is for Jacobsweg. El camino de Santiago. The way of St James. I can’t help it if it follows me around. There is a sign to mark it in the village of Barbian, and a fountain with a statue of the pilgrim saint. I took pictures for proof.
I suppose if you start in Italy you have to cross the Alps somehow, and this is the Brenner valley. Even so Barbian is not the direct route. But I am already disoriented from encountering a Sphinx, in fact a whole row of sphinxes, outside the arena in Verona this morning. Scenery for Aida, I think.
Barbian is on the direct route from the station to the Pension Briol. It is not very direct because of the very large amounts of steep slope that have to be packed into each step. But it goes through forests and provides views of mountains – these would be breathtaking , but the slope has already done that – and eventually, just as I had decided that it was another kilometre to the Pension Briol, it appeared round the corner. My mapreading is shocking. When I arrived, they poured me a glass of schnapps and gave me a towel so that I could have a shower immediately. This is the right thing to do when you meet a pilgrim.
is for cuckoo. One is calling in the woods outside my window.
I find myself in the smaller of the two annexes of the Pension Briol. It is five minutes downhill (and ten minutes uphill), pine forest for the first three minutes and then two minutes of alpine meadow. Then there is a small white round house. In it I inhabit a vast room in which everything is made of wood, except the huge whitewashed round iron stove, in which I suspect there may be hibernating Moomins, and the equally white eiderdown. I shall hibernate under that as soon as the cuckoo shuts up.