Shoemans Trail

The quest for liberation

Tag: Temple (page 1 of 2)

Cape Sunion – Poseidons residence

On our last adventure on mainland we went for a day trip to the temple of Poseidon at cape Sunion a 90 min drive out of Athens.

It is said that the ancient Greek build the Parthenon (the big temple of the Acropolis in Athens) the Aphaea temple on Aegina and the one here on purpose, if you connect the 3 dots on the map you get a isosceles triangle (two sides are equal in length), the so called sacred triangle of Greece.

The temple stands pretty picturesque next to the sea and is a perfect spot for sunsets.

For more information about the cape and the temple: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sounion

And this is already the end of our adventures to the ancient world, we enjoyed it a lot, the friendliness of the people, the good food, although heavy on meat and cheese but the fruits and vegetables so tasty, yumm! Definitely we have to come again, so many more adventures are waiting for us, so many islands to explore and so much more delicious fruits and olives to enjoy 😉

Aegina – Island life

Because of the weather situation we decided on visiting a Greek island, Aegina is easily reachable by ferry in 80 minutes from Piraeus the port of Athens which is basically a town on its own and not a filthy one!

Sunny side up we sat on the deck, riding along with the wind, classic! Our first mission was getting to the Temple of Aphaea before the crowds; we succeeded and had the very well preserved and partly reconstructed ruins just for us, priceless!

The cruise along the islands coast was another highlight with spectacular drops and beautiful lookouts and plenty of curves.

We also went to Paleochora, a place where the island population retreated from pirates and in modern days, just the churches survived the weather and island conditions, some can still be visited and bare a certain charm, the air smelt of herbs, bees were humming and birds flew all around, such a sweet day in spring.

Our last mission for the sunset was to climb the highest peak of the island, Mt. Oros. Up on 500 m we had a 360° lookout over the whole island and all the way back to Athens, the Peloponnese and the surrounding islands, incredible!

The night we spend in a boutique hotel named: Aeginitiko Archontiko and I would definitely recommend everyone in visiting at least to see the 200 years old house and to meet Rena the owner, she was like a mother to us, preparing even cake and cooking homemade marmalade for breakfast!

For more information about the island: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aegina

The website of the hotel: http://aeginitikoarchontiko.gr

Olympia & the Ionian Sea – Home of the Olympic Games 8.2.17

Casing the sun we travelled to the western Peloponnese to see Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games. Lots of old stones but not that many intact structures and the old cinder track can be visited. The whole area is on flat ground and beautiful old trees flank the even older remains of the once so beautiful town. Birds twitter and the air smells like spring, warm and full of sunlight.

A short trip to the Ionian see and the empty beach was the 2nd highlight of the day, best light ever, just one hour before the sun went down, pretty picturesque!

To learn more about ancient Olympia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympia,_Greece

Delphi – Oracle tales

Next stop, Delphi the home of the famous oracle of ancient times, it is said that the priestess was sitting on a tripod over an opening in the rocks and inhaling the vapour from the mountain, intoxicated she made the prophecies. Not just the Greek worshippers went to the holy place; even the romans and Alexander the Great later on used the oracle to question the future.

The city also played an important role for the ancient Greek, according to the myth, Zeus let two eagles fly and the place they went down was considered to be the navel of the world, as it happened it was right here in Delphi, the naval stone still can be find within the complex.

The ancient city is beautifully perched on the mighty slopes of Mt. Parnassus. Feels pretty amazing to be here in such a place with so much history and wander along the remains of a culture that existed more than 2000 years ago, and it still reverberates!

The gymnasium and the Tholos are located a bit outside of the spiritual area of town, just a few remains can be seen and the circular temple with its 3 restored columns is standing out of all the rectangular buildings.

Further reads: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delphi

Athens – Home of the Acropolis

After 2 years I went again on a trip with my friend Eric, I met in Jordan and we already travelled Thailand and Cambodia together. So this time we decided on Greece.

We met in Athens and went straight to the Acropolis, literally meaning high city, to see the ancient remains of the big temple called Parthenon and all its surrounding structures, the buildings were destroyed a couple of times by different cultures but always rebuild, for more information go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acropolis_of_Athens.

The grandness of the remains as well as the lookouts from above are quite spectacular, you get a proper idea on how big Athens was and now, with all the suburbs, is growing bigger and bigger.

Ubud – Art capital and temple area

The last days I spent in Bali, but not south, this time I went further north to Ubud, the art capital of the island, a lot of painters, sculptors, wood carver and artists live close by. The whole area is surrounded by rice fields and a lot of temples can be seen. I went to the most important ones and was templed out after a long day, it was a bit touristy but not as bad as the Uluwatu temple

First I went to Tirta Empul  with it’s hot springs and dating back some 1000 years. It was too crowded with tourists but a perfect start, the next temple I visited is called Gunung Kawi, the Poet Mountain Temple, some pretty good rock carvings can be seen plus an older temple completely carved out of the rock – quite impressive! The Goa Gajah elephant cave is carved in the rock too with a nicely lit lingam and a Ganesh Statue inside. But the quietest, slightly off the beaten path was Pura Kehen with its big 11-tiered meru towering the inner courtyard.  Chapeau for all the rock carvings in the area, of course a legend tells the story that most of it has been carved out by a supernatural being called Kebo Iwa within one night…

The best experience I had at a smaller non touristy temple 2 minutes from the resort I stayed. I first discovered the place in the evening when a group of musicians was rehearsing special Balinese temple style – I never heard before, check this out: http://youtu.be/0IglFlEUc7E   The main ceremony was on the day of my departure and I managed to attend for 2 hours, men in white wearing sarong to cover the knees, a sash around their waist and a typical white hat. Women were wearing colorful dresses and carrying donations – mostly on the head – each of them very beautiful. Children accompanying their parents, behaving, everyone showing grace.  Priceless !

I also checked out the local chocolate factory Big Tree Farms, all organic with coconut sugar, no milk and a perfect tour with tastings from raw cacao beans to the final product. the tour was very informing and changed my view of chocolate!

I really liked the slow pace and restfulness of Ubud and its citizens, going around in the country side with loads of temples and rice paddies is so relaxing on its own. The only stress I had in traffic – an hour before sunset, when everyone wants to go home and the roads are jammed for 2 hours.

It’s been a sweet ride the last months I look back half sad and with pure joy, but more looking forward to returning home, meeting all my family and friends, eating the good cheese and breathing the slightly cooler air of Germany again. Indonesia you’ve been a blast!

Southern Bali – the Australian Mallorca

I heard and read some stories about Bali before even getting there, those stories lowered my expectations. And it is really touristy especially in cities near the airport. The beach is crowded and surfer wannabes ride the waves. I met a lot of Australians and there are plenty of restaurants, bars, t-shirt vendors, hotels, hostels and home stays.
On the narrow streets of Kuta every 100 meter you get offered a massage – of course not for free… Or people shout “Yes!” to look at the shop or change some money, or “Scooter?” followed with a gesture of the right hand that cranks up the gas handle. Everyone rides a scooter here and that’s the only way to get out of the mess for cheap.

So I rented a two wheeler for half a day and went south to Uluwatu an ancient place of worship. But first I needed to find a way out of the maze of narrow one way streets and heavy traffic in the heart of touristy town, damn! Some 20 minutes later I rode the two lane highway south, past the airport, where a plane just flew right above my head. The rest of the way was easy to find, up on the hills passing buses and vans on the narrow road. Once I arrived I understood, this place isn’t used for worshiping anymore, well to be fair the small temple compound inside still might be. Lord Ganesha acts as the bouncer at the door but a more effective mechanism are the locked gates 🙂
The beautiful compound is restless filled with hordes of tourists, busloads of them – I never saw that many westerners at a holy site in India…
The place is still spectacular as the temple sits right above the mighty cliffs overlooking the ocean and big waves roam in, crushing ashore – a magnificent view and sound. Wandering a couple hundred meters south, high above the ocean floor and out of the compound I escape the hordes and inhale the place properly.

Hinduism in Bali is different to India, when the religion swept to the island the new influences were simply overlaid on existing practices. Temples can be found in every tiny village – they look different to the Indian counterparts, what mostly catches the eye is the significant gate.
The gods might be the same but the way they are honored differs from India, incense sticks are burned and offerings brought every morning and placed on the ground to placate the bad spirits. The people believe that spirits are everywhere, the good in the mountains, giants and demons lurk beneath the sea and bad spirits haunt the woods or empty beaches. So the Balinese live either in the cities or up in the hills, leaving the beach to the tourists 🙂

It was a short intermezzo but just about right. I’m happy to leave, seeking for a tranquil place further east…

Tamil Nadu – South Indian vibes

After the bliss in the ashram I didn’t feel like moving fast so I stayed for a bit in Coimbatore, a bigger city in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, textile industry is king over here, as is the gem business. The 2 mio town has not that much touristy things to offer and acts as a major junction and transit hub. I walked the streets a bit and went to the mall to shop in the spar supermarket, pretty indianized no German things to be found 😉
The other day I walked the opposite direction, trying to get a leather string I can use as necklace – a hard mission – I talked to so many people and got checked out by so many others just by walking in the shady areas of bazaars next to the biggest mosque in town. I went further and walked past churches and Jain temples and just before the train junction I left the Hindu temple honouring the goddess Laksmi, it’s interesting all the different beliefs within an area of a 30min walk – no stress, no fighting, happy people as it seemed to me! I really liked that spirit, needed to think of Kashmir then where all the religions coexist in a good way too!
The last day I went to Gass forest museum near the forest university campus to beat the waiting time – my train to Chennai, the state’s capital was supposed to leave in the afternoon, checkout is usually round lunchtime. The museum was ok-ish, I didn’t expect much so I liked it, lots of conserved animals, mammals, reptiles, birds, insects, some plastics and paintings, all possible kinds of wood, oil, fungi, whatever relates to forest and can be found in India – it is quite a collection but the most interesting encounter was with the door guy.
I was wearing a south Indian pant that looks like a doti (long cloth, wrapped around the legs in a special way so it looks like a pant) with some Tamil words on it. What it says is “Shivanga” so the warden asked me why I wear it and if I felt it. I told him my story and of course I felt Shiva within and all around, all of a sudden memories of the BSP program popped up and filled the body with euphoria, he told me his story and we hugged after a big fat smile.
Coimbatore isn’t that bad as everyone is telling, it has a lot of heart and some real spice!
After the 7h train ride with a nice orange sunset I arrived in Chennai with high expectations, “the food capital” and “where traditional India meets the Modern” are just two of the many things I read and heard.
In fact it’s a typical south Indian town par excellence, crazy traffic, smelly rivers and streets, lots of flies and surprisingly not that much touristy attractions, they’re all away from town, the food itself was ok, I had more of an oriental/Italian tooth that time – ordering falafel and pizza the other day when visiting the mall and watching the new Star Was movie The Force Awakens.
What a brilliant film, I was entertained and the cinema was just splendid, nice comfy leather seats and the 3D goggles were big enough to fit over my prescription ones. Still some differences to a German cinema, the movie starts on time as printed on the ticket, advertisements and trailers of other movies are shown before that time, people of course come late, using their cell phone to light their way and keep talking during the movie, after the first 20min luckily that settled. There is always a break in between, whatever the length of the film, most of the time right in the middle of a dialogue so takes a bit to get back in the film when it’s running again. In the break you can go pee and get a refill – snacks and soda and of course advertisements are shown again.
Madras, as the city was called under the British rule, has one of the longest beach fronts on our planet, it’s a typical Indian town beach though, pretty dirty! Some stalls, tidy carousels and “giant” wheels the size of a trailer not operating that time of a day, pretty much everything was shut down and looked deserted – I expected more, still it was interesting to do an hours stroll along the “not safe for swimming” coastline, strong currents with crazy irregular waves, that doesn’t hinder the locals to splash into the blue waters. The sweet thing about the beach was the light house, I could actually go on top and it’s got a lookout over the beach plus the surrounding areas, good views!
The other day I wanted to spend in the Guindy national park inside the city limits, a rare thing in India, what I didn’t know before, entry is just permitted to rangers and persons with special clearance, neither am I, so I ended up in the close by snake park and chilled a bit in Ghandi memorial before I walked back.
In the end I was glad I just stayed for 3 nights and spent the rest of the time before my flight took off to the Andamans in Coimbatore…
Some legs of the trip are excellent some are just good and I was looking forward for the next one, I didn’t felt like a city boy anymore, I wanted to go to the nature and I was just about to go there…

 

Isha Yoga Center – Getting started

The moment I’ve been waiting for so long has arrived, in the early morning I arrive by train at Coimbatore and an advertisement with Sadhguru on it is greeting me as I disembark, on my way to the ashram some 30 km out of town in a lush forest surrounded by mountains I’ll see his face on various shops, the Isha foundation is supporting the locals – pretty nice!

Here I am the Isha Yoga Center – if you want more info on the temples, structures the set up and the daily routines like food, have a read here:
http://wikitravel.org/en/Isha_Yoga_Center

Arriving feels very friendly although there was some issue checking in but Andre from the overseas office resolved them easily and I started volunteering the first days until my program was starting.
When I first went into the meditative space of Dhyanalinga, which does not ascribe to any particular faith and is open for everyone, I couldn’t believe the energy, just by sitting in the dome with the mercury based linga I felt the buzz, wow!
In the evening there was a special x-mas dinner for the overseas people. The food was delicious and so healthy as usual at Biksha hall. The first evening came to a perfect end when Sadhguru suddenly rolled past with his Segway wearing no Turban but a grey woolen hat. “You’re having a party without me?” and “Whats the occasion?” were his questions, on the answer “Christmas” he just turned his head and accelerated again. Somehow he felt like Santa Clause though…

I met Pavan who initially introduced me to Sadhguru and made friends with Sanjay from Nepal, who arrived the same day as me. I also came to know the ashram and its people a bit closer, Sanjay and me volunteered in Biksha hall where all the 1000+ guests, volunteers, swamis and brahmacharis are fed.

For pourinami the day of full moon offerings can be brought to Dhynalinga, so we offered milk and were able to touch the 3 m tall lingam, electrified I started my volunteering day in Suryakund a consecrtated bathing site and temple, telling at least 500 Indians to not touch the snake in the temple and basin and to remain quite as this is not a public pool without using words, clapping and hand signs were my powerful weapons 😉
The Ashram was crazy busy that day, so many people came to offer something, the moon is at its maximum illumination and in the evening we attended the ceremony in the Linga Bhairavi temple, 2 hours of traditional music, dance, puja, chants, and rituals, a fantastic unforgettable evening and the first opportunity to receive the feminine energy of the divine, after the Abhishekam the procession around the temples begins and also martial arts and fire play and important role, my eyes widened and tiredness was magically blown away that evening, indescribable, I was smiling all the time!

But the best was just about to come…

Gokarna – between temples and beaches

We decided to move on and see something new, for me another city, for Florian a bit of the real India feeling, as Goa is not India, it has the food and the people but the Portuguese influence and the relaxed atmosphere plus no bigger town and always the ocean vibe is still different to the rest of the country. So we went further south to Gokarna, it’s just a train ride away – easy.

At the train station we bump into Philippe from Italy a really heart-warming guy who already traveled Asia some 20 years ago. The track takes us along the coast crossing river outlets and lush forest, after 2 h we arrive in the holy city and Phillipe takes us with him to his friends place, a real tranquil oasis away from the city across a small hill, unfortunately no more free rooms, we still enjoy a chai and the easy chatter after going to Kudlee beach to spend the night. A couple of restaurants and bars spread across the whole beach, it felt a bit like Goa…

Reading about Gokarna beforehand almost made us not to go. Police men throughout the whole country are even paying to work here during main seasons to fine tourists with incredible high amounts for almost everything, smoking and drinking in public or on the beach, riding a motorbike without a helmet and so on, in the end we had no issues but were prepared and the police was omnipresent for such a small town. The main reason for this: The place should not become a second Goa, that’s why the drastic measures…

Gokarna has two main attractions, temples and beaches. Mainly tourists come for the beaches (Kudlee, Om, Halfmoon and Paradise) Gokarna beach is not nice and pretty dirty! The town itself hosts the temples, some more than 1000 years old but unfortunately no entry for foreigners and non-Hindus, we tried but got sent away soon after entering the compound 😉 The town itself is pretty small 2 main roads, both one way traffic, one leading into town the other out. All in walking distance, but the beaches are a bit further away across some hills, it’s a nice days walk from Kudlee until Paradise, we did it from Om beach though as we stayed in Kudlee for the first night but decided the morning after to move to town, enough beaches and the humidity was killing us.

Om beach got its name because of its Om-symbol like shape, rocky ends and a couple small restaurants as we walk further on the trail some 20 minutes later and a few nice views from high above the water, we reach Half-moon beach, it’s getting more and more basic, electricity is generated by solar panels, no big restaurants and bars, just 3-4 small shacks some with attached wooden huts to stay, a perfect place to rest and beat the burning sun, it really gets hot and humid in the afternoon those days.
After a small nap we went on a rocky path we sometimes lost as there is no proper way marked, the only advise we had was just, don’t go up the hill try to round it and it was such a sweet walk / crawl on a rocky coast line with marvelous lookouts, after 15 min we found the path and went towards Paradise. No bars, restaurants whatsoever, just some people with hammocks having the time of their lives, we joined them for a bit in Paradise, perfect waters, although it was not safe for swimming it just felt natural to dip in.
A Jungle walk further south and a rickshaw ride brought us back to town – perfect timing for sunset – a great day!

The last day we spent with Philippe, he proposed to rent bicycles and ride to Honey beach up north and so we did. Riding the Indian Hero bike feels different but I got used to it, along small village roads and fields we went to a river crossing with a ancient ferry, a small boat for max 20 people and a 100 year old engine, of course motorbikes are taken across too, the ferrymen do the bike lifting from the jetty to the wooden vessel.
On the other side the terrain got hilly, we pushed up hill and went really slow down, our brakes could just handle the slope, only Florian’s didn’t, he needed to walk down to prevent any serious injury his brakes were barely working on the flat ground.
An hour later we arrived at a lonely beach, just 2 fishermen out on the rocks trying their luck, the former restaurant barricaded, there goes our lunch…
After swimming we managed to get some coconuts from one of the fishermen – yumm and the flesh inside so fresh and tasty, after all best lunch ever, if you think you won’t eat anything and out of the blue you’ll be surprised, that’s a quality of this country and I love it!
We took our time and enjoyed the good company talking about travelling, paradise travel destinations and so much more, we could have been sitting still there as the topics didn’t run out, but we had to leave, we wanted to be back in town before sunset, well as it goes we got late but the last 20 min in darkness were another adventure I won’t forget that easily! Another brilliant day, Cheers to Philippe hope to see you again!

Now’s the time, Florian’s and my ways will part, his vacation is over and he’s flying back, I’ll take a train further south and keep on going.
Cheers for the company and for coming along the path with me Flo, let’s repeat that somewhere else in the world!

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