Sunday Special – Naoshima Island, Japan


Art aficionados, you may want to add this place to your list. Set in the Seti Inland Sea, the small Naoshima Island of approximately 3,000 residents is filled with museums and outdoor modern art installations. A change of pace from Japan’s city life, a small journey via train and boat to this unique island may be an ideal getaway. 

Once a place of dying industry, it’s revitalization came about mainly because of the Benesse Corporation working to set up museums and buildings, many by architect Tadao Ando. Today there are numerous art collections and museums that make it a great place to wander about outside and indoors. Some of the collections are:

  • Art House Project – Abandoned houses found on the eastern portion of the island that have been converted into art or venues housing art
  • Benesse House – A main museum on the island, this not only has art housed within its walls but outside as well
  • Chichu Art Museum – An underground museum with natural light flowing in from above, it was designed to use the light from nature to showcase its art. Paintings by Walter De Maria, Claude Monet, and James Turrell are housed here
  • I♥YU Sento (Bath House) – Unwind with a leisurely soak amidst artwork created by Shinro Ohtake

  • Individual art projects around the island such as a collection of mini Buddhas, the large welcoming Yellow Pumpkin and the Red Pumpkin (both by Yayoi Kasuma), and the Three Vertical Square Diagonal (by George Ricky).

This art island strikes me as a place to explore and wander at a slow pace, taking in modern interpretations of art. Not a bad way to spend a day or two.

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Red Pumpkin by Yayoi Kasuma – Naoshima Island, Japan – Photo credit: KimonBerlin, Red Pumpkin – Yayoi Kusama (8953340449), CC BY-SA 2.0

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One of the Art House Projects, Naoshima Island – Photo is Public Domain

 

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Sunday Special – Mykonos, Greece


Jutting into the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas, south of Albania, Macedonia (FYROM), Bulgaria, and the mainland of Greece are the striking Greek Isles. They number into the thousands though only 227 are inhabited. The Cycladean island of Mykonos is one of Greece’s most popular. Recognized as having a cosmopolitan vibe, it is renown for its widely popular nightlife and amazing beaches. High season  (July – August) brings in a bountiful number of tourists who enjoy the multitudinous clubs, restaurants, and shops. Low season (late October – April) is less crowded though some shops and attractions may be closed, weather is much cooler, and there are less frequent ferry rides. Shoulder season (May, June, September, & early October) is a blend of the other two seasons with less crowds and pleasant weather.

Although recognized as a “party” island, Mykonos does have more to offer. It has retained its Cycladic architecture of the past, something very prominent in Chóra (Mykonos Town) due to stringent regulations. I imagine the whitewashed buildings and narrow maze-like streets add a charm to Mykonos Town just as I found charm in Oia, Santorini.  The white windmills are a common sight on Mykonos, a throwback to early days when the strong winds of isle were used to power them.  Wander outside of the main town to a quaint town of Alefkántra, often referred to as Little Venice. This seaside village is lined with colourful houses and they boast an incredible sunset (a wonderful reason for me to consider visiting). As mentioned, beaches abound on Mykonos (Paradise Beach being one of the best known). And the winds make the island a great spot for water sport enthusiasts. Perhaps, if you’re lucky, you may spot the island’s adopted mascot too, Petros the Pelican (second generation).

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Streets of Mykonos, Greece – Photo credit: Bernard GagnonHouses in MykonosCC BY-SA 4.0

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Petros the Pelican, mascot of Mykonos – Photo is Public Domain

 

The 2 Year Plan


Life is a series of events and moments over a period a lifetime. For many of us, should we be so lucky, that lifetime is one of decades upon decades. Much of those moments are nondescript and fairly ordinary. Same same. Then we have times of wonderment, thrill, adventure and awe. Moments of laughter, bliss, joy, excitement. Life is also peppered with times of inexplicable grief, despair, confusion, fear, and sadness. It’s the same with everyone. The ups, downs, and meandering along. Yet without all these varying experiences we can not grow, learn, appreciate and evolve. That is life. My travels are one of the main sources of joy and wonderment for me. Also one of learning about myself, and hopefully of the world and its beautiful people. My head swirls with places I have yet to know, far flung and world-wide. Being “grounded” here at home without a plan in place gnaws away at me, at the ever present desire to see new-to-me places. It grows and expands the wanderlust, the fernweh (“farsickness“). Yet, when at home I also crave security and order. An odd contrast for one who seeks to always leave. 

As some of you may know, this spring I had a hefty health scare and subsequent surgery. There was a period where I did not know if I had cancer or not. Fortunately I didn’t and have been given a clean bill of health. That time certainly has prompted much to stir within myself. Realizing how fortunate I am and that moving forward and living life is vital to me, however I choose to do that. Having dealt with this has prompted me to make better choices for myself. I am making wiser food choices (have disposed of 19 lbs to date) and investing in tapping into my creative side.  Of course travel continues to be part of my life.  Plans continue to swirl in my head. Destinations call to me at every turn. A different country pops into my mind every week or two. I still have no clue where I will travel next year as it changes continually. Though one trip is forming and coming together.

Since learning of it in 2007, it has always been part of my life plan to be a pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St James) in 2019 for a milestone birthday.  That was 10 years ago and the plan is still the same. Now, its in 2 years. The 2 year plan. The Camino, as its called for short, is a centuries old Christian pilgrimage from the east of northern Spain all the way to the northwestern city of Santiago (Galicia) where it is said the bones of St James are interred.  In modern times the pilgrimage grew less and less popular to almost being forgotten. Then in the 1980s there was a resurgence and slowly it has gained popularity. Today’s pilgrims have various reason’s for making the trek and not always religious ones, as in my case. For me, I want to be able to traverse the countryside. To walk alone and with others. To step one foot after another, not being entirely sure as to even why I want to other than that I do.

Despite being 2 years away I am working on some plans, financially and physically (though the latter is coming much slower). Researching here and there. Nagging my friend over at Wandering Dragon (blog) as her and I will be taking this adventure together. Up until now we have only talked of it but now I have set up a few things to get me moving and planning. As time gets closer we will decide which route, the exact day to leave, what to pack and all the rest. In the meantime I will continue to read and watch stories, documentaries and movies about the Camino. I’ll make an occasional post here too.

Oh, if you want to watch a (fictional) movie about the Camino, I quite liked The Way starring Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. There is also a documentary I watched recently called Strangers On The Earth which I also found interesting.

Photo taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders The World.

I took these photos in Dublin in 2016. My sister and her 2 friends were walking the Northern Route of the Camino that summer. I learned that this was the historic spot for pilgrims in Ireland to head out to the Camino. The growing popularity of the Camino has led to the organization of the Camino Society Ireland where people can learn of the Camino, attend events, obtain a Camino passport and more.

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A Camino sign, Dublin

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The Camino Society  Ireland 

Sunday Special Delay


Hello! I wanted to advise you that on Sunday Oct 22 & Oct 29, 2017 there will be no Sunday Special as I will be travelling around British Columbia for two separate getaways. I will post a few photos of my home province and then get back on schedule. Remember to check out the 2 upcoming “alphabet” posts as it’s a “M” and “N” respectively. Happy travelling.