Thursday, 28 March 2013

New Home

I'm been away from this blog three months or more now and only just noticed that people still happen by it now and again.

If you've read my previous travels and want to keep up to date with what I'm doing these day that click here to go to Orla-Jo's Not Dead my new blog over on wordpress.


Thursday, 15 November 2012

Jila Bani-Yaghoub and the Day of the Imprisoned Writer

The 15th of November is the Day of the Imprisoned Writer. This is such an important day to focus on censorship and journalists on the front line. Their stories are as significant as the stories of others that they share with us.

Today I’m focusing on an Iranian journalist called Jila Bani-Yaghoub. She is a freelance journalist and the editor-in-chief of Kanoon Zanan Irani, a website dedicated to women’s issues which has contributors from inside and outside Iran and has been filtered by the government many times.

She has been arrested and imprisoned multiple times for writing against the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. When Jila was arrest in March of 2007 for covering the trial of women’s rights activists and was put in the women’s wing of Tehran’s infamous Evin prison. While there she was forced to drink dirty water which sent her into toxic shock.

Most recently she and her husband and fellow journalist, Bahman Ahmadi Amoyee, were both arrested while covering protests that followed the Iranian elections in June 2009. She was released but her husband remains serving a five year sentence.

Jila was imprisoned again on the 2nd of September 2012 to serve a year’s sentence and has been banned from writing for 30 years.

John Lothrop Motley once wrote that “you have not converted a man because you have silenced him.” Today we take a moment to respect those who allowed themselves to be neither silenced nor converted.

Sign the petition for her release:

And that of her husband Bahman:

“Secrecy is the keystone to all tyranny. Not force, but secrecy and censorship. When any government or church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, "This you may not read, this you must not know," the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives.” 
― Robert A. Heinlein

“Free societies...are societies in motion, and with motion comes tension, dissent, friction. Free people strike sparks, and those sparks are the best evidence of freedom's existence.” 
― Salman Rushdie

Friday, 9 November 2012

Greece 2012 Post Eight

Tholon and Mycenaen Palaces 

Hotel Apollon of Tholon is a lovely seaside hotel with an edible breakfast, a wide-variety of tea, a two minute walk from the beach and it has its own pool. The beach is just a rocky strip really but its long and jellyfish free. 

The next day we went on a tour of Mycenaean hilltop palaces. These were the palaces that in early Greece controlled the valley populations before the genesis of the city-states. It was from palaces like these that Helen of Sparta was stolen to become Helen of Troy and the Greeks launched their thousand ships to war for her return. 

Tiryns felt as though it had been built by giants. The fairy-tales we tell about our ancestors seem less silly in palaces like this. 

Other Mycenaean Palaces we saw over the course of the trip were Nessos, Lerna and finally Mycenae itself.

Mycenae was the palace of the legendary king Agamemnon who led the Greeks in the Trojan war. The scale and beauty of the architecture given its age (we're talking over 4000 years old people) is just mind-blowing.

The Lions-Gate (above) is one of the most iconic pieces of Mycenaean architecture. When you pass through it you are following the footsteps of the leaders of one of the most enigmatic civilisations in Greece. There is so much we still don't know about how the Mycenaean system came to be or how it collapsed. 

We were even taken down into the sophisticated cistern underground, inside the hill itself. You know I love me a good cave.

There were also large tombs like giant stone beehives called Tholos tombs that had some fantastic acoustics for an impromptu a cappella version of 'In the Jungle'.

I picked some almonds from the tree outside the tomb to bring home as a keepsake, much like the oak leaf and acorn from Olympia. 

Sorry for the delay in getting this blog post up but if you've been watching the YouTube channel you'll know I've been swamped with NaNoWriMo as well as college work (I should be finishing an essay on Plato's influences right now) so I'll see you around; stay awesome!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Let's get this novel-writing started in here!!

So some of you might know and some of you might not that for lots of people, writers, published and unpublished, November is a very important month. NaNoWriMo is an acronym for National Novel Writing Month though maybe it should be InNoWriMo since it has become hugely international since its San Francisco beginnings. 

It's always been a dream of mine to have a novel published. I've written something, even if just a few words of a story, every day since I was eleven or twelve. Before that even I was still obsessed with story-telling. Myths and adventures, heroes and quests occupied my childhood far more than anything real. 

I learned later that escapism isn't always the best option but something to have in moderation. NaNoWriMo gives a brilliant balance to writing because it encourages you to socialise with other writers and builds a community around what can be a very lonely activity. Some of my best friends have been found in NaNo meet-ups.

I'll have a special page up over there in the side bar on the right where I'll be recording my unhealthy NaNo habits. Stick around the YouTube channel for vlogs on my progress and melt-downs.

Stay lovely. 

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Bucket List #9 A Night at the Opera

So as part of the continuing efforts to tick things off my 68 Things to Do Before I Die list I went to see Tristan und Isolde, a five hour long Wagner opera with Shona and Grace during the Dublin Theatre Festival. 

We smuggled dinners to eat during the intervals in in our handbags (I had the biggest bag as always so I also took half of Grace's dinner). 

This is my YouTube video about it. If you like it subscribe and see all the other stuff I get up to when I'm not travelling. 

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Greece 2012 Post Seven

Messene, Sparta, Mystra and Menelaoin

This was Sparta!!!!

In fact it was Messene the city of the former Spartan helots (slaves) who made it possible for the Spartans to have such a large full-time military. After independence they were supported by Sparta’s enemies to found their own city.

Interestingly there was a large cult to Asclepius the healing God and his daughter Hygeia.

There is also an impressive stadium, which we had a massive water fight in.

(You may notice that  Grace and I were attacked with water first by L that you might recognise from as far back as the west of Ireland trip if you've been with me since then.

Then back on the bus and wait for it…


Sparti? That doesn’t sound nearly as fearsome. Turns out the modern city of Sparta has a slightly different name and don’t think we didn’t notice that it rhymed with party!

We crashed down through the gorges into the valley where Sparta sat between two mountain ranges. The roads were sided by sheer, spectacular drops and towering spikes of stone. 

Hotel , was one of the nicer hotels we were in though it was the only one without a pool.

Sparta is much poorer than Athens and the lack of remains of the city of Sparta means that it doesn’t have any like the same amount of tourism. This means to some people the city seemed quite run-down and unattractive, even “dodgy” but I found it pretty appealing in its own gritty way.

The next morning we got up at half six in the morning to watch the sun rise over the mountains.

We were tired and grumpy but the light display made it very worth it.

Then we walked up to the Spartan acropolis were there was still a beautiful theatre preserved.

The next day we went out to the stunning, Frankish, hilltop monastic settlement, Mystra. The Byzantine architecture fit beautifully into the rocky landscape.

It was also a peaceful place and we got on to the bus exhausted, overheated and sweating but glad. Every seemed to be on the phone to their parents or girlfriends while we gathered at the bus so I called my mother. She was so surprised to hear from me it took her five minutes to stop asking me if everything was okay. I should probably call her more...

Then we drove down the road for one more stop.


Yes this time we think that this would have been a temple built by the ancient Spartan as part of the hero worship of Menelaos and Helen. The climb was pretty grueling in that heat and few of us made it up the hill.

The views were spectacular. 

Grace and I ran all the way down the hill and nearly died of the heat at the bottom but it was such a rush. 

It was a good day.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Greece Video

My YouTube video about the Greece trip. A sort of brief overview I guess.