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I suddenly make up my mind and decide to get myself into one of the flying machines as well. I will set out to search for a safe haven where I could wait out those unsettling times. At nearly the speed of light I fly into Thessaloniki, almost crashing into the Arch of Galerius. I slow down and look at the panorama of the Byzantine city walls, Turkish mosques and temples, in the distance the voice of a Greek speaking waiter can be heard. I have always enjoyed the sound of this language, and admired its richness, after all it has the biggest vocabulary in the world. Taverns are full of patrons, and why not? Apparently Greeks are less likely to suffer from coronary or circulatory problems than any other nation in Europe. The reason – Greek cuisine is counted among the healthiest in the world – with all its fish courses, vegetables, fruit and olive oil. The place is truly picturesque, but also strangely overwhelming. The country is struggling with serious economic problems and the land is scarred after the countless wars it has seen. Even an Apollo-esque driver sitting in his car in nothing but his swimming trunks cannot keep me here for much longer. I take one last look at the white tower famous in all the Greece, and I set out again.
My vehicle touches down in Troy. But I immediately see the place is seething with dramatic new developments. Apparently, the goddess Eris turned up at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis and viscously tossed an apple at their feet marked with the inscription “to the fairest”. Three goddesses, Athena, Hera and Aphrodite desired the title above all things, but eventually it was the latter that Paris, son to the king of Troy, eventually picked as the champion in exchange for the promise to marry him to Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world. And now, Paris has only just returned to Troy with his beloved freshly abducted from Sparta. The Trojan War is about to begin. It is certainly not the right moment to be here, I leave hastily and this time decide to let fate determine the destination for me.
I unexpectedly find myself in a peaceful suburb of a charming city. It does not take long to find out that only 30 thousand people live here and that the average lifespan is by far the longest in the world, almost 82 years. Possibly, their long lives are due to the fact that they have hardly any financial worries at all, pay almost no taxes, and often devote their entire lives to producing postal stamps. Apparently, collectors from around the world, the USA especially, are always interested in buying new issues almost immediately. I curiously observe two young boys fighting over a stamp with the picture of Gina Lollobrigida and Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Who would have thought that the production of postal stamps would place this tiny state on the fourth place in the ranking of the richest countries in the world. I soon find out that the residents of the city are both liberal and republican, independent and peace loving by nature - qualities they managed to maintain even in the difficult days of the Italian dictatorship. The people remained true to the legacy of Marinus, the founder of their republic, who once blessed the members of his community saying: I leave you free from all men. That is why tourists are now welcomed by a symbolic gate and a sign reading “Welcome to the Land of Freedom”. Yes, this place is as good as it gets! The world’s smallest republic, with its mere 61 square kilometers of land, has managed to weather countless storms of the Italian Peninsula’s history. It is located on the Adriatic side of the Apennines in northern Italy, half a mile over the sea level, on the mountain of Titano.
I take a deep breath as night falls around me and the city-state becomes even more alluring, even more deeply saturated with the sense of safety and stability. I have made up my mind, I am staying in San Marino for longer.
And I do believe any of us can use such time machines any time we wish. In our imagination. Sometimes dreams. Even some sort of astral projections. Who knows? Hmmm…
Whatever the answer, one thing is for certain, in our ever-changing world, travel is possibly one of the most exciting things we can devote our precious time to.
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