Sarah Coles

Travel Blog

November 11th, 2017

GREEK ISLANDS I

Lesbos and Chios   October 2017 The islands – blue and white. Blue,  the sea, the sky, the domes and doors, the window frames, the squares of sky dotting the mountainsides, hives alive with bees. The white of the houses, the sea horses, the wide circle of silver on the sea, the Greek flag. Cobalt, indigo, navy, aquamarine. And the myths. The head of Orpheus torn by the Maenads – could they not hear his music? Was it too modern – floated across the sea to Lesbos, and was found on a sandy shore with his lyre, still playing. Icarus...

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October 23rd, 2017

Wagner’s Ring in Bayreuth

It was after seeing the Ring performed by the Met Opera in New York at the cinema in Winchester, and hearing those notes of the beginning of the world  in the Rhinegold that I thought, I must go to Bayreuth, I must hear and see it there! So, I downloaded a form from the web, and applied. Every year thereafter the Bayreuth Festspiele sent me a form, which I filled in, choosing dates for the Ring for the following year. Last October I included a pathetic note in my application, saying I was nearly eighty and did not want to die without having...

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June 22nd, 2017

North Wales in June …

So off we drove to north Wales, and after going through Llangollen on that ancient coach road to Holyhead we went through the Horseshoe Pass (why are views so uplifting, why is being reduced to an unimportant blip on the landscape so uplifting, and being reminded that one is nothing beside geological ages such a relief – maybe it’s that things just don’t matter, the earth will look after itself long term, and meanwhile I am part of it, fused into this body at the moment, but then off into molecules and atoms of everything else for...

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November 18th, 2016

3. ISTANBUL OCTOBER 2016

ISTANBUL Taxi through takes us to the Bus Station, as always outside the dusty city.  Coach takes us to Istanbul, over valleys, winding over mountains and diving under them, and we are regularly given drinks and biscuits, and have a longer stop at a large station for us to have a bite – though so many buses are there, and being nervous of missing ours, we don’t.  Decide that public lavatories with ceramic feet are preferable to ones with piss wet seats. Along this spanking new road, over a narrow bit of the Sea of Marmara, and more...

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November 18th, 2016

2. SAMOS, EPHESUS and IZMIR – OCTOBER 2016

SAMOS A ferry to Samos one morning, because it connects with a ferry to Kusadasi, Turkey.  We arrive in the port of Pythagorio, where the front is lined with nothing but restaurants, now empty.  The season is over.  Bob finds us a room overlooking the harbour, and I find how to get to Turkey: the ferry leaves from Vathy, the other side of the island. Next day, we wait at a bus stop (other people waiting – good, it means a bus will come), and take a winding bus over the hills and through orchards and vineyards and olive groves to Samos,...

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November 18th, 2016

I. RHODES and PATMOS – OCTOBER 2016

We want to visit Ephesus, ancient Greek city now part of Turkey.   But Bob has never been to Turkey, and (like scores of people) imagines Turks as intrinsically cruel.  He’s read T E Laurence and the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, whippings, sodomy and all that.   So, I got a flight to Rhodes, chief of the Dodecanese Islands (Greek) which hang like a necklace round the shores of Turkey.    Dodecanese means twelve, but actually there are loads more.  Cheap flight, only thirty five pounds. The cabin bag allowance is a mere feather, five...

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May 8th, 2016

PEDDARS WAY – APRIL 2016

PEDDARS WAY – late April 2016  DAY ONE It’s not obvious from the road, the start of the Peddars Way.   We whiz past it, then drive back and get out of the car and see the signpost – Icknield Way to south, Peddars Way north.  So cheerio to Mike (thank you Mike!) and off we set.  The Peddars Way is a Roman road, marching from the middle of Norfolk near Thetford to the edge of the Wash.  I don’t know what they called it, but by Tudor times it got its present name, presumably from the latin pedes, foot.  Ann has arranged where we...

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April 5th, 2016

3. THAILAND. Buddha

  The serenity of temples in Thailand, their sense of happiness!   Buddha is the focus, like the cross in a church.  He may be bronze and shining, green glass or jade, or brick covered with stucco, or painted gold.  He’s duplicated many times, and surrounded by  male followers.  He’s curiously androgynous.  If you look at him with his rounded visage and body, his swelling breasts and slim waist, his hair in a topknot, you can imagine him as a capable headmistress, firm but kind, sympathetic but very much in charge.  (There’s...

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April 2nd, 2016

2 THAILAND – Temples of the North

These Buddhist temples glitter like a fairground mirrors.  Gold everywhere.  They are fun – they’re holy but there’s also jolliness, unlike the basic sadness of Christianity and its churches.  The roofs of the main vihara or preaching hall are orange edged with blackest blue and yellow tiles, and they are not straightforward; they look as if a smaller temple has been built over by a later temple, and then a further temple, all overlapping like a house of cards.  This lets in the breeze but keeps out the rain?  All traditional...

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March 30th, 2016

1. THAILAND: Mooching Around

Just catch someone’s eye, even a passing motor cyclist, and they smile.  Westerners scowl.    This may be partly the weather, weeks of cold rain freezing faces into disappointment.   We fly from Heathrow.  The relief of getting in the plane and sitting down.  The man in front of me has biceps tattooed with a glaring skull.  The plane bumpily trundles along, trying to get up speed, it’s not going to make it then miraculously it rises and we are off.  By night we are flying over the snowy mountains of Asia, and at a dawn of...

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