Walking along the deserted pier I was stung by the cold wind cascading forth from the ocean. As the sun began its slow descent, heralding sunset, I walked towards the pier’s edge and paused, looking out beyond. A sea of wooden pillars starkly rose defiantly from the water. I was struck by the contrasting emotions that welled within me. The scene that lay before me looked drear and desolate. Slowly, with the passing of time a change however subtle became apparent. The suns rays illuminated the sky and waters with a brilliant myriad of blue hues manifesting a brilliant spectacle of simplistic beauty to that which previously was barren and forlorn.
Walking down the ancient road meandering through the town centre I noticed a secluded side street; barely noticeable yet inviting one to explore what lay beyond. A tinge of excitement stirred within me; the thirst for adventure never waned within my heart, so I unhesitatingly turned into the path which seemed to ascend quite steeply. I was transported instantaneously into a period centuries ago. The tales of my childhood manifested from children’s stories suddenly came to life , as I walked in the footsteps of peasants, traders and noblemen from the medieval era. I imagined the robust haggling of traders selling their wares in the market place, artisans busy at work and musicians mingling with townsfolk in carnivals. Pausing for long moments I couldn’t help but yearn for a time of creative beauty and simplicity, filled with uncertainty and romance.
The narrow village paths lined with colourful restaurants and intricate bouquets adorning the decaying medieval walls, straddled the main stream meandering through the centre of this picturesque town nestled at the footsteps of the Alps. The surrounding landscape, comprising a ring of forested mountains and complemented by a crystal clear lake embraced this medieval paradise. Centuries old towns with cobblestone streets, ramparts, archaic castles and cathedrals from the medieval and renaissance periods unique to European were truly fascinating to behold. Exotic buildings and streets with colourful facades, magnificent cathedrals and richly decorated buildings connected by secret passageways plunges one literally into the tales and story books of ones childhood. Flamboyant characters such as Molière and D’Artagnan suddenly come to life. France manifests architectural sophistication and elegance, a rich diverse and vibrant culture and is blessed with geographical beauty renown throughout the world.
Walking along the shore I pondered briefly at the set of footprints that disappeared in the sand before me, wandering fleetingly to whom they belonged. I was all alone, yet excitement mixed with a sensation of peace gripped me ever so strongly in its embrace. Looking up towards the horizon I hurried; there were only a few brief moments of precious light whereby I could experience the final setting of the sun. Quickly climbing atop a rugged boulder surrounded by water, I looked out towards the ocean. I lay still, overawed by such beauty. There are special moments when silence manifests such a forceful presence that it penetrates into the depths of ones soul. After long moments I stood up, a lone insignificant silhouetted figure, closed my eyes and stretched out my arms. The sound of the gentle wind and splashing of the waves upon the rocks melted away as I turned inwards to prayer, offering praise to God for His beautiful Creation. The solemn and reverent words of the Psalmist “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork” echoed within the depths of my heart.
Winding my way along the banks of the crystalline lake flanked by an adjacent park adorned with evergreen trees at the doorstep of this beautiful French alpine town, I came across a wrought iron bridge. Simple and stoic in architecture it nevertheless bore testimony to the elegant beauty of artisan creativity of the past. I walked slowly along this rather quaint bridge and paused in the middle. The cool autumn air was invigorating. Somewhere in the distance the call of birds permeated the air. I looked out yonder towards the canal that fed into the lake and observed the boats gently bobbing up and down gently as a line of pure white swans slowly swum upstream. In reverie, I pondered the beauty of silence and simplicity, a treasure often buried amidst the thick layer of dust of our everyday lives.
The flow of distant water was a melody that mingled effortlessly and blended gracefully with the song of birds lifting and falling away with the chorus of the wind. Descending the steep slope, I brushed past the splendid fronds of magnificent tree palms that graced my path forming a natural cathedral. The cool wind on my face provided relief from my tired muscles; the trek had been long and arduous yet every step manifested great joy as I rejoiced at the Garden of Eden that surrounded me. The once distant sound of churning of waters gradually became more noticeable and as the dense tree ferns gently gave way to sparser flora, I suddenly found myself in a pool of clear fresh water. The noise of flowing water grew louder and as I looked up a magnificent waterfall amidst a tropical rainforest cascaded forth in all its beauty.
The winding track from the campsite quickly changed drastically as I walked towards the coastline. On either side rolling forested hills gave way to coastal grassland, broken by a meandering river that wound its way effortlessly towards the ocean. Looking out yonder towards the distant mountains I was captivated by the stark contrast in landscape. Magnificent clouds strewn across Heaven, crowned the distant mountains. I paused in silence for long moments; there was no need for words. Nature itself lifted its voice in a melodic chorus of profound beauty. The gentle churning of the water, mingled with the fleeting whisper of the wind dancing about, rustling through the treetops and blades of grass. It was quite a long time before I reluctantly continued my walk into the virgin wilderness that lay before me.