Saint Malo.

Is it a consolation to feel there are so many places in this world where you could easily live, even though you know quite well you never will? The consolation in seeing the richness of this world, I guess, feeling like home is a moving concept, even for those of us who aren’t constantly moving. Why so many of those seem to be in France for me?

First, I fell in love with Paris, of course, then came its Mediterranean coast, but in the last three years I’ve discovered a whole new territory on the Atlantic. Normandy is my regular getaway, La Rochelle was a sweet haven, and now there is Bretagne. Maybe, it’s the magic of the tide that has something to do with it : so weird for an Adriatic girl like me to see an island in the morning and walk to it in the afternoon, the subtle danger it implies. Or the wind, stronger here, so much every thought flies right out of your head, and even reading seems impressively challenging. If the delicious galettes de blé noir and cider weren’t enough, perhaps I could be fed by those views, the long promenades and hidden beaches, the nature whose character is somewhat rebellious and wild here, in a heavier sense than in the South (it suits the drama queen part of me).

So, the old town itself was the last thing I did here, although I appreciated its streets immensely, because the surroundings were calling loudly. I’m not sure I broke my record of kilometres walked per day, but I think I came quite close the first day. Aren’t those the best – lovely little towns, beautiful in themselves, where there is an awesome walk waiting for you, no matter the direction you choose, or almost? That’s where I would want to live.

To another life, perhaps.

Advertisements

An evening walk in Paris is always a good idea.

For Friendly Friday Challenge, hosted by Snow.

”… and Paris is always right where you left it.” (E. Jong, Fear of Flying)

This is something I should remember, but keep forgetting. And when I do it, one late March late afternoon, motivating myself with a lack of English books on my shelf (I mean those I haven’t read yet), making a familiar circle around Saint Michel, Pont Neuf and Pont des Arts that never fails to take me back to home-like feelings I first experienced when this wasn’t even my home yet – gosh it seems weird it’s now been more than ten years ago – so, when I do it, I’m most gently reminded by these magnificent views in the most beautiful light (which is for my amateur phone camera very hard to translate into photos). And I honestly don’t care a single bit they are a Paris cliché and I end up looking like a tourist again, stopping and admiring them.

Thank you, Snow, for another challenge that allows me to share photos I would otherwise keep for myself … oh and my Instagram I guess 😀

 

A Dreamy Road Ahead

Ilha Deserta, Faro.

For Friendly Friday Challenge, hosted by Snow Melts Somewhere.

There are two kinds of dreamy in our lives, aren’t there? The one we can see in our everyday, simple, but meaningful scenes, like that pinkish sky sunset paints for us after a long day at work, almost making us feel grateful we had to stay there till so late, because otherwise we wouldn’t see this view. Beauty is always dreamy for me, even when it grounds me in the present.

And then, there is the other one, the one making us dream about the future, about the open road ahead we might walk someday, even if we already rambled on some of them, even if some of them are circles, bringing us back to where we started. There are still countless possibilities of what might happen in-between the taken steps.

And I need one just as much as the other.

 

 

Revisiting the views

Corsica.

For Friendly Friday Challenge, hosted by Something to Ponder About.

There was a truck driving by the exit door at work today with a huge CORSICA tag on it and yet again I fell back to reminiscing. Must be some kind of a torture device, this vehicle passing our Parisian winter frowns, reminding us of these magnificent open horizons on such a gray day as today. Nah, it’s actually quite pleasant to think some day soon maybe I might go back to this little paradise-like island and revisit its fresh air and pure sea and starry sky. Hell, it’s soothing to revisit all that just in mind, too. To look at some pictures and think about all the good stuff, existing in this world. Do you know I can’t help myself – thinking about food every time I think about this place… It’s an automatic reaction, an associative thought I can’t escape: ”And my oh my we ate so well there!” And that always brings a smile to my face, the grimaces I was making, digging into the refreshing desserts and pizzas with all of my favorite ingredients and grilled aubergine and … ah enough.

Deserted Island.

Ilha Deserta, Faro.

I’m not ashamed to admit there always comes a point in my travels when despite all the awesome people I might meet I need to get myself some alone time. I was lucky enough to spend one of those on my last day in Portugal in a nice little place that is appropriately enough called ”deserted” . As coincidentally it was the last day of my last year’s summer, some beach time was most welcome, too. And what a beach, nothing else but sand and sea and sun and wind, nothing more than my towel, hat, sunglasses, the last pages of a good book and the sound of waves. Exactly the kind of day you think about while looking at forecasts of snow, putting on your long coat and an additional sweater or two underneath… No, we need to see the beauty in all seasons, right! Still, thinking about this island now, I must say it (most joyfully) surprised me. Sitting on the ferry, departing from Faro, it could seem its name sounded a bit ironic now, all these tourists flooding it every day. But once I was there, letting myself go further and further away from the only restaurant on the island, the beaches didn’t seem to be that crowded at all (the season was slowing down at that point, true, plus I just came back from the ones in Lagos!). After a short walk on the hot sand I could easily find my own nice little spot, with a most amazingly magnificent view, nothing but the blue sky and the never-ending sea before me. I somehow managed to bring myself to tear my ass away from it to take the path all around the island’s flora, and again the impression of being alone in the midst of beautiful nature won me over. Sometimes, the top-things-to-do-lists are there for a reason and we might just be lucky enough to have the perfect timing.

Getting goodbye to Algarve in style, indeed. Quite in love, too…

 

 

 

 

Lagos.

Sometimes, the town you’re in loses all importance and allure the very first night, and that is a good thing. It takes care of the necessary bed in an awesome hostel, watery morning coffee, food in one of those too many restaurants of the crowded touristy streets, late night sangria and a shower, and lets the essence of your stay to its surroundings. Oh the beaches around Lagos, the path along the cliffs enchanted me quite enough for a couple of days, making me feel lazy about any trips to the nearby towns for the famous caves… No, didn’t make it.

I let myself be charmed by the little nude beaches where you have to climb slippery slopes of sand to get to their rocky embrace, by the never-ending waves inviting you to use your own body as a surf and just let yourself play with them or them with you, by the free feet massage every time you decide to take a walk you somehow end with a bottle of (cheap!) white wine, sharing it with straws because glasses were redundant.

The little things that create the ultimate bubble of ease I just didn’t want to burst until reality inevitably had to kick in and I was left with the pictures of the solitary sunset that greeted my arrival and the sun-lit clouds at the lighthouse that closed up my stay, the animated conversations, juggling between English and French, and the improvised dinners and the very much approved combination of red wine and chocolate, and the laughs, the long, uncontrolled, loud laughs on the hostel rooftop.

I’ll come back every time you’ll have me.

Sagres.

I might as well start at the end. Quite close to it, at least. This is the nearest I’ve come to the end of the world (ok, our old continent), even made a walk, a little tour around its edges, but left the peak of it for next time. And it’s not even scary. Nope. Mighty it is, though, awe-inspiring and beautifully so. I think we’re going to be alright. Still, I did have the feeling there was nothing else to do than just observe and let it be, leaving any survival-mode items I might have in my backpack in there, only letting myself to snap a few photos, then absorbing what we’ve all come to realize is my favourite setting. Cliffs, edges, these boundaries I might any second now slip through.

There is something so poetic about it and while I was sitting on the rocks with the most magnificent view, dewy-eyed in the setting of inspirational music of the waves, crushing in, and the wind, whooshing by, I kept thinking about this song with its name as the title. When I listened to it back at the hostel it just seemed so appropriate for an almost-the-last day in a region, in a country that yet again got my heart. (Portugal, why it’s always you catching me in crucial moments of my life? I’m gonna stop believing it’s a coincidence…)

little screams into the wonder
and a wild set of rides… *

You bet it was.

 

* Tallest Man On Earth, Sagres (from the album : Dark Bird Is Home, 2015)

Bonifacio.

Corsica, the beloved.

Besides the occasional (delicious!) dinner and ice-cream at Porto Vecchio, this was the only Corsican town I can honestly say I visited. I mean, storm-drenched Zonza only half-counts, it seemed to rush us out with all the hard rain and made for the first picnic in the car (the view wasn’t bad at all, though). But, Bonifacio, oh Bonifacio, graced us with the loveliest of days. We decided to take the road because the weather was supposed to be not-beach-appropriate that day, yet the winds of the sea cleared the skies enough even before we got there. As they so often do, here, capriciously and good-heartedly. I preciously guarded the parking spot at the top when we finally found it, since we hadn’t follow everyone stopping at the marina and climbing up from there. We had soon understood why we should have, waiting too long and not being able to turn back, yet only regretted it for the first couple of minutes, our own parking being so close to town. Instead of smart, we got lucky.

And off we went (after a couple of laughs with the fellow French strangers that made me wonder again why we foreigners find them so cold and distant sometimes, while in fact they are the most charming people), starting our trip at the fortress and slowly, one view at the time, making our way inwards. What is so amazing about visiting a place like this, is that the streets themselves are nice and worth the walk, and sitting in cafés and taking the narrow alleys, and getting to the end of them to see the perfectly extending sea, still what’s the best of it all is just outside of its walls. Or under them. Taking the notorious hundred steps to be under the cliffs was literally breathtaking and legs-aching on the way back up, but young and in shape as we are we soon took another long path along the coast, breathing in the friendly sea and the fierce wind, exchanging silent ohs and ahs. Because every time we turned around, the view was just getting more and more fabulous. So, we continued, pretty much until it was time to head back to our temporary home, chatting joyfully, now.

Three days in our vacation and it was already our favourite day.

La Corse.

Maybe, the reason why I needed so much time to sit down and write a post about Corsica, besides basic procrastination, is a certain kind of feeling I admit I don’t get often. If I did, I surely wouldn’t start a blog. A feeling of wanting to keep a place to myself. Sounds ridiculous for a place, crowded with tourists in summer months, but I wanted to keep it as my little secret, my little haven. The weary unreasonable ways of our brain. Truth is I visited it at the best possible moment, probably, not yet high season, without unbearable heat and sea of people, certain stretches of beaches with only you gracing them with your presence, but already warm and sunny weather, appropriate for a swim, everything green as can be, enough shops and restaurants open to keep you yumming.

All French must feel that way, though. It’s the place everyone dreams about, and it certainly doesn’t need extra advertising. With its position of being disconnected from the continent, yet still not far, it understands well its benefits of an island, soaks in its pride. Ask the Corsican people and they will talk about it as a country of its own, about French as if it wasn’t their own nation, laugh hardest and most heartedly at stories of those French coming here, buying their land, being all righteous about it, but eventually being hunted right out. Not literally, though you sometimes wonder. Yet, what touched me is that this pride shows real appreciation, and more than that, genuine care for their own little paradise. They know what they have on their hands and don’t squash it inattentively. Try trash it and you’ll get their anger on your back. I wish Croatian coast would be as clean as theirs, remembering whole stashes of cans, bottles and cheap plastic bags on one of the Southern islands of our Mediterranean neighbour.

So, what you do here first is breathe in the air, salty, clean, oxygen full and smog free, air, then you watch green flashing in different colour palettes with the wind and the sun, immerse in it completely, watch the blueness of the sky that can only compare with that of the sea, although they are not really comparable, the sea with its turquoise and the sky with its azure. And then the night comes, and your friend calls you while you’re brushing your teeth ”Come out for a minute!” and you do after and he only points to the sky with its finger and your jaw drops. When was the last time you saw these many stars, finally seeing they’re not as lonely as they seem in Paris? It was surely in the middle of the desert. Little by little, your whole body starts opening up, making you suspect the city you call your home is a jail cell, suffocating it, and it seriously needed this injection of nature.

No, I won’t do a list of top things to do here. I mean, if you need it, you already missed the point. Just take a ride or two on the stomach-not-friendly roads, admiring the view, find your own favourite beach, and be sure to go inland, too, to see the more mountainous landscape and capricious weather. You’ll learn to trust them soon, the always changing, usually for the better, clouds, and the winding, never-ending roads.

Twisted paths

Tenerife.

I could write a sentence or two about how these twisted steps and roads we took at Tenerife, and which later on Corsica almost made me forget I am not a ten-year-old with a quickly-to-be-upset stomach, is a metaphor for life, really. But I don’t feel like it, to be honest.

Especially, after hearing these are probably the last photos I’m publishing under the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. I’ll miss it, as many others, because they so often made me see my photos and hence memories from a different angle, made sure I didn’t miss out on tiny treasures, hidden deep in my library, learning to share those moments and go out for the search of the new – not just my own, but those of other participants, some I might not discover otherwise. So long, then, it was a good one, and now, I feel like we all have to grow up as bloggers and find our own ways to keep up with it. I think we’re up for it.

For WPC: Twisted.

Tenerife.

What struck me on Tenerife was the contrast between the North and the South.

Soon after you land at the Tenerife Sur, you realize two things: the bareness of the landscape and the multitude of hotels. There is no way around it. Twenty years ago, they say, there was nothing here, now, buildings spread like vultures. Hotels, resorts, apartments, shopping centres, restaurants, fake charming markets. I never saw a place designed solely for tourists before and the feeling is, least to say, bizarre. Of course, the beaches are lovely, sandy, but not white due to the volcanic nature, with the beautifully blue sea, though cold and mostly agitated. Even some hotels are looking quite finely attractive as buildings (ours was quite fabulous actually with a lovely room view and almost uncomfortably kind staff), yet there is literally nothing substantial here. When we asked for a nearest town to stroll around, they just advised us : ”You better rent a car and head North.”

If we hadn’t, our perception of the island would sure be more than a little distorted. Luckily, we are at least a semi-adventurous family.

Two days to explore the island is a minimum. But hey – the week was still supposed to be a vacation. When it comes to towns, there are two that stayed most in my mind. San Cristóbal de La Laguna, which really seems like nothing special, relaxed and residential, but somehow super lovely. Although we only took a quick walk and lunch there (accompanied with live music, always a plus), I could see myself venturing around its streets through the afternoon. La Orotava, on the other hand, seemed to be the historical or the cultural one, not that it looks super old, but you feel its roots and its individual story more strongly on its hilly streets. The thing I loved the most, though, was the small, super bushy botanical garden we almost didn’t see the entrance of.

Yet, it is not the towns that enchant you here. First, there is the almost desert-like landscape of the South, the dark tanned stones, cliffs and beaches, the thirsty plants, then you start to climb your way up to the volcano and you gradually surround yourself with luscious green and the reddish soil, cruise on the winding roads, aligned by trees, until you turn onto the lava dominated territory and it transforms again.

Yet, the favourites… For that, you have to go to the actual North, to the even more winding roads among a different green and a different kind of magic taken you over the views. Right down to the beaches that have nothing to do with the ones at your hotel. Brave driving’s worth it – not that I, licence-free, would know. We were so much more delightfully enchanted, because we hadn’t known this had been waiting for us all along. It made me wonder if there are people coming to the island and only staying in their hotels or (a bit fake) comfort of the South and what on Earth are they thinking?! I very much appreciated the chill moments at my hotel, the effortless fun and smiles and all the cocktails, the priceless family time in a calm, lazy-like, environment, but not seeing the magnificient nature outside of it would seem like such a waste of a week. I somehow took that contrast and its reflection with me on my next trip, but more on that later…

Keep still and look on.

Gaspé, Québec.

When we are about to leave a certain place, eyes open up in a different way, thoughts swirl around all the good and the bad, the memories packed up in the back, and then a silence falls, silence that sometimes expresses gratitude, sometimes sadness, usually both, a joy of getting to know something, of getting to know another piece of yourself, maybe a slight regret of overlooking something, a silence with which we say goodbye and till next time. In the next moment, we already look ahead, our next stop is waiting.

For WPC.

Bled.

If there is one destination in Slovenia that attracts the curious wondrous foreign eyes, it is lake Bled with its lovely island and proud castle. For me, though, ever since childhood the only thing I could think of instantly was its ugly town. I don’t know why, but that’s how I saw it, hoping every time to move on soon to the neighbouring Bohinj and the omnipresence of nature. Maybe, it’s just the case of it becoming too ordinary over the years, losing the thrill with every passing trip (curiosly, kremšnita – the traditional cream cake, a must – didn’t). Still, countless visits after, it stayed the place to go for a family walk on more or less sunny free afternoons, again so a couple of days before New Year’s eve. Even I have to admit it has some pretty views and some charm when you look for it… The surrounding Alps region with its hills, the cliffs with the castle on top guarding the calm water, the succession of trees and ducks and swans, and the island church that makes a good photo from every possible perspective.

Anyway, I still do recommend the visit, just don’t get too caught on the first impression when you drive into the town. Rather wait for the lake panorama.

P.S.: If you fly into Ljubljana from the right direction, you might see it during the plane’s descent. It’s simple, watch out for a lake with an island, there is only one in Slovenia! Even if you miss it, the landing in (or departure from) Ljubljana is one of the prettiest, in my opinion, with its views on the mountains.

Those peaked days

A part of my summer wanderings in Paris, pretending to be a tourist when I stopped being one 3 years ago (if one ever does, as every ex-pat here doubts…), was this lovely Montmartre museum. More than with the exhibition itself, although I very much enjoyed it, it got me with its little garden, little in the French sense, too – that word they so often add to express loveliness and affection. All one needs: the flowery greenness and bend trees, a cute café, and then a surprising, but not really, sneaky peek of the Montmartre cliché.

The day peaked somewhat numerously with one wonder after another that day…

For WPC.