Childhood

I could probably search my whole life and never find the right words for describing childhood better than this photo I took in the old Jewish quarter in Fes, Morocco.

We were visiting the old synagogue but along with it we also had the chance to glimpse into the lives of some of the poorest people of Fes, those living in the old synagogue, whose children blissfully played on the sunny roof of the synagogue.

Their games were simple, as they must have been centuries ago, and their innocence was so visible through their shy smiles and awkward gestures as we’ve invaded their playground.

I stole this just while we left them to their games, far away from the worries of the world, from thoughts of poverty and expensive gadgets easily obtained and just as easily forgotten.

Blissful childhood might just be the childhood when all you have is a sunny rooftop, two friends, shoes that are too big and just your imagination capable of painting anything on the blue canvas of your city’s sky.

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Amintiri din paradis – Pointe des Chateaux

Ştiaţi că Guadelupa este de fapt un arhipelag, nu o insulă, şi că până şi ceea ce este în mod normal cunoscut ca fiind insula Guadelupa sunt de fapt două insule fooarte apropiate, dar cât se poate de diferite ?

 Noi am facut naveta între insule zilnic, timp de o săptămână până să aflăm că râuleţul pe care îl traversam şi de câte 4 ori pe zi era de fapt canalul dintre Basse Terre şi Grande Terre.

Basse Terre, insula vestică, este vulcanică, cu plaje cu nisip negru şi zone muntoase spectaculoase, cascade şi rauri cu ape termale. Grande Terre, insula estică, este calcaroasă, deci plată şi plină de plantaţii de trestie de zahăr şi banane, cu plaje cu nisipuri aurii.

Daca Guadelupa este un fluture pe harta lumii, Point des Chateaux este vârful aripii drepte, cea calcaroasă şi apreciată pentru plajele de revistă, cu nisip auriu şi ape bleu turcoaz.

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 Drumul spre Pointe des Chateaux este, ca mai toate drumurile din Guadelupa, frumos, iar în plus, oriunde ai merge la stânga sau la dreapta după ce treci de Saint Francois o să găseşti drumuri care duc la plaje ascunse de mici crânguri numai bune de agăţat hamacul.

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Am ajuns la destinaţie destul de dimineaţă după standarde guadalupene, nu şi după ale noastre, treziţi fiind de la 6 ca de obicei şi după lungi sesiuni de vânat colibri în gradină şi bălăceli în piscină. ( scuzaţi rima, a fost involuntara)

Am început cu o scurtă incursiune în zona Les Salines unde am pândit sau am fost pândiţi, depinde cu interpretaţi cadrul de mai jos, de crabi verzui, asemenea stâncilor pe care locuiau.

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Câţi ochişori curioşi puteţi găsi în imagine?

 Undeva în larg valurile se spărgeau cu zgomot de stânci şi am recunoscut imediat energia nestavilită a Atlanticului, atât de vibrantă după multe zile în care fundalul sonor fusese asigurat doar de clipocitul lin şi îmbrăţişarea caldă a mării Caraibilor.

După scurta incursiune în Grande Anse am pornit prin parcarea mărginită de tarabe cu produse locale pitoreşti  spre Pointe des Colibris, varful pe care tronează o cruce uriaşă şi care oferă şi cel mai bun punct de belvedere.

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Am ales să pornim spre cruce traversand poate una din cele mai frumoase plaje din Guadelupa, Anse des Chateaux, plajă care este cunoscută şi ca una din cele mai periculoase din arhipelag. Furia cu care oceanul ia cu asalt plaja este incredibilă, iar odată ce ai păşit pe nisipul fin ai senzaţia că eşti sub nivelul mării şi valurile furioase ar putea veni oricând să te măture dacă nu ar fi oprite de un zid invizibil.

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Priveliştea din drum spre cruce şi de la cruce este bulversantă fiindcă nu ştii către ce să priveşti mai degrabă. Către La Desirade care se vede în zare ca o mega fortareaţă, către stâncile din plan apropiat care par să fie dinozauri adormiţi, către golfurile asaltate în ritm alert de ape pe cât de frumoase pe atât de nervoase.

 

Dacă va exista o dată viitoare când să vizitez Guadelupa ea va include cu siguranţă un răsarit şi/ sau un apus la Pointe des Chateaux, poate chiar o zi întreagă de vânat nori, valuri şi stânci în plin elan creator de forme, sunete şi culori. Chiar şi în puţinul timp petrecut cu aparatul în mână acum şi tot cred că acolo am surprins unele din cele mai frumoase fotografii ale mele cu oceanul în rol principal.

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 Ai putea să te crezi la capătul lumii în Pointe des Chateaux dacă nu ar fi siluetele câtorva insule din arhipelag să îţi amintească discret că lumea e mult mai mare decăt tinzi să crezi uneori, prins în euforia clipei aproape perfecte.

Senzaţia de capăt al lumii a glisat usor spre cea de sfârşit al lumii odată cu norii negri care au monopolizat orizontul şi au făcut marea şi mai nervoasă, dar şi mai albastră.

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A urmat o frumuseţe de ploaie tropicală, goana noastră printr-un crâng, pe o potecă întortocheată şi plină de capcane, şi o lungă aşteptare să fim recuperati din parcare de către ghizii noştri, plecaţi în căutare de plaje pustii.

 Întelepţi ca  întotdeauna, un pic prea târziu, am concluzionat de sub prosoapele de plajă care nu faceau decât să ne ude şi mai rău că este foarte bine să îţi iei în fiecare zi pelerina de ploaie cu tine, dar că ar fi şi mai bine să nu o laşi în maşina odată ce porneşti în drumeţie.

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Copacul revelaţiilor

Din Point des Chateaux am plecat spre plaja fără nume unde ne-am revendicat o poiană şi am pregatit şi savurat un grătar antilez cu peşte, « sauce chien », orez cu fasole( slow cooked) şi banane la grătar cu rom şi cocos ras, toate udate bine cu planteur sau suc de maracuja, cel mai bun din lume.

 Vă întrebaţi dacă sosul chien chiar este cu chien şi ce este acela plateur ? Ei bine, cu puţin noroc vă voi răspunde la aceste întrebări în episoadele urmatoare într-un text dedicat mâncării creole.

 Vă las până atunci să vă delectaţi cu încă o serie de cadre din crângul magic care a răsunat în ritm de tobe şi voie bună o întreagă după-amiază. Fiindca am fotografiat doar când nu ploua cu găleata, şi când nu vânam scoici uriaşe în ocean, cadrele sunt puţine, dar numai bune pentru rememorat sau imaginat o duminică aproape perfectă, chiar dacă udă, pe o plajă pustie, la Atlantic.

Va urma…

Dacă aţi ajuns cu cititul până aici s-ar putea să vă placă şi relatarea primei întâlniri cu jungla tropicală în drum spre  Chutes du Carbet.

Guadeloupe holiday planner (part 1)

trip feb 2016

Ever since I first went to Gran Canaria in February some years ago I started realizing how nice it is to get away from cold for a while, if possible in the midst of winter. It’s strange that the thought has never crossed my mind before since it is so obvious but we, Romanians, are not that used with such thoughts and behavior.

With us it’s more in the natural trend where if it is winter you go to ski resorts, if you can afford it, or stay at home and only go to the mall on weekends.

Our European friends from the northern countries are quite used to go to sunny places during January and February but the Romanians who do this seem to be outnumbered by those taking photos in ski resorts.

Do not get me wrong, I love both types of getaways but when the opportunity appeared to put on my traveling shoes and search deep in my pockets for money for an airplane ticket my choice was simple: Guadeloupe was the right choice for February 2016.

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Where in God’s name is Guadeloupe ? 

Guadeloupe is in France.

True statement but also very confusing because Point a Pitre, Guadeloupe’s main city is 6754,34 Km away from Paris.

So Gaudeloupe is in fact one of France’s “région d’outre-mer” with the same political status, currency and language (arguable) as metropolitan France. The culture, on the other hand is completely different and extremely interesting requiring on site research and a lot of history reading.

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How is Guadeloupe?

Heavenly, I would argue without ever stepping foot there but with plenty of reasons given by my online research and stories of friends that went there for a visit and moved there for good some months later.

Imagine a butterly shaped island ( actually two close islands) in the middle of the blue ocean featuring vulcanoes, jungles, the best beaches, amazing marine wildlife and a life rhythm you cannot possibly imagine on Continental Europe. Picture having as neighbors Cuba, the Dominical Republic, Puerto Rico.

Or even better, think of captain Jack Sparrow running towards trouble or away from trouble in one of his adventures. That’s the place, exactly.

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Have you started packing yet?

How to get there :

If you’re not rich you have to start one year in advance by saving money. If you are rich you are not wasting time reading this so problem solved.

Once you have the money for an airplane ticket and at least the faint possibility of getting more for the rest of expense you can start looking for airplane tickets.

From Romania you have to be aware that you will need to have at least a stop in a major airport. For instance you can go to Paris and then to Point a Pitre and you can buy the tickets separately for each part of the trip. Spending a night or more in Paris in between flights might be an interesting option.

You can look for deals with Air France, Lufthansa or Air Carriben.

The best deal we could get being a bit pressed by external constraints got us ticket at the mesmerizing price of 700 euros per person with AirFrance.( not too bad and not too good considering the distance)

We’ll fly to Paris ( Charles de Gaulle) get a cab or buss to Orly airport and take the second flight to Point a Pitre. Combined duration of fights: 8h50 for going and 10:20 for the return flights.

Just imagining all that time spend reading books gives me goosebumps.

Where to stay:

I told you before that Guadeloupe looks just like a butterfly ( one with pretty crroked wings, but nonetheless a butterly). The capital, Point a Pitre is in between those wings that are very different in terms of looks or as Wikitravel puts it:

  • Basse Terre: green and lush vegetation, mountainous with a sulphuric volcano.
  • Grande Terre: flat and dry with a lot of beaches, some of them very touristic.
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Photo from: skyscrapercity.com

We found it practical to stay in the Grande Terre side, in Gossier, closer to the capital city and the touristic area since the island is not that big and we’ll be wandering around a lot.

The accommodation is not very expensive and you can find good deals on booking.com or airbnb.com. The latter charges a fee for booking but contains many houses in idyllic places, the service seems to be superior and for a longer stay you could be in advantage with them.

Beware, you might look for a nice place by the beach, be deceived by the photos and end up spending your holiday in a shack by the beach, which might be cool or not depending on your standards and expectations. Do not trust the photos entirely and try to read between the lines while looking for the perfect place for you.

What to Do? Everything!

This section was meant to be called what to do, but I thought I may be a lot clearer saying: do everything. Nonetheless, I will also provide some tips that coincide greatly with our plan for the holiday.

You can enjoy the perfect beaches and waves, be lazy and overuse sunscreen but you could do that almost anywhere so I think it is best that you put on your walking shoes or swimming fins and do things that are a lot more interesting:

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  • Climb “La Soufriere” the highest mountain peak in the Lesser Antilles: 1467 m; there are many easier ways to get to the top but we chose the hardest: an 8 hours trek through the jungle. I’ll let you know how that will turn out
  • Take a walk to Pointe des Chateaux – 1 to 2 hours long walk;
  • Hike to Chutes de Carbet  – 6 hours trek

Trips and cruises: yacht

You can find one night cruises from Guadeloupe to Martinique, Aruba and Barbuda or  Dominica.( I saw quite nice offers starting from 150€, transport and accomodation included); For offers go to: Kiosquedesiles

Chosen method of transportation in between the islands :  l’expres des Illes :

Seside fun:

snorkelSnorkeling and diving are a must in Guadeloupe and everywhere around. For an unforgettable adventure book a flight from Guadeloupe to Grenada and dive in the underwater museum;

If time and money are too short for Grenada you can find a lot of local agencies willing to help you ( more info HERE)

Nightlife and day life fun:

For the full list of the events in Guadeloupe in 2016 go to the official Antilles site.

Mingle with the locals at the Carnival if you plan to go there in February – as we’ll do. Take plenty of photos and enjoy the music, the dancing and the spirit of the place.

That’s all for now, I’ll be back to tell you about the estimated costs, what to pack and other useful information I am still working on.

Yours trully, Logo final

 

 

Photo of the week 2/2015: Sweet dreams are made of this

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There are places and moments that stay with you forever. And some of them call for you from far away until you cannot resist and have to meet/ live them no matter what. These are the moments that define and complete you so listen to your heart and your feet, and train you eyes to see the tiny miracles that surround you. They are there, I assure you, you just have to look carefully.

Good news for readers and friends

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I don’t know about you but I took the disappearance of Google Reader quite badly. That is I failed at finding an appropriate replacement reader and quit reading a lot of blogs that had entered into my daily routine during the age of G Reader.

Without it my interest moved to Facebook partially or faded away, as it has probably happened also with former readers of my blog. I found, instead, things to follow on Facebook, started writing less on the blog and things went down from that. Now the blog is in some sort of a slumber and I am trying to find out if it’s worth reviving it or not.

To do so I will put one more effort into it and I invite all of you to help me out. If you like the chaotic, sometimes boring and sometimes surprising blog of mine and you have a Facebook account hit me with a like on my new Facebook page: DarkClaudS Blog.

By doing so you’ll show me you want me to continue writing about my travels, post my photos and share personal experience and interesting facts  and you’ll make sure to be up to date with everything I post on darkclauds.com since all the posts will appear instantaneously on the page also.

The part that is the cherry on top of the cake is the fact that we can chat on FB easier and I look forward to that.  Remember to check my page, quite empty right now but soon filled with surprises, share and like it and let’s keep in touch.

Big hugs for all my friends, followers and readers. We might not interact too much but you are there and you make me happy.

Oh, if you do not have FB do not worry, you will find everything here, as usual, or even more, since I plan to tell you a lot of stories in the following months.

DarkClaudS

Photo of the week 1/2015: Dreams of Howth

Oh, the happy times I used to post at least a photo a week, how much I loved them and how bad of me to quit posting my photo of the week that used to take me out of the comfort/ laziness zone. But I will be lazy no more and post again the photo of the week starting from right now and here are the rules: I will do my best to post each week a photo taken the previous week, or the current one if inspiration strikes. If I will find myself photo-less one week I will go through the millions of photos in the archive and look for something worth posting and sharing. The old photos will be marked with an (r) for retrospective. The photos will have stories or short descriptions unless I will get lazier than usual.

This will be tough so bear with me and help out with some kind of feedback, this might help me keep on track.

The first photo of the series, brand new, will not get a description but I dedicate it to my dear friend and sister in arms, Alexandra, who also dreams of Howth.

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DarkClaudS in Iceland – a comic book

Ok guys, you might have noticed I’ve been to Iceland recently. In fact I am sure you did because I told everyone about it. Now, thinking more cooly about it it might look like bragging but I assure you that my telling about it is just a way of expressing my enthusiasm about that amazing country and my trip through it and nothing more. I love travel stories and I write my own so bear with me through this story that will definitely reach new peaks of narcisism as it is full of photos of myself in Iceland.

This is a first for many reasons, among which the fact that I only post photos of myself on Facebook where narcisism is a must and the second being the fact that nobody takes my photos during trips since I am the group photographer. I can count numerous occasions( trips, some two weeks long) in which I took thousands of photos of people and places and only got one badly focused photo of myself  and nothing more.

The cruel irony is the fact that my best photos are portraits of my friends that I will never be able to publish since they are so secretive ( and a bit crazy).

Returning to Iceland, I have recently received a lot of photos of myself during the trip. They are so much fun you have to see them too so here it is, a story in fun images.

Please ignore the colorful mess of my winter wardrobe. My brain froze while packing and I did not realize I was that pink + red plus some more pink until it was too late and I was hurting everyone’s retinas in the Icelandic winter landscape. In my defense I must state that some of that gear was a present, I am not a pink freak.

Photographing the Oslo Opera House at 1 am on December 1rst because all you can do after a delayed flight and a hitchhike from the middle of nowhere to Oslo is check in and go out to take photos.

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When only your socks are dry and you’re happy about it watch out for waves. Or not. Photobombing a friend while being water bombed by the ocead who did not care much about my artistic endeavour. Ouch, that was cold. Jokulsarlon, I still love you!

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And by wet I mean wet wet wet. And not caring much. My poor poor camera…

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About that time we figured out why the car upholstery was made out of leather as we carried tons of rain and ocean water inside each time we got out and back in.

So much color, so much cold, and let’s not forget the wind.

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I saw that caracter in a Japanese horrow movie. Oh, wait, it’s just me 😀

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A tripod sherpa is a good friend willing to carry your tripod, protect your camera for rain or act as a tripot stabilizer in time of rain, wind and other forms of terrible weather.

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Enjoying the view. The prettiest glacier I ever saw, I must find out the name from Ingi, I was so excited to be there I forgot to ask or take a photo of the sign..

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3rd degree encounter with the Icelandic fluffy horses. I love those guys, they are so cute. We talked a lot about the risks of becoming sandwiches and told them as I told Ingi a thousand times: horses are pets, not food. Extra pink alert, by now you must think I am a powerpuff girl or something. The truth is my friends get me colorful clothes because they don’t want me to get lost in the snow.

DSC_0719Defying the laws of gravity, what was I doing here? I have no clue.

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With the tripod sherpa, looking for the troll queen. This is one of my favorite photos.

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Freezing at Gullfoss, unforgetable.

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Urban explorer. Confused urban explorer.  Extatic urban explorer meets Icelandic blue(ish) sky.

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Have I ever told you we are boat geeks? We never miss out old boat musem so we really loved visiting Odinn. We wrote them a note about our love and we even did an exercise to see if we all three fit in a lifesaving boat. ( I will not show you that photo, no way)

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And then it was bye bye Iceland, nice to see you again Norway and a day trip to the Oslo Opera House.

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And the sad time of going back home, that we never photograph, came. That was it, a lot of photos that might not say much to you but I find them fun and full of memories.  It was one of the best trips ever despite the weather and the short days. I loved every second of it and cannot wait for the next trip, not so far away if I come to think about it.

I need to thank my friends for the photos and for the companionship.  Luv you, guys!

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