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aries1988 : hostel   9

Alone in the Alps

I’ve been hiking the Via Alpina on and off for a decade, often without realizing that I was on it. Five interlocked trails crisscross all eight countries of the Alps: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia, and Switzerland.

It’s one of the distinctive pleasures of Alpine hiking. The glamorous vast multiplicity, all made up of differences, mediaeval, romantic differences, D. H. Lawrence wrote, in Mr. Noon, his semi-fictional account of crossing the Alps with Frieda Weekley after their elopement.

In the Alps, it’s still present in the shifting styles of church towers, village fountains, sheepcotes, hay barns. It’s there in the odd bits of language that filter through even if you’re an incurable monoglot like me. (How nice it is to learn that the German word for the noise cowbells make is Gebimmel, and that the Swiss-Romanche word for boulder is crap.) It’s there in the restaurant menus: daubes giving way to dumplings, raclette to robiola; and in the freshly incomprehensible road signs, which in Slovenia are clotted with impenetrable consonant clusters, as if vowels were an indulgence. Somewhere between Strmec and Cmi Vrh, I ate a pršut (prosciutto) sandwich.

That linkage across time—the sense of being led by the tracks of others who were there before you—is reassuring, especially in the more remote places.

It was as if a second hike, joyous and invigorating, had begun to superimpose itself on the one I thought I’d taken. I’d experienced this alchemy before—the day’s accumulated fretfulness and discomfort turning into pure exhilaration, though seldom this intensely.

Via Alpina was waiting for a prophet to acclaim it.

When I look at the footage now, it seems the perfect emblem of that place: wild and dreamlike and marvellous.

I then headed north into Austria, and resumed following the Purple trail. One stretch of it passes near the Altaussee salt mine, where the Nazis hid some of their stolen art. I dropped down from pristine meadows—still emerald green in August—and looked at the old railbeds, with salt crystals glittering along the tunnels and a subterranean chapel dedicated to St. Barbara, the patron saint of miners. Years-old swags of fir hung on the walls, smelling as if they’d just been cut, the salt air keeping them unnaturally fresh.
travel  rando  alpes  story  moi  self  hostel  idea  sleep  fun  animal  mountain  europe  diversity  thinking  nature 
april 2016 by aries1988
Meet the Unlikely Airbnb Hosts of Japan
Using the IBM data, and later incorporating the research of other social scientists, he came up with six measures to help define and analyze the values, attitudes and behavioral impulses of any group — from something as small as the population of a single office or factory to something as large as a nation. These include individualism versus collectivism, indulgence versus restraint, power distance (a group’s acceptance or rejection of hierarchy) and, perhaps most important for Airbnb, uncertainty avoidance.

it seemed, everyone had some defining experience with outsiders. Two of the couples were multinational — Japanese natives with partners who were American and Chinese. Other hosts were Japanese by birth but had lived in other countries or traveled a lot. This appeared to give them a certain renegade perspective, a degree of global cross-pollination and comfort with strangers that seemed to put them at odds with many of the people around them, but also made them more like other Airbnb users internationally.

She was even tolerant of the French, who she admitted, when pressed, could be the most challenging guests of all.

One of her daughters lived in Los Angeles for eight years, and Miki had gone for extended visits. She knew acutely what it felt like to be dislocated, the stun of a country that’s not your own.
culture  hotel  hostel  gaijin  japan  japanese  home  temoignage 
february 2015 by aries1988

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