Scandinavian peace pilgrimage journey
After waking up I said hello and good morning to a wonderful woman who two days ago invited me back to her place and offered me shelter, food and washing. I was extremely grateful that the universe has connected me to her, and this morning she had another wonderful woman friend as her guest and everything was prepared on the table for them and I thanked them again and after eating some food then I said goodbye to both of them and I headed out walking towards another little town which was called Vordingborg. In there after waiting for couple of hours I got a connection from a wonderful man who was advocating Jehovas Vidner ( http://www.jw.org), and everything was about peace and I respected his point of view and after getting me to about 30km from Copenhagen, I said goodbye to him and thanked him for the lift, then here on the motorway another very kind man after waiting for about an hour gave me a lift into the capital, and it’s here that I stayed in and around the capital for more than a few hours before I got a lift from a kind Afghan man who asked me whether am I carrying any drugs and I said I am a peace pilgrim, so after my explanation he and his friend were happy to give me a lift to Malmo. I stayed in the town for about two hours before I got another connection, this time by a wonderful man from Serbia, and he very kindly took me to a little place which was called Arlov, where Arlov Park Hotel was located, a reception for the refugees from around the world. After speaking to a man in charge regarding if I could stay for the night or not?, he told me this is a government scheme and I cannot help you, and I thanked him and headed out again into a road directing me to further north but after about an hour wait and with no connection, as the time was approaching 10pm, I managed to find a place behind a car wash in a closed petrol station and I put my head down for the night after thanking everyone and the universe for all those connections throughout the day.
I woke up at about 5:30am at the back of a car wash by a petrol station near to a refugee centre in Arlov Park Hotel, then I headed on the road again and after about 2 hours of waiting a wonderful man originally from Lebanon, but living in Sweden since the 80s, very kindly gave me a lift to Helsingborg main junction, and in here in a petrol station he very kindly offered me some food and he has put some money in the food bag without my knowledge despite I did say I don’t accept any money apart from food and drink, but perhaps he was worried that Swedish people will not look after me, which I have to say here thanks for all his concerns but overall the Swedish weren’t that bad and not only I managed to survive but also I came across some wonderful ones as well!
Then another very kind man took me to the ferry area of the town and offered me some cookies then after saying goodbye to him and waiting for a while without any connection I decided to walk out of the port and headed to an over ground train station in Ramlosa then after speaking to a woman inspector, she very kindly helped me carry on with my peace journey further north into Hassleholm.
In the town I got in touch with the information place and I was provided with a map for the town and the region, and it’s here that I visited the town library which I have to say it’s very advanced compared to some other European nations, and after thanking the staff in the library and having something to eat using the kind man’s fund in the bag, I made my way further north this time to the town of Alvesta, with a kind woman inspector, then from here to Vaxjo, and after getting there just after 1am and as the station was very quiet so I have to wait till next day 6am before I could move on.
Today as I didn’t have any sleep all night I managed to head on further north with a local train with a help of another kind woman inspector to the town of Jonkoping. In the station I waited for a few hours before I headed out towards another little town, on my way out I visited a local church where I found some refreshments and then carried on walking to a bus station where I waited there for about an hour before I got a lift by a wonderful local woman from Jonkoping going to Huskvarna, from here after finding a bus stop and speaking to a local young boy he very kindly relayed my message to the bus driver, so I managed to get a lift with the kind driver of the bus to the town of Granna, and it’s here that I met a wonderful German woman who kindly did explain to the driver same as the boy and this time the bus driver was very happy to take me and even took a photo of me, so we arrived in another little place called Odeshog, and it’s here that she very kindly offered me some food from a store in there and then I went back to a retreat centre (the art of living: Vipassana Meditation by S. N. Gonna http://www.dhamma.org) to see whether I can stay for the night. After getting back there and speaking to the people who were running the place, I was told that I have to leave the centre as I haven’t arranged in advance, so I said goodbye and I started walking back again towards the main road, but after walking for about a few km I found a little shelter place to put my head down for the night.
So as I found this wonderful little shelter despite the weather being very windy at least it was not raining and I managed to put my head down at about 8pm for the night with the hope of more wonderful universe connection, as it’s been a great help so far to me. I said goodnight to everything around me and I slept as they say “like a baby log”.
After waking up and packing my stuff as the weather was less windy and the sun was shining I started walking towards the main road, which after a few km walking I got to a junction which was written Renstad, and it’s 3km from the Vipassana meditation centre.
So as I was waiting there in this little junction a van turned up and as I asked them for my destination direction they very kindly offered me a lift to the main dual carriageway, and in there as I thanked them and saying goodbye, there was a cafe which was called Lanthandel, so before I carried on with my journey I went in and I asked them if I could use the bathroom and they kindly helped me with that and some food and drink after I was explaining to them who I am and what I am doing. Then about 1400h earthy time I headed on the road and was waiting for my connection to the next little town of Mjolby, which after about half an hour couple of wonderful Swedish men stopped and offered me a lift to a main junction which was going to hopefully link me further north, so after saying thanks and goodbye to them and waiting for about half an hour I got another lift from a young Swedish man this time to a famous resort town of Motala, after engaging in conversation and knowing what I was doing he very kindly offered some food and drink and took me about 6km outside the town, then after exchange of media connectivity he said he’ll send out a message on his facebook to the locals so if anyone goes towards my direction to come forward and help me, which I thanked him for that and everything else and we said goodbye to one another.
So now I was just 42km to Linkoping and the earthy time was about 1540h, I waited there for about 2h and with no luck of connectivity with my next destination I started to move further and closer to the town, and I waited in another bus stop where I waited for less than an hour then a young driver man and another young man and woman in an old car stopped and they told me jump on and I asked them where to? And they said, to my next destination, which I was puzzled about? But they told me they have seen me on facebook as my last wonderful connection has sent out a message and asked locals for helping me to connect with my next destination, and that’s how they knew about my peace pilgrimage journey and they wanted to help me to my next destination, which I thanked them and they very kindly took me all the way to Linkoping through a little and old village with a canal and hand locking system, which it’s here in this village that a young passenger male got off and he told me his dad was from East Anglia and now they are settled down in Sweden.
So after saying thanks and goodbye to the young Swedish man and a woman about 1850h I walked into the train station and waited there for about 2h before I go to a platform to make my way further north, and it’s here that I got in touch with a couple of young Swedish men who were puzzled by what I was doing, and at first they thought that I was someone related to the train station, but after talking to them and telling them about my peace pilgrimage journey, so they asked me if they could join me and I told them all they need to be truthful and peaceful and nonviolent, so they said okay and they came with me all the way to Stockholm central train station, first leaving Linkoping at about 2045h with help of a kind woman train inspector first through Norrkoping and then waiting there for another hour or so before a fast train comes to the station and after asking a nice man train inspector who initially said no but just before the train leaves he said jump on, and we’re over the moon.
Now I have to say at the Linkoping station where I met the two boys which they could speak good English, they told me who they are and if I could accept them despite their pasts, and I said to them as long as you’re truthful and kind while you’re with me and don’t do anything to harm yourself or others, your past is past and just forget about it and start a new and fresh life, so they were happy to do what I asked them while they’re with me, and I said to them that you are free to disengage and stop carrying on when you feel like and they were with me from 2030h to half midnight before they disappeared in the main central station, after I have heard that their friend can’t help us all to go to their place, and as I was waiting inside the station, and thinking what to do next, in terms of my connectivity to my next destination in Finland, and as they were smoking outside and suddenly as I looked outside they’re disappeared, so I didn’t even say to them goodbye yet, so I headed to a local Macdonald’s as it’s the only place which was open, and I asked them if I could use the bathroom which they kindly helped me with, and I stayed there till outside got brighter about 0230h, and it’s here that I spoke to a couple of young men from Stuttgard in Germany, who were studying in Stockholm, and one of them said he is doing a charity event this summer to raise some funds so if you want visit http://coolrunningsindia.de/eu site to find out more and they very kindly offered me some chips, then we said goodbye to one another.
I have to say that in the train station and the Macdonald’s there were some people with a lot of negative energy which overwhelmed my positive energy, and I had to move out as soon as I could from both places. It was getting brighter outside as I was trying to find these ports Frihammnen or Viking to Finland or Russia ferry connection, and as I was walking around the city I came across two men and a woman from England which James was one of them from Nottingham and he was recording his friends and as I arrived he swung his smart phone camera towards me and told the other two friends to pay attention to what I was saying, but I have to say they were a bit under the influence of alcohol, and the man was from London who was trying to jump into the river or canal and the woman from Brighton was I think trying to stop him, but as I entered into their equation they stopped what they were doing and we got into a conversation which I was invited to go back to James’ place to rest a bit before I carry on, and James very kindly sang me a poem and even later on sent it to me which he was quite happy for me to put it on my blog for others to see, so here we go, read it out for yourself.
The poem by James from Nottingham:
So that I might, just
Not hopelessly hang
On these, reckless strings
If only, once struck
Then scratched out
When the vinyl needle catches
All around and round
Flickering specs patter on the underlying silence, until every noted melody found
Its place, every spec
A staccato dot onto silence, why
Then we might atone
For entering and then leaving this existence – alone.”
I was offered to stay in James place till 5.6.15 about 2pm, before I say thanks for everything and his hospitality and saying goodbye to head further north.
Yesterday as I met these three wonderful people on my way looking for a port to connect me with Russia or Finland, and they were more or less drunk but we could have a conversation about few different topics especially with James the person who offered me to stay in his place and rest for the night, and I managed to get some rest and about 1pm I was offered to have a shower and then about 1430h as they’re heading out towards their direction I did so as well, and we said goodbye to one another after leaving the house.
I started walking towards the first ferry terminal the Viking, though after a long walk when I got there I was told there’s no manager available for me to speak to and I was told that I have to get in touch through the internet as they can’t help me or call their head office, this was after speaking to a woman who was issuing tickets (Tamara), and she told me she got in touch with her office manager (Tula), and she has told her I have to get in touch through internet (http://www.vikingline.com), and as it’s Friday @1710h, and everyone else has gone home she wouldn’t have time to come and speak to me, and after saying goodbye to her I went to another office to enquire more and I was given a number to call on (4524000 08:30-1700) on Monday as for today and the rest of the weekend there would be no one for me to speak to and make a decision, so as I sat down in the port, observing and thinking about what to do next? A security woman came to me and asked me to leave the port and that I couldn’t show my board, and I said ok if the board is going to make her unhappy I’ll go outside and it’s there that I felt everything has been put a price on it and humanity and human to human interaction has lost its value, so I moved out and after a bit of rest outside I headed to the next two port terminals about 6pm, and on my way I visited a couple of hostels which they were on an old ship, and I asked if I could rest for the night but I was told due to the weekend they were busy and they don’t have any empty place for me to put my head down for the night, also on the second one as the manager has left the hostel and the receptionist couldn’t make a decision, and she tried to call her but with no answer, so I had to say thanks and move on and start walking towards the other ferry companies. After a long walk I got there at about 2130h which by this time both were closed, and I had a feeling that I had to wait till Monday before I could get any answers from both companies, so after resting and eating some of the remaining food from the wonderful German woman which she got for me before we go to the retreat centre, then I started walking again back towards the city centre and the main central station which took me more than two hours.
So I managed to get back to the station and there was a place which I could use internet to update my circumstances, and use a toilet before they closed after midnight, then I made my way to the same place in the local Macdonald, where I could stay there till early in the morning, about 3am before I made my way back to James’ place as he’s finishing work after that time in the morning, so for the duration I was in the Macdonald I connected with just one man who very kindly helped me to communicate with James’ phone through a texting way, and then after thanking him I made my way towards his place where after getting back for about half an hour and waiting there for about 1h, James turned up and we got back into the house, so after almost 25km walk, I needed very much to lay down and rest till about 1pm on 6.6.15, so I thanked James for all his kindness and hospitality, and I made my way further north this time towards a famous universty town of Uppsala where I knew someone who I said to myself I could go to his place and rest a bit before I make my next move.
So as I said goodbye to James after he kindly offered me some bread and water, I started walking towards a place called Sundbyberg from the Hornsberg island where I was staying in James’ place, and then again walking to Solna and beyond to Huvudsta but as I walked for about 10km and approaching the motorway I couldn’t walk, so I have to walk back to the Solna train station and in there after asking a woman at the gate she kindly let me through the barriers, and as I got into the station I managed to find my way to the Uppsala central train station and after passing through Ulricksdal, Helenelund, Sollentuna, Haggvik, Norrviken, Rotebro, and Upplands Vasby stops, then a train change through Arlanda central, finally I arrived about close to midnight in Uppsala central train station, so after a long walk and couple of train connections the universe very kindly connected me to my destination for the day.
Now that also it’s a bit late but I tried to get in touch with my peace brother, through some locals but with no luck I headed out of the station and I was trying to find a place to put my head down for the night, but after trying few places with no luck I have seen that there should be a camp area which was called Fyrishov, but after a long walk I couldn’t find the place and I put my head down outside a place called Aldreboende Karl-johansgarden Norrgarden a+b kosmo till about 0730h next day.
After waking up and packing finally I managed to find the Fyrishov camp site and I was told I wouldn’t be able to camp without funds, so I asked to use their bathroom and she was happy for me to use it and then I headed out again towards couple of more place where she told me they might be able to help, so now I tried to get in touch with my peace brother through a petrol station and after getting in touch with him I was told they have arranged to go to Turkey for holiday and they are on their way, so I couldn’t see him, then I made my way towards next hostel to see if they could offer me a place for the night but after getting there and writing a message to the manager, the receptionist told me they’re fully booked and I should try other places, so on my way back towards the main train station I tried to find another place but with no luck to find the place I arrived at the train station, and it’s here that I updated my circumstances on internet to say I’m now in a situation whether I should head further north or east to try to connect with Finland?
As I was waiting and watching the departure trains on the board a wonderful local woman with an American accent approached me and asked me where to Now? and I said I would love to connect with a town in the east and she said to me there’s no trains going there but there’s a bus or coach station which I might be able to get a connection so she very kindly tried to find out if the place is still the same or it’s been changed, and as she couldn’t find any information she said to me we could walk there and we’ll find out there, so I said let’s go, then we walked for a bit and after getting there the place was still there and as she wanted to find out the latest time schedule, so she told me she’ll go back to her home where it’s not very far and she’ll find out and will come with some food as well, so as I was waiting a coach went and a coach came which none of them was going to my destination, and then as the third coach turned up I asked the driver, and explained who I am and if he could kindly help me to get there and he straight away said no problem, so now with my connection to my next destination secured, I was just waiting for the wonderful local Uppsala woman to come back with some food and here we go she turned up just 2min before the coach was to leave and my food was provided as well, so after a heart to heart hug and leaving one of my internet connection cards with her, I thanked her so much for having shown after all it’s not all Swedes who are busy and don’t have time to even show you a direction!
Now that the universe has connected me with my next destination and my food has been provided as well I thanked the universe and all those wonderful brothers and sisters across my peace pilgrimage journey throughout Sweden especially to the wonderful local woman from Uppsala who has made me handmade avocado, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and all other stuff least to mention specially the chopped watermelon which was incredible for I was craving it, and all the other stuff, to last me days, and also for coming back just on time before the bus goes.
So after goodbye to her we headed to my last eastern Swedish town at about 1210h, and said goodbye to the city of Uppsala as well.
After almost 2h of coach driving we arrived safely in a little port town of Kappolskar and after speaking to the manager of the Viking ferry she very kindly helped me with a connection to an island between Sweden and Finland (Aland islands).
So after about 4h of sailing we arrived in the island at about 6pm, now as I was waiting to connect with my next destination at the main port of Aland islands in (Mariehamn) Suomenlinna (Jomala), so I waited there till about 1900h to find out about my connection to the mainland Finland, but after asking one of the Viking staff she told me they can’t make a decision and I have to wait till Monday before I could use their ferry to cross to the mainland Finland, but she told me I can come back to the port and ask another sea line which is called Silja line, so I headed out to the town to explore it and find out the office for the Viking line and other sea lines, and also I spoke to some young locals from the town and most of them were speaking Swedish and not Finnish, and they’re saying in the island almost more than half speaking Swedish and the rest Finnish, and then I walked to the marina where I met a couple who were preparing their yacht for a race in the region and they told me they’re making yacht as well, so if you are interested to check them go to http://www.finnflyer.fi as I told them about my peace pilgrimage journey and I gave them one of my communication cards and they took a photo of me, then I said goodbye to them and I headed back towards the port.
I waited there till about 11pm when the Silja line ferry staff turned up and I spoke to a wonderful and very kind woman at the reception who arranged and organised everything for me – it was so surprising to me that I was almost speechless as how to thank her and their ferry line for all their kindness, then after 1130pm everything was sorted and I was given a cabin and breakfast on their managerial discretion, so I have to thank her and the Silja ferry line and their manager for their kind help towards my peace pilgrimage journey around the world.
So just before midnight we got boarded on the Silja Symphony mighty ferry and after some writing, shower and some rest I woke up next day and as for the breakfast I didn’t know what to eat as so many options were on the table, so I managed to eat as much as I could, as I didn’t know for how long I am going without not seeing so much food again, and also I had a bed but due to a lot of writing up I slept just a few hours on the wonderful bed, then we arrived in Helsinki the capital of Finland at about 10am their local time (about 10h of ferry sail).
So after our arrival I headed out of the port and started walking towards St Petersburg in Russia, and after walking for about 5km I came across an ice cream van and I did ask a young boy who was inside and I explained who I was and what I was doing and he very kindly offered my first and best ice cream ever on this peace pilgrimage journey and the irony was as soon as I tried to eat it the rain started and I have to shelter under my umbrella to eat it, so I saw the real spring rain here in Helsinki, as about 10min later it got sunny again, then after some walk again I arrived in a petrol station where I rested a bit and I asked people in there if I could use the bathroom and later to ask for some cellotape as I was repairing and preparing my board to write on my next destination, and it’s here that I came across two young man who were having their coffee break, and I asked them if they’re going towards my direction and if they could connect me, and one of them said yes and that’s how I got my first Finnish car connection, the young men were electrical engineers and they were just finishing their day after not a busy day.
So after about 1h drive in very stormy weather we got to the town of Porvoo, after thanking the local engineer for his kind lift, I waited about half an hour in a bus stop and then I went to the office of the bus station and I explained to a woman who was looking after the office and I told her about my story and she very kindly provided me with a bus ticket to my next destination the town of Kotka.
So after about 2h of bus driving we arrived there about 5pm, and now after finding out the coach or bus station has not got an office here I went and I asked a woman bus driver and she couldn’t help me, so I went to a close by petrol station, and I got a map of the town and my direction to my next town of Hamina, then I headed out and started walking towards the next town which after about 10km walk I came to a point where I was told at the petrol station that I’d have more chance of a connection to the Hamina.
So it’s here in the main stadium or sporting centre of the town of Kotka that I got in contact with a wonderful Finnish family who were going back to Hamina after a sporting event for their son, and I was shown the real hospitality of the Finnish nation and after taking me to the town and showing me the old and historic place in the town of Hamina then they offered me a shelter for the night and they took me back to their home and after a very good evening meal and drink, I was offered a Finnish sauna as well, so after a long day of about 20km walk, and washing my clothes and sleeping in a wonderful bed where I slept like a baby log, I have to appreciate their kindness and hospitality here.
After waking up about 9am I started to pack and after a great breakfast and taking some photos I said goodbye to the wonderful family and the wonderful husband of the family offered me a lift from the village or the community to the main road towards the last town of Finland called Vaalimaa, before I enter into Russia, so I said goodbye to him as well and I thanked him and all the family again for all their kindness from the bottom of my heart.
So after saying goodbye to everyone in the wonderful Finnish family, I started walking from the main road towards my Last Town of Vaalimaa. I stopped to rest after about a few km walk and it’s here that I got my second connection of the day by a wonderful local farmer to the town and he very kindly took me all the way to a last petrol station, where I thanked him and I said goodbye, then I started walking towards the so-called border for about half a km, before I got stopped and I was asked by two armed border guards that I have to go to a passport control building before I go towards Russia, then as I entered the building, there was a number of people waiting, and I sat there until I was called and as I approached I showed them my Earthian ID and then they asked for my passport which they told me I don’t have a Russian visa so they can’t let me go unless I go and get one from a Russian embassy or consulate and I said to them I haven’t gone to any embassy to get a visa throughout my peace pilgrimage journey, and usually they help me with it, and as part of my peace pilgrimage I have visited most of the embassies in London back in 2013, and they should help me with what’s needed as part of my round the world pilgrimage, so after some talk I was told that they can take me to a closer town to seek Russian visa in a Russian consulate.
So I said if you are very kindly helping me to get there to solve this issue of visa I’ll appreciate that, and I don’t mind to ask them again to help me, so after about 2h of waiting and checking everything that I had with me a couple of officers came and took me all the way to the town of Lappenranta about 60km from there and we chatted about the current circumstances so after getting there I was told it’s too late and it’s closed now and I have to go back tomorrow after 9am, so the officers took me to a local hostel before we said goodbye to one another.
After going into the reception, and asking if I could put my head down for the night I was told I have to have funds even if I wanted to put up my tent, so I waited there for about an hour to see if I can make a human connection, but with no connection, then I tried another local hostel but with a same result, then I started walking back to the town centre, where I tried another hotel and I was told they were fully booked, so I stayed around the town centre for about an hour where some locals showed some interest in what I was doing, and the result was a wonderful vegetarian pizza and some orange juice then another local family very kindly offered me a shelter for the night, and I thanked all the people who helped me and the universe who connected me with them, so I put my head down for the night and I said goodnight to everyone.
Today I woke up at about 6am and after a nice cup of tea and some yogurt, which was offered to me by the wonderful Finnish family who I was staying with last night, and then after packing, I said goodbye to the wife of the house and with the husband of the house we headed out to a place where we could get some food without using money. After getting to the place there was a lot of other people waiting in there, and then someone came out after about 15min waiting and he’s giving out some tickets and as I asked for one I wasn’t given one but at least the husband of the house got one and after waiting for another 10min he got some free food and he kindly offered me some juice and I said to him thank you, and you take it back to the house, as the wife might be waiting for you now, and after finding an agency who were dealing with visas was close by I stayed there for 9am so I could speak to them to see if they could help me, and I said goodbye to the kind husband of the house where I was staying last night, and I thanked him for all his kindness, and especially for putting their TV on a channel which was showing some English dramas, and trying to teach me Finnish as well, like hello=terve, and how are you? = kuinka voit, and so on.
Then just after 9am the agency for the visa issuing did open and I explained about my circumstances and they told me my best place would be the consulate and they might be able to help me, as through the agency I would need a long list of stuff, so I thanked them and headed towards the consulate office and after getting there I was told that they are on holiday till 1st of July, and if I need anything with Russian visa I have to go to Helsinki, so I made my way to the train station and after some waiting and speaking to the train inspector bound to Helsinki, he told me he wouldn’t be able to help, so I made my way to the coach station and it’s here that I spoke to the driver and he very kindly offered me a lift all the way to the capital, which took us about 4hours of earthy journey time.
Back in the main and amazing coach station in Helsinki and I asked a wonderful woman in the ticket office and she very kindly on the map highlighted the Russian embassy and how to get there, so I started walking again and finally I found the Russian embassy and as it’s close then I was looking for a place to put my head down and a local cathedral very kindly offered me some food, drink and a shelter for the night, which I have to thank them here for their hospitality, and I will see what the universe is going to connect me with here in the capital tomorrow.
So after waking up about 7am in the reception area of the cathedral I packed, and shaved, and had a cup of tea before I make my way to the Russian embassy and from there I went to the consulate, at which I was told to go to the embassy, and from there I was told to go to the consulate, and I got tired of the ping pong game, then I was given a number to call, so hopefully they might be able to help with my entry to Russia, so after more than an hour I headed back to my resting place, and I asked father Mario if he could kindly call them so I could speak to them and find out exactly what do I need, so after speaking to a woman I found out it’s more complicated than I have ever thought, so I totally crossed out trying to get a visa to Russia, and tried to find a way to get in without one. The woman on the line, all she knew was no visa no Russia, and she said to me I had to be at least in Finland for three months before even I could apply for one.
So after thanking father Mario and asking him to photocopy some of my communication cards, and thanking him and everyone else, I headed out towards the east port to find out about going visa-free to St Petersburg via a shipping line called St Peter line, and after getting there I was told I have to go to the west port where I could have a connection to Russia, but first I was told I can try a local agency which I did go there but a woman at the counter told me she cannot make a decision like that, and I have to get in touch with the main office at the west port.
So on my way I met an Italian man who wanted to walk with me and help me in any way he could, so he very kindly stayed with me for about 2h before we say goodbye to one another, he very kindly offered me some water and wanted to contribute towards my connection with Russia, but as he has to go and I couldn’t see the manager to find out whether they can help me or I should ask public for help before he goes back to the city, because I had to wait to see the manager and he has to go, so he couldn’t help much, and we have to finally say goodbye to one another.
As later on in the afternoon finally I spoke to the port manager from the St Peter line and she told me they can’t help me as the fund is too much for the company to help me with to get me to St Petersburg, so I thanked her for talking to me and I send out a message through the social media that the only ferry line to Russia can’t help me and if there’s someone out there would like to help I’d very much appreciated their help, as I wanted so dearly to get to St Petersburg, as part of my peace pilgrimage journey on this episode from London to St Petersburg.
So I got some positive responses and people were willing to help but to arrange and facilitate all of that was a bit difficult, so I managed to stay around the port till about 2am next day and I came across some wonderful locals as well who helped me with some food and drink.
As the port was going to be closed after 2am so I have to find somewhere else to rest, then I was told that there is a 24h service place where I could stay inside but I couldn’t sleep, then I went there and I meditate till today about 5am before I head back to the port as it’s going to be open after 0530h.
So I spoke to some wonderful people back in the west port, and specially a man who was from California, and he has come back from St Petersburg and told me all about the city and his experience from visiting there, and he was saying that Russia has got to do a lot internally before they interfere with outside world, so we spoke for a little bit more before we say goodbye to one another as they were heading bound to London, and I felt I have already been in St Petersburg so called visa-free because he has told me all about it.
So now just after 9am I found out that there’s a main office and a manager for the St Peter line in the city and I got the details and just before midday I headed out to the city to see if I could find out about this main manager and see he could help me, so after going to the city centre and fetching some food from a place where I was given a card to get some fruit and vegetables, then I managed to get into the store and eat some food and as I was coming out I met a wonderful Irish man who kindly helped me to call the main manager.
I spoke to him and he told me that the difficulty is that the Russians they don’t want me in St Petersburg without having a Russian visa, and this is despite that anyone can go with a cruise ship to St Petersburg for 72h without needing for any visa, but merely as I have turned up in their border earlier, and asking them to let me go without a visa and now trying to get to St Petersburg without one, and also turning up in another town to see the consulate and back here in Helsinki going to the Russian embassy, this has made the case so strong that they don’t want to deal with me at all, as I wasn’t a simple tourist going to St Petersburg to have some fun and splash some money out in the city and come out again, and as the Finnish border guard were asking “am I going there to discuss the issues about Syrian conflict?” as I had the web log address for the Syrian peace and justice group on my communication card they’re thinking I’m going there for a political reason, but I did not know about all of this until a later date after I raised some funds and then at the ticket office I was told they can’t issue me a ticket as the Russians don’t want me in the city.
So after coming back to the port in the afternoon in a hope of getting a connection with the city of St Petersburg and waiting till about 1830h without any connection, I got in touch with a woman from far east who has missed her ferry to St Petersburg and we talked for a bit and exchanged our communication details and I said goodbye to her and I waited in the main hall as usual as people were coming back from Estonia, so I could speak to them and explain about my circumstances in a hope of finding a solution, and also it’s today that I sent out the details of the manager through an email to my peace brother back in England, in a hope he could help and get in touch with them and see if they can help at all, but later on I found out none of the communication has taken place and I was almost going around a circle, so I stayed in the main hall till about 11pm and then as the last ferry coming from Estonia was delayed till 2am, then I made my way out to see I can find a place to put my head down for the night. On my way to the city I came across a kind Finnish man who was coming back from hospital after birth of a second child and he wanted dearly to find me a shelter for the night but after almost an hour calling different places with no luck I said goodbye to him and headed back to the city in the hope of finding a place to put my head down.
But after jumping on a tram to the city and finding out almost everyone was drunk I made my way towards the east port where I found a church and I put my head down for the night at about 2am besides its main entrance.
Today I woke up and I made my way towards the east port which wasn’t far from the church, and after using the bathroom and refreshing myself at the port terminal, I waited for the passengers of the mighty ship which brought me to Helsinki a few days ago, and hoped to connect with some people if they could help me towards my St Petersburg connection, so as people were coming in and out of the port I managed to speak to some and they very kindly donated some funds towards my connection, so over all I had conversation with some people at the port for the duration of 10am to 5pm and then I headed out to the city centre in order to connect with some more people and it’s here very close to the city centre park that I came across a wonderful couple with their young child and I spoke to them and the man from Spain was very sympathetic towards my cause and the Finnish wife was supportive as well, and after over an hour being together and talking about different things they very kindly offered me some drink and some funds towards my peace pilgrimage journey to St Petersburg, so after talking to a few more local people and saying goodbye to them all I headed back to the west port where I connected to some more wonderful people and I stayed around the port and the 24h place till about 4am. It’s here that I met two men from Germany who have missed their ferry and we talked to one another till early hours and then as it’s Sunday today I headed back to the town to get back to the cathedral for their English mass service about 10am.
I said goodbye to the Germans and the 24h place and I headed back towards the city about 4am and on my way I collected about over 100 empty glass, plastic bottles and cans to raise some funds towards my ticket, which by the time I got back to the cathedral it’s about 6am and just close to 0630h I met father Marco again and I explained my circumstances and I said I am back here as I said before if I’m around by this Sunday I’d like to make it for the mass and if it’s okay with you after the mass if I can explain my circumstances to the congregation of the cathedral so hopefully they can help me with some funds towards my connection to St Petersburg, and he said it’s okay, so as it’s raining I sheltered at the entrance of the cathedral and waited till about 0930h, where a group of people went by a bus on pilgrimage to another town, and after they left the mass started in the cathedral till about 11am and then father Marco mentioned about tea and refreshments and fund raising for a peace pilgrim.
So as the mass finished and everyone was having their food and drink a member of the congregation introduced me and then I spoke to the congregation and explained a bit about my journey and why I was appealing to them for a help, then some very kindly did donate towards my journey and I managed to raise about half of the fund needed for the journey (which I found out only later at the port was too late to raise enough funds to get the ticket because Russian authorities didn’t want me to go). I thanked everyone and stayed around till a bit later and I helped out with other members of the congregation, and also I went out to exchange the collected empty plastic and glass bottles and cans but I found out apart from the glasses in the found suitcase everything has been taken from the shed of the cathedral, so I took the remaining glasses and they fetched only a little funds compared with if I had all of the stuff I had found. After coming back with the empty suitcase which I wanted to leave it in the cathedral and a member of the congregation asked if she could use it and I said she can have it, then I was offered to go for a ride on a Helsinki wheel near to the east port, so after thanking everyone in the cathedral and the congregation, I walked while I was talking to a support engineer for American embassy, who was at the congregation, and then I enjoyed the ride and we took some photos then I headed back to the west port in a hope with the collected funds I could connect with St Petersburg.
So about 1430h I turned up at the port and I spoke to a member of the St Peter line and she counted the funds and I was told there is some funds short and she can’t issue me a ticket so I waited there in a hope I could raise some more funds towards the tickets but I couldn’t manage to do so, and another ferry left without me being on board to the city of St Petersburg, which I sent out a message on the social media, and waited in a hope of a connection.
So after another long waiting day again at the west port with no connection and not much interaction with people, I walked back to the 24h place (https://m.verkkokauppa.com), which reminds me of a film called Casablanca, where different people from different places meet up, so as I was heading there it’s reminding me of there as and when I was going back after the port closure, and I have to thank the people in there who let me to be at least inside despite we couldn’t sleep but at least warmer, and it was here that I met a wonderful man from Estonia, who was coming back from Norway and he has missed his ferry connection to Tallinn the capital of Estonia, and we started talking about my journey and his one till early hours in the morning, and he very kindly donated more than enough funds for me to get my connection to St Petersburg, but I had to wait till next day as the ferry goes every other day and not everyday.
So after saying goodbye to him and thanking him from bottom of my heart for all his kindness, I went back to the port and then to the city to sort out and put all the funds together as to be ready for tomorrow final day before I connect with St Petersburg, so I got back to the city and sorted out some food and drink and exchange of the different funds, then I headed back to the cathedral to update my circumstances with the wonderful people over there and ask them if I could stay for another night in their hall, and it’s about 6pm I got there and I attended another mas this time in Finnish, then I spoke to the father Mario and he very kindly said okay, so after exploring the area and the city centre I came back just after 9pm and I updated my circumstances and later about 10pm I was offered some food and drink by father Matthew, and we chatted till close to midnight before I say goodbye to him, and put my head down after more than two days without much sleep.
So I woke up after a long sleep as I didn’t have much for the past two days then after packing and eating something I got in touch with father Mario and he very kindly helped me to connect with the main manager of St Peter line again and he told me that they are quite happy for me to go to St Petersburg, but their Russian counterparts in St Petersburg don’t want to have me there, and he said he’ll speak to their office again in St Petersburg, and let me know, so I thanked father Mario and Matthew for all their help and their congregations’, and I left there heading back to the west port in a hope to connect with the city of St Petersburg.
So after getting back to the west port about midday I went to one of the St Peter line staff and she very kindly booked me a place but she told me I have to wait till about 2pm earthy time for confirmation from their St Petersburg office, so I waited there till after that time and as I went back to her she told me sadly she has got bad news for me and that their St Petersburg office has confirmed that they don’t want me to go there.
Baltic, and eastern Europe peace pilgrimage journey
So that’s how my long waiting to get to St Petersburg in Finland and the capital Helsinki has come to an end. After the sad news I couldn’t even talk to anyone and I straight went to the second floor where you could get to Baltic region (Estonia, Tallinn) via a ferry connection called Tallink and I got a ticket to get there using the collected funds.
After some delays we arrived at about 7pm in the capital with a powerful super star ferry, from there after walking through the city I found my way to the coach station and in there I found a connection to Vilnius the capital of Lithuania through Riga the capital of Latvia for 9pm to arrive for next day using the same funds I had with me.
So I have to say here that my connection with Russia has made me so feeling down that I couldn’t speak with people almost until I arrived in Poland and Ukraine.
I arrived in the capital of Lithuania at about 6am and after finding out I couldn’t get to Ukraine through Belarus, then I have to find a connection to Poland, and then I was hoping to connect with Ukraine. I managed to find a ticket for after 2pm, to get to Warsaw the capital about 10pm, now I had some time to explore the capital Vilnius before my 2pm to Poland connection, so I walked and looked around the old part of the city and I managed to find a wifi connection to update my position, and then I came across a Hare Krishna group (www.harinammandir.com), who were walking, playing drums, chanting, and giving away sweets (roasted coconuts), so I joined them and walked with them for some time and I got into a conversation with one of them, and then I said goodbye to them and slowly headed back to the bus station to catch my coach to Poland.
So on my way to Poland I got into a conversation with another young Lithuanian from Vilnius who was going to Berlin to find a place to retreat from the busy life he had there, and after saying goodbye to him I stayed in the Warsaw central station till next day, and one thing I noticed was a couple of security men looking like police officers with batons were coming around and waking up anyone who was asleep, so you couldn’t sleep at all.
I stayed in the main station till about 8am and then I tried to make my way to a coach station where I could have a Ukrainean connection but I found it difficult to find people to speak in English but somehow I managed to find my way there before midday.
After getting there I spoke to a woman in the counter and I was told I have to wait till about 6pm and then I have to speak to the driver about my journey to Ukraine.
So I waited there till about after 6pm and then I spoke to some of the drivers and they told me it’s very difficult to get to Odessa from here so I decided to go to Lviv the nearest Ukrainan town from Poland, so just after 8pm I managed to speak to a reasonable driver and after using some of the remaining Helsinki funds he kindly helped me to get on board.
After a long drive journey to the so called Polish-Ukraine border and waiting there for almost more than two hours we headed towards the old town of Lviv. One thing I noticed was a mother and her son who were speaking in loud Russian language just before we leave the Polish so called territories – they started to whisper to one another as we’re entering the so called Ukrainean territories, which I believe it’s due to the recent conflict in the east of Ukraine, and the fact that Lviv is one of the nationalistic town in Ukraine and pro European as I was told by a local Ukrainean.
Another very obvious observation was that as I arrived in Ukraine and the town of Lviv I felt I have travelled back in time almost half century, or I felt I was back in Egypt, as for the building layout and the whole environment was totally different with so called western world, and there were a lot of old tower blocks which I couldn’t see people in or around them, but when I arrived at a massive train station I realised why it’s looking like that, as almost everyone was at the station trying to leave or arriving, and figuring out where to go, and also it’s early morning about 6am, so slowly I adapted to the situation with a little bit of patience and no time to rush.
So I moved in to the train station and in there I found a place to charge my phone while I was waiting on my universe connection to the south of Ukraine the town of Odessa.
As announcements were made in Ukrainean and English I could find out if there’s any train going towards my destination.
As I was waiting a couple of station police officers came around and they asked me, as I believe in their language, what am I doing here. I spoke in English with them and they couldn’t understand so they went and brought a young boy to translate, and I explained to them and they were happy, but as I was explaining to them a woman was trying to take my small bag and as she was pulling and I was holding and there was a challenge for me as to why the woman wanted my bag – this was a first time ever I have seen something like this, and it’s at a time even when two police officers were present and an interpreter was standing by, and even they were saying to her go away but she wasn’t going anywhere, and finally after some challenging and showing seriousness on my behalf and the police officers saying to her go! she decided to give up on my bag, and all the police officers were saying to me was that she was a crazy Russian and on drugs, but later on I found out she was with some men in army uniform and probably it’s a business for her to choose her prey when they are questioned by police as they might be a good victim for them – that’s just my observation, it might be something else going on. I was told later on that corruption is almost as bad here as in Afghanistan if not worse.
So after that challenging and happy ending event I came across a wonderful couple who were visiting the town and the man very kindly asked me after he has read my board how he can help me? and I explained who I was and what I was doing and I was hoping to get to my next destination, so he very kindly helped me to get a ticket to Odessa with some of the remaining funds from Finland and some of his help as well.
So after securing a train connection with a coupa (bed) to sleep for about 1am next day and having plenty of time to explore this old and historic town and they had time till 5pm, so we used a little more of the Helsinki funds for our food and drink and walking around the town with the wonderful universe connection to these local Ukrainean guides to the town who have been there twice already, and now for the third time all together, so we explored the wonderful and historic town and had very delicious food and drink and took some photos and then headed back to the train station for their 5pm departure, I have to say we left our heavy bags at a storage place in the train station, then after they got their baggage and their train which I said thank you very much to them with my heart to heart hug and they headed towards Kiev, where I stayed in the station and I charged my phone again.
It was here that I came across a man who told me he has seen me in Odessa yesterday and I said to him it might have been my other dimension as physically I haven’t been there, but I have a vision to get there tomorrow, and after a very little conversation, he did a cross sign on his body and he took a photo of me and he said he’s going back to Holland, then after saying goodbye to him I met some other wonderful people who helped me with some funds for a tomato and a cucumber, then I headed out of the station to explore a bit more around the station area and after finding a place to eat some food then I headed back to the station and after waiting again for some time to charge my phone I got a connection with another young Ukrainean man who after checking my blog he came to me and asked me about my blog and my peace journey, and before he says goodbye offered me a banana and an apple which I thanked him for my daily fruit allowance for the last few days, then after making sure my train will come to the right platform and on time, I went to the storage place and I got my rucksack back, and headed to the right platform.
It was about half past midnight that an old 12 carriage train turned up and finally after almost 10min I found my place on the train and just after 1am after speaking to the train staff and my coupe or room man with his family who could speak English, I managed to put my head down on a bed and saying thanks to the universe and everyone else around me.
So we arrived just about 1pm in the scorching heat of the afternoon in the south sea town of Odessa, and after saying goodbye to the Russian speaking Ukrainean family I waited and observed the train station for a bit before some train police officers approach me again and asked about what am I doing and I spoke in English and they, including an information woman, couldn’t speak a word of English, so they left me after saying some words like Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal … and as I was waiting a young man approached and asked me what I was doing and after telling him about my journey and asking him to ask the information desk for a map of Odessa so I can make my way towards the port, and he kindly asked, but he was told to go somewhere else which he did, and then he was coming back to me and saying why do you need a map? I can take you there it’s not far about half an hour walk, so I thanked him and we started walking towards the port.
So after some walking in the heat of the day through the town and some very touristic part of the town we finally arrived into the port which was very much empty apart from an old cruise ship and a few other boats, but on the cargo area it was busy, so he kindly spoke to someone in a little booth and he’s told there’s no ferry leaving here neither to Georgia nor to Turkey, but after calling a phone number he was told there’s another port in a little town of Illichivsk about 30km away from here and the wonderful Ukrainean man from Odessa told me he has to go but if I’m still there within 2h he’ll be back and he’ll help me to get there, so I thanked him and we said goodbye to one another, so as I was waiting and thinking of what to do next a young sea cadet who we met on our way to the port came back and asked me how is everything and I explained to him, and after speaking to one another for a bit more he very kindly helped me with using a bathroom and then I said goodbye to him as well, making my way to the cargo port of Odessa which wasn’t far from there and after getting there I was told I can’t get in and I have to make my way to the next town, if not to the port where I was coming, so after saying goodbye and thanks to the port guards I made my way to the next little town.
Now after some rest and asking a few people I started to walk towards the next port and after getting help with a trolley bus and a mini bus then a local taxi in Illichivsk I arrived in the port but this was a heavily guarded cargo port and after some difficulty talking to the guards and a few other people, finally a wonderful employee of the port could speak a bit of English and he very kindly with his wife and kid took me to the right side of the port but it’s closed, and we’re told tomorrow the ferry will come and I have to get a ticket from a ticket office, which he very kindly took me to the front of that office and after seeing couple of Georgians were waiting for tickets as well, I thanked the driver and the family who very kindly helped me to connect with the right port and ticket office.
So after saying goodbye to the Ukrainean family, and saying hello to two very kind Georgian men who were waiting to get their ticket next day as well, and they’re waiting impatiently till next day, and I told them all about my peace pilgrimage journey and explained to them how I usually ask people at the ports and ticket offices and they usually help me, then I prepared a place to put my head down for the night and gave them a sleeping bag if they decided to sleep, but they said they wouldn’t sleep and also before I put my head down I updated my circumstances as there was a wifi availability, and then I said goodnight to them.
Today I woke up at about 6am and my wonderful Georgian brothers were awake and they told me that they haven’t slept at all as it’s too cold and despite I left a sleeping bag for them to use in case it’s needed, but they said they didn’t need it to use as they didn’t want to sleep, so I noticed that they’re almost shivering as the temperature has fallen from over 25°c to almost 10 if not less, so as they’ve worn their warm clothes they felt better and I have noticed that there were a few more people in the place and they’re waiting to get their tickets as well, so after saying hello and good morning to everyone and after asking some people in the ticket office I managed to use the bathroom, and then as the sun was coming up and the temperature was rising I was seeing most of the people and my Georgian brothers taking their warm clothes off and they’re getting ready to get into the ticket office to sort out their tickets.
So it’s just after 9am where a security man came and opened the door and asked for women and children first, then a bit later those who were in front of the office for quite a long time, which meant us and later everyone else came into the office to get their tickets.
So as everyone got their tickets I managed to speak to a woman who was issuing tickets and I explained my circumstances to her and she said to me wait she will try to contact another person who might be able to help, but after a phone conversation and I spoke to another person on the phone, the phone cut off and I thought he’d call back and hear more from me, but I never spoke to that person again and there was another person in the same office and he came to me and said the headquarters office is closed as today is Sunday and we can’t help you, and unless you raise the funds you won’t be able to get a ticket, so I said okay just give me some time I’ll try my best to sort out something, so my search for completing a funds for the ticket started by asking the wonderful Georgian brother to see how much funds have I got left since I have left Helsinki the capital of Finland, so he very kindly counted it and told me how much more is needed, and I started my search by asking people in and around the ticket office and the port which finally with the help of the two Georgian brothers who played a vital role, and more than 15 other brothers and sisters from different places, I managed to raise the funds and secure my next sea connection this time to Georgia the last western frontier of the continent of Asia, and an important bridge to Europe.
So after a long waiting and almost more than 8h of fund raising for my peace pilgrimage journey towards Georgia and going through the security and so called border control I said goodbye to Ukraine, and hello to the mighty Ukrainean cargo and passenger vessel, and after a very short travel with an old bus we boarded the ship and after a short waiting on deck 7 information deck we (the two Georgians, another man from Georgia and myself ) we got a cabin with 4 beds.
So after having a shower and refreshing myself since my last proper refreshing in Finland, I rested a bit and started my writing for the backlog of the blog, and it’s not long before they called us for our dinner.
I have to say throughout my peace pilgrimage journey this was the first time, apart from Turkey to Egypt cargo and passenger ferry, that I come across a commercial ship which offered three meals a day in a restaurant as part of the journey, and comparing to the west with all the shopping and advertising here was very down to earth and basic way of looking at the things, which I believe it goes back to the Soviet era, and working and sharing for one another, which I liked it very much.
Then after our wonderful dinner coming back to the cabin, it’s announced that we are going to start moving in 5 to 10 minutes, which I wanted to go out on the deck and take some photos but as I lay down on my bed I have gone to sleep and I couldn’t catch the moment which by the time I woke up the ship was already on the move and the town and city were all far behind us, but on the top deck I could clearly see the little town which we departed from, and Odessa from far and on the clear sky the crescent moon and the North Pole stars and other planets and many other stars were very visible, then I come back down to the cabin and washed my teeth, and I said goodnight to everyone around me and the very kind universe with all the connectivities which was made in order for me to be on board of this mighty ship.
Far eastern frontier of Europe and into the Asia peace pilgrimage journey
22.6.15 to 23.6.15
I woke up about 6am and started to write a bit more for the blog before they call us for breakfast (a small omelette, a sausage and some bread with tea) about 7am, then going up to the top deck with my Georgian brothers to have some breath of fresh air and then coming back to the cabin and catching up with my days of writing. We will be called for our lunch (some soup pasta and some meat, same bread and tea and a banana) about between one and two pm, then same going for some fresh air and back to the cabin for some more writing or talking to my Georgian brothers if they’re around, or some sleep if after eating you couldn’t concentrate to do any activities.
Then our dinner will be called at about 7-8pm and the food was around the same thing with some extra salad and a fruit a day usually in the evening, so same back to the top deck for some fresh air and then back to the cabin for some other activities, which was in my case writing and talking and then sleeping, but others were playing games and watching TV and going out and smoking as well.
So this was our routine for two days before we get very close to the town of Batumi where everyone almost came out about 4pm to see the city and take photos and I had an interview with a very young Ukrainean girl who was fascinated to speak to someone
coming from London England and doing a peace pilgrimage journey without using money, so I have left my contact with her if she wanted to connect in the future to know how am I’m getting on with my journey. Then as we’re waiting for a pilot to come and take the ship to anchor in the right place we got delayed and finally at about 7pm we anchored and slowly after going through a security control I was welcomed to Georgia and after staying in Butomi for few hours I was offered a lift by a Georgian lorry drive to a place very close to Tbilisi.
After almost 3am the lorry driver David from the near town of Telavi in Georgia who I met in the ferry offered me a lift, we linked up about 11pm in a petrol station, and I rested in his truck from 3-7am also he very kindly offered me some food, funds and shelter and at about 11am we said goodbye to one another and I headed towards the capital where after some walk and rest I ended up in a local church just before you enter the city by a kind van driver and his colleagues who were on their way to work.
I had a very warm welcome from the church priest with some food and drinks, and then I was told there’s a university of agriculture in Georgia very close to there, which I got in contact with the information desk and I was offered to use internet to update my circumstances, and then after speaking to head of security and a biology lecturer I was given a wonderful tour around the university with it’s museum and library and after being offered some water and a great welcome I said goodbye to the university and back to the church where I was offered some more food and drink and I met the main father who was looking after the church and getting in contact with David again, so after thanking them I said goodbye to them as well and after getting in communication with a university student I managed to link up through a bus then a metro and finally a local taxi to the town of Telavi the hometown of David and got there about 10pm, where I was welcomed by David and his children and the neighbours’ children.
So after a great hospitality and meeting his wife and two kids, and some locals and talking a bit more of my journey back to his place and his journey back to his home, and after talking to his kids in English and looking at their English book, I said goodnight and put my head down in their home.
After waking up at about 7am and saying good morning to David he showed me around a local historic church close to their place and a local factory which was making a lot of dust which was harm to their community and he told me he has gone through a lot of channels to sort it out but still they don’t get a filter to solve their problem and as a result the community suffers very much and he hoped someone will do something about it as it was damaging the environment and the locals and I said I’ll mention it on my blog, hoping for the attention of the world environmental organisations.
Then after having a wonderful breakfast and showing me around the historic town of Telavi, he very kindly arranged a bus connection for me to my next destination very close to the Azerbaijan crossing, so after visiting some local bazaars and a hair dresser, who cut his hair and very kindly trimmed back of my neck as well, then I thanked him very much for all his kindness and his hospitality and after my usual heart to heart hug, we said goodbye to one another.
So after a long bus journey to a town of Tsnori and waiting there for about 3h I got a connection through a very young taxi driver all the way to the crossing and after saying goodbye to the Georgian guards I walked through a bridge and soon I said hello to the Azerbaijan border police and they looked at me and they started asking me questions from few directions and after they got some of their answers, they told me I don’t have permission to get into Azerbaijan and they can’t issue me a permission as they’re just guarding the so called borders and I have to ask their embassy back in Tbilisi which was about 180km away from where I was between the Caucasian mountain in Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, so I walked back to no man’s land on a bridge between Georgia and Azerbaijan and I waited there and as people were passing I was explaining to them my circumstances between the hard place and a rock, so after getting in touch with some wonderful people they helped me with some funds and a wonderful Georgian named George offered me a lift back to Tbilisi and to the Azerbaijan embassy, so I could ask them if they could help me with my Baku connection.
After almost more than 3h of driving and having a break on our way and he very kindly offered me some local cheese and bread and some sweet and plenty of water with a local saying on top of the place where you get water to say something like this “a local host welcomes a cheerful guest”, so after having plenty of local water we said goodbye and we arrived back in the capital close to midnight and I put my head down on a local park bench till next day, and it’s here that I sent an update to say about my circumstances.
Then I headed to the embassy, and I found out they’re off till Monday 29.6.15, so I had three days to look around in Tbilisi and beyond.
So after waking up and finishing the last piece of bread and the cheese from last night and finding out about my waiting, I started going around the capital and I got in touch with some more wonderful people from here in Tbilisi’s old churches and from neighbouring Azerbaijan and from Russia, in Freedom Square and also by a park close to a peace bridge, and it’s here that a man called me to come and sit down and he was talking to me as if Russians have done everything you see on earth and they’re very clever and all western world has done wasn’t good things to humanity, but anyway this is David who is a development director of Riki Travel (www.rikitravel.ge) and he was claiming that Russians are much more superior than the west think, so if you want to get in touch with him, you can check him out and get in touch with him, and he very kindly knew some locals and got me in touch with a local river guard and I asked them if they very kindly would let me shelter by their unused area and they did help me to shelter just minutes from a heavy rain fall and they very kindly offered me some food and water as well, just before I put my head down for the night, and saying goodnight to them all and the kind universe for providing all the connectivity.
Today after waking up and talking to the river guards and having some food one of them who is doing private tours to an old capital of Georgia recommended me while I am waiting, that I should go and visit there if I have a chance, and I did start walking towards the old town and after some miles of walking finally at a petrol station I stopped and tried to see if I can get a connection to the old town of Mtskheta, and in less than 10min of waiting I got a connection through a wonderful local of Tbilisi who was going out and he very kindly offered me a sandwich and a drink in a local market, on his way out and he also very kindly connected me with his wifi so I did a quick update about my circumstances, and least to mention he remarkably took me all the way to the highest monastery around the area and waited and explained a bit about the two different rivers one from Turkey and one from the Caucasian mountains that they meet in this old capital and let me take some photos before offering me a lift back to the main road where I thanked them very much with his friend and I said goodbye to them.
Then I started walking towards the town but due to dangerous road drivers I couldn’t walk much and wasn’t long before I got my second connection of the day towards the old capital which another wonderful man very kindly dropped me in the town and in there I met some more wonderful people and got some local fruits as well and I visited a main local church then a closed nan monastery and then a smaller church but very busy with tourists. Then I was bound back to Tbilisi which on my way back a kind local to the capital offered me a lift back after some walk through the old town, but after a little conversation with him, found out he’s a wine distributor and wasn’t happy about old president Sakhashfily, and he was accusing him of taking a lot of innocent lives, but after I thanked him with his fine Mercedes car for the lift to the Freedom Square I said goodbye to him and made my way back to my resting place which after getting back and having some conversation and eating some food I said goodbye to the guards and thanked them and the universe for the kind connectivity of the day, then I put my head down for the night.
After waking up and eating something I started my day at my resting place under a scorching heat of the day doing most of the remaining writing up for the blog as I didn’t know what tomorrow will bring me, and later in the evening I got in touch with the river guards and after finishing some of the food from last night and a cup of tea from remaining Finnish one I charged my phone for a bit and I listened to a group of 8 river guards who were on and off from their duty and it’s very difficult to listen to them without understanding what they’re talking about, and then about 9pm I said goodbye to them and I came back to my resting place to put my head down for the third night, with the hope of more universe connectivity to wonderful and good people .
At about 8am I woke up and I ate a little bread and then I headed straight to the Representative of the people of Azerbaijan here in Tbilisi (their embassy), and after waiting for about an hour, and talking about my peace pilgrimage journey with some people in there, then I got into the building, also for the security reason I wasn’t allowed to take my bag, board and umbrella in and I was asked to leave them outside, then after going through another checking by another guard finally I was allowed to get to the people behind a glass window, and I was asked to fill a form, get a photocopy, a photo, and some funds and I didn’t have all of these, so I had to come out and tried to sort those and as I spoke to a local place (visa arrange travel agency by Giorgi Gogorishvili the director he very kindly sorted my photo, and photocopy), and as I got to the funds I was short and I had to try sort this out through talking to different people, so I stayed around the city and visited few places where people from different parts of the world and the locals will come and visit them like Freedom Square, and one of their famous parks on a highest place in the capital where there’s a TV tower, and I call it the “Tbilisi’s Eiffel Tower”, so I did enjoy walking around those places and meeting wonderful locals and people from other parts of the planet, especially a couple from England who were doing a bicycle journey and I met them earlier in the embassy and then coincidentally near the Freedom Square and they very briefly interviewed me for their blog, and I talked very briefly about my peace pilgrimage journey, and my difficulties on my journey to them, then I came across many other wonderful people throughout the day, then I rested for couple of hours in a river guard’s car as my resting place was too dangerous to stay till next day.
So as the dawn broke the river guards, fire, and emergency services were out there and still busy and they’re hunting for three missing bodies from earlier in the month when the river was overflowing and flooding and there was a zoo disaster and catastrophe. I thanked them for what they’re doing and even they’re asking me about how in England and what will the emergency services do if they have still missing people, and for how long will we search before you call off from the search? and I said maybe for about a month, and they’re into their third weeks and after recovering about 19 bodies as I was told still were searching for the three remaining missing, and I was hoping they could find them and put the minds of those missing members of the families in some kind of ease.
So I made my way to another busy place here in the capital with tourists from all over the world and I met a local woodcrafter named George, and I stayed with him and explained about my circumstances and he very kindly helped me a lot and with the help of some other kind locals and a Russian tourist family my fund was completed and I managed to complete so called the requirements to visit the people of Azerbaijan, and as it’s late in the evening I left my visit to the embassy for the next day, so I have to thanks everyone and the universe for all the connectivity throughout my day, and I headed back to near peace bridge – my resting place for almost a week.
As I got back there the emergency services were still there and searching and they’re hoping to find more people, but with no sign of anybody to be found they called off the searches for the night and I put my head down on another platform the “River Tour” platform which was run by a river guard employee as the abandoned one which I was using originally was too far to reach and very dangerous, so I put my head down for another night near to the peace bridge on the river bank.
After waking up about 6am and saying hello to the river guards, I ate some bread and made my way towards the embassy and as I was early I got in touch with those locals who I knew from the first visit and they very kindly helped me with some drinks and vegetables and they gave me some tips and advices on my remaining peace journey, and then after 10am I handed in all the so called necessary documents to get a permission to visit people of Azerbaijan, and I was told to call or come back after three days for the answer, and after saying goodbye to them and people from outside I made my way towards the bath area of the old town, and it’s here that I met another wonderful Georgian family, who did invite me into their house to eat and drink with them, and after speaking to a member of the family who could speak English and she was translating our conversation with the rest of the family, and she very kindly connected me to their internet, so I could very quickly update my circumstances on social media, but if you visit Tbilisi you can get in touch with her via her “Econom Travel” email@example.com, then after thanking them all I made my way further and closer to the bath area of the town were I was told earlier to go back after midday so hopefully the manager by that time can make a decision, whether I can use the bath or not? So as I got there first I was told no!, but after I was trying to get in touch with another one I was allowed to have a bath, so I have to say the bath for me was just a shower as I didn’t have a wash for more than a week so it’s very refreshing, and I thanked them and I said to them I’ll mention them on my blog, so if you wanted to go and see them for yourself visit “Georgian Spa/bath no.11 Grishashvili street”, I think the building was almost over 200 years old and it reminded me of almost stepping back in time almost half a century.
Then I got in touch with some more wonderful people in the afternoon and as I was looking for a place to use a bathroom I came across a wonderful man from Art Hostel just behind an old church, and I was offered a place to rest and refresh, where I found out more about Georgian hospitality as he’s preparing for a friend’s birthday and I really enjoyed being with them, so I wanted to thank them here and please visit them when you’re here as they are fantastic.
I woke up after a very good night’s sleep, and all day I stayed indoors to finally put everything down in a very short version of all my encounters throughout almost ten different nations where I passed through them on this episode of my peace pilgrimage journey around the world, and hopefully you would have time to read and leave your comments. I’m hoping if I could have a voice recording so I’ll be free from writing in the future, but it all depends on the size and the capacity of the blog, and I might go through other channels if it’s needed, as I have found it very difficult to catching up with all this writing as I go along my route.
Today at about 2am the Art Hostel had a couple of young men visitors from Ukraine, and as I introduced myself to them and later on we chatted a bit about what brought us both here and they’re quite happy to see me and even they asked me if they could take a photo with me next day, which I was quite happy to do, and at about 4am finally we put our head down, and we said goodnight to one another.
Today as it’s the day that I could find out about my connection with the people of Azerbaijan through their representative here in Tbilisi, so I had to wake up and go to their embassy, so after taking a shower and shave, I made my way towards there, and after getting there about 1030am I was told I have to go back in the afternoon about 4pm, so after saying hello and goodbye to everyone who I knew there, I made my way back to the Art Hostel as I promised the young Ukrainean men I’ll be back before they go for a photo shoot, so as I arrived back they’re still asleep, so I packed and prepared myself just in case if I might move on today, as it’s a make or break day.
So after they woke up and got ready to go we took some photos and I said goodbye to them, and after that I made my way back to the embassy and as I got there and waited for about half an hour, finally after almost a week of waiting and preparation, I managed to get their satisfying positive result for me to go and visit the nation of Azerbaijan.
I wanted to say here that, this was the first time ever I have applied for any so called “visa” throughout my peace pilgrimage journey since 2012 that I started in London, and I have to say I was quite happy to get a Russian one more than any other one, but as Russians were very hard and didn’t want even to talk to me, or communicate through any channel, therefore I decided to try the so called ex-Soviet block, as I found myself between a hard place and a rock, and in order for me to move on with my pilgrimage journey to Nagasaki and Hiroshima, this is the way I decided to go, in hope I can communicate with Chinese and Japanese towards my final frontier in Pacific Ocean.
Just as I came out of the embassy everyone was congratulating me for getting my connection with Azerbaijan, and as I came back to the Art Hostel they’re very happy for me that finally I could start my peace pilgrimage journey again tomorrow towards Baku, with a hope of connecting to Kazakhstan through there, so wish me luck and keep in touch everyone as I need your support through there, China, and Japan.
This evening after getting in touch through Instagram I got to see a wonderful couple from Ukraine who I met on the board of the mighty Ukrainean ferry as I was coming to Georgia on, and they’re in Tbilisi as well, so they very kindly came to the Art Hostel to visit me and after a nice cup of tea and some caching up, we headed out in a hope we could find a place to eat some food, but after going around all the touristic places full of restaurants, we couldn’t find a place or get connected with a manager to help us to eat, so finally we used some funds from our magic box to get some food for me as they didn’t want to eat and after all they’re more curious to see how I communicate with people and survive this way, but on this occasion it didn’t happen, and as I told them this thing needs a lot of patience, and waiting, so after saying to them “thank you very much for all their kindness”, we said goodbye and good night to one another, and I headed back to my resting place, and after eating the lovely Georgian food, I did write this final lines to you all, as I didn’t know when will I be able to find an opportunity to write to you more again.
Your humbled Earthian brother
From Tbilisi The Art Hostel one of the most hospitable places and nations throughout this episode of my peace pilgrimage journey around the world.