Sunday, 18 May 2008

Transhumance or The big cow exodus

So, today I was back on the track of my travels. Went hiking to Ballon d'alsace again. But a different one...

Well, when my friend was inviting me for this... exercise, he sounded like that: "There are cows, a lot of cows! And they are walking. And people have to walk behind them to the top of the mountain!" Well... when I heard, I honestly had very mixed feelings: a lot of walking... in a place where I have already been... behind the cows... in a most probably rainy weather... climb to the top of the mountain when I am so tired after a crazy work week... My sleep-seeking brain has even invented a refusal startegy: to call 15 min before the early morning departure and say something to stay peacefully in bed whatever it could cost.

I guess the nature itself conspired against me, because I was woken up early in the morning by the bright sun beams bursted into my bedroom. And then my mind gave up: get up and move! In an hour we were heading on to Giromagny, the start point of the whole THING.

In reality, the whole as I quickly found out at the place, was the fest of cow exodus (sorry, but really can't find another word to describe it) for their summer pastures, uphill in Ballon d'Alsace. The cows are adorned and let out to the towm main square where the musicians are playing all kinds of triumphant and merry music to commemorate the Day and to probably cheer up the animals. Though the latter is probably really useless as the cows seemed so excited that they definitely did not need either cheering up or stupid people's snaps and poking - they were eager to go to their summer camp!

After all people's pomposity organized to at-least-as-they-thought pay respect to this almost sacred animal for cheese loving France, the gates were finally opened and the happy cows rushed (literally) to the top of the mountain. Those curious, sporty, local or just crazy gapers headed on to follow the herd, me being among them.
It was a very intensive, but enjoyable march along the beatiful mountain road. Crispy mountaineous air did not help sweating as we tried hard to keep up with happily running cows. Somewhere in the mid-way, the whole cow-people crowd made a break and we had a chance to taste a wonderful mulled wine... while cows didn't. Huh...

We arrived to the long-discussed "top of the mountain" in total 4 hours. There I was indeed surprised to see huge tents already installed and waiting for their tired and hungry hikers (in no way cows meant, though really sorry for the cows). When we found ourselves inside, the first thought that came into my mind was: "Gush, but isn't it Oktoberfest back in Munich?!". It appeared very similar to me. Big crowd of thirsty for good fun, food and drinks people and live music. And onwards, there was a lot of fun, and amazing (also very similar to German) food and amazing local wines (not beer thankfully ;-)). And people were dancing and laughing and everyone looked relaxed and restful.

It was a good day. Thank you Sun for waking me up!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

"...Thank you for the music..."

This Saturday Belfort is hosting a big music festival, FIMU or Festival International de Musique Universitaire. It is really unusual to now see this good old, usually so conservative, town to wake up for this international hassle which is gonna take place in a day. Just saw all the scenes and rock pavilions which had been constructed in just one week. The whole Vielle Ville (Old City, Altstadt or whatever you can call it) just suddenly changed its face: couzy squares and little streets now have to bare all the rocker insanity on their long-standing medieval shoulders.
They told me it was one of the best times to visit Belfort. It turns into a smaller version of Cannes during its famous cinema festival. Well, you dare Belfort!