For several years I had been doing the same thing, over and over, I worked and lived in a city, and I spent these years travelling mostly to other cities, with the random jaunt to the country, but I was never far from the hustle and bustle of the city. I suppose I grew deaf to the noise, the sirens, the dull roar of traffic, the constant hum, and not so occasional loud voices of thousands of people. I walked on concrete, tile, and paved paths to the same places, I often said that I could walk to work in my sleep. When I travelled, foreign cities soon became familiar, I would see the same shops on the streets that I would see at home, the people seemed the same, (I live in one of the most diverse cities in the world, and hearing many different languages is an everyday occurrence), their voices blending into the hum of the city or town.
In November 2015, I decided it was time again to travel somewhere I didn’t know a soul. It wasn’t as daring as you may think, it was New Zealand, a very safe country for a woman to travel alone in, and of course they speak English, so no language troubles. But I still felt I needed to spend at least a couple of weeks on my own, and the closest friends I had were a four hour flight away.
I arrived in Aukland very early in the morning, and had to wait to check into my hotel ,so I spent most of my first day roaming the city, which yes, did become a bit similar. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked it there, the people there are lovely, very friendly and fun. But the hum of the city was still there.
The following day I travelled to the Tongariro National Park Village where I stayed for a few days. The remainder of that day was spent settling in, and hitting the local pub, (I think it was perhaps the only). The next day I headed out to Whakapapa for the first day of my planned hikes, and it was there that I found my happy place, well, one of them.
It wasn’t long into my walk when I suddenly came to a stop, something felt very odd. I looked around for something, anything that would explain why I was feeling this way, it wasn’t an uncomfortable feeling, just odd, and then I came to the understanding, I was out 0f my comfort zone, and I loved it!
It was the sounds, or lack of so many, as all I could hear was the wind and birdsong, and when I took a few steps, my own footfalls upon the earth. It was then I felt a weight, I wasn’t conscious of carrying, seem to be lifted from my shoulders.
The quiet seemed at first a bit disconcerting, and I felt a slight panic when I realised I was completely alone, but it was the quiet that soon brought the calm.
I still love to people watch, I enjoy the buzz of the city, but I need those moments when I’m as far away from people and the noise they make to keep my sanity, and it’s time to start plotting a break from the din.
Driving to the Eltz Castle, in Germany, my brother missed the turn that would have taken us to to the parking lot for the castle, and we were about to turn around when we noticed another sign that would lead us to our destination. We turned into the town of Mozelkern, and followed the signs on the road that ended at a Hotel and Restaurant where we noticed yet another sign that pointed to a path that would take us to the castle.
At first it was a wide, gravel path on a flat surface, but barely five minutes into our walk we came to some steps that lead to the path we would have to take.
A muddy start.
It was spring, and it had been quite a wet start to the season, and neither of us had come with our walking shoes as when I had read that the path, the one we were initially going to take, was mainly a paved path, (I was wearing Cons!).
We gingerly climbed the few steps, having reasoned we’d take our chances on this path rather than turning back and trying to find the other route.
It was a good decision as it turned out, the path soon became considerably less mucky, (with some exceptions), but, we easily managed this much more narrow path, although a bit more slowly than we normally would. There were also a few trees, no doubt knocked over during one of the recent storms, that we had to either step over or duck under.
It’s a beautiful walk, despite the mud, and at times it becomes a very narrow pathway, that somehow always occurred by a sharp drop on one side. There were other offshoot paths that seemed to disappear into the trees, and we couldn’t help but wonder if that is what would happen to anyone who strayed off the main path. We passed by a few small caves, and it didn’t take us long before we could imagine ourselves having entered into a tale told by the Brothers Grimm, and then hope we hadn’t.
The path wound around through the trees and eventually we began to notice the trees grew more sparse, and turning around another corner we saw our first sighting of the castle.
From where we stood the castle looked massive, and from that position we couldn’t see the modern additions to the castle which further enhanced our imagination that we had somehow fallen into another world, or another time.
It’s a bit intimidating, having walked through this forest, having seen nothing but trees, hearing birds, the occasional rustle through the undergrowth and then suddenly looking up and seeing this castle looming high over us, and I’ll admit I was unusually awestruck at this sight. I’ve been to many impressive castles, and at the time thought myself a bit jaded by them all, but this one awoke my enjoyment of them.
We then crossed over a small bridge that was half a recent build in that it was partly built of concrete slabs with metal railings that lay atop older rocks, misshapen by weather and time, along with a very worn set of steps that were unfortunately blocked off by the railings.
From here we followed another path that led to steps up to the road that lay before the Eltz Castle.
The road to the castle is the one from the parking lot, the one we had intended to take, intending that is because we believed it was the only way to there. To be honest, had we taken this route we probably would not have been as impressed as we were taking the one we wound up on.
There were far less people with us on the path, had we taken the road we would have had to shared the route with many other tourists, and while the paved road it would have been a more easier and cleaner route, it would have been a significantly less exciting approach.
When you’re in a city, pay attention to the outside walls of the older buildings because you might be lucky to catch sight of a ghost sign. Before the billboards, before the neon signs, and before the videos, if you wanted to advertise your business you had someone paint it on the side of a wall. Often, not long after you had your advertisement painted, someone else came by and painted over your ad with someone else’s.
I adore these signs because even with the most basic and plain of these advertisements there’s some skill involved, something that seems to be missing in our current society.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of technology, but I also love the artistry of a hand written word. Perhaps, like these ghost signs I have a foot each in both worlds.
Hello again, it’s been awhile since I last posted, about eight months I think, and there’s been many reasons why I’ve fallen off the blog wagon.
2016 has been a fairly horrible year, an old friend of mine, (we’ve been friends for about 30 something years), passed away in May, then there was the passing of my most favourite artists, and over the year I’ve been dealing with a feeling of being lost, of just “going through the motions.” I’ve been so uninspired, and tired, and then just last week I was laid off from work, (did get a package so no hurry to find work just yet…hey, I just found a silver lining!).
And on a trivial note, my laptop finally gave up after seven long, and abusive years, (ok the glass of wine that my cat knocked onto it was what that finally did it…and yes, I know it was all my fault, and what a cliche!).
So now, I’ve got a new MacBook, a lot of free time, and I’ve got to look at this now as a new start. New starts are never easy, so I feel I’m being a bit lazy with this post, but in my defence I’ve been re-watching the Harry Potter films today and these photo’s are what came to mind first when I thought about the prompt.
The figures under the water are of course not Inferi, they are in fact sculptures that do lie under the water, by a bridge in in Copenhagen. They are ‘Agnete and the Mermen,’ and they are in one of the many fairy tales found in Danish folklore. As for the luggage trolly half embedded in the wall? What rock have you been hiding under for the past, nearly twenty years?
Last November, for a few days, I rented a house just outside of the town of Tekapo, New Zealand, it was in a new build area, and from what I could tell I was the only one there.
Travelling on my own is nothing new to me, I often travel solo, but this was something a bit different as I’m usually somewhere with people near by, next door, next room, etc.
I could have spent my nights locked inside, but that night in particular I couldn’t settle until I went out.
I spent most of that first night outside, (with a bottle of wine), sitting in the dark, watching the night sky, (along with the occasional shooting stars), in near silence, (there was some rustling from near by nocturnal creatures).
And of course I took a few photos.