Leaving Stromboli

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We rinse off the black ashes from our volcano hike and debate happily over breakfast: How can the Sicilia holidays possibly turn out any other thing than fantastic? For us, the charming Liparic islands, the fire trek up to the volcano, the wonderful breakfast we get served with – it is already worth taking the distance of roughly 1.600km. The only issue now is: how can we top that?

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Perhaps we should skip all of our plans and just sit bored at some beach for the next 10 days.

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Anyway, after fantastic breakfast we take the boat around 11 AM and get back to brave little Hector, waiting all along at Camping Riva Smeralda.

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Hector says he looks slim and sporty in front of blue sea (vanity van??)

Getting back is easy enough, thanks to regular busses and irregular stops at our preferred crossing close to the campsite (try that with a Munich bus driver, ha!). We enjoy antipasti bought along the way and let the afternoon go by with flashbacks of the volcano fire trek, accompanied with images of the charming island Stromboli.

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…terrific!!! / The Stromboli Volcano

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At 5:30 PM, we meet our guide, kind of an outgrown hippie, smoking one cigarette after the other and talking in strange languages. Martina with her capability of instinctive understanding brings it down to the core: He invented his own Esperanto. No matter whether he speaks Italian, French or English, it always sounds more or less the same.

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In the Back: Strombolicchio, former
Volcano Funnel

Our group is not huge, but heterogene: it is my first hike without severe sweating, thanks to the maximum speed of other group members. Although I miss a geologist who could tell me more about the elements that are thrown out of a volcano, about the heat and the atomic structure of magma, about the planet’s history and further details, I can do without and focus on the spectacles of the trip.

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Throwing long Shadows

Most of the things we see are unique, at least for what I have experienced so far. Incredible proportions, like the small rock called Strombolichio that once has been the funnel that spit out the Stromboli island. The coniform shadow of the volcano, clearly visible and stretching out miles across the sea. The hike itself leads up to moon-like landscape with paths through lava in all forms: rocks and stones, sands and ashes, all gray with small red particles every here and there.

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We reach the top at sunset, meaning: the exact minute when the sun dives into the sea to our West. Thanks to cloudless skys, we have full 360° view and it is breathtaking. Another gratitude goes to favorite winds that take the sulphur clouds of the volcano’s eruptions in the opposite direction.

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Volcano Sunset

All of a sudden, we see a first volcanic eruption – a small one, not even from the best perspective yet. Even though, like a spark, it sets us on fire (figuratively). How cool is it to see an active volcano while standing on its flanks?!?

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See Video here: Stromboli Eruption during our Visit (filmed ourself)

Up to this point, it was a walk in the park. Now it is time to put on the helmets and, with significant temperature drop and coldest winds, all layers of clothing we have in our backpacks. Let me point out that you are totally wrong expecting a heated mountain to be warm on its peak – not even the thermic baselines about heat rising up are true anymore.

In the end, it does not matter. All that matters is standing up, 200m above the active craters, fascinated by the crater’s roar and the wind and the fireworks that go off around us.

 

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After having seen the highest peaks of our planet (Himalaya, 2018), it now is like looking into the well-heated oven, showing open mouths of red-fervid magma –  deep in the inner earth itself.

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This is…

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Stromboli

The early morning sun shows today’s destination: Stromboli, one of the Liparic Islands. We expect black beaches, fire-spitting dragons and a walk up to the peak, while around 6:00 AM we only see a faint silhouette at the horizon.

 

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Looking like a Postcard Image

The campground crew talked us into the early speed boat, departing from Milazzo at 7:30 AM. The next 4 hours prove them right: instead of aiming directly for Stromboli, the ship stops at each of the main islands and ports: Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, … finally: Stromboli!

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The first impression is a bright one. White cubical houses with blue ornaments and blossing decoration gather together in the populated part of the island. Narrow streets offer batik tissues, colourful tiles and a flair that ranges from Greek hicktowns to Hippie eras.

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The villages Piscità, Eicogrande and S. Vicenzo stretch over mere 2 km, centered around the main church, main piazza and most famous (= least quality) restaurant. Right around the corner, we find our B&B “Aquilone” that welcomes us with a charming courtyard and friendly service. It is okay to share toilet and bathroom outside the room, especially as we only share it among us (all other rooms have bathrooms of their own). Later that afternoon, when we come to a rest in the garden chairs, we hear the vulcano (always in sight) humble and thunder. Somehow it is sort of comforting, like being greeted by ancient natural forces.

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Aquilone, courtyard / Stromboli

Lucky us that we took the early boat: the island is worth a stay of at least half a day. Just like foreseen (ordered, even), we stroll across black beaches, white houses and all kinds of delicious restaurants and bars. With the Fire Trek ahead of us, we buy pizza and arancini meant as victorious snack on the peak.

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While waiting for our trek to start, we see a couple of other tourist groups: elderly Germans, being assured that oh no, they will not need to go up all the way to the vulcano, they may relax during a small guided tour and then have dinner at their hotel. Other groups head off for the vulcano hike, half of them with borrowed trekking shoes or amateur equipment. We get confident that we will make our way easily, when…

(tbc)

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