As you scale the citadel in Sisteron, you’re treated to views of the hamlet at the foot of the mountain across the Duran river from the town center.
Before I was able to take this photo, my friend Shannon and I, following a decision to rent a kayak, had navigated through rough waters and squeezed ourselves through a narrow gap in the rocks to find safe harbor. Following that drama, we got to glide past the floating villages that surround Cat Ba Island.
We came across this fisherman towards the end of our trip and I asked if I could take a photo. He was kind enough to slow down as he pulled his nets to pose!
You can see a loaded ferry seemingly on a collision course with the rocks in this photo of Manarola’s harbor. What’s actually happening is people are boarding as the ferry is nosed up to the “ferry dock”. I put the ferry dock in quotes because it’s less a dock than a rocky coastline with a couple of cleats on it. The ferry noses up to it, and the crew roll out a gang plank for people to climb aboard as the boat pitches and rolls with the waves.
While in Switzerland I took a drive away from my hotel in Honegg and made my way to a model village seemingly dropped off in the middle of nowhere. I was clearly there in the off season as the parking lot was huge with lots of spaces for tour buses but there was hardly another soul there.
I can’t remember what the place was called, but it was pretty cool. They’d disassembled old houses from all the different regions of Switzerland and reassembled them in this rambling mountainside village.
Setting out for Sisteron, France I wasn’t sure what I would find following the hour and a half drive there. I also wondered what the roads would be like. I was pleasantly surprised as it turns out there is a nicely paved highway running from Aix-en-Provence most of the way to Sisteron. Once we arrived there, it was immediately clear that the drive was worth it. The town is perched on the bend of the River Durance and works it way up the valley walls. At the top is the Sisteron Citadel, which has significantly hindered the efforts of armies trying to enter Provence from Roman times through to the second world war.
What you see here is the Devil’s Sentry, posted high above the valley on an outcrop of rock. It’s not difficult to understand why it earned this name, especially when you imagine winter winds whipping through the valley and directly into the sentry box.
The photo below shows what is left of the temple of Apollo at Delphi. This temple was home to the Pythia who sat upon a tripod and provided messages from the gods in answer to pilgrims’ questions. Unfortunately the answers were always worded as a riddle and could often be interpreted to align with the results, whichever way they fell!
I didn’t know this before visiting, but it turns out that Delphi means dolphin. Sure enough, while enjoying lunch at a restaurant on the sea not far away three dolphins appeared and spent quite a while playing in the water in front of us.
In my post about Delphi I mentioned that I had made a return to Greece last February to tick a couple spots off the list that I’d missed, while inter-railing across Europe, due to an extended stay in Thessaloniki. The other place that I’ve been wanting to get back to is Meteora, where monasteries perch atop rock pinnacles. They used to be cut off from civilization with no roads leading to them. The method used for entry by most was formerly a rope net basket that the monks would climb into, to be hoisted up by the monks above turning a wooden winch. Standing on the edge of these and looking down was pretty terrifying.