Project 28 July 2017

01 August 17

Posted at 11:28

Project Map July 2017

As of 31st July I have travelled to (and photographed) a town in each of 25 of the 28 EU states. By 20th August I will have completed all 28 and will have achieved that in just 12 months. I wonder if any UK citizen has actually visited all 28 countries previously? If they have I seriously doubt it was in a period of just 12 months. I would be interested to hear from anyone who has.

After a fairly quiet period in the first three months of the year in late April I made up for it by travelling to nine countries in just 17 days. Since then I have added four further countries.

Varna BulgariaVarna Bulgaria

 

Suceava RomaniaSuceava Romania

 

Kranj SloveniaKranj Slovenia

 

Pula CoatiaPula Coatia

 

Komarno SlovakiaKomarno Slovakia

 

Gyor HungaryGyor Hungary

 

Ebensee AustriaEbensee Austria

 

Kralupy Nad Vitavou Czech RepublicKrapuly Nad Vitavou Czech Republic

 

Sosnowiec PolandSosnowiec Poland

 

Following the whistle stop tour by train of the above countries I took a short break.

 

Coimbra PortugalCoimbra Portugal

 

Prato ItalyPrato Italy

 

Hennigsdorf GermanyHennigsdorf Germany

 

Groningen NetherlandsGroningen Netherlands

 

Piraeus Greece 

 

So now just three countries to travel to in order to complete stage one of my project, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. 

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Project 28 France, Spain and Ireland

20 March 17

Posted at 4:51

Short days and inclement weather in the early weeks of 2017 resulted in a slow down in Project 28 activity. I did however fit in trips to France, Spain and Ireland. The towns chosen for Project 28 in those countries were Laval, Salamanca and Galway.

Untitled

I chose Laval on the basis it is twinned with Boston, Lincolnshire. Other than being similar sized market towns in rural locations there are few similarities between Boston and Laval. Least of all is their attitudes towards the EU. Boston had the biggest percentage leave vote in the whole of the UK influenced very much by immigration levels. Laval on the other hand, seeing its population fall as its traditional linen industry declined, used EU funds for a technology park to attract new industries to the town offering the people an alternative to moving to major cities.

Musee du Vieux - Chateau and Pont VieuxMussee de Vieux - Chateau and Pont Vieux

This is the iconic image of Laval, the Mayenne, the chateaux and the Pont Vieux.

Laval to me was all about the river, La Mayenne.

Basilique Notre Dame d'AvesnieresBasilique Notre Dame d'Avesnieres

The weather during my stay was bitterly cold, the river turned to ice for much of each day. The clean cold air and winter light made for some nice images though.

Pont de l'EuropePont de l'Europe

Le Viaduct de LavalLe Viaduct de Laval

Pont VieuxPont Vieux

The old bridge with the chateau on the right and the Basilique  Notre Dame d'Avesnieres in the distance.

 

 

I left Laval and headed by train to Salamanca, Spain

City Hall ReflectionCity Hall reflection in Plaza Mayor

Salamanca in January proved to also be bitterly cold (more so than is usual I was told) and quite wet (it is on the plain I guess). Not what one expects when visiting Spain but on the positive side I had far less tourists to wrestle with than would have been the case for most of the year.

Plaza MayorPlaza Mayor

A friend had mentioned to me Lazarillo de Tormes so I sought out the sculpture in memory of Salamanca's most famous son.

Lazarillo del TormesLazarillo de Tormes

Salamanca from Scala CoeliSalamanca from Scala Coeli

If you have been following Project 28's progress you will be aware that since the outset if there is a ariel view available in the town I am visiting I take advantage of it. In Salamanca it was Scala Coeli. The climb there differed from any to date as the staircase was wooden, the stairs are narrow towards the top and finish with a tight spiral to the bell tower. There are two towers de Clerecia joined at the top by a walkway. There is a 360 degree view of Salamanca. My first ascent was met by a squally storm as I reached the top, I didn't venture out, in fact it was difficult to maintain a footing inside the tower. The following day the weather a lttle calmer enabled me to get some shots.

Catedral NuevaCatedral Nueva

The break in the weather enabled me to take a walk across the Roman bridge to the far side of the Tormes and look back at old Salamanca.

My return journey by rail involved a border crossing just South of Perpignan, on my journey to Spain I had crossed into Spain North of Irun on the Atlantic side. The crossing that way was, as one would imagine between Shengen countries, unnoticeable. The only difference I noticed when changing trains at Irun was on board the Spanish train the staff totally ignored the no smoking rule. However on my return my train, travelling from Barcelona to Lyon, stopped at Perpignan for an age. The train was boarded by numerous police and the ID of every passenger was thoroughly checked before the train moved on (40 mintes late putting connections at risk). This was my first experience of border control (other than at airports) during the project so far. I assumed it was prompted by terrorist concerns.

Next on my 'winter schedule' was Ireland, Galway in particular.

The Long WalkThe Long Walk

I guess the colourful houses of the Long Walk are the most photographed in Galway.

The Long Walk (sun)The Long walk with the sun out

Friends have told me I was lucky to see them in the sun and I must admit it was brief. The term 'wild Atlantic coast' is not inappropriate.

Galway Hookers and Browne DoorwayEyre Square

The central landmark of Galway with the Browne Doorway and the Galway Hookers. A man I met told me Galway is 'all about the Craic and the Hookers', thankfully he explained that Hookers are traditional fishing vessels before I got the wrong impression. Eyre Square is also know as Kennedy Square and there is a bust and a plaque to JFK commemorating his visit in 1963. JFK is revered in Galway more than I could ever have imagined. In fact..

UntitledJFK Mosaic

...there is even a mosaic of him in the Cathedral. I've met many from Galway who didn't know that. Rumour has it that JFK's family funded the completion of the Cathedral which was finally finished two years after his visit - progress had previously stalled due to lack of funds.

Fourteen Tribes of GalwayThe Fourteen Tribes of Galway

Galway from Mutton IslandGalway from Mutton Island

Nora Barnacle's HouseNora Barnacle's House

 

As the days now lengthen and Article 50 is served I will ramp up my travels to the 28 EU states. In April I plan a whistle stop tour of nine countries in 15 days which will bring my total to 20 so there will be just 8 to go.

 

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Project 28 Cyprus

15 January 17

Posted at 10:55

Cyprus the eigth country I visited for Project 28. My chosen town is Paphos. This would be my final visit in 2016. With days now short and in general the weather getting grim I would take a few weeks off shooting after Paphos.

Paphos Town 1Paphos Town Centre

Pafos town centre resembles a bomb site. Apart from a small area around the little bus station every street and square is in a state of refurbishment. This all in preparation for Pafos becoming the European City of Culture 2017 which kicks off in February.

Paphos Town 3Paphos Town Centre

I can't see the town being ready by then.

Set MenuEuropean City of Culture 2017

It's difficult to envisage Paphos as the European City of Culture and impossible to envisage any sort of culinary culture. The restaurants, bars and cafes both in the town and the currently somewhat more presentable port area pander to the taste of both tourist and the massive ex pat community. Both are predominantly but not exclusively British. the attraction of Cyprus to the Brits is not only the climate and relatively low cost of living but seems to also stem from the UK's military bases historic and current in Cyprus. I was in Paphos in December so not the tourist high season but I met many Brits who have either emigrated to Cyprus or at least spend the majority of the year there. Many of these had served in the military stationed in Cyprus at some point in their lives. The majority of ex pats I met hailed from Northern towns in Lancashire and Yorkshire and also the Midlands. In my brief encounters with them they gave me the impression of stereotypical 'leave' supporters, middle aged or elderly, white and from 'working class' areas. I must say most also appeared stereotypes you would expect to offer you some moody merchandise or worse. It is wrong to 'judge a book by the cover' of course. I was struck by the irony of probable Brexit supporters currently enjoying the benefits of freedom of movement and the right to reside and work anywhere in the EU. In discussing my project and their situation none volunteered any concerns about their way of life changing. Many had opinions on migrants and migration not appearing to grasp the irony of their comments.

So in the City of Culture it was not easy to grasp what the culture of Pafos or indeed Cyprus is. It looked more and more as though the town had sold its soul. Nowhere was this more apparent than in Kings Avenue.

Kings Avenue MallKings Avenue Mall

Between the port and the town is Kings Avenue Mall. The mall appears to be the pride and joy of the town. A grey metal and concrete monstrosity photographed here from one of the 'archaeological sites of special interest'. I never ventured into the mall but from seeing the signage it contains the usual raft of global corporations from Costa Coffee and Waggamama to Zara, M&S, Mango et al, I'm sure you get the picture. There is nothing particularly Cypriot or Greek about the content or the architecture. For me that's a shame.

There are in and around some examples more typical of the local culture and history. There are many archaeological sites.

Archaeological Site Of Kato PafosArchaeological Site of Kato Pafos

UntitledSaranta Kolones Castle

To the North of the harbour lies the site of Kato Pafos. To the left of the road is a large area with many ancient building remains, catacombes, amphitheatres etc. For a small admission fee you can enjoy walking around the large archaeologocal site.

 Basilica of ChrysopolitissaBasilica of Chrysopolitissa

On the other side of the road are Ottoman and Medieval baths and the Basilica of Chrysopolitissa. The Basilica site for me typifies what I found to be the chaotic management, direction and planning in Pafos. Whereas in the main site one can wander amongst the ruins without restriction, which is nice from a freedom perspective but not good for preservation. Across the way at the Basilica an elevated walkway, wide enough to be able to accommodate two wheelchairs alongside each other, over the site and alongside and in front of the church. This grey metal and wooden structure has really destroyed the aesthetics of the building, it is on top of many ancient stones, foundations and pillars. One gets the impression that the construction of this platform no doubt displaced and moved many of the ruins, add to that the installation of floodlight boxes at ground level. It is difficult to imagine that this site is as it was discovered or that archaeologists had a great deal of say in its current presentation.

Sol AlterSol Alter

In 2014 the Pafos2017 team selected five Cypriot artists to create twelve sculptures along the coastal path at Pafos as part of and ready for the City of Culture year. This is one, Sol Alter by Yiota Ioannidou, the others are a collection of themes with little cohesion.

Paphos Port Paphos Port

The port is pleasant and I imagine very lively in the season.

Banana PlantationBanana Plantation

To my surprise there are numerous banana plantations surrounding Pafos. I was unaware that bananas even grew there, they are unique to the Pafos area.

FishermenFishermen Pafos Port

This scene, somewhat romantically I guess, is in my mind what I would expect. Three fishermen sitting putting the world to rights under guise of fishing. There were at least a smattering of such simple living traditional Mediterranean folk to be found in Pafos but they were lost amongst the 'immigrants' from other EU states, most notably the UK but also Germany and Scandinavia. The economy, businesses and politicians appear to panda to the needs of ex pats and tourists, understandably but sadly as the traditional way of life disappears. I wondered if being a member of the EU had accentuated this change and the globalisation epitomised by Kings Avenue Mall. I also wonder if Pafos will be ready to be the European City of Culture, if the town refurbishment will be complete before the end let alone the beginning of the year. If I'm honest I am unsure that City of Culture will ever be a description applicable to Pafos.

So Cyprus is the 8th country I have visited and the last for 2016. In late January I will be off to France and Spain followed by Ireland. Thereafter I am scheduling Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Austria, Czech Republic and Poland to be covered in one rail trip. By early May I will have photographed towns in 20 of the 28 EU states. I have 8 other states to fit in from Finland to Greece.

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Project 28 Malta

19 December 16

Posted at 4:24

Malta is the 7th country I visited for Project 28. Valletta is my chosen town. The first seven towns I visited for Project28 I had never visited previously however I have been to Valletta twice before, both times in the early seventies, so in theory I had some knowledge of the place albeit a long time ago. Malta is also a place I grew up hearing a lot about. My Dad used to often speak of the time he spent there whilst serving in the Royal Navy, he talked of Strait Street, known as The Gut, the street the sailors headed for when their ship was in port. So imagine my surprise when I realised my AirBnB room was above a bar in Strait Street.

Malta became part of the British Empire in 1814 and remained so until independence in 1964 (although the Queen remained Head of State) and then became a republic in 1974.

Malta received the George Cross for the part it played in WW2 during the what became known as The Siege of Malta.

Malta joined the EU on May 1st 2004 and the Eurozone in January 2008.

Grand Harbour EntranceGrand Harbour Entrance

Malta is an island (one of three I will visit for Project28), its history, economy and people are dominated by the sea, ships and sailing. Valletta's Grand Harbour is an iconic destination for generations of sailors and cruise ship passengers.

Lazzaretto CreekManoel Island Yacht Marina

Look in any direct from either side of Valletta and this will be what you are likely to see.

Recumbent Figure Siege Bell War MemorialRecumbent Figure at Siege Bell Memorial

Valletta is on a peninsular on the east coast of Malta. On the South East point of that peninsular just inside the harbour entrance is the Siege Bell Memorial and the recumbent figure facing out to see in memory of all those who perished in the Siege of Malta 1940 - 1943.

Church of Saint Francis of AssisiChurch of St Francis of Assisi

Malta is a catholic country. Masses have large congregations throughout the week, not just on Sundays.

Valletta from Marsamxett HarbourValletta from Marsamxett Harbour

These wooden balconies are abundant in Valletta and indeed throughout Malta. They became fashionable in the mid eighteenth century. Green became a popular colour introduced and favoured by the British.

St Ursula StreetSt Ursula Street

A typical narrow undulating street in Valletta with popular wooden balconies populating both sides of the street.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St Paul's Anglican CathedralOur Lady of Mount Carmel and St Paul's Anglican Cathedral

One of Valletta's iconic views. The stone along with churches on the skyline typify Valletta.

Sliema WaterfrontSliema Waterfront

Sliema, a short boat ride across Marsamxett Harbour, along with St Juliens, is today like an extension of Valletta.

Parliament BuildingParliament Building

Freedom Square and City GateFreedom Square and City Gate

 Enter through the city gate and Freedom Square lays ahead and to the right is the new Parliament Building.

Fort Manoel. Manoel IslandFort Manoel. Manoel Island

Manoel Island lies across Masamxett harbour. The fort on the island remains the subject of a 16 year ongoing dispute regarding public access which is currently prohibited.

Malta's economy is dependent on tourism, a freight transit point and increasingly competing with Ireland and Luxembourg in cross border fund administration. There is also a growing business of film production with incentives being offered to film makers. The Maltese are still close to the British with Britons making up a high percentage of of non- Maltese. The population has tripled over the last 100 years and although the smallest population of any EU state Malta has the highest density of population in the EU in fact one of the highest in the world.

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