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Wednesday, 25 October 2006

incognito Sept-Oct 2006

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I am standing at a medieval castle in the main city of a long isolated island off of a small seaside country. The castle is an imposing square building built of dolomite blocks. To get here I had to pronounce the island’s long name (heavy on the vowels) satisfactorily to the ticket purveyor.

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I am standing at a medieval castle in the main city of a long isolated island off of a small seaside country. The castle is an imposing square building built of dolomite blocks. To get here I had to pronounce the island’s long name (heavy on the vowels) satisfactorily to the ticket purveyor. Then I traveled by ferry to one island and across a dam to this island, as there is another island in between this one and the mainland. The island has been inhabited for 5,000 years and has endured many wars: from skirmishes with the Vikings in its ancient past, to many brutal occupations in its recent history.

The most recent occupation made the island a restricted zone for about 50 years while commandeering the coastline for military bases and the summer homes of its military elite. The oppressive force sent many of the young islanders to work camps and they were never seen again. The country lost one third of its population. The island people had almost no contact with their countrymen on the mainland, but this isolation from the rest of the world led to the preservation of its culture and traditions such as folk music and folk dancing. It is relatively recent that the country was able to free itself from occupation and gain its independence.

It is striking that a place with such a harsh history seems especially peaceful and quaint now. My weekend here is one of the most relaxing in years. It is quiet and time passes slowly, even in the center of town.

Outside of town, the landscape is covered in juniper and rustic stone hedges and dotted with dairy farms and old wooden windmills.


Do you know where I am?


For the answer go to the next page

 

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012
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