Trekking in Toulon
As the ship approached misty hills specked with houses and white buildings, the usual procedure ensued; All students lined up on deck, wearing a variation of beige pants and the uniform shirts, eager to set foot on land.
The ship was stilled in the small port of Seyne Sur Mer, next to which a massive abandoned building stood. It impressed us all, with its red bricks and its wide walls sprayed over by many years’ worth of graffiti. When shore leave was announced the next day, I went out with a group of people to explore the building, hoping to get inside somehow. We were in luck: after a brief inspection, we had discovered a hole busted in the side of the wall. We crouched down, entering the building in uncertainty.
It’s when we stepped in that the greatness of the building overtook us. Mesmerized, we stood still for a few breathless seconds. In front of us was the great nothing, a space so empty yet so alive.
Our first instinct was to run around, explore every single room. Light was pouring in from all windows, slicing through the dusty air and streaking the walls. A cathedral of darkness was displayed before us. After an hour, we left, off to explore the rest of the city.
Another highlight I have from Toulon occurred during the first afternoon spent there. Our goal was to get a hotel room: somewhere to rest, to clean ourselves and to get Wifi. We ventured out in the unknown city, eager to shower for more than 60 seconds. We hadn’t walked for more than ten minutes when lo and behold! On the side of the road, a small yellow building inscribed with the word “HOTEL” stood before us. All six of us, which included me, Carlo, Camila, Heidi, Siv Anita and Terese, squeezed in a two-person room.
Steam poured out of the showers as we all took turns cleaning ourselves, and music played as Carlo strummed the guitar and I attempted to play the ukulele. The moment I’ll remember most was when I was on the hotel roof, playing the ukulele peacefully as the city busied itself down below.
The city itself was quite poetic. Toulon was an old place, rather inactive, with many of its stores closed down. We had to take a ferry across the water to get to it, since the Sorlandet was stationed in the outskirts of the city. We took the ferry once to get to Mont Faron, the main attraction of Toulon. We let the telepheric carry us all the way up, where the hills were bare and the sun was hot. The trees were nothing but weak little saplings, growing on the pale rocks of the hill. Down below, the city shone under the sun’s reflected rays, sprawled across a bay. Every time I set my eyes on the ocean, I felt some sort of pride, knowing that this immensity was now our home. We would have stared at the view longer than we did, but of course, we were to abide to the ten o’clock curfew, the Sorlandet’s sacred timing.