The Daily Explorer

May 26, 2011

Haarlem and Berlin Uncovered

London: May 2011

MOZZIE BYTE (Editor): A warm welcome to all our Daily Explorer readers. For those of you who are joining us for the first time, Ray has been living nomadically for five and a half years since he left England in November 2005 and has visited 20 different countries so far on his journey. We have been publishing exclusive news and stories about his many encounters and experiences (you will find all of these in our Previous Issues archive). Our aim at The Daily Explorer is to create a great publication for you, so please keep sending us your comments and suggestions as to how we can improve what we are doing. You can use the comments box on this site, or email Ray (, ‘Mozzie’ or any of our correspondents at

In this issue, our global explorer takes advantage of his short visit to London by heading to mainland Europe for a ten-day tour. Starting in Haarlem in the Netherlands, our traveller spent the weekend trekking and cycling around the picturesque city before taking the train across the border to explore the vibrant German capital of Berlin. As he completes 2,000 consecutive days on the road, we also find out if Ray’s plans involve a return to Asia in the near future or if he is going to extend his exploration of Europe.

In case you missed our last issue, we had some terrific pictures and information about Ray’s experience at the fascinating seven-day “Understanding Our Mind” retreat just outside Bangkok with Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. You can read it now at: Happiness is Here and Now

Above: The magnificent meditation hall at the Machachulalongkornraja Vidyalaya University of Bangkok. Our global explorer recently attended a seven-day retreat there with Thich Nhat Hanh, whom he described as one of the most loving and compassionate men he has ever met. You can read all about it in: Happiness is Here and Now

The city of Haarlem in Holland is not necessarily found on the “must see” list of many global travellers so I was curious to know what had tempted Ray to add it to his. “Well Mozzie, I made a promise to visit someone I became friends with when I was in Mae Hong Son in northern Thailand just over a year ago” he told me. “Marianne Blaak had voluntarily left her job and home in Holland to support some Burmese refugees near the Thai border. To help improve their lives, she was arranging small loans for them to start their own businesses through an innovative microfinance programme” he explained. “With very little experience and a lot of heart and passion, she had raised enough money to provide loans to a handful of qualifying people and I was very inspired by what she was doing. We instantly became friends and I promised I would visit her the next time I was in Europe – and this was it!” added Ray. “Staying for only two days and with both of us liking outdoor activity, we arranged to spend most of the weekend hiking and cycling, especially since the city is within easy reach of the coastline (see map below) and the weather forecast was excellent” recalled our traveller.

Above: The beautiful city of Haarlem at daybreak

Below: Map showing location of the city where Ray’s friend Marianne lives (circled in red). It is a very picturesque place, within easy reach of Amsterdam and very close to some beautiful coastline and nature trails

Haarlem is a municipality and a city in the Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of North Holland, which at one time was the most powerful of the seven provinces of the Dutch Republic. By the end of 2010 Haarlem had a total population of 150,611. The city is located on the river Spaarne, about 20 kilometres west of Amsterdam and near the coastal dunes. It has been the historical centre of the tulip bulb-growing district for centuries and bears the nickname ‘Bloemenstad’ (flower city) for this reason. It was at the epicenter during tulip mania, when outrageous prices were paid for tulip bulbs. From the time that the Leiden-Haarlem canal Leidsevaart was opened in 1656, it became popular to travel from Rotterdam to Amsterdam by passenger boat rather than by coach. The canals were dug for passenger service only, and were comfortable though slow. The towpath led these passengers through the bulb fields south of Haarlem. Haarlem was an important stopover for passengers from the last half of the 17th century and through the 18th century until the building of the first rail tracks along the routes of former passenger canal systems. As Haarlem slowly expanded southwards, so did the bulb fields, and even today rail travellers between Rotterdam and Amsterdam will see beautifully blooming bulb fields on the stretch between Leiden and Haarlem in Spring. Every year in April the bloemencorso (flower parade) takes place. Floats decorated with flowers drive from Noordwijk to Haarlem, where they are exhibited for one day. In the same month there is also a fun fair organized on the Grote Markt and the Zaanenlaan in Haarlem-Noord.

Above: The Grote Kerk or St. Bavokerk (left) is a Protestant church and former Catholic cathedral located on the central market square. Like many people in Holland, Ray’s friend Marianne (right) regularly uses her bicycle to get around the city and beyond – “Unlike London, the city is designed for the bike rider, with dedicated cycle paths everywhere and storage facilities for thousands of bikes at every station” observed Ray

Below: Haarlem Railway Station, which is one of the two oldest stations in Holland, was used as part of a set for the movie “Oceans’s Twelve”

In case you may be wondering if there is any connection with the borough of New York known by the same name, you would be absolutely right, although it is spelt differently. “In 1658, Peter Stuyvesant, the Director-General of the Dutch colony of Nieuw Nederland (New Netherland), founded the settlement of Nieuw Haarlem in the northern part of Manhattan Island as an outpost of New Amsterdam at the southern tip of the island” explained Ray. “After the English capture of New Netherland in 1664, the new English colonial administration renamed both the colony and its principal city “New York,” but left the name of Haarlem more or less unchanged. The spelling changed to Harlem in keeping with contemporary English usage, and the district grew (as part of the borough of Manhattan) into the vibrant center of African-American culture in New York City by the 20th century” added our very knowledgable visitor.

Above: Ray and Marianne headed for the coast via some well laid out trekking paths from the tiny town of Santpoort, which is about twenty minutes west of Haarlem by train – “From the station, we hiked around 15 kilometres through some beautiful countryside” recalled Ray, who sent us this picture as they passed some of the Highland cattle residing in the area. “You wouldn’t believe that some Dutch right-wing extremists want to send these ‘illegal immigrant’ animals back to Scotland” said Ray, who discovered the sensational “World War Moo” story on the Internet 

Tulips have been a popular symbol of the The Netherlands for years and the vast fields in which they are grown can look spectacular when they are in bloom. “Many years ago, when I was a young child, I came with my parents to see the bulb fields and it was a pleasure to return” recalled Ray. “I managed to rent a great bicycle from the railway station in Haarlem for a whole day for just three or four Euro’s and it was perfect for the 40 kilometre round trip that Marianne had planned for us” he explained. “After stopping to take in the extra-ordinary colours and fragrance of the tulips, we headed for Zandvoort, which is one of the major holiday resorts in the Netherlands. It has a long sandy beach, bordered by coastal dunes. We walked for a few kilometres during the afternoon and much to my surprise, ended up at a nudist beach just as the sun was beginning to set. By then it was getting pretty cold so I chose not to take advantage of the opportunity” laughed our global nomad.

Above and below: The vast tulip fields around Haarlem are really spectacular and brought back some childhood memories for Ray. Tulip mania was a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for bulbs of the recently introduced tulip reached extraordinarily high levels and then suddenly collapsed. At the peak of tulip mania, in 1637, some single bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. It is generally considered the first recorded speculative bubble, or should that be ‘bulble’?

Above: Marianne (centre, sitting down) and Ray stop for some coffee after an extensive survey of the beautiful bulb fields. Their blue and yellow bicycles can be rented very cheaply from Haarlem Railway Station

Below: Zantvoort has some truly spectacular coastline (left) and a few excellent restaurants on the beach – “I was sitting talking that evening with Marianne when we were approached by a chap at the next table who showed us this photograph (right) of the two of us” said Ray. “He really liked the fact that he had captured the empty wine bottle so perfectly in the fading sunlight” added Ray, who sent the picture to us. “For Marianne and me, it was a great and unexpected souveneir from a brilliant weekend” added our traveller

As he was leaving Holland, Ray informed me that he was travelling east to Berlin, via Duisburg by rail. “The train is really easy to pick up from the centre of Amsterdam and only takes about six hours to reach Berlin” Ray told me. “Although it costs about the same as a flight, I thought it would be nicer to see some of the countryside, particularly as I have never travelled in Germany, except for a couple of business trips to Berlin in the eighties and Munich (in the south) about 15 years ago” he added. Sensing that Ray was being a little bit coy with me as to his reason for going to Berlin, I gently pressed him a little further and he eventually let me in on what was happening. “I am very happy to say that I have met someone special and she lives there” he disclosed. “I won’t say too much about it at the moment as it is early days but I can tell you that we met in Chiang Mai at the end of January. Her name is Sylke (most people call her Silky) and we made a really great connection in the four or five weeks that we were both there. She had to return to Berlin in early March and I wasn’t sure when I might see her again, but as luck would have it, I had already booked my ticket to fly to London a few weeks ago which made a visit to Berlin much easier” explained our traveller. “Naturally, I checked with Sylke to see if she would be pleased to meet again and she confirmed she would. I guess it will give us a chance to find out how we get on from here. I have eight days and if Sylke has time, I am hoping that she will help me get acquainted with everything this fabulous capital city has to offer” added Ray.

Above: One way of travelling from Amsterdam to Berlin is on the ICE High Speed Train – “I was pretty impressed with the ride” said our global nomad

Below: Map showing location of Berlin

Berlin, which is the capital of Germany, has a population of 3.4 million people and is Germany’s largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the eighth most populous urban area in the European Union. Located in northeastern Germany, around one third of the city’s territory is composed of forests, parks, gardens, rivers and lakes. First documented in the 13th century, Berlin was successively the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia (1701–1918), the German Empire (1871–1918), the Weimar Republic (1919–1933) and the Third Reich (1933–1945). Berlin in the 1920’s was the third largest municipality in the world. After World War II, the city was divided; East Berlin became the capital of East Germany while West Berlin became a de facto West German exclave, surrounded by the Berlin Wall (1961–1989). Following German reunification in 1990, the city regained its status as the capital of all Germany hosting 147 foreign embassies.

According to Wikipedia, Berlin is a city of culture, politics, media, and science. Its economy is primarily based on the service sector, encompassing a diverse range of creative industries, media corporations, congress and convention venues. Berlin serves as a continental hub for air and rail transport and is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the EU. Significant industries include IT, pharmaceuticals, biomedical engineering, biotechnology, optoelectronics, traffic engineering, and renewable energy. The metropolis is home to renowned universities, research institutes, sporting events, orchestras, museums and personalities. The urban and historical legacy has made it a popular setting for international film productions. The city is recognized for its festivals, diverse architecture, nightlife, contemporary arts, public transportation networks and a high quality of living. Berlin has evolved into a global focal point for young individuals and artists attracted by a liberal lifestyle and modern zeitgeist. “No doubt about it, the place definitely has a buzz and is very cool” said Ray when I asked for his first impressions. “They even host one of world’s five top marathons here – maybe I will come back and run it in 2012″ added Ray.

Above: Berlin Mitte in the 21st century. Some landmarks include the Hauptbahnhof (main railway station) to the right of the river, the TV tower at Alexanderplatz (in the centre, top), the Spree river and O2 World (bottom right). Berlin had 746 hotels with 112,400 beds as of the end of 2010. The city recorded 20.8 million overnight hotel stays and 9.1 million hotel guests in the same year

Below: Different parts of Prenzlauer Berg, now a trendy district within the unified city, but formally part of East Berlin – “You can really see how much investment and modernisation has taken place in the last 20 years when you compare different parts of the city” observed Ray. “Some, like the street on the right, are still reminiscent of the old Eastern Bloc era” he told me 


Above: The magnificent and now obsolete Tempelhof Airport in the centre of Berlin. The airport ceased operating in 2008 in the process of establishing Schönefeld as the sole commercial airport for the city. Tempelhof was designated as an airport by the Ministry of Transport on 8 October 1923 and Lufthansa was founded there on 6 January 1926. In anticipation of increasing air traffic, the Nazi government began a massive reconstruction in the mid-1930s. Tempelhof Airport’s main building was once among the top 20 largest buildings on earth; in contrast, it formerly had the world’s smallest duty-free shop. Tempelhof has been used since closing to host numerous fairs and events and in 2010, the old airfield was opened as a city park. The city authorities will spend an estimated €60 million on developing the park between now and 2017

Above: The city of Berlin needs a good transport system – as well as its own residents, it has a yearly total of approximately 135 million daily visitors, which puts it in third place among the most-visited city destinations in the European Union. There are many S-Bahn and U-Bahn stations connecting different parts of the city, like this one at Eberswalder Strasse

Below: There is also a network of modern trams – “Having been to so many different cities during the last 2,000 days, I am realising the systems are all pretty similar so getting used to them does not take very long” said Ray

Above: Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, pretty much the only car available to East Germans who could afford them was the Trabant. Produced by former East German auto maker VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau, it was the most common vehicle in East Germany. The main selling points were that it had room for four adults and luggage in a compact, light and durable shell and that it was fast (when introduced) and durable. With its mediocre performance, smoky two-stroke engine and production shortages, the Trabant is often cited as an example of the disadvantages of centralized planning; on the other hand, it is regarded with derisive affection as a symbol of the failed former East Germany and of the fall of communism. It was in production without any significant changes for nearly 30 years with 3,096,099 Trabants produced in total. The ones here are owned by a tour operator and are parked in front of what was the old Gestapo headquarters

Below: Our global explorer takes to the streets on two wheels – “I love riding a bicycle in a city like this” he told me. “There are plenty of dedicated pathways and it is easy to get around very quickly whilst getting good exercise at the same time” said our health conscious traveller. This picture of Ray was taken in front of the Reichstag Building. The structure to the left behind the trees is the TV Tower, which at 368 metres is the tallest structure in Germany

Above: The Berliner Dom (Cathedral) is an impressive basilica known as the “Protestant St. Peter’s.” The present Baroque structure dates only from 1905, but stands on the site of several earlier structures – “Berlin’s cathedral is not a must-see, but it is certainly worth a look if time allows” said Ray

Below: The inside of the dome is intricately decorated with mosaics (left). Our traveller stops for a few minutes to take a good look (right)

Above: Inside the amazing Berliner Dom

For readers who are interested in modern history, on 30 January 1933, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power. Nazi rule destroyed Berlin’s Jewish community, which had numbered 170,000 before 1933. After the Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938, thousands of the city’s German Jews were imprisoned in the nearby Sachsenhausen concentration camp or, in early 1943, were shipped to death camps, such as Auschwitz. During the Second World War, large parts of Berlin were destroyed. After the end of the war in Europe in 1945, the victorious powers divided the city into four sectors, analogous to the occupation zones into which Germany was divided. The sectors of the Western Allies (the United States, the United Kingdom and France) formed West Berlin, while the Soviet sector formed East Berlin.

Above: The Berlin Wall in 1986, painted on the western side. People living in the East were not allowed to leave. Anyone crossing the so-called “death strip” on the eastern side were at risk of being shot – “It’s one of the few things I wished I had seen and understood when it existed” said Ray. “Hearing stories from Sylke, about what life was like for her in East Germany before she got out has really brought the whole thing to life for me” he told me (Photo: Wikipedia)

0Below: Map showing the entire wall encircling West Berlin including checkpoints

The founding of the two German states increased Cold War tensions. West Berlin was surrounded by East German territory. East Germany, however, proclaimed East Berlin (which it described only as “Berlin”) as its capital, a move that was not recognized by the Western powers. Although half the size and population of West Berlin, it included most of the historic center of the city. The West German government, meanwhile, established itself provisionally in Bonn. The tensions between east and west culminated in the construction of the Berlin Wall between East and West Berlin and other barriers around West Berlin by East Germany on 13 August 1961 and were exacerbated by a tank standoff at Checkpoint Charlie on 27 October 1961. West Berlin was now de facto a part of West Germany with a unique legal status, while East Berlin was de facto a part of East Germany. It was possible for Westerners to pass from one to the other only through strictly controlled checkpoints. For most Easterners, travel to West Berlin or West Germany was no longer possible. The East German population broke free across the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, which was subsequently mostly demolished. Not much is left of it today; the East Side Gallery in Friedrichshain near the Oberbaumbrücke preserves a portion of the Wall.

Above: The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 (Photo: Wikipedia)

Below: Ray’s friend Sylke shows him a little part that is left of the Wall, which was destroyed almost everywhere – “She took me to an 80 metre (263 feet) piece of the first (westernmost) wall at the Topography of Terror, which was the site of the former Gestapo headquarters, half way between Checkpoint Charlie and Potsdamer Platz” said Ray. Some other isolated fragments and a few watchtowers also remain in various parts of the city

Above: One of Berlin’s most famous landmarks is the Brandenburg Gate (left). The picture on the right was taken in the 1930’s as Hitler was coming to power

Below: Checkpoint Charlie was the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point during the Cold War. Soviet and American tanks briefly faced each other at the location during the Berlin Crisis of 1961 – “What you see today at Checkpoint Charlie has been created purely for tourists and is nothing like the original building, which is now located in the Allied Museum in the Dahlem neighbourhood” said our well informed traveller

Above: The signage at Checkpoint Charlie has changed considerably over the years

Below: Some of the residential areas of Berlin are simply stunning, with much of the character of Eastern Europe having been retained

Above: Berlin has a fabulous cafe culture (left) and Sylke took Ray to some of her favourite places during his visit. Meanwhile, our attempts to get some inside information about how things were shaping up between her and Ray were hopelessly disappointing – “Hi Mozzie; its very sweet of you to ask, and I am terribly sorry that I am not able to give you an exclusive interview for the Daily Explorer just yet” said Sylke tactfully (right)

Below: One of Berlin’s lovely little street markets in Kollwitzplatz – “It is open on Saturday’s and is a great opportunity to taste all different kinds of home-made local foods and delicacies” said our traveller

Above: Sylke outside the very popular Anna Blume Cafe on Kollwitzstrasse (left) and a view of the Reichstag Building from the rear alongside the Spree River (right)

Below: The Reichstag Building is the home of the modern German parliament, known as the Bundestag. The huge glass dome, designed by the British architect Norman Foster, was added in 1999

The Jewish Museum is one of the city’s finest and covers two millennia of German Jewish history. It consists of two buildings. One is the old Kollegienhaus, a former courthouse, built in the 18th century. The other, a new addition specifically built for the museum, designed by world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind. This was one of the first buildings in Berlin designed after German reunification. The museum opened to the public in 2001. It adjoins the old Berlin Museum and sits on land that was in West Berlin before the Berlin Wall fell. The Museum itself, consisting of about 161,000 square feet (15,000 square metres), is a twisted zig-zag and is accessible only via an underground passage from the Berlin Museum’s baroque wing. Its shape is reminiscent of a warped Star of David. A “Void,” an empty space about 66 feet (20 metres) tall, slices linearly through the entire building. Menashe Kadishman’s Shalechet (Fallen leaves) installation fills the void with 10,000 coarse iron faces. An irregular matrix of windows cuts in all orientations across the building’s facade. A thin layer of zinc coats the building’s exterior, which will oxidize and turn bluish as it weathers.

A second underground tunnel connects the Museum proper to the E.T.A. Hoffmann Garden, or The Garden of Exile, whose foundation is tilted. The final underground tunnel leads from the Museum to the Holocaust Tower, a 79 foot (24 metres) tall empty silo. The bare concrete Tower is neither heated nor cooled, and its only light comes from a small slit in its roof. The museum consists of three spaces. All three of the underground tunnels, or “axes,” intersect (left) and represent the connection between the three realities of Jewish life in Germany: Continuity with German history, Emigration from Germany, and the Holocaust. The Jewish Museum Berlin was Daniel Libeskind’s first major international success. Readers who would like further information can find more at the Wikipedia website.

Above: An aerial shot showing Daniel Libeskind’s zig zag design for the Jewish Museum in Berlin

Below: Outside the main entrance

Above: One of the many exhibits depicting Jewish history inside the museum

Below: Our intrepid explorer takes a few minutes to appreciate Menashe Kadishman’s Shalechet (Fallen Leaves) installation, which fills the bottom of the “void” with 10,000 coarse iron faces, all dedicated to innocent victims of war and violence

Above: Mauerpark is a public park in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district – “As far as I am concerned, this is a must visit place” said Ray. “The open air Karaoke contest pictured here takes place every Sunday afternoon and is an absolute hoot!” he told me. “The park is one of the most popular places for young residents of Berlin and attracts basketball players, jugglers, musicians, and many other types of people. It is a crowded leisure ground and a site of sustainable improvised nightlife, especially in the summer” added Ray. The name translates to “Wall Park”, referring to its status as a former part of the Berlin Wall and its ‘Death Strip’. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Mauerpark area served as the location of the Old Nordbahnhof (“Northern Railway Station”). After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the former death strip was designated as a public space and one of several green spaces in the city by local residents. With a contribution of DM 4.5 million from the Allianz environmental fund, the park was built on the eastern half of the former train station. The western half has served as the location for a flea market next to the park

Below: Sylke takes Ray to a traditional beer garden at Clarchens Ballhaus – “She is one of the kindest and most gentle people I have ever met – totally irresistable” added our traveller

Above: Last but not least, Ray makes a visit to the famous Konnopke Imbiss at Eberswalder Strasse for some Curry Wurst – “Konnopke is one of the truly long-established and original city institutions” said Ray. “You can get the standard Bratwurst or original curry sausage, which is the traditional Berlin fast food on the street. They are cheap, hot and tasty” said our global explorer

Below: Sylke (third from left) lines up in front of the Konnopke kiosk – “Apparently, there is a long queue here most times of the day” said Ray

Editors Note: Ray certainly seems to have enjoyed his 10 day visit to Europe and Berlin sounds like a very interesting and dynamic city. Our thanks to Ray for sending us such wonderful pictures. I caught up with him upon his return to London to find out more about his immediate plans. “Most of our readers know that one of my aims is to write a book about my five and a half year nomadic experiment and Chiang Mai is a great place for me to do that, so I am going to return there” he told me. “Having said that, I have really enjoyed getting to know Sylke and would like to spend more time around her, so rather than go to Chiang Mai immediately, I will make another stop in Berlin on the way and rent a room there for a couple of months” explained Ray. “I am very happy about this – it is a completely unexpected and most welcome development” added our open-hearted traveller.

Above: Ray met some of this publications most avid readers while in London. Jacob Florijn (left) works as a consultant in the City and has been following Ray’s journey for the entire period – “We met several years ago through work and are now personal friends. He has always been so encouraging about my journey” said Ray. Meanwhile, friend and digital marketeer Jez (right) had a beer with Ray at the Anglesea Arms in Onslow Gardens – “Talk about big changes in life! Jez is about to become a dad, to twins!” Congratulations to Jez from everyone at The Daily Explorer

Below: The face of Nic (Scott) Meredith (left) may be familiar to some of our readers as he and Ray have bumped into each other several times during the last five years. This time, their schedules overlapped by just one day in London – “It was very touch and go as to whether we would see each other as he had to fly back to the USA just as I was returning from Berlin. But we managed to have our favourite big English breakfast at the old ‘greasy spoon’ cafe in Queens Park, close to the office where we both worked together over 20 years ago! We were joined by Bernie Woods (right, red top) who was one of our colleagues from that era. I am so lucky to have really enduring, quality friends such as these” he told me

Above: What is the most important thing for a global traveller to do whilst visiting London? Have a game of Scrabble or two with his mum, of course! – “She loves to play so I always do my best to make time for her” said Ray. “Besides, she used to tell me when I was a child that I always liked to have the last word, and this is one way I still can!” he laughed. Do any of our readers know the longest word in the English dictionary? “It’s the ‘Post Office” said Ray – “It has millions of letters!”

Ray has asked me to inform you all about a forthcoming book called “Developing Consciousness”, written by friend and Daily Explorer reader Nicholas Vesey. He told me this: “I used to work with Nick many years ago and he is a very creative and inspiring man” said Ray. “After many years working in advertising and marketing, he decided to follow his deepest truth and leave the world of business for the clergy – a life changing decision which I have personally witnessed at every stage. He has been a vicar for quite some time now, is happily married and lives in Norwich. Through his work, he is dedicated to helping people discover who they are and find inner peace and happiness – I am very excited that he has documented his personal journey as some of it runs parallel to my own and I cannot wait to read his book when it is launched at the end of July”. Anyone who would like more information or wants to pre-order a copy should visit Nick’s web site.

Nicholas Headshot

Above: Reverend Nicholas Vesey (left) is the author of the soon to be launched book “Developing Consciousness” – “He has certainly led an interesting life” said Ray, who first met him in the early eighties (right) when they worked together. “I am very excited about reading his book when it comes out in July”

That’s about it for now. Our aim at The Daily Explorer is to create a great publication for you, so please keep sending us your comments and suggestions as to how we can improve what we are doing. You can use the comments box on this site, or email Ray (, ‘Mozzie’ or any of our correspondents at Our next issue should be online in a few weeks. We will keep you posted!


Above: In our last issue, Happiness is Here and Now, Ray talked about how he is learning to “live in the present moment” and fully experience all of the tiny wonders of life as they happen without being too attached to what is coming next. “After 2,000 days on this journey, I can authentically say I feel such joy and gratitude for everything that is happening now, including Sylke’s presence. Like the mural painted on the side of this building in Berlin (right), I have no idea how long it will last or what our lives will look like down the road, yet it doesn’t really matter. Right now, I am lucky to be alive, to be well, to eat good food, to have wonderful friends and much love in my life and to have my freedom to be anyway I choose” said our appreciative traveller



  1. Ray I could almost smell the tulips through the ether the colours were so vibrant. You look deliciously contented my friend and Sylke looks like she is a special and wise woman x

    Comment by Danielle Marchant — May 26, 2011 @ 8:35 pm

  2. Hi Ray,
    Wonderful travels and news of life and love filled moments. Thank you so much for sharing your life and journey. The tenor of your news is in stark contrast (to me) with my struggle over the past few years with a diagnosis of Breast Cancer and following treatments. Right now my health is stable and ‘cancer free’ and I too enjoy the challenge of building a new business. ‘BioShine’ is a Dog Shampoo wholesale business here in Melbourne with my partner Eva. As one of my oldest friends I say “Well done”!! If you are in Melbourne come and visit us on the Mornington Peninsula. xx Sarah

    Comment by sarah — May 27, 2011 @ 7:10 am

  3. Lovely to see you all loved up in London Ray! Great to eat a full English with you and Bernie and spend the rest of the day in your company.

    Comment by Nic Meredith — May 27, 2011 @ 11:12 am

  4. What an interesting issue! I was in Berlin in 1972 while the wall was still up and very much active. My husband was stationed in Osnabruck and, as British forces, we were allowed to drive through the ‘Corridor’ from Helmstedt to Berlin; I seem to remember it took several hours. It was a grey winter day, with a thin layer of snow coating the hardened ground. As we went through the West to East border crossing, I remember noticing how the road surface changed from the immaculate West German autostrader to a grim, potholed road. John explained to me that the forces were encouraged to make this trip as at least one vehicle a day had to travel the Corridor to keep it open under the terms of some agreement. We saw the occasional village in the distance across barren fields. John told me that these villages were like stage sets, with the frontages of the houses only a facade, with little or nothing behind them. The poverty was clear. We saw no other vehicles during the entire trip. Eventually we reached Berlin, through another checkpoint. We had arranged to go up onto the Western side of the wall, something that could only be done through the Army. It was a scary and sobering experience. We could see into the East across the wire. There was a bare earth strip, as in your photograph, which were were told was mined. At the time there had been a number of attempted crossings, ending in terrible deaths. We were accompanied by an officer stationed in Berlin, and as the three of us appeared on the top of the wall in the lookout post, he explained that the East Germans would now send up three of their soldiers so that we were ‘matched’. It was an extraordinary experience in Cold War ethics and the city had an atmosphere of ‘them and us’ about it brought home to me by the climb up the Wall. I was delighted to hear it was pulled down and could totally celebrate with the Germans at that time. It was brilliant to hear your experiences of the open Berlin as I never went back.

    Comment by Helena Dennison — May 31, 2011 @ 7:40 pm

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