Travel “Around the World”. What does it mean?

All the people who can afford it sooner or later have thought about taking a trip “around the world”; the “fever” of escaping for a sabbatical year last year began to rise to me. The goal was to touch as many countries as possible in a year, but obviously the first problem was the “financial” one and so I started a search on the internet to get an idea and I also contacted a good blogger Giulia Raciti, who gave me a lot of information useful, making me also understand what I wanted to do in a year and what I could not have done … in any case, I was in a period in which I really wanted to “escape” from everything (the work) and from everyone (my family, Italy, the society in which I lived and still live today), to travel the world, vent my curiosity and maybe find a place to “stay” one day …
Obviously I returned to the earth in a few months, after the fever of escape at all costs passed, after the existential “crisis” (and who doesn’t?), I realized a couple of things:
1) That they needed a lot of money for a year of travel (I had savings that could have helped me but that I would have been at 0 € …), and it would have been an investment in a certain passion that was irrepressible for me, but returned to home after a year, I would have really remained anchored for who knows how many years in my “reality” waiting to save something at most for a weekend in Europe….
2) It was necessary to have a lot of free time … we say for 365 days or 6 months at least, besides having to leave work for a while (I work on my own in the management of a couple of small accommodations in a Center of Italy: Abruzzo ), the time I could find it, certainly having someone to trust blindly, that would replace me in my work, especially in the summer, but I had to spend that time well to see what I wanted to see, because I wouldn’t have had a second chance … .
3) If after a year I decided not to “return” I would have to get by myself and find a way to survive, in addition to the problem of leaving everything I had in Italy: I speak of “affections” and not “things”, those can always be bought somewhere else, but human relationships … are difficult to replace.

Having said that going to various sites, one of the most famous that you will surely know is or I got an idea of cost base: about € 5,000 for flights with various routes and 15 calls at most (it is one of the around-the-world ticket rules: no more than 15 stops including the return, normally in the city of departure), which would allow them to do around the world to the east or west, adding a budget of up to € 12,000 for a year (in short, € 1000 a month with a possible daily cost of about € 33 for food, lodging, transport and extra attractions to visit), you could “stay” in an acceptable perspective, but obviously very “spartan”, only for real backpapers (in which I believe I would have had no problems because when I traveled to countries like India I adapted to sleep anywhere, B&B , dusty buses, cars, guest house, hotel or table of a train …).
These costs obviously must be referred only to countries where you can live with the equivalent of a few dollars: then Asia with some exceptions such as Japan and Korea, Africa, Eastern Europe or some South American countries .
Even if one wanted to go and see Australia and / or New Zealand, USA and / or Canada, in addition to Northern Europe, our costs would rise … let’s say to give an example of 3000 euros per month (the canons 100 euros per day from “tourists”) “on vacation without worries of money, which we often calculate as a threshold, having saved all year to reach this goal …), except that in a year about 36000 euros would go, flight excluded, so wishes to those who have this money and the time to spend it …


At this point in the “research” I had also found interesting and “alternative” solutions as well as subscribing to various newsletters that continue to send me “offers” for “around the world” trips or “all inclusive” packages …
The cruise around the world for the exact duration of a year that started January 1st 2017 from London intrigued me a lot, but now it has passed … and ended at New Year …), and was offered at the “modest” price of € 36000 ( more extras, ground expenses and any fees for visas or permits to be quantified separately …). Not really within the reach of “everyone” ….


In the maritime sector, I also discovered the possibility of booking cabins equipped for passengers on cargo containers, called “Freigther Travel”, these travel solutions guarantee a trip around the world at reasonable prices (around 7500-8000 euros if you settle and plan well, but staying for weeks in the middle of the ocean, with brief stops in the ports where the navigation plan brings these ships to a halt, and during stops you can also go ashore, but you must absolutely be found on board at the start or you are left in the port … we say that you would have little time to see something, but if you like the sea and spend long periods in the quiet of a cabin, always talking with the same people, watching DVDs, playing cards, chess and reading or writing your memoirs, then it is the trip for you, I saw several sites like, however, fantasizing especially on this: https: //www.fre
The food is included in the price of the accommodation and is eaten in a common canteen equipped with all the comforts (forget the movies from the movies or dirty and smelly places on ships managed by traffickers or shady “villains”), on the other hand the cargo ships they have a certain number of cabins for travelers who book during each trip, and being an excellent form of “extra” income for the company, you pay for an excellent service, at least according to testimonies.

Sardinia Sea

To get around the world, solutions like the more classic “work during the trip” type in the hostels in exchange for food and lodging remain. In some countries it is possible, but watch out for labor inspectors, because I doubt you will have thought about applying for a work visa in a foreign country, and then there is the “voluntary work” with which you can severely limit expenses, and of which I will speak a day, having participated in an “international volunteer camp” last year. The volunteer camps available in the world are varied and allow you to make an experience with the people and culture of the place that you will hardly forget, normally paying a modest sum for food and lodging, and working a few hours as a volunteer, without breaking your back and stopping when you want (on the other hand you are a volunteer!), basically stopping for a couple of months in different places, with 3 fields it would be possible to turn a part of the world, doing intermediate steps to “detach” from the various fields and using the ‘plane for long distances, with the advantage of being able to find heavily discounted last minute tickets or change your trip at will. Finally, let’s not forget the possibility of being able to integrate the various “solutions” listed above, which could be a good choice if you manage to plan the trip well by having the various choices fit together.
In summary I think these are the various options available for a trip around the world today, or you can always start by hitchhiking (and taking into account long “stops” in the most unimaginable places waiting for the next step), then you can also take car, motorbike, bicycle, caravan, horse, mule, sled, velocipede … and start your journey on the road, to the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific and find a way to cross it at a modest price (for the record the Strait of Bering is NOT to be crossed by ship but only by plane, and from the testimonies I read it costs a lot of money, being a route that is not widely used). Whether you want to make the rounds by plane or cargo ship, by bus, or by mule, one thing is certain: you will never know what will happen to you when traveling around the world and you will definitely return changed.
I hope I have given a sufficient overview of what I found on the subject, which still fascinates me a lot and to which I do not believe I will ever give up as an idea to be implemented one day. Once again, next time!


Travel: Austria and Hungary on 1993.

In the summer of 1993, a new destination to explore was chosen by my family: Austria and Hungary, to be visited, always by car.
The primary objective was Vienna, which we would have reached after Salzburg, so we would have headed to Budapest, and then returned to Austria via Lake Balaton.
the two-week trip took us through the Brenner in July, to Innsbruck, as we had already done when we returned from Germany, we stayed overnight at the campsite and the next day we headed for Salzburg, the native city of W.A. Mozart, where the birthplace of the Austrian composer / musician is still preserved.
The old town also known as the Old Town (Altstadt) and the Castle pleased us so much for the history that exuded walls and squares, streets and ancient buildings, without forgetting the new part (Neustadt) of the city dating back to the nineteenth century and the house-museum of the musician.
We stayed in Salzburg for two nights, staying overnight with the magnificent view of the Austrian Alps and the mountains surrounding the city.
On the 4th day of travel we headed for Vienna: the ancient Austro-Hungarian capital appeared splendid to us, lying on the banks of the Danube, and after having settled in a nearby campsite we began to tour the city, being struck by the immense garden of the imperial palace Schönbrunn, wandering the immense parks of the city and admiring the Danube and the area of ​​the MuseumsQuartier where the major museums of the city are located such as the Kunsthistorisches Museum or the Weltmuseum: museums dedicated to works of art and collections of weapons and really huge furnishings to see, not to mention the Museum of Modern Art which we avoided … at the time I did not yet have a passion for the modern arts, so being kids we “lost” ourselves among the collections of weapons and armor. One day in the area of ​​the Parliament not far from the MuseumsQuartier we also casually witnessed a brief exhibition of “Lipizzaner” horses which are a breed bred in Austria that as an adult presents a completely white livery, used for riding and towing carriages.

Me and my family stayed 3 nights in Vienna, measuring ourselves with the Austrian cuisine (I will not forget a “purple” cream taken from my mother and turnip base), taking long walks and taking public transportation to move around cheaply around or around the city.
On the morning of the 8th day we headed for the Hungarian border, crossed after thorough checks of the car and passengers, we avoided diverting to Bratislava and following the highway we reached Budapest around noon: also the Hungarian city presented itself crossed by the majestic Danube, which divided it into two.
Of the city I will not forget the thermal baths scattered on the island that currently welcomes the Ziget-Festival on the Margaret Island.
We liked the Hungarian National Museum, which illustrated the history of the country, its customs and traditions of the Magyar population, as did the area of ​​the Citadel, consisting of a Habsburg fortress from the period of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
In general, however, Budapest appeared to us very relaxed and calm, after the end of the east-west division, anxious to welcome tourists, economic and monumental with its centuries of history.

For the occasion we stayed in a house of a Muslim family that rented rooms, finding us very well. We slept in a quadruple room furnished with an old double bed and two single beds, lying between the dozens of carpets that covered the floor, a wardrobe and a few bedside tables, the shared bathroom was outside the room, on the corridor, in the morning we had breakfast with Turkish coffee (for my parents) and milk or tea accompanied by sweets and biscuits, bread and jam. To overcome the problem of the often busy shared bathroom, we took advantage of the thermal showers, however the weather always remained warm and it was pleasant to soak in the thermal pools.
One evening, since we could not find a restaurant that would convince us to come in and get tired of the Hungarian “goulash”, we even ate in one of the first Mc Donalds that they were opening in the city, a symbol of that western capitalism that so many Hungarians yearned for, after the decades of “Socialist economy”.
After 3-4 days we always moved by car along the “puttingza” (the Hungarian steppe that covers most of the country) towards Lake Balaton, a vacation spot especially frequented by the local inhabitants. Arriving in the town, we spent a couple of days at a campsite on its shores, not missing the opportunity to bathe in its warm and crowded waters of swimmers, sailboats, boats, screaming children and anything floating.
On the shores of the lake there were little restaurants that served the fish of the lake (indeed a little salty, at least the fried one we ate), then there was also a bar where you can sip tokaji wine or soft drinks. After stocking up on the famous Hungarian wine and relaxing on the lake shores, we headed towards Austria, crossing the Hungarian border near a place called Kindergarten Heiligenkreuz and passing quickly to Graz, without stopping because there was little time left.
Going back along the way of going, we passed again to Vienna and then to Salzburg, stopping late at night in a hotel in Innsbruck, a place that given its position on such an important and frequented transit route was ideal for the stops of passage to and from Italy crossing the Alps.
The next morning, as usual, we left early in the morning and reached the Italian border at Valico del Brennero, which we now knew so well, crossing it in the afternoon and ending our trip again in the cool evening, after the summer heat in July that we had accompanied along this journey.
See you for another story…

Tourist visa: when enter is very hard.

A very “common” problem for some destinations is obtaining the VISA.
In this case we talk about Tourist Visa: for now I will mention my personal experiences that led me to not have big problems (up to now … alas, but I’ll talk about this spring ….) To obtain a tourist visa.
Surely one who knows this is here: This guy HENRIK JEPPESEN has seen half Africa listing tips to enter many countries, the blog is in English, so if you are familiar with the language or you want to use the translator please settle down.
As far as I am concerned, I can say with certainty that the most complex visa to obtain was the one for India in 2016 ….
A definitely useful site is to “Travel safe” that allows you to have information “updated” on the countries to visit, situation and security for those traveling (

For the rest I did not have particular problems in obtaining the entry visa in other countries, be it Japan or Algeria (but in this second case we were with a “humanitarian” organization so everything was easier as it is occupied the association that organized the trip), certainly organized trips are simpler to obtain the Visa, since the agency or the organizing body thinks, such as Russia or China … .There are some countries in to whom the “invitation letter” or “sponsor” is required in certain cases (I think of Australia for a work visa, for example), while tourist visas are subject to the payment of a more or less high “tax”.
Obviously it is not recommended to travel to countries where conflicts or political “tensions” are raging, but also the Visa for the USA is not a trivial matter … without counting the exhausting “controls” of the anti-terrorism that our American “allies” propose to all. tourists / travelers who disembark at the airports with stars and stripes …
Regarding this I can only tell a personal experience happened to my father, upon arrival at the airport in New York (La Guardia Airport to be precise), where the passport control was found that “did not exist” his fingerprints in the database … so I took him to the airport security office, where the Yankee cops made us wait for the canonical half an hour before asking us a few questions and letting us go.
In my opinion this situation was due to the “red” sticker applied by the staff of the airline with which we had flown, as in the first stop in Madrid, where we took an American Airlines flight, my father could not answer the questions of the hostess in Spanish or English (not knowing languages) and was sent to an “additional” check of baggage and clothing by the staff of the company, with the addition of the “infamous” red dot (a square actually … ), applied to the back of the passport. In fact, my brother and I, having received no stamp, passed unharmed to the New York controls ….
Unfortunately, from personal experience I have to reiterate that the “security” controls USA are really excessive in my opinion and I give a practical example: passing through the land customs in Tijuana, back from Mexico, I was stopped and “scolded” by the clerk control (which among other things was Hispanic …) because I had forgotten to throw two oranges bought in Mexico ….

The USA is very taxing on the introduction of fruits and vegetables from other countries because they could contain “chemical agents”, vice versa coming out of the United States is not difficult … all Mexican workers who cross borders after a day spent working hard the “gringos”.
I could say more but I stop here, for sure there are countries like Japan where it is easy to enter by simply declaring the reason for your visit (tourism) and you do not have to pay tourist visa ….
Others are also asking for high figures to have the “privilege” to visit their territory (I think of China, but also India and Russia do not joke …).
What do you think? If someone wants to give his personal contribution is welcome, I have “postponed” for now a trip to China, after seeing the “expensive” costs of the visa and I’m organizing for another destination.
One important thing to know, however, is this: the Italian passport “opens” the doors of many countries and is among the top 10 in the world for the possibilities it gives. Other nationalities are much less fortunate ….

Have a good trip then and look at the VISA!

Norway 1991

The year after my flight to Finland my parents decided to do a “firm” very interesting for the period: go to the North Cape, Norway, by car.
We left at the end of July, in a “Fiat Tempra” Station Wagon tempering with the addition of a LPG tank, considering the costs of petrol for such a long journey.
The travel itinerary included going first to France and then to Germany, where we would embark for Sweden, then quickly crossing it to reach Norway and go up the country to the extreme north.
We stopped first in France because this time we were not alone: ​​along the way they had joined, as agreed some French friends, known at the RIDEF of the year before, in the end we were 10 people: 4 Italians and 6 French.
After a couple of quick stops in Grenoble and Lyon, we headed to the newly-reunified western frontier of Germany (but I’ll talk about it in another story …), it was 1991, there was no GPS and we risked getting lost several times, finally arriving in Strasbourg, where we crossed the border.
Here we headed towards Frankfurt and in a suburb we stopped by a German friend (always known in RIDEF), who hosted us in the garden (we had brought with us the 2 stainless Ferrino tents of the previous year) and in his house. After an evening laughing, playing and joking, we left again to head to Northern Germany and then to Helsingor Being a “group” trip, cohabitation was not always easy, also because we Italians were in “minority” when it came to doing for example, spending with the cash in common, while on the route to follow we were quite agreeing. We quickly crossed Northern Germany in a single day and with a few brief stops, managing to arrive in the port area in the evening.Ïàðîì ‘Strandebarm’

We found a ferry that departed in the afternoon and made the fast crossing to the port of Helsingborg in Sweden (at that time there was no bridge on the Oresund connecting Copenhagen with Malmo, joining Denmark and Sweden). The ferry on which we embarked was practically a simple transport without a bridge with space only for cars and trucks.
The disembarkation from the ship was rapid, and we immediately resumed our journey towards Halmstad and then Gothenburg, crossing the Swedish border towards evening and stopping to sleep in a tent near Oslo. Unfortunately it was raining and a real storm broke out that forced me and my twelve year old brother to sleep in the car, while our parents arranged in a semi-flooded tent …
On Scandinavia you can camp freely on farmland, just ask the owners of the land, so we saved a lot of money for several days on housing, while we headed north. A problem was to be able to wash, not having showers or bathrooms available, we arranged in the “nature” and with a couple of baths in the lake or sea (in both cases even though we were almost in August the water was freezing). After Oslo we headed north, avoiding the expensive Scandinavian city, quickly crossing Norway to the town of Trondheim.

Of this place I remember very well the wooden houses and a general sense of abandonment (Norway was not yet a tourist destination as popular as now), we wandered for an afternoon in the streets in the middle of the colored wooden houses or peeling paint, and we took a sandwich with smoked salmon in a room while my parents look at the prohibitive prices of the restaurant area (at the time smoked salmon was something unusual, not what is commonly consumed today in half the world, moreover it was salmon caught and not bred in the intensive fish farms that flourish in Norway today).
The journey continued towards the Lofoten Islands, we had to reach the islands by crossing a bridge and then moving from island to island always thanks to several bridges or by ferry, the goal was Andenes, a town in the far north of the islands, where he still practices today whale watching or Wale Safari. It took us four days to get there: we spent two camps in front of the islands, after a direct route from Trondheim that took us to the Bognes area, practically opposite the Lofoten. Here we camped on a deserted and enchanting beach, had it not been for the lack of water to wash with and the presence of swarms of mosquitoes, it would have been an incredible (and wild) place to live. Despite the beautiful experience of the beach (where adults also built a sweat lodge for the traditional “sauna”), made of hiking on the rocks, fishing attempts and crossings in the boat, we reached the point of “breaking” with the French and the group divided by the usual problems that arise in groups not accustomed to travel together: problems for the fair sharing of expenditure made with money from the cash in common, which often led us to not have enough food for us, while the French sacked stocks food without worrying about leaving us something to eat. Often then the group, claiming the principle in my opinion always questionable of “the majority chooses” (because the majority can also choose incorrectly …), bought unnecessary or expensive things like carbonated drinks, wine, confectionery and personal products, making absurdly increase the daily expenses for food.
After yet another request for money on their part to replenish the now empty common box, our streets were divided, and we left for Lofoten together with Pierre and Cathrine, a French couple from Grenoble who was more in tune with us and not he approved, for example, the group’s insane expenses, going to the disco (in Norway then …) or the expensive choice of others to stop for a few days without purpose in the rented houses of a lost village on the Norwegian coast. After only one night in the village, to rest on a bed and take a shower, we climbed the small ferry that landed in Lodingen in the Lofoten and continued the journey. While we were entering the cold waters and fish, from the ferry saw a Globicefalo, a cetacean common in these seas, which emerged for a few moments to a hundred meters from the ship and then quickly disappeared leaving me the image of a black and shiny back surmounted by a tapered tail and a short dorsal fin.

When we reached Andness we immediately went to the visitor center. Here you will find the link At the time the Visitors Center was a very spartan wooden structure, recently opened and equipped with a tiny museum, where we booked the boat trip (ours was a former whaler), paying a very high price (my parents they never told me how much they had paid for 4 people ….), and they had in exchange for boat trips to see cetaceans, food (sandwiches, tea, coffee and biscuits at will throughout the day), and in case of no sighting a second guaranteed exit. Of the crossing in the ship I still own the VHS result of the shooting with the video camera of the time made by my father, who knows if the video can still be seen?
In the end, after registering for the next day’s excursion, we spent the night with the usual tents and the next morning we showed up at the center for the boat ride. The weather was good, being early August, but it was pulling a strong wind that forced us to wear all windbreakers and beanies with visor for the strong sun. Our guide instead, a nice and talkative Norwegian, who seemed not to notice the wind “cold” for us, wore a simple sweater and shorts of fabric.

We taken place on the deck of the ship, surrounded by the most disparate foreigners (French, Russians, British, Germans and Americans, in addition to some inevitable Japanese, all equipped with bulky analog cameras or camcorders equipped with a microphone), direction the North Atlantic Sea.
We left the port immediately offshore on the sea swept by impetuous winds, consequently the ocean was rough and we say that we had the impression of being perennially sinking in those swirling waters, each time the little ex-whaling boat went down and went up the waves, tilting dangerously from one side and the other, with a fairly “shivering” effect that led some passengers to take shelter under deck. The much feared seasickness did not affect us at all, but Pierre, Catrine’s companion, unfortunately suffered from nausea all the way on the ship.

As we pushed off the coast we sighted some “breath” thanks to the Norwegian that on the coffa signaled us sightings, then began a “chase” to the whole beer by the ship that rears even more to try to reach the area of ​​’ sighting, but once in place invariably the cetacean had already moved or sunk into the ocean.
At that time our route was punctuated by US military bombers that started at regular intervals from a nearby base and unfortunately I think that this also did not bring us much luck with the whales.
In the end the case gave us an unforgettable experience: a young sperm whale (brown and shiny with water and solar reflections) that was dozing offshore, to which we approached as quietly as possible, with the engine idling. The experience lasted a good quarter of an hour: the whale was not immersed, indeed continued to swim placidly, allowing us to admire it, photograph it, and resume it on video, until someone shouted and applauded the young sperm whale that, arched back, plunged by raising the majestic tail before disappearing into the abyss.
As the weather forecasted for an afternoon storm, the ship immediately turned around after the experience with the sperm whale and took us back to the port of Andness just as a thick blanket of fog and clouds on the horizon began to announce the storm night. Happy and amazed by the experience, that night we stayed on the way back and the next day, up the Lofoten, without taking the ferry, we went from island to island through the bridges that joined them and we overcame the Arctic Circle during the day. This time the North Cape objective was within reach of no more than 400 km as the crow flies, and after yet another supply, we crossed the bridge of the town of Tromso, returning to the mainland, after a zig-zag between the various islands. After a night spent in a small house, the next day we left early to cover the over 500 km that according to our road map there remained before reaching Cape North. The midnight sun and the polar temperatures kept us awake during the long fjord-to-fjord route, in the midst of an increasingly bleak landscape dotted with snow or ice, until the icy sea of ​​Barent finally reached sight , around noon, the infamous North Cape: left the car in a parking lot, we walked to the iron world map that still indicates the northernmost point of Europe, around us tourists discharged from the tourist coaches or arrived with the own cars, campers, motorcycles and anything else strolled enjoying the sun that mitigated the cold wind a little bit, others were heading to the Ristornate of Scandic Hotel Nordkapp or went around in the area. To make it short, there were not all the tourist facilities or the nearby town. In essence, “the northernmost point of Europe” left us an unforgettable memory of a difficult but now reached goal, a test passed that now would not have precluded us no more goal we had had in mind after a difficult but interesting journey.

After lunch, this time crossing the Finnmark inside, we headed to Sweden and, after crossing the border towards evening, we stayed in a boardinghouse along the road, continuing in the car we stopped in a couple of equipped campsites, until we reached the Gulf of Botnia and then avoiding Stockholm, heading towards Gothenburg where we would embark on a “super ferry” that would have landed this time in Rostock in Germany. Frankly these days during the return trip to Sweden I do not have many memories, because I passed them or to sleep in the car, during the interminable days when my father milled kilometers on kilometers, or camping. Sometimes we stopped on the gulf beaches to admire the beautiful Nordic landscapes or the eternal sunset, up to the Skania and finally reaching the port of Goteborg for the night crossing, but given the length of this trip, this will be the next story that I tell you….

RIDEF ON FINLAND: On summer 1990.

At 11 years I went to Finland for 2 weeks in the locality of Pohja-Kisakeskus following my parents, thanks to my mother, elementary school teacher, who enrolled all 4 of us to this event reserved for teachers and their families.
Every two years in the chosen “world” location, an “event” is organized by teachers from the host country, attended by teachers from the most diverse countries of the world, together with their families. That year, the 18th RIDEF-FREINET Meeting was organized: a movement centered on the “popular pedagogy” created by the French master Célestin Freinet (1896-1966). We discuss and discuss a topic that characterizes the field, linked to the “freinet” pedagogical system. During the camp there are many workshops, also open to the families of the participating teachers. Ultimately we are confronted with other cultures and educational systems, ways of thinking and visions within this movement, exchanging experiences, opinions, thoughts, making friends and creating human bonds that can last a lifetime.
We started from Rome Fiumicino to Helsinki on board an airplane, for the first time in my life, obviously I was very excited and stayed for the whole trip glued to the window. The flight of the SAS airline that we used, had cost a considerable amount for the time, it was not a low cost flight like those of today, no frills, but it turned out to be comfortable and quiet, I remember for example toys regalatici hostess, to let us pass the time, in addition to unlimited drinks.

When we landed at Helsinki airport, we immediately left by bus to Pohja-Kisakeskus, the equipped sports center where we would stay in tents (due to the high prices and the lack of availability of houses and rooms in the structure) for about two weeks. Upon our arrival, after a short and warm welcome, I remember that we mounted the two new “Ferrino” tents on the lawn of a football pitch in the center. The mild temperature during the day tended to fall in the night, but the biggest problem was the nighttime damp that dunked the curtains and the clothes hanging out to dry in the northern sun.
For us children, however, everything was a novelty and an adventure, and the first days, we ran free and happy throughout the downtown area, along with another couple of Italian kids with whom we had made friends. We participated in our first sauna (strictly naked, and in a “mixed” sauna because the Finns do not give importance to these things, demonstrating a mental and sexual openness that we did not imagine in ’90 ….), We practiced all the most different types of sports, from football, to floor hockey, volleyball, archery and even crossings of the pond by boat (up to “steal” a boat and go alone to the lake with our friends …).
Another thing that struck us as children was the strong tendency to drink the Finns: practically they were able to swallow any type of alcohol, be it beer, wine, brandy or distillate, in abnormal quantities, even for women, at the a comparison of which, for example, “foreign” adults were not really capable of supporting, if not becoming anonymous alcoholics ..

So while the “adults” took part in boring meetings, conferences and voting for programmatic documents on pedagogy and teaching, we had fun and at most we took part in some laboratory, like the Japanese ceramic RAKU (the field had a large delegation of participants Japanese, but I also remember Austrians, Germans, Canadians, Danes, French, Belgians, Swiss, Russian-Soviet, some English, Senegalese, and participants from other African or European countries, coming strictly from countries where the freinet method was applied, the USA for example they were excluded …). At the end of the camp, on the last day, after the final meeting and the voting of the social roles of the FREINET movement, an “international” dinner was held with food and food brought or prepared by all the guests. We got along with garlic, homemade bread, parmesan and extra virgin olive oil (from which clearly my father had made in the previous days also an excellent plate of spaghetti “garlic, oil and chili” to which some Finns had then added the ” classic “ketchup … common heresy abroad). After an evening of greetings and emotion, the next morning we dismantled our tents and we settled on a bus to reach the north, to be precise the city of Rovaniemi, located right on the Arctic polar circle beyond which the sun in summer never sets. The trip lasted a dozen hours, arrived in the evening in the city of the “Sami” Rovaniemi (the Lapland inhabitants of this region commonly called Lapland), we stayed in a delightful little house painted in red. Our goal was to reach the North Cape, continuing by bus from Rovaniemi after a couple of days off.
Taking the ticket to Lakselv, in Norway, from which we intended to embark to get to see the North Cape, we spent the remaining time to see the cozy city of Rovaniemi and the famous “Santa’s House” located in the village of the same name: more like an amusement park, stormed by families with crowds of children in tow, where paying an admission ticket, you can still get around today for souvenir shops, restaurants and boutiques, up to the Santa Claus house, where a man with a beard dressed in red, he is photographed together with the little fathers … … of course ….
After two days we left for Lakselv, after a journey of several hours, we crossed the border by bus entering Norway. Upon arrival in the town of Lakselv (actually a very simple small fishing village), we discovered that the ferry to the North Cape left only the next morning and it was too late to catch it, so we stayed in the cold, even though it was August. waiting for the bus to go back down to Rovaniemi, not having where to stay overnight.
Sitting at a wooden table in a picnic area, attacked by hundreds of mosquitoes until the coldest hours and covered by windbreakers and anti-mosquito lotion, we saw the slow path of the sun, in its daily journey, go down to the line of horizon, and then continue its journey without dusk during the night, illuminating us in a day that lasted 48 hours. Upon arrival of the bus for the return we threw ourselves on the seats, where sleep has taken us to an unexpected: a breakdown in a brake that has overheated and forced us to stop in a forced service area. While the drivers were trying to get the worst of the breakdown at the gas station to repair, the passengers (mostly foreigners like us, there were also some Italians and French from the RIDEF camp), were scattered throughout the service station or in the restaurant / motorway. I remember buying a knife with a bone handle here is a reindeer skin bag from a “Sami” seller, who had his stall right at the exit of the station. After several hours we finally resumed the journey at low speed, with the brake “patched” to the least worst and the second driver who did not finish up apologizing in English, crossing the northern landscape of Finland, flat or slightly wavy at most, dotted with birches and bushes, often running into small herds of grazing reindeer, an elk and even some wolves that have crossed the road at a safe distance.
Towards evening, always with the omnipresent midnight sun on the horizon above the Arctic Circle, we arrived in Rovaniemi.
Here, quite exhausted, my parents opted for a night trip to Helsinki by train, booking a compartment with 4 berths for the night.

Arrived in Helsinki we have the last three nights in a hotel, spending the last Finnish brands for food, accommodation, transport and some museum of which I do not remember anything.
I remember traveling by surface trams through the sunny streets of Helsinki, rich in German Jugendstil, which I did not know at the time, the crowded lakes and parks and an almost “torrid” afternoon heat.
At the end arrived the day of the departure, by bus, we reached the airport of Helsinki-Vantaa, to embark on the afternoon flight that would bring us back to Italy, of that short flight I remember especially the anxiety about the invasion of Kuwait, it happened a few days before August 3rd and whose consequences we did not yet know. Everyone on the plane read the newspapers available in Italian or in other languages ​​and we children were free to play and drive the hostess crazy until landing a bit “noisy” at Fiumicino.
Basically this trip took us along with his memories and feelings, leaving us above all a great interest in Scandinavia, in which we would return again, attracted by its diversity compared to Italy, by the quality of life and very high welfare, despite the difficulties of adapting to a rigid climate and certainly not “Mediterranean” even in summer, as well as the diversity of a much fatter kitchen based on fish or meat and animal seasonings, not to mention the difficulty of the Finnish language to which we some French from my mother and a few words of English learned on a pocket dictionary from us. For us it was a great journey, because the Finns have always given much importance and attention to children, without being obsessive or slavishly controlling their intellectual development. In reality we found more “freedom” to experience or play and move freely than in our country, and also the extreme freedom and openness of the teaching method in schools was reflected in the RIDEF field.
In essence, for me, Finland and its people, who were Finnish or Lapps, we seemed very hospitable, it was certainly an expensive experience for the pockets of my parents, but different and exciting as a Nordic saga, as well as rich in biodiversity and nature (not I will forget the excursions between the lakes of Pohja-Kisakeskus studded with firs, mosses and lichens, grazing reindeer, sightings of elk or wolves and of course the clouds of morning mosquitoes and the endless days when sleeping 6 hours a day In the short Finnish summer there was always something new or exciting to do for everyone, and wasting time sleeping seemed almost a “crime”.
In the eyes of the Finns we had to look exotic and a little funny, especially for our habit of covering ourselves with layers of sweatshirts and sweaters, while they were swirling around in a shirt and shorts, or talking loudly in public. All this has left us a deep mark in the soul, which has led us to participate in time, at least for some of us, to another RIDEF field and to return to Scandinavia other times in time, favoring different itineraries and even more “adventurous” , but this is another story and I’ll tell you another time ….

Yugoslavia: mi first travel out Italy.

In 1988, when I was 8 years old I took the ferry for my first trip outside of Italy (I had already been in Milan by my uncles and in Rimini, but who remembers it … I was 3-4 years old). We were the whole family: my parents, me and my twin brother.

The journey started from the port of Pescara, with the registered ferry “Titian” who did the summer service Pescara-Split, crossed the Adriatic and early in the morning, when the sun was rising, I got out of the cabin and next to my father I contemplated bridge the slow crossing of the archipelago of islands that faced the city of “Split”.
Having disembarked at about 9.00 am on the harbor quay, an edge of my father’s Rhythm 5 doors, we headed north along the Dalmatian coast.

The city of Split appeared quiet and hospitable, under the summer sun of August, so it is the beginning of an exciting journey through the Balkans. Of this experience I only have slides finished who knows dove in the garage (the classic slides that show up at the return to friends during an evening of late summer where we talk about the holidays just ended), then I have imprecise memories of a child of 8 as the arrival at Plivitc Park in the north of Yugoslavia (today Croatia), sadly famous afterwards for the first initial shootouts of the civil war. I remain impressed by the feelings and images of the long visit to the caves of Postumia (in today’s Slovenia), then the return to the south of the Balkans is shrouded in fog, without significant memories, up to the edge on the Dalmatian coast, the short stop in Mostar , and the next arrival in Dubrovnik.

thanks to:

Of that trip 30 years ago I said that I mostly remember sensations and indelible images, such as the enchanting spectacle of water and reeds, paths and small approaches on the banks of the Plivitch ponds, then I remember very well the train a narrow gauge with which we entered in the humid tunnels that connected the Postojna caves full of stalagmites and stalactites. Of Mostar I remember only a fleeting vision of the bridge that connected the two sides of the Neretva (which also became a symbol of the civil war in the 90s).
I remember very well the crowded coffee tables on the main square of Dubrovnik, overflown by flocks of pigeons, I remember the Roman columns and remains scattered around the crowded Dalmatian town, and I always remember my father who contracted with a middle-aged Macedonian, the purchase of some carved wooden objects that he displayed on a blanket spread on the pavement near the city walls. Since that bargaining lasted a few minutes, my father brought back a house carved into the table with a simple rural landscape, in addition to an inlaid wooden chessboard that we still use today for sporadic games played in the family.
In a garden in Split, waiting for the sunset, I remain short fragments of pine forests from the sun in a Mediterranean landscape very similar to the Italian, lazy days spent on the beach or in the shade of the trees. I also remember the convenience of prices and of the dinaro-lira exchange, modest shops and simple and quiet people, peace and quiet until the day of the re-embarkation on Titian, for the brief crossing of the Adriatic that concerned us in Pescara. So I finish my first journey of which I spoke, as a child, for months and years until the fading of those memories made great by childhood and that I still have fragmentary but indelible first travel….
See you soons

thanks to:

Giappone: Ultima parte.

Dopo il giro ad Inari per visitare il tempio del Dio Volpe alla sommità di una collina raggiungibile da un sentiero di torii arancioni, torniamo a Kyoto in un quarto d’ora con il trenino dell’andata.
In città ci rimaneva da vedere il Manga Museum che però si è rivelato un pò deludente per le dimensioni modeste (ce lo immaginavamo immenso ma interessante nell’esposizione permanente che spiega anche in inglese le origini del mezzo grafico più diffuso e antico in questo arcipelago di isole chiamato Giappone. Alcuni “disegni arcaici di manga risalgono addirittura all’età arcaica e si tratta di incisioni rupestri ovviamente in bianco e nero.

Pierpaolo insiste per passare nella Nishiky Street e nella adiacente zona del mercato, per mangiare qualcosa e troviamo un locale tipicamente giapponese denominato “neko Cafè”: in Giappone tenere animali in casa è severamente vietato se si abita in condominio, come il 90% della popolazione, così sono spuntati dei locali simili a bar che hanno una ampia scelta di felini da accarezzare e coccolare, con tariffe orarie (1000 yen per una mezz’oretta con un gatto, oppure 1300 yen per un’ora intera) che di solito permettono anche di acquistare “extra” come snack oppure una bevanda e perfino croccantini per i felini. Queste strutture permettono di scegliere uno o più gatti con cui passare del tempo, giocare o sfamarli.
E’ severamente vietato fare foto a questi locali, perciò possiamo solo osservare da fuori la vita degli animali e dei clienti “umani” che vengono qui per avere un pò, di calore animale, poi andiamo a cercare un posto dove mangiare qualcosa.
Alla fine siamo finiti in un ristorante della catena Ichiran: si tratta di una tipologia di ristorante che se non si conosce prima di entrare sarà un pò arduo “comprendere”…
In pratica varcata la soglia abbiamo percorso un corridoio di legno e ci siamo accomodati in un paio di loculi con un menù fisso in giapponese e inglese. Purtroppo non avevamo compreso che ognuno di noi doveva ordinare per se nel proprio loculo e poi consumare, così alla fine ci hanno portato una porzione di noodles in brodo di carne per due ciotole (ho chiesto io la seconda vuota ovviamente…), che ci siamo divisa mestamente.

Per comprendere molti usi del Giappone o ci si documenta prima o ci si butta, in tutti i casi nessuno vi tratterà male, al massimo cercheranno di aiutarvi se capiscono le vostre difficoltà. Alla fine usciti dal Ichiran abbiamo ripiegato su qualche onigiri di riso, comprato in un “Kombine market” aperto anche la notte e siamo tornati in ostello nella sera fresca dopo la calura del giorno.

In ostello abbiamo pianificato cosa vedere l’indomani, essendo domenica, e mentre passavamo del tempo nella sala comune, la quiete della variegata umanità presente (anglosassoni, cinesi, qualche giapponese e italiani, francesi, tedeschi…) è stata turbata da uno sparuto scarafaggio uscito da chissà dove. A Kyoto ci restavano in teoria 3 giorni, visto che avevamo un giorno in più grazie al night bus per Tokyo che ci avrebbe riportato indietro durante la notte.
La mattina seguente, ci siamo diretti sulle colline che sovrastano Kyoto, per visitare un tempio scintoista affollatissimo per via del giorno domenicale, ci siamo cimentati nel far suonare la campana del tempio e poi, essendo permesso a differenza dei templi buddisti, abbiamo scattato anche varie foto.
Altri riti molto seguiti nel tempio erano il sollevamento di una pesante sbarra di ferro con un anello di metallo in cima, che bisogna far risuonare o altri oggetti pesanti da sollevare…
Dopo aver bruciato dell’incenso come offerta in un braciere abbiamo fatto un mezzo chilometro in discesa tornando in mezzo alla animata e confortevole Kyoto.

Lungo il percorso abbiamo acquistato qualche souvenir e preso qualche leccornia da mangiare camminando nella zona del mercato: spiedini di pesce e pasta di moky acquistati ad una bancarella e poi ritorno in ostello.
Il Kahosan Kyoto Hostel gemello di quello di Tokyo, si è rivelato sempre più affollato, impossibile ad esempio utilizzare la cucina comune, monopolizzata da un gruppo di ragazze cinesi che in cambio di alloggio gratis fanno da “inservienti” e controllano la sala comune, la mattina seguente, nonostante ci fossimo alzati presto per andare a Nara, Pierpaolo si è dovuto fare la colazione in piedi e io ho rimediato un posto al desk di un computer…
Dopo colazione abbiamo preso un treno regionale per raggiungere Nara, anch’essa antica capitale imperiale prima che la stessa fosse spostata nella vicina Kyoto.

Da quel passato grandioso ma breve Nara ha guadagnato un grande livello culturale e letterario (è sede di importanti università e templi), ma ciò che la distingue è il grande parco in cui pascolano “cervi sacri”, in verità abbastanza invadenti con i visitatori da cui cercano di ottenere cibo in continuazione.
Ci siamo riposati un un padiglione affacciato su un laghetto, poi nel pomeriggio, dopo aver acquistato alcuni dolcetti di moky, siamo tornati a Kyoto con l’espresso delle 16.00.

Dopo una doccia e un tè verde, abbiamo fatto un giretto per Kyoto, lungo in quartiere di Gyon, in cerca delle famose “Geishe” a cui scattare qualche foto, cortigiane intrattenitrici, famose per il loro talento nella danza o nel suonare strumenti.
Purtroppo non abbiamo avuto fortuna così dopo cena siamo tornati in ostello: la sala comune era occupata da un corso di cucina giapponese e ci siamo ritirati per prepararci a lasciare l’ostello domani, con calma e passare l’ultima giornata a Kyoto, prima di tornare a Tokyo nella notte.
L’autobus notturno che partiva alle 23.30 ci ha lasciato tutto il giorno: abbiamo lasciato l’ostello alle 11.00 e ci siamo diretti subito in stazione, depositando i nostri bagagli in due cassette a tempo, per poi dirigerci al Tojii temple alto e slanciato, affacciato su un laghetto su cui le sfumature dell’autunno lasciavano tonalità cangianti.
Abbiamo consumato il pranzo in un ristorante della zona Stazione e poi abbiamo fatto un altro giretto, rifugiandoci in una caffetteria e poi dopo una cena frugale, in attesa della partenza, abbiamo assistito ad uno spettacolo di zampilli d’acqua nella fontana sovrastata dalla Tower Hotel di Kyoto.
Alla fine eccetto che per alcune coppiette e alcuni homeless che si ritiravano nel piccolo parco pubblico per passarvi la notte, non eravamo rimasti in molti.

Alle 23.30 in punto il nostro autobus notturno ha fatto una breve sosta e ci ha caricati velocemente assieme ai bagagli.
Non essendo molto comodo, non abbiamo praticamente dormito:il viaggio è durato circa 8 ore e dopo due soste in aree di servizio attrezzate abbiamo raggiunto alle prime luci del giorno Tokyo.
Come al solito abbiamo sbagliato metropolitana e così dopo un oretta e vari giri a vuoto, abbiamo raggiunto di nuovo la zona di Asakusa e il nostro precedente ostello dove avevo prenotato una notte prima della partenza.
La giornata è passata fra acquisti, riposo e una lunga sosta nel Parco di Asakusa, dove Pierpaolo ha sostenuto una lunga conversazione con un anziano giapponese (per lo più parlava lui e noi ascoltavamo il suo inglese elementare) sui più disparati argomenti: da Zaccheroni, allenatore italiano della squadra di calcio Giapponese, al serio problema del gioco d’azzardo che affligge una grossa percentuale di popolazione, comprese molte casalinghe che passano il loro tempo a giocare a pachinko (specie di macchinette in cui bisogna vincere sferette d’acciaio convertibili in premi non in denaro), ricordandoci anche che Tokyo è una “particolarità” e come metropoli troppo popolata e impersonale non può essere considerata Giappone.
Alla fine il signore si è alzato, congedandosi con un inchino e si è allontanato zoppicando curvo per la vecchiaia; un incontro che mi è rimasto impresso e che non dimenticherò.

Dopo un bel sonno pomeridiano, abbiamo cenato per l’ultima volta nella zona di Ueno, mentre una pioggia sempre più fitta cadeva sulla città trasfigurandola in una copia della Los Angeles di Blade Runner.
Trovata una locanda a gestione familiare che serviva “tonkatsu” (carne di maiale impanata e fritta con contorno di verdure e riso al vapore, di solito con una salsa di soia in accompagnamento.), sashimi e altre specialità, abbiamo ordinato due tonkatsu e poi via sotto la pioggia sempre più forte fino all’ostello per la nostra ultima notte in Giappone.
Questo paese rimasto nel cuore per tutte le sue sfaccettature e particolarità, che si rivela accogliente e allo stesso tempo riservato, efficiente e assolutamente sicuro (in pratica la criminalità per noi occidentali non esiste, anche per una questione culturale di rispetto degli stranieri e della loro sicurezza e percezione del paese) non cessa di stupire e far riflettere e tornerò un giorno per vedere il nord e il sud di un arcipelago dove il sole sorge. Un paese di tradizioni e modernità, iper-tecnologico e affollato ma anche ricco di solitudine e alienazione, dove milioni di persone vivono gomito a gomito in cubicoli di 20 metri quadri o meno e prendono la metropolitana stipati come sardine da appositi inservienti in guanti bianchi…
Un paese di templi buddisti e idol osannate da fans sfegatati, con una cucina molto elaborata e variegata, la cui specialità è il pesce, dove si può stringere amicizie eterne e il concetto di “onore” ha ancora una forza che a noi sono ormai sconosciute.
Alla prossima.