Quirky signs with unwitting senses – part of the pleasure of travel in distant places.


This is the name of a well endowed cafe at Leipzig railway station. Not to be outdone, the ship from Riga to Stockholm sports a somewhat different culinary experience:


But my favourite is this one, on the old train from Minsk to Riga:


It took me a moment to realise that there is no red line through the lit cigarette, for in the vestibule at the end of each carriage you can indeed smoke. How civilised!

Comfortably voyaging on the Dunai River (ht sk).

One of the many advantages of plotting world domination on our radicals’ walk are the close encounters with ships entering and leaving Newcastle harbour.

When the ships enter the harbour, we are but a few metres away:

Of course, it had to be a Chinese coal tanker:

From my semi-nomadic existence: ‘Six Places to Visit in Red Petrograd’ is over at Aussie Travel Advice , while ‘The Hansa Run’ is on Voyages on the Left.


Warms your heart … of course, you can see this only if you depart Leningrad by ship:

Some shameless self-promotion, but two new and somewhat different publications:

1. A piece on Norman Gottwald, a pioneering Marxist biblical scholar, in that great lefty journal, Monthly Review.

2. And something on harbour pilots, cigarette cartons and container ships – called ‘Greasing Palms’ – at Aussie Travel Advice.

Over at Voyages on the Left

After much delay and some editing, my travel blog, Voyages on the Left,  is well under way. For now, a ship’s log is the focus – with a pic or two of me acting like a complete tool (and cp) singing karaoke with a Filipino crew in the middle of the Pacific.

Does Norman Gottwald, author of The Tribes of Yahweh, really live in Napier, New Zealand? Is he really the owner of all the port equipment in Napier, moonlighting as a Marxist biblical scholar?

As promised, some pictures of Gitte Buch-Hansen before she became a respectable biblical scholar – even the text comes from Gitte (or most of it). This is becoming a small series, after John Lyons and his daredevil North Sea oil rig adventures and my less thrilling efforts in a flotation suit. But I reckon Gitte’s story will take some beating.

The first pictures are from a campaign against the A-weapon at sea:

I used to work as an engineer for Greenpeace before I got my certificate for the merchant navy.

Putting our lives on the line in those Greenpeace inflatables (OK, the ed admits he added this line):

(Beat that anyone – or this)

(They were a hairy bunch, those Greenpeace activists):

This is from my first ‘real’ ship: Karama Maersk, a supertanker (in fact, the second largest on the seven seas at that time). We had been in dock at Dubai (the pictures tell about the size of the ship), loaded crude oil in the Persian Golf, and were now waiting outside the Emirates for a final destination (or for the oil prices to rise).

No booze onboard, just a lot of time to kill. I had the night watch (with nothing to do) which I spent deck fishing together with the Thai crew. We had more than 25 fishing lines that had to be checked regularly. I happened to catch a shark, which I – with a little help from my Thai friends – dropped in the captain’s swimming pool. He didn’t like the joke. Having gone to sleep, the first officer woke me up in the morning and I was ordered to move it immediately … at least, the crew enjoyed the show. I gave it to the Thai cook and he made a splendid dinner …

Now that should be required training for all biblical scholars.

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