When in the tenth century Sigfried Count exchanged some lands in the Ardennes for a rocky ledge between the Alzette and Petrusse rivers to build a fortress, he couldn’t imagine how it would grow. Bastions and casemates turned the rock into a gruyere that would be nicknamed the Gibraltar of the North. It is Luxembourg.
Happy New Year 2020
To all and everyone of the 354.973 readers that have browsed 1.482.774 pages along this 2019 it's now over.
Thanks for your time and let 2020 be a greater and better year.
In Roman times, the hot springs invited the creation of a town, Aqvae Calidae, today Caldes de Malavella. Its waters continue to be exploited, both for treatments and for bottling water. Between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, they attracted the attention of wealthy families who built summer residences following the architectural currents of the time: Art Nouveau or Modern Style. Read more See the pictures
Thirty years have gone since the fall of the one hundred fifty-five kilometres of concrete wall that split for almost three decades the current German capital. Before November 9, 1989, the day the border between the Federal and the Democratic Republic was opened, no one would believe that the Berlin wall could be put up for sale. Read more See the pictures
Athenian Acropolis faces a large green area which, in the heart of the Greek capital, becomes a relaxed space where walk away from the urban bustle and beneath the shade of holm oaks and cypress trees. It is Philopappos Hill. From here there are privileged views over the Parthenon, Athens and even up to the waters of the Saronic Gulf, in the Aegean. Read more See the pictures
The Portuguese capital has five tram lines in its public transport network, some of them equipped with old cars that have been reset to keep them fit. Among them the most classic is the one that follows the line number 28, able to ride up the hard slopes on the way to Alfama neighbourhood top hill. Read more See the pictures
On the screen, private Braeburn, dizzy, vomits on the barge wet floor. McCloskey mocks while Sergeant Randall puts them in place. Me, the private Bill Taylor, observe them indifferent, thirty seconds left to open the front door of the boat and land. It's just a video game, but the real facts happened 75 years ago, a June 6, at seven o'clock in the morning. Read more See the pictures
Corbera d’Ebre swirled around Muntera hill protected by the mountains of Cavalls and Pandols. The Battle of the Ebro devastated the town routing most of the inhabitants. Today, as Belchite or other scenes of the Spanish Civil War before, the ruins have remained to keep the memory alive. Read more See the pictures
Founded in New England in 1630, Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The arrival of Puritan settlers, the Tea Party, the Revolution War… protagonists of the birth of a nation now lie in some of the most respected US graveyards. These were the first three. Read more See the pictures
West of the capital, Kathmandu, and geographically in central Nepal, Pokhara has become an almost mandatory stop over for mountaineering expeditions on the way to Annapurna’s summit but has its lake, Phewa, to promote activities related with tourism. It enjoys a subtropical climate few kilometres away from the highest peaks of the Himalayas, but not long ago the place was known as Hepatitis Valley. Read more See the pictures
Aegina is an island not too big in the waters of the Saronic Gulf, near the Greek capital, Athens. The British Museum occupies a prominent space in the Bloomsbury neighbourhood, in the heart of London. Seventy gold jewels from the Bronze Age link both. The link is the Aegina Treasury history. Read more See the pictures
Ancient Greeks and Phoenicians were fascinated by the myths and mysteries of the unknown lands of the West, the existence of an unknown sea, beyond the columns of Hercules or a garden called Hesperides and a land or city whose name was Tartessos. Although not to be misled, myths hide interests, in this case metals that come from the mines of Huelva or through the secret route leading to the distant mines in the lands of Cornwall and Wales. Read more See the pictures
It goes deep inside Trieste old port waters as if it were a sharp weapon, defying the clash of the waves or the violent north wind that pushes the water on the pier. Here steamers moored coming from distant harbours, and since the beginning, on gentle days, it was for the Trieste people a favourite place for the walk.
What must have been seventeenth century largest warship destined to dominate the Baltic waters along the confrontation that Sweden maintained against Poland and Latvia in the framework of the Thirty Years War, ended up being a fiasco that barely sailed a mile before sinking in front of the island of Beckholmen, Stockholm, without having even reached open sea. Read more See the pictures
Crossed Britannia Bridge, one of the two crossing the narrow stretch of sea that split the island of Anglesey or Ynnis Môn and Wales, there’s a town not known for its monuments because basically lacks of them, or by its church of Saint Mary or any imaginable tourist attraction as the column of the Marquis of Anglesey, a magnificent eighty eight feet high watchtower erected in memory of the courage of the Marquis, Henry Paget, at the Battle of Waterloo, but by the length of its unpronounceable name: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Read more See the pictures
On Douro River banks, before its waters melts in the Ocean’s, they say that one of Jason’s Argonauts called to find a city in the place where, years after, Greeks or Romans would introduce the crop of the vine. Barely dominated by the Arabs soon was formed a county called Portucale that finally become knew simply as the port, Porto. Read more See the pictures
On the banks of the Yamuna River, a tributary of the sacred Ganges, halfway between the sands of the Rajasthan deserts and the foothills of the roof of the world, the Himalayas, had risen again and again one of the most populous cities in India and the whole world: Delhi. Read more See the pictures
Utrecht was one of the cities which created the Republic of the Seven United Provinces, embryo of the Netherlands. Here also was signed the treaty by which Europe was redistributed between the houses of Austria and the one of Bourbon, without forgetting the British interests. Read more See the pictures
Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro, freedom is not for sale not even for all the gold in the world. The Republic of Ragusa, when it was a city-state on the Dalmatian coast, had to learn to swim and eat in the turbulent waters between Venetian and Turks to stay afloat and true to its slogan. Read more See the pictures
One century ago, between April 20 and 21, 1918, Corto Maltes lived the awakening of springtime on the banks of river Somme, in the north of France, along First World War last warlike actions. There he witnessed the end of the famous Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen, in the episode that Hugo Pratt titled Côtes de Nuits and Picardy Roses. Read more
The calm waters of the River Avon (the Hampshire Avon, not to be confused with Devon Avon, Bristol Avon, or Warwickshire Avon) placidly flows to the English Channel in Christchurch, near the summer village of Bournemouth. Setting upside down the globe we could say again the same phrase except for the precision about Avon rivers. Read more See the pictures
The conquest of Holland by Nazi Germany was brief due to its forcefulness. Rotterdam was practically erased from the map, forcing the surrender of the country. After the war, reconstruction began. The one of the city was different and nowadays it has become a catalogue of avant-garde outdoor architecture. Read more See the pictures
The city of Niebla, halfway between the counties of El Condado and Andévalo, on the road from Seville to Huelva, is about thirty kilometres from the latter and lies along the banks of the Rio Tinto that once, when it was called Luxia, was navigable up to the city. Niebla preserved in a pretty good condition an admirable walls ring which completely encloses the old town. Read more See the pictures
Tras la Sombra del Maltés (Following the Maltese Shadow) is the written aftermath of the collection of photographs that reproduced the same backgrounds Corto Maltese, the famous adventurer created by Hugo Pratt, walked by. The collages exhibited then, and that can be seen on this website, combined about thirty vignettes with the pictures of the real places. As in a chase of the Maltese steps, deferred in time, almost after one century, photographs and vignettes were assembled. To these are added the story of the historical events at the time when the adventures of Corto happened: Caporetto’s last battle, the day the Red Baron died or a dark riddle in Venice, in addition to an inquiry about the true characters appeared in the comics and the particular toponymy that Pratt used in the city of the lagoon, Venice.
This Asian journey begins in a misunderstanding at the Karachi airport that leads to the north of the Decan peninsula, northern India, until reaching the valley of the ancient city of Kathmandu, destination of hippies and macaques, where its buildings, those who have been saved from so many earthquakes, natural and human, dazzle with the beauty of temples and palaces. Here art and poverty have flourished, exiles have been established and there is a lack of oxygen from the highest peaks in the world. From there, in a jump, up to the endless Indonesian archipelago, the most populous Muslim state of the Islamic world, where Hindu rites and ancestral customs still emerge, where the earth shakes and breaths through the numerous smoking craters east of Java, where shadow theaters and buffalo fights last forever. Not far away, in the Philippines, chocolate hills grow and cults imported from their colonizers are maintained. In Southeast Asia there are extraordinary cities that have grown at a surprising rate, the skyscrapers to the heights in Singapore, Malaysia and Bangkok and that have continuity in the former Portuguese and English colonies of Macao and Hong Kong, extending in the far eastern megalopolis, seat of the Throne of the Chrysanthemum, Tokyo.
This peculiar Pacific begins in the tropical Australia near Indonesia, to cross the continent from north to south, without neglecting the Red Centre, to continue in the lands of the Long White Cloud, Maori Ao Tea Roa, with ancestral legends that start from the mythical Kahiki at some point in the Great Ocean and arrive on the banks of the Maui canoe, the South Island, where the great glaciers close the land of the fjords. On the North Island the names of Abel Tasman or James Cook still ring near the Bay of Islands, where Greenpeace's flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, was sunk. From time to time the volcanoes wake up, in Tongariro, south of the Rotorua and Hell’s Gate hot springs; the vines grow in Hawkins Bay, people dress up as Napier period and ancient trees cast their shadows in the forests of Waiopua. Much further east, in Fiji, meetings are held between relatives of ancient cannibals and second courses, the excuse is the sole of a shoe. On the islands of the Society is the trail of Robert Louis Stevenson and Paul Gauguin after the golden reflection of a Hinano beer. Hawaii remains of shelters, ancestral in Pu'uhonua, more recent in Pearl Harbour, before reaching who welcomed lepers, Father Damien and a server on the island of Molokai
Todo al Norte, Straight Nordwards, is not a conventional travel journal, but rather, it is the reconstruction, meticulous as far as possible, of the memories of a journey made almost forty years ago. And where the memory can’t help, evidences appear in the form of train tickets, notes on a book sidelines or on the cover of a map, the search for places, not always evident, where the photographs were taken and the deduction imposed by the logic about the routes or the paths between one place and another. What seemed obvious is sometimes not and, among the recesses of memories, memory is sometimes misleading, suggests events that never happened, or, at least not in the way they have endured among our brain.
Almost forty years have gone from the narrated journey, a journey of youth that has lost, in addition to this, the detail in the memories, the images of the places, the memory of the circumstances. Thus, the construction of this travel diary goes through the reconstruction of the days that followed in the search for a limit, that of northern Europe, where the roads end, because further there are no more, and the days link with themselves in the Summer’s absence of the night. More than a travel diary it is about the recreation of a journey transformed into the diary that should have been in its day.
Available in e-Book and paper edition, by now just published in Spanish.
Welcome to World in Words
Someone asked me to write about travels in a website. To suggest addresses or places of interest where to fill the stomach, tips on the best or worst way to move in a specific place, which monuments or cities are worth visiting or not... I thought about these kind of guides, more or less documented, more or less properly made, there are already more than enough. I thought it was worth to write about travel or simply about places when there was a story to be rescued, to recall names or situations that deserve a place among bends made of ink. Or whether I simply could describe modestly and with some admiration. The only condition I've required about my own texts is having lived or been witness, with some delay sometimes, to what is told in all of them... and the evidence are photographs, although exchanged onto bridges amidst the fog. I sincerely believe I have finished discovering much more than what I've seen recreate narrating than which lasted in the seconds I spend taking the shoots.
As a kid he enjoyed playing with a green plastic shovel in the sand of the beach. Until one day he burned his skin with the sun. Since then he hates the sand, he hates the sea, he hates the sun and he hates the beach. He wanted to be a hippie but he was fired for eating the flowers. He wanted to be punk but he was fired for eating the piercings. He didn’t conclude most of the studies he started and remained a little more than the statutory time in the military service due to his exemplary behaviour. A literature teacher would guide him appropriately in his career, approving the subject under the unwavering promise that he would never in life devote himself to anything that had the slightest relation to the letters. Today he is journalist, writer and editor. Avid reader has reviewed on many occasions Andy Capp and Calvin & Hobbes strips, particularly those of the first. His contradiction sense is stronger than him, rootless looking for his roots he stares upwards, he is an unbelieving atheist thanks to God and, convinced nihilist, he succeeded as a washed-up loser. Today he is happy, but in the search of a new kitchen.
Hugo Pratt paid a special attention at the time of create his scenes into the comic pages. Some of the landscapes and views, particularly urban ones, are sometimes obvious, easily recognizable, others need to sharpen the senses even with impossible angles to interpret the reality that only the artist is able to capture on paper.
Venice is lavished on Pratt vignettes, beginning by chapters of The Celts, the first pages of Corto Maltese in Siberia and, obviously, in the Fable of Venice. No wonder because the master grew up there and recreates the city in his frames. That’s why most of the work reported here comes from Venetian vignettes.
The first part shows Corto Maltese assembled pictures, from The Ballad of the Salt Sea to Mu, including the untimely The Early Years. The second part uses the sketches appeared in the guide published on Venice: The Secret Venice of Corto Maltese, in which Guido Fuga and Raffaele Vianello evoke restorative walks and stops at the Venetian labyrinth in Pratt company.