Ailsa’s Travel theme: Mystical


Ailsa says, This week’s theme is inspired by a beautiful photograph Vlad posted over at Wind Against Current. Click the link to see his photo, and when you pick your jaw up off the floor, come on back over here and join in this week’s challenge.

Mystical is an evocative term with many nuances. I chose this word because it can be interpreted in so many ways. It can mean spiritually symbolic, otherworldly, ethereal or mysterious. I also love how this word sounds when you speak it aloud, and I can’t help but associate it with mists that conceal the everyday, cloaking the mundane in a veil of mystery. The verb ‘to mystify’; to make mysterious or obscure, is derived from the words mystic and mystery. Ooh, the possibilities are endless.”

I have found myself in a few mystical situations, and usually when we were experiencing less than perfect holiday weather. Some trips seem to be all sunny skies, ice cream and beautiful sunsets, but when we visited Phuket for the second time earlier this year, we were very disappointed with the weather, and especially on the day we were due to take a boat trip across Phang Nga Bay. The tour leaflet advertised “Sail to verdant limestone islands, honeycombed with caves and aquatic grottos, which soar perpendicularly to heights of 984 feet or more, from almost perpetually calm waters.” Well the “perpetually” part fell away when the morning of our trip arrived. This is the best black and white photo I’ve ever taken in colour. 😀 It certainly looked dark and foreboding, and I was more than a tad worried.

Sailing across the bay, those “verdant islands” just looked grey and mystical, but there was no mystery as to where the water which was pooling on our table, was coming from. The boat’s tarpaulin roof had more than a few holes in it. The sea wasn’t at all calm either, but my dad used to be a sailor, so no problem there. 🙂

At one point, we transferred to a canoe, and were taken into one of the ancient grottos. This was definitely a very otherworldly experience, and the fact that there were many bats clinging to the roof of the cave, made it especially eerie for me.

Despite the incessant rain, and paddling ankle-deep in muddy water through the Sea Gypsy Village, the boat trip was a memorable, if  somewhat soggy mystical experience.

Now, I’m sure you won’t object if take you on a little detour to the Grand Old Lady of Venice. On our first evening there, we had a half hour motor launch “Magical Venice” tour of the Grand Canal and some of its side alleys, ending up in Piazza S. Marco. It was so peaceful just sitting in the boat, with just the lapping of the water and the purr of the motor, as we slowly sailed past the decaying grandeur of the ancient palazzos and restaurants. Every so often, we would hear distant church bells ringing, and that together with the fact that we were in total darkness, really made me feel that we were on a magical mystery tour.

Our evening gondola tour, a couple of days later, also turned quite mystical and rather spooky, when we left the main canal, and sailed into the narrow, silent smaller ones. We passed between tall apartment buildings, some with their stone steps half hidden under the water. The plaster had fallen off the outside walls long ago, and their once magnificent facades were looking extremely distressed. As a bell tolled in the distance, I couldn’t help imagining those prisoners of long ago, locked in their tiny cells under the Doge’s Palace, hearing that same bell, every day and night for the duration of their incarceration, which was probably until they died.

Lastly,  I’ll never forget seeing the 386 metre grey columns of Devils Tower appear through the mist, as we drove through Wyoming, on our way to Mount Rushmore. Part of Steven Spielberg’s science fiction movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” was shot here, and you really don’t get much more mystical than that. 🙂

Well, those are my most mystical travel experiences. If you want to see what other bloggers have come up with for Ailsa’s theme, just click here.

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60 comments on “Ailsa’s Travel theme: Mystical

  1. Close Encounters of the Third Kind … ha! What a cool movie. I had forgotten about that one 🙂 That’s my favorite pic … the last one 🙂

  2. I am just in awe of the way you are able to produce photos that match the theme so perfectly. Your Phuket photos are wonderful even if you had to get wet to take them 🙂

  3. I love Devils Tower – what a great shot. You certainly have a wonderful way of capturing your travels and it’s great that you share them here!with us 😀

  4. Hey ADdon’t you think it wonderful how on a blog a quick detour would take hours on a plane..hahaha. Sorry I been so scarce but renovations nearing the end and I seem to be perpetually shopping for something!!

    • Yes it’s so much easier and much less expensive. 🙂 We always seem to be a Home Depot. It’s impossible to know today what you’ll require desperately tomorrow. 🙂

  5. Three very different locations and experiences but yet all depict an emotion of mystery and mysticism.You’re right…the possibilities are endless. Love that first photo as well as your description of the canal in Venice.

  6. Adored the Venice shots. That is a very mystical place – great age, great history – would love to see it all for myself!
    Ans for the Phuket shots – those islands looks like they could hide another civilisation 😉
    lovely, as always AD 🙂

    • Thanks, Adrian. Yes, the first time we were in Phuket, the weather was absolutely brilliant, and I have quite different pics from that visit. 🙂 I think that it’s often a mistake to go somewhere like that, twice. If the first time was amazing, you stand a good chance of being disappointed the second time around. 🙂

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