Thoughts and tales about travelling
Thoughts and tales about travelling
I always thought that the best test to see how much a place, a person or an experience has affected me is to let time go by. I get excited quite easily but more often than not it’s just a flash in the pan, then it’s over. If after a few weeks or months the memories (either good or bad) are still vivid, my mind keeps on going there at the most random moments, then I know that that experience really did something for me.
Well, looks like ARoS Museum in Aarhus, Denmark, is one of those places destined to stay close to my heart for a long long while. I’ll be honest, Aarhus is not my city. I mean, it’s a nice, lively and interesting place, I enjoyed my short time there and even tasted a wonderful ice cream, but I couldn’t feel the spark, so to speak. Nevertheless, I totally, absolutely, greatly enjoyed the Museum of Modern Art, a place that in my almost total ignorance of that particular city, I didn’t think I’d find there. Luckly my friends in Aalborg pointed me in the right direction.
Mind you, it’s sort of pricey (like many other european museums), but it’s also huge, so you’ll find it’s worth the money. About that, keep in mind you’ll have to spend a few hours there, if you want to see it all, it’s totally worth the time too, just remember to plan your trip carefully if you don’t have much time.
Before anything else, you have to experience the Rainbow Panorama on the terrace of the 10th floor. It’s a 360° view on the city through colored glasses. Very fun and, I’d say, cinematographic. I have seen it on a cloudy day, I can only imagine how amazing it has to be when it’s sunny. Anyway, forget any maturity you may posses and abuse your selfie stick, you’ll hardly be the only one. Another very enjoyable experience is right on the ground floor, where you’ll find a permanent collection of sound, lights and installations. Many of them are interactive, others are just stunning. Again, you may want to spend an inordinate amount of time down there.
On the 6th floor you’ll find the awesome, albeit sort of intimidating, work of Ron Mueck. If I remember correctly it’s not permanent, so hurry up if you’re interested. I think it’ll stay untill the end of 2020. And if you are a 20th century history freak like me, don’t miss Before the Fall of the Wall, another non-permanent installation whose title is kind of self explenatory.
There are so many other things worth mentioning, but really, it’s hard to describe the whole museum into details. There’s so much to see, experience and enjoy. And to buy too, the bookshop is a never ending temptation, as it should be!
My next weekend trip just got deleted and this is very disappointing. On the other hand Dumb Little Man just published my article. I love the Universe more when it’s all balacend like this!
And that something is color. The beauty of summer sunset can be simply moving, and the sparkling white of the snow is incredibly pretty. Let alone the joy that only spring flowers can bring. Yet, the warm color of the autumnal nature is the best thing in the world, for me. It makes me dream of long nights spent reading in front of the fireplace, or collecting mushrooms with granpa.
I live in a flat in the middle of the big city so I don’t own a fireplace, and I doubt I’d survive mushrooms collected by myself, but I’m a walker. I run from the city whenever possible and my natural habitat of choice is the forest. There’s nothing better than an easy, relaxing trekking among tall trees, when the sun is in the sky and the air is crisp but not cold yet. Fall is perfect for this, so I organized a trip a couple of weeks ago. I was with some friends and a kid, so we choose a level path called La Camosciara. It’s part of the Abruzzo, Campania and Molise National Park, in the south of Italy. It’s really suitable for everyone, this means that you don’t really have the feeling of being completely surrounded by nature because for the most part you walk on the asphalt, but I still strongly recommend it.
A small river runs close by the main road, the water is liquid crystal and all around there are all kind of threes and plants. The river bank is the perfect place to have a small pic-nic and rest for a while, if you feel hungry. You sit on a soft blanket of leaves, and the smell of wet soil is incredibly good, feels like something pure and clean. It’s somehow revitalizing. There are tiny fish swimming in the water, it’s fun to try and feed them with crumbles, even if they seem to like insects better. Back on the path the trees make just the right amount of shade so that you can even choose if walking under the sun or not. In October the foliage is a glorious red and orange and gold, and all the shades in between. A truly stunning view. There’re actually mushrooms, a lot of mushrooms, some of them so small and perfectly shaped they looked like they came from a fairy tale. There are supposed to be chamois, in the area, and boars, wolves and all sorts of wild life as well, including the Marsicano bear, the symbol of the park and its mascotte. We weren’t so lucky to meet any animal, tho, I guess they prefer not to interact with humans too much, and I can’t even blame them. Birds are less problematic in this respect, so small hawks were easy to spot, and this is always a huge emotion for me.
The last part of the walking path is a short and undemanding climb that crosses the woods (no asphalt here, yay!) and leads to a couple of waterfalls. The first one is thin and you can’t really reach the water. The second one is bigger, the water runs on huge, white rocks that looks like giant eggs. There is a short dry stone wall easy to climb, if one feels like it, but the wet rocks are really slippery, and they form a very steep climb.
I’m quite sure there are other paths close by, leading up to the mountains that surround the area, but this time I didn’t get to explore them. I guess I’m not adventurous enough to go around with the wrong shoes and without a map. On the other hand there’s a tiny restaurant/bar, not far from the waterfalls, with a huge stove inside that takes almost half of the room. The warmth is a nice feeling after walking in the woods all day, the muscles seem to relax all at once. The owner of the place is a lovely lady who also sells postcards, a true rarity these days. She has some souvenirs, too. Some of them are kitch enough to be funny, and thus worth the money! It’s the right place if one wants to enjoy some hot, sweet tea, always a good way to end a fall afternoon.
So what’s the point of all of this, besides the obvious will to share a lovely experience? Well, the point is to share also a bit of love for the most underrated season. Come on, people, autumn is pretty and deserves better!
I woke up on a sunny morning of one of my free days with a nasty pain in my back and an annoying foot injury that I had gotten myself a couple of days before, but I had planned for a long time to dedicate that day to Blokhus, a small town on the west coast of Jutland and I didn’t want to give up the trip. It was also one of my unlucky days, one of those where I couldn’t find any kind soul that could give me a ride, so I took the bus. Not that it’s a problem, the connections up there are pretty good.
I literally dragged myself all day, with the frustration of being able to move at half the speed I usually move, which in any case is not that much, but in the end, as always, it was much better to go than to not go.
First things first, Blokhus has a fabulous beach, but unfortunately for a southern girl the Danish sea is too cold, so no bath for me and not even a bit of tan, mainly because the morning was cloudy, but also because I had three layers of clothes on me an the idea of being half naked in the wind didn’t seem very appealing. The city center is not that impressive, I have to say. Just bar, restaurants, tons of souvenir shops and If you know where to look a couple of very nice craft shops. The fun part is right out of the town, some 3 or 4 kilometers, I guess.
The small Museum for Papirkunst is indeed tiny but it’s one of the loveliest places I’ve ever been. It’s like entering into a fairytale, a world made by hand carved paper artwork and lights arranged so as to create wonderful plays of shadows. The atmosphere is that of a relaxing dream, a really nice place to simply be and to let your imagination fly. It’s funny that just a few minutes away you can enter a totally different world, the Skulpturparken, an oper-air museum all dedicated to sand, wood and concrete sculptures. It gives a bit of a beach party vibration despite not being on the beach. The difference is that you are surrounded by eccentric, original and fun sculptures instead of half drunken people dancing like mad. It feel like a fairytale too, but more metal so to speak. Maybe it’s also just a little bit kitch, but that’s definitely part of the fun. And if you stop to truly ponder on what you’re looking at, you’ll see that each sculpture requires a great amount of skills to be realized, so respect for the artists, really. If you happen to be a nerd like me you’ll also find plenty of references to books and movies. I’m still asking myself if that was made on purpose or if I was just seeing what I wanted to see.
Anyway the point is, if in Jutland, go to Blokhus!
I want to apologize! I had so many projects for the first summer of this blog, but then everything went south, technologically speaking and then boom, suddently it’s september yet again! Also I’ve been pretty busy with some artistic projects and 24 hours a day are never enough.
Anyway I have tons of pics, stories and experiences I want to share so I’ll be back very soon, I just need a bit of time to reorganize my thoughts and my daily routine because summer was as fun as it was hectic. I need an holiday!
Now, this may not be glamorous or romantic but honestly, this was for me a little revolution. I love traveling light, I learned the hard way many many years ago in Greece, but this is a story for another time. Anyway, sometimes if you have to travel long, or move around a lot so that laundry isn’t an easy option, or you are somewhere where the climate isn’t stable, to pack just two t-shirts and one extra pair of shoes simply isn’t possible. This is when those plastic bags come in handy. You put your stuff inside (store it all wisely so you can open just one bag at time, this is extra useful if your ho(s)tel room is tiny), pump out the extra air, and that’s basically it. You have now saved a whole lot of space and your luggage will also weight less, which can be important if you travel by plane, but also if you have to carry it around for a while.
I’m not here to advertise any brand or product in particular, you can buy bags of any form and dimension, but since you need to carry the pump with yourself for when you have to pack on your way back, it’d be better to choose a small, light one. Also, the bags are not eternal, so in my humble opinion it’s not wise to buy extra-expensive ones. Not that they are very expensive to begin with.
Looking for a flaw? Here we go. Depending on how long the bags remain closed, your clothes can come out quite wrinkled. The first time I used this trick was when I went to Japan, but since it was winter and I mostly packed sweaters the problem was almost non existent. This summer I’ll bring light clothes, cotton shirts and a bit of pile, so we’ll see what happens.
This is a time of change for me, both in a positive and in a negative sense. Mostly, fate decided for me so I, in turn, decided that if my life wasn’t going to be the same anymore anyway, I’d spice things up a little bit. Long story short, in July/August I’ll go work in Denmark and I couldn’t be more satisfied with myself for taking this decision. It’s just a few weeks, but I needed to leave home for a while and I needed it badly. Sometimes routine gets suffocating, so does family, as much as I love all the people in my life. Sometimes I need new things and new experiences, I hope this will give me fresh energies to face an autumn/winter that may be a little challenging.
By the way, I plan to fully document the expedition, I may even buy myself the infamous selfie stick!
The last time I went to Denmark I was in my early twenties and I only got to see Copenhagen and Helsingør. Now I’m super eager to see the coast, there are some wonderful beaches, and not only that. I think Copenhagen itself deserves one more visit, and so does Aarhus, albeit I mostly long for natural environments.
Rigth after I’ll also go to Germany to see a dear friend of mine in Berlin, then Muenchen and possibly Nuremberg too, if I still got the time. I’ll only travel by train so it’ll be an ecological trip, which only adds to the general excitement. I’ve got to be honest, though, I’m sort of claustrophobic and that’s what makes me avoid planes if possible, but now that Greta is on my side too, I won’t even have to deal with people looking skeptically at me.
Looks like it’ll be a very exciting summer, I can’t wait to leave!
Or three reasons why now it’s a really good moment to go and see the National Archeological Museum of Naples.
Today I really feel like talking about France and why you shouldn’t miss Camargue, the region between Arles and the Mediterranean sea. It may not be a mainstream international destination, as far as France is concerned, but it’s still very popular among the locals, so if you choose to go during the summer keep in mind that some places can be very crowded.
According to yours truly, the fact that the region isn’t extremely popular is a major plus, but if you need more reasons to visit it, here is my personal top 5.
1- Horses. Indeed. Sometimes advertising posters don’t lie. You can really drive along a paved road and see wonderful, white horses in the fields left and right. I knew that the area was actually famous for this, among other things, but I dind’t realize that I’d be able see so many of them just passing by. Just remember, don’t stare at the horses while driving! You’ll have plenty of chances to interact with them in one of the many riding schools all around the region.
2- Aigues Mortes. The dead waters. I know how this sounds, and we’re talking about a swamp, after all, but believe me, this is a truly amazing place! The city itself is small and pretty, but the real point is the salt pans that are just a few kilometers away, west of the National Park of Camargue. This place is definitely not your average swamp, it’s made of xpanses of sparkling white salt and high dunes that look like snowy hills. They dazzle the view in the sunlight and have something… otherwordly. All around there are large pools of water, pink due to a particular seaweed. The salt pans can be visited aboard a small train with a guide, or you can explore the area by car. If you choose the second option mind the calendar. In some periods of the year there are people at work, and some places are forbidden to tourists. Try the official site.
3- Birds. Let me be brutally honest, here. I never really cared much for ornithology, yet I enjoyed Camargue’s local fauna quite a lot. There are some large protected areas in the region, where numerous bird species live free. I was able to visit only one, La Palissade, a wonderful park where you can observe storks, herons, swans, flamingos and many other species that I can’t even name. Don’t worry though, the park is provided with plenty informative material so even the less experienced can enjoy the visit in full. There are two routes, a short one of a couple of hours, and a long one which takes almost five hour of trekking. The paths are easy, very well marked, but the summer sun is unforgiving and the only bar is at the beginning. Don’t do like me, then, and bring plenty of water! Keep in mind there are also many nutrias strolling around. They mind their own business but I must admit that I’m not a nutias enthusiast.
4- Sea. Forget the Côte d’Azur… well no, don’t. Just know that Camargue’s beaches really have nothing to envy of their much more famous “sisters”. Personally, I’m not too fond of luxury tourist destinations, that’s why I loved those wide expanses of soft sand, with no big resorts in sight, or other forms of entertainment, apart from simple bars or small restaurants. Here the sea is just as blue as the sky, and there’s a gust of wind that makes the climate almost perfect. Again, unfortunately, the road can get pretty crowded. Try to avoid the small towns like Saintes Maries. It’s actually a pretty place, but the traffic is crazy, better drive directly to the more isolated beaches.
5- Van Gogh. Right north of the National Park there is Arles, one of the few places in Europe that get the honor to be considered the city of Van Gogh. The most important thing to know is that the house where the artist lived is immediately outside the walls, not inside, and nowadays it’s a bit of a disappointment. I don’t know exactly what I expected to find, but that small building squeezed between two bigger ones made me a bit sad. It looks just like a trivial little concrete house with no particular charm. However, albeit one doesn’t usually visit Camargue for its towns, Arles is nice and lively, and worth a stop. The bar that inspired “Cafè de Nuite” is quite famous and distinctive. There’s also a pedestrian path, called of course the Van Gogh Path, along which you’ll come across other places where the artist left his mark.
I’m writing this because not so many days ago a friend of mine asked more or less this same question. And I won’t lie, I asked myself this too when I was planning my first trip to Moscow/S.Petersburg. Back then I knew almost nothing about Russia, apart from the things you can usually read in history books and that they have some amazing novelists. Anyway, what I found on the internet wasn’t always encouraging, especially if you are a woman. Most people were just as enthusiastic as I felt, but every now and then I came across people who suggested to only go with tour operators so that they’d take you to the main attractions and pick you up soon after (boooring!), even in the main cities. They also said to not wander the streets after the sunset (!), to not look at the policemen too much (!!) and stuff like that.
Now, since I’ve always been in love with Russian culture of course I decided to go and ignore all the scaremongering. Plus I’m from a city that sadly has a quite high crime rate so it’s not like I’m a naive woman who can’t tell a bad neighborhood apart from a good one and I’ve been to almost every big town of Europe so I know how it works.
Granted, the very first thing that happened right after getting on the train from S.Piet’s airport to the town’s center was that my friend got robbed! Anyway, at home I was robbed ten meters from my own house, I’ve witnessed bag-snatches in Lisbon, Paris (twice), Madrid. Bad things happen all over the world and big towns are almost never entirely safe.
Apart from that single episode on the metro my (our) perception of danger has been basically non-existent. Moscow and St. Petersburg are two incredibly beautiful cities, full of history and life and also quite tiring because of the long distances, so make sure you have very comfortable shoes. It is enough to use common sense and the normal precautions that would be used in any other huge city. I mean, I wouldn’t go and stare at policemen anywhere. Even traveling on the night train that connects the two cities, in second class, was fun and safe and as comfortable as it can be. Actually, the beds are even a little wider than those I found on other trains in the rest of Europe.
When I left Moscow it was dawn, the sky was pink and the city lights were still on. I swallowed my tears because I didn’t want to look like a fool in front of the taxi driver, but I miss Russia so much, and I’m planning to come back soon, probably for a trip a little more focused on natural landscapes.