Following our bus journey across Afghanistan which was of course the only paved road in the whole country (a foreign aid project). The terrain looked like a dry desert. I remember the monotony of a broken cemetery by the side of the road, the dusty forest of Hegledy-Pigldy tomb in the desert. Even with 50 passengers, the toilet break lasted only a few minutes: the bus would not stop anywhere in the middle, the men would go to the left side of the road, and the women would gather on the right side of the road. With their big black dress tents, they will be sitting together.

Truck stops seem to be designed to allow bus drivers to smoke hashish. At one point, I remember a circle of people sitting on their haunches and walking around with something they were smoking when they all saw a goat skin cut.

Kabul was the only real city in the country. It seemed to exist only because a county had to have an urban center to be governed – a kind of urban necessity on a land that didn’t really know what to do with a city. I have seen people wearing uniforms who, to this day, wear only tribal clothing.

As I sat down to eat in the backpackers’ cafeteria, a man appeared at my table. He said, “May I join you?” I said, “You already have it.” He asked, “Are you American?” I said, “Yes.”

And then he went on a well-worn spiral: “I’m a professor here in Afghanistan. And I want you to know that in this world, one third of people eat with spoons and forks like you. One third eat with chopsticks. And one third of people eat with their fingers. And we are all equally civilized. “

This meeting became the most influential in my life – like all my other visits to Afghanistan, it walled off my nationalism and rearranged my cultural furniture.

One of the highlights of any overland trip in India was crossing the fabulous Khyber Pass to leave Afghanistan. We were scared of Westerners, sitting on the bus, responsibly carrying our luggage in our laps, we realized that we had almost arrived in India – which would feel strange to come home. Our bus ticket comes with a “safety supplement” to ensure a safe passage. The fees were paid to the autonomous tribes who “ruled” the area between the capital city and the border with Pakistan. I was more than happy to pay this little extra for their vintage rifles, rolling under their rocky castles, flags flying in the air (which had nothing to do with Afghanistan) and bearded sentries.

Coming out of the rugged and arid mountains of Afghanistan, a wide-open and moist plain opened up. The stones of Iran and Afghanistan were behind us. And expanded to one billion people in Pakistan and India.

With this post, I’m starting a seven-day series featuring photos from my travels and excerpts from my 1978 journal through Afghanistan. (I wrote this article from vague memories; upcoming entries were written with perseverance every night, describing the adventures of that day in this fascinating country.) Stay tuned, and let’s keep the Afghan people in our thoughts and prayers.

With the fall of Afghanistan, I am reflecting my travel experience there as a 23-year-old backpacker on the “hippie trail” from Istanbul to Kathmandu. Yesterday and today, it is a poor yet powerful land that foreign powers misunderstand and insist on devaluing.

In this 1978 journal entry, Mashhad took a bus with me from Iran, Herat, the main city in western Afghanistan.

Saturday, July 29, 1978: Mashhad to Herat

My Spanish friend woke me up at 5:45. I think if he hadn’t come I would have slept all morning. We got off at the station and took a ride and weakly I searched for breakfast. Half a liter of milk and a small cake did quite nicely and we were on our way.

Here was the beginning of a new world. Compared to Iranians and Afghans, Afghans look Asian and Mongolian and their twine-wrapped luggage is full at the bus station. Our bus left at 7:20 and was quite full of western travelers – the most we have seen since the Istanbul-Tehran bus.

Jean and I were calm and weak. I sat there, the hot air blowing in my face with the whip around my hair, hoping the kilometers would last and I knew I was sinking further away from Europe.

At 10:30 we arrived at the deserted Iran-Afghanistan border. What a place! Stuck somewhere in the middle. We left our passports and went to the building. An interesting museum with a message greeted us. In a few glass cases there were stories and hideouts of many unfortunate drug smugglers. It was made for interesting reading – who smuggled what and where and was sent to prison. I have this terrible fear that someone will plant some dope in my Rocksack and I will be leaked. That wouldn’t be any fun.

We got through Iranian customs quite easily and then we crossed a windy desert to an abandoned, isolated VW van and small orange bus full of locals bordering the area. We just stood around. The wind and heat were intense. The barren plain stretched around and I said to Jin, “Then this is Afghanistan.” We found shade in one of the wrecked VW vans and peeled a small apple. Then a bus came and we got in. Quickly stopped to check the passport, I couldn’t believe it was so easy. It wasn’t.

A few minutes later our bus pulled up to the search yard and we started to sit and wait for the bank and doctor’s office to open.

And here I sit. Time is good for doing nothing but catching up in the journal, which I did in the end, and thinking. When I brush ants bigger than me and protect my eyes from sand and blown things, I think about the fun things I can do. I think of friends returning home, of my parents in their leisure time on their yacht in cool, green, fresh British Columbia., And the fun I could have in Europe. I’m glad I’m finally doing it but I’m really looking forward to it. I hope for health, no problem, and a good flight back to Europe.

The funny little bank opened and to change my 100 franc note I had to sign three, write the serial number of the bill and ask a few times for the correct change. I brought 775 Afghans.

The next few hours tried my patience as we bounced back and forth from a dusty office to take care of everything so we could enter Afghanistan. The luggage “search” was a little more than a glance, our shot certificates were checked, the police and customs officers checked us out, we had fanta and finally everyone got back on the orange bus and we were on our way – or so we thought.

About 100 yards later there was a police check and most of the Polish passengers on the bus jumped on it and had to go through more red tape. Then we went to the dusty vastness of the desert in Afghanistan.

The countryside was arid and barren, supported by dark brown hills and eroded by mud huts, some old ruins or flocks of goats or sheep. It always feels good to enter a new country. So far this summer I have only discovered two new ones. But everything that lies ahead is as new.

Just when it seemed like we were getting up somewhere, a fight started in front of the bus. Afghans have decided to double the price of the ride from 50 to 100 afghanis. Our tourists were stubborn and we refused. The driver turned around and pulled out a rough-looking Afghan knife as he approached the Iranian border. You could tell they were on top of a barrel of ours.

There was a commotion, And everyone was trying to solve the problem. A soft-spoken but commanding Pakistani asked us to pay but we all believed that if we paid then there was nothing to stop them from using the same tactics again. We have compromised – we will give them 60 afghanis now and the rest will go to Herat. We were all on edge after that episode and I think if they had tried to get more money, they would have had a lot of trouble with the burden of their terrific passengers on the earthly bus.

We stopped at a secluded tea shop where a well and a group of locals were picking up a warm goat skin. The word “hotel” was a sign and I was expecting the worst. Many people are notorious for “highly recommending” certain hotels. Although it was an innocent tea stop, and it gave Jean and me the first good look in Afghanistan. The leaking well provided cold, dirty water to everyone. I cooled down really nicely, wallowed it. We shared a 25-cent watermelon and my weak, hungry body chewed it. I thought I had really abused myself by not eating much. For two days I skipped any real food and just drank pop and sucked watermelon. I have decided from now on that I will eat well and stay in good hotels for both my mental and physical health and to keep my spirits high.

The tea house for a tea house in Afghanistan was exactly the image I had. Men dressed in old traditional clothes, who look like they have worked hard but they sit around lazily, sitting on the floor drinking tea and eating hashish. The room was filled with smoke and their black glass eyes caught. We were joined by a few tourists and I was just standing on top of my watermelon peel and looking out the window as if I was watching a documentary on TV. Word spread — we had more drivers and the crew would be quieter. What a strange society. I guess when you’re so far behind physically you just give up – sit in the shade and eat melons, drink tea., And smoking hash.

Back on the hot bus we set off for Herat and dawn fell on us, “You know, this place is beautiful to look at.” We were definitely in a new and different culture and both Jin and I were delighted. I punched him on the shoulder, “Okay, let’s start our trip now!”

Herat was, like the information in our minimum guidebook, “hard to choose.” Very green, As far as cities go in this part of the world, And with lots of parks, I loved Herat right now. Cheap, sick of Scoozy Hole, I’ve lobbied for a first class hotel. We found a dilly.

Hotel Mowafaq, a fancy hotel in downtown Herat, was all we needed. Located in the center, shower, swimming pool, clean restaurant, And free from all the men who are tormented by cheap hotels, it will make us feel human again. I feel a little softer, but I prefer a place where I can leave my belongings without worrying and walk around barefoot and find easy peace when needed. Our double cost was only 200 afghanis ($ 5) and we were willing to spend more.

We had a sprite and we stopped at a small clothing store in this central area of ​​Herat where Jean and I could get some local clothes so we could go “native” for the rest of the trip. Local baggy clothes make a lot more sense, And they will also be fun souvenirs. Jean bought a piece of hashish from the man for about 1. We’ll wait and see what we do with it.

Now we were clean and ready for a feast. A nice cool shower and an enjoyable and highly successful activity in a real sit down toilet (you don’t appreciate the little things in life like sitting on the toilet unless you have them). Coming out of the bathroom I thought, “Well, there was a quick punishment for bragging about the diarrhea I had yesterday, how I traveled with hard stools for two months, and now I’m a new person.”

Below we ordered two local specialties served on Saturday and we noticed that there was a small note on each page in the menu. Since the People’s Revolution, all prices have been reduced by 10 afghanis. It costs just 50 afghanis ($ 1.25) for each meal of soup, bread, rice, meat and cold water. We were both thirsty and cold water attacked our self-discipline like forbidden fruit. We surrendered to it and it was good. I couldn’t help but feel “iffi” about it when I drank suspicious water as I always do but it didn’t diminish its initial goodness. The black and green tea finished the meal nicely in a well-sized container and I can’t believe how everything turned out so wonderfully.

The people here are nice, with soldiers and police on the streets in the wake of the recent revolution. Flower-decorated taxis like horse-drawn chariots come down the road. We stood on the windy porch under the stars thinking that this place is no different than the constellations.

My hair is fluffy, the hall has air conditioning and we have a bug screen in the open window. There is a fixture of light, my teeth are clean, my stomach is full, I feel healthy (and hopefully will be tomorrow) and I think I will go to bed early tonight. It is very important to live well and enjoy yourself and, without going through periods of sadness and discomfort, you will never know you can really enjoy it.

With the fall of Afghanistan, I am reflecting my travel experience there as a 23-year-old backpacker on the “hippie trail” from Istanbul to Kathmandu. Yesterday and today, it is a poor yet powerful land that foreign powers misunderstand and insist on devaluing.

Stay away from me while exploring Herat, a leading city in western Afghanistan, in this 1978 journal entry.

Sunday, July 30, 1978: Herat

A dream woke me up at 7:30 and by 8:15 I gave up trying to fall asleep. At the restaurant I ate two fried eggs, yogurt and a pot of black tea. After cleaning my camera lens, Jin and I set off to see Herat.

First, we had two businesses – exchange money and get a bus ticket The bank was really something. It took me about an hour to change the $ 100, but it was interesting to sit back and watch the Afghan banking process. I saw the suitcases of scattered Afghans, the tribesmen bringing five or six dollar 100 bills (I’m afraid to imagine where they got them), a uniformed guard with enough bayonets for five or six bank robbers and a rag-tag building and atmosphere. I have received 3,758 Afghans. At first the man gave me 3,000. I said “more” and he gave me 800. “More” and I got 50 more afghani, and then I wanted and got the last 8 afghani.

Afterwards, Jin and I rode a bus to the highly recommended Qaderi bus company for Kabul. The 800-kilometer journey costs only $ 5 or 200 afghanis. Hopefully, we will get our seats and there will be no fuss.

We were free to roam. I had a fanta, put on a zoom lens, and went into action on the colorful flower horse-drawn taxi, the busy craftsman, the fruit stand, and the dusty dream side street. Everyone who came out of the travel poster seemed straightforward. Strong strong eyes on the back of the skin weather-beaten face. Beards flying in poetic air, long and wavy, and snake-like turbans securely wrapped around their heads. The older women carried the babies completely covered in bag-like attire and surprisingly called for a photo. I shot almost the whole roll and luckily I should have had some great shots.

We moved away from the main center and chatted about the activities in the dusty residential area. People are very proud and no one deserves to be photographed. Everyone was gesturing to come to us, except those who were too proud to acknowledge us. I didn’t really know how people would accept us as weird, short-skinned, pale-skinned, weak-bellied, Phoenician people who would gossip in their world, take pictures and buy trash and bring it home and tell everyone how cheap it was. . I couldn’t help but feel that our curious tourists have grown old to these tough, proud people who work so hard and live so simply.

There were countless moments and scenes that flashed through my mind forever, a picture of Afghanistan. We worked to quench an average thirst and shared a watermelon in the shade before we moved on.

Exhausted, we returned to our beautiful hotel, ate a plate of potatoes, a bowl of soup and some tea, got up for a shower and a short snooze. We’re living really well for a change now. I made that $ 100 cash and it feels great to just spend the money when you want and don’t worry.

Now we are back in the sun. The afternoon temperature was still cooking and every once in a while we would keep our heads wet under a faucet. After mailing our postcards, we checked out the rows of cloth weavers. Hardworking men worked tirelessly on these primitive looms. The witness is quite interesting. Then, forming a wide circle, we came to the big mosque, checked it out, and found ourselves in the vicinity of very hard-selling shops.

A pseudo-friend took me by the hand and led me to his shop, and before I knew it, I was wearing the locals’ great white baggy pants and shirt and turban, and bargaining like crazy. I am determined to make him work from 500 to my maximum of 152 afghani. I almost made it, but I was surprised when he let me go empty handed, a little sorry too. I want those cool, baggy, low-profile clothes and maybe, if I can swallow my pride, I’ll be back tomorrow and take them.

Like running a Gauntlet, we made our way back to our hotel to enter the store and make our way out. I tried and failed to get a beautiful mink skin cheaply. I offered 200 afghanis for an exciting Afghan Fox hat and finished buying it and I proudly reduced a man from 400 afghanis to 40 afghanis for three small beautiful embroidered pouches. I didn’t buy any souvenirs to talk about on the two-month trip – now I’m afraid I’ve opened the floodgate.

Back at the hotel, Jean pulled out the hashish she had bought and I decided that this would be the time and place where I would lose my “marijuana virginity”. I’ve never smoked a cigarette and smoking has always stopped me, so to speak, because it’s always a matter of social pressure and I never feel comfortable doing it because everyone at a party was doing it and I was the only one. The “square” is one. This kind of pressure and the normal view around pot smoking strengthened my resolve to stay away from evil weeds. But this was different.

In Afghanistan, hashish is an integral part of culture. It is as innocent as wine with dinner in America. If I ever had this high experience, it wouldn’t be in a dark dorm room in UW with a bunch of people I don’t respect. I can’t feel good about it.

Jean and I talked about marijuana and hash on the bus for about three hours after leaving Istanbul. I decided that if I felt better about the whole situation, I would like to smoke some hash in Afghanistan. Okay, I’m here in Herat, I love it, and I love this city. We’ve got authentic hashish worth about half the price of 40 afghanis ($ 1). It was so smooth that it had to be cut with a knife.

Up in the room, Jean mixes it with some tobacco and piles the product into a fun old straight wooden pipe that we picked up. He pulled one – immediately commented, “Good thing”. I don’t know what to expect and sucking in the hope of not getting a mouth full of ashes. I don’t like smoke, but other than that, there was nothing disgusting about it. It didn’t even smell like marijuana. The only problem is nothing happened. I’ve smoked enough, but Virgin Run is generally unproductive. Anyway, at least I didn’t go down without explaining myself first.

We went out for a walk. Going from store to store is very natural. Mixing with people, sniffing at shops, and just poking. This space is small, but it doesn’t really matter because no road is ever the same if you go through it a second or third time.

We sat outside our restaurant for dinner since tonight was a special wedding in the big room. We had a plate of lots of different vegetables, each with lots of meat washed by tea for $ 1.50.

Upstairs we smoked a little more and took a cold bath. This time I felt a little change. Some colors and objects were more tangy. There was a lively edge to things that I didn’t realize was an option. I was very relaxed and the light fixture on our roof looked like a big candle breathing in and out. But I still wasn’t really high.

The big wedding started downstairs, and the bride’s father proudly shook my hand and greeted Jin and me, and we sat next to a small Afghan band, listening to exciting music and watching the women dance. Everyone was quite formal, men in one room, women in another, and the decorated car was waiting outside.

Now we walk at night. Chariots burning torches through the darkness, people carrying lanterns, shopkeepers and work boys sitting around soup and bread, many Afghans were tall or rising there, it was cold and, as always, the wind was weeping. The night was a great experience and we wandered around.

After a small watermelon, one more time to check out the wedding, making a cold shower and a nice wet bed with our sheets, we commented on what a good day was today and went to bed waiting for tomorrow and wrapped in wet sheets. .

(This is the journal entry # 2 of a five-volume series. Stay tuned for another episode tomorrow, as I’m 23 years old entering deeper into Herat.)

With the fall of Afghanistan, I am reflecting my travel experience there as a 23-year-old backpacker on the “hippie trail” from Istanbul to Kathmandu. Yesterday and today, it is a poor yet powerful land that foreign powers misunderstand and insist on devaluing.

Stay away from me for another dreamy day in Herat, Afghanistan, in this 1978 journal entry.

Monday, July 31, 1978: Herat

I did not move for nine hours. After breakfast we started a little adventure with our rental bikes. Nice to get the wheel. We could stop whenever we wanted and, if the people were too intense, we could have a clean escape. The wind has cooled us and things have happened much faster than we have to travel on foot.

We hurried through the part of the city we already knew to the old ruined minarets that we had seen two days earlier when we came to Herat. Examining this historic site, an old man at 10 Afghans lets us enter the mosque and we see the tomb of an old Afghan king.

Now we saw the big historical place and we stopped visiting with some kind of study in the shade. We had a nice chat and learned something about culture and language. We learned from our friend that we are spending too much money on almost everything.

Happy shore down the road, I took a string of gorgeous photos. This is the moment of the photographer that I have been waiting for so long. I’ve got boys throwing watermelons, colorful girls sitting on the shore, lazy teenagers leaning on warm wagons, and lots of little news of Afghan life. People are truly friendly and proud, shaking my hand firmly and equally. I threw a small fruit at me but, all in all, it was one of the most friendly countries in my experience. Any woman who has taken to the streets and who has reached puberty is completely covered by a small gridwork of cloth covering their face.

We are determined to paddle to one side until we reach the edge of town. After soaking our flutes with Sprite, we descended the busy, dusty streets until the town had turned into a mud village as I had seen in Egypt and Morocco. Along the sidewalk, we found ourselves locked into a new and different world. The calm brown dirt road has become high walls, long and narrow. The walls are occasionally broken into small shops and rustic wooden doors. Young and old sat as if they were waiting for a stranger on a bike. I’m sure we had a very rare view for them. I wonder if they enjoyed our presence or if we were violating their peace.

I’ve experimented with a variety of greetings, starting with a baby wave greeting, the serious “kiss the hand and keep it in the heart” style that offers us a religious look. That one gets great results. I had a pocket full of candy for the gift and I felt better giving it than giving money.

You know, in this happy society everyone seems to be satisfied and I have never seen a hungry and very hard beggar. They have decent demand for low productivity and things seem to be working out and everyone has enough tea, hashish and watermelon.

We peeked around until we were full and realized it was hot and hard work. Then, on the way back, we stopped at a haystack, where a wooden hay chewing machine pulled a few bulls romantically. What a dreamy tourist and photographic opportunity! I got the chance to run the kart and there was an unforgettable explosion. I sit on the chewers, running the oxen around and around and I think the farmers kicked as big as I could and I pulled them out and out of their hay. That adaptation.

We got our bikes back two hours later and paid everyone one. We picked up a watermelon and headed back to our hotel. Feeling hot but happy, we stopped by the pool, took off our underwear and plunged into the cold. Instant refreshments! That’s great! What a wonderful day we are having! We walked around, took a few dives and took some good pictures and I thought, “My goodness – this is going to be a holiday.” In the drop up room, we packed up for a while and went downstairs for lunch. Good sleep, good food, and my vitamin pills were my formula for enjoying and succeeding the rest of this trip. I don’t think I could go wrong with that recipe, but we have to wait and see, right?

After a short rest and a few cold showers, the sun was a little lower in the sky and we came back. While I was in love, Martin got off the Istanbul-Tehran bus while bargaining with a nice guy for that mink, and we chatted, and he recommended endless markets. We said we were going there.

I turned on my zoom lens and I got a thrill to zoom in on these beautiful people. I can’t wait to see my picture. We have soaked all the images in the market and transformed or melted from scene to scene. What a sensual experience. We would go to the water pipe making sock or the surrounding area to the tin pounder, weaver, bead maker, bead stringer, billow working man, Ricky foot sharpening knife, chain pounder and nail bender. Everything was done by hand. Old and young worked hard all day for the same little thing – all their lives. I will never complain about the long days of my work – teaching piano lessons.

Each shop was about five yards across and every five yards was a new scene – a new glimpse of Afghan life. Some things we didn’t even understand. At one point, the little ones would not give up asking for “bakshish” (gifts of money) and we had to enter a huge mosque where a policeman chased them and we had to take off our shoes and give him something to check. Out of this place. It was impressive.

Now we were tired. Back at the hotel we went for a swim and a strange dog snatched my glasses from my bag and the lens fell off. I was worried but it came back – apparently as good as new. I dreaded the thought of breaking my glasses and wearing my high school hornroom which I brought for extra.

Up in the room we tried to hash out a little more and went to mix. Michelle was a bit intense. Small things like a man of tomato weight made me particularly tickled and I was more receptive to insects and ready to move around a bit more freely. I didn’t know if it was because of hashish or if I was in a good mood.

We boarded a fun little three-wheeled taxi that looked like a soup-up ice cream truck for a ride to another part of town and I got into some really exciting photography. The subject of the existing light and the light of the lantern. I have been able to pose men properly that I like them. I would even push their chin a little higher or bring the lantern closer. They may be exceptional, or they may not be, but my subject and I both had a memorable time to try.

We turned around a bit more and then got into a fancy two wheeled horse drawn bogie taxi. Across the city like a chariot, we have our drivers singing really entertaining, or at least fun songs. We surprised him with a confident 10 afghani and we didn’t have time to grab his hand as we ran. These tourists were never taken for a ride without a horse. I decided that if you try to agree on a price before boarding, they know you are new to the game and they will tear you down. If you just say “Home James” and pay them what you think is reasonable, you will be fined.

On the way home, I bought a nice little five afghani (1 cent) goodie. Then we stopped to check on my friend with Mink. I knew I would be able to bargain with anger again and that is what happened. This was my third time at his store and I knew if I went home without that mink, I would kick myself. I like it just as much as I used to like the old “ringworm” (a cat I befriended and came back home in 2nd grade – which gave me the ringworm). I finally went for 460 afghani (12) and came up with a great skin.

Now we were hungry and our hotel was waiting. We are living very nicely. Sitting where the waiters knew us, we ordered a hearty meaty meal with tea and a watermelon. We were drinking water and my stool was hard, so we had more. I’m feeling very good. I am in control and I can get what I want. That’s great.

Up in the room, I took a long bath, cleaned my pack, enjoyed my little souvenir, and hit the sack. I lay there without thinking about how cockroaches got their name. (Probably I’m high, above all.)

People all over the world enjoy the same thing. The old cleaner ignored my request for more toilet paper and said dreamily, “Look, isn’t that beautiful?” We both stood motionless on the roof of the hotel, watching the sun set behind a distant hill where the torch of the chariot flew.

We were sitting in a park talking to some studying Afghans when someone asked, “Aren’t you traveling with your women?” I said my girlfriend was at home and she replied, “Oh, it’s too hard – I never did that.” I feel like I’ve been on the “street” for a long time.

(This is a five-part series journal entry # 3. Stay tuned for another episode tomorrow, as the 23-year-old has ridden 500 miles across Afghanistan and is touring the capital city of Kabul.)