Monday, November 26, 2012

Calanques of Marseille: Sugiton and Marseilleveyre

Les Calanques, the famous white-rocked hills and mountains that made up the landscape of the South of France; limestone rocks on the shoreline; the waves hitting the rocks and forming some sort of inlet, commonly known as fjiords; this was possibly the first time I had heard of them and I had time during my 10 day trip to get acquainted with them.

Coming from the tropical climate often described as 'hot and humid', the walk on the rocks to reach a small, amazing beach was quite arduous. Was it the thinner, drier air that I was unaccustomed to, or the path that required some rigourous knee-lifting movements that did me in? I was not quite sure; the supposedly three quarters of an hours' journey took me more than one. Little children scrambled past me while I huffed and puffed and needed a water and muesli-bar break every fifteen minutes or so: Needless to say I felt like a grandmother for the first time, and also silently berating the nice guy who thought this walk would be effortless for me. My country is too flat and this is perhaps the first of my unique realizations while rendering philosophical thoughts on the grumpily rocky path I found my feet on, trying hard to stay positive.

So on my second day in Marseille, France; I did the Calanques at Marseilleveyre. Much to my annoyance, I was told that local families took this path on a regular basis as their sunday afternoon jaunt.

The destination is this white pebbled beach to soak up some sun on a cold early autumn's day.

I declined politely to join 3 Marseillans (their hobbies included mountain climbing in Nepal, marathon running, travelling in India for years) for their 3 hour climb at the Calanques of Sugiton. To the relief of anyone who wants to keep their original knees past sixty, there is two walks the least sporty can attempt, one pavement that led downwards into the beautiful Calanque; the other leads to the peak. I did the one leading downwards and experimented with my redscale film, taking lovely (or at least I hope) photos of the mediterranean shrubs. The plants are amazing, pine trees, green oaks that are tiny due to the harsh weather conditions, ground-covering tiny white flowers that came in bushes, and many plants with bright colored berries, red ones, some with an ombre of red and pea green. Fat brown birds flew curiously around me but stayed out of sight, their chirping sounds reflected upon the huge rocks that have stood the test of time for centuries locked me into a quiet reverie of how wonderful these three hours spent in almost-solitude, save for the ocassional walkers, who are always looking into your eyes and calling out a friendly 'bonjour'!

And then after what seems like yet another bend in the road; you chance upon the amazing sight of the Calanque of Sugiton. 'It's my favorite Calanque of them all,' declared the marathoner Marseillan who encouraged me to walk all the way down after seeing a look of abject horror on my face at the thought of subjecting my knees to such rigours again.

The sight brought me to tears as Nicki Minaj's 'Va-va-voom' voomed in my ishuffle.

There, at the curve, shaded by small pines; with the sun in my eyes, the white rocky cliffs at the back and at the sides, in the front; the sea, a deep blue. The awe of nature, its beauty, the sight of something majestic yet humble that I had never expected to see, the cumulation of it all just washed upon me, that hey, I have reached this place. Just like the explorers of old who have found a place no one knew, I felt a strange sense of wonder and belonging. A city girl like me who comes from a flat land of buildings. No one ever expected I could find my way here, in so many aspects. Though my city is one of the richest in the world, travelling to this part of the world is a luxury, for most. (But thanks to the declining Euro this trip is cheaper than what it used to be.) I thought that I would be shopping in the old city area, eating in cafes and restaurants and going in pretty much the places I and my feet would be comfortable in.

Who knew that I would find myself in a place like this; Calanque de Sugiton?


All photos taken at Marseilleveyre, with Lomo 800 Color film and camera Vivitar UWS.

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