San Marino 11. The tall centre of community of San Marino

So I’ve got to centre of this little nation. There is a few similarities to the other small countries I’ve been. Like Malta, this is a Catholic county, but also these posters are interesting, not just for events, some of these contain obituaries put up my families whose loved ones have passed. I’ve notice all of these are 90 or close to, and one over 100. there are also anniversaries of deaths of previous years. Nice these people have a long life and close knit way of updating the community.

This is a special sort of entrance, with some smart dressed (not visible here) policemen or security or soldiers, I’m not sure which.

San Marino’s tourist shops, cafes, bars and convenience stores for locals are all set on this steep roads that run parallel around the top part of the city centre.

An overhead view shows a better angle of this place.

1. Planning visit to my final tiny country – 2. Flying to Italy for the price of two pizzas – 3. Getting there from Bologna via Rimini – 4. City of Rimini – 5. Walking from Rimini to San Marino – 6. What sort of mini country is this – 7. Serraville, San Marino’s northern town – 8. San Marino’s only youth hotel – 9. Castles in the sky – 10. Safe up the top – 11. The tall centre of community of San Marino – 12. novelty shops, post office and passport stamps – 13. The government buildings and plaza – 14. Automobiles – 15. The three towers – 16. What I didn’t see & finishing up

San Marino 10. Safe up the top

I couldn’t find any crime statistics of this country, but I would bet this is a very safe place against crime and war. For a start, you are on a hill, its easy to spot any invaders from a long way.

A drive in bank! Never seen this before.

These small petrol stations don’t take up much space and have just two pumps. I saw some like this in Valleta Malta.

Police station. With some nice trees, and round the side is a tent for Covid testing.

Ok, so we are nearly at the top. You know what? this would be a super little place for a proper motorsport event, with all these twisty road and nice scenery. In fact, I wonder if there is a way of scraping Google Streetmap data so this could become scenery for a PC game maybe?

1. Planning visit to my final tiny country – 2. Flying to Italy for the price of two pizzas – 3. Getting there from Bologna via Rimini – 4. City of Rimini – 5. Walking from Rimini to San Marino – 6. What sort of mini country is this – 7. Serraville, San Marino’s northern town – 8. San Marino’s only youth hotel – 9. Castles in the sky – 10. Safe up the top – 11. The tall centre of community of San Marino – 12. novelty shops, post office and passport stamps – 13. The government buildings and plaza – 14. Automobiles – 15. The three towers – 16. What I didn’t see & finishing up

San Marino 9. Castles in the sky

As you go up and up this mountainous mini nation, you get glimpses of the castles at the top. In fact its a silhouetted in the clouds.

At the time of writing this, the UK is reaching the climax of the negotiating a deal with the EU and it all still go wrong. Meanwhile, Europe has some little nations which aren’t part of the blue and gold star bloc which seem quite happy without it.

So walking up here was tricky, as a lot of the time there is no pavement, you have to walk in the road, so had to regularly glance on my left. Traffic and tourism is pretty quiet, seeing as I visited between two lockdowns.

There are very few buses, and I didn’t see a single taxi. There is no train, oh wait – there was one once, but it was bombed by the British – by accident, during the WWII when they want to destroy a military target in Nazi occupied Italy. Sadly some people died.

This main highway goes right up to the centre capital of the country at the top.

Sunlight peeps over the rock at the top

Rays of sunshine over the rock

1. Planning visit to my final tiny country – 2. Flying to Italy for the price of two pizzas – 3. Getting there from Bologna via Rimini – 4. City of Rimini – 5. Walking from Rimini to San Marino – 6. What sort of mini country is this – 7. Serraville, San Marino’s northern town – 8. San Marino’s only youth hotel – 9. Castles in the sky – 10. Safe up the top – 11. The tall centre of community of San Marino – 12. novelty shops, post office and passport stamps – 13. The government buildings and plaza – 14. Automobiles – 15. The three towers – 16. What I didn’t see & finishing up

Should we be worried about young people attending churches with smoke machines?

I like seeing live music. Christian praise and worship that’s modern, and traditional stuff. And also secular bands. Rock, pop, classical, funk jazz, reggae, I try to lean towards really most things that are positive and upbeat.

A picture or meme was often being shown on Facebook, of Christians worried about churches about putting too much emphasis on as an entertainment show. I thought I would explain what I think of this.

Quite a few churches actually use a rented building used for another purpose. The big famous Australian church group Hillsong do this. Why? often there is a big decision whether to finance your own buildings, office space, audio/visual gear, seating, catering and other requirements. Or, just rent someone else’s, which often could have useful kit for a band or speaking event.

In this case for Hillsong, it works better to use a theatre, be within where young people spend time in central London. This seems a good step.

Hillsong does use some fancy lighting and big screen there. But, I haven’t seen any smoke machines the time I went. For the most part, I think this is probably just myth.

Lots of folks on the internet bash Hillsong, and I’ve seen some great things, and some not so good, along with other churches, because they are run by humans. I think do some overwhelmingly great things for the gospel like my experiences I wrote here, and have helped young people really grow ready for the Kingdom.

I wonder if those who are critics are taking the time to speak into the unbelieving world.

What I learned and love about the Israeli Messianic community – 4. Languages

Israel’s Messianic Jews meet together in Kehilas in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Tiberias, Beer Sheva and other parts of the country, this community is can be very different, in terms of some who grew in an environment closer to Christianity and some closer to Judaism. Some from a no faith system at all.

My main congregation was King of Kings in Jerusalem, which the Sunday 6pm service was in English, and they had a Friday service in Hebrew. Still – on Sunday, we sang praise and worship songs often in Hebrew, with both true Hebrew, transliterated Hebrew and English on the projector screen. If I went to Jerusalem Assembly at the other side of the city, there was a pastor preaching in Hebrew and someone else translating into English. At one point there was FIVE languages there, as you could borrow a radio headset and listen to the teaching in Spanish or Russian or others. This meant someone else sat down was translating, and you needed to turn the channel on the radio to the one you wanted.

If I went to at least three others, I think like Shemen Sasson, all English speakers were given a headset when you head into the door.

Main street in Tiberias

A congregation in Tiberias (that’s Israel’s largest city in the Galilee) had a community of mostly Russian people so the words to the songs were in English, Hebrew and Russian. It was there I noticed that the Russian symbols for ‘Sh’ sound looks like the Hebrew Shin ‘ש‘ which I find intriguing.

Somewhere in Beer Sheva (a city I’ve not properly visited yet) was a congregation for Spanish speakers. This was a long drive but worth it for Spanish Christian volunteers who headed there every weekend. Only a few congregations are Hebrew only, such as Tiferet Yeshua in Tel Aviv.

I like all the congregations I’ve been to as they are also centred on Yeshua (Jesus) and involve all Jewish holidays, some are more stronger Jewish familiarity than others.

The Arab congregation I went to in Nazareth was quite similar, with Arabic for the locals, but English speakers were welcomed with the same radio units.

1. Buildings 2. Christian or Jewish? – 3. Meeting place names4. Languages – more soon…..

San Marino 8. San Marino’s only youth hotel

This is the youth hostel I stayed in San Marino. Its the one in the country, which is why its known as just Hostel San Marino. It also only had two other people staying there, as we are just after a first worldwide lockdown. The front is a restaurant which was not running. This is a pretty good place, clean and had a good kitchen you can use.

Strangely, there was a circus tent with some faint music playing. No signs or anything to show what it was used for.

This is about half way up Mount Titano, with you needing to go quite a bit further to get to the old city.

Going down the road a bit, looking to the right I can see the hostel, and ahead is back down the hill to Italy, a bit Catholic Cathedral, and the old city and castle looming in the distance.

1. Planning visit to my final tiny country – 2. Flying to Italy for the price of two pizzas – 3. Getting there from Bologna via Rimini – 4. City of Rimini – 5. Walking from Rimini to San Marino – 6. What sort of mini country is this – 7. Serraville, San Marino’s northern town – 8. San Marino’s only youth hotel – 9. Castles in the sky – 10. Safe up the top – 11. The tall centre of community of San Marino – 12. novelty shops, post office and passport stamps – 13. The government buildings and plaza – 14. Automobiles – 15. The three towers – 16. What I didn’t see & finishing up

San Marino 7. Serraville, San Marino’s northern town

These nice apartment blocks look similar to the one in Monaco. The streets twist around in sharp bends on the steep hills, so the top floor can be level with the street at the back. I like big balconies, as I once lived in a place like this where I could host some parties.

This is a catholic country, and this Catholic church looks quite different from others I have seen looking quite plain apart from the cartoon Jesus on the front. Monaco, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta and Andorra are also almost all Catholic.

There are a lot of shops selling firearms. This place in Serraville sells stuff for airsoft, but San Marino also has regular guns, archery, knives, paintball and even a blow dart. Think our American friends would find this interesting.

I can’t think of where you can practice shooting, with the exception there is a place to do crossbow at the top of old city.

This isn’t anywhere near automobile obsessed as Monaco. But there are a few car showrooms with prestige vehicles on offer. supercar.sm was one of them I went past, a fairly small building compared to car dealerships I’ve seen in Britain.

There are a few empty houses that look to be a project for someone, so there is room for new people to move here.

I took a 45 minute break in this coffee shop. Got chatting to the workers there, which they are from Italy. I didn’t get to find out what proportion of people in SM actually live in regular part of Italy. This could be interesting seeing as Liechtenstein actually has negative unemployment as people commute into the country.

1. Planning visit to my final tiny country – 2. Flying to Italy for the price of two pizzas – 3. Getting there from Bologna via Rimini – 4. City of Rimini – 5. Walking from Rimini to San Marino – 6. What sort of mini country is this – 7. Serraville, San Marino’s northern town – 8. San Marino’s only youth hotel – 9. Castles in the sky – 10. Safe up the top – 11. The tall centre of community of San Marino – 12. novelty shops, post office and passport stamps – 13. The government buildings and plaza – 14. Automobiles – 15. The three towers – 16. What I didn’t see & finishing up

San Marino 6. What sort of mini country is this

So the ‘proper’ border between San Marino and Italy is where I have marked on the left in Dogano; I didn’t see this until I was on the bus leaving much later. I actually entered the country on the right, hence I initially just car garages and factories.

A big bridge with a funny tower on the left. These little eccentric details is why I keep coming to Europe’s lesser known nations.

Things I learnt about San Marino:-

  • It is named after a Christian stonemason called Marinus, who escaped persecution and it’s the world’s oldest Republic, since 301AD in fact.
  • Its the 5th smallest country in the world, and enclaved inside Italy. There are only 3 countries in the world like this, The Vatican (which of course is also inside Italy) and Lesotho which is inside South Africa.
  • It uses a +378 telephone where as Italy is +39, although you can call internally from Italy without a country code. It has its own mobile provider, but this didn’t show up on my UK Vodafone Android phone. Instead despite being very high up on a hill, phone signal for Vodafone Italy was very patchy which was strange.
  • Internet domain is .sm and oval country stickers show (RSM) – Republic San Marino; the formal name of the country is The most serine Republic of San Marino.
  • It’s in Europe but not in the EU, and uses the Euro currency
  • It’s a tax haven (not so much of a surprise), but there isn’t so much cigarettes and booze shops, but there are more cars (with San Marino plates) than people. So it would appear Italians buy a car here for a discount, who don’t actually live in SM.
  • The country is on top of Mount Titano. At the top you can see for miles, to to the sea or possibly across the Adriatic Sea to Croatia.
  • Of course, people here speak Italian. Locals are known as Sammarinese, not Italian.
  • San Marino is a mostly Catholic country. They hid Italian Jewish people, whilst Italy was occupied by the Nazis.
  • The capital of San Marino is San Marino (at the highest point of the country) This reminds me of the fact that Tunis is the capital of Tunisia, where I went in 2019, when you write the capital and the nation in Arabic, they both look the same.
  • This country has about 33,000, so smaller than Liechtenstein and Monaco.

What it isn’t.

  • A race track. A F1 race circuit with the name San Marino is actually in the town of Imola, near the Apennine mountains in Italy, now defunct, as no races have been there since 2006. This was the place both Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna died within a week of each other in 1994.
  • I thought the name sounds like Sans Marina (without sea, in Latin?) as its 13km from the coast and landlocked.
  • There is no king or monarchy.

This is my final small country in Europe I think. Why am seeing these? I also wanted to see which countries are not reliant on the European Union. (oo.. touchy subject) I like the feel of a small tight community country.
1. Planning visit to my final tiny country – 2. Flying to Italy for the price of two pizzas – 3. Getting there from Bologna via Rimini – 4. City of Rimini – 5. Walking from Rimini to San Marino – 6. What sort of mini country is this – 7. Serraville, San Marino’s northern town – 8. San Marino’s only youth hotel – 9. Castles in the sky – 10. Safe up the top – 11. The tall centre of community of San Marino – 12. novelty shops, post office and passport stamps – 13. The government buildings and plaza – 14. Automobiles – 15. The three towers – 16. What I didn’t see & finishing up

Tales of Holy Land: The child’s buggy and my strange dream

For a while now I often start to get strange dreams, and some of them often tended to have some genuine significance. So in 2011 while I was living in Israel I decided to start writing them down, to then see later if any of these has any useful value.

Back in 2011 I got a dream about seeing a child’s pushchair (stroller to my American friends) going down a hill. I am not sure why. This is a Google maps glimpse of the street I used to live on in Jerusalem Israel.

As I’m a evangelical Christian who believes in gifts of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 14:1 ) To be honest, back then I didn’t really ask for any special ability. Living in this part of the world had some unusual challenges, and I’m just going to try and share something I experienced back then.

One day, around February 2013, I was going up this exact street where I lived to work, or it might of been a weekend – straight ahead on the right was a woman with the boot (trunk) of a SUV. She was packing some stuff away. She also didn’t put the brake on the child’s pushchair.

I’m walking my bike up this hill – actually I don’t remember if this was a week day or a weekend. I don’t think it was on any of the Jewish holidays. I come face to face with an infant on a pushchair coming down the road at me.

I managed to throw my bike onto the ground and grab the pushchair and stop it without the child being thrown forward.

I saw the woman with the car, silently mouth ‘oh my God’ as I held the pushchair and just quietly told her she should be more careful. I wonder why I had a dream of something that could of nearly been a tragedy.

A few other odd things have happened since that I’ll share another time.

(Note: made slight edit, as I got the years wrong)

San Marino 5. Walking from Rimini to San Marino

I set off in the morning, and ended up walking one of these white roads across to this tiny country.

The road went over a motorway and a river, which looked very dried up (this was October 2020)
Off this small country road was this place, I need to show my parents this place, this was the best garden centre ever, lots of cacti and fruit trees, mostly taller than me.
I’m intrigued to know about this tiny church. A place for farm workers to worship during their breaks?
Vines have produced a decent crop.

Finally, after 13kms of walking, this sign was where I got to San Marino. The actual formal border is on a different road, the main dual carriage way. Instead I realised I got there with a turning off that main road, via this VW dealership and a collection of factories.

A lady in a VW Golf suddenly stopped her car and gestured to me, and told me, I wasn’t supposed to take a picture of the signs, as this was illegal and said I should delete the pic. She had some t-shirt with a weird homemade logo on it. I am not sure if I stumbled on an obscure tiny fascist country, or this woman was the local nutter.

1. Planning visit to my final tiny country – 2. Flying to Italy for the price of two pizzas – 3. Getting there from Bologna via Rimini – 4. City of Rimini – 5. Walking from Rimini to San Marino – 6. What sort of mini country is this – 7. Serraville, San Marino’s northern town – 8. San Marino’s only youth hotel – 9. Castles in the sky – 10. Safe up the top – 11. The tall centre of community of San Marino – 12. novelty shops, post office and passport stamps – 13. The government buildings and plaza – 14. Automobiles – 15. The three towers – 16. What I didn’t see & finishing up