Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pictures of a Journey

By now I’ve more or less successfully reintegrated into my life here in Vienna. Arriving from two weeks of Sun and warmth to a gray wet morning in Austria wasn’t an easy challenge to my acquired tranquillity, but it survived. And some days later, to everyone’s surprise, the weather (having been abysmal over the time of my absence, as I’ve been told) started a sudden dash for summer. Finally.

Those two weeks of being with lovely people, as well as being able to enjoy my own silence and solitude were (as we say in German) “balm for my soul”. Though the wind was sadly often much too sleepy, we’ve been quite lucky with the weather. Only one day of rain (and hail) forced us to stay inside the boat and harbour, otherwise the sun shone down on us out of mostly clear blue skies.

click on the images for their bigger versions or have a look at the album itself: here

As we made our way round the island of Corsica, we were rich in time to gaze, even idly, at the slowly changing scenery of this fascinatingly beautiful little land. Over the clear blue and turquoise waters, lined with cliffs and sandy beaches, rise lush green hills and slopes leading up as far as snow-clad peaks amidst the clouds. Patches of glacier ice glittering in the sunlight.

Napoleon supposedly said (in his earlier, more Corsica-romantic days) he could recognise his island by its scent. Crossing over from northern Sardinia, where our trip began, it was indeed the scent that greeted us first. While the island’s shoreline slowly unravelled itself from the haze of distance, we drew in this fascinating spicy perfume, a blend of plants and herbs, trees burnt wood. As always in the countries of the Mediterranean, I feel the earth itself, filled with sun and lush memories, wears this special perfume.

click on the images for their bigger versions or have a look at the album itself: here

On the water during the day, we spent our evenings in a stream of small picturesque villages, hardly being more than one line of houses embracing a small harbour, and bigger, proper pirate bastions with winding alleys and little piazzas. All that with the soundtrack of everybody speaking French and Corsu (the Italian-rooted own language of Corsica).

Later, after reaching the island’s southern tip again, I off to cross Corsica once more on my own and not returning to northern Sardinia with the others to take the ferry to Italy from there, as I had done when I arrived two weeks before. I left by bus and soon, in another town, switched to Corsica’s little train, the u trinighellu (“the rattling one”). Leaving a seaside town with palm trees and sandy beaches, an hour later one finds himself climbing over endless viaducts high up into the mountains, feeling soon rather like in the Alps than on a Mediterranean island. Along with the change of altitude, the vegetation and its smell changes, too, firs and mountain-forest low vegetation passing by outside the train’s window.

click on the images for their bigger versions or have a look at the album itself: here

Sadly, the little rattler was almost entirely filled with noise Germans, which lessened the atmosphere a little, for me. To my great delight, everybody took me for a French person (including the Frenchman next to me) and I happily played along to keep up my disguise. After passing the island’s capital Corte high up in the mountains, the train empties of tourists and begins its slow descent through the mountains and returning to the sea, now almost at the island’s other end.

Back on mainland Italy, I spent one night in Florence, having two days to explore the city (which I knew so well lately from its early renaissance virtual incarnation). Rather than visit all the museums and risk the famous Stendhal-syndrome, I soaked up the city’s feel by getting to know it with my feet. Naturally, I also did see David (giving me an incredible rush of goose bumps at first sight) and a few other things. Finally, I was glad to board my night train back to Vienna on Sunday evening, after a journey full of big and small marvels alongside an equally revealing journey through my tumultuous inner self. Luckily, I emerged with a happiness and tranquillity I hardly dared to hope fore.

click on the images for their bigger versions or have a look at the album itself: here

And as the one adventure ended, another one was just beginning.

lîlam nyinnyan sîmâ nganamainnâ jâshainâtur rerat. sîmâno avenahanan shaitel irat yul aith khidronarông. ta ha nâfrîshâme dingne cägthanno lhät. bât nyinnyamainam shairôlâsham.


saturninus said...

damn you got manly! :)
thanks for the eloquent report of the journey.
and please send me the translation of the last sablung paragraph...

zs. said...

Sounds really-really lovely. Even reading your post was a mini holiday.