Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 32

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Monday May 26, 2008 (diary, travel)

I believe that when two soldiers share the experience of a war it creates an emotional bond that lasts forever.
Equally, when two people share the most devastating emotional experience in their lives it also creates a bond which continues throughout their lifetime.

How else can I explain my feelings for somebody I have not seen for 30 years, barely know how she looks now or who she really has become after all this time ? Yet I miss her, at times terribly so. It is like having a hole in my body, something is missing. If left alone it can sit there, perhaps unconsciously (?) for quite a long time. But when touched directly (like recently) it rises to the surface of my consciousness and becomes a yearning ache which I can not subdue for days on end.
What will the future bring I ask myself. Is this hole in me ever going to be filled ? Or will it forever remain a bitter sweet tragedy, adding that extra dimension to my life which, ever since those days, is bringing easy tears to my eyes every time I am touched by any kind of "human emotional experience" ?

Bar RosaAzul This morning I wake up to some rain and a thunderstorm, but by 11 am things improve and I walk to Salvador Dahli's house, which is just a few hundred yards away from my camp site. It is right on a small beach and part of a tiny village called Port Lligat. The house is closed for inspection, but I love it as seen from the outside. There are a couple of quite nice Hotels next to it which do not detract from the general scene.
Later I walk down into Caraqués, have a coffee with croissant on the beach, walk around until I find a lovely small square (Place Dr. Pont along a tiny beach (Plaja Portdoguer, just around the corner from the main beach) where I sit myself down at the RosaAzul tappas bar. This is where I do feel really at home. I have of course a Anchovies Caraqués tappa, washed down with an Estrella Damm Spanish beer. When I go inside to pay I ask where the blue rose is. The two ladies running the bar reply that there is none, unless I like to call one of them "Rosa" and the other "Azul". And it is in such exact manner that I bid them goodbye.

If the weather stays good I will spend here another day. Otherwise I will move a bit South. I had discussions with several Germans this morning in the Caravan park. They are disgusted at the high cost (€ 30 per night for a camper van, I pay only € 14) and know several great places farther down the coast. They also alert me to the German (?) Camping Card with which you pay a fixed € 14 per night at participating Caravan Parks throughout Europe.

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Tuesday May 27, 2008 (diary, travel)

Salvador Dali Again thunder and rain early this morning, but I decide to stay here another night as the weather is bad everywhere else too. By 10 am the rain has cleared and I walk down to the beach. There are two bars right on the main beach located on either side of a statue of Salvador Dali. Facing the sea the Mariner Bar is on his left side, Bar Buia on his right. I always sit at Bar Buia. They make a good coffee there and cut my croissant in half (no idea how they manage to do that so nicely) and toast it.
Some hopeful signs on the emotional front yesterday got me into a few celebratory drinks and I suffer a bit as a result today. Also a sort of quantum mechanics effect on human scale is going on I suspect : two souls on opposite sides of the earth aching (I hope) simultaneously for the same thing.

Later in the morning I decide to do my touristy bit and visit the Museo Cadaqués which consists of a large collection of photos of Dali in numerous Surrealistic positions and situations, predominantly in and around his home at Port Lligat. They are in fact very entertaining.
There are photos and artistic influences of Dali everywhere in Cadaqués. There are also clusters of painters (predominantly females), one day they are all here, the next day over there. But they don't seem to be much influenced by the great Surrealist. It is all pretty pretty pictures. If they were Surrealists they would be painting each other.

Tomorrow I will definitely leave here. Forecasters predict another week of rain in this entire region. So I will either drive down to Tossa about 80 km farther South and recommended by one of the Germans earlier this week, or turn directly North and back to Avignon in France. I would like to come back here, perhaps with somebody (who knows ?) to enjoy the rest of this region in better weather.

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Wednesday May 28, 2008 (diary, travel)

Le Pont d'Avignon It is dry this morning and not unpleasant, but I decide to head back into France. A good drive, no rain on the way so that I this time can actually see the country side. There is snow on the top of the Pyrenees, but unfortunately I can't get a good shot of it.
I arrive in Avignon about midday. A wonderful city. The Caravan Park is right on the Rhone river. As I walk out, there are benches along the waterfront everywhere with across the river right opposite the Palace of the Popes and to the left the famous Pont d'Avignon. Lots of shops within the fully walled old city and some great restaurants. I walk around all afternoon and have a great meal in the evening. Now ready for bed, there is some thunder in the air. I will stay here 2 nights, then probably back to Beaune for a night.

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Thursday May 29, 2008 (diary, travel)

Provence near Perpignan Thunder storms and rain all night and I can't establish a Vodafone connection to upload my blog or pick up emails. In the morning it still looks miserable and I am in two minds. I have my shower, shave, etc. while I think about it and that clinches it. I am absolutely fed up with sitting on toilets without seats , pressing a button every 2 seconds to keep the shower going in a cubicle so tight that I can't even dry myself properly. Frankly the worst Caravan park I have visited in Australia is miles better than any French or Spanish one I have ever stayed at.

So I pack up, pay up (only € 12.80) and tell Heidi to get me back to the Heitzmannhof in St. Peter (Wivica's home) quick smart. She works it out at 700 km, freeway all the way. I can easily do that in one day.
I absolutely love driving on the French autobahns. The 2,000 km round trip this week costs me around € 100 on Toll charges, but it is worth every cent of it. Here are some of its marvelous features :

  1. There are two basic speed limits on French freeways, 130 kph under normal weather conditions, 110 kph when it rains. These are good choices and are generally adhered to by most, give or take the extra 10 kph or so. At some spots (through cities or on winding roads) the speed limit drops down to 110 or 90 kph, clearly marked at short intervals so that one does not forget. Automatic speed checks along the road are sign posted beforehand with the apology of "For your safety".

  2. The very busy freeway from Barcelona Northwards through Lyon, Dijon, Paris is at least 6 lanes wide, 3 in each direction. The numerous trucks (and caravans) use the right lane and when overtaking can do that in the middle lane. This leaves the left lane free for the faster passenger cars, ensuring fast flow throughs even under heavy traffic conditions.
    The stretch from Barcelona to Dijon must be one of the busiest in Europe with thousands of trucks going through every day. During my 2,000 km round trip I guestimate that I have overtaken - I repeat overtaken - close to 1,000 trucks (including caravans), but with the three lanes one can overtake a cue of 6 to 10 trucks within a mere 20 seconds or so. South of Dijon the route starts to branch out to various directions : Paris, Strasbourg, Muhlhouse, Grenoble, etc.
    On my way back I see a trailer carrying about 20 top of the range Mercedes coupé sports cars heading towards (not from) Germany. These I am sure are, like my Mercedes Vito van, assembled in a plant in Spain.

  3. Several European countries have discovered that reducing the number of signs along the road increases safety and reduces road accidents significantly. (I come across just one minor accident all week.) Therefore not a single advertising board is there to distract the driver and pollute the view.
    There are tastefully designed signs in uniform unobtrusive buff-brown colours pointing out Historic and other features along the road.

  4. The outside of the right lane is marked by a dashed line. The dashes are 30-40 meters long and about 5 meters apart. The distance of 2 dashes represents a safe distance between your car and the one in front. A one dash distance is dangerous. This feature is continuous along every freeway one drives on. You therefore can not but remain aware of this and more or less adhere to it. There is therefore no tailgating whatsoever on the road.

  5. There are emergency parking spots with telephone at regular 1 km intervals along the entire freeway.

  6. Large overhead digital display boards spanning the entire 3-lane width of the road provide details of traffic conditions ahead.Alternatively they display the time or friendly reminders like :
    Fatiguez ?
    Pensez a vous arreter.
    Note the use of the word vous, the polite and respectful form of "you". The totally opposite approach to the one taken in Australia where in most states the traveler is still address as if an ex convict.

  7. There are rest areas every 10 kms or so. All cater for a large number of both trucks and small cars, have toilet facilities, some even have children play grounds.

  8. Fuel stations are spaced about 30-40 kms apart, all with food facilities and shops. Digital boards along the road show fuel prices for the next 5 to 6 fuel stations ahead, and before the entrance of each prices for all types of fuel are shown.

All in all it makes driving on these roads an absolute delight. One can admire the beautiful French country side at leisure without distractions, even at speeds of 130-140 kph.
The drivers are all well behaved and stick to the basic rules. I have the feeling of being part of creative improvised ballet where every driver contributes to a harmonious flowing movement.

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Friday & Saturday May 30 & 31, 2008 (diary, travel)

From the movie : Dinner for One Back in Sankt Peter I arrive amidst some sort of a rural upheaval. All German milk farmers are on a milk strike in protest against the ever lower prices they receive for their milk.
The Heitzmann family is of course in the middle of it all. Milking proceeds as normal but the produce is given right back to the cows themselves. The farmers are determined to stick with this for quite some time. The holiday season is approaching and most have holiday units they let as extra income. The Heitzmanns even have three permanent rentals (one of them Wivica) plus some additional holiday letting, so money keeps coming in to sustain their farm.

It is dry and gradually getting warmer here. I can sit here for hours on Wivica's terrace absorbing the magnificent and very peaceful view, and contemplating the future in which I start to see now definite realistic and very positive possibilities.
Saturday lunch Wivica is receiving a client from near München to pick up her painting and discuss its meaning. So I drive into the village for lunch and to take a picture of this gorgeous print from the traditional New Years Eve movie Dinner for One staring Freddy Flinton. It hangs on the wall in the cosy Zähringer-Eck Cafe (St.Peter) where I often go for a green tea, a beer or some sausages. In Australia SBS is showing this half hour movie every year at about 8 pm on the night. In Germany it is apparently shown by all TV stations at various times during the day. (Click on the picture to bring up its larger version.)
In the evening we watch sweet German love soapies, for which I am just in the mood right now.

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