I enjoy time on the lake and on the ocean, because the air there is good for my throat. Ever since, when I was a child, they removed my tonsils, l have been suffering from chronic throat aches more or less all the time. However, after a few days on the water, they are gone.

The Joy of Seeing the Ocean (Foto © Luc Bosma, Bonaire)

Whenever Barbara and I go places by ship, we try to get a cabin with a patio. Then we dream through the ocean nights with our patio door open, we breathe in the fresh sea air and enjoy the sound of the water. That was also what we did during our latest Caribbean trip.

At night, our ship travels from one island to the next. Since, more often than not, the islands are not far apart, the ship mostly travels at low speed. Regardless, it will dock in the morning before sunrise at the harbour of our destination, because the nights are long in December in the Caribbean.

Then comes the shock every morning. The air starts to smell foul and artificial light will penetrate the cabin. It is the less than pleasant trio of civilization characteristics as it welcomes us.

At home in Neubiberg, the smell is a constant throughout the day and the night. You will not find any place where it gets really dark. Wherever you are, a street lamp or some advertising glamour will illuminate your house. And you can hardly see any stars in the sky any more.

Even though I live in a rather privileged area, this is also true for my home. Keeping the windows open at night is not possible, if only because of the constant round-the-clock noise of the not-too-far city.

I refuse to take sleeping pills, especially if they become part of your normal life. Consequently, we use closed noise-proof windows and darkened bedrooms. By now, I am used to it, but that does not mean I find it nice.

If I leave my house on foot or by bike and turn towards Ottobrunn, I will quickly find myself on such roads as the Putzbrunner Strasse or the Rosenheimer Landstrasse. It is hard to breathe and it is a true adventure to cross the road. And you also find waste on the shoulders of the Bavarian streets – as probably everywhere else on the world.

After returning home, questions about the purpose of life come up again:
Do we really need motorized individual traffic? Does all this consumption really make us happy? Would a life that is less determined by efficiency and profit be more to our liking? How can we free ourselves from the permanent manipulation? Would it not be better to live a simple life and not let life become a hectic hunt for material properties?

Let me forestall possible criticism:
If you fly to the Caribbean and travel around nine islands by ship and enjoy the nice climate and the ocean, then you certainly have no right to criticize the MIV driver who takes his pre-heated SUV in the morning to go and fetch his breakfast. I am well aware of this.

So here is what I think:
Mobility is probably a central need of human nature. Consequently, I find it hard to individually abstain. But if we act collectively – for instance by high taxes on kerosene and a fair distribution of the external costs for those who cause them – we could at least reduce the volume of individual mobility and its terrible consequences on this planet.

If you argue that such measures would, again mainly be detrimental for the poor, then I think this is not totally true. Even the ancient Greeks knew that demanding an Arithmetic Justice is utopian and probably stupid.

I think such a thing has never existed and will never exist. Because life is as it is. And I would actually be quite happy with a geometric justice  (geometrische Gerechtigkeit following the Nikomachische Ethik by Aristoteles).

Attention, cannon (Foto © Luc Bosma, Bonaire)

RMD
(Translated by EG)

? The world is beautiful – that is also true for the Caribbean.

In the Caribbean, our eyes were again fed to the brim with natural and artificial beauty. It made me remember a story of a few years back.

It was in Guinea. With a few friends, I had done an excursion to a place with a particularly nice view. As soon as we arrived, everybody in the group wanted to be the one to best express what a singularly beautiful scenery we saw.

Suddenly, I exploded:

”You know, the Bavarian Lakes are also quite nice“.

I meant the Königsee, the Ammersee and the Starnberger See.

Sunset on Bonaire (Foto © Luc Bosma)

Even today, my friends still teasingly remind me of this sentence.

However, I stick by it. I know no trip of mine where the beauty of this world did not fascinate me. That is true both for my bike-tours in Bavaria and Germany and for my trips through Africa and America.

There were always spectacular views. The same was true in Arctica. Every individual iceberg was a great view. And the Wedell-Lake shimmered spectacularly in the sun.

Even the industrial ruins of the Southern Georgia Whaling Industry presented themselves to me with great beauty.

Between ruins (private picture)

In fact, even the view from our “high-rise ship” in the Dominican Republic onto the sinisterly but intensely steaming chimneys in the La Romana harbour were beautiful in a bizarre way. And the view from the skyscraper down to the slums of Mumbai, too, has its attraction.

There is one impression my soul ate up during my trips that particularly impressed me. It was when we crossed the Alpes by bike on a morning after staying overnight in the Heidelberger Hütte. But even here, I would not say that it was the best landscape ever in my life.

In this context, there is probably only BEAUTIFUL, not more beautiful or even most beautiful.

Sunrise on Bonaire (Foto © Luc Bosma)

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Let me say this up front:
Our trip through the Caribbean made it clear to me that the economic-social principle of life with consumption and profit we are currently practicing can only work in special cases (as it seems to do in Germany but, if you look closely enough, not even there).

So here are my experiences in the Caribbean and what I learned there about the country and the people.

Paradise or Misery? (Foto © Luc Bosma, Bonaire)

We visited nine islands

Two of them are French: Martinique (fully integrated) and Gouadeloupe (almost fully integrated part of the French country, but not part of the EU tax system). They are both part of the EU. The three ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao) are part of the Dutch Kingdom and the others (Barbados, Dominica, Grenada and St. Lucia are all independent states and members of the Commonwealth of Nations).

The islands have different currencies:

  • EURO (French Islands)
  • Dutch-Antilles-Gulden (Dutch Islands)
  • Eastern CaribbeanDollar (Commonwealth Islands)

Especially on the Dutch and British islands, they accept the US-Dollar.

They have different per-head incomes. On Barbados, for instance, it was 16,363 US-Dollars in 2016. Nominally, this is as much as, for example, they have in Slovakia, but I got the impression that life in Barbados is considerably more expensive than in Slovakia. On the absolutely well-developed island of Bonaire, it was about 1,200 US-Dollars, in Dominica it was certainly less. The unemployment rate is in the two-digit sector for all of them, and not always in the low two-digit sector.

Wherever we went, we found schools and universities, which means there is a relatively high level of literacy. Many of the people speak several languages. Besides the local Creole dialects, many people speak at least one foreign language, often several, mostly English, French or Dutch. However, we also often met German-speaking people.

Politically, the islands are “parliamentary democracies”, and that is what they have been for a long time. You will occasionally also find a “White House”. Yet there are also interesting – and not always hilarious – stories about corrupt politicians and dictators.

Of course, the climate has always been sunny on the islands – the normal temperatures were around 26 degrees Celsius (after all, it was “winter” when we were there). Depending on the humidity, you will think it is even a little warmer than that. That means the Caribbean is a region where physical labour – let alone piece work – is something you will not like at any time of the year.

Some of the islands have a lot of rain – and consequently they have many rivers and waterfalls in the rain forest. But you will also find very sparsely vegetal islands with few rainy days. They have to import their potable water or produce it artificially. Mostly, the islands grew from volcanic activities, but you will also find tongues of folded lime stone formations.

Most of the islands have similar colonization histories. The pre-European inhabitants were often Arawak and Caribbean. More often than not, they were eradicated by the European occupiers. The people living there now are descendants of Europeans, often of Africans and later of Indians. All over the Caribbean, most of the citizens are of African descent – which is probably a consequence of slavery.

What we saw in the Caribbean looked extremely diverse and multi-cultural. Some islands boast that people of forty nationalities live peacefully together in their country.
There is not much social security, which is also true for federal pensions. The people (maybe regardless or because of this?) seem very joyous and happy. Dominica, for instance, has the reputation of being the island of the hundred-year-olds.

There seems to be little crime. The warnings you usually get before entering a country were extremely moderate. Only in the EU countries, we were warned before leaving the ship that, once in a while, a thief from Paris is found on the island.
The islands are extremely diverse – you will find the natural paradise (Dominica with its beautiful hiking trails) as well as the industrial island (Aruba – one half of this islands is purely tourist industry, the other half is the airport and the oil and salt industries).

Similarities

However, it seems that all the islands have one thing in common. Economically, they do not really work well. The French Departments are probably just as much dependent of subsidies as the other islands.

To me, it seemed that the internet access was better than in Germany, but the streets are often in a desolate state of repair.

Varying with the islands, the income comes from growing food such as bananas, sugarcane and spices. There is a little crude oil, but the main source of income is probably tourism.
None of these islands seems to be really capable of survival.

The young generation emigrates because the islands have nothing to tempt them with. If all goes well, they will probably return as successful elderly persons and at least bring back some capital. There is a high emigration rate and a low immigration rate. Many immigrants who came because they wanted to start a new life – often as entrepreneurs – will leave after only a few years.

There is no such thing as a really lucrative business. Competitive survival is achieved through cost optimization and low incomes. And mostly the business is very detrimental for nature, which is the only thing these islands are rich of. This means we have high external costs.

To me, this looks a little like Europe. In the ever so rich EU, most of the countries are also bankrupt. More and more people are impoverished. This is also true for the victorious countries such as Germany, Austria and a few Northern European countries.

It is also true for the big USA. They, too, built their wealth on debt and suffer under the natural collapse of the inflated infra structure, which they cannot counter, if only for financial reasons.

Somehow or other, my visit to the Caribbean Islands served as a model to show that an economy that is based on our capitalist and consumption- and profit-oriented paradigms cannot work any longer. It is probably the biggest challenge for mankind to manage the necessary re-structuring – provided we want to prolong our survival a little bit.

Ship with bird. (Foto © Luc Bosma, Bonaire)

RMD
(Translated by EG)

As you arrive in  Curaçao you will read 
Welcome to Kura Hulanda Museum. 
This museum is concerned with the history of slavery  in the West Indies . No traveller should miss it.

Huts for the slaves in salt production on Bonaire (Foto © Luc Bosma)

Huts for the slaves in salt production on Bonaire (Foto © Luc Bosma)

Following the advice of our ship lector, we went to the Kura Hulanda Museum in the morning, directly after our arrival in Curaçao. And it was well worth it. In Willemstad‘s city district of Otrabanda, you will find the biggest anthropological museum of the Caribbean, the ”Kura Hulanda Museum Kura Hulanda Museum“.

On more than 16,000 square metres and in 15 different buildings, you can inform yourself about the history of those people who, between the 17th and 19th centuries, were captured in their African home countries and, after transport across the Atlantic Ocean, ended up as slaves in Curaçao. The “West Indian Company” played a huge role in the process and Curaçao soon became the biggest slave market on the American continent.

The Facts:
The entry fee for the museum is 10 US Dollars, people who are older than 70 only pay 7 US Dollars. We invested the three dollars we had thus saved in a guide (who costs three USD per person if you were a group). It is a good investment.

The Museum:
We were immersed in the dark past of the island but also of humanity and were deeply moved when we left the museum.

I had never before seen in such drastic detail how slavery used to work. In the museum, you can see how the slaves were captured in Africa and then shipped to the New World. Due to its geographical characteristics, the Caribbean was probably a very important slave market.

On the Caribbean Islands, for instance on Curaçao, other things were traded besides slaves. The invaders from Europe had more or less exterminated the original inhabitants. Consequently, a workforce for producing such sought-after products as sugarcane, bananas, spices, salt (especially on Bonaire) was badly needed. And the slave markets were the most obvious place for recruiting such a workforce.

The museum shows how brutally the slaves were treated and traded. How they were cuffed and hunted, what methods (and tools) were used for disciplining them. And also how the owner branded them.

You can also see how slavery was abolished. In the French sector, this even happened twice, because Napoleon had re-established it. Incidentally, the last colonial masters to abolish slavery were the Dutch.

We also found ownership certificates from German-East-Africa. Those are typical German documents where, as late as 1913, it was officially stated that the owners (former slaves) were allowed to decide upon their own destiny from the issuing date onwards.

Naturally, they still needed a workforce in the Caribbean, even after slavery was abolished. The necessary workers were then billed in India. And the owners of the sugarcane and rum plants soon found out that the new workers were even less expensive than the slaves had been. Because now these workers had to provide for themselves. Now an evil and provocative person could say that the abolishing of slavery, too, did not happen entirely for “virtuous” reasons, but that economic considerations played the major part.

I was so impressed by what I saw in the museum that I totally forgot to take pictures, even though this was explicitly allowed. After the tour, I spent a long time thinking about what I had seen and I did a lot of research.

And I noticed that perhaps slavery and fiefdom are connected. And that slavery is not at all very different from the fiefdom that was practiced in Europe for more than half a millennium as a very self-evident principle. Here, too, you will find a lot of information in the Wikipedia article  .

You will discover many surprising details, for instance about the mutual hunting rights among neighbours when it came to catching run-away serfs (slaves?) beyond the border.
You will probably understand that there was basically only one difference between fiefdom and slavery. The article is absolutely worth reading and very shocking.

After having read these things, the reference to our “occidental roots and Christian traditions“ made by politicians sounds like the most stupid sarcasm. Because, at the time, the “C“ also stood for nothing other than slavery and fiefdom. Those were very bleak times. Perhaps our politicians would be well advised to inform themselves a little bit about history, even if, at school, fiefdom was not on the curriculum of history lessons – which was also true for my history lessons.

There is only one difference between the fiefdom in German-speaking and other European countries and the trans-Atlantic slavery:

The slaves were dark skinned and came mostly from Africa. In former times, they were called negroes. According to the church and even according to contemporary philosophers (Kant) they were not humans but animals. At the time of Darwin, it was unimaginable that a refined “English Lady“ might, according to the evolutionary theory, be the descendant of an ape. Animals were so far removed from the ideal of the “human” that you could do with them whatever you wished to. This is also why they were not very enthusiastic about Darwin with his new ideas. And the black persons where just considered animals.

To be sure, the “bond-slaves“ or “bondmen“, who belonged to the owner of the property, were a lower class with no rights. But at least they were considered human. They were domesticated by the upper classes (feudalism, also by the church) also be means of religion. They were “only” the property of other people, either directly or indirectly through the property they lived on.

In the Wikipedia article about bondsmen  , you will find some laws and atrocities that, from today’s perspective, look rather odd. One of them is the mutual agreement between municipalities that they can hunt bondsmen who are on the run. You get a clear understand of the meaning of the phrase “town air will make you free“. After all, progress – also technological progress – happened in the town and cities.

Basically, over many centuries, the right to own persons was just as self-evident as we today consider the right to own things like property and the copyright or data protection.
And regardless of the fact that we today are giving the right of ownership more and more strength (especially in favour of artificial persons  like concerns), we actually abolished the right to own other persons. Isn’t that remarkable?

One might get the idea that, perhaps, other rights to ownership, too, should be abolished. For instance that goods of the common land, too, should no longer be considered individual property. And that absurdly high amounts of property, too, need to be abolished. And perhaps that the distinction between artificial and natural persons should be made subject to the rule of differentiation in ownership.

Here is a cynical note: 
On the ships that had sailed from Europe to Africa in order to buy slaves and bring this high insurance freight to the Caribbean, missionaries, too, were among the passengers. They were supposed to bring religion to all those African heathen. On the other hand, said slaves were officially not humans, but game to be hunted.

That is also something you learn in the Kura Hulanda Museum. Consequently, visiting the museum Kura Hulanda left me rather thoughtful.

Salt production today on Bonaire (Foto © Luc Bosma)

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Between November, 23rd, and December, 8th, 2018, Barbara and yours truly spent two weeks aboard a ship in the Caribbean. We saw nine islands. In former times, I often wrote travelling journals during my trips, and reported in great detail what I had done and experienced. This time around, I decided to proceed differently: I will just jot down all the impulses and inspirations I had during the trip.

Travelling inspires you and gives you impulses (© Luc Bosma)(© Luc Bosma)

This is supposed to introduce a series of articles about my trip. I will illustrate the articles with nice pictures. Some of the pictures have been taken by me, some are from Luc Bosma. Among those is the picture of flying flamingos you see here.

An Overview:
Setting out from La Romana, we visited the following nine islands:
Martinique (as a French overseas territory in the EU), Barbados (independent and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations), Gouadeloupe (as a French overseas territory in the EU), Dominica, St. Lucia , St. Lucia , Grenada (all three of them are independent and members of the Commonwealth of Nations), Bonaire (a special municipality of the Netherlands), Curaçao (part of the Dutch Kingdom ) and Aruba (one of the four states with equal rights that belong to the Dutch Kingdom ). The last three are also known as the ABC islands and are geographically a part of South America. They are not far from Venezuela. The other islands geographically belong to the Lesser Antilles. If you follow the link, you will find many interesting things. It is well worth reading about.

Each of those islands is a small country. For me, it was remarkable to see that some of these countries actually have no armies. Basically, some of these countries have problems beside which the fear of external enemies looks small.

In the next few weeks, I will tell you all the new things I learned during this trip and what especially impressed me.
And here is a first enlightenment that could not have happened without the trip:

If you arrive on the European part of the Caribbean and all of a sudden you can again use your flatrate on the Smart Phone, you will immediately feel very much at home.

So here is what I postulate: for many people, home is where you have unhindered and cost-neutral use of your smart phone.

There is somebody at home. (Foto © Luc Bosma, Bonaire)

As I see it, this is definitely a definition of home that should be taken seriously!

Now I will work on the first actual article as instalment #1 – it will be about slavery and serfdom.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday September 6th, 2018

Vacation. Over. Short Report and Contemplation.

The campground directly on the ocean.


Now we are back. The vacation is at an end.


On the first September Sunday, we went back to where autumn greeted us. After more than two weeks of the simple lifestyle under the Greek sun. It was not a luxury vacation – it was very hot, we spent a lot of time in natural surroundings with little civilization and very basic sanitary facilities. But there was plenty of swimming and riding our bikes – and there was much to enjoy every day.

And, once again, a deflated tyre.

When we were riding our bikes, the thorns were often a nuisance, because they kept puncturing our tyres. Mosquitoes were after us and small fish kept nibbling where the mosquitoes had bitten us. It was really hot and quite warm in the tent, even at night. The fresh wind and the ocean were extremely welcome.

It was no luxury vacation, but we had a great time with many experiences. Riding our bikes, there was much we really got a chance to inspect closely. There were up to five grandchildren and they all enjoyed the days just as much as the grown-ups. Naturally, that was a particular joy for us.

Once, it even rained.

There was one rainy day, after which the days were only slightly colder. At night, there were no lights and we saw the stars – during the middle part of our stay, we even saw the full moon. The stellar configurations I had learned as a young boy re-appeared.

And, in the middle of one night, I was wondering what it would be like if the sun were not to rise one morning. To be sure, I was well aware of the fact that, so far, this is not very likely to happen. But do we really know? Well, I can only say that I was quite happy to see the sun rise every morning!

In this simple world, I understood how important the sun is for us humans – and why, over many millennia, the human race saw the sun as a deity.
The beauty of nature has always impressed us.

During our bike tour.

You only have to ride up a mountain, and already you see the world below become smaller. Unfortunately, what you see is sometimes misleading – more often than not (too often), there is a lot of trash hidden among the beauty. Our paradise, too, has its set-backs.
Another notion gave me pause. Because I swam along the beach every morning and then went on a leisurely stroll on my way back. I was really looking forward to my cup of coffee for breakfast. And on the way, I had to climb over quite a lot of small rubbish.

No beach is free of trash.

And I though: “Why don’t I carry a plastic bag with me on my swimming/hiking tour, so I can collect all these many straws? It would certainly do me no harm, would it? And I should have enough of a personality to not mind people certainly then looking at me in a strange way.“
? And perhaps the Goddess Sun would like such behaviour?
However, the next morning came and I had forgotten the small plastic bag, which means the plastic rubbish was not picked up.

On the Mavrouni cemetery, the corpses can see the ocean.

So far remote from the noise of our cities, you also start thinking about life and death. And you realize that camping might also be one of those things that potentially get a little harder as you grow older. Regardless, I would like to try it again. And if I can still do it next year, I will carry a small plastic bag whenever I go swimming in the morning – and then I will collect some trash on my way back. And I will not mind if people look at me in that peculiar way!

I promise!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday March 15th, 2018

Landing on Antarctica (including travelling report).

Roland landing in the Antarctica.

All participants of an Antarctica expedition have to take part in a preparatory seminar prior to landing. During said seminar, they learn how seriously the world community takes the protection of the unblemished nature of the continent Antarctica.

At the same time, the entire Antarctica, and especially Southern Georgia, is one large museum where many stories of expeditions and science are told. However, it also gives profound insight into the history of this world to geologists.

There are ten rules for landing on the Antarctica and Southern Georgia. You have to strictly abide by them whenever you set foot on the Antarctica and its islands.

  • Please keep quiet!
  • Keep your distance (five metres from penguins, 15 metres from seals and birds)!
  • Do not tread on anything!
  • Never bring plants or animals!
  • Respect protected areas!
  • Preserve historic sites and monuments!
  • Do not take “souvenirs” with you!
  • Respect scientific research!
  • Think of your safety!
  • Preserve the pureness of Antarctica!

That also includes that you must not spit, sneeze or piss anywhere.

Roland on his way back to the ship.

These rules are also meant to protect the animals. I was surprised to see how seriously all participants took them and how they all rigorously kept to what was required.

I, too, got used to never treading onto a green spot. We all avoided unprotected sneezing. It was not possible to accidentally forget a paper tissue.

Thus, each landing became an impressive adventure. The light, the pure air, the wonderful nature made a huge impression on all of us. Historic buildings gave testimony of a horrible industry (waling) that, by promising people good money, had motivated many people to do a gruesome job under the hardest possible conditions far away from home. There were all kinds of remains that revealed quite a lot.

Back in Germany, it really shocked me how thoughtlessly we treat our environment and our nature both on a huge and on a small scale. Even more than before my trip, the pollution of our cyclists’ paths, streets and cities horrified me. The same was true for the gigantic soil sealing of our beautiful country. And of how we, totally without being forced to, expose ourselves to a lot of noise and polluted air in the nice residential areas of our cities.

This is where I also would like to publish a report (Bericht) on the trip for my friends. It was written and illustrated by our great editor Dr. Katrin Knickmeier. She was one (not the only) person from whom we learned so much – and I can also recommend to all of you to visit this special continent.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Two days ago, I published my article about “Nomads on the Cyclades”. It was about a book I had found in Milos. Its title was:
DOCTOR HANS LÖBER

Letters from Milos, 1943-1944

During the war years, he had also founded a hospital for the local population of Milos in Plaka. His letters made a huge impression on me.

And as early as the day before yesterday, I became a “victim” and had to stay at the Plaka hospital. You see how fast it can happen – and here is how it came about:

If you are in Milos, a trip to Kleftiko will always be something you want on your agenda..

In the morning after my post, we took a small ship to Kleftiko. According to our own impression in Greece, the weather was not too good – and a strong wind was blowing. Consequently, the journey on board the ship was a rather wild affair – perhaps the worst I ever experienced in my life. On the way out to Kleftiko, all went well. After a beautiful and longish stay at the quiet harbour, we went back to Adamas, the central harbour of Milos in the afternoon.

On the way back, the ocean seemed to have quieted down a little. To make up for it, the small ship now had to ride against a strong wind that came from the side. Since, we had been drinking at noon, I risked the way to the toilet at the bow of the boat. I totally miscalculated the movement of the ship – and thus what I had coming happened: due to the intense movement of the ship, I fell down rather heavily in the boat. As they say: “carelessness goes before a fall”.

I took injuries to my left hand, the joint capsule of the ring finger was apparently rather severely affected and suffered intense swelling. Basically, this should not be a problem – it happened to me in the past and mostly it healed without much lasting damage.

However, this is the finger where I wear – or wore – my wedding ring. And as the years went by, said wedding ring sat more closely on the finger, which means even when there was no damage to the finger, I could not get it off. Later in the evening, the swelling on the finger got more and more and, regardless of a delicious dinner, I started to get a little worried, because the ring really cut deep.

Not far from our restaurant, a goldsmith had his shop. So I asked for help there. The female boss really took pains to help me towards dividing the ring in two with pliers, but there was no chance that she could succeed. It did not take long before more Greeks came and wanted to help. Since the finger did not look very appetizing, most of the ladies had to look in the opposite direction in horror.

Since the entire round was no success, I was severely advised to go to the hospital! I was sceptical, because the clock already read after 10 p.m. But the caring Greeks calmed me down. If I took a taxi, I would be in Plaka in five minutes and the doctor there is a really nice person and would quickly solve my problem.

Since I did not see any other way out, I did what they had recommended and almost ordered me to do. The taxi driver took me to the hospital amongst much expressed sympathy and waited for me. I was welcomed by a friendly nurse and two minutes later, the doctor came.

I very much liked him even at first sight. His professional advice was that the ring had to be opened by all means. He started work and two minutes later the problem was solved. Then the finger was examined and taped and I was released.

As always in Greece, the medical treatment was free. Since I had just read the book “The Doctor Hans Löber“, which incidentally had been written in Plaka, I wanted to make a contribution. I told my doctor about the book and he was so delighted that he wanted to give me a second book. It took me quite some effort to make my donation.

I received the book with a personal dedication written by the doctor who had treated me.

This experience is in total accordance with what I often witnessed in Greece. The people are always exceptionally friendly and willing to help. There are hospitals that, at least for the basic functions, offer free treatment. They explicitly do not want to be paid, because helping others is basically an honour. This is how it was twenty years ago and, thank God, this is how it still is.

After my return from the Plaka hospital, I expressed my gratitude towards all the people who had tried to help me in Adamas. And they all shared my joy about the incident having ended so well. I very much enjoyed that Greece is a special country. Unfortunately, many people in the EU and in the German Administration have not yet understood that.

The day after my accident: back in Milos in a good mood at the beach of Paliochori; in the evening, we continued our journey by ship and went to Paros.

Just imagine something similar had happened to me in Munich. For instance, in the Neuperlach hospital, it would have meant: a less than friendly welcome, a long wait, an extensive diagnosis (probably including x-rays and similar gadgets) and a treatment nobody needs. And, of course, a considerable invoice to be paid from our health system.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Tuesday May 2nd, 2017

Hiking in the Peloponnesus

Please note: the report is not yet finished.
(I published it accidentally, but will continue it as soon as possible).

To say it in a nutshell: it was really high time to do some hiking.

Between April, 20th and May, 2nd, we were hiking the Peloponnesus. We carried little luggage in our backpacks. We wanted to hike from Diakopto to Gythio.
We had a wonderful time. Also, we managed to walk quite a nice part of the way. And we decided that we will soon return and continue.

I had to re-learn how to hike. And I certainly had underestimated the high mountains of the Peloponnesus. A few days into the tour, I felt considerably better. But the beginning was truly atrocious. The first leg, Kalavryta to Planitero, was 18 km, with many metres uphill and, worse, even more metres downhill. After all, we had started at an elevation of 725 metres in Kavralita – which was the final station of the Diakopta rack-and-pinion railway.

We had our luggage with us. And that was something that really almost killed me. We actually lucked out in the evening: four Swiss ladies and their pick-up truck. We found a hotel and they gave us a lift on the loading deck of their pick-up truck. But nevertheless, I was totally out of it in the evening and during the next day. That taught us a lesson.

Rolf (from Switzerland, is in charge of E4 and also author of the book … )

Lessons learned:
Do not make plans, at least not from a distance.
Times given on the signs for distances are very optimistic.

Time of year:
April/May very good – the best time.
Cool at night – summer in the daytime.
Stoves – look like they have been constructed from half an oil barrel. Firewood from the top. Can be found in all the Kafenions and taverns.

Orientation:
Not always easy.
Preparing well with maps makes sense – alternatively, you might wish to load a track onto your mobile phone.

Paths:
Very diverse, few tarmac roads, once in a while also through (primitive) countryside.
The level of difficulty: not dangerous (no dangerous overhangs, no mountaineering,…) , but often quite strenuous.

Lay of the land and weather:
Just fantastic, very diverse, great greens and many colours, often nature pure. Fauna! The weather was fabulous. The only time it rained was during our second day of hiking in the afternoon. Initially, evenings were cool, but it got warmer with each day, yet it was never hot.

Risks:
1 snake, a few dogs that barked quite loud, but they seem to be more scared than we are. The good news was that we never got any blisters, which means we did not need the blister patches.

Staying overnight:
Diakopta, Hotel Chris Paul (1 night, 40 €)
Planitero, Hotel Achais (1 night, 40 €)
Kleitoria, Mont Helmos Hotel (3 nights, 100 €)
Dara, Arhontiko Kordopati Traditional Guesthous (1 night, 70 €)
Vytina, Archontiko Nikonlopoulou (2 nights, 130 €),
Gythio, Hotel Aktaion (3 nights, 135 €)
Athen, Urban Rooms (1 nights, 40 €)
(All prices for two including breakfast, except Urban Rooms). All hotels can be recommended. I would not choose the Urban News in Athens again.

Advice:
Hiking from Elati to Vytina was a very special experience, so were the E4 routes.

Mobility cost:

(single fare for two persons – except flight)

Going out
Neubiberg – München (Franz-Josef-Srauß), S-Bahn 23.50 €
Flug München-Athen (return for two persons) Lufthansa 236 €
Athen (airport) – Kiato, train 24.50 €
Kiato – Diakopta, Bus 9.50 €
Diakopta – Kalavryta, rack-and-pinion railway 19.00 €

Transfers from Vatyna to Gythio

Taxi and luggage transport ca. 130 €
Vatyna – Gythio (Bus)
Vatyna – Tripolis 9.40 €
Tripolis – Gythio 21.20 €

Going back
Gythio – Athen (Bus) 52.20
Athen – Airport, Underground 15.00 €
Flight see going out
S-Bahn from MUC airport to Neubiberg 23.50 €

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Wednesday April 19th, 2017

Time-Out.

Also from the Bike. And the Internet. But Much More.

Fear thee not – it is not yet “OVER”. Starting tomorrow (Thursday, April, 20th), I will be gone. But I will not be on the island. Only on the peninsula.

I will try something new. Something I never did before and something I probably would never have imagined doing. We want to hike the Peloponnesus. With only our backpacks. It is not at all very heavy, yet it contains everything we need. This is how we intend to hike more than 250 kilometres on simple paths of the mountainous area from north to south. And enjoy life in a tavern each day. You know: with Tzatziki and Retsina.

Here is one of the reasons why I am now ready for this. For me, too, driving the car used to be a common means of transport. Now I no longer use it at all. Now, riding a bike seems so natural to me that I take it even for small distances. Well, old habits die hard, don’t they? But on the other hand, I find it is not such a good idea.

I miss hiking and jogging, especially since I stopped playing soccer. So I want to “leave the bike and use the feet” (installation #2). You can call it a continuation of my mobility program “leave the car and take the bike!“ (installation #1). Now I want to realize it in everyday life and when I travel.

8Consequently, it is going to be a hiking trip, instead of the usual bike trip. Our premiere route as backpack nomads, will be the  hiking tour E4 from Diakopto to Gythio. Between April, 21st and May, 1st, we will have time to do it. On Tuesday, May, 2nd, we will go back to Munich from Athens.

We will travel to and from Athens via Lufthansa. From Athens airport, we will directly connect to Corinth by train and then on to Diakopto by bus. There, a hotel we already know will await us and on the morning of April, 21st, we want to set out. From our destination Gythio, we will take regular Greek bus services back to Athens.


The valley station at Diakofto

As likely as not, our hiking will start as late as Kalavryta. After all, there is a stretch of 22 kilometres on our first leg between Diakopto and Kalavryta (in Greek: Οδοντωτός σιδηρόδρομος Διακοπτού – Καλαβρύτων) that is covered by a narrow gauge railway a part of which works with gear wheel drive. Thus, we need not climb up the hills and the train will take us from zero to 740 metres above sea level.

Incidentally, Kalavryta is a legendary place. It is connected to the Greek Revolution (1821). The place gained a notoriety that, for me, is rather depressing. In December 1943, the 117th rifleman division.  of the Deutsche Reichswehr destroyed Katavryta along with 25 villages, killing 700 persons in the process – as says a report about the “strictest form of revenge”. We will pay this place a short visit, remember its history and then start on our journey through the Peloponnesus.

In order to keep the backpack light, I optimized, or rather minimized out luggage. For instance, as opposed to when on bike tours, I will travel without my laptop. This is a first in many years. Consequently, there will be plenty of internet abstinence (after all, UE roaming is not yet possible, either) and you will not read any IF blog articles written by me in the next two weeks.

Regardless, it goes without saying that I will be happy if you give the IF blog an occasional glimpse. I recommend: just read it accidentally. Why don’t you type “term” in the search window and see what articles you get.
You know, now the IF Blogs contains 3,118 articles, more than 2,400 of them were written by me. On all possible and impossible topics. There should be something for everybody.
And if you like an article, feel free to share it – on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or wherever you wish. That would be nice and make the hiker happy. And by way of thank you, he will often think of you when he is on the Peloponnesus. And perhaps there will also be a report.

RMD
(Translated by Evelyn)