We arrived Cape Town one week ago after 18 hours in the air / on airports (yeah, I did pay the carbon tax). We started by a short two-day “holiday” on Cape Standard, a very charming hotel in Green Point. A five-minute walk lead us the fantastic coast of Cape Town with large waves pounding the clips, and we didn’t care that it rained cats and dogs. Some more minutes walk lead us to Waterfront – a harbor area with restaurants, shopping centers and a cinema. By luck, we reached the last days of the documentary festival Encounters.
Thursday we moved into our home for this semester, a charming (but poorly isolated..) house in Observatory near the Devil’s Peak mountain. We share it with three Americans attending courses at the University of Cape Town, which is located quite near. It turned out that getting to the University of the Western Cape at first was a little more difficult. The first day I used almost 2 hours to get there, but now I’ve found a bus route that runs at about 1 hour including some minutes walk and a short minibus ride. Saturday we went to DMC Dj Championships at Fiction, a cool bar at Long Street. The DJs were so talented that it was real fun! Monday the classes started at my university, which by the way has a really fascinating history as the “black” university fighting towards democracy under apartheid. I like Cape Town very good so far and I’m looking forward to what this semester will bring.
It was Maria who suggested going on an easter-trip to St. Peterburg. As I have been longing for visiting Russia and for using my very limited Russian language knowledge, I found that a great idea. To travel to Russia you still need a VISA and to get this you actually need an invitation! You can get this from hotels if you want, but because of the limited time left, we decided to buy one. In less than an hour we received an invitation, and today we visited the Russian embassy to deliever our passports. The waiting room in the embassy was way too small and full of people in a whirling queue. There were only two windows and you had to talk through a microphone. Very bureaucratic – and Russian? Hopefully we can collect our VISAs in two days.
With no road connection and no cell phone coverage, surrounded by a fjord on one side and mountains on the other, near the edge of Folgefonna, lies Eikemo. And that’s where I’ve been the last few days, together with my dad who grew up there, and my granddad who moved there when he fell in love as young. In this middle of nowhere, there still lives five people who works at the very small and certainly not competitive farms. They have mainly survived by selling goat milk, but recently they have also started with tourism and have their own website. I was very pleased to discover that there appears to be growing activity at this beautiful place where some of my roots are.
«Tractor safari» for tourists at Eikemo
The last two weeks I’ve been walking with Audun, and discovered more of what walking really is. We walked as long as we felt comfortable with every day (which took some days with sore feet to sort out). With a backpack and while trying to keep our feet in condition for the next days walk, we averaged to 26 km – a distance that should take you around 15 minutes in a car – or one hour on a bicycle. Compared to many other animals, by nature, we humans move extremely slow. Still, we can walk fascinating distances if we just take our time.
There are many pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. We met people who had walked all the way from northern France, from Holland and from Germany. Via Podiensis (GR65) is a route that starts in Le Puy-en-Velay in southern France. The different routes converge in the Pyrenees and join a single path that crosses northern Spain. We didn’t get so far this year, however. We got halfway to the Pyrenees, 360 km.
Why do one go on a pilgrimage? I can just say that I’m glad I went – and I’m sure I will continue another year. It’s a beautiful and slow way of traveling. We brought as little as we could, excluding even a map or a guidebook. We just followed the markings, and every day it was a surprise what the trail would bring, and where we would end up. Every day we bought the food we needed for that same day, walked, and found a place to sleep and talk to other pilgrims. What we didn’t bring, we didn’t miss.