Oneness Awareness: Itinerary
Eight countries, one ocean, three seas:
The journey—April through July 2010
I moved out of my apartment on April 1, figuring that paying rent for unlived-in space was both a financial waste and an emotional anchor.
With my few possessions in storage or loaned out for friends to use, I flew to Barbados by way of Detroit, Chicago, and Miami. On this tropical island, I was the guest of Wayne, a movie scriptwriter and producer and a Couchsurfer host. He allowed me to stay in his movie studio and, through films, introduced me to a part of Caribbean culture.
After two days in Barbados, I boarded Royal Clipper, the largest tall ship in the world, and sailed on this luxury vessel across the Atlantic. Royal Clipper is like a cruise ship but with sails and many fewer passengers. Our voyage lasted 16 days, including a one-day stop in the Azores. The cuisine and the conversation were international, rife with discussion of politics, healthcare, education, social issues, and the environment. I made a point of dining at least once with each of the ship’s 82 passengers.
I disembarked in Malaga, Spain, where, for four days, I stayed in a hotel and roamed the streets, often guided by, Karim, a Moroccan Muslim computer student who helped me get an Internet connection. Old Malaga is the birthplace of Picasso. It features a Picasso museum, a huge cathedral, an ancient Roman outdoor theatre, an Arabian citadel and Andalucían fortress, delightful streets of patterned marble, and a host of beautiful cosmopolitan people roaming, shopping, and dining in outdoor eateries.
I traveled by high-speed train to Barcelona. There, I stayed with my friend Josep and his bride, Chus, for eight days. I took care of some of the business of travel, visited Montserrat, and viewed historical highlights such as the site of the 1992 Olympic Games, Gaudy’s unfinished cathedral, and the model village of Spanish architecture Poble Espanyol. I also fortuitously met Marina, a Muscovite and the first of several significant angels, who would later serve as a delightful tour guide when I arrived in Moscow.
Then I flew to Volos, Greece, by way of two layovers in Germany. In Volos, I visited two mountain villages, talked with innkeepers, and interacted with sailors from Bulgaria, Russia, Indonesia, Oman, Germany, Poland, and other countries.
These sailors were competing in the Historical Seas Tall Ships Regatta. For the next 12 days, I sailed aboard Kaliakra, a Bulgarian sail training vessel for young sea cadets, racing with some of the grandest tall ships in the world on the Aegean Sea, through the Dardanelles and Bosporus, and the Black Sea to Varna, Bulgaria.
My stay in Varna was a concession to luxury in a five-star beach resort, thanks to Lyudmila, a Bulgarian friend who booked the accommodations for me. Fortunately, my stay was prior to the high season and, with a favorable currency exchange, the rates were very reasonable. The highlights of this location included fantastic sunrises over the Black Sea, a parade to mark Bulgaria’s most major holiday, talking with intriguing people on the beach, visiting an ancient cave monastery, a bus ride from Varna to Sophia, the nation’s capital, and Lyudmila’s breezy tour of that historical city.
After flying to Frankfurt, Germany, I stayed one memorable night and day in Sindlingen then visited my parental ancestral home of Kassel. From there, I spent two days exploring the highly emotional history of Berlin, particularly the Holocaust memorial, and a delightful week in Hamburg with a new friend, Gisela, who I had met aboard Royal Clipper.
On the water again, I sailed the length of the Baltic Sea aboard Translubeca, a huge ferry and cargo ship. Our voyage, in the company of truck drivers, motorcycle riders, and salty crew was from Lubeck, Germany, to Sankt Petersburg, Russia. Because this voyage occurred close to the summer solstice, the nighttime sky never darkened, sleep was challenging, and conversations in the bar ran late.
When I arrived in Sankt Petersburg, I was met at the customs office by Alesya, a young sailor I had met in Varna, and her friend Mia. These two oriented me to the underground metro and conveyed me to the hands of Leo, a client with whom I stayed two nights and participated in his lovely, musical, libated birthday party. Alesya and her friend Hugo, who was visiting from France, also took me on a wonderful tour of the city’s historical sites.
I traveled to Pushkin by way of Russia’s oldest railway. In this historical community, once the summer residence of the tsars, I was the guest of Larisa and her son, Slava. For the next eight days, they gave me a grand tour of the community’s elaborate architecture and grand historical homes, introduced me to their friends, shared their food, and guaranteed that I enjoy their city’s historical celebration.
In Moscow, I reconnected with Marina who took a day off work to lead me on a highly efficient and organized tour of her city’s historical landmarks as well as her favorite museum.
I arrived by plane in New Delhi, India, during the monsoon season but enjoyed the luxury of a private guesthouse, courtesy of Rajat, my host there, and the delightful Hari, the housekeeper.
Then, after two weeks, I traveled to the Himalayas with Rajat and 13 others in a three-vehicle entourage. In those majestic mountains, I worked as a support person for Molly, client author and ultramarathon runner who participated in a 222-kilometer event over some of the highest mountain passes in the world.
I returned to the United States in late July, arriving in time to attend an important family gathering but leaving one chapter of this story yet to be experienced.
Fortunately, my career as a writer and editor has evolved to the point where my office is my laptop. With the Internet, I can literally work just about anywhere in the world. While traveling, I wrote and edited books for other emerging and established authors. So, mine was not merely a trip, but a working journey, a manifestation of my mantra “Have Laptop, Will Travel.”
I also learned the difference between being a tourist and a traveler. I had booked some of my reservations and passages while still in Michigan but had also left other parts of my itinerary blank. This was good in that I was able to change my plans en route and accept Gisela’s spontaneous invitation to visit her in Hamburg. It was also troublesome in that I had to make some reservations and travel payments along the way—and, I learned, credit cards are not as reliable or readily accepted elsewhere as they are in the U.S. As Josep said one day while I was trying to book passage on Translubeca, “Now you know the difference between a tourist and a traveler. A tourist goes with all reservations and accommodations in place, but a traveler goes with only a destination from which he might not return.”
Itinerary and Chapters
This is a web book in process.
Links lead to published chapters; unlinked chapters
are not yet posted.
Please enjoy and return often
to watch this story grow.
Royal Clipper, Atlantic Ocean
Malaga andBarcelona, Spain
Kaliakra, Historical Seas Regatta
Varna & Sofia, Bulgaria
Translubeca, Baltic Sea
Sankt Petersburg, Russia
New Delhi, India
Return to United States