Deep in the darkest depths of winter and now nearly two years into the seemingly never-ending pandemic, my wanderlust yearnings have been calling to me, urging me to take to the road again while at the same time filing me with nostalgia for the places I have been. Call this post a tribute to the travels of the past and a hopeful gesture toward the travels perhaps yet to come.
What better place to begin a travel reminiscence than high on a sunlit hilltop in Switzerland, overlooking Lake Lucerne and surrounded by snow-peaked Alps? This video was taken during a late March 2019 visit to Lucerne, Switzerland. I had walked along the west shore of the lake, with no plan or destination in mind, and my fortunate footsteps took me to this extraordinary scene.
I was blessed with wonderful weather during my Spring trip to Europe in 2019; later in the same trip, I found myself in Luxembourg on a sunny Sunday morning. In this video clip, taken in Luxembourg City in early April 2019, I am standing in Vallée de la Petruse, admiring the early spring flowers and morning sunshine. Turn up the volume and listen to the birdsong, and farther off, the sound of Sunday morning church bells.
Luxembourg City is an interesting place, full of topographical variation and architectural beauty. A unexpectedly interesting place just to walk around.
And speaking of walking around, one of the more memorable hikes I have taken in recent years was a ramble up the slopes of Montserrat, outside Barcelona, in Spain. Montserrat is the site of a famous monastery that is beautifully situated high on a rugged mountainside. We took a cable car from the train station to the monastery, and from there, we took a funicular railway even further up the mountain. We then hiked about two and a half hours in the brilliant sunshine along the mountain’s crenellated ridge top to the peak, which afforded spectacular unobstructed views of the surrounding countryside.
One of the most memorable trips of my life was a September 2019 visit to Jerusalem. To get a perspective on the Old City of Jerusalem, the best thing to do is to climb the Mount of Olives, to the east of the city. In this video, you can see the golden Dome of the Rock in the center and the New City beyond. Benjamin Disraeli said that “The view of Jerusalem is the history of the world; it is more; it is the history of heaven and earth.” If you turn up the volume, you can hear the call to prayer from the Al-Aqsa mosque on Temple Mount.
The centerpiece of Temple Mount is the Dome of the Rock, one of the oldest extant works of Islamic architecture. It was completed under the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik in 692 A.D. The building is a shrine to the Foundation Stone. According to the traditions of the Abrahamic religions, the Stone marks the place where God created the World and Adam, and the Stone is also the place where Abraham set about to sacrifice Issac. According to Jewish tradition it is the place where God’s presence is more manifest than any other. Muslim tradition holds that the Rock is the place from which the Prophet Mohammad began his Night Journey to heaven. This, my friends, is why you travel.
Some readers may be wondering why I am posting this item now. Part of the reason is the feeling of nostalgia and wanderlust I mentioned at the outset. But another important reason is that I finally mastered the technological steps required to get the video footage to which I linked above off of my camera and into a format that I could actually use on this site. Nostalgia made this post necessary, the technological effort made it possible.
I am hoping to get back on the road again in 2022.