Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Divri and Ancient Olympia

Divri is in the center of Peloponnese in a mountainous area.  There was an unusual amount of snow this year, and it was beautiful.  Maria Sotiropoulou and her husband Sotiris hosted us in the Divri cultural center, created in a "forgoten" town by the love and expenses of Sotiris, who allso publishes the magazine DIVRI for over 36 years (without any economical help from the government or companies). 

Maria took us to Ancient Olympia, home to the original Olympic Games.  Olympia is impotrant for us, peace lovers, because of the stong peace message of Olympic games should have now as they had in antiquity. 

At the end of our visit, they gave us a ride to Athens.  They are both retired physicians and Maria is President of the Greek Affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.  We joined her for a celebration of Lord Byron and for a press conference where Veterans For Peace was one of the signatories on a demand for a nuclear free Middle East.
More pictures

Athens, Greece

This is only a placeholder.  We stayed with Alexia, a very dedicated activist working with the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection and Amnesty International.  who introduced us to Kusha, an Iranian conscientious objector who is applying for political asylum in Greece.  We had a lovely dinner at her house with her friends.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Carnival in Patras

We were in Patras for the annual Carnival parade - there were thousands of people in costume, dozens per group and over 150 groups.  All colors and shapes of costumes!  Youth dancing and showing their youthful energy - it was great!

We danced and then joined the parade at the end of the evening.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Galaxidi, Greece

Galaxidi is on a beautiful bay.  We had a fantastic time with our Servas hosts, Americans who have been in Greece for several years.  The forest next to the town is beautiful, with an old windmill at the top.  The town started celebrating Carnival while we were there, so we went to the Friday night festivities.  They were more subdued than normal because of the economic austerity measures.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece was a city where lots of buildings were in disrepair, some of which were occupied at the same time as they seemed to be falling down. There were some nice things, though - the deserts and the hostel where we stayed for one night. Pictures

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Clowning around with child cancer survivors

We're in Sarajevo staying with Sasa and Victoria, their two young children, and two turtles.  They are involved with an NGO that helps children suffering from cancer.  Today we went to a banquet for the children who have finished their treatments and their parents.  It was a wonderful experience!  Helen joined the clown team and Gerry took pictures.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mostar to Sarajevo

We never expected to be visiting the Balkans on this trip, but once again we're glad we did.  The bus ride from Mostar to Sarajevo was so beautiful, and the people we met in Sarajevo were, too!
More pictures

War Tour of Mostar by Miran

We got into Mostar mid-evening and walked out of the bus station, looking around for the hostel we'd heard about.  A man told us to go down the street and talk with his friend, so we did.  The friend knew exactly where we wanted to go, led us there, and walked back out after Miran answered the doorbell.  Miran had room for us and took us in, gave us some warm tea, and we told him we had heard about his hostel and the war tour online.  We arranged to go on the tour with two youth from Japan that were also staying at Hostel Miran.

Twenty of Miran's relatives were killed during the Balkan war, 1991 - 1995.  The tour was personal and amazing.  He pointed out where his grandfather was killed, very close to his home, and how even the United Nations was there to help, they would not put a vehicle between his grandfather's body and the sniper, so they couldn't get his body out safely.  He showed us where the sniper had fired from.   Miran was only 15 when the war started.

Mostar has only been partially rebuilt.  There are collapsed buildings and buildings with holes everywhere.  Sometimes people live in buildings that have not been rebuilt or are not finished because they have nowhere else to live.  This was so sad!

Miran also wants people to know how beautiful Mostar is.  He does a waterfall tour - the waterfall is called the Bosnian Niagra by the locals - I'd like to see it someday.

Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovena have had record snowfall this year, so it's beautiful everywhere and the kids love it - a pain for the adults at times, though.
Iohain, Sebasa, Miran and Gerry

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Beautiful bus ride from Split, Croatia to Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovena

Talk about outrageously beautiful!  The mountains come right down to the coast in some places, and with the unusual amount of snow this year, the scenery couldn't be better!  More picturess

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Coast of Croatia from Rijeka to Split by bus

When we met Anna from Rijeka in Verona at the Italian NonViolent Movement celebration, we decided that we would possibly visit her on our way to Greece.  However, when I saw a possible bus route along the Croatian coast from Rijeka to Split, I was convinced I wanted to take that bus ride.  It was very much worth it, and here is a link to the pictures.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Free Hugs in Rijeka

Anna was at the 50th anniversary of the Italian NonViolent Movement in Verona and told us that we could stay at their home in Rijeka if we wanted to come through Croatia.

Andrea met us at the bus and took us to the main walking street, where we met youth giving Free Hugs.  We put our backpacks in the car and I gave Free Hugs, too!  Then we went to where Andrea, Elena, Elvis, Maggie, and Paolo live.  We were joined for dinner by Lidya and Tatiana.    We were joined for dinner by Lidya and .  They have an amazing life and we learned a lot about the Balkan war of 1991 to 1995.  Pictures

Andrea and Helen
Gerry Paolo, Maggie,Andrea, Steven, Tatiana
Helen, Lidya, Anna, Elena 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

In Munich with Malalai Joya and GI Resister André Shepherd

My partner Helen Jaccard and I are in Munich now, where we marched yesterday with Malalai Joya of Afghanistan and Iraq veteran / GI resister André Shepherd, who is seeking political asylum in Germany. Today I had the honor of representing Veterans For Peace in a press conference where the main speakers were Malalai Joya, André Shepherd and me. 

Malalai Joya was great. Of course, she called for all foreign troops to withdraw from Afghanistan. She also expressed her sympathy for US and NATO soldiers who "are also victims of their governments' war policies." She thanked soldiers who are resisting illegal wars and occupations and she gave encouragement to GIs who are revealing the reality of war crimes.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Munich Peace March and Demonstration

Veterans For Peace marched with Munich American Peace Committee, Malalai Joya, Andre Shepard, and hundreds of others against war, NATO, and particularly against war on Iran.  This action is part of a weekend-long Internationale Munchner Friedenskonferenz (Munich International Peace Conference).  More pictures ...

Malalai Joya, Andre Shepard, and Gerry Condon leading the march

Gerry was part of a pre-event press conference and a radio interview.  We passed out flyers supporting Andre Shepard and Bradley Manning and had a good table at the Friday night event, at which Susan George and Malalai Joya spoke.