Slave Lodge, Cape Town

The Slave Lodge was built in 1679, making it the second oldest colonial building in South Africa and was owned by the Dutch East India Company, who maintained a settlement at the Cape and needed the slaves to support its profitable Asian trading operations. It continued to be used until 1834 when slavery was abolished and during these 155 years approximately 9,000 slaves would have lived here..

Slaves were brought to The Cape from most of the countries bordering the Indian Ocean though the four main areas were Indonesia, the Indian sub-continent, Madagascar and Mozambique. The cramped conditions of their passage are outlined in diagrams. Individual slaves are honoured in a column of names.

The Slave Lodge is a place that everyone should visit – in Western minds slavery is associated with the transport of humans across the Atlantic from Africa to North America. This museum will show that a similar trade went on at the same time in the Indian Ocean.

Extract from – Ten Traveller’s Tales

Churches of Riga

The church of St James in Riga, Latvia, is the seat of the city’s Roman Catholic archbishopric. It occupies an important position opposite Latvia’s Parliament. The first reference to St.James’s Church was in 1226. The first few centuries of its history were uneventful as it served as a local church. Then, after the Reformation the Lutherans took ownership; however, the Counter Reformation saw the church given to the Jesuits in 1582. When the Swedes occupied Riga in the 17th Century it served as the church of the Swedish garrison. Finally, in 1922 the church was given to the Catholic community. The steeple was the only one in Riga that had a bell, named in this case the Bell of Wretched Sinners. History relates how the bell had a bad habit of ringing by itself when any unfaithful wife passed by. This is no longer a problem as the Soviet occupiers melted down the bell for weaponry during WWII. The cathedral is dedicated to Saint James the Greater, but is often referred to by the name St Jacob because Latvian, like many other languages, uses the same name for James and Jacob.

Excerpt from Ten Traveller’s Tales

Churches of Tallinn

Tallinn is the capital of Estonia, one of the three Baltic countries that achieved independence from the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Tallinn has many houses of prayer, including a Roman Catholic Church, within its old town walls. The spires of some of these churches dominate the skyline. The old town is a beautiful place just to wander around and walking is the best way to see all the churches.

On the edge of the Toompea district, opposite the National Library, stands Charles’s Church, regarded as the centre of the Estonian Lutheran Church. It gets its name from the previous church occupying the site, a wooden structure built in the late 1600’s during the reign of King Charles XI of Sweden. This church was burnt down in 1710 by the Russians. The site then lay vacant for 150 years before the current church was built over a period of 20 years in the late 1800s. The interior seated 1,500 people and allowed Estonians to meet in large numbers at a time when Russian rule was being severe on any evidence of Estonian nationalism. Today, to emphasize this point, the funerals of notable Estonians are held in this church.

Walking along the street called Toompea towards the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral make sure to visit the Occupation Museum, which documents the times in the 20th Century when Estonia was occupied by either the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. Do not miss the statues of Communist notables in the basement outside the entrance to the washrooms.

Excerpt from – Ten Traveller’s Tales

Travel Poetry – 1

I have decided to try a new genre called Travel Poetry – I hope you like it.

Small squads of tourists heading to the palace in Kadriorg Park, each with a different photo to take,

It is a mini-Versailles according to the locals.

The President’s pink house is there for all to see

cyclists,

sunbathers,

walkers,

chatterers on seats,

duck watchers,

beautiful blondes dressed in black without a hair out of place even in the breeze, sitting at cafes drinking lattes and being seen.

Trams dropping off tourists who ask is this the right place?

Lawns,

trees,

pathways,

shade and,

bright, bright sunlight illuminating the other half of my bench.

People asking is he writing about us?

No.

Fountains playing that same endless game,

gardens reflecting in ponds, and

parents pushing strollers

This is Kadriorg Park.

 

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