Valdis Muktupavels' travel impressions

Where and when have I been?

My brightest impression
Armenia (1977, 1980) - Ararat, Echmiadzin, Yerevan, Karakert, Oktemberyan, Sevan The Biblical Ararat stretches so high into the skies from beyond the present Armenian border and can be seen whereever you go.
Australia (1990-1991) - Adelaide, Ballarat, Brisbane, Canberra, Catoomba, Cooronga, Geelong, Melbourne, Sydney, Wollongong Rainforest with leeches that immediately stick to your legs. Ocean with really big waves
(they pronounce it like "wives").
Azerbaijan (1980, 1985) - Baku, Lenkoran, Masally Everyone in the southern part seems to be listening to mugams and ashugs.
Belarus (1980, 2006) - Druja, Mensk, Sarja The capital is clean and neatly lighted, but only until midnight, and the national library building is decorated with phrases in many languages, but Lithuanian.
Belgium (1990, 2001, 2004, 2009) - Brussels, Oostende Many restaurants with huge lobsters swimming in aquariums.
Bosnia and Herzegovina (2001) - Chitluk, Medjugorje An strong and inspiring spirit during the service in the church and in some farm houses (rakia – a grape spirit).
Bulgaria (1976) - Gabrovo, Plovdiv, Ruse, Sofia, Stara Zagora, Veliko Tarnovo Fabulous streets on the hill-sides of Veliko Tarnovo.
Canada (1989, 1998, 2003, 2004) - Hamilton, Montreal, Niagara, Ottawa, Toronto A drunken Indian asked me some money just on the Bloor street in Toronto.
China (2010) - Shanghai Paper dragons with neon lights at night and Chinese military are at every tunnel and entrance to the subway.
Croatia (2001) - Dubrovnik There are signs of burnt cars and tanks on the slopy hill-sides all along the seaside road.
Czech and Slovak republics (1978, 1994, 2006) - Brno, Ceske Budejovice, Cesky Krumlov, Karlovy Vary, Kronštejn, Plzen, Praha, Bratislava, Poprad A lot of really cool Pilsner and many traces of national hero Švejk.
Denmark (1989, 1990, 1993, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2010) - Allinge, Århus, Bornholm, Bov, Ebeltoft, Helsingør, København, Kristiania, Rønne, Roskilde, Skagen, Sønderborg Everything everywhere is in a perfect order, but ports and clubs with their mess seem to provide shelter for the rebellious souls.
England and Wales (1990, 1991, 2003, 2010) - Abingdon, Barrow-in-Furness, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridge, Corby, Dover, Grimsby, Hay-on-Wye, Hereford, Hergest Ridge, Kington, Leeds, London, Nottingham, Oundle, Oxford, Pontefract, Rawfant, York, Claerwen Dam, Elan Valley, Rhayader Almost fell into the Cam from the boat. Those narrow country roads and the speeding cars!
Estonia (1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1989, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009) - Kaali, Koguva, Kuressaare, Lahemaa,Misso, Paldiski, Pärnu, Ruhnu saar, Sääre, Tagaranna, Tallinn, Tartu, Valga, Viljandi, Võru A place where to see lots and lots of drunken Finns. Juniper forests on Muhu island are full of mystery.
Faroe islands (1997) - Klaksvik, Runavik, Torshavn Not a single tree anywhere, and I wonder how those sheep do not fall into the ocean.
Finland (1989, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) - Haapavesi, Helsinki, Jyväskylä, Joensuu, Kaustinen, Mariehamn, Nakkila, Tampere, Turku The old veterans are real national heroes, who protected this clean and healthy country from the spread of Russian chaos and destruction.
France (1992, 2005, 2006) - Bordeaux, Cancale, Chartres, Fougeres, Le Mans, Mont-St.-Michel, Nantes, Paris, Rennes, St.-Malo, Tours, Vitré The dinner in the municipality of Tours – a real art gallery of numerous unimaginable dishes.
Georgia (1976, 1979) - Abasha, Akhalkalaki, Ananuri, Bakuriani, Borzhomi, Chiatura, Gagra, Gali, Gori, Gudauta, Hashuri, Kazbegi, Kutaisi, Mtskheta, Ochamchira, Pasanauri, Sachkhere, Samtredia, Sukhumi, Tbilisi, Vardzia, Zestafoni, Zugdidi A shepherds' farm-house is like a fortress – lots of guns on the walls and tchatcha (very strong grape brandy) in the glasses.
Germany (1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011) - Aachen, Ahrweiler, Balingen, Berlin, Bonn, Eckernförde, Flensburg, Frankfurt, Freiburg, Greifswald, Handewitt, Leipzig, Lüneburg, Markneukirchen, Mayschoß, Potsdam, Salzau, Stralsund, Stuttgart, Travemünde Maybe Berlin will be restored, rebuilt someday. Maybe.
Greece (2009) - Athina, Glyfada, Kalambaka, Kastraki, Meteora Crowds of Africans on Omonia square and Sophocleus street in Athens and mobile police units who try to disperse them. Wonderful Meteora cliffs and monasteries make you feel the presence of heaven.
Hungary (1991) - Budapest, Szentendre Huge garlands of cayenne and garlic hanging in pubs and market.
Iceland (2001) - Akureyri, Geysir, Kopavogur, Reykjavík, Tingvellir Looking into the Geysir's dark hole filled with boiling-hot water makes you feel the reality of the Netherworld.
India (2006) - Agra, New Delhi, Mathura, Mumbai Miracles are happening everywhere and at the most unsuspected moments. Nice and clean dressed women amidst heaps of garbage in the suburbs. One can find swastikas even in Moslem sanctuaries.
Ireland (2006/7) - Belturbet, Dublin, Enniskillen You can spend the whole day in the Guinness brewery. The Brian Boru harp looks so small in the huge hall of the Trinity College (and Brian Boru himself has never owned or played it...).
Israel (2008) - Beth She'an, Caesarea, Ein Gedi, Haifa, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Kafr Nahum, Katzrin, Ma'ale Adumim, Masada, Nazareth, Qumran, Tabgha, Tel Aviv, Tiberias, Zikhron Ja'akov The core of the Palm Sunday procession are Christian Arabs from Jericho. Fantastic smell of tomatos, strawberries, Galilean and Yarden wines. And there is a small, almost secret Coptic shrine on the other side of the Holy Sepulchre.
Japan (2008) - Kobe, Kyoto, Tokyo Shintō shrines everywhere, even within a Buddhist temple. And many nice people, who have had a drop too much, are in Tokyo streets in the evening.
Kazakhstan (1966) - Kustanaj Large areas with heaps of scrap metal. And all elder Kazakh women seem so alike.
Lithuania (1965, 1975, 1979 and every year since then) - Anykščiai, Babtai, Biržai, Čekiškė, Dubingiai, Germaniškis, Giruliai, Juodkrantė, Kaišiadorys, Karklė, Kaunas, Kelmė, Klaipėda, Kražiai, Kretinga, Kuršėnai, Nemenčinė, Nida, Pagiriai, Palanga, Panevežiukas, Pervalka, Pravieniškės, Preila, Radviliškis, Rumšiškės, Salantai, Sartai, Stelmužė, Šiauliai, Tytuvėnai, Trakai, Varėna, Vilnius, Zervynos, Žasliai, Žemaičių Kalvarija Lots of wooden sculptures and road-side crosses everywhere. And the best perspective on ancient Vilnius and Northern Jerusalem is from Torres pub in the artistic Užupis Republic.
Netherlands (2000, 2004, 2005) - Amsterdam, Drenthe, Haag, Leiden When you watch the landscape, sometimes it seems as if ships or yachts are drifting through meadows. And all food, even pizza with ham, is sweetened.
Norway (1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2009) - Asker, Arendal, Aurland, Ålefjær, Åsvang, Bergen, Bærum, Bø, Dagali, Drammen, Fagernes, Flåm, Fredtun, Gausta, Geilo, Gjøvik, Gvarv, Hamar, Hyllestad, Jostedal, Kristiansand, Landvik, Larvik, Lifjell, Lillehammer, Mjøsvang, Myrdal, Notodden, Oslo, Reinsvoll, Rjukan, Sannidal, Sarpsborg, Skei, Skien, Skjolden, Sogndal, Sørbøväg, Vestre Slidre, Ølken Beautiful nature, nice people, healthy society.
Poland (1993, 1994, 2005) - Lublin, Punsk, Szczecin, Szurpiły, Szwajcaria, Warszawa No pubs allowed within 50 metres from every church.
Portugal (2008, 2011) - Batalha, Cabo da Roca, Cascais, Estoril, Fatima, Lisbõa, Nazaré, Óbidos, Sintra A servant lady in a pub can replace professional fado singers with a very attractive performance. Dutch blue paintings on many houses and walls.
Prussia (Warmia&Mazuria + Kaliningrad region) (1965, 1980, 1982, 2003, 2005) - Allenstein, Balga, Barten, Bartenstein, Bischofstein, Cranz, Doben, Elbing, Fließdorf, Frauenburg, Gr. Napern, Gumbinnen, Heiligelinde, Heilsberg, Hohenstein, Insterburg, Königsberg, Kumehnen, Ludwigsort, Marienburg, Ortelsburg, Osieka, Osterode, Owczarnia, Pillkoppen, Piorkowo, Pobethen, Rantau, Rastenburg, Rossitten, Rößel, Sanckt Lorenz, Sarkau, Sassenpils, Tolkemita One of the best beers in Kaliningrad is "Königsberg", and the brewery claims to keep the tradition of this beer since 1910.
Roumania (1977) - Alba Iulia, Brasov, Bucuresti, Cluj Napoca, Sebes, Sibiu, Targu Mures Lots of Ceausescu complete works and Chinese goods in the shops.
Russia (1966, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1989, 2004) - Beslan, Yekaterinburg, Kovrov, Loo, Mikhailovsk, Moscow, Nizhnij Novgorod, Opochka, Petchory, Smolensk, Sochi, St. Petersbourg Blocks of uninhabited houses almost in the centre of Petersbourg, with strange life going on just there. One cannot comprehend Russia mentally.
Scotland (2007, 2008) - Edinburgh, Glasgow The Scottish ABC: Ardbeg, Balvenie, Cragganmore. Some extensions: Auchentoshan, Bowmore, haggis, Highland pipe, kilt, Laphroaig, Robert Burns, Royal Mile, slainte, Talisker, Tass.
Singapore (1991) Celebration of the Chinese New Year in a street temple – hours amidst drumming, gongs, incense and self-cutting devotee.
Spain (1993) - Barcelona, Calella Flamenco club with performing Latinos.
Sweden (1989, 1990, 1991, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2011) - Falun, Göteborg, Helsingborg, Kopparberg, Slite, Södertörn, Sörö, Stockholm, Uppsala, Visby, Västerös You can be the only person in the streets of Stockholm just on Sunday morning.
Switzerland (1994, 2007) - Aigle, Basel, Bern, Brienz, Geneve, Interlaken, Jungfrau, Zürich Arrival from German into French canton is rather sharp: no more perfect order, but lots of colourful cars and huge wine-yards with chateaus.
Turkey (2010) - Ankara Turkish rakia tastes like the cough-medicine in childhood days.
And hotel soap smells like a seaside meadow in a hot summer day.
Ukraine (1974, 1976, 1981, 1991, 2002) - Donetsk, Kiev, Lviv, Rovno Monstrous buildings in the Kiev's centre and monstrous wasteland pyramids in the Donbas coal-mining district.
USA (1989, 1995, 1998, 2002) - Baltimore, Belmont, Bloomington, Cambridge, Catskills, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Elicott City, Grand Canyon, Idaho Falls, Kalamazoo, La Crossa, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Los Gatos, Madison, Minneapolis, Monterey, New York, Palo Alto, Petrified Wood Forest, Philadelphia, Point Pleasant, Rocky Mountains, Rye, San Francisco, Seattle, Stanford, Warrens, Washington Sitting on a sharp edge of the Grand Canyon with dangling legs and a bottle of red wine in hand and looking towards the Western coast – the deep, mystic, post-modern, post-post-modern or even ... post-American part of America.

Last revised
26 April 2011