[He’ll never know but this is my favorite photo from this trip]
I was sitting near the beach on a rock, right after sunset, thinking about my travels over the last two weeks when I saw this old timer. He was just sitting, thinking, taking in the beach and waves and sky… just like me. When I approached him to take a photo I used the international symbol for photo – thumb and index finger shaped like a C, moving my finger in an up and down like motion, saying “photo?” and pointing in his direction – this always gets the point across. He nodded slowly, smiled slightly, removed his hat and brushed his hair to the side with his hand- a very respectful gesture by him even though the hat was pretty great. I didn’t argue. I took a couple photos and was grateful he had allowed me to take his portrait. He then wandered off back up the hill seemingly in slow motion. Our paths will most likely never cross again but these are the things I remember. These 2 minutes of interaction made my entire trip.
After the first man wandered off, I wish now I had gotten his name, another old timer with 100 years of character and history in his face sat down. I didn’t quite make the connection as I had with the first man. Same approach, same result. He gently nodded and I captured a couple images.
The perfect way to top off the trip.
[black rock volcano beach on Stromboli]
Lipari became the next stop on the Calabrian adventure. I’m not sure how or why this came about but the choice was made. And it really doesn’t matter because it’s done and I’m there (the best part of the drift). After a short boat ride from Tropea, it stopped at an island… not Lipari and not expected. I don’t always catch every piece of Italian being thrown my way. So Stromboli it was, the first stop – volcano island. That’s pretty much the whole thing – volcano rock going right into the sea. The beach is black rock, very hot, and at times you can see smoke coming from the core. Pretty cool really.
[the view from my room in Acuacalda]
Eventually, the ferry pulled into the marina in Lipari. This place is a little throw back piece of Italy. Nobody speaks English, a good thing most of the time, with a small town feel. It’s laid back and peaceful. At any time you can see old timers shootin the bull on the corners, fishermen catching their dinners, and little old ladies wandering the skinny corridors. The night before I booked a B&B that looked pretty decent. It was 10 km from town. I didn’t know that at the time and wasn’t happy when I found out. There are pros and cons to booking a joint before hand – that’s a discussion for another time. This time I thought it was a con but turned out to be a great thing. A taxi offered to take me there for 30 euros. I don’t think so. Much too high for my taste. Next option: scooter. A mere 50 euros for 3 days. Done. They wanted 60 but I talked them down. I’m not traveling as light as usual but I was forced to (work obligations made me do it). I have an enormous Ogio bag and my pretty good sized camera backpack. Jokingly, I asked them if it was ok to load up my new ride, the HD 125cc Evo, with all my gear and the rental guys complied. Before I knew it my giant bag was balancing precariously on back with my backpack strapped to the front of me. No sweat. Once I got the 125cc’s rollin’ I couldn’t help but laugh for the next 10 km until I found the my new home.
[just another amazing sunset]
I finally made it to Tropea – a place only existing on the internet it seemed. After seeing a photo, my mind said something like this: Hey, I have a gig in Switzerland. Where could I go with some sun and beach? South of France, Spain, Italy? Find something. Ok, Tropea looked pretty great in the photos but does it really look like that in real life? Fine. Let’s (me and my mind) find out. Tropea it is – ok, that’s really more of a paraphrase so I can’t put it in quotes – my mind isn’t what it used to be. Anyway, that’s my recollection of how it went down.
The logistics: Flew to Zurich, van to Interlaken, spent a week there, walked to the train station, train to Spiez, transfer, train to Milano, transfer, train to Napoli (met a very friendly Italian couple who woke me when we got to Naples or I still might be on the train), walked through the shady part of town to a seedy hotel, cruised Napoli for a day, back to the train station and off to Lamezi, transfer, train to Tropea, wandered about town until I found the hotel I booked the day before (this time I put in 20 minutes of internet time to ensure a decent place to stay where there wasn’t the possibility of getting shanked).
And here I am. It’s as great as the pictures… and it really does exist.
Amazing sunset over Tropea.
Naples at sunset.
Not the greatest hotel in not the greatest area of the city. If I’m never heard from again please start looking for me here.
Ahhhh…. the train taking me outta this joint. I’m really looking forward to the next stop on my southern Italy adventure.