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My pilgrimage to Jerusalem

22/12/2011

My pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Israel began in 2008. I began from my home in north London and walked to Trafalgar Square to link with St Martin-in-the-Fields’ annual pilgrimage to Canterbury cathedral and followed the via Francigena to Dover and by ferry to Calais and crossed: France, Switzerland (followed the north shore of Lac Leman) to arrive at the Great Saint Bernard pass and crossed into Italy and continued through Aosta to Rome to finish at the Basilica of St Peter.

My journey continued in 2011 when I returned to Rome, Italy and reached Bari, Italy by the ancient Roman road, the via Appia. I was unable to continue and returned home.

I feel tremendous relief having decided to complete my pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the new year.  I feel excited and happy about the coming year. You have no idea how good it feels having made the decision and commitment. (My original plan was to walk from Perth to Melbourne, Australia but that will have to wait until 2013.) My aim was to reduce the overall distance (I turn 69 in the new year)  and introduce a fun element to this ambitious life affirming project.

I have an interest in the Greco-Turkish wars and those events that led to the destruction of Smyrna (now Izmir) by Turks. Smyrna had flourished under Ottoman rule and the decentralised Ottoman system of government allowed it to function freely through the First War. It was the Megali idea of Greece’s Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos supported and encouraged by Prime Minister David Lloyd George of Britain to smash the Turkish state. None of this excuses the atrocities perpetrated in September 1922, and the ethnic cleansing of Greeks in the aftermath of the Greco-Turkish war, is a stain that persist to this day.

I’m delighted with my proposed route: Durres, Albania following the ancient Roman road the via Egnatia via Macedonia, Greece to reach Tekirdag, Turkey to bypass Istanbul. From Tekirdag cross the Sea of Marmara by ferry to Bandirma. My route follows the coast and island hops: Samos, Patmos, Kos, Rhodes, Cyprus. From the Republic of Cyprus it’s either by sea or air to Israel and that will determine my route in Israel (either from Haifa or Tel Aviv) to reach Jerusalem, my destination.

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