The art of walking, and the people you meet along the way…

 

‘Dawn over Kalaji Bridge’ © Jason Florio – from ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African Odyssey‘
‘Dawn over Kalaji Bridge’ – Helen Jones-Florio and the team © Jason Florio – from ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African Odyssey

 

Wherever we are in the world, we walk, a lot, Florio and myself. As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the only ways to truly discover a place – and the people who live there. One time, in 2009, we decided to walk around the small West African country of The Gambia. A mere 930km, with three Gambian friends, two donkeys (‘Neil’ & ‘Paddy’.), and a cart to carry our camping and photography equipment. As one does.

Along the way, we met many people and photographed quite a few of them. Amongst them, around 43 village chiefs and elders, the photos of which are now award-winning portraits, ‘Silafando – a gift to you on behalf of my journey

‘Silafando’ The Gambia  © Jason Florio

 

Another time, we took it upon ourselves to take a stroll along the coastline of The Gambia – a much shorter walk of around 80km. Again, we met and made friends with many people along the way.

Our constant companions, during our walk around Jinack Island, Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio
Our constant companions, during our walk around Jinack Island, Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Making friends, Jinack Island, the Gambia © Jason Florio
Making friends, Jinack Island, the Gambia © Jason Florio

 

Historian and local fisherman, Modou Sonko, Jinack Island, Gambia-image © Jason Florio
Historian and local fisherman, Modou Sonko, Jinack Island, Gambia-image © Jason Florio

 

And, our walks in certain places always seem to attract a good deal of attention

'Any chance of a bit of privacy?' Camping in a the village chiefs compound comes at a price ©Jason Florio
‘Any chance of a bit of privacy around here?’ Camping in the village chiefs compound comes at a price ©Jason Florio
Image: ©Jason Florio-2009 Gambian boy on his horse & farmer, on his bicycle, near the town of Basse, The Gambia, West Africa
Gambian boy on his horse & farmer, on his bicycle, near the town of Basse, The Gambia, West Africa Image: ©Jason Florio-2009
For some reason, we seem to attract dogs, wherever we go! Jason Florio and ‘Seven’ (from Footsteps Eco Lodge) talking to the cockle collectors, Gambia – image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Of late, we’ve taken to meandering – going off-piste whenever possible – discovering the clifftops, valleys, and crevices of Malta.

Graffiti - President Trump and broken wall, Malta ©Jason Florio
Graffiti – President Trump, Malta ©Jason Florio

 

And, just when you think that you’ve seen all it has to offer, the small island in the middle of the Mediterranean (sandwiched somewhere between Sicily and the North African coast) never fails to reveal something more of itself.

Scenes from Malta - photography by Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio
Scenes from Malta – photography by Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio/Instagram

 

Victoria Lines, with Jason Florio
Walking the Victoria Lines, with Jason Florio – image © Helen Jones-Florio

Are we in Texas?!

Are we in Texas? Wind turbine, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
Are we in Texas? Wind turbine, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Valletta, through a window © Jason Florio, Malta
Valletta, through a window © Jason Florio, Malta
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These boots, and Birkenstocks, are made for walking
These boots, and Birkenstocks, are made for walking
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Walking the Coastline of The Gambia, West Africa

Walking the coastline of beautiful Gambia, West Africa. Congratulations on the beginning of a new era, Gambia! We look forward to being back there – images ©Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

PHOTOS TELL STORIES

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 8.49.57 PM HJF, The Gambia coastline – image © Jason Florio

Jason and I have just completed our Gambia coastline walk and what a truly lovely experience it was; albeit mighty humid – an average of 90% humidity every day. ‘Mad dogs and English (wo)men…’ kept springing to mind. Even now, as I sit here typing in the relative coolness of our house, my fingers feel as if they sticking to the keyboard.

The story was assigned by an airline in-flight magazine. So,  unfortunately,  until they publish it we can’t really say too much about the walk. However, we can share a few images from along the way – most of Jason’s, so we’ll have to hold back on until the photo editor decides what they want to use (updated: January 2015- see Brussels Airlines B.Spirit Magazine feature about our walk).

We’ll be posting more images over the…

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Walking the Victoria Lines, ‘The Great Wall of Malta’

Walking along the Victoria Lines, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
Walking along the Victoria Lines, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

‘Originally known as the North West Front and sometimes unofficially known as the Great Wall of Malta…a complex network of linear fortifications known collectively as the Victoria Lines

What a revelation… to find so much nature, and tranquility, particularly after having read recently the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta equated with the word: ‘cementation’‘. And, in some areas, justifiably so. Where we live, for example, we are surrounded by deconstruction, reconstruction, new construction, behemoth cranes, and all the constant racket (and dust!) one can expect from the aforementioned.

From our starting point in a small village near to Mgarr,on the west coast of Malta, we walked along the Victoria Lines, across the country – with views (largely) unimpeded by towering metal structures – clambering up and down steep man-made steps, down into rocky ravines, clambering over lush countryside (yet another, much welcomed, revelation), with ‘distant sea views’ (much used by island estate agents), all the way to Medlienna on the east coast. Although officially 12km distance, we managed to cover a total of 22km, mainly due to the Victoria Lines wall no longer being there, in places, causing us to go (albeit pleasantly) off-piste a couple of times!

 

Off-piste! Where has the Victoria Lines gone to?! © Helen Jones-Florio
Off-piste! ‘Where have the Victoria Lines gone to now?!’ © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Walking the Victoria Lines, Malta
Back on track – the Victoria Lines, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Signpost - Victoria Lines, Malta
One of the very few signposts along the Victoria Lines, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Guard dogs - with wagging tails! © Helen Jones-Florio
Guard dogs – with wagging tails! © Helen Jones-Florio

 

And very friendly donkeys!
And very friendly donkeys! © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Victoria Lines, with Jason Florio
Walking the Victoria Lines, with Jason Florio © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Well recommended. So, get your walking boots on!

Helen Jones-Florio

Almost done! Walking the Victoria Line
A fine vista and almost done! L-R: Davide, Andrej, yours truly, Zane,RYP© Jason Florio

 

Reference: Walking in Malta by Paddy Dillon  & Map Guide

GPS Map - Victoria Lines, Malta
Thanks to Mr Florio for keeping track – GPS Map – Victoria Lines, Malta