Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My Hemingway Years (5)

"St Martin Vesubie"

Scenes in novels and short stories by Ernest Hemingway of men fishing--especially trout fishing in Spain--appealed to me. It was something I wanted to do if I ever had the chance, although I'd never been fly fishing in my life. But the setting of cold streams in the mountains and men catching fish held a strong allure for me. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to go fly fishing in the mountains. But I did get to go to the mountains.

My ship, the USS Cromwell, anchored near Nice, and I joined some friends on a weekend excursion to St Martin Vesubie in the French Alps.The trip was one of the highlights of my time in Europe. My buddies and I shared a room in a chateau. Just outside our room, a clear stream flowed past, careening over rocks and boulders strewn in the riverbed. I could look out the window of our room and see the stream ten or fifteen feet down rushing by, and I could hear its melodic rumbling all night long.

It was the quaintness and beauty of the old town and the countryside--the steep hills and flower-covered plateaus--that captured my imagination--my Hemingwayesque imagination.

The French Alps

My friends and I--Butler, Price, and Matolyak--bought wine, bread, and cheese, and wandered the town and the hills. We were all photography buffs, and taking pictures was our stubstitue for fly-fishing in the cold steams.
Butler, Price, Matolyak

In one way, it was a dissappointing trip. At the chateau, I was shocked by the fact that in the dining hall was a television blarring away. I had thought the French were better than us Americans--more cultured. But that weekend undid my false belief that the French were above the commonness of television--the trivial game shows and gossip programs.They'd succumbed to the same trivialites as Americans. It was the weekend I woke up to the fact that the French are the same as us.
Central street St Martin Vesubie 1970


Jolene Perry said...

It's interesting when we travel how we expect and want things to be different, better, and they aren't always.

Also, I LOVED Nice. So beautiful.

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Beautiful photos. My husband's hobby is photography, and he especially likes black and white. He spends a lot of time in Galicia photographing old stone buildings and crumbling walls, while I scribble about them in my journal. :-)

Tanya Reimer said...

Aw man. I know how you feel. We have expectations, an ideal of what we'll experience, and it's the disappointment that stick with us, not the beauty of what we actually witnessed.

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