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Hurtling Through Europe


Hurtling Through Europe

At the time of writing, a family wedding was scheduled in Europe offering the opportunity of going to Seville – again – and visiting the cathedral where the Palmarian Church is located, was all too enticing to resist.

TVNZ Sunday Programme had already started the filming for a documentary about my life and so, armed with a movie camera (courtesy of TVNZ), we planned to leave Auckland on Christmas Day.

Rostock, on the Baltic coast, East Germany, was the first stop and, although the temperature plummeted to -14 degC, snow didn’t fall as the bride had requested, but the wedding was wonderful anyway. We did, however, see Berlin covered in white – a beauty to behold.

 


 
Warnemunde, Rostock
 

The journey by train took us via Strasbourg and Geneva, as the winter’s cold threatened to overtake us again. As we headed into the single-track station at Chateauroux, south of Paris, Stephanie Dagg, my editor, phoned to say that a parcel had been left unattended and that the bomb squad was flying in. Fortunately, we were able to get off the train, meet Steph for the very first time, and settle our nerves as she drove into the peaceful French countryside.
 



Leaving Berlin
 
Thank you Steph. Your farm houses are quaint, your animals gorgeous, your lakes teeming in carp (just waiting to be caught by English tourists), your husband’s cooking delicious, your life-style enviable, and your hospitality endless. It was great to see you in gumboots, doing what you love.
 


 
Steph’s Llama at Les Fragnes, Creuse
 
A few days later, the journey continued as far as Toulouse, where we met Cate Hogan, beta reader extraordinaire. Another first.

Cate, you are wise beyond your years. Do hope you are having a fantastic time in Mexico right now. Happy travels!

Heavy snow on the highest peaks of the Pyrenees, combined with a change of language in the on-board bar, reminded us of our next destination: Zaragoza. Outside, crystal-clear lakes reflected soft cloud formations, pink pelicans, and coastal sand dunes.


 


 
Foothills of the Pyrenees
 
As the train hurtled into spaghetti western country, reaching speeds in excess of 300 km/h, the Spain I know and love became real: gnarly-old olive trees, bronzed scrub, dry undulating hillocks, ancient tracks for pack animals, crumbling haciendas. Remote, isolated, unspoilt.

Speed ate up horizons as my thoughts shifted, narrowed and, finally, settled on a new goal: Palmar de Troya in Seville. A quick walk from the Santa Justa Station took us right past the very abbey I had lived in 25 years ago.

 


 
Seville
 
Daniel Freeman of Flight Centre NZ, you did a brilliant job of organising rail passes and accommodation. Thanks so much. We have become your loyal customers.

It was terrific to be in Seville, again, in the old quarter of the city, inside the city wall. And, ten minutes later we found our hotel, dumped our bags, and headed to a café. No-one in the world makes coffee like the Sevillianos…

Visit this site again for more stories – about my time in Seville. And, to hear what happened when I visited the Cathedral at Palmar de Troya.

 
 


https://twitter.com/MariaHallWriter
 


 
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