On the road again, this time the Silk Road! (Maybe it’s your time)

It has been a long summer; well it has been a long time since Easter and my broken ankle, which has now completely mended. It was time to hit the road again, but this time the Silk Road (well part of it), and head off to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

I have been on parts of the Silk Road before, in both Armenia and Georgia, China and Russia, but this was different, this was the longest section of the road that I have travelled, about 2,000km.  Using a variety of transports, including, Cars, Buses, Taxis, Horseback J and even a bit of walking, I slowly made my way from Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan to the Uzbek capital Tashkent while taking in famous historical “Museum-cities” such as Samarkand and Bukhara in Uzbekistan along the way.

No airbags or ABS brakes on this…

The Silk Road opened circa 500-330 BC and for over a thousand years, it was a major trading route and the World’s longest road for exporting luxury goods, silks and spices from China to the Mediterranean. It starts in Chang’an (now known as Xian) and between branches, splits and other routes it stretched right across to Damascus in Syria to Tyre in Lebanon, Alexandria in Egypt to the Ganges Delta in the Bengal region of Southern Asia and to Greece and Italy.

Today the Chinese government have plans to reopen the Silk Road for to stimulate economic growth and trade across Asia and beyond in a new initiative called the Belt and Road project classed as the biggest infrastructure project in history,  at over $900Bn- almost a Trillion Dollars. The project name is confusing when you consider the Road is not a road but rather a connecting sea passage linking Chinas Southern coast with East Africa and the Mediterranean.  In addition, to add to the confusion, the belt is an array of land corridors, linking China with Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

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In this post I’m going to bring you on a journey and give you some insight into “A day in the life” of a EU Project Leader.

The recent trip I took, started on the 28 February and ended on the 22 March 2017 and a geographical spread from Limerick to Dresden in Germany, to Petrozavodsk in Russia, to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and back to Limerick, Ireland.  Beautiful places with amazing stories to tell, the three locations are astonishing places to visit and steeped in cultural, history and heritage.

From The Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Gallery) in Dresden and its majestic cluster of Baroque churches and the Rococo-style Zwinger area of the Dresden Court, to the spectacular Embankment of Lake Onega and the museums and monuments, in the Russian Federation to the magnificent lush, green, water world which is the Mekong Delta in Ho Chi Minh City, with its extensive cuisine, Pagodas and Buddhist temples, all remarkable all unique. 

The purpose of the trips was to attend a number of meetings dealing with some of the projects I’m involved with.  You will see, I use the term Kickoff meeting quite a bit, this is a term the EU likes to use to describe the first meeting in a project.  One of the projects I will describe is new and the duration of the projects is for three years, the other two, are half way through the cycle, so the other two are each in operation for one and a half years. The projects I have described alone with some others will form the basis for my research, which is centered on How to EU Erasmus + Capacity Building Projects in Higher Education impact on society and how can this be measured.

Dresden became a City in 1206 and celebrated its 800 birthday in 2006, it was almost fully destroyed during the second World War in 1945, 75 percent of the city was destroyed during allied air raids and over 30,000 people lost their lives.  Today the city is beautiful and restored to its former glory and host some fantastic Museums and Galleries, festivals and events, which attract millions of tourists each year. It a must see place if your visiting Germany.  

From there our journey took us to the adorable city of Petrozavodsk in Russia, the temperature when I arrived was between -25°C to -30°C, with a wind coming off Lake Onega that would shave you. The Lake was completely iced over and the walk along the promenade was not for the faint hearted unless you were well wrapped up, with the mandatory gloves, hat, coat and about four layers of clothing on under it.

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