Blog posts tagged with 'pilgrimage'

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France

Kindly contributed by Katharine Soper, a good friend of Longitude, and the author of Steps Out of Time, a travel narrative alive with the many intangible gifts of the Camino de Santiago.

Tucked away in the foothills of the French Pyrenees is the charming Basque village of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. I first visited it with my French fiancé when I was twenty and living in Paris. This was my introduction to the French countryside—la France profonde—and it was love at first sight.

White Sands
GD“Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?” The first essay in Geoff Dyer’s new book White Sands asks these questions through Gauguin’s painting of the same title, which shows several Tahitian women in various poses of recline. Dyer travels to Tahiti in pursuit of the artist and the answers to the questions he scrawled in paint in the corner of his masterpiece. Dyer doesn’t find answers in Tahiti, any more than he finds that painting in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (it's on loan at the time of his visit). Rather, the questions follow him into each essay collected in
South Toward Home
“The South is not just the setting;” Alabama-born Margaret Eby writes in her new book South Toward Home, “it’s the soul of the thing.” Her conclusion comes at the finish of a winding road trip through the Deep South (Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia), literary sites dotting her map. Eby describes her pilgrimage—and the act of reading Southern literature in general—as an “ongoing cartographic exercise, to trace and retrace the boundaries of the South, to try to figure out what it contains. It’s about figuring out just where exactly you are. It’s about going home.” The first home Eby visits is
An Interview with David Downie
In his new book A Passion for Paris David Downie embarks on an irreverent secular pilgrimage to the most romantic sites in Paris, weaving his own observations of the city's most alluring parks, atmospheric cafes and inspiring vistas with those of literary lights Victor Hugo, Georges Sand, Charles Baudelaire and other great Romantics. In this interview he answers our questions about Paris, revealing some unexpectedly romantic spots, from aisle seats to cemeteries.
  Longitude. How did your own love affair with Paris begin? Downie. In the fall of 1976, on a dark and stormy night... the affair was not love at first sight for either of us. I was 18 and bent by the weight of the world.
Travels in Vermeer
In Travels in Vermeer poet and professor Michael White copes with the aftermath of his divorce by studying Johannes Vermeer paintings around the world. White stumbles into this mechanism accidentally when he takes an impromptu spring break trip to Amsterdam to escape life. While there, he visits the Rijksmuseum and walks into the Vermeer room, where the paintings are “unexpectedly small, but the force of the spell they cast is so eerily powerful that it’s difficult to move, to breathe.” White is mesmerized, and though he tries to explore the rest of the museum, he finds himself back in the Vermeer room, his faith in love suddenly restored.
The Shwedagon of Yangon
Managing editor Jodie Vinson traveled to Yangon, Myanmar where she discovered a favorite spot in the golden glow of the Shwedagon Pagoda.


The Shwedagon of Yangon, Myanmar has been a favorite spot for over 2000 years, ever since eight strands of the Buddha’s hair were brought by merchants to King Okkalapa and enshrined beneath the a golden bell-shaped pagoda. Since 600BC the kings and queens of Burma have been adding gold and gems to the shrine, increasing their merit, as well as the merits of the Shwedagon as a destination that attracts travelers from around the world. Not only is the pagoda a place of pilgrimage and worship, the site is also a favorite place for locals to congregate for events ranging from pleasant picnics to political rallies.
An Interview with Marie Mockett
Author Marie Mutsuki Mockett discusses her frequent travels to Japan in the wake of the 2011 tsunami, captured in her new travel memoir Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye. Her book is an unpretentious and engaging introduction to Japanese culture and Zen Buddhism as well as an exploration of how a particular culture accepts loss and alleviates suffering.
  Longitude. Rather than being the record of a straight chronological journey, your book gathers several different trips to Japan into one narrative. How would you describe the guiding force behind your journey as a whole? Mockett.
Mecca: The Sacred City
According to Ziauddin Sardar, every city is dominated by two aspects:  first, a centralized, spiritual center that represents the sacred, and second, a historical reality – what is real, political, gritty and open to research. “Mecca is a city whose historical side is profoundly misunderstood,” the Londoner critic claims in his new book Mecca: The Sacred City. “A false consciousness of history has become the norm among Muslims,” he writes, citing nations that want to eradicate history that occurred before Muhammad.  With that in mind, Sardar begins his own worthy quest: to piece together the whole story of Mecca.
Kindly contributed by Ziauddin Sardar, author of Mecca, The Sacred City. Born in Pakistan and raised in London, Sardar revered Mecca as a child and kept the city as a moral and geographical compass point throughout his life. Sardar made several pilgrimages or "Hajj" as an adult -- including one on foot with a sex-crazed donkey at his side -- and conducted extensive research on the site. His book is a unique mixture of history and reportage made accessible by stories of his own ever-changing relationship to the pilgrimage site that draws some three million Muslims each year.