I recently came back from my 7th honeymoon with my walker and I am hurrying in telling you about it! As usual, this stay with my beloved was idyllic, but this year, I was bringing him a great surprise.
His mom came with me! They had not seen each other since August 2000! What emotion! The weather was not too hot, but it was perfect for a bit of Tourism. We lodged at the Romance Hotel situated a few steps from the historic sites such as Haga Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace, the Great Bazaar, etc and where an attentive and proficient staff was assisting us with each of our questions and wishes.
Istanbul is a very romantic and exotic city where one can easily spend a fortuneâ€¦ the carpets are divine if not flying, the food is abundant and excellent, fabrics are exquisite! Turks are very kind and always ready to assist us in any way. A visit that will always remain in our hearts, but all good things do have an end!
In our latest newsletter, we left Jean in Belgrade. With much discretion, Ana and Aleksandra were great collaborators in organizing quite a few activities for his passage in the Serbian capitalâ€¦ several interviews on national television and radio as well as for some newspapers. On Wednesday January 24th, after a brief presentation of his project to the pupils of the primary school â€œKralje Petar Iâ€, he participates in a symbolic walk with the students on the pedestrian street â€œKneza Mihailovaâ€ and then plants a â€œTree of Peaceâ€ in the school courtyard. The following day, he meets the students of the â€œMica Stnjovic” school, situated in the city of Umcari, a suburb of Belgrade.
Then Jean heads toward Nis on his route to Macedonia. Serbian people welcome him open arms and heart, give him food for the road and help him in all kind of circumstances. To me, they send photos and emails that I often do not understand because they are written in Serbian!
He enters Nis on January 31st, accompanied by a flu serious enough and a broken axle on his chariot. He decides to stay in that city for a few days, giving time to his body to recuperate. Mile and his family heartily welcome him and provide him with a lot of help as much for free accommodation at the NIS Hostel as to recover from the flu, repairs to his chariot, meetings with the medias for the promotion of his walk and some work with Stela Jovanovic, director of â€œResourceCentre NISâ€, a local non profit organization.
The Macedonian policemen greet him on February 13 and in Skopje, the capital, the Honorary Consul of Canada, Mr. Zivko Gruevski and his assistant, Mrs Jasna Denkova grant him a friendly chat. The people of Macedonia learned about the Wwwalk from the medias and they take it very seriouslyâ€¦ so much so the police escort him through the country! They even stop the traffic in a tunnel to allow him to go safely through!
He crosses in Greece on February 18th and is welcomed with a lot of cordiality by the Greeks who make him feel like a member of the great Greek family! Jean has Greek fans since quite a while alreadyâ€¦ a Greek soccer team put a link to the Wwwalk on their Web site and one Greek man living in Ottawa, Canada sent me a monetary contribution as if to welcome Jean in his country of originâ€¦ and when the walker informs some people on his way about that, they are delighted! As for Jean, these small villages that space out along the Aegean Sea totally charm him!
On the other hand, in spite of the enthusiastic welcome of the Greeks and the beauty of the landscapes, he is happy when he finally arrives to Alexandroupolis because it is near the border of Turkey and that he has a little difficulty to contain his hurry to meet his mom and myself!
Jean enters Turkey on March 7th and the crossing of the border and the custom nearly takes 4 hoursâ€¦ time not so much taken by the formalities than by the interest of the Greek and Turkish officers for his walk. A policeman at the Turkish border was waving the newspaper â€œSabahâ€ in which there was an article on the Wwwalk!
Again, he is met with kindliness and he is wondering about having heard the word â€œwelcomeâ€ more times in a few days in Turkey than in all of Europe! In Tekirdag on March 11th, he decides to stop his walk for the moment and reaches Istanbul by bus in time to welcome his mom and his darling who will be arriving in 2 days.
Jean has entrusted me to transmit his most eager acknowledgments:
- To the 28 students, aged 9 or 10, of the Marguerite-Bourgeoys school of Pointe-Claire in Quebec, who, with his mother intervention, all sent him letters of support and encouragement. He read each and everyone of these letters and has been deeply inspired by them.
- To Roman Alberico, 11 years old, of Richmond Hill in Ontario, for his generosity and to have chosen the Wwwalk as the topic of his speech in his schoolwork assignment. Jean did read this speech that Roman emailed him and was sincerely moved by it.
- To Chariot Carrier of Calgary, Alberta, who, as always before, filled without failing the large order of spare parts for his chariot. With those numerous parts that I brought him in Istanbul, I was at the limit of authorized baggage on the plane and nearly at the limit of my strength to recover them from the airport carouselsâ€¦
On Monday April 2nd, Jean comes with me to AtatÃ¼rk airport for my departure to Montreal and then returns to Tekirdag by bus where he resumes his walk. He walks to Istanbul in 4 days and he is granted the privilege to cross on foot, one of the two huge bridges that join Europe to Asia. After the Americas, Africa and Europe, he undertakes the challenge to walk the 4th continent, Asia! You may browse at his projected â€œRouteâ€ on the Web site.
Till next timeâ€¦
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