Exploring (and enjoying) the Carpathian garden! 😉
Exploring (and enjoying) the Carpathian garden! 😉
To even consider a 15-hour drive (round trip) for a measly 15 waking hours in Italy, you must be pretty desperate.
Not only did we consider it, we actually went. Three weeks of winter in the month of May, all hell breaking loose at work and a nasty throat infection did it. We wanted Italy. We needed Italy. We found a nice bed-and-breakfast near Lucca at €120/night for four (Triolivo, in Guamo), packed a bag, and didn’t think twice.
An ambition that had been simmering in our subconscious quickly developed into a full-blown obsession. We want to see the leaning tower of Pisa! We’d been to Italy so many times, how could we have missed it? I mean, it’s not exactly hard to find. It’s right there, on every children’s atlas, right next to the red Ferrari. Simply had to see it. Simply had to climb it.
293 steps and we were at the top for the noon bells! Was it worth it? Well, our son was crawling on all fours under the large bell to explore the sound mechanism, and was so excited he even forgot to cover his ears in the hubbub, so you be the judge of that.
What else was on the list? The charming little citadel of Lucca (where Giacomo Puccini was born), sun and storm in the Tuscan hills, a seaside view of the Apennine mountains with surfers in the roaring waves, profiteroles, dry soup made of fresh tomato puree and white bread, and the hot sand at Camaiore.
We spent only one night in Italy, yet managed to return with a bagful of great memories. I think our son’s exclamation on the way back pretty much sums it up: “But we were there for 3 days!”
Copyright photos: Armand Csordas
– by guest blogger Armand Csordas –
It all started when I found out that I can get a car for tests over the long German reunification weekend. In the office I have a reputation as a fan of front drive family cars, something quite rare in my company, which produces mainly rear drive overpowered race cars. I think you have guessed where I work. Well, BMW just started to sell the Series 2 Active Tourer and I got the chance to… play with it. 🙂 It was the full option version 225i.
Where should I go?… Didn’t have to think long. One of my old dreams has been to see the Matterhorn and that’s where I was heading. September and October are perfect up there, the tourist hordes gone, the sky clearer than usual. I quickly booked accommodation, I truly relished pushing the Start-Stop button, I revved the engine and off I was. The road in Switzerland offered “sheer driving pleasure”.
I arrived in the small village of St. Niklaus quite late in the afternoon, changed into my mountaineering clothes and boarded the train to Zermatt. There I jumped on the first train to Gornergrat. The ticket seller looked at me weirdly and told me that I have only one our left to spend at the top of the mountain. I told her it was fine and embarked on the train that drives on rails that are more than one hundred years old (the track was first opened in 1898).
On the way I had my first glimpse of the majestic Matterhorn (4478 m) and I was simply amazed. It is the biggest mountain I have ever seen from up close.
I started to push the camera shutter button many, many times. The train was quite empty and after half an hour I reached the end station at an altitude over 3000 meters. Amazing engineering.
I decided to trek down to the next station. I had one hour to do it and it was not very far. The sun was setting and the clouds were dancing over the towering peak. I was alone. I started the descent and I remained out of breath. One reason was the scenery and the other was the high altitude.
It was so quiet that the only thing I heard was my own heart beating. The solitude was so rewarding. I left with the last train just before the darkness set in.
For the next day I planned to go nearer to the Matterhorn to the Trockener Steg with the cable car. I imagined hiking over a glacier, crossing over into Italy and taking a lot of pictures as souvenirs.
So I got up at dawn at headed up the rocky expanse. The mountain was immense and impressive. I started taking pictures of myself and the mountain and sharing them by email seconds after recording them. 🙂 I was so proud of being there just like many of the tourists that paid big money to see this destination and collect points in the game of life. I, too, wanted to tick this box and I did it.
I eventually separated myself from the tourists, left the beaten track and hiked alone until I got as close to the mountain as my equipment allowed it. The glacier was really tricky. Two hours passed walking alone and the peace and silence set in my soul.
I was humbled by the majestic peak. I left aside the big goals to tick some more boxes and I let the mountain lead my steps. I did not oppose him. Clouds coming from Italy climbed the Swiss mountain and embraced it. My steps were led to new scenery, all the time being alone with the mountains. Alpine ibex crossed my path and crossed horns with each other.
I stopped to eat out of my bag at a closed log cabin. This time I said my prayers three times before biting into my sandwich. I just felt like praising God for the beauty of Creation.
After this frugal meal, I returned to my little rented room, had a beer and prepared for the drive home. I never looked at all those pictures I took – I wanted to remember the real thing. It will be with me forever, and hopefully now, by sharing, it will stay with you too.
Well, gentlemen, this is a little counter-intuitive, but let’s face it. Ever since we were 4 months old, lying on our backs and able to focus our beautiful eyes for the very first time, what did we perceive? OUR FEET.
I know, I know, you were also perceptive during that time – which is why you still like big breasts… But we women are a little different. More sophisticated, if you like.
Lying in our cribs, playing with our hands and feet in an intelligent manner, we noticed something special. Besides breastfeeding us, our mothers also bought us pretty socks with endearing animal heads on them, cute little baby shoes in polka dots or stripes, and let’s admit it, they were marvelous. Great playing companions.
From the moment we started taking our first wobbly steps around the house, what did we hear?
“WATCH. WHERE. YOU’RE. GOING.”
Now you tell me how we could have done that without glancing intensely at our shoes… ahm, feet.
Later, when you marry us and put us forever in charge of hauling supplies, pushing prams, walking the dog, texting angrily and generally taking care of your imperial needs, we end up so downtrodden and hunchbacked under heaps of responsibilities that it’s no wonder we forget to look up while walking. 😉
So what – pray tell – is the thing that most often catches our eye?
That’s right. OUR SHOES.
Small wonder that they become our best friends. The only thing worst than a tooth-ache is a shoe-ache. Blisters. Big ugly red feet, raw with wounds. So stop obsessing about how many we have and indulge us. Because when your wife, mother of 2-3-4-whatever, goes out of the house now, she rarely has time to look at her face in the mirror. Her face has become inconsequential. But whether she wants it or not, whether she plans it or not, she always-always sees her shoes. It’s inevitable.
And truth be told, I have received far more compliments for my shoes lately than for any other accomplishment! They’re just so visible. People stop to compliment your children, and you know that’s, well, the polite thing to do even though they hate your brats. But people complimenting your shoes… – now you just know THAT’s for real!
Shoes can be playful or sad, the talk of the neighborhood or just plain boring. They can be youthful, classic or elegant, comfortable or uptight, vivid and bold, or conformist and conventional. Shoes are statements we make everyday.
Shoes are the colors of horizons we would like to see: blue, yellow, orange, dark red or green. Shoes are the toys we never had, or the toys we loved and remember. Shoes are the zillion different personalities we go through from one day to the next. Shoes are great indicators of our hormone levels.
Shoes are quirky and sentimental. Shoes can be loud and funny. Shoes can shine like the sun on a rainy day. Great shoes can combat winter depression. Which is why I went to Italy and bought myself a pair of the softest leather boots the color of ripe quinces. The color of shrill outrage and of the sun.
Come on ladies, keep walking (in your own shoes)! 🙂 And show me the snazziest ones! Show me a shoe near you!
1. To see my teacher again. She’s pretty.
2. To learn new and interesting stuff (hopefully about animals).
3. To meet my friends.
4. Less time to be nagged by mom.
5. Less time to be nagged by my younger sister.
6. I want to become a natural scientist.
7. I want to become a natural scientist and make films and pictures of wild animals and show them on TV.
3. More sleep
6. More cartoons
7. Sun, sand, water, ice cream
8. Sun, rocks, water, ice cream
9. Sun, grass, water, ice cream
10. Reading, LEGO, board games, trees, voyages of discovery, pebbles and insects (except mosquitoes!).
It was almost a case of force majeure. We had to find a destination. The hallowed Italian seaside around Venice had failed us this time, with dark rain pouring down for days on end. We had a choice between staying and facing the deluge at Lido di Jesolo or quickly finding a destination within a practicable distance where we could still enjoy a mild sunburn.
(By the way, if you want to witness monster truck races in their natural environment, as well as Brownian overtaking maneuvers only seconds before impact, a busy Italian highway is the place to go.)
So we unfolded our (digital) maps, put our finger down on a place, buckled up the kids and off we went. Luckily, the place on the map was breezy Sirmione, on the southern shore of Garda Lake. Only a Shakespeare sonnet away from Verona, where Juliet’s polished boob shines in the midday sun like some kind of sacred grapefruit rubbed by too many.
Copyright photos: Andreea Sepi & Armand Csordas 2014.
Copyright: Andreea Sepi 2014.
1. Excessive proliferation of technology.
Do you know that old engineer joke? 😉 What do engineers and dogs have in common? They both have intelligent eyes but can’t express themselves… And what’s more, they’re trying to change the whole world in their image. Applications, gadgets, the “Internet of things”, remotely operated toilet paper rolls…
They simply can’t rein themselves in. They simply won’t give up until they make every single human on the planet (including themselves) superfluous.
They should have stopped after the fridge and the washing machine.
2. What is the deal with this inflation of titles and positions?
Heck, everybody’s a CEO of some kind, everybody’s a specialist, an expert, a consultant. Every shitty job has a pompous title these days. The housewife selling insurance policies is a “Financial Consultant”, the student bringing coffee and operating the Xerox machine in an advertising agency is some kind of a “Junior Support Officer”, somebody writing content for the website is “Online Business Development Manager”.
How do simple shop assistants even get out of the house anymore without feeling embarrassed? Or cashiers? Or drivers? Don’t they want to be called “Chief Combustion Officer” or something? Or at least “Mechanical Motion Responsible”? What about plumbers and constructions workers? They sure got the short end of the stick.
I look forward to the days when the baker will be called “Senior Dough-Kneading Specialist”, the hairdresser will become “Chief Hair Officer” and the toddler will be “Junior Fart Dispenser and Dictator-in-Chief of the Stuffed Animals”… Gee!
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