Zboczeniec

Path of a Pervert

Everything flows, as Panta Rhei said, and no man ever steps in the same river twice, but on the other hand the history repeats itself, so the quotes have to be chosen according to the circumstances, as the point of view depends on the seat. I said what I knew.

But it had a deep meaning, as you will find out later.

The route from Ouchy in Lausanne to Pully, which runs along the banks of the lake – Sentier des Rives du Lac – is simply beautiful. The views of the Alps, the lake and the vineyards sooth and calm in a therapeutic way. However, I warn you – sometimes it can be crowded, and then calming will not be fully calmed.

Returning to the repeating history, this route was described on the pages of my blog, in an article Farewell to Autumn. Now, I move forward to discover something new around the corner…

Still ’round the corner there may wait
A new road or secret gate;
And though I oft have passed them by,
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.
/J.R.R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings/

This time at the end of the port of Pully, where on the very edge of the lake there is a pool, I do not run further along the shore of the lake, but I turn left into Route du Port and reach the route cantonal (Route de Vevey). I go through the pedestrian crossing to the other side and along Chemin des Vignes I run up several meters.

Art with a capital Ar

Art with a capital Ar

I turn left, towards a bizarre, red-and-steel sculpture and immediately to the right, to the hidden in the bushes Path of a Pervert (Sentier de Pervert).

Beginning of the Path of a Pervert (Sentier de Pervers)

Beginning of the Path of a Pervert (Sentier de Pervers)

Squeezing my buttocks and all the time looking nervously behind me, I run up through the vineyards, untill the gate in the wall. Here, with astonishment, I rub my eyes! On the big sign on the left I can see that this is not Sentier de Pervert but Sentier de Pévret, which means peppermint in the local dialect. I have to be exact in reading and careful in assessments…

It turned out, however, that it was not a pervert

It turned out, however, that it was not a pervert

Behind the gate, I turn right and climb to the church. In the front of the temple there is a viewing terrace from which, as the name suggests, the view is visible. View to the lake, to the Alps and to the vineyards of Lavaux, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. From Ouchy to this place about 4 km.

Tough guys don't stop, they just run further...

Tough guys don’t stop, they just run further…

However, my route continues further, along the street at the western wall of the church and Restaurant du Prieuré, in which the Polish Carnival Ball was organized some time ago by the Polish Association in Lausanne.

I run through the pedestrian crossing on the Rue de la Poste, then the bridge over the railway tracks, and finally through the tunnel under Avenue de Lavaux, I run into the steep street Chemin de la Clergère. After 270 meters, I turn right into Avenue de Rochettaz, and then after 230 meters, turn left into a one-way Chemin du Caudoz, where garbage containers are located.

The street climbs steeply, until the next bridge over the railway tracks through which I pass and after a while I turn right into Chemin de Leisis following the indications of the yellow signpost “Tourisme pédestre“.

To the right...

To the right…

After 200 meters, the street changes it’s name to Chemin de Volson and climbs sharply. Just before Chemin des Sapins, I jump right into the forest’s narrow path*, which I discovered only after some time running in this area, which confirms my opinion that we should never stop exploring.

Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find...

Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find…

The path leads down towards La Paudèze stream (whose estuary to the lake is located between Pully and Paudex) and then slightly upwards, below the sawmill building. Here starts recently opened sawdust path, which falling and rising, brings me to Stand de Volson (526 m above sea level).

*Before finding the path through the forest, I was passing Chemin des Sapins and continuing straight on until Chemin du Stand. I was turning right and runing lightly down. I was passing the sawmill from the top and running on to the same place, which is Stand de Volson. From Ouchy about 6.4 km.

There is a crossroads of tourist trails here and a lot of parking places. So, it was possible to get here by car! Why did I get so tired instead of traveling like a civilized tourist!?

- What? Tytus is already here? - We have broken the record of the time to climb to the top and you were here before us. How did you do that? - Normally. By bus. Like a civilized tourist... - ...you pay and demand. With music, heating and a guide who speaks three languages. Bye, because the bus leaves. /H. J. Chmielewski, Tytus, Romek i A'tomek, volume  XII/

– What? Tytus is already here?
– We have broken the record of the time to climb to the top and you were here before us. How did you do that?
– Normally. By bus. Like a civilized tourist…
– …you pay and demand. With music, heating and a guide who speaks three languages. Bye, because the bus leaves.
/H. J. Chmielewski, Tytus, Romek i A’tomek, volume XII/

For beginners runners and walkers, arriving by car can be a good solution because the real adventure / nature begins only here. To the right, through a barrier blocking the passage of cars across the bridge, the road leads to Belmont-sur-Lausanne and then to Savigny and Tour de Gourze. To the left, sharply up the hill, by the wooden steps, there is a path to Epalinges and the distant Chalet-a-Gobet and straight ahead to Signal de Belmont.

So, I choose the gate number…

Path with fountains, like… carousel with Madonnas

Get in, madonnas, madonnas
To the drays with six horses, six horses
/Ewa Demarczyk, Carousel with Madonnas/

In the north of Lausanne, about 500 meters above the surface of the Lake Geneva (Lac Leman) the great green wood extends  Bois du Jorat. I often visit it to ride a bike or run. Each year, me and my family take part in the big sport event: Journée Lausannoise du Vélo.

The best known and most frequently chosen starting point for all kinds of excursions is Mauvernay sports center in Chalet-à-Gobet. There are the starting points of health paths (Zurich Parcours Vita and Helsana), horse riding tracks and mountain bike routes.

I went there also on that day, when I decided to hit the route aptly named Le Chemin des Fontiers des Bois du Jorat. The fountain road was created in 2003 on the occasion of International Day of Forests and World Water Day, which we celebrate on the 21st and the 22nd of March with the UN initiative.

The horses levitate over the ground,
They are staying on the layover with their drays

Already centuries ago, the most abundant sources in the forests in the north of Lausanne were captured into a network supplying drinking water to the city and surrounding communities. Sources of minor importance were used to supply fountains at the edge of forest roads, primarily used by loggers. Today, all visitors to this charming place can enjoy it.

The water service (Service de l’eau) and the forest service (Service des Forêts domaines et vignobles) prepared a useful map of the route with locations of each fountain.

Plans are worthless but planning is everything /Dwight D. Eisenhower/

Plans are worthless but planning is everything /Dwight D. Eisenhower/

Roadside signposts with the inscription Chemin des Fontaines and information boards are also helpful.

Follow me...

Follow me…

The basic route measures 12 kilometers. Those who want to see 2 additional fountains must add another 7 kilometers.

The madonnas shifted
And the procession of horses
Quickly took off.
Flying around
Gramophone
Disk…

I choose the opposite direction than the flyer suggests, but clockwise. From the building of the sports center I turn left and immediately after the information boards with maps I turn left again and start running up the asphalt path. I run alongside the large buildings belonging to the forest service and continue down the Route des Corbessiers untill Route du Golf. On the other side of the street, continue down the forest path in western direction to the Military Fountain [1] (Fontaine des Militaires), about 2 kilometers from the start.

Fontaine des Militaires

Fontaine des Militaires

20% of the water that falls to the ground in the form of rain or snow is filtered through the molasse subsoil*, which occurs in these areas, and then enters the groundwater. Before the water reaches the surface again and comes out as a source, it is further filtered and mineralized by the rocks through which it flows (here most often limestone rocks).

*Molasse (Latin mollis ‘soft’) – sedimentary rocks whose accumulation occurred in the vicinity of the mountains, during their uplift or soon after the rise; Their main ingredient is rock crumbs from the destruction of the mountains.

For safety and order I must mention that the water in the fountains on the route may be drinking (eau potable) or uncontrolled (eau non contrôlée). Uncontrolled water does not mean that it is undrinkable. This only means that the water supply service is unable to provide continuous quality control of the water. Depending on external conditions, changes in its appearance, odor, taste, microbiology and chemical composition can occur (for example, after heavy rainfall).

The next 600 meters, I run the gravel forest path of Chemin des Liaises towards the west. When I reach the asphalt road Route des Planches, on the opposite side I see the next fountain – Fountain of the Mill Stones [2] (Fontaine des Meules).

Fontaine des Meules

Fontaine des Meules

As you have already noticed, the names of some fountains are bizarre, and their etymology can reach the dark of “Middle Ages” (although in fact the Middle Ages were not at all dark). In some cases the origin of names can not be determined… Either way, the creators of the Fountain Way have tried their best and they have put information on every fountain about it. I will not give that information, but I encourage to explore the route and to know the history of the fountains, sources of water and its chemical composition.

From Fontaine des Meules I head north, slightly up the hill through the forest and when I reach the asphalt road, turn right. About 1 kilometer from the previous fountain I get to the Chalet des Enfants, a charming restaurant serving Swiss cuisine and in particular the regional one.

Fontaine du Chalet des Enfants

Fontaine du Chalet des Enfants

This time I only recall the previous visits to this place, I drink from the Fontaine du Chalet des Enfants [3] which is located in the yard and I continue east on the asphalt road. Just before the junction with the main road, I turn right between the trees where the walking trail goes (yellow signpost), I cross again the Route des Planches and follow the forest path untill the Fontaine des Gollies [4]**.

** Gollies can mean: deep depression full of water, hollow filled with water, pool, pond. In the dialect of Suisse romande it means “hole in the stream”, and in medieval Latin “hole” or “pond”. The proverb says “Ça pleut toujours dans les grandes gollies“, what is translated as the rain always falls into the large pool, which means that money always goes to money.

Fontaine des Gollies

Fontaine des Gollies

I drink a few sips, I take a few pictures and then I make a few steps back to the Route du Golf. I cross it and by the path between the meadow and the forest I run north-northeast, all the time keeping on to the marks Chemin des fontaines. After 1.5 km I cross the bridge over the largest stream passing through The Jorat Forest and stop for a moment at the Fontaine des Côtes [5]. The name of this fountain comes from the picturesque and winding banks of Le Talent River.

Fontaine des Côtes

Fontaine des Côtes

The official map mentioned above is accurate enough that you do not have to keep proposed route, but you can search for your own paths, shortcuts or… extensions. The map is like a pirate code, rather a collection of guidlines, not real rules.

Code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.
/Captain Barbosa to Elizabeth Swann/

In order to see two more (extra fountains), I would have to run back and forth the same way as the authors suggest, which always arouses my deepest aversion. So I do not run further to the north, as the map and signposts suggest, but I go back a few dozen meters across the bridge and turn into the first path going to the right (north-west).

In a while, in a moment...

In a while, in a moment…

A gravel’s road runs along a steep slope above the riverbed of Le Talent and is parallel to the official route running on the other bank, by which I will return in a while, in a moment… The path along the river turns southwest and after a while to the west.

Ville de Lausanne 1978 - Service des Eaux

Ville de Lausanne 1978 – Service des Eaux

I pass a waterworks buildingon located on the right side of the path. When I reach the asphalt of Les Saugealles road, I make 3 steps on the right side and run again into the narrow path leading right down between the trees. I went back to the asphalt road, which in the meantime changed the name to Route de l’Abbaye and turn right to… the abbey.

Abbey de Montheron

Abbey de Montheron

Montheron Abbey founded in 1142 years by the Cistercian no longer plays its former role. From the times of glory remained only a small church and… a large restaurant (sign of our times). Fontaine de l’Abbaye de Montheron [6] and the supplying source of Holy Hipolit are on the opposite side of the road, at the beginning of the return journey along the riverbed of Le Talent.

Fontaine de l’Abbaye de Montheron

Before I can move in that direction, I have to “pass” another fountain, to which leads unfortunately only an asphalt road. I continue down the Route de l’Abbaye towards the west until the Route de Montheron and I turn left. About 100 meters on the left side of the road there is an asphalt square with a small building behind which the Fontaine de l’Orée des Bois [7] is hidden; what means “fountain at the edge of the forest”.

Fontaine de l’Orée des Bois

Fontaine de l’Orée des Bois

Today, the edge of the forest is far away from the fountain, which only confirms the negative impact of a man on nature. Although, it has to be acknowledged that the Swiss protection of forests has finally entered into the constitution, which is an idea worthy of imitation.

I go back to the abbey following my own tracks and according to the plan I run up the river Le Talent, which cuts into the picturesque steep walls of the ravine. In the winter, on the sandstone rocks, fantastic ice waterfalls are created, but the valley is beautiful and well worth a visit whole the year.

Their lone waters–lone and dead,– Their still waters-still and chilly With the snows of the lolling lily... /Edgar Allan Poe, Dream–Land/

Their lone waters–lone and dead,–
Their still waters-still and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily…
/Edgar Allan Poe, Dream–Land/

About 2.5 kilometers from the abbey I reach the same path where Fontaine des Côtes [5] is located and which I left about an hour ago to diversify my sightseeing tour. I’m not coming back to this fountain but I turn left sharply at 180 degrees and run a gravel road uphill to the north. After 600 meters the road turns again to the south (I do not turn to Froideville) and after another 550 meters I stop at a wooden hut and Fontaine des Trois Moineaux [8] hidden behind it. In this case, the etymology of the name is very simple – someone,… once,… saw three sparrows bathing in that fountain and because sparrows in the forest are the rarity, so that already remained.

Fontaine des Trois Moineaux

Fontaine des Trois Moineaux

Afters next 1.2 km I reach Fontaine du Paiement [9], at which still in the 70′s the forest inspector was paying (as the name implies) salaries for a dozen woodcutters working in the Jorat forest. I drink the water waiting for Godot, sorry… for the forest inspector, but a duffer did not show up and paid nothing, so I felt offended and I ran further.

Fontaine du Paiement

Fontaine du Paiement

I crossed again Le Talent, much narrower in this place and after several dozen of meters I turned sharply to the left in east direction. When an extensive clearing opened in front of me, I turned right parallel to the forest edge and roughly halfway of the meadow, I followed the “fountain trails” sign and turned to the left. On the asphalt road, I turned right to the already visible building where horses often graze.

Fontaine de Moille Saugeon

Fontaine de Moille Saugeon

This is Fontaine de Moille Saugeon [10] distants from its predecessor by 1.2 km. The name of the fountain suggests it was once “a humid place where willows grow”. Now there are no willows, and the place is not humid at all.

***Moille  humid place, peat bog, swampy place, often in the hollow area; from Latin ‘mollis’  soft, delicate.

****Saugeon  willow; from the Latin ‘salix’ and the French ‘saule’, a tree that usually grows in meadows and along streams.

And if they would even go, where would they go?
Where would they go, let’s say, willows?
By the river? But they are by the river,
And march to the sea – is too far.
/Jan Brzechwa, Trees/

So further, towards the sea… Mediterranean Sea, which means due south, slightly up the hill, again to the forest. After several hundred meters I turn left from asphalt to gravel road and reach the Fountain of the President [11] (Fontaine du President).

Fontaine du President

Fontaine du President

It is neither the “leader of the free world” nor the leader of the nation, who “is so put to patience and long-worn collar that it is ready to bite – the hand that try to bares it.” The fountain is simply next to the largest and highest silver fir (white fir) in the Jorat forest, called “President”.

President or... Major

President or… Major

The age of the tree is estimated for 300 years and its height is over 50 meters, before it was “beheaded” for safety reasons. It should not be called President now but Major, like Major Davel, who was also beheaded by Berneseans, who occupied the Canton of Vaud in XVIII century. I mentioned this important event for Switzerland in the article From Ouchy to Saint-Sulpice.

Another 1.1 km and I am coming back to Chalet-a-Gobet. But before I close the loop of my route, I also visit the Fontaine du Chalet-a-Gobet [12], whose granite reservoir is standing next to the tavern serving local cuisine.

Fontaine du Chalet-a-Gobet

Fontaine du Chalet-a-Gobet

The fountain was used for watering horses that transported people and goods along the road connecting Lausanne and Bern. I am not a horse but nevertheless I drunk clean and cold water. Then I calmly ran to the sports center from which I started – something ends…

***

The creators of this itinerary warn in the leaflet that using it after dark can be dangerous – so you already know where to find me at the nearest full moon – something beginns…

I see a looking-glass tale, where instead of the sun,
Procession of blessed candle watch over the corpses of the ancients,
Tale which from itself is endlessly slide out
In order that never to slide out to the end…
/Boleslaw Leśmian, Prologue/

DYPLOM

Return to Heidiland

It passed the time required for the Earth to come full circle around the sun since…

Heidi ran to the far edge of the slope and continued to wave her hand to Clara until the last glimpse of horse and rider had disappeared. /Johanna Spyri, Heidi/

I returned to Grisons, to take part again in the mountain race Swiss Irontrail, organized by my beloved Mammut. However, using the principle of “continuous improvement”, which was burned in my brain, but most of all in my heart during 17 years of working in some company (“Thank You for Smoking”), this time I chose distance of 91 kilometers, means more than twice long as last year, when as you remember, I ran 41 kilometres.

To the starting point in Bergün I reached by train. This time, there were no questionable “attractions” with the participation of bandits, which I described in previous article. On the route there were real attractions. Rhaetian Railway connecting two historic railway lines Albula and Bernina is the UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered one of the most spectacular rail routes in the world. The surrounding landscape with its quaint villages and romantic Alpine views is also the part of the World Heritage. The route was opened in 1904, it has almost 130 kilometres and runs through 55 tunnels and 196 bridges, of which the most famous is curved Landwasser viaduct.

In the sport hall I picked up the starting number with a chip to measure time and the GPS device allowing to locate me on the route. It was possible to eat bananas, chocolate bars, bouillon, Coca-Cola and water. For competitors running longer distances (121 km and 221 km) it was already another nutrition point.

Among people competing with me in T91 I saw Ildikó Wermescher and Csaba Nemeth, professional runners belonging to Mammut Pro Team Trail Running, who, as it turned out later, won in this category. We talked briefly about running, Mammut, last year’s impressions from the race (it turned out that together with Ildikó we ran T41), Nemeth highly praised competitions played in Poland in which he participated (Race of 7 Valleys). I made a picture with Ildikó but unfortunately the quality is not the best one, nevertheless, there is a souvenir from a nice meeting and conversations.

I must once again raise the matter which I have meditated and written about recently. With horror I have noticed that as well as I, Ildikó and Nemeth had no Mammut socks! We had everything “Mammut brand” but only this “sock’s crack” in the appearance…

The gun fired at 13:00. We moved initially on flat terrain (1373 m) and after a while started climbing to 2,831 m above sea level. As it is known, if for some time is uphill, then most likely later it is down. So it was this time.

After part of the run in the vicinity of 2800 – 2600 meters above sea level, I went down from Pass digls Orgels (2699) to Savognin (1173). There was another nutrition point and the first night’s lodging. I noticed that some runners had help from families or friends who were waiting for them in main food / accommodation points and delivering fresh clothes for disguise, embrocating warming / analgesic ointments and feeding with delicacies. I had not thought about it and did not involved my family in helping on the route. My fans have only to greet me at the finish, as last year but it turned out that T91 is much more demanding than the T41. Another tip for the future.

Anyway, in Savognin I did not decided yet to sleep. I have just eaten and drunk and moved forward…

Nocturnal part of the route I recall with great fondness because it was an experience other than that with which man meets on a daily basis. Night chill, mysterious noises, crackling, voices of animals and werewolves and continuous focusing not to lose the route. Ah, something wonderful!

I decided to spend the night in Lenzerheide, the town where a year ago I started T41. I fell as dead and after a second (ah, this time dilation) I already stood up when the alarm clock rang in the watch. In the glow of the morning I set off on already known last year’s route but very different by the accumulation of fatigue. From Lenzerheide (1473) a way led up again above 2500 meters.

This time at Weisshorn (2653) there was not a snowstorm, but everywhere enveloped moist, dense fog. What made me wonder were screech of gulls and the salty smell of the sea. Something was wrong here…

Suddenly from the fog emerged a guy with a strange convex forehead and a funny mustache. He had matted hair, haggard and dirty face and eyes expressionless. He wore a stained faded, old bombazine coat, pantaloons of a similar character, a pair of worn-out shoes run down at the heels, and an old straw hat. It looked like individual pieces of clothing that he was wearing did not belong to him. He mumbled something unintelligible. When he saw me, he walked unsteadily in my direction. I was a little scared and squeezed harder poles, ready to defend. Strange guy asked in English:

- Is this Baltimore?
Then, I was already sure.
- Dear Edgar – I said – This is definitely not Baltimore, and it seems to me that you will not come back there. I think seraphim in heaven listened to you in the end and you will be able to meet with your beloved Anabel.
- Who are you? How do you know me? How do you know about Anabel?
- It may sound strange, but I read your stories and poems, as well as a description of… your mysterious death almost 170 years ago.
- You are saying that I am dead for 170 years?
- Well, I think you do not belong neither to the world of living nor the world of dead. You are suspended between them. And the time passes differently for you (ah, this time dilation).
- So this is Dream-Land?
- Not yet, but close.
Screeching seagulls and the sound of the sea has intensified …
- You have to go in the direction of the sounds. Anabel is already waiting on the beach.

He silently raised his hand for farewell, he turned and disappeared into the swirling mist. Running down towards Arosa and to the next nutrition point I have heard behind me a long restless roar like the sound of thousands seas. I have not stopped, I ran incessantly.

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
/Edgar Allan Poe, Annabel Lee/

In Arosa, I made a break for a meal and a short rest in fantastically equipped anti-atomic bunker. It was the third and last place where one could sleep, but I did not use this opportunity anymore. The pillbox was equipped with bunks, toilets, showers and a kitchen. But there are some people (especially in Geneva) who complain about the tragic conditions in this type of premises. This is not a villa with a garden of course, but for sure the place is safer than a mud hut in Eritrea being strafed with mortars.

The climb from Arosa was moderately mild but the rain pouring from the sky made it far more difficult and to the last nutrition point in Jatz (1831) I arrived terribly exhausted. When tired and sleepy, I was scrambling to the last pass on the route, leaned on the poles, I thought why am I overstraining myself so much? And the next step up… Why, at my own request I am undergoing such a torture? And the next step toward the finish line… This is the last time, never again! And the next step…

At the Strelapass I exchanged a few words with the person who kept the checkpoint and “ticked” from the list, I ran down having the last five kilometers of the route in front of me.

When reached Davos, people on the streets, despite the night, were applauding and greeting me. HAPPY I crossed the finish line!

According to Datasport I was the last ranked participant in my category; some people did not complete the race. This time I beat 90.2 km horizontally and + 5420m / – 5240m vertically.

When relaxed, happy and proud I calmly ate grilled sausages and drank beer in the middle of the night, my painful doubts from climbing to the Strelapass… vanished like mist. I have already begun to plan when and on what race I will go next time – am I normal?

I have reached these lands but newly
From an ultimate dim Thule —
From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime,
Out of SPACE — Out of TIME
/E. A. Poe, Dream-Land/

You’ve gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?

My family went on vacation to Poland and I, as a representative of “the working people of towns and villages”, have remained on the position and throughout the whole week worked efficiently. However, the weekend came and I had to plan something for the lonely two days. In the previous corporation I would not have a problem because “deadly deadlines” would force me to work during the days theoretically free from it.

Work is a right, a duty and a matter of honor for every citizen. By his work, observance of labor discipline, competition and improving its methods the working people of towns and villages reinforces the strength and power of the Fatherland, increases the prosperity of the nation and accelerates the overall realization of the socialist system. Work leaders are surrounded by widely respect of the nation.
/Article 14 of the Constitution of the Polish Republic from 1952; so called The Stalinist constitution/

Present company has not provided me the weekend overtime, so I had to come up with something myself. I thought and I came up with…

Meanwhile, Tytus... I thought and I came up with a "thoughtless". It will be placed ahead of a sentence having no sense. /H. J. Chmielewski, Tytus, Romek i A’Tomek, vol. XII

Meanwhile, Tytus…
I thought and I came up with a “thoughtless”. It will be placed ahead of a sentence having no sense.
/H. J. Chmielewski, Tytus, Romek i A’Tomek, vol. XII/

…the idea of crossing the Alps from the Rhone Valley on Swiss side until St-Gingolph in France and get back to Lausanne by boat cruising on Lake Geneva. I prepared quickly necessary equipment and moved forward to the dance!

So this gentleman, dismal gentleman
Has upset himself awfully, my ladies and gentlemen.
He realized that he
Can sit all his life by the window.
Suddenly he stood up, walked dance,
Spanish waltz add him the courage.
/Jerzy Połomski, Whole audience is singing with us/

I boarded the train at the main station in Lausanne, where an adventure has happened to me, which I would like to describe as a warning. In the train, going through the compartment, I was looking for a place to sit. Most of the them were occupied, but I saw a favorable location, where only one man was sitting by the window, with the backpack next to him and the other three seats were vacant. Therefore, I sat opposite to him, but from the aisle to be able to stretch the legs. I put the backpack on the window’s side.

Suddenly, quite loud group of black men started to squeeze through the compartment. When passing next to me and my neighbor, a fistful of small coins fell from one’s hand and showered on us and on the floor. Mumbling “excusez-moi,” one of the black men bent down and has begun collecting coins.

Already I was bending down to help him, when my exuberant imagination reminded me the films about ninjas who turn away the attention by throwing coins into the crowd. When people were busy collecting the scattered money, ninja could kill, kidnap, perform other tasks or simply run away. In a split second, I realized that here the same method has been used! I straightened up and hug the backpack to my chest! My neighbor did not watch films about Japanese assassins because he eagerly began to collect coins from the floor, while the second of black men was already reaching for his backpack lying on the seat. I shouted in English: “Watch out your backpack!” (because in French I have not gathered thoughts so fast).

Firstly, the man understood what I said, secondly he reacted and in addition showed reflexes, because in the last moments grab his backpack and pulled it out from the Negro’s hand. The robbers quickly understood that this time they failed and ran out of the train. A side effect of the incident was that I earned 50 centimes (in 10 and 5 cents), which the bandits did not manage to gather together with the wallets of passengers. Grateful tourist, as it turned from Scotland, thanked me several times for saving his belongings and was surprised that such things happen in Switzerland, normally considered as the safe country.

Oh, yes, it is not the same Switzerland as at the time of “Goldfinger” and “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. Even James Bond sees the difference and choose Austria as a place of his new adventures in the movie “Spectre”. Therefore, remember dear readers, if the rain of small coins start to fall on you, it is not a miracle – it’s an attack and not always inspector Harry Callahan can be close to you .

I know what you’re thinking. “Did he fire six shots or only five?” Well to tell you the truth in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off, you’ve gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?
/Dirty Harry/

***

I got off at the Aigle station at 12:20, being warmly farewell by the Scotchman, who was going to Chamonix. At once I moved on by tourist route along the railway, backing up initially in the direction of Lausanne. After a while (as we know from the comic books about Tytus, one while = three moments) I reached the lane of trees among which flowed Grande Eau (it appeared not too big). I turned left on the floodbank, ran under the highway and along the stream I reached the Rhone (Le Rhône).

I turned left again, into an asphalt road, which is also a bicycle and roller route. Through the bridge I crossed the Rhone and just after it I ran down the shaft to the left to the asphalt road, being again bicycle and roller route, parallel to the route from the opposite shore.

Following a flat path I ran into the village of Vouvry, over which, 450 meters above dominates Chavalon powerhouse.

The plant was commissioned in 1965 and was burning heavy fuel oil (mazut), which was created as a by-product of fuel production in a nearby oil refinery in Collombey. For ecological reasons was closed in 1999. However, in connection with the proposed exclusion of all nuclear power plants in Switzerland to 2034, will be re-launched, this time using natural gas to produce electricity.

I started to climb up the tourist trail, repeatedly cutting the serpentine roads for cars.

The heat was unmerciful… but with backpack Mammut Lithium Z 20 I was secured. I was drinking both from a tank in a backpack (about the advantages of this method I wrote in the articles Mammut in the Heidiland and Aim for the moon), as well as from water bottle placed in the holder attached by the Velcro straps to the backpack’s braces. It is a new piece of equipment that I decided to test.

With water, or rather with the lack of it, is no laughing matter on long journeys. After several hours of slow-run in the mountains in hot weather, every sip is at a premium, so the additional supply is very useful. I harnessed stock to the bottom and therefore I can confirm that Add-on bottle holder has proven itself. Additionally, it is lightweight (60 grams) and adjustable, depending on the diameter of the bottle. A small thing, but a nice one.

To see how much happiness,
Hides every little thing.
Let’s rejoice in small things, because
formula for happiness is written in them!
/Sylwia Grzeszczak, Little things/

Truly I say to you, taste of H20 varies depending on the fatigue of the organism and the greater the fatigue, the better the taste.

A rose in red, a lilac in white is blooming,
None of us is cracking though badly it is.
We will cross the hills, we will sip the water,
Where are the field kitchens only God knows.
Who would have worried that dust covers the roads
And snow, and rain – this we know already .
We will cross the hills, we will sip the water,
The water left after the battle has the flavor like wine.
/How I Unleashed World War II/

I reached the Max village and for a while I was running again on the asphalt road leading cars to Lac de Taney (for motorists, let me add that the last section is allowed only for cars with four-wheel drive and the lock of differential, so the cars with so-called intelligent drive 4×4 switchable by computer can not drive there). Behind the chapel at the end of the village I turned right, went back to the wild trail and continue up my tour also towards Lac de Taney but in a much longer version.

The heat was unmerciful… but with Mammut MTR 141 Shorts Long Men I was running at these conditions quite well. Because I will describe the short pants, the matter of what in those short pants is hidden I just clearly describe with below joke:

A guy comes to the doctor and exhibits his penis on doctor’s desk.
The doctor looks up and asks:
- Too short?
- No!
- Too thin?
- No!
- What’s it like?
- It’s great! Isn’t it?!

Shorts are so short that there is not too much to describe. The fabric is a blend of polyamide and elastane. From inside the shorts features mesh. They are sooooo lightweight, they weigh 150 grams (on kitchen weight of my wife does not weight at all) and therefore running is very comfortable. They are breathable, dries quickly and in general very good for me for running. Own feelings in the end are the best adviser when choosing clothes and sports equipment.

I arrived finally to the Lac de Taney from the north east. This charming little lake is located at an altitude of 1408 m above sea level. Close to the lake there is a camping site, a small hamlet of cottages and a restaurant. I ran through the hamlet, by the fountain complemented the supply of water and headed up to the left, traversing the slope. The trail led straight west initially, and after a while, turned slightly to the north and through the Pas de Lovenex reached the Col de la Croix.

Being so high in the mountains, man mutes himself, ponders, wonders about the most important things in life, looking for the absolute… I was bothered only by one thought – why Mammut does not produce socks!? This negligence has repeatedly been spotted and expostulated by my friends, as it was creating a rift in my perfect Mammut image. I have to write to the marketing department in Seon, when this reprehensible situation will change. It would be a great complement to the collection of shoes (trail, alpine and trekking).

Shoes, by the way. The heat was unmerciful… but described some time ago MTR 201 Mammut Pro Low cooperated with me very well. Feet were breathing freely, had no abrasions and adhesion to the substrate was fantastic what turned out particularly useful on the next stage of the expedition.

From the mountain pass, the route led steeply down on the loose stones, towards French border. I ran down to the bottom of the valley and along the cross-border creek of La Morge I reached St-Gingolph.

And the problem appeared here. None bus nor ship were shuttling to Evian at that hour. I did not have strength, nor time to run on the asphalt road together with cars. What could I do? I haven’t had a long gray rain-coat, like Rotger Hauer, only a magnificent orange Mammut t-shirt, so I assumed that I should not raise too much fear as “The Hitcher”. I was right. After about 10 minutes of waving a hand at the oncoming traffic, a car stopped beside me.

Inside a young girl was sitting, dressed…, I would say, boldly. It turned out that she was going to Casino Evian to… work. So, I got into the car. First, politely and briefly I explained whence I appeared on the road, what route today I went through and why do I need transportation. Then, the rest of the way she was speaking. It turned out that she is… a doctor of psychology and along with other graduate students from both psychology and sociology describe the phenomenon of addiction to gambling. Currently, they are visiting different casinos and conducting researches. Her dress turned out to be… a camouflage needed for studies.

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
/Luke 6:37/

We arrived to Evian. The doctor dropped me off at the port, while she went to her “laboratorium” to conduct researches. I entered the ship at 20:45. Sitting during the cruise on the bench at the stern I could quietly enjoy the views. On the larboard side, face of the Sun slowly but inexorably was falling down towards the dark Jura foothills, to hide behind the black peaks exactly at the moment when the ship berthed in the port of Ouchy in Lausanne.

The mist that came from the Mediterranean sea blotted out the city that Pilate so detested.  The suspension bridges connecting the temple with the grim fortress of Antonia vanished, the murk descended from the sky and drowned the winged gods above the hippodrome, the crenellated Hasmonaean palace, the bazaars, the caravanserai, the alleyways, the pools…  Jerusalem, the great city, vanished as though it had never been. The mist devoured everything, frightening every living creature in Jerusalem and its surroundings. The city was engulfed by a strange cloud which had crept over it from the sea towards the end of that day, the fourteenth of the month of Nisan.
/Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita/

 

Mammut SIGG Thermo Mug

Attentive readers of my blog probably noticed in the article Mammut Lithium Z20 multiple pictures made with the camera Zorka Five (quote from the cult Polish film “The Cruise” which can be understand only by someone who grown up in Poland controlled by communist party and Soviet Union). On the photos there was a black thermos with a gold logo of Mammut. Thermos eagerly accepted invitation of the backpack who was the main character of that post. Now is the time for a brief description of the black bottle (black color supposedly shapes up).

This thermos is the effect of cooperation between old and respected Swiss company SIGG with an even older and more respected Swiss company Mammut and in the background of this cooperation rises to a height of 4478 m above sea level the majestic summit of the Matterhorn, which was first conquered 150 years ago (14 July 1865). This important historic event will be remembered and celebrated in 2015 by various persons and institutions. Mammut company is one of the organizers and sponsors of a whole range of events related to the anniversary of conquering the Matterhorn and the host of celebrations is the Swiss town of Zermatt.

Mammut prepared a wide range of products on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the first ascent to the summit. Limited collection called Mammut Matterhorn consists of jackets, trousers, hats, sweatshirts, backpacks, bags, shoes and vacuum flasks. The dominant color of the series is gold, so you already know dear readers, why Mammut logo on the thermos is gold and not red as usual.

I feel however that you should get to know more details of the first ascent to the Matterhorn, find out why Zermatt is associated with this event and what Mammut has to do with all of that. I am writing about Mammut already for some time, and have not written yet how, when and by whom the company was founded. These topics are so extensive therefore I will elaborate them in the next article but in the meantime I will finish thermos description…

Thermos, which came from the SIGG factory belongs to series HOT & COLD offering 4 volumes in two different types: mug 0.3 and 0.5 liter and bottle 0.75 and 1 liter. I have the pleasure to be the owner of a half-liter version.

Mug is made of 18/8 stainless steel, which means containing 18% chromium and 8% nickel and other alloying additions. It is one of the most popular grades of stainless steel widely used in almost all industries, especially in the food industry.

There is non-slip silicone pad at the bottom of the thermos and at the top the cap with a handle that allows attaching the mug to a backpack. When unscrew a cap, cup opening is finished with an extra nut serving as a convenient mouthpiece for drinking. The manufacturer warns that drinking a hot drink, you can get burned because the hot drink can be… hot! As you can see, it had its influence the crazy American legal system, through which you can win a lot of money in court for injury or loss of life as a result of idiotic behavior about which European would not even have thought, and which was not listed on the long list of product’s warnings.

One of the most famous unusual compensation in the world won American Stella Liebeck in 1994. The court awarded her 2.9 million dollars in damages from McDonald’s, because she burned herself with a coffee bought in one of its bars. Sitting in a car she stuck her cup between her knees and tried to open it to add cream and sugar, but poured the entire contents on her feet and… other parts of the body. The final amount paid as a result of a settlement is not known. Since the award of damages, McDonald’s puts on cups of coffee phrase: Caution, content is hot.

An interesting idea is the strainer, where can be brew original leaf tea, whether black or green or another and then easily remove the grounds. The taste and quality of the beverage are then far better than in the case of express tea bags, which consists of a tea dust instead of whole or crushed leaves of Camellia sinensis.

I have felt already for some time that the companies Mammut and SIGG fit together and I was instinctively linking them together in my sport adventures. I see that Mammut marketing specialists came up with the same idea. Cheers!

 

Mammut Lithium Z 20

Already in a couple of days, a few days
You will take your backpack and the guitar
Few words goodbye
Pythagoras, farewell
Goodbye to you canto, cantare
/Halina Kunicka, Summer, summer is waiting; Polish song/

Basic protection and support of my foot driving force, I described vividly in the first test of sport equipment, means in the article entitled Mammut MTR Pro Low, where the heroes were shoes for running in the terrain.

Since the drive transmission is protected, I can take a closer look at a warehouse facility, in other words at the backpack Mammut Lithium Z 20 (mentioned loosely at the occasion of my aiming for the Moon).

I start with the most important matter, namely the color. The backpack is green-gray (code named dark spring-iron). I like very much these sophisticated color names that are used by Mammut. Just like in the American movie about commandos rescueing the world from the overwhelming forces of the communists, terrorists or aliens (Alpha Romeo Mike Yankee Alpha Lima Papa Hotel Alpha Bravo Echo Tango). On a green fabric red Mammut logo looks fantastic! Backpack Lithium Z 20 can be aquired in two more colors (dark orange-iron and smoke-iron). I like the most version with the green. Over!

All theory, dear friend, is gray,
But the golden tree of life springs ever green.
Grau, teurer Freund, ist al­le Theorie
Und grün des Le­bens gol­dner Baum.
/Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Faust/

It is a backpack designed primarily for trail running but fits to all outdoor activities. It weighs only 630 grams according to the manufacturer. Me, on the kitchen scale (which my wife uses to prepare delicious cakes), came out a little more, because about 670 grams. Its dimensions are 48x26x19 centimeters. Name Lithium in the designers concept comes probably from lithium, which is the lightest metal known, with the atomic number 3. This element is highly reactive and flammable, so must be kept it in mineral oils or in an inert atmosphere. I remember from chemistry class, like a piece of lithium pulled out from the kerosene and thrown into the water was going round on the surface and was dissolving, fuming a huge amount of bubbles (hydrogen).

The zipper of the main compartment unzips below the half the height of the backpack, thanks to that can be easily pack from the front, which certainly would be appreciated by Jason Bourne looking for his identity:

He opened the knapsack and took out a pair of boots and heavy socks along with rolledup trousers and a coarse denim shirt. Somewhere in his past he had learned to pack with an economy of space; the knapsack contained far more than an observer might think. Where had he learned that? Why? The questions never stopped.
/Robert Ludlum, The Bourne Identity/

Backpack is compatible with a hydration system – a water tank with a pipe transferring water to the mouth. From the main backpack chamber, tube can be lead out through the holes on shoulder straps, on the left or on the right side and attached under rubber grips.

The hydration system is a fantastic assistance during long runs when at any time it is possible to drink without stopping and taking off the backpack. It is also important that when you insert the mouthpiece into the mouth, hands are free. The first time I used the hydration system in a backpack Mammut Lithium Z 20 was on Trail du Dents du Midi and as I said, I was delighted.

This backpack has additionally at the top a small pocket with handle with a piton (eg. to attach the keys)…

… and larger one, occupying more or less the entire front wall of the backpack (eg. for documents, maps).

On both sides there are two flexible pockets (eg. for a spare water bottles, glove or cap), which can be further tighten and secured by means of straps.

The suspension system consists of elastic shoulder straps with a soft mesh on the side of the back that dries quickly and allows the body to breathe (3-D Air-Mesh). From the outside, shoulder straps are reinforced with nylon mesh. As I said, on shoulder straps there are elastics sewn to attach the hydration tube, as well as reflective elements. Chest strap with a clip and whistle can be adjusted up and down, and of course wide. It prevents the shoulder straps from sliding sideways and prevents repositioning of the backpack during the run.

Innovative hip belt (designed for direct body contact and good ventilation) has the same role and also relieves the shoulders (weight, thanks to it is based largely on the hips). It is also made from 3-D Air-Mesh and on its left side is another pocket. In my opinion, the pocket is too much on the back and during the race it is hard to reach (eg. the phone, which is a mandatory equipment part in long distance mountain running). It is the only minus I have found in this backpack and I believe that the company Mammut will take to heart my constructive criticism and will make a slight facelifting. I hope that in the next version of the backpack Lithium Z 20, pocket will be more accessible, which means shifted toward the front. Could also add, by the way, another one, for symmetry – the ideal storage for a little something at eleven o’clock in the morning…

On the back side of the backpack being in contact with the back, there are soft mesh padding supports (made from 3-D EVA foam) with ventilation channels and between them “a chimney” allowing air circulation.

This backpack for my own needs is perfect. It stick to the back ideally, it is very comfortable, does not cause abrasions and allows back to breathe. And, of course, it is green.

The Blue said: Waste of breath.
Everybode will discolor with time.
But the Green just added:
– I hope… I hope…
/Jan Brzechwa, The Colors/

It ran with me already some kilometers, therefore I know what I write. What is more, my previous trail backpack from another company was not so comfortable and slightly rubbed the skin (seams were made from something that looked like a fishing line and in places where this line jutted from the fabric, it made a fakir from me).

I highly recommend the use of poles during long mountain runs. They help to maintain balance, relieve the knees and can lean on them, when majority of the race is done and legs barely dragging one by one. But the poles are not needed all the time and then it would be nice to have a place for their transportation. In my green backpack…

Because I am liege lord, because I am king,
Among green fields and soil!
/Edmund Wasilewski, Krakowiak/

…it is resolved in a very interesting way. At the bottom part of the backpack there is a retractable metal cable which can be pull out and slip back. One end of a pole is to be insert into the cable and the other is fastened on top of the backpack with a strip closing.
Theoretically to this backpack can be still attached various items which are considered to be necessary during competition, training or trip (eg. cup). This is done with 4 very strong hooks on the front of the pack and 2 on shoulder straps.

In practice, the extra things dangling by a backpack during the competition only disturb the balance and cause unnecessary noise but on a calm trip with the family or friends it is possible to hang there all Needful Things.

MTR 201 Pro Low

Mammut MTR 201 Pro Low

Recently I was writing less and running more, what has resulted from the task I undertook – I can proudly say that I was running and… testing. Testing is a new matter for me and the challenge is even greater because I have chosen as the test object, running shoes of my beloved Mammut (sorry for that intimate statement). Love is a beautiful feeling but it becomes even more beautiful, when has been tested in extreme conditions.

Love is a very beautiful flower but you have to have the courage to go look for it at the edge of an abyss.
/Henri Stendhal/

znak

As it is usually happens with… the first time, I wanted to approach it in a special way. I was thinking long how to perform such a test in order to show in subjective and at the same time objective manner all the characteristics of mountain racing shoes Mammut MTR 201 Pro Low. I thought, and I came up with – the best to do it is my own way.

***

Shoes Mammut Pro Low MTR 201 appeared in my life in a black box with a red Mammut logo. They were additionally wrapped in original paper covered with the inscriptions MAMMUT. For running it does not have any meaning, of course, but it testifies to the quality of a product. Swiss watches have also couple of layers of packaging, through which you have to get through before the moment of putting the watch on the wrist. Out of the box and paper I quickly put shoes on my feet and went for a run… Oh, and I cut labels.

Alas, that love, whose view is muffled still,
Should, without eyes, see pathways to his will.
/William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet/

Just in case, I remind that the first run in new shoes should be short to avoid abrasions and blisters that often occur when changing running shoes to new ones. Is it due to the short 10 kilometers distance or maybe due to the resistance of my graceful feet or finally maybe thanks to the quality of shoes, nothing bad happened, and the first attempt was successfull.

It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.
/Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita/

But one after another. Tested model has rave green-red color with a technical name spring-inferno; other available colors are inferno-black, dark cyan-sunglow and light gray-imperial. Shoes weigh 742 grams (UK size 10.5) what probably fits in with the manufacturer’s data, who declares 676 grams in specifications for UK size 8.5.

DSC_5493

MTR 201 Pro Low are not waterproof, which can be a disadvantage when running in the rain, but thanks to that are lighter than models with GORE-TEX (they have an additional three letters GTX in the name) with more than 100 grams, which in turn can be important in long-distance races, when at the end of the route, each additional gram is felt in the legs. Instead of heavier waterproof membrane in this model was used lightweight mesh that dries quickly when soaked and allows feet to breathe.

Mokry-Mammut

I was running a lot on wet, muddy roads, in the rain, and after the rain, near rivers and streams. The mesh get drenched quickly, but… as soon as the contact with water ends, it begins to dry quickly and if I am lucky enough that eventually the sun comes out, I return home with dry shoes. In addition, the lightweight mesh construction has good permeability and draws heat away from the feet. Why this happens is seen sharply when looking “through the shoe” against the light.

There should be laughter after pain There should be sunshine after rain /Mark Knopfler, Why Worry/

There should be laughter after pain
There should be sunshine after rain
/Mark Knopfler, Why Worry/

Fabrics used inside the shoe are soft to the touch and cause the foot feels comfortable. Outside, in contrast, in sensitive areas rubber reinforcements were used (Rubber toe cap) and heel support system (360 Heel Support). As described by Viktor Suvorov, the former soldier of Specnaz (Soviet special forces), in the book “Aquarium”, materials used in commando’s clothing should be from the lining side soft like woman’s skin, and from the outside rough as leather of rhinoceros. Mammut MTR 201 Pro Low shoes meet these requirements.

Mokry-Mammut-2

Now disputable case of laces or rather MTR Speed Lace System, which may but not have to please. As the name suggests, thanks to this system shoes can be quicker laced. With that point, I totally agree – this is done instantly. But then, the remaining “excess” of laces needs to be hidden somewhere. To do so, a special pocket in the shoe tongue is prepared but because it is already located under tied laces, it’s hard to pack the endings. But when it’s done, they seat there and not fall out. If needed, the laces can also be… just laced.

Aggressive bi-directional tread pattern holds up well (I would even say perfectly) on almost all types of surface. Mammut gave it the code name Sonar, because his form was modeled on the shape of sonar waves, spreading in all directions; in other words… “The hunt for Red October”. I tested it on a muddy forest trails, sharp mountain boulders, gravel paths, and even in the snow.

DSC_5126

In bounce, as well as in acceleration and uphill running, shoes stick to the pavement as if they were glued. They behave the same way during the rapid run downwards combined even with jumps and provide excellent friction when braking in case slowing down is needed. There is almost no slip when landing on loose gravel and can quickly run further.

poslizg

The only one dangerous adventure associated with shoes Mammut Pro Low MTR 201 I experienced on the banks of the river La Venoge. It was a one-off case, but it is my duty to inform about it. It is like with the side effects of medication – one patient out of a hundred will report pimples on… but it is necessary to write in the information leaflet that the medicine can cause a rash. Thus, I was running a beautiful route along the river La Venoge, to the north of its confluence to Lake Geneva in Preverenges. I was running and admiring the wild countryside, additionally wilder due to high water level in the river.

2015-04-01-15.15.23

Was drizzling lightly. Suddenly, when I was looking to the side of the impressive waterfall, I ran on flat wet stones lying just off the coast and started dancing like mad cartoon characters who step on a banana peel. And, like cartoon characters, I was able to regain balance at the last moment. I was so surprised by the complete lack of grip, that I turned back and looked at the stones. They were, as I said, flat and covered with a green coating (moss?). I touched them with the shoe a few times and it was like on the ice rink. I went back to the same place some time later during fine weather and with some kind of shyness I ran on the rocks. This time they were dry and my feet have not moved even a millimeter. From this adventure I extrapolated such a request, that a wet moss on the stones is not a good ground for Mammut MTR 201 Pro Low shoes (for each shoes, I suppose).

To sum up, shoes Mammut Pro Low MTR 201 perform the job very well. The legs do not tire in them, adhesion to the substrate (except wet moss) is sensational, dry quickly, allow the foot to breathe and… they are pretty. It seems that we will run together for a very loooong time, especially that Swiss Irontrail (91 km) is approaching.

Love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction.
/Antoine de Saint-Exupéry/

P.S. On the back of the shoe, on the handle helping to put them on the leg, there is a mysterious latitude and longitude… My natural curiosity forced me to check which point on the surface of the Earth represent the coordinates of 47 36° N and 08 16° E. I had to first understand in what format latitude and longitude is given:

  • degrees, minutes, seconds (DMS),
  • degrees and minutes (DM),
  • decimal degrees (DD).

After attempts in the converter of geographic coordinates, I came at last to the result, which indicated a point in Switzerland, in the canton of Aargau, in the district of Lenzburg in city of Seon, at Birren street, where exists… the factory and headquarter of Mammut. A real fantastic bull’s eye!

Wspolrzedne

Mammut on the run with Mr Muscle

Mammut on the run with Mr Muscle

In the sad dawn of dirty cities
full of merciless winds
flashes sometimes your face
as uncertain moment of spring.
Into the bus stop’s crumpled crowd
as if someone threw like a joke
white lilac bouquet or
only happiest cards.
/Jan Pietrzak, Hope/

My adventure with Mr Muscle, WC Duck and Kiwi bird (“which shoe will revive”) was as short as “uncertain moment of Spring” from the song of Jan Pietrzak. It looked completely different in the previous corporation – I worked there until seventeen moments (years).

Since I made a reference to the famous Soviet TV series from the seventies of the 20th century entitled “Seventeen Moments of Spring”, it behooves to write more about it and give you some jokes about the main character, who was Chuck Norris of that time (of course, behind the poorer side of the Iron Curtain).

Colonel Maksym Maksymowicz Isaev works in Berlin as a secret agent of Soviet intelligence Standartenfuhrer Max Otto von Stirlitz. He infiltrated the ranks of the SS and works in Reich Security Main Office. The theme of the movie is the realization of the task that Stirlitz receives from headquarter in Moscow – to find out which of the leaders of the Third Reich, is trying to establish negotiations with Western Allies in… Switzerland. He has to obtained evidence that such discussions are ongoing to prevent the conclusion of a separate peace between the Nazis and the Western powers. Isayev thanks to his incredible intelligence, calmness and good luck, of course, executes the task. This, however, has not been done without problems. He has to tackle with the head of the Reich Security Main Office – Kaltenbruner who having suspicions against him ordered his observation, and with the head of the Gestapo – Müller.

Stirlitz has walked through the streets of Berlin, but something betrayed him as a spy: maybe hat with ear flaps, maybe felt-boots or maybe a parachute pulling behind him?

Stirlitz sauntered approached the the place of contact. He knocked the agreed 127 times. No one answered. After some thought, he went out to the street and looked to the window. Yes, he was right. On the windowsill 63 irons were standing – a sign of a bummer.

Stirlitz’s house was surrounded by Gestapo.
- Open the door! – Müller shouted.
- Stirlitz is not at home! – Stirlitz said.
In this here’s clever way Stirlitz outsmarted Gestapo for the fifth time.

Gestapo guarded all the exits, but Stirlitz outsmarted them. He escaped through the entrance.

Stirlitz thought. He liked it, so he thought again.

End of kidding, I go back to the main topic.

Since the beginning of the recruitment process S.C. Johnson made it clear that this is a temporary work. They needed someone with experience, who quickly embrace the situation in the difficult period of change and restructuring, but unfortunately it will not be employed on a permanent basis. It was expected that the contract will last for 6 months. Finally, it turned out that I was needed a bit longer, and the contract was extended to 24 months. With regret I leave the company and the people, because it was… different than previously.

Calmer atmosphere and less deadllines result from company size and ownership structure, since SC Johnson is not listed on the stock exchange. I am not a psychologist and I did not conduct a research, so I can not say for sure, but with a simple observation I deduced that it has a soothing effect on the behavior of employees and their superiors.

The excerpts of the next paragraph have been censored by the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, due to the critical significance of the issues I dealt with to the vital interests of this American family-owned company, founded in 1886, in Racine, Wisconsin.

In addition to the structured process of month end closing, █████████████████████, transparent deviations reporting, ███████████████████████████████████████████████████, regular costs monitoring of the implementation of the European CLP project (Classification, Labeling and Packaging), and █████████████ █████████████████████ ██████████████, I wanted to leave something else, but directly related to the atmosphere in the office (though perhaps more accurate is to write – out of the office).

***

Employees of companies located in the ZA La Pièce (ZA – artisanale zone) are very privileged. 20 meters from the most westerly building B1, beyond  the road Route de l’Etraz, farmland begins, stretching further to the west in the direction of Nyon and Geneva. According to the principles of crop rotation, local farmers plant there different plants: corn, sunflower, colza, beets, carrots and corn.

Colza-blossom

Colza-blossom

 

Colza just before harvest

Colza just before harvest

From time to time appear also fruit orchards.

Once the child carried the water jug
Old grey-haired man met her on the road,
And said to her with a polite expression:
Let me drink, little child! -
Child willingly bends the jug,
And gave to drink the water to the old man.

Once, the child walked nearby the orchard,
She looks… the tree bends full of fruits:
How nice would be to eat a few pears!
And the gray-haired old man comes out:
He has recognised this good child
And the most beautiful pears gave.
/Stanislaw Jachowicz, The child and the old man/

Through the scenic and well-maintained fields stretch concrete paths, equal as a table, through which farmers can get to their land and take care to make them even more scenic and well-maintained.

These paths are ideal also for running and I am glad to say that I was using them for this purpose on a regular basis! I didn’t do this alone. It appeared that my colleagues from SC Johnson and neighboring companies were very sporty. Importantly, higher levels of management were also running regularly and gave blessings for the disappearance of 1 – 1.5 hours during the working day. Of course, the duties and responsibilities needed to be done with the utmost care, and length of stay in the office properly extended. Although, not always… I have already mentioned that Friday afternoons in the summer were intended for cycling for volunteers; uninterested could just went back home earlier.

***

Running out from the premises of S.C. Johnson (building B3), whether via the main exit (south) or the rear one (north), I am heading west. After about 200 meters, beyond the last building B1, I run a little up on Route de l’Etraz, turn to the right and immediately left (as indicating cycling road signs) and continue by concrete path further to the West…

Go West...

Go West…

(Go West) Life is peaceful there
(Go West) In the open air
(Go West) Baby you and me
(Go West) This is our destiny
(Go West) Sun in wintertime
(Go West) We will do just fine
(Go West) Where the skies are blue
(Go West, this is what we’re gonna do)
/Pet Shop Boys/

The path runs initially parallelly to the highway Lausanne – Geneva, under the high voltage wires. After 650 meters I run slightly up to the Route de Gilly and turn right toward the nearby hills. After 100 meters turn left, again onto a concrete agricultural road Sur la Dolle. The name probably derives from the summit of La Dolle, which can be seen straight in the not too distant Jura mountains.

Sur la Dolle

Sur la Dolle

I run as the crow flies. I pass on the left side the garden store and behind a farm for horses I turn right into Chemin du Bois de Beaulieu. Those who do not agree with Biff Tannen from Back to the Future, who hated manure (“Je deteste fumier”), may take a fertilizer for their own purposes…

Manure to take

Manure to take

After 160 meters I reach the important point on the route, because here I have to decide whether to continue the training on flat or hilly ground.

Decision point

Decision point

A flat itinerary (with several variations) is well known to all the runners from ZA La Pièce. I will describe the route less used, more difficult and wild. I hope that this will encourage my running partners from the office to the new sporting challenges in mountainous terrain…

- But why uphill?! – wailed duck Disaster.
- Because we’re in the mountains and in the mountains it is not possible all the time to go downhill. Sometimes it is needed to go uphill but later going back is downhill – with one breath breathed dog Pypeć.
/Wojciech Widłak, Mr Ball – book for children/

So I leave the bike road and I turn to the right slightly uphill. I cross the main road Route de l’Etraz and continue ascent having on the right side the narrow stream bed and the bushes of the grapes on the left. Behind the corner of the vineyard I turn left and run stright untill the street Les Truits, where I turn right, then right again, uphill, in the direction of Vincy, as shown by the road sign.

Vincy direction

Vincy direction

At the end of Route Sous-Vincy, on the left side there is a church, which I pass and crossing Route de Tartegnin, I run further up the Route de Vincy. Finally, I run into Vincy. Bend of the road turns right at a stately mansion – this is Château de Vincy. Further, at the intersection I turn left and immediately right towards the hospital. I pass fountain on the right side and then another impressive building on the left. After a while, before the stream, I leave the main road and turn left, into a steep asphalt route through the forest (Chemin des Vaux).

To the left and up the hill

To the left and up the hill

Now, just me and the way up… Silence… interrupted by the sound of cowbells in the meadow on the right… Peace… (during 9 months of regular running, passed me on the way up only 5 cars of locals). Me and the way up… Steadily I climb higher and higher. On the right side murmurs the brook Gillière. Do not deviate into the paths departing from the main road to the right and left (although they are possible route options for the curious). After about 600 meters from the beginning of this road I pass on the left side the water supply station (Service des Eaux).

Fresh water good for health

Fresh water good for health

Behind the building from 1980 I continue straight ahead, up to the point at the first kilometer from the beginning of the climb (approximately 4 km from the start).

Changing of the surface from asphalt to gravel

Changing of the surface from asphalt to gravel

From here, it is possible to run further up on the asphalt (what I was doing sometimes) but today I have chosen path to the right. I cross the brook and on gravel path (gravel – finely crushed stones used, inter alia, to pour pavement), swinging by a gentle curve to the right, I climb. All the time it is needed to regularly climb higher and higher. The path winds its way through the wooded slopes once to the north, once to the south.

Once due north, once due south, but still uphill…

Once due north, once due south, but still uphill…

Finally, after about a kilometer from crossing the stream (5 km from the start in ZA La Pièce), I reach the highest point of the route (760 m). It offers a wonderful view to the east. In the foreground seen the opposite slope and the path on which runs some guy in green Mammut Kento DRY Tech Premium jacket, MTR 201 3/4 Tights pants, Stollen beanie and MTR 201 Pro Low shoes.

We are waving to each other! Strange, this guy reminded me someone…

Strange, guy reminded me of someone...

Strange, guy reminded me of someone…

Further seen Lake Geneva and finally alpine mountain peaks from Rochers de Naye to Dent d’Oche.

Perspective

Perspective

I run a few meters down and turn right, more down (the path straight up leading finally to some farm). Running down I approach to the wooden barrier… Sudden vortex of space-time continuum shifts me to its other side and dents to the ground. I quickly get up, swallow saliva to unclog ears after a sudden jump in pressure and move on down. I look to the right and see some guy in green Mammut Kento DRY Tech Premium jacket, MTR 201 3/4 Tights pants, Stollen beanie and MTR 201 Pro Low shoes, apperaring on the highest point of the route, on which I ran up a moment ago.

We are waving to each other! Strange, this guy reminded me someone…

Strange, guy reminded me of someone...

Strange, guy reminded me of someone…

The path this time steadily decreases towards the east-south-east. After the rain needs to be careful, because can be very slippery. After some time, at wooden benches covered by the roof, the road turns 180° to the right, toward the west-north-west.

180 degrees to the right

180 degrees to the right

Behind a wooden barrier path turns again to the east-southeast and it appears that this fragment was once asphalt. Running in the autumn and winter, below on the right seen the roof of Hôpital de Gilly. In the end, the path runs out of the woods. Running to the right I would get to the hospital. No thanks. I do not recommend either option to the left, back to the forest. I checked. Have to wade through the raspberry bushes, hurting calf, climb a steep ravine and then go through the barbed-wire fence and across a pasture finally get to Route de Châtel leading down to Tartegnin. Therefore, I run straight down alongside the vineyard to the road La Bossenaz and turn left. The path leads steeply down and therefore is carpeted with corrugated concrete slabs so that cars do not slip in the rain or in winter.

Traction control system

Traction control system

Behind the bend to the right, I pass on the left side the garbage dump (déchetterie). A dozen or so meters below, I turn right into the Route de Beauregard and after further 200 meters to the left, heading to Rolle.

Direction - Rolle

Direction – Rolle

Rue des Pressoirs leads all the way down through Tartegnin (called Pays du bon vin) and then through the vineyards to the main road Route de l’Etraz. I reach the building B3 after about 8.2 kilometers. Running this route takes me approximately 50 minutes, then yet shower and full of energy I sit at the computer again. I mean… I was sitting.

And yet I leave behind me this fateful power,
Useless while I live… it just graces my temples;
But when I die, it will, unseen, press you ever,
Till it remakes you, bread eaters – into angels.
/Juliusz Słowacki, My testament/

Księżyc i limba

Aim for the moon

Aim for the moon, because even if you miss, you will be among the stars.
/Patrick Süskind, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer/

This quote is obviously not astronomically correct, because if you pass the moon, to the nearest star (not counting the Sun), will be still about 40 billion kilometers. However, it captures the spirit of adventure, exploration and constant trying…

Continuing my interest in mountain running, I took part in the Trail Dents du Midi, this time on a distance of 57 km. Before I will describe my adventures on the race, I have to mention that this time I was not in the “gray mass” of runners in the middle of the field, but I was the only one of its kind – I was the last one! Despite the fact that I rather missed the Moon, the joy of the completion of the race within the time limit was like landing among the stars.

Start was located in Champéry at 1050 meters above sea level. After receiving the start number, after the required control of equipment (torch, water supply, cup, thermal foil, hooded jacket, whistle) and briefing, I aligned on the starting line. It was still dark and the light was definitely needed. Starting time for amateur runners was set for 6:00 a.m. The gun fired and we moved on. Running through Rue Centrale due south we left the town.

And here is the interesting fact. The torch illuminated the darkness so that I remembered that I have been here a long time ago, when my younger daughter still rode in the pram. The route Le chemin des poussettes was quiet and safe idea for a nice family walk in the nature. Distance from Champéry to Grand-Paradis is about 2 km of gentle paths through the forest. On the spot there are great views to the majestic peaks of Dents du Midi and the possibility of dining in a covered place for a picnic. Return to Champéry by the same route.

A view to the massif of Dents du Midi from Grand-Paradis

A view to the massif of Dents du Midi from Grand-Paradis

This time I did not see the peaks and to the finish line in Champéry I still had about 55 kilometers through the mountains.

From Grand-Paradis I ran lightly up the valley, through the Forêt de la Lui, up to a height of 1200 meters. Here the climbing began by the slope of the Dent de Rossétan to a height of about 1600 meters. Then, there was more or less flat terrain, suitable for running and rippling peacefully in the range of 400 meters up and down.

“To the dawn, dears to the dawn! The sun is coming inexorably from above the Pacific” /fragment from Polish song by Jan Pietrzak/

“To the dawn, dears to the dawn! The sun is coming inexorably from above the Pacific” /fragment from Polish song by Jan Pietrzak/

It started to get light about 7:30 a.m. and soon the rising sun illuminated the mountain peaks.

Cool dawn in the mountains

Cool dawn in the mountains

Gilded sun peaks
Are already burning rosy overhead
And blue sky shines cheerful
Over bent rock crown.

In the bottom – forests hidden in the shadow
Drown yet in the frosted mist
Which in the morning light
Speeding up slowly by gorges.

Mist in the valley

Mist in the valley

But now the breeze dispel the mist,
And it tears into the cloud sherds…
Like a spider’s soft yarn
Settles on the rocks edges.

And form under this grey-blue veil
The world looks more widely,
From the night, peaceful dreams awakened,
Such bright, fragrant, fresh.
/Adam Asnyk, Morning in the mountains/

The first checkpoint was at the foot of the Haute Cime, which is the highest “tooth” (3,257 m asl) in the group of seven peaks of Dents du Midi. Then a long section of several kilometres around the height of 2,000 meters, up to Signal de Soi, which was the first nutrition point (stocked like a 5 star hotel – bread, cheese, chocolate, fruits, tea, Coca-Cola, water).

Energized, I moved forward and continued enjoying the path rising and falling gently, still on the north side of the “teeth”.

Grandma, why you have such big teeth?

Grandma, why you have such big teeth?

From Chindonne (1604 m asl) a steep downslope toVérossaz (811 m asl) began. In this village there was a change of runners in the relay race. Myself, not boasting about, also the second half ofthe route planned to overcome personally. First, however, I ate something and rested a bit.

Around 11:30 a.m. I departed for further journey and after five minutes overtookme the first of the professional athletes, who started the run at 9:00 am, means three hours after me!

For a long time I ran roughly at an altitude of 1100 – 1200 meters, encircling the massif of Dents du Midi and heading more and more to the south.

Break on Through (To the Other Side)

Break on Through (To the Other Side)

I ran across Mex and further by the dam (where was another checkpoint), I got across to the other side of the Torrent de St. Barthélemy creek. Here, at an altitude of 1182 meters above sea level, I began the arduous climb, which ended only over a kilometre above, on the Col du Jorat (2323 m asl).

In the Dark Spruce Forest’s rock goaf,
Where peacock colour ponds lie dormant,
The bush of wild rose its bloody crimson
Throws on spots of grey quarry.

At its foot lush grasses grow,
Aside the crag slippery rises,
Mountain pine tangled
Embroidered stone benches…

Lonely, sleepy, pensive,
Cuddles temple to the cold wall,
As though it afraid the breath of the storm.
Silence… The wind doesn’t jog the leaves,

And just rotting stone pine
Rests next to arosebush.
/Jan Kasprowicz, The bush of wild rose in the Dark Spruce Forest/

I must also mention that this timeI took with me the poles and it was a very good decision. Indeed, it is a big relief for the feet and on such a long route with so many hilly climbs, simply indispensable piece of equipment.

During the run down on the other side of the pass, the weather suddenly broke down and to the shelter at the lake Lac de Salanfe (1942 m) I came in the heavy rain. Fortunately, there was another nutrition point. I was welcomed with bread, cheese,dried ham and hot tea. I also completed the supply of water in the tank in my backpack Mammut Lithium Z 20, from which I occasionally have been drinking, through a tube without interrupting the run. It also turned out to bea a fantastic solution. As you can see, I drew conclusions from the mistakes committed in the previous race in Davos. But I made new ones: I hadn’t watch with GPS, so I couldn’t monitor the distance travelled and I hadn’t cloth for glasses, which were flooded with a sweat every now and again.

– Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?
– I’ll warrant you’ll make plenty in it – said Marilla. – I never saw your beat for making mistakes, Anne.
– Yes, and well I know it – admitted Anne mournfully. – But have you ever noticed one encouraging thing about me, Marilla? I never make the same mistake twice.
– I don’t know as that’s much benefit when you’re always making new ones.
– Oh, don’t you see, Marilla? There must be a limit to the mistakes one person can make, and when I get to the end of them, then I’ll be through with them. That’s a very comforting thought.
/Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables/

The rain had stopped and from behind the clouds beautiful sun came out. I was now exactly on the south side of Dents du Midi, which from this perspective looked even more menacing and mysterious. Initially I ran off the shore of the lake and then bounced to the right and through the lunar landscape I have begun another climb.

This one was, however, a bit different from the previous ones, because at some point the route led over 200 meter high cliffs. Chains railings helped somewhat climbing higher, but previous efforts and respect for falling down few hundred meters, intensified tremors of legs muscle when stuck to the rock walls I was passing over the chasms.

High on the rocks frame
Stone pine her needle crown
Suspended above dark depths,
Where fliesthe foamed water.

Grows lonely on a rock,
Almostthe lastfrom the tribe…
And does not care that simmering waves
Undercut rock from the bottom.

With the mourning full of dignity
Declines over a cliff
And sees at the bottom
A crowd of low-growing spruce.

These easily emerging dwarfs,
Walking in compressed row,
Displaced her from ancient premises
Into the land of eternal snow.

Let a rampant newcomers
Continue crawling all over again!
She sways in the clouds -
And has free sky overhead!

She will never lower to them,
Will not struggle for life -
Still only rises above
On the sloping edges of rocks.

Looks contemptuously from summit
On the triumph of horizontal crowd…
She prefers alone from sky-blue
To plummet crashed by the thunders.
/Adam Asnyk, Stone pine/

Through the Colde Susanfe (2494) and another checkpoint, I get into an impressive Susanfe valley, leading down towards Champery.

Frazzled Mammut

Frazzled Mammut

It started to get dark, and to the target there was still far away, which is why the organizers have set more checkpoints on this section of the run. Well done, a fantastic organization. So, through Cabane de Susanfe (2102), Pas d’Encel (1808) and Bonavau (1550) I returned to the Grand-Paradis, where at dawn, also in the dark and with the torch turned on, I have been overcoming first kilometers of run. The circle has been closed, the serpent Ouroboros ate its own tail but I still had about 2 kilometers to the finish. I already knew that I will fit within the time limit, so there was no panic. Shuffling, I have been systematically approaching Champéry

I crossed the finish line as the last one, 17 ​​minutes before the designated time limit, beating 57 kilometers and 4733 meters of positive height difference.

Man is incapable not being capable of anything.
/Waldemar Lysiak, The Conquest/

Taormina błyszczy w górze

Taormina glitters overhead

As other great artists, actors, celebrities and writers, I came to Taormina to to admire wonderful nature, architecture and atmosphere of elegance and good style. Contrary to them, I had however another purpose – running uphill.

On the perpendicular cliff,
On the rock-cut marble,
Over deep blue seas mirror
Taormina glitters overhead.
/Adam Asnyk, Taormina/

Taormina, known as the “pearl of Sicily”, is one of the most visited cities of the island. The city is situated on the slopes of The Peloritani mountains (Monti Peloritani), on top of the hill of Monte Tauro. Below stretches the Ionian Sea, which separates the island from Greece, from where originate the first colonizers of Sicily.

Reversed toward the east
Looking deep into the Ionian Sea,
Catches the first gleams of dawn,
Which Greeks aurora sends.
/Adam Asnyk, Taormina/

Hellenic aurora (although it is Calabria on the horizon)

Hellenic aurora (although it is Calabria on the horizon)

Due to its strategic location in the center of the Mediterranean, the island was exposed to attacks from the Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans and Arabs. Also, the Spaniards and the French fought to subjugate Sicily. Today, the remains of the architecture of each of the conquerors represent a unique attractiveness of the place.

This is the greatest work of art and nature!
/Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Italian Journey/

The most famous and oldest monument of Taormina are the ruins of Greek Theater (teatro greco). It is the second largest facility of its kind in Sicily, after the theater in Syracuse. It was carved in the rocky slope in the third century BC, utilizing the natural landform.

On the blue paintings
Dreams of days gone by:
Raised on her wing
Greek theater sat on guard.
/Adam Asnyk, Taormina/

Greek theater from the path to Santuario Madonna della Rocca

Greek theater from the path to Santuario Madonna della Rocca

Although he was later rebuilt by the Romans and used for gladiatorial combat, its layout is consistent with the canons of Greek architecture. It has a central square (orchestra), audience (theatron) and stage (skene). From the preserved fragments of decoration can be assumed that the theater was built in the Corinthian order – the heads of the columns were shaped as basket formed of two rows of acanthus leaves.

Corinthian columns in Greek Theater in Taormina

Corinthian columns in Greek Theater in Taormina

The head of the column shaped as basket formed of two rows of acanthus leaves

The head of the column shaped as basket formed of two rows of acanthus leaves

Because acanthus growing in Sicily, for the first time I could actually see spiritus movens of one of the basic architectural orders.

Acanthus in the natural environment

Acanthus in the natural environment

By the way, I could practice my financial skills and check the income statement of the theater, which is presented in a small museum in the area of the monument. After a thorough audit, I found that the theater was probably the laundry of dirty money, as additional millions of drachmas passed through it from an ancient (oldest?) organization named “Daughters of Corinth”…

Ancient accounting

Ancient accounting

Finally, let me add that the theater is fantastically located and uses the sky, the surrounding hills and snowy silhouette of Mount Etna, as the natural scenery. Ancient building has retained to this day excellent acoustics and provides the perfect backdrop for cultural events. Today, the theater hosts concerts, performances and festivals. The most famous event is the “Taormina Filmfest”, the oldest film festival in Italy. The first event took place in 1955, and in 1971, has been permanently moved to Taormina. Over the years hosted many stars of world cinema, including Elizabeth Taylor, Marlene Dietrich, Sophia Loren, Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck and Matt Dillon playing Hank Chinaski, the alter-ego of the cult writer Charles Bukowski in the film “Factotum”.

Life’s as kind as you let it be.
/Charles Bukowski/

Sorry, I had to write though about running. And for running the time will come, I promise. However I am convinced, that some information about “such beautiful circumstances of the nature… and unique” must be given.

So the next item on the agenda is a public park (Villa Comunale), where you can admire the colorful Mediterranean vegetation and English garden, designed by Florence Trevelyan, a cousin of Queen Victoria, who lived in Taormina at the end of the nineteenth century. Garden is located on the terrace of rock below the Greek Theatre. In the park there are Mediterranean plants, hedges, flower beds and paths with views of the sea, mountains and of course Mount Etna.

A view to Etna from city park

A view to Etna from city park

Most tourists run in the shops on the main street, Corso Umberto. It is indeed a nice activity, but you can spend more time (and money) than to complete the marathon.

Marathon on Corso Umberto

Marathon on Corso Umberto

From the north and from the south the city is closed by the gates. Porta Messina is the northern entrance, and the southern entrance is Porta Catania. Between them leads Corso Umberto, which is the axis of the city. About half the length of the Corso at Piazza IX Aprile stands the third gate – Porta di Mezzo, also known as the Clock Tower. The square offers another breathtaking view towards Mount Etna.

When I hear the word Taormina, I see with the eyes of imagination a high hill, low spread silky sea, Mount Etna melting in the sun like a crystal and finally, the whole magical scenery of the Greco-Roman theater. It is the only such scenery in the world.
/Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz, The book about Sicily/

Corso Umberto is closed for car traffic, so it is safe to visit shops, restaurants, bars, cafes and hang out nicely. I, along with my family and friends, was hanging out very nicely, among others in Gambero Rosso on Via Naumachie 11, cross-street of Corso Umberto.

We were delighting there in magnificient, tasty Italian cuisine together with well-chosen wine and appreciated committed and efficient service. This combination caused that we were visiting this place still few times during our stay in Taormina.

In Gambero Rosso

In Gambero Rosso

Wandering about Corso Umberto brought another positive effect. We met and became friends with the owner of the travel agency SAT (Sicilian Airbus Travel), who pointed us interesting places and events in Taormina and offered a large discount on tours in the area, among other things, to Mount Etna, Siracusa and to Baroque town of Noto.

Trip planning (observant will notice a photo of Audrey Hepburn visiting Taormina)

Trip planning (observant will notice a photo of Audrey Hepburn visiting Taormina)

With her advise we participated in the traditional Easter procession held on Good Friday. The route goes, as you probably guessed, via Corso Umberto. Men and women dressed in black bear sculpture showing the Passion of Christ and among them go children just after First Communion in white clothes. Street and shops lightings are switched off and only the candles of procession participants give a dim light on the unfolding events.

Our guide Giovanna in different role

Our guide Giovanna in different role

As soon as the procession ends, the owners of the shops switch on the lights again and go back to doing business.

So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.
/Mt 22, 15-21/

That’s all in the context of prelude. In the next article there will be much more about running…