Hochschnaufen auf den Hochstaufen

2019 is one of those years when you learn to use each and every bright day for summer action. You never know when rain and cold will take over the local weather, hence you better get going soon.

2019_08_30_A3

Promising Sunrise

Today’s destination is Innzell, a small and charming village that tries to attract some leftover tourists from Chiemsee, Berchtesgaden and Salzburg. Astounding enough, it comes with a range of different overnight possibilities for campers of which Hector chooses Camping Lindlbauer. Despite the comfort of the place, our sleeping night is a short one. How could you ignore a site where you can count thousands and millions of stars, winded up in the milky way, garnished with the International Space Station floating by?!

2019_08_31_B33

Waking up in Innzell

The reason for us being here lies a bit below the firmament: Walking up from Adlgass to the top of the Hochstaufen should be a nice and relaxed hike. Before we start, we enjoy coffee, croissants with homemade jam (talked into by the friendly camping staff) and the view on green meadows and proud mountains.

2019_08_31_E44

20,-€ and 90 minutes of driving and see where we are 😊

The hike turns out to be versatile. We start from parking Adlgass (5 minutes drive from our campsite) and walk on forest roads to a small lake. Some ducks sit on the wooden pier, ignoring stoically the bypassing tourists, claiming older rights on the lake Frillensee.

2019_08_31_G3

The paths are more upwards now and lead us through pictorial forests. As soon as we leave the trees behind, the paths turn into climbs, now being more steep and – from a passionate climber’s perspective – even more interesting. Hikers with a fear of heights might enjoy it less than we do.

20019_08_31_J5

The summit fits in the scenery: few space, edgy rocks and a 360° view. And, of course, a cross. Since I started hiking the Alps, I found out that I like to discover how the particular cross on today’s peak looks like. They are all different, motivating me to collect (virtually) more and more of them.

2019_08_31_K11

Below the peak is a tiny chapel and mountain hut that needs steel ropes to fix it to the rocky walls of the cliff. We enjoy soup and coffee and the August sun on our faces.

2019_08_31_L22

Hiking-Camping-Buddy Jacktheyogi

The descent takes not more than half the time of the ascent and soon enough we come back to waiting Hector. Regarding traffic, it could be wise to turn South and stop at the first good opportunity to wash off the mountain’s sweat – be it either the sea or a hot shower. It takes some discipline to act reasonable and turn North, following the queue of cars back home and arrive just in time for a gorgeous sunset.

2019_08_31_Z1

Besides the micro vacation with camping, summer and summits, further things have been sorted out today: Better learn now than later that Hector cries for new breaks – good to have this coming up during autumn (rather than during longer tours throughout Europe). The sound of his four wheels coming to a halt in front of home is like a sigh of relief: We had wonderful trips, we made it safely back home and now it is time for some caretaking. Brave little van!

2019_08_31_F11

Such a Wonderful Van, surrounded by a Beautiful Scenery

 

Alpspitz Ferrata

…und dann war da noch mein Lieblingsberg. Derjenige, der sich halbwegs in der Nähe befindet und den ich annährend 100 mal fotografiert habe. Die zackige Spitze, die schroffen Felsen, die markante Form: Die Alpspitze!

…and then there is this particular mountain that made it on almost 100 pictures of mine. The serrated peak, the craggy rocks, the striking form: The Alpspitze!

2019_02_A

Beautiful Summit

Es gibt einen Klettersteig, der hinaufführt. Und es gibt das Alpentestival in Garmisch-Partenkirchen und den Stellplatz am Wank, kurz: nix wie hin.

A well-known via ferrata leads up to the summit. This weekend, it comes along with the Alpentestival at Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the camper parking Wank, hence best preconditions for a gorgeous weekend in the Alps.

2019_08_04_A

Home is where you park it

Während der halben Stunde, die ich am Wank-Hütterl für meinen Stellplatz-Schein anstehe, dämmert mir, dass viel Action womöglich ganz schön viele Menschen anzieht. Für heute ist jedenfalls alles gut: Hector steht friedlich eingereiht und der Blick reicht vom Kramer zur Alpspitze und zurück.

The waiting time in the queue of the Wank-Hütterl for Hector’s parking ticket makes me think twice about the attractions of mountain events and the masses of people they attract. Anyway, Hector has found a nice slot in the row of camper vans with a view that ranges from the Kramer to the Alpspitze (and back).

2019_08_03A

Now, really??

Der nächste Morgen begrüßt mich mit Regen. Hmpf, denke ich während ich mich vom Bett zum Cockpit bewege. Doch dann: Wow! Dem Regenbogen nach steht am Fuß des Kramers ein größerer Goldtopf.

Summer rain welcomes the next morning. My first reaction is something like “Hmpf” while the next second it turns into Wow! Seems like a jar filled with gold is to be found at the foot of the Kramer mountain.

2019_08_03B

Yeah, really!

Später am Tag denke ich, dass ein wenig Sponsoring aus eben jenem Goldtopf meinem spontanen Rabatt-Shopping nicht geschadet hätte – aber angesichts der Angebote auf dem Testival-Gelände geht das auch so in Ordnung. Das Ganze ist eine große Werbe-Veranstaltung des größten Sporthauses am Platz (Sport Conrad), was mir jedoch ziemlich wurscht sein kann. Hat mich ja keiner zum Geldausgeben gezwungen und auch der Eintrittspreis ist mit inbegriffenen Vergünstigungen und der kostenlosen Sommerrodelbahn schnell wieder eingespielt.

I should have asked for some sponsoring out of that gold jar, covering the unforeseen shopping of sports equipment at the testival merchandise stands. Yet, the offers being part of the marketing event (the whole weekend seems to be offered by the local sports shop Conrad) are pretty okay. The same is true for the entrance fee that is already earned back with a bundle of rebates and the summer toboggan that is offered for free.

Mit Barbara, die gegen Mittag dazu kommt, stürze ich mich gleich 2x die Rodelbahn hinab und bei der zweiten Runde gilt natürlich: wer bremst, verliert!

With Barbara, arriving later that day, we run down the toboggan two times in a row with the standard principle “Brakes are for Losers!” valid for the second turn.

2019_08_03C

Ob Garmisch wirklich so rustikal ist wie alle meinen? Unbedingt!

Unser Schwung reicht gerade noch aus, um kurz vor Ende der Öffnungszeit noch zwei Parcours im Kletterwald zu absolvieren, was irre viel Spaß in luftiger Höhe bringt. Aufgrund der brav abgegebenen Handys leider ohne Bild-Dokumentation, dafür auch ohne Regen. Sekunden, nachdem wir wieder festen Boden unter den Füßen haben, kommt ein weiterer Sommer-Schauer an und es gießte kurzzeitig in Strömen. Wie gut, dass wir nur wenige hundert Meter zurück zur Homebase haben. Es geht doch nichts über einen günstig geparkten Hector!

Full of zest and just in time before today’s closing, we make it to the climbing garden. Fun and height and the conquest of wobbly parcours are the perfect conclusion of today’s activities – and with heavy rain settling in, the short distance of mere 300 metres back to Hector is more than welcome.

2019_08_04_CC

Lady Helmchen und Calimero am Fuße des Klettersteigs

Am nächsten Morgen sind wir beinahe die ersten an der Alpspitzbahn. Besser gesagt: wir wären es, wenn nicht der großen Andrang und die geführten Alpentestival-Touren bereits zu etlichen Sonderfahrten lange vor dem üblichem Betriebsbeginn geführt hätten… Den daraus folgenden Pulk Ungeübter, der zu Stau am Gipfelweg führt, erleben wir zum Glück erst auf halber Strecke.

We intend to be ahead of all others, right at the start of operation at the Alpspitzbahn and we almost succeed. We learn that due to the Alpentestival, dozens of additional rides have been offered already an hour before the regular time. Lucky us that it takes more than half of the distance before we bump into the bulk of people that cause a jam on the way to the summit. And here comes my personal greetings to the American hikers that I would cordially welcome if not for their ignorance and stupidity when it comes to common behaviour in mountain regions.

2019_08_04_DZunächst geht es ordentlich bergan: Leitern und Eisenstufen im Fels markieren den Einstieg in die Alpspitz-Ferrata. Für mich als Skihasen ist die Gegend in sommerlicher Form völlig unvertraut. Seltsam, oberhalb von Garmisch zu sein, ganz ohne Ski an den Füßen. Und all die grünen Wiesen! Die Wege, die sonst unter den Pisten verborgen sind, die grauen Felsen ohne weißen Puder…2019_08_04_DD

The Alpspitz Ferrata starts very common with its most interesting parts: vertical ladders and iron steps mark the first section. I have been here many, many times but never in summer: it is almost weird, being here without skis at my feet and with green meadows and pure grey rock.

2019_08_04_EE

Zu Beginn können wir gut unser Tempo gehen – nicht einsam und allein, aber doch ohne aufgehalten oder gehetzt zu werden. Die Aussicht ist immer wieder grandios, nicht zuletzt, weil alles hinter dem Osterfelderkopf wie abgeschnitten von der Zivilisation ist.

The vista is wonderful. The Osterfelderkopf blocks most of the view towards civilization and makes us feel like chamois, embedded in pure nature. Apart from the ferrata’s steel rope, that is.

2019_08_04_G

Erst ganz oben auf dem Gipfel reicht der Blick bis in die Täler von Grainau und Garmisch. Wir sind rundum zufrieden mit unserer Leistung: Klettersteige gehen wir erwiesenermaßen lässig und sicher. Besonders, wenn sie (wie die Alpspitz-Ferrata) so leicht sind, dass man sich gelegentlich fragt, ob das ewige Ein- und Ausklinken der Karabiner wirklich notwendig ist.

Reaching the summit widens the horizon: now we see the valley of Grainau and Garmisch and a whole lot of peaks and mountains around. With our experienced via ferrata skills, the way up has been a piece of cake. And, more true, due to the fact that technically it is the easiest one I have done so far.

2019_08_04_H3

Gipfelstürmer

Erstaunlicherweise sieht die Alpspitze von oben ganz anders aus als von unten. Der markante Zacken ist nicht mehr zu sehen und er ist auch nicht ganz so spitz wie eine Tobleronen-Ecke. Schroff ist es schon und allzuviel Platz gibt es auch nicht (wo soll man denn hier einen Handstand machen??), aber schön ist es. Zumindest die ersten 20 Minuten, dann werden die Wolken dichter und wir hadern nicht länger mit all den warmen Klamotten, die wir mit rauf getragen haben.

The funny thing with mountain peaks is the fact that they look totally different once you make it on their top. The typical form seems gone and it is not half as sharp as it seems from below. Yet, it is still rugged and offers not much of a surface (not enough room for a handstand). Beautiful, that’s what it is. Only minutes later, the clouds fight back the sun and we are grateful for all superfluous jackets and hoodies we carried up here.

2019_08_04_KKa

Then on the Way back…

Auf dem Weg nach unten verlieren sich die Bergtouristen. Und die Wege. Von Wegweisern ganz zu schweigen. Die Idee, einen Schlenker zur Kreuzalm mit ihrem sagenumwobenen Kaiserschmarrn zu machen, geben wir unterwegs auf. Stattdessen folgen wir dem einzig erkennbaren Weg zurück zum Osterfelderkopf.

Auch wenn wir vom Alpentestival vieles gar nicht wahrgenommen haben (die Boulderwand, das Freibad, die Partnachklamm), so hatten wir doch ein herrliches Wochenende in den Bergen. Mit Hector, mit Shopping, mit Klettersteig und mit viel Genuss!

We abandon our plan for a detour to the Kreuzalm due to the sheer lack of signposts. Finally, we make it back to the Osterfelderkopf where we congratulate ourselves for this wonderful weekend in the Alps. With sun and rainbows, with shopping and via ferrata and with Hector and my wonderful camping-hiking buddy Barbara!

DSC_2035a

…once I grow up, I will go for the Jubiläumsgrat and all the way up to the Zugspitze (visible in the far back of this picture)!

Sicilia – The What, The Where and The How (Part 2)

Route_2B

Moving around a bit: 1.662 km on Sicila

Have we seen everything? Far from that. Yet, Hector and his varying number of passengers drove down and up and East and West and we have seen just enough to generate the yearning for more.

2019_06_01_E4

Cefalú

(10) Cefalú. The perfect spot for perfect vanlife. For early bird yoga, an almost private beach bay and a nice city close-by. 23,48 €/night are a fair price at camping Sanfilippo. Forget about the mini shop, forget about the minimum number of hot showers, enjoy the simple camper life and the view.

VillaCasale2

Villa Romana del Casale

(11) Piazza Armerina / Villa Casale: The ruins of the ancient villa with an overflow of mosaic tiles spread over all former rooms is definitely worth a visit. I deeply recommend to do it early: before hundreds of busses filled with ancient tourists arrive. And before you visit Monreale.

Scala1

(12) Scala dei Turchi / Agrigento: Beach parking at Punta Piccola Park / Porto Empedocle has been perfect for a night (20,- €) and the walk over to the cliff called Scala dei Turchi. The aftermath of having been there is my personal handstand challenge that keeps me busy (and sporty) ever since…

Oh, and Agrigento? Yes, is there, too.

2019_06_07_D4a

(13) San Vito lo Capo: Promising, based on the facts of location and campsite data. While, at least for my experience, the promise remains unfulfilled.

SanVitoBild

(14) Monreale: Incredible in it’s richness and artfulness. Located close to Palermo’s port, it has been the ideal finish of my Sicilian trip.

2019_06_12_H3b

Up and on and around the Cathedral of Monreale

 

(15) Shortcut: Taking the ferry from Palermo to Genove is the shortcut on the way back: 21 hours full of doing nothing but sunbathing, sleaping, reading and eating. All of a sudden you arrive in Northern Italy.

HectorFerry

The cabin I booked half a year ago offers plenty of space, a hot shower and the meet-and-greet with the fire steward. Afterwards I know that a closed bathroom door would prevent the fire alarm caused by clouds of hot steam.

PalermoByeBye

Before this travel, I used to think that Sicilia is far, far away. In fact, it took me less than 1,5 days to get back: In one minute I wave goodbye to Palermo (Wednesday, 21:00h) and at 00:30h (early Friday), Hector and me are back home with the usual ambivalent feeling of endless travel-lust vs. home-sweet-home.

>>Start

Sicilia – The What, the Where and the How (Part 1)

Route_1A

4.078 km = 1.737 km München – Capo Milazzo + 1.662 km Siclia Φ + 680 km Palermo – München

Let’s start with the base line: It is so worth it! Every km, every moment. Sicilia is a wonderful destination that offers you almost everything. Except for good surfing conditions, but that is another story of another holiday.

2019_05_31_A6a

Perfect vanlife, even without being even

With Martina, I joined two weeks of a fantastic road trip. We followed the sun and the cultural attractions, we tasted local delicacies in all kinds of restaurants and faint sulphur smell on the volcanos. We shared Hector’s space, doubts where to find the next bus stop and wine with a view.

The peak of the entire trip was the peak of Stromboli: Lucky us, we were spontaneous and in time for perfect conditions, five weeks before an unusual strong eruption caused death and danger. We are grateful for our harmless, yet impressive-as-hell experience on top of the volcano.

Apart from that, every day and every place offered various highlights:

(1) Kaltern am See: Nice region, especially with good weather. We compensated endless rain with good company and tasteful dinner (special greetings to Michael!).

Day2

Happy Feet, Heading South

(2) Baia Domizia: Probably a boring place with a neat campsite. After 24 hours constant rain, we worshipped bright skies and sea view. Price: 31,60 € for 1 Hector + 2 Ladies.

(3) Tropea: Beach, a relaxed campsite (18,- € and well-located) and the first of the most beautiful sunsets during the trip, accompanied by wine and snacks and the view towards Stromboli.

Day3

(4) Capo Milazzo: Arriving on Sicilia! Camping Riva Smeralda might have seen better days in the late 80ies, however, it is the ideal starting point for an excursion to the Aeolian Islands. With sunny weather, low expectations and with 20,- € (per night) you can enjoy sea view all over.

Day4

Camping Riva Smeralda, Capo Milazzo

(5) Stromboli: Terrific!!! Count in at least 4 hours on the boat, 40,- € for a charming bed & breakfast and unconventional volcano guides. Most people tend to see everything on Sicilia except for the Stromboli – what a mismatch, given that it has been the outstanding sensation of the journey.

Day5

(6) Taormina: Hector is well-located on Camping Paradise at Letojanni (23,73 €/night) while the crew is well-located in the general setting of Taormina – ancient theatres, vivid city streets and mouth-watering restaurants included.

Taormina

Happy Travel Girls at Taormina

(7) Siracusa: Not the simple parking (20,- €), but the famous peninsula Ortigia seemed worn-out at first. Hour by hour, though, it turns out to be interesting, old, young, touristic, vivid and delicious.

Siracusa

Siracusa

(8) Noto: Public bus transport is a bit of an adventure between Camping Sabbiadoro (28,80 €/night) and Noto. The baroque town of Noto is all worth it, including a cathedral and further churches, food and arts. If you think that Avola might be fine for a stop over: it is not and we are proud having it found out all on our own.

Noto2

Noto

(9) Etna + Catania: Hard, very hard to catch a cloudless day on the 3.000 m peak. Although we failed on that part, we still claim being the lucky ones as we decided against an overnight-stay on the 2.000 m parking at Etna Sud – we would have been shaken with the eruption happening a mere three hours later. Instead, we can confirm that even outside of Catania downtown they have fantastic seafood!

Etna

Etna

…more to come in Part 2

Monreale

2019_06_12_A3

Three weeks on Sicilia. Uncounted Baroque buildings, ancient ruins, mosaic tiles, cliffs and nature. You tend to believe that you have seen everything.

Then you reach Monreale.

2019_06_12_B1

Welcme to the Cathedral Monreale

Where to look first? At the ceiling! And the biblical stories that spread in golden mosaic over the main nave. Ahead of the storyboard, sunlight falls through high windows, embracing the oversized Jesus in gleaming colours.

2019_06_12_D1

I let my eyes wander along the inner walls and it is like reading a delicious comic version of the bible. There are Adam and Eve, Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and all legends of the Christian scripture. My favourite series show the embarking of the ark, where people and animals gather together in that tiny mobile home.

2019_06_12_C5a

Hard to tell which facet wins the excess of attractions: Richness? Artistry? Storytelling? I dare to say that the composition of it all is unique.

2019_06_12_E4

Monreale is not just an architectural leftover, representing glory days. It is a well-used church, with praying nuns among the tourists and with a fairy tale wedding the very same afternoon. It is a pity that some of the tourists show a profound lack of sensitivity when visiting a holy building in funny raincoats. (Note from the author: Some people consider themselves being clever using a knee-long raincoat as “decent clothing” to cover bare shoulders and legs inside the church. Just guessing, but they might have sources in a North-Western land, separated from Europe by the Atlantic ocean.) I look at Jesus in the cupola and think he probably dislikes it as well.

2019_06_12_D3

I crisscross through the cathedral, admiring everything around. A part to the left is virtually separated from the rest by an additional entrance control. No extra fee gets charged, yet the control works as a filter that separates interested visitors from others.

2019_06_12_E5

Happy Feet on Holy Ground

Art and beauty is almost exaggerated here and it begins at the feet: Stone mosaic covers the ground with a certain base pattern, but inch by inch with different interpretations of it.

The beauty in this aisle exceeds the main nave and it is on the edge of being overloaded.

 

2019_06_12_F1a

2019_06_12_A6cI wave goodbye to Ezechiel and the other prophets as I turn towards another ticket counter in the rear part of the church. For some Euros extra, I enter a narrow staircase that leads up and left and straight and up until the corridor spits me out on a small platform. The cathedral, the view on Palermo and on the landscape, the cloister beneath – once more I stare around, stunned with beauty.

With entry charge and the dark, tiny stairs that lead up here, few other tourists reach the small balcony. The access only works for a small percentage of visitors: those who are curious. And slim.

While the stromboli has been the outstanding highlight of our trip, Monreale is the perfect conclusion to it.

2019_06_12_G1

Peaceful and Calm

Palermo, right around the corner of Monreale, will be a good reason for future visits on this wonderful island. For this afternoon, I am fine with the choice of cafés around the (now closed) cathedral, spending my time lazily until it is time to get Hector on the ferry.

2019_06_12_H5

 

 

 

Cefalú II

HectorCefalu_F

Back to where we belong

Three-and-a-half-days until the ferry will carry us back North. I could use the time and cross off my list all outstanding highlights: Trapani, hikes through national parks, Erice, rivers and ravines. Instead, I get back to my favourite spot with Hector’s rear tires almost getting wet and salty.

HectorCefalu_C

Déjà vu? Wonderful Remake!

Lazy but sporty days are up: admire the golden morning light with a first coffee. Then find some place close to one of the campsite’s WiFi spots and lay down the yoga mat.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After about 30 minutes online-yoga session, I add some handstand kick-ups as a direct consequence from the Scala dei Turchi, aiming to pimp future tourist pictures. The rest of the day is a mixture of meals (breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner and a bit in between) and sun-vs-sea.

2019_06_03_A8

Place to be: my Bay

With so much relaxation, I could do with some company. Lucky me that I am down at the “base level area” of camping Sanfilippo, with rough ground instead of neat gravel and with hippie travellers instead of RV campers. A chat here, a warm welcome there, motorbike talks with young tent campers and quiet evenings – so far, so good. The only thorn in my flesh is the driver of a white VW van who stays next to my Hector with two young sons. He is so much of a lookalike to “my bartender” (a dear friend for years) that I wonder what to do first: a) Order a cocktail or b) Give him a kiss? I try do play it decent and invite him over to a glass of wine for my last evening. It is around 11 PM when I realize that most probably he will not show up anymore. Anyway, at this point the wine bottle has not much left to offer…

2019_06_11_B9

Then the next morning…

The next morning, I feel awkward. For about 30 minutes. Then I pick up my regular yoga routine, ending it on the beach today with some last handstand trials. Having exercised the kick-ups for a mere three days, it comes as a nice surprise (even for me) when I manage to get up easily and stand straight upside-down for 2-3 seconds before falling over light as a feather. How cool!! I jump around, all excited, find somebody to take a video from the sensation, and grin widely at the world.

Cefalu_T

Tadaaah! That’s where I get after 3 Days of Training

Minutes later, I find a confirmation mail on my smartphone, telling me that I successfully applied for two reserved tables at the Wiesn (“Oktoberfest”). All out of a sudden it becomes obvious: That Karlsuhe-daddy-guy with his hilarious, brand-new VW car (ever heard of Diesel-Skandal, how dare you still drive that one?!), he will certainly rack his brain for days and years, wondering why he has let it slip away, that great opportunity of good wine in best company. A girl with 2 Wiesn-tables and the skills for a neat handstand – is there anything more you could ever ask for? Yeah, see!

All in a good mood now, I pack my belongings and get Hector ready to go, while every now and then people come by for last greetings, a warm good-bye or help with renitent marquee pegs . With a light sigh I leave my wonderful bay behind…

2019_06_11_A2

So long and thanks for all the Fish

>> Next Destination

San Vito lo Capo

2019_06_07_A2

Expectation = Rough, yet Romantic Ccoast with Concrete Platforms for Swimmers

Some places look wonderful on pictures. Even on the map. And descriptions point out the wonderful setting of a simple campsite at the shore with a nice village close by. Then you arrive and it is – different.

2019_06_07_C2

Reality = Uninviting for Activity in the Sea

With 37°C, I arrive at San Vito lo Capo and start learning. First, the campsite I have been looking for does not exist anymore. However, the very same GPS address once shared by two campsites now leads to the survived one = Camping Village El Bahira. It looks like old camper places have been abandoned. Which is a pity as they have been located close to the sea – and which is comprehensible as they had been very small and very basic, worse than most simple camper parkings. There is no real sea view from the remaining camper slots, so being close to the shore does not get you the expected buenavista. Next learning is about the “beach”: It is a dry and sun-burned mixture of gravel, stones and outworn deck chairs.

2019_06_07_B1

Not my Kind of Beach

At least I manage to get the spot closest to the pool and with a bit of body work there is even a glimpse on the distant sea.

2019_06_07_A1

So this is our View for the next Days

The plan was to spend some relaxed days here, surrounded by beautiful nature and the village of San Vito lo Capo. During Thursday afternoon, I am fine with the pool and it’s reasonable size. I swim and show off with experienced style, getting me in touch with the pool attendant. He is a typical young Sicilian with the typical accent, meaning I hardly understand anything he says. It sets limits to our conversation, as there only is a small overlap of Sicilian language to the Italian I once learned in Liguria. I try my best to give senseful replies to what I interpret as questions from his side, accompanied by a helpless smile as faint coverage of my cluelessness.

2019_06_07_B3

What you see is a nice Pool. What you don’t see is the Colour Change in my best Bikini after 45 minutes in it’s Water

In the evening, the view from the restaurant close to the pool is wonderful, while my next learning is: Today is Thursday. The restaurant is closed on Thursday. The only option is the pizzeria, but no, they do not have gluten-free pizza. Fortunately, I got several packages of potato chips – before I leave this place, I will have eaten up all 3 of them.

2019_06_07_B2

Friday comes and with it the arrival of the weekenders: all around me, resident campers appear out of the blue and take over – everything. It is not only that all caravans to my left and to my right are now inhabited by families. It is the fact that each family owns several places and I happen to be in the middle of them like a foreign body. The pool is no place for sports anymore, it has become an immense playground for kids of all ages, chasing one another and swimming around the legs of their chatting grannies. Still, I am grateful. It would be worse being a family member of those strident 10-12 heads-parties, but perhaps it feels more natural when you are born into that kind of life.

2019_06_07_D1

Making my Way

Time to go! Knowing that all campgrounds will be full with weekend families by now, I flee by foot, making my way on a small path that seems to lead to San Vito “downtown”. Temperatures reach solid 38° these days and the distance is slightly exceeding my expectation. However, it is nice to be all alone and silent here and even the landscape develops a certain charm.

2019_06_07_C3

In the early afternoon, I reach the beach of San Vito lo Capo.

2019_06_07_F1

Central Beach of San Vito lo Capo

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so best is to look out in the blue of the shimmering water or towards the lighthouse.

2019_06_07_G1

Now, isn’t it Beautiful?

2019_06_07_G2

Same same, but Different

Looking at it from another angle, the white sand is hardly visible beneath all the deck chairs and parasols and thousands of people. I leave the crowded beach behind and try out several bars and cafés. First try: beverages, food, it is all there, at least on the menu. After 30 minutes of waiting for a waiter, I give up and try the café next door. No food, just ice cream – seems like San Vito works best with an unhealthy life style. Being a brave girl, I give in and enjoy ice cream, coffee and Campari-Soda. All with the aim to bundle my forces for the 4,5 km way back.

2019_06_07_F2

San Vito, Downtown

I look around some more, but do not feel like spending the evening here. The town is okay, but not as inviting as Cefalú. It is all very focussed here: 2 or 3 streets close to the beach, the promenade + the small line of sand take in all inhabitants from Sicily’s inlands, at least on weekend days. The rest of the town fades out with hardly anything to offer, so due to the lack of appealing restaurants, I skip my plans of wonderful seafood and turn back to another round of potato chips with Hector.

2019_06_07_H1

>> Hello sheep!<<  >>määähhh!<<

The return route is familiar and nice in the warm light of the late afternoon. I greet the sheep along the way, enjoy the calm and the panorama, and decide to design my last Sicilian days a bit more thoroughly. I abandon the idea of a daily trip to Trapani (39°C and it will be overcrowded even without me and my van) and instead look forward to my favourite place on this island.

2019_06_07_H3

The resumé of San Vito is that I might have been better on another campsite. However, I can easily accept that there are places that touch you with beauty and comfort (Scala dei Turchi with it’s sosta camper, Cefalú with the small bay) and others that don’t. Over all, I prefer independent or alternative places, where people are more travellers than (resident) campers.

>> Next Destinaion

Agrigento

2019_06_07_B1

Phoenix (already fallen) and Concordia (front – or back?)

Taxi services, parking fees and all kinds of souvenir shops mark the importance of a touristic site. Agrigento certainly ranges among the top 5 on cruise ship’s standard scale, but that is only one out of two reasons for early-bird-sightseeing. The second reason is the topography of the areal. Already at 10:00 AM = opening hour, the sun heats up the shadow-less terrain to 30°C (still rising) and I note a cross-correlation of temperature vs. cultural ambitions.

2019_06_07_A1

Anyway, I am here, it is culture and hence I clench my teeth and make my way to Roman buildings and their leftovers. It is similar to Paestum, yet more fallen apart.

2019_06_07_B

The site is vast. With hardly any trees. And hot. Well, not in the “yeah, hottie!” way, but rather reaching 35°C before 11:00 AM. Most of the former temples are sized down to mere fragments, but even in that state it shows better quality than today’s average rental apartments.

2019_06_07_C2

Quite some stony puzzles to sort out…

2019_06_07_C4

… at least they have the equipment for it!

Eventually I make it to the most outstanding of all: Tempio della Concordia. Sito messaggero della cultura della pace nel mondo. Which means that it is old, important and forbidden to walk in. Fine by me, with the roof long gone it would not offer shades anyway, so why bother.

2019_06_07_D2a

Tempio della Concordia (backside – or front?)

While the front looks exactly like the back, the side view shows the substantial size of the building. Must have been important Gods they worshipped in there…

2019_06_07_D3b1

39,42m – side view on Concordia

When I think back of Paestum and my survey a couple of years ago, I remember that I frankly admired the beautiful architecture, backed up with some accessories and decorations shown in the adherent  museum as well as a bit of description of how life once has been. Here in Agrigento, it looks all dead. Indifferent, I leave it to busses of tourists that start to stroll in and move on to more appealing places.

>> Next Destination

Scala dei Turchi

2019_06_06_H4

Sometimes the way ahead does not lead anywhere. Departing from Villa Del Casale, the navi leads more or less straight towards Agrigento. Like the Princess of the Pea, I favour comfort and hence big roads with Hector, but today the first trial turns out dead end. Typical Sicilian, there is no detour nor early warning, just a blocked road. From 3 possible directions, this has been the best, but flexible as I am I switch to second best. Fifteen minutes later, another road barrier shows up. I study my detailed map of the island and the options are:

  • Main road towards Agrigento: blocked, no way of trespassing
  • A more indirect tour: blocked right in front
  • Go North, then East, then all South, then West. For hours. Honestly??
  • Go back to where I have started and stay there, possibly forever
2019_06_06_A1

Hard to believe and yet: Today’s best Way towards my Destination

Finally, I go for the best option which is ignoring the blockade, circle Hector’s tires around the barrier, marvel at Sicilian’s biggest pothole and, later on, gently wave at the construction workers I pass by. Fortunately, most people accept the disabled road and leave the one and last existing lane to us with hardly any oncoming traffic.

Based on the recommendation of the French couple I met the other day, Hector heads on South. Leaving tiny little mosaic stones behind and approaching massive rocks: Our destination is known as the Scala dei Turchi, which is slightly misleading as it does not refer to Turks but rather to pirates, all named “turchi” in former times and demonstrating ancient preconceptions.

2019_06_06_B1

Favourite Vanlife with an acceptable distance to the Sea

Around noon, Hector rolls on the ground of Punta Piccola Park, a simple and likeable sosta camper at the beach of Porto Empedocle / Realmonte. 2 toilets, 3 showers and space for some dozens of camper vans with sea view. I tend to like those simple but well-located places.

The restaurant right around the corner serves delicious fish, wine, espresso and whatever else you need for your comfort: get out of the sosta’s gateway, turn left, walk max. 50m, get into the restaurant and out to the terrace, ask for fish of the day, enjoy! This being set, I take off my shoes and promenade on the beach for relaxed two kilometres.

2019_06_06_E1

Half-way in between Hector and the Scala dei Turchi

The more I turn West and thus away from industrial Porto Empedocle, the more beautiful is the shore. I give up looking back and continue my way along the coast line.

2019_06_06_C2

View to Porto Empedocle – Wrong Direction

2019_06_06_F1

…but then: Approaching the Scala dei Turchi

2019_06_06_J1

Almost there

Soon enough I spot the white cliff made of soft limestone and a blinding white marl. These days, only the tough reach it, as recent rockfalls required to close a part of the beach. The only way leads through the water stirred up by hundreds of tourist legs and with invisible stones and rocks beneath the feet. A rope indicates the safest passageway where you will always find helping hands of elderly poeple along the queue (or the other way round).

2019_06_06_F3

Once you are there, it is impossible not to pose for Instagram, friends and your own vanity. With the scenery as fantastic as it is, here come the inevitable “bella figura” pictures of the day:

2019_06_06_G1

2019_06_06_G2

…and in the opposite direction

2019_06_06_G3

Such a nice and peaceful spot – and then you end up surrounded by tourists!

2019_06_06_H1

See? Without me, it looks entirely boring

I spend quite some time on one of the highest “steps” of the so-called stairway. There is so much to see from here! The changing colours of the sea, all kinds of people passing by and then there is a group of Dutchmen that is keen on showing off with their youth and their muscles. After an hour or two, I turn around and leave this wonderful place behind.

2019_06_06_H3

Just one pity comes with todays excursion: my handstand skills do not match this place. Not yet. It would have been marvellous to pose in a free-floating handstand on top of that glistening white platform. One of the last thoughts before falling asleep that night is: “What if I exercise more focused?”. I wonder if this will get me somewhere someday…

>> Next Destination

 

 

Villa Romana del Casale

2019_05_31_A5

50 Ways to Leave your Lover, much harder to Leave this Bay

It takes days to get me leave Cefalú. One day after the other, I decide to move ahead tomorrow. When tomorrow comes, it comes with yesterday’s repeating: tomorrow… Finally, with my Müsli storage being almost empty and being billed with five nights at Camping Sanfilippo, Hector turns inlands towards Piazza Armerina.

2019_06_05_A

Bye Bye, Cefalú

Along the way, Sicilia changes it’s appearance: prospering plants fade out and give space to hills coloured in all shades of green and brown. The frequency of villages goes down, leaving it all up to lonely roads and endless landscape.

2019_06_05_A2

First stop of the day is Enna. I find a perfectly legal parking spot for Hector, switch on google maps and start walking towards the centre of this mountain village. Turning right, asking locals, moving on, turning left, checking my cell phone and finally: giving up. I learn that global internet companies fail when it comes to the very south of Europe. Not only that a lot of apps come with worn-out information (if any), the map shown on my little screen indicates that the centre of Enna was located on another hill in 14km of distance. Which, in fact, is not true. Truth is, that I cannot imagine Enna being that attractive and decide to move on towards further destinations.

2019_06_05_B1

Enna. Sort of.

Today is superslim-Hector day. Would he be bigger with just some millimetres more, we might have been stuck in the narrow streets of Enna downtown, where I eventually find the churches, restaurants and cafés I had been looking for. However, it does not look that much exciting or inviting, and with a sigh of relief I continue my way. In the afternoon, we arrive at an overnight camper parking that is highlighted in one of my travel books.

2019_06_05_C1

Sad, so Sad

The place “Agricasale” is strange. And empty. With the latter being true especially for the huge outdoor pool that looks so inviting in my book. With a cold and rainy May, the owners are not yet done with the ready-for-season works. At least, they have stable WiFi and reasonable prices, showers and toilets and electricity and, above all, a lot of nature.

2019_06_05_C4

Dogs run around, making friends with Hector and proving the friendship by peeing in front of my main door. Horses come by, their heads covered in clouds of black flies. In the distance, some sheep hang around and at least they have no intention bothering me – sure enough the opposite is true for the mosquitoes… The place is beyond clear definitions. A hotel? Not really. A camper park? Only as a side business. But besides what? Does the conversation with the owner lead anywhere, circling around free love?? The situation gets a bit less absurd when the RV of a French couple arrives. We sit together with wine and soft drinks and exchange tips and experiences of our Sicilian travel.

2019_06_06_V2

Next day is culture day! Villa Romana del Casale is the touristic hot spot in Sicily’s inland, like the Italian version of Neuschwanstein. Endless floors are covered with all kinds of artful mosaic tiles. Some are just decoration, some tell stories of heroes and glory, of hunters and cruises, beasts and beauties.

2019_06_06_V

Itty-bitty Tiles, Well-Sorted

2019_06_06_W

The area, consisting of several buildings (more true: their leftovers), is large. Even in 4th century it must have been a surreal experience to live here. Like inhabiting a temple of arts and craftmanship. Historically, it is a glance on ancient ideals: Fame and beauty were interpreted in a different manner than today’s selfies on Instagram.

2019_06_06_K1

Mental Note for my next Visit: Dress in my best Bikini, Pose for a Selfie right in front!

2019_06_06_L

Big as an Elephant: Area of Villa Casale

2019_06_06_X

I manage to be through with all rooms and floors before thousands of tourists arrive. I get a cup of coffee and fancy about cheap mosaic specialists offering their works in the traditional German “Gelbe Seiten”  phone book… Probably I better move on, especially with all extras and unforeseen obstacles that lay in store for me on Sicilia’s roads.

>> Next Destination