Posted in Culture/History

Eerie Hill of Crosses

One of the strangest, eerie places I have ever been to is Kryžių kalnas, or the Hill of Crosses, a pilgrimage site about 12 km north of Šiauliai, Lithuania. I was speechless, torn between wonder and disbelief, awe and unease.



It all starts in the 14th century when locals leave crosses on the former Domantai hill fort to remember a successful battle against the German knights. During the centuries to come, the hill becomes a sanctuary for Christians to signify the peaceful endurance of Lithuanian Catholicism.

Symbol of resistance

In the 19th century, after the two uprisings of 1831 and 1863, the place grows into a national symbol of resistance. Families start putting up symbolic crosses, to represent the bodies of their perished rebels. The number of crucifixes and other religious icons increases rapidly, well into the first years of Soviet domination.


Three times the Soviets decide to level Kryžių kalnas to the ground. Three times the people defy the strict ban of religion and severe surveillance, and leave their religious icons under cover of the night. They erect not only new crosses but also crucifixes, carvings of the Virgin Mary and of Lithuanian patriots. Cross-making has by now become part of the cultural heritage of Lithuania, a ‘symbol of national and religious identity, uniting the community in the face of adversity’.


In 1993 Pope John Paul II visits the Hill of Crosses and declares it a place for hope, peace, love, and sacrifice. In 2000 a Franciscan hermitage is opened nearby.


Number of crosses

1800’s over 9,000
1900 130
1902 155
1922 50
1938 over 400
1961 destroyed 5,000
1975 destroyed 1,200
1990 some 55,000
2006 over 100,000

And there’s no stopping it now. Today the amount is incomprehensible. Buses spew their loads into the parking lot, where stalls sell crosses in all sizes to the modern pilgrims. Ready-made symbols of worship contest with huge personal sculptures.

Sit back and watch

I left the stream of tourists and found my way to the outer edge of the hill. Away from the masses. Away from the overwhelming impressions. Away from the ghosts. Please take a moment and watch, listen, feel…


Wikipedia: Hill of Crosses

Posted in Culture/History, Inspiration, Technology

Green from a different perspective

Today a friend of mine e-mailed me this text. I don’t know who wrote it, but I want to share it. From one generation to the next.

Yesterday after shopping at our local supermarket, I was in the queue at the checkout and heard the young cashier suggest to the much older lady that she should bring her own grocery bags, because plastic bags are not good for the environment. The woman apologized to the young girl and then sighed. “We didn’t have this ‘green thing’ back in my earlier days.”

The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. You folk didn’t do enough to save the environment for future generations.” The older lady said, “Ah, I see.” Then she continued.

“Back then, we returned milk bottles, lemonade bottles and beer bottles to the shops. The shops then sent them back to the plant to be washed, sterilized and refilled, so those same bottles were used over and over, thus REALLY were recycled. But we didn’t have the ‘green thing’ back in our days. Continue reading “Green from a different perspective”

Posted in Culture/History, Personal

Back to January

How I hate to take down the Christmas decorations. Each January it is tough to say goodbye to the green, silver, and red.


My sweet reindeer, resting comfortably once more in their basket in the attic. The tree lights are dimmed and my little evergreen is outside in the cold.

Two weeks of warmth, joy, and freedom rushed by. Monday it is back to normal. Back to work.

But I’ll keep on lighting candles throughout the year! And I put my two friends on the left on top of my bookcase. They’re inseparable! And too cute to be stuffed away.

Welcome to January. 😀

Posted in Culture/History, Ireland, Photo

Emeralds of Ireland: Sí an Bhrú

Passage grave of Knowth


Posted in Culture/History

50 Ways to Welcome the New Year

What’s the matter with the years nowadays? Good old fashioned years seemed to last forever, but now they race, each day gaining speed until you tumble headfirst into a brand new year. Nothing to do about it, but to live in the here and now, I guess. To celebrate each new day with (as much) enthusiasm and joy (as you can muster), even when they’re boring or hard.

2016 closes in. In the Netherlands we count down until the magic transition second into the new year has arrived, then we hug, kiss, drink champagne, contact loved ones who are far away, and head outside to light fireworks and firecrackers – usually the men, while the women chat and laugh about their boyish enthusiasm.

What do you do at New Year’s Eve to celebrate the arrival of a brand new year in your country? Is this infographic correct, or do you want to add more amazing rituals? 😀


Infographic @ Daily Mail Online

Posted in Culture/History, Education, Inspiration, Writing, Writing101

TED Talk? No, JEFFREY Talk!

His eyes shine like a beacon of hope. They draw me in like a moth is pulled to a flame. Not to be burned, but to be submerged in a pool of energy, humor and passion. His name is Jeffrey Titus Maganga, and he is the most charismatic man I have met in a long time.

Mister Maganga works at Lilongwe’s Teacher Trainer College in Malawi, where he tells us all about TALULAR – Teaching And Learning Using Locally Available Resources. In Malawi, resources are scarce, and the help of the government is not always available. He teaches his students to use their imagination, creativity and common sense beyond the knowledge of college.

In the beginning, his never ending search for free materials drove his wife mad, whenever he returned from a trip to for example the supermarket, with bags full of useless stuff, junk even. Think of used sheets, of corks and reeds, paper boxes and cans, Useless.., until Jeffrey thinks of new ways to convert them into educational materials. Now she even helps me to collect them! He winks.

His enthusiasm is contagious, and my heart swells with pride. This is a man all of us can learn from. No fancy talk, no expensive materials. Just a man and his passion, his love for teaching, and for the environment.

Mister Jeffrey Titus Maganga!





I wrote this for Writing 101: A Character-Building Experience: “Today, you’ll write about the most interesting person you’ve met in 2014. In your twist, develop and shape your portrait further in a character study.”

I’d love to get feedback!

Posted in Border hopping, Culture/History, Photo, Photo challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Window





for a larger image, please click the photos

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge.

Posted in Culture/History, Photo, Photo challenge

Travel theme: Possibility


All it takes is a costume…

Ailsa < Ailsa’s Travel Theme Challenge