Today I got this email from the International Refugee Trust:
Thanks to all who sponsored me. If you would still like to support the work of the International Refugee Trust and the Comboni Sisters in Syria you can follow this link:
Dear Mr McCarthy,
Your sponsorship currently stands at around £1253.75, including the offline donation and Gift Aid, and there may be more to come as the page is open for donations until September. This is a fantastic amount and the hospital at Karak will be so grateful for this wonderful donation, which means they will be able to treat more refugees.
We recently received a heartrending letter from Sr. Fumagalli at the hospital in Karak. Here are some of her words:
“The protracted nature of the Syrian crisis is still an urgent priority while the international responses are diminishing. At the moment the refugees find shelter wherever they can. It has been reported that families are living in rooms with no heat or running water, in abandoned chicken coops and storage sheds. Most refugees must find a way to pay rent, even for derelict structures. Without any legal way to work in Jordan, they struggle to find odd jobs.
The lack of clean water and sanitation in crowded settlements is an urgent concern. Diseases can spread easily.
The Italian hospital has continued to offer, with a greater effort, services and help. But now due to the crisis and the lack of responses from former donors we have found it very difficult to cover the gap. We like to express again our deepest gratitude to all the IRT donors on behalf of these patients assisted under the IRT funds project.”
It is wonderful for a small charity like ourselves when our supporters fundraise for us, usually in such interesting ways, as it is very inspirational and shows such commitment, which also helps us a lot with some of our other funders like charitable foundations.
Once again, from everyone at IRT, and the Sisters, lay workers and patients at the hospital in Karak, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all you have done to raise this wonderful sum of money.
With our warmest wishes,
I have now returned to Bristol. Apparently there has been a General Election but sadly I missed it.
My next steps are to write my dissertation for my Global Ethics MSc and to start looking for a new job. And then there is the garden and allotment.
Ending a journey always brings a mixture of relief and regret and there is always unfinished business. The Templar Way would take me on across Turkey, then Cyprus and finally to Jerusalem. Of course this is just a thought!
Thanks to everyone who read and commented on this blog and FaceBook postings. I am happy to do some "Walk Talks" so if you are interested please contact me through the contacts page of www.romealone.org.uk
I have been walking to support the fantastic work of the International Refugee Trust in Syria and South Sudan, so if you haven't quite got round to it yet here is the link again:
I have finally arrived in this exotic city. I have walked over 800km and cycled another 420 from the first Roman capital to the second. Thanks to all those who read my posts.
It's been an amazing journey but if you would like to make it even more worthwhile you could visit my Just Giving page to support the work of the International Refugee Trust in Syria and South Sudan.
All best wishes, Phil
I have cycled to the tip of the Gallipoli peninsula and taken the scroll from Clifton Cathedral to the memorial there.
Today I took a day off from cycling and hired a car to visit the Anzac Cove memorials and Suvla Bay, where my great uncle fought. He later died of wounds and dysentery in Alexandria, Egypt.
Now that the last of the generation that fought in the Great War has died I have been wondering what remembrance is about. It's clear here that it is a massive industry with so many Turks, Australians and New Zealanders visiting every year.
Is it really just tourism? Does it perpetuate militaristic national myths? Can it be converted to peace making? The banners on the ferries across the Dardanelles read "Peace is possible". Syria is close here and tragic evidence that although peace is possible it is difficult to achieve and very fragile.
I have three more days cycling along the north coast of Asiatic Turkey and then I will catch a ferry to from Bandirma to Istanbul and so avoid the busy highways.
I have reached the town of Gallipoli at the North end of the peninsula exactly 100 years after the Allied landings started.
Today I cycled 74km from Kesan over some significant hills in 5 hours, so I am feeling pleased with myself but very achy.
Over the next few days I will cycle down the peninsula. I plan to deliver the commemorative scroll from Clifton Cathedral to Cape Helles on Monday. On Tuesday I will visit Suvla Bay where my great uncle Daniel Canty served with the Derbyshire Yeomanry.
But tonight I hope to find a few Aussies and Kiwis and drink beer. I have had an abstemious time of it since reaching Turkey!
Unfortunately my trip to Mount Athos exacerbated a low back problem.
I am now much better and have set off again. Tomorrow I will cross into Turkey and head for the Gallipoli peninsula.
I realised it was too far to walk so I have bought a bike!
Today was my first day cycling and it went well, despite a strong headwind.
As you can see from the photo I am still following the Via Egnathia and in places ancient remnants can be seen.
I really must pay tribute to Panos at the Bike-Center in Alexandroupolis for being so helpful and supportive. Within 24 hours I was on the road. I am very grateful and if you are ever in Alex and need a bike this is the place to go!
I have just spent Orthodox Easter Mount Athos, the extraordinary monastic peninsula, with fellow pilgrims Roger, Paul and Mervyn.
We spent Good Friday at St Paul's (above). We then walked to the Great Lavra, a long and beautiful walk around Mt Athos,
We walked on to Vatopaedi for Easter Sunday. After church the monks greet each other (and anyone else) with a joyful Easter greeting.
Thanks to Roger, Paul and Mervyn for a wonderful trip.
Happy Easter from Thessaloniki!
I have arrived with some time to spare before meeting Roger, Mervyn and Paul for our pilgrimage to Mount Athos.
The walk from Edessa was mostly through orchards and sheep pasture with some cotton and wheat fields.
Luckily for me the cherry trees were just coming into blossom and they looked wonderful.
Although it's Easter in the west its Palm Sunday here. My confusion is increased because the few Catholic Churches are a mix of Latin and Byzantine rite.
Here is the slightly disorientating (or perhaps re-orientating?) Catholic church of SS Peter & Paul in Giannitsa.
I have now arrived in Greece and the weather is perfect.
I have had some wonderful walks and have now reached the magical city of Edessa where water from the mountains plunges down off the escarpment in dramatic waterfalls.
I have experienced some problems finding anywhere to stay and with river crossings. On my first day in Greece I had already walked 23km and had far to go when the directions said "the road zig zags and crosses a stream".
Not that day! It was a wide, deep, fast flowing river. Anyone without a tractor had no chance. I had to divert and cross on a railway viaduct which was a bit nerve wracking.
I never found anywhere to stay at the next village either. I was sitting in a bar contemplating a night in the fields when the barman said "for €20 you could get a taxi to Florina where there are hotels...."
At first this seemed a cop out but after a second beer it seemed a very good idea indeed!
This week Andrew left to travel on to Istanbul and then home and I have walked on missing his company. There has been rain, snow and some tough walking.
I crossed the border from Albania and walked down to Lake Ohrid. Macedonia felt very different, deciduous woodland, more wildfowers and an obvious Christian heritage.
I stayed a day in the town of Ohrid to rest, see the sights and hope the rain would stop. I knew the next day would be long over the Galicica mountains, still capped with snow.
The next day was dry and I set off. It was a beautiful, if strenuous walk with great views back to Lake Ohrid.
However at about 1,400m elevation I met the snow. I still had another 188m to climb and 5km before the path descended again. The mist closed in and it was obvious that on the plateau above me I would face a strong wind and poor visibility.
I tried to walk to the next corner but sank up to my knees.
There was only one thing to do: walk back down the 860m I had climbed and catch the bus! I was not happy, but there was nothing else for it.
However just below the snow line I spotted this. Now you don't have to be the Last of the Mohicans to think that this is a bear print. Since it was the same size as the palm of my hand it seems to be a fairly big one.
Suddenly going down didn't seem quite so bad.
Yesterday and today have been rainy but I have walked on from Resen. There was more snow on the Diavato Pass, but no problem to walk through.
I am now in Bitola, my last stop in Macedonia. It has an Ottoman bazar and covered market and some other sites.
Tomorrow I hope the rain will stop and that I will be able to walk dry shod into Greece!
This week I have been joined by my son Andrew. We met in Bari and took the ferry to Albania (a day late, don't ask why!)
He has now set off overland to Istanbul and I will walk into Macedonia tomorrow.
Albania is a wonderful country for walking and we have been blessed with some warm sunny days. The paths are good and there are beautiful views.
However the most amazing thing about the country is the hospitality of the people. On two occasions we have been invited to stay with families and welcomed into their homes with such kindness. We are both so grateful for the friendship of the people we have met.
We have also been able to walk some stretches of the original Roman road and visit cities which have been stops along the Via Egnathia for many centuries.
So please visit Albania and the more off the tourist routes you can get the better.
I have visited various churches, abbeys and shrines along the way, in Puglia you can hardly avoid them: even Bari airport is named after a pope!
But this one, the shrine of Saint Nicolas (yes, Father Christmas) is most moving.
The church is simple white soaring stonework but the roof is gold
Beneath the main altar is the shrine which, according to tradition, is where the relics of the Saint are kept.
I am not a fan of crypts and relics but this is a warm and comforting place, unlike many!
It feels very Eastern Orthodox and apparently in this church the Roman Catholics celebrate mass upstairs and the Russian Orthodox use the crypt church.
Perhaps this is an example of the Church starting to "breathe with both lungs". As I set off to the east I hope so.
Finally here is a lovely painting I saw in Canosa (I think!) of the Madonna of Constantinople. I hope her protection is still good now it's Istanbul!
I have arrived at Bari, the end of my Italian walk and the port for Albania. I have walked 416km to get here from Rome and climbed and descended over 6,500m.
It has been tough going in places but, as always, I have found that after a bad run of events something good always happens.
I set off along Roman roads and have walked some stretches in Puglia.
Walking over the Appenines was made more difficult by muddy tracks and deep streams to ford but I was blessed with good weather.
Finally the stretch through Puglia had been easy, although made more difficult by aggressive dogs and dangerous driving on the roads.
A sad thing about Italy is the rubbish by the roadside and in the streams. There is a lot of fly tipping as by this Roman bridge.
I am looking forward to Albania and a new stage in the walk.
The mountains bring long climbs and difficult river crossings like this. The only think to do is take off your boots and socks, roll up your trousers and wade across. All well so far! This one was about 10m wide and came over my knees.
- The Via Francigena nel Sud & Via Egnathia
- International Refugee Trust
- 2015 Blog
- Gallipoli commemoration
Rome Alone: The Book
Chapters and photo albums
- Chapter 1: Dover and Doubt
- Chapter 2: The War Walk
- Chapter 3: In Champagne
- Chapter 4: La France Profonde
- Chapter 5: Through the Alps
- Chapter 6: Crossing the Po
- Chapter 7: Through the Apennines to the sea
- Chapter 8: Storms and sunshine in Tuscany
- Chapter 9: Ad limina apostulorum
- Chapter 10: ‘Full in the panting heart of Rome’
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- How to Buy Rome Alone
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