• fr
  • en

The Unusuals


Exploring the unexplored

TURTLES FROM THE GANGES

In order to reach Paradise, a deceased Indian must be burned on a log on the Ghats, and his/her ashes be thrown into the Ganges. The cadaver can also be thrown into the sacred river. Many decades ago, the Indian government had trouble with this practice. It greatly harmed the tourism industry. In fact, foreign…

THE QUEEN WHO HAD 92 TEMPLES

In the 17th century, powerful kingdoms appeared in the north-western part of India, arising from the decadence of the Great Moghul Empire. Resourceful men had carved out these states which they governed with great efficiency. And so it was that the Kingdom of Indore came into being. A century later, the ruling Maharajah decided to marry…

The Sergeant cursed and Nostradamus’s tomb

A few years ago, the mayor of Salon-en-Provence in southern France decided to move an ancient cemetary in order to enable a motorway to be built. A specialist company was entrusted with moving the graves, one by one, to the new location. Finally, just one was left. It belonged to the famous physician and seer,…

Zucco or the Mafia’s Wine

A distant uncle, Henri d’Orléans, Duke of Aumale, inherited a fine estate about 50 kilometres from Palermo from his mother, The Queen of the french,Maria Amalia of the two Sicilers.  The property was called Zucco, and included vineyard which produced a highly-reputed sweet wine. In my youth, I sampled several bottles of it, all etched…

On Dracula’s Footsteps V

In 1459, during the course of a devastating raid in Transylvania, Vlad attacked Brasov. He burned the poor suburbs, in particular the church of Saint Bartholomew, today full of factories. He bombarded the ramparts, particularly the stronghold of weavers. On Quinta Hill, in full view of the besieged, he impaled dozens of prisoners. One of…

On Dracula’s Footsteps IV

Tuesday, 21 June The ancient city of Brasov is now besieged by hideous factories and modern quarters. We stared down upon it with horror from a high vantage point, a sharp contrast to the overflowing beauty and charm of the old city. The neighborhood around the famous Black Church is extraordinary. Vaguely Austrian despite having…

On Dracula’s Footsteps III

Monday, 20 June We left for Sibiu. Fivos chose a country road that passed through Agnita. It was an unimaginable splendor, valleys and fields, lush forests, magnificent trees, distant horizons, and old villages, untouched since the 19th century. Keeps and donjons of fortified evangelical churches, with their imposing ramparts, defended by secular oaks. Birds sang…

On Dracula’s Footsteps II

The countryside we drove through was less sumptuous. Fields with gentle valleys as far as the eye can see, with few scattered villages and even fewer inhabitants in the opulent landscape. We arrived at Sighisoara, a lovely little 19th century city built around a plateau upon which rises the old city fortress. The Park Royal…

Lady Freemason

At the end of the 18th century, the daughter of Lord Doneraile was only an adolescent, but she was intelligent, independent, cultivated and full of character. She loved nothing more than passing the time in the library, huddled beside a window with the curtains closed, lost in a good book, usually History, sometimes poetry. It…

On Dracula’s Footsteps

Sunday, June 19 I left for Romania with Tigran and Darius. My friend Fivos accompanied us. A Greek, he speaks Romanian. I had never been to this country before, and I decided to discover it with my eldest grandsons. We flew Aegean Airlines; the flight was comfortable. The airport in Bucharest is clean enough, very…