Sciences of travel

Adventure travel blog

5 items to pass the time on a long flight !

You do not know what to do during your long-line flights ? So I compiled a list of 5 items to try to pass the time by plane …Unless travel business class or first class even better , it is very difficult to sleep on a plane . This is especially true with low-cost airlines as Jet4you which you are sure to find a cheap flight but in which it will make concessions on comfort and entertainment offered.So much to expect before and take a few things that will help improve your comfort and distract you a few hours. Here is a list of 5 simple and relatively inexpensive gadgets but whose usefulness is obvious:

1 – An audio adapter : This tool allows you to use your own headphones on any aircraft requiring a dual outlet. You then avoid using headphones plastic cause irritation to the ears after a few hours.

2 – A universal adapter : More and more companies offer to passengers seats with electrical outlet. By cons , you may have bought in duty free an object in a country that is not compatible with the sockets of the aircraft. With an adapter, never worries of incompatibility … so you can enjoy the flight to learn how to use your new toy as a laptop.

3 – An inflatable travel pillow : Difficult to squeeze his head to sleep on a chair in the economy class and also very difficult to take your own pillow . Here is the solution with an inflatable pillow.

4 – light Kindle for reading : fans for Reading, with this little electronic gem, you can download e-
books , magazines and newspapers via WiFi or 3G network and play them very easily . I recommend you also book Latitude 0 Mike Horn before you plunge into the adventure time and I mentioned in an article.

5 – Sony HMZ -T1 glasses : less accessible but gives really want it mounted display allows you to watch any movie that you will take in Divx isolating you from all that is happening around the plane. I’ve never tried it, but it looks really bad.

These are only suggestions , but I think they are trying . I’m sure there are plenty of other , and each of these tricks …

And you manage to sleep on a plane ? Otherwise, how do you spend time?

Things to Do in and Around Phoenix Arizona

Things to Do in and Around Phoenix Arizona

Things to Do in and Around Phoenix Arizona

Phoenix, along with its surrounding cities, has become one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the country. It offers everything you could want in a big city like art galleries, museums, pro sports teams, restaurants, and nightlife. In addition, it has wonderful choices for outdoor activities, scenic day trips, and a taste of the old west.

For the “city slickers”, Phoenix offers a several museums, but the Heard Museum is the most unique. Its exhibits feature the art of Native Americans of the Southwest, including Barry Goldwater’s famous collection of Kachina Dolls. The Heard presents annual events like the Hoop Dance championship for Native American dancers.

Nearby Scottsdale has more than 100 art galleries and every Thursday visitors can enjoy the art walk with special exhibits and live music. Scottsdale’s Old Town is a mecca of big city-style shopping, especially at the upscale Fashion Square Mall. Old Town also offers a wide array of shops in which to purchase beautiful Native American arts, crafts, and jewelry.

If you prefer nature and the beauty of the desert to the typical big city glitz and glamour, a visit to the Desert Botanical Gardens is mandatory. This different take on the usual botanical garden has the most amazing collection of desert plants that includes 139 very rare and endangered species of plants from all over the world. In fact, the Desert Botanical Gardens is a member of the American Association of Museums.

Outdoor enthusiasts can take advantage of the hiking trails of Piestewa Peak, which is part of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. One of the most recognizable features of the Phoenix area is Camelback Mountain, a monolith of granite that resembles a camel at rest. Camelback is a prominent characteristic of the Phoenix skyline. Camelback offers several mountain trails that provide the avid hiker with many different skill levels, along with a variety of views of Phoenix and the surrounding terrain.

Brave day-trippers can drive the Apache Trail. This drive begins twenty-five miles east of Phoenix at Apache Junction and winds for forty-six miles from there to Roosevelt Lake and Roosevelt dam, great site for a weekend getaways for couples. This beautiful drive takes you high into the mountains past Lost Dutchman State Park, Saguaro Lake, and the ghost town of Goldfield. Along the way is the Canyon Lake Recreation Area. The Apache Trail drive is one of America’s Scenic Byways designated by the U.S. Forest Service.

Author: He write many travel and holiday tips and destinations in many websites. Specialist of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, he advice Vietnam visa for those searching infomations about vietnam , laos and cambodia

Family or a honeymoon travel : Tips for good fishing in Mauritius

Tips for good fishing in Mauritius

Tips for good fishing in Mauritius

Mauritius is known for its beautiful beaches and seabed. For Family or a honeymoon in Mauritius , this destination offers relaxation, water sports or cultural visits. Among these activities, the fishing is particularly popular and prolific in Mauritius .

Watersports and diving to explore the seabed are very common activities in Mauritius . Its coral reef offers indeed an incredible marine life where you can observe fish from the smallest to the largest , the most common to the most exotic . The lighthouse is also done much work on this island is the fishing. Mauritius has also been recognized as one of the best destinations in the Indian Ocean for fishing.

Tips for good fishing in Mauritius

If fishing has become the flagship activity of the island for fishermen, it is also a very popular tourist excursion. With an organization or fishermen present on the ports, you can go off the Indian Ocean and participate in a memorable experience. First of all, here are some tips for this trip goes well .

– It’s best to talk directly with fishermen to go to sea

– Avoid up the east coast of Mauritius , as there is little boats and strong winds . Therefore prefer the west coast of Grand Bay north through Trou aux Biches and the Black River in the Southwest . There is a fishing center in Black River, about 10 minutes from Flic en Flac .

– Choosing the right boat. Indeed, pick a long boat, at least 10 meters . In addition, if you are single or a couple , try to find three or four more people to take a boat to better negotiate the price of the tour. In Mauritius , the prices vary greatly from one fisherman to another. The amount may vary from 250 to 500 euros for a boat of 10 meters for a period of about 10 fishing hours

– Leaving in the morning at sea because the fishing is better . You will be able to do from a morning or throughout the day.

Before leaving the fishing must also make sure you do not get seasick and arm yourself with patience. In fact, the fishing can be hectic as quiet as to return empty-handed …

Lazing on the beautiful beaches and excursions of all kinds , Mauritius is the ideal destination to combine relaxation and activities.

Travel tips : Vietnam Climate – Destination- Appropriate plan

Certainly, weather conditions is one of the determining elements for the traveling decisions. If you are heading to Vietnam, then, take it easy to create up your mind. Vietnam’s environment is not just steamy sizzling as everything you are often subjected to on films. All year long right here, almost always there is an ideal place where it is pleasant to stay. Essentially, the whole country falls into the tropic and subtropics nevertheless stretching duration and different topography allow it to span several different climate zones. The weather thus, tends to vary significantly from period to period as well as from area to area.

You are going to head to Halong Bay organise the most common boat vacation. However, you need to explore Catba, the greatest remote island within the western portion of the bay. CatBa town, sadly, seems to be undergoing a building boom, and also you feel it was really touristy. However , it’s advised a visit to the island, if you are certain to enter the inside, high continue to be few roads and a lot of unspoilt scenery. Get an automobile during the day and experience the particular drive. Don’t bother with the trek from your national park entrance – the promised views are unsatisfactory. You can also have a boat trip in the town, that was less crowded compared to one you takein the main section of the bay. Read some reviews from travellers here in Tripadvisor  about Halong bay and Catba island

The Vietnamese seem to be real food lovers . Flavor the meals to them is of vital importance. Every dish has its own additional ingredients and garnish: boiled chicken offered along with lime green leaves plus a bit pepper salt, crab vermicelli along with special marjoram plus Nem along with seafood fermented spices added sugar, white vinegar, hot chili plus garlic herb, and so forth .

To acquire your Vietnam Visa, The agency – located in Vietnam – obtains from the Department of Immigration a letter of approval bearing the traveller’s name, date of birth, date of arrival, nationality and passport number, and then forwards that letter to the traveller (in PDF or JPEG format) by email or fax, usually within three working days. It is common to get the letter with several other applicants passport details (passport number, date ,full name, etc . . Check this webpage to get more infos about Vietnam journey suggestions

How to Travel and Work in Australia for an Extended Vacation

Many travelers dream of extending their vacation by working. Thanks to modern technology, this dream is readily achievable without migration assistance, the hassles of work visas, or the uncertainty of finding short term employment. One does not need to get lucky to have a travel job in Australia. Extended travel is possible by partaking in multiple forms of employment using modern technology. A traveler can teach a language online, write web content, become a Youtube affiliate, create a blog, flip items, or work at a hostel.

How to Travel and Work in Australia

How to Travel and Work in Australia

Teach Your Native Language Online

There is a huge demand for language tutors online. The requirements are that you must be able to speak a language, you have a working internet connection, and access to a Skype or another digital call platform. People will pay to have language partners (or conversation partners) at a rate of $10 per 30 minute lesson. If you are a skilled teacher, you can charge higher rates. Teaching online is an amazing opportunity because there is always someone in some part of the world interested in learning your language. Popular websites include italki, skimatalk, buddyschool, or self advertising using Craigs List.

Teach a Skill Online

Similar to language teachers, you can teach any skill you have developed using online platforms. These skills may be a musical instrument, knitting, or origami. You can set your own price and teach whenever you want. A popular website for teaching any skill is Juke Box Lessons.

Write Web Content

Content mills create web content. Have you ever read a “5 ways to blah, blah, blah” article? That was likely written by someone who produces web content as a part time job. There are many places that pay between $5-$10 per piece of web content. The advantage of writing web content is that your internet connection does not have to be perfect. This is great for someone who is traveling around Australia. You can try your luck on Textbroker, elance or fiverr.

Become a YouTube Affiliate

YouTube is one of the most popular websites in the world. If you can produce great video content regularly, you may consider monetizing your YouTube account. A monetized account will allow you to make money through advertising on your videos. You can use websites like reddit and buzzfeed to generate large amounts of traffic to your channel. Due to the viral nature and short attention span of the internet, expect the money to come in waves.

Create a Blog and Advertise

Affiliate advertising on blogs is one of the oldest long term traveler tricks. You can create a travel blog about your experiences in Australia and generate a viewership that allows you to collect small amounts of money per post hit. One secret to gaining more money on your blog is using “click bait”, a method of generating more advertisement views by having to reader click through slides to view the material.

Flip Items

Flipping items in Australia is a fun way to generate money. It requires a good eye and a little bit of start-up cash. The best place to sell items is on eBay or Craigs List. You can carve out a niche in the marketplace and generate revenue while sustaining your travels.

Work at a Hostel

Hostels are full of travelers with the same mindset as you. They want to experience the local culture of Australia and create great memories. If you are friendly, personable, knowledgeable about local attraction and tours, then you can become an employee at a hoste as described in my french friend’s blog . Usually new employs will only be offered room and board for their services. More skilled employees, such as those who help with migration assistance, can typically earn a spot on the company payroll.

Experience the Deep Waters

-Experience the deep water soloing-

Deep water soloing is the most free form of going up the. This form of going up is done without any kind of ropes or equipment. The specialty of this type of going up is mainly based upon the presence of water at the base of the stones. The water and its depth provide safety to the climber. If the climber is tired and drops then he or she directly drops into the water. Therefore all you need to play is some going up the and swimming experience.



In deep water soloing, the ground is designed from the activity while creating its own unique concerns and dangers. Initially, the climbers access the stones by boat, down going up the, traversing or rappelling and then making their way out. Generally the stones above the water are of overhanging nature thus making it difficult for the climbers but safer for dropping.

-The Deep Waters at Caribbean vacations-

Caribbean vacations are an excellent way have fun with so many factors in a few short days. Being near the sea gives yourself you members the chance to experience so many activities that you don’t get to do in the city. One of these factors is snorkeling. It is a fantastic way for children to learn about marine life, and it is a fantastic sport that you get have fun with close relatives members.

The Caribbean, specifically the island of Bonaire, is one of the top snorkeling destinations on the globe. Crystal clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and beautiful varieties of sea animals wait for those who challenge explore its depth

-Classic Stream Holidays-

Experience the adventure and challenge of river rafting through the popular Denver Stream and lose yourself in the beauty of the Grand Gorge. You can also discover wild animals and ancient Indian remains at the canny increases. The West water Gorge features the popular rapids such as Channel Falls, Sock It to Me and for the fearless, the Head. Franklin Stream is another excellent vacation for river rafting lovers. It is one of the excellent wild waterways of the world, developing through quiet regularly, deep gorges and amazing jungles. You can find the level very low at some locations and rising peaks at other locations.

-Be Captivated by the Island’s Clefs and Beaches-

As if an artist modeled the isle with creative arms, St Lucia is loaded with amazing coves and breathtaking seashores to discover, such as the amazing Cartels Cove which functions a amazing seaside and magnificent rich waters. You can seek the services of a snorkeling or snorkeling trainer for a few training or you can simply rest by the natural pool side and be mesmerized by the attractiveness of this wide cove. You could even invest a loving night with your beloved, diving in the sea with the celestial satellite and celebrities as your home chandeliers.

– Experience the long Sea Diving-

While you are in the procedure of studying something new and fulfilling your need to be near the mineral water, snorkeling training are also available on St Lucia. The rich waters of the Caribbean are merely a value thrive of underwater life and a bit of time among the numerous underwater areas provides a spectacular storage to take at home.

-Amazing scuba diving in deep water-

Snorkeling is a sport followed by people living in all areas around the globe due to the many pleasures and excitement which it has to provide. The excitement of being in unfamiliar environment, staring at the most amazing reefs barrier reefs in magnificent rich waters and getting close to beautiful sea animals, are reasons enough to persuade anyone to engage in scuba dive diving snorkeling.

All these water are different types of water aerobics, performing strengthening workouts in strong water allows you to focus on muscle tissue throughout your body. While shallow-water workouts also help you to focus on multiple muscle tissue, exercising in strong water allows you to stretch out your body and move more freely. For a secure health treatments get ehic renewal in time. Adding aqua dumbbells to your deep-water workout helps you develop your muscle tissue.

World Travel Guides Reference Egypt As An Incredible Vacation Spot

Checking out any world travel guide that discusses the south of Egypt; an individual will find Saqqara which is home to the Step Pyramid of Djoser created in 2630 BC. Pyramid of Pepi II, also located at Saqqara was the very last pyramid built by ancient Egyptians. In Dahshur, the Bent and the Red Pyramids are based. And down south at Maidum, the Maidum Pyramid may be discovered.



Take a look at the temples, mummies, tombs, hieroglyphics, and Valley of the Kings and the Queens in the event you visit Egypt as stated by the best vacation planning tips which will offer you the finest holiday travel deals. Apart from Egypt, listed here are four more impressive worldwide locations.

Rome : See ancient Rome still intact with proof of Roman design and style and architectures made more than 2000 years ago. Rome shows the living timeline from the Roman Empire up to the shift of the Middle Ages, to baroque and renaissance, to the dawn of the romantic period and enlightenment. Rome maintains its very own temples, churches, arts and invaluable paintings and murals.

Turkey : The former territory of the Roman Empire which stood strong for over a thousand years against several barbarian attack. Turkey is within the easternmost region of Europe that features a diverse civilization, religion, philosophy, and architectures.

China : Travel Far East and learn the historical past of the ancient eastern civilization that was once unknown till the last centuries. See the Great Wall, a remnant of the Zhou Dynasty together with some other distinctive oriental culture and tradition. Check out the Chinese painting, calligraphy, paper cutting, and Chinese art work.

Peru : As the heart of the Inca civilization, Peru is the best destination for student travel for discovery of South American history. The 500 year old Inca traces may be relived in the Inca Trail that’s both thrilling and educational. Walk to the Ollantaytambo, Sacsayhuaman, Machu Picchu, and Pisac.

Travel Advices for UK , India and Egypt Travel

UK Travel Advice

If you love exploring the tourists destinations based in the UK then there is lot for you that are all enriched with great varieties of activities and exciting things to do. Some of the places based in UK that has been considered to be the most exotic destinations for years and have till now been visited by millions and millions of travelers every year are Anglesey, Bath, Cardigan, Chester, Ely, Hereford, Lincoln, Norwich, Salisbury, Vale of White Horse, Wells, Wensleydale, Winchcombe and others.

The best UK travel advice that can be provided to you while you are out for your venture is that never leave things to be done in a haste. You should always think of getting all important things done in advance rather than hurrying and rushing in the last minute. Now that can be anything like booking the flights, buying holiday packages, booking hotels and ground transportation and so on. You can also look for reliable guides if the place that you have chosen to go is very new to you. A guide can not only help you in utilizing your time and money in the right way and in the right place but will also save you from being deceived by any local mischievous person.

So, you are just required to browse the best online holiday site, look for the places and the holiday deals and book a package for yourself in advance who will cut much of your extra costs. For that you can always consider visiting the holiday site Travel Advice Worldwide.

India Travel Advice

Are you looking for visiting India in your holiday vacations this time? If you have planned to move for India then that undoubtedly is one of the best decisions but along with that you must also know these things that India is a vast country of Asia. If you want to explore every nook and corner and experience all specialties of this place, then you must take a good deal of time in your hands and then head off towards it.

East, west, north, south- every part of this country have some specialty about it and exploring all these will be a unique experience for you. For summer and winter and for all other seasons, there will be an option for you in India and hence, going to India will be one of the best experiences of your lifetime. Some of the places that you can consider for our tour around India are Shimla, Manali, Darjeeling, Assam, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Kashmir, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangaluru and so on. Each of these places has something different and exciting to offer to its visitors.

Thinly thing that can be of great help for you while you plan your holiday in India will be to make the booking of the flights and the holiday packages in advance. Booking the holiday packages and the flights before the peak time is one of the wisely acts that works a lot in cutting the extra costs. So, this time when you think of moving towards India, browse the pages of  Outdoor Travel Advice website

Egypt Travel Advice

The services provided at our holiday site Travel Advice Worldwide are implemented with the sole target of helping out all sorts of travelers. Any destination whether it is in UK, India or Egypt, is extensively mentioned at our site that can help anybody in deciding and selecting his destination. The travel advices that are being provided basing on the difference in the places and the season, often are very helpful in guiding one.

However, along with the detailed information on the holiday destinations, reasonable holiday packages with striking offers too are made available at this site. The travelers can compare the prices of the packages and choose the most suitable one.

So, from all points of view, this is one holiday site that can assist you to the fullest and in making your holiday a pleasant experience. From now onwards whenever you think of planning your holiday come to our site and get assisted.

Some reasons why do not take pictures on your trip

I say this quite often on this blog, I find it hard to take pictures while traveling ! But in my job I sometimes take a lot of pictures and it is not so technical that I miss .I thought to write an article that could motivate myself about whether to unsheathe my camera in an urban environment and shoot all the faces that pass me.But in the end I thought , why convince me to take pictures , so that I could convince you not to do in certain situations ?

Far be it from me to dissuade you from taking your camera on a trip, but in fact there are situations in which you should avoid taking pictures if you want to enjoy the journey.So here are four reasons for me and situations where every traveler should point the lens towards the ground.

1 – Living in the present

Take a pcture are actions that take “out of the moment.” Being in front of a beautiful sunset on the Crimean beaches or Asia, can become stressful when trying to set the color saturation of the camera to capture the moment. Facing a millennium temple you will ask more questions about the f-stop to choose rather than hands that have shaped and carved these stones. Joy and surprise to see a humpback whale appear on the surface of the sea can turn into disappointment if you fail to capture your photo to the “National Geographic” .Share the photo collection of travel with friends is fun when we returned from a trip, but you have to wonder if being continually behind your goal you do not cut this travel experience as you live.

2 – False memories

There a few years ago while visiting Bali, the first beautiful landscape that was presented to me was that of Mount Batur , a powerful volcano in the center of the island.I managed to take a picture that captured the scene perfectly. Maybe too perfect, because now every time I remember this volcano , the image that comes to mind and that of the photo I took , not as long as I lived .Think and remember memories of your vacation pictures coming back to mind Are those pictures taken or moments that you experienced ? Disturbing is not it ? For my part I prefer to remember the moments lived rather than pixels.

3 – Pictures do not do justice

When I was in Scotland in the Highlands. Before me this beautiful view of the green hills of sight , no one around me , a calm and soothing silence , powerful and light wind at the same time caressing her face , small raindrops.Faced with this scene that provoked a lot of emotion, I hastened to take a picture to capture the moment .Returning a few weeks later I was very disappointed with this photo I wanted to share with my friends. It does not convey the emotion felt during that time that mixed a lot of sense .Since the face of this type of landscape , I prefer to sit , contemplate and breathe.Believe me, you will not forget what you see .In fact, without a photo , you will remember even better. Which brings me to the last point .

4 – Remember as we have lived

One of my passions is surfing and during one of my trips with friends we wanted to take our picture for a few sessions. It was really fun to slide on the waves every day , but at the end of this trip we realized that we did not take any pictures !At the end of the trip I started to believe that I was not as good as I thought surfing and the photos that I could have confirmed to me.Maybe the waves were smaller than what I thought , maybe I looked like an idiot surfing , maybe , maybe , maybe …But no, the memories I have of myself on this trip are positive, I remember surfing like a pro on big waves , and really enjoyed myself with my friends.Will there has pictures that could prove otherwise ? Not . So the memories I have are the ones I have experienced.

Understand this , I say that you should throw your Canon in the canyon . The photos are an important part of any adventure and I happen to take . Especially since I have this blog to share with you my experience.

But know that for me it is important to live in the moment , my fondest memories will unfortunately never published nor dope and I sincerely invite you to enjoy your trip in the same way …

And you , do you agree with these points?

Discover the Lavezzi islands

From the moment I told my colleagues that my husband and I were planning to go to Corsica , the reaction was unanimous and there were many to advise me to discover the Lavezzi islands. So I trusted them and planned this trip when we went to Bonifacio.

It is an archipelago of small islands located about ten kilometers from the French coast , between Bonifacio and Sardinia. They are protected and classified sea space blocks are divided between France and Italy and are for sailors, with a maximum altitude of 50 meters, the most dangerous of the Mediterranean area. Indeed , there are many islands that just flush the water , so imagine the difficulty of tracing a secure way in the middle , especially in rough seas.

1984, The island of Cavallo, off the coast of Corsica. (Photo by Slim Aarons/Getty Images)

1984, The island of Cavallo, off the coast of Corsica.

It is on this main island that Bonifacio , many companies offer to organise tour for you . Crossing direct to the driveway , do not take more than half an hour , and is obviously not guaranteed if the weather is favorable. The boats leave in the morning , you leave the island and come find you in the afternoon at the appointed time . It is possible to pay for the services of a guide , to discuss wildlife, flora and items relating to cemeteries.

Personally, we spent for these services, but on the way , we met a young responsible for the observation of the site, taking into account the low attendance of the island at that time ( the second half of September ) we have presented his life on the islands and even a nesting place I do not know what species of birds. We even got to watch the chicks in the absence of parents went fishing all day.

It is obvious that full season , supervisors are careful not to show the nesting sites to the public to respect the tranquility of individuals. They explained to us and their way of life , rather precariously on the island . For example , I remember that hot water is provided by their solar panels that ensure a range of 4 to 5 days .

We then visited the two sailors cemeteries. They are very pretty , pure white , which contrasts with the blue sea and sky, but I must admit that the term visit and a big word . Indeed, given the possible identification of the bodies , all the graves are anonymous , except of course, those of the captain , who even had a vault, and the chaplain.

We then headed to one of the small beaches accessible. And I must admit that despite the attendance, they are beautiful , small indeed, but with such a clear turquoise water and if that apart from the lack of coconut , you could imagine the Caribbean !

The beauty of the site inevitably attracts owners of small boats from wet there, and although it is a protected site , some have no qualms degassing nearby. Thus, one finds here and there fuel pellets . What a mess !

We then quietly back to the pier to take the next shuttle to Bonifacio. On return, we take a tour through the islands and Corsica guide explains that it is classified protected in France as in Italy site, our transalpine neighbors do not have the same conception of protection with respect to construction. Thus our merry commentator shows some villas built on islands privatized , money and fame of their own that allowed them to overcome many constraints .Then, our guide shows us proudly how Corsican nationalists decided to enforce this archipelago …

Vietnam trekking : What to visit in Vietnam according to the Huffington Post?

Vietnam trekking

Vietnam trekking

According to the article published in the Huffington Post, five tourist sites are considered sites not to be missed during your trip to Vietnam with Sapa rice terraces , mountains and forests of Ha Giang , Ha Bay long ( Quang Ninh Province ) , the beach of Nha Trang ( Khanh Hoa province ) , the sand dunes of Mui Ne ( Binh Thuan province ) .

Rice terraces of Sapa

Grown by local for centuries, the rice terraces is famous Sapa . Through the seasons, they go yellow Hay, pale green, before reaching just before harvest pure green breathtaking , almost fluorescent. In addition, the rice terraces of Sapa have been recognized as one of the seven rice terraces grandest of Asia and the world in general by Travel and Leisure magazine . This is a special culture in the development of traditional agriculture, mastered by locals 700 – 1500m .

To enjoy the beauty of all yellow and experience the daily life of villagers fields, you should travel to Sapa rice harvest season ( August, September or October).

Mountains and forests of Ha Giang

Ha Giang is a mountainous province in the far north of Vietnam. Due to its geographical position alternating large Cordilleras with rivers and streams, this province offers the most spectacular scenery in the country mountains. In particular, this region will surprise you with a fabulous panoramic view of landscape and also by the managements and spontaneous behavior of ethnic : girls wash into streams, children run and throw flowers in the air , etc. . For those who love adventure , hiking and trekking  , Ha Giang is definitely the best choice during your stay in Vietnam. Check this site vietnam trekking to explore your best options for hiking tour in this province

Ha Long Bay

World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1994, Ha Long Bay is undoubtedly a natural wonder of the country. Bay offers a picturesque landscape with extrêmenent diversity of beautiful islands of all sizes, all shapes, even large seaside resorts and the most famous caves and cellars. By a boat in Ha Long Bay and admiring its islands , you seem to face the dragons who are diving into the Sea. This is the origin of the name Ha Long ( Descending Dragon ) .

Nha Trang Beach

“Paradise” is the word that refers to both the beauty of the beach of Nha Trang. With a coastline of 40 km in length with over 200 islands , the Nha Trang Bay is called the ” Miami of South East Asia .” It offers tourists the very favorable conditions: beautiful nature, beautiful assets , soft and pleasant climate, friendly people , etc. .Nha Trang is now up to the club of the world’s most beautiful bays. It attracts , already , more international visitors . Foreign presses Nha Trang ranked first among the friendliest Vietnamese sites.

Sand dunes of Mui Ne

The sand dune is one of Mui Ne sand dunes securities greatest. Indeed, these sand dunes and desert evoke the undulating landscapes of the Sahara. It is an ideal place to rest, a natural place to immortalize cliché for photographers and also a dream destination for lovers of seaside pleasures .The color of the sand dunes here changes over time , from dawn to dusk , giving a source of inspiration for many artists. Arrival in Mui Ne, everyone wants to get on top of large sand dunes to immerse themselves in a world of sand, test presentation of slides on the sand and even hitting aware .

Vietnam travel tips : Get your visa for Vietnam here easy and cheap, but remember that this visa is only for travellers coming to Vietnam by airway

More useful sites about Vietnam

Vietnam Airlines
Fly Vietnam
Jet Air
Jet Star
Aviation company in Vietnam

The best diving spots in Peru

In the land of hot water and the beach

As Peru is bordered by the Pacific Ocean , there are many sites highly prized by surfers . Moreover , many schools set up along the beaches offer introductory courses and equipment hire , which makes the experience easily accessible during a trip to Peru. What we are talking a little less, is diving . It is true that Peru is not a priori the first destination that comes to mind to explore the seabed . But let’s be frank, it is a little similar to rafting, paragliding, beach or even haute cuisine , right? The perennial problem of Peru is that it suffers from its image of ” Land of the Incas Machu Picchu where the llamas and prevail .” And yet it has much more to offer!



Talking about diving, Lonely tell you that the water is cold except from mid -December to March, during the summer of Peru. For myself bathed in the Pacific waters Lima in winter , I can tell you that the water temperature is more than bearable. It is true that I was almost the only one to venture there and from Quebec, I am quite accustomed to fresh water lakes, but in all honesty , I found it great … and I’m far from being courageous when it comes to cold water ! In southern Peru , it is possible to snorkel in the Lima area , but also in Arequipa, Ica , Pisco region , and the Paracas National Reserve along the famous sea lions

However, the best diving spots are certainly found in northern Peru . Piura , Tumbes and Ancash is a paradise for the beach , fishing and water sports in general. For diving, more precisely , which makes northern Peru more interesting is that the tropical current warms the water. In addition, the seabed are richer in species with colorful tropical fish, turtles , sea lions and even whales . In short, it is an activity not to be missed during a trip to Peru !

For beginners : El Nuro or Caleta el Nuro ( Piura ) is a fishing village with a beautiful beach . Not only the place is really quiet , but the waters are impressive turquoise shades. There is a large colony of endangered turtles , almost always visible during the dive .

For advanced : Just a few kilometers away , there is Los Organos ( Piura ) , best known for being one of the best surfing in Peru. It take its name from the wind which creates a sound similar to an organ when it comes to cutting down on the rocks of Punta Veleros . Must leave the beach and head to the abandoned ( 20min by boat from the main pier) oil platform to find the best dive site (quite original I must say !) . Large columns supporting the platform down to 70 meters deep and are covered with corals and shellfish of all kinds . Fish are constantly attracted to this place for food which is a pretty sight. You can even see some sea lions resting on the platform ! The diving here is up to 30 meters deep.

Visit the region from Lima

– Take a plane ticket to Tumbes , then a taxi ($ 25 , 1.5 h) or colectivo ( $ 3, 2h) 150 km.

– Otherwise, Piura management plane, but the distance separating it from los Organos is longer ( 2:30) .

– You can also choose the bus companies with Cruz del Sur or Palominos . The trip takes 20 hours , which can be difficult to make in terms of time if your stay is short enough concession.

Punta Sal ( Tumbes ) is also unique . Made for divers of all levels , exploring reefs is colorful : tropical fish , turtles, octopuses and seahorses roam the seabed to the delight of our eyes. Diving is 12 to 18m deep.

Of course , several diving schools offer both courses , all kinds of packages or just the equipment rental. You will even find many hotel offering overnight packages and diving. What is unique here is that the atmosphere is relaxed and rather quiet beaches . You will see some people walking on the sand , but tourism has not yet invaded these little corners of paradise . That, my friends, is the good life .

Great plan to visit Le Mont-Saint-Michel

Le Mont-Saint-Michel can be visited in a day from Paris

If you go visit Paris soon, you might be tempted by a trip to Mont Saint Michel. The latter is certainly far from Paris, but it is one of the most visited sites in France, but also one of the most beautiful. Enjoy being in the North of France to finally explore what made ​​the reputation of Normandy. A day trip from Paris in the mythical town ensconced Mont Saint-Michel is an opportunity you will not want to miss: Mount and the bay that surrounds it, are listed as World Heritage by UNESCO in 1979. It is not by chance that it was nicknamed the Mont Saint Michel the “Wonder of the West.”

Topped with a huge rich in history and beautiful architecture equipped with Abbey, the village of 43 inhabitants has winding streets and medieval streets that take you back in the past and where you can enjoy fresh air large bowls. You will observe around Mount tides among the most spectacular in the world, offering views evolving.

But located 5 hours drive west of Paris, is it possible to enjoy the breathtaking view of Mont Saint Michel in such a short time? The answer is yes: in the space of a single day, it is possible to leave Paris and go to Mont-Saint-Michel and return the same evening in the City of Light.

Le Mont-Saint-Michel can be visited in a day from Paris

Le Mont-Saint-Michel can be visited in a day from Paris

But a busy day full of discoveries

Upon arrival, after taking a few minutes to enjoy, agape, the stunning views of Mont Saint Michel, you have 4 hours to visit the village and the abbey (if you chose the option “free”, see below). As children entering Disneyland, you may have first a little hungry: do not hesitate to perk up with a nice meal of Normandy, drinking some cider. Then you’ll have time to wander the cobbled streets to the abbey, the main attraction. With your purchase through the link below tickets, you will not have to queue and can go directly inside the magnificent Gothic building.

After visiting the abbey for 1 hour or more, you’ll have time to stroll through the streets of the small town, sunbathing in a small green park if the weather permits, and observe the movements of the tide around Mont Saint Michel. You will have the opportunity to enter eclectic shops to buy some souvenirs Norman and even eat a piece before getting into the bus late afternoon.

Book online for convenience

Several choices are available to you to visit the Mont Saint Michel. You can take the option “free”, which for only 125 €, offers direct travel to the site via an air-conditioned bus, a ticket to the abbey, and four hours of free time to explore the mountain freely . A second option for € 170 includes lunch and a guided tour. Please note that prices may vary, so do not hesitate to click on this button below for more information (what types of clothing depending on the season take for example …). You will also see that it is possible to book a real living from Paris, why not with a tour of the castles of the Loire (in 2 or 3 days) or the landing beaches, St Malo, etc …

Budget for a trip to Paris

Budget for a trip to Paris

Budget for a trip to Paris

The capital of France attracts French and foreign tourists throughout the year. This is one of the most expensive cities in the world and it will provide a large enough budget to stay in Paris.

Is The cost of living in Paris high?

Yes, life in Paris is expensive. We do not hide you. But as elsewhere, it is possible to get by “budget” mode. An undeniable advantage of Paris is that the city offers endless free tours, and the city itself is a delight to discover. In addition, the French, but also the rest of Europe, can go to Paris for cheap, with cheap tickets (including low-cost airlines) and cheap tickets train. Here are all the numbers to give you an idea of ​​your budget required to travel to Paris.

What budget for staying in Paris?

We do not hide it, your budget accommodation in Paris is expensive. There are few hostels (though this is changing), and the majority of Parisian hotels charge an average price between 60 and 70 € per night. A good reason to adopt the Couchsurfing or renting an apartment in the particular. That said, the hotel practicing yield management, which allows to adjust prices according to the degree of filling for example.

Hostel: from 15 to 20 € per night

Hotel ** from 35 € per night

Hotel ***: from 50 € per night

Hotel ****: from 70 to 80 € per night

Hotel *****: from 120 € per night

Remember to follow the offers in advance to grab the best price according to season.

What budget to eat in Paris?

Unless you cook your own meals in the hotel or apartment, you will need to pay a substantial budget food in Paris. Any menu in a small restaurant (starter + main) will not cost less than 10 € so if you plan to eat every meal out, it is at least 25 to 30 € per day minimum per person, excluding beverages. We recommend that you prepare or buy a sandwich for lunch, and go out for dinner (if you want to treat yourself and limit your expenses).

Prices to eat in Paris:

Street Food (kebab, etc …): 5 to € 10

Fast Food: 7,40 €

Daily menu in a bistro: 12-14 €

Economic options: about 12-15 €

Standard options: approximately 25 €

Chic restaurant: 50 € and +

Some ideas price Paris

Transportation Ticket simple common: € 1.70 (or € 2 for a single ticket in the bus)

Coke can: 2,5 € (in store)

Beer: € 6 (pint, excluding happy hour)

Cigarette pack: 7 €

Taxi (1 km): 1,30 €

Entrance to the Louvre: 12 € (in 2014) for single entry, but many exemptions are possible (check here)

Entrance to the Eiffel Tower: For adults: 2nd floor with elevator (9 €), top with lift (15 €), 2nd floor stairs (€ 5) (2014)

Paris, as we can see, is a city where the cost of living is high. Your budget will be expected to travel too high. To calculate more precisely, depending on the type of traveler you are, you can use our calculator budget.

Mexico – Campeche city – where to stay and eat

Mexico – Campeche city

Mexico – Campeche city

As I was telling you last time, Edzna Mayan site is at about  60 km from the city of Campeche where we stayed for one night only, in our way to Merida. The city of Campeche, actually San Francisco de Campeche is the capital of Campeche region where there is a lot to see. Unfortunately for us, we had time to see only the beautiful Edzna Mayan city I have already told you about.

I will not say much about Campeche city about which you can read on many sites – I’ll only say it was the main city of the Mayan region Ah Kin Pech and it belongs to UNESCO world heritage list.

We arrived in the city around 6 p.m and, obviously, we went first to check in at the hotel I had booked –  Hotel del Mar, a Best Western hotel that I had chosen well. It was nice and comfortable, at a reasonable price (about 60 euro/double room breakfast included), it had an outside pool and, what is more important, it was facing the sea.

Another beautiful hotel where you might stay in Campeche is Castermar which is closer to the center, looks very well and its prices are also reasonable. Furthermore it has very good comments.

After checking in and refreshing a little bit, we had just a little time to catch some light and admire and blue, quiet sea.

We then headed towards the center to look for a restaurant to have dinner. As it was at the beginning of January, the entire central square (Independence Square) was highly lighted and decorated for winter holidays. It was rather strange for us, coming from a country with serious winters, with cold and snow, to look at the Christmas decoration at 25 degrees Celsius (like in Ciudad de Mexico as well).

In the central square there is a very beautiful cathedral that was very nicely put to value by the lighting on its facade.

The first restaurant we stopped at is probably also the best known and appreciated because of its traditional atmosphere and location – Casa Vieja – which is at the first floor of a colonial building facing the square.

However we stayed there just for a beer because we did not feel inspired by the menu, the service did not seem great and it actually felt too touristic.

So we left, turned right and found a local restaurant, La Parroquia, where we ate very well and had some very good cocktails as well. Prices were very reasonable and most Mexicans were eating there. La Parroquia is also a hostel but I would not recommend it.

Practically this was our experience in Campeche. Maybe next time.

One of the most important things we missed in the region was Calakmul biosphere reserve which is at about 320 km from Campeche town, and where there is a very large number of animals, insects, birds, reptiles and plants and where there is also a very impressive Mayan archaeological site.  I still regret not having seen it. I only saw pictures in the albums and on the Internet. Fantastic!

Exciting Holiday Destinations Of Sri Lanka

Club Bentota Sri Lanka

Club Bentota Sri Lanka

SriLanka is one of the countries where you can visit and have a memorable holiday. There are many exciting holiday destinations you should visit and make your vacation a great one. Here are some of the most exciting destinations in SriLanka.


  • Arugam bay is situated in the dry zone of South East coast of SriLanka. This is a great tourist destination where you can engage in surfing and other beach games. If you enjoy fishing, this is a perfect place for you to visit. There are also hotels, restaurants and shops where you can enjoy shopping your favourite products.


  • This is a SriLankan coastal city popular for its golden beaches making it a great tourist destination. The town is famous for international tourists and it hosts a lot of proclaimed hotels where you can enjoy meals from different cultures from around the world. If you like drinks, the town is famous for production of Toddy, which is an alcoholic beverage manufactured from coconut nectar.

Bundala National Park

  • If you enjoy watching animals, then you should visit Bundala national park. This is a great destination where you can watch thousands of bird species. In addition, the area is also popular for its abundant aquatic life where you can enjoy watching a lot of animal that live in water. Bundala national park also habits many other animals such as crocodiles, turtles, elephants, leopard and other animals. Running along the coast east of Hambantota, the park is perfect for immediate gratification. You can enjoy taking a four hour jeep ride and enjoy seeing crocodiles, elephants, flamingos and giant squirrels.


  • This is another great holiday destination that has the biggest and well preserved cave temple complex in the country. Dambula also has the largest rose quartz mountain range in the entire south Asia. There are also many other archaeological sites which you can visit during your holiday. Here you get to see cave temples that give evidence on the presence of the traditional civilizations before the arrival of the Indians.


  • This is one of the great destinations that offer a lot of natural beauty. There are a lot of things to do and see in Kalpitiya. Unlike many other destinations which offer more or urban life, here you get to enjoy life away from the major cities in Sri Lanka. You will enjoy watching the night fishing boats and visits one of the fish markets where you can enjoy an evening meal from the fresh catch. When exploring the coastline, you can take leisure rides and canoe trips down the river. You can also take 4WD jeep rides as you move along the deserted sand dunes. The rides will offer you a great way of watching the beautiful evening sunsets.


  • This is a small town popular for the wildlife sanctuary which is a great spot for tourists because of the many elephants found here. It is located near Habarana which has many high class hotels where you can rest and enjoy great meals.

Make sure you apply for Sri Lankan visas for you to be permitted to gain entry into the country. Apply prior to your visit to avoid last minute inconveniences that may occur.

Lakes & Hills – Nainital and Ranikhet – Part I

I am sure there aren’t many Indians who don’t know of this place called Nainital located in the Indian state of Uttaranchal. Uttarakhand was carved out of the then largest state – Uttar Pradesh and was later renamed to Uttaraanchal.

Getting There –

  • Flight to Delhi,
  • An overnight train plys from old Delhi rail station to a place called Kathgodam,
  • Take a shared taxi from Kathgodam to Nainital (it is about 45 mins drive)

The Background

Nainital – means eye (Naini) shaped lake (Tal), is one of the five famous lakes in Kumaon Hills. The other Tals are Bhimtal, Sattal, Khurpatal, and Naukuchia Tal. Uttaranchal is now becoming known for its natural beauty (being located in the foothills of the Himalayas) and tourism is rapidly increasing. Nainital, however, has been a well-known tourist center for many decades.

The Journey

Our onward journey began from Hyderabad to Delhi by Indigo, from the airport we went to Cannaught place for dinner. We didn’t want to miss the experience of traveling Delhi metro. The metro rail and the setup was very similar to Singapore’s MRT. The crowd was much more though :)

The metro took us to the old Delhi station and that was a station that I would want avoid always. Over-crowded, stinky, confusion and un-maintained with no amenities are some keywords I would associate with that rail station. But it happens to be starting point for most north bound trains from Delhi. I had gone through the same station for reaching Kalka in Himachal Pradesh earlier.

The train to Kathgodam starts at 10:45 PM from Nizamuddin station and reaches Kathgodam at 6:00 AM the next morning. We had made reservations in the 2nd AC compartment and the journey had been very comfortable.

When we got out of the stations a lot of taxi drivers approached us for a drop to Nainital. After bargaining (for Rs. 100 each) we finally got into one of them. The sojourn to Nainital is really rewarding, extremely scenic route is a treat for the tired travelers. We stopped at a restaurant on the way for a short breakfast and tea. When we got to Nainital, we found that the city is comprised of a wide main street and then, a lot of very narrow side streets. The houses were densely packed into flat surfaces among the hills.

We got to our hotel – I noticed that not only our one was under renovation – probably all hotels in Nainital were under perpetual renovation. Later, learnt that the city had exploded in terms of population and tourist in-flow and the infrastructure was constantly challenged. One more point to be noted was that buses and large vehicles were not allowed inside the city and so, any day-trip buses start outside of the city gates.

We checked into the hotel, and took some rest before we went out to explore the city. The streets were clogged with traffic, luckily our hotel was close to the lake and the market. So, we went to the lake area and visited the temples there.

We planned for short boat ride in the lake and it started raining as soon as we entered the waters. We came back and waited for the rain to subside and again ventured for completing the boat ride.

While we enjoyed our day at Nainital (it was Friday in June), we found the streets, shops and restaurants very crowded. It was clear that tourist inflow was taking a toll on the natural beauty of this place. Anyways, we made booking for doing a site trip for the next day.

We had to walk down the city outskirts to catch this trip bus to the other 4 lakes and some temples. The roads in the area weren’t good, so got off to a slow start and there was other tourist traffic.One of the things that caught our attention while our bus passed through the villages and market areas is the variety of fruits. Kumaon has, probably, the best collection of exotic fruits in India. The plums and various kinds of cherries were simply delicious

Why visit Germany?

Why visit Germany?

Why visit Germany?

At first, the great European power what Germany can be scary if we associate with this status industrial cities and hyper dynamic country. But the incredible heritage, confused, Germany, is breathtaking castles, museums, medieval towns, cathedrals, gastronomy, nature, palace, and history … there is plenty to do.

The strength of this country and the advantage to discover, is the ease to the people to mix history, culture, and modernity through a youth on whom Germany can count. So it turns out modern cities, where art is on the street, where the sights and mark your visit.

It was in Germany that you will find among the trendiest clubs in Europe, including Berlin, or even internationally known festivals. One thinks of the Oktoberfest in Munich, the famous beer festival.

It is also noted that Germany has coasts on the North and Baltic seas which is not overlooked. As the number of shared borders with other countries, which makes it possible a short stay in Germany if you’re in a neighboring country, or vice versa.

The cost of living in Germany is rather high, especially at events in cities at certain times of the year. But this should not dampen your wanderlust. Think, as everywhere, every type of budget can be found there. Eastern Germany is a bit cheaper, which encourages them to go discover Berlin.

Where to go on a trip to Seoul

Korean capital is a fascinating blend of history and modernity, also mixing the culture and values ​​of the country. Seoul still surprise us when we know it has been reduced to zero after the devastating Korean War there was only a few decades. Growing up today, the largest city of South Korea has nothing but good to offer. There are a multitude of things to do and see but here is a small selection of tours that you can consider during your stay in Seoul:

1. Seafood freshest and best

Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market is a huge market for wholesale seafood and one of the largest in Korea, and its origins date back more than 80 years. The stands are lined up rows filled with displays of fish, seafood, some of which will surprise you … and everything is freshly caught! Search, haggle and get the best products, such as sashimi, octopus, sea cucumbers and many others. You can do anything you cook on site and enjoy your meal in a good atmosphere

2. Eating and buy the oldest market in Seoul

Built in the early 20th century, the traditional market Gwangjang has about 5,000 stores and independent boutiques that sell everything including high quality hanbok (Korean traditional costumes). You can lose yourself in the maze of shops and alleys. On site you can enjoy some local specialties like bindaeddeok, a kind of savory pancake really good. Enjoy this with makgeolli, a drink of rice wine base. Everything is very authentic!

3. Having a taste of traditional Korea

The skyline of Seoul is an unusual and mostly dotted with skyscrapers. But for a glimpse of the traditional Seoul, Bukchon Hanok Village offers the visitors a glimpse of what life was like in the past. These traditional houses were central to family life highly regarded Confucian culture in Korea. Sleep homestay in these hanok houses attract tourists.

4. Climb to the top of the highest point in Seoul

A large majority of the South Korean landscape is mountainous, it is not surprising that climbing is an extremely popular sport for Koreans. While the peaks and channels most famous mountains lie outside of Seoul, the capital has Bukhansan Mount (or “Mount Bukhan”) which is the highest summit in Seoul, peaking at 836.5 meters above sea level and is a tough but rewarding climb for experienced and novice hikers. There are many routes to the different peaks but no matter which one you decide to take the breathtaking views of Seoul and surrounding area is an experience in itself. Beyond the superb ride is an opportunity to meet on the road very friendly Korean and share a snack with them along the trails. Remember to take plenty of water and dress appropriately.

6. Relax and get rid of your stress

Just like the famous Scandinavian saunas, Korea has its own bathroom and improved relaxation centers called jjimjilbangs release. These are found all over Seoul and are very popular among all (old, young, families, couples, friends, etc …). You have a wide choice of spas to relax and sweat (salt room, dining jade room, charcoal, etc.). All of which are inexpensive, do not hesitate to pay a little more for a scrub skin to completely clean out and healthy.

Halong Bay and Lan ha bay what to do

Halong Bay and Lan ha bay

Halong Bay and Lan ha bay

Halong is for years the focal point leading to the north. The bay includes a few thousand rocks which nearly 1000 islands and islets. They are infinitely varied forms, evoking many animal species, hence their names: Dragon Island, Monkey Island, Toad Island, Turtle Island, Island Gamecock etc.. Boats and motorboats are available for a cruise among the islands, islands with caves and grottoes to explore the hidden wonders of nature.


The Royal Island Zoo

Up to 200 km from ‘the beach there are rare species such as the white fox, white snake, birds and turtles unusual.

The Monkey Island

This is the place to be for the Red-nosed monkey.

Tra Co Bay

Located in the eastern part of the Sino-Vietnamese border, the bay stretches 15km from Sablon is one of the largest in the country. It offers beautiful scenery including the temple of Tra Co, Khanh Linh pagoda, Doi temple etc..

The Van Don Island

50km north-east of Halong City, the island is home to a botanical garden. There are some 600 islets

Mount of Yen Tu

40km north-west of Halong City, the Mount stands on the great mass of the Northeast, with picturesque landscapes and pagodas that hold Buddhism 13th century. Many royal dynasties have ranked among the most beautiful mountains in the country.

Thien Cung Cave

Ha Long, Halong, Vietnam 15km above the level of the sea cave was recently discovered (1995). It attracts tourists with its stalactites and stalagmites multifaceted.

Dau Go Cave

One of the most beautiful caves of Halong Bay, it has three cavities. The first is also the largest, it fascinates by the shapes of different colors of stalactites and stalagmites. However, the walls of the second sparkle that brightness is projected above. In the third there is a natural fresh water wells. For these reasons the French named it “Cave of Wonders”.

Lan ha Bay cruise

Next to Halong bay, Lan ha bay is a small bay , a little gem that few people know You can acces to this bay from Halong bay or from Hai Phong city in passing by Cat Ba island – This is the ideal place for lovers of hiking, kayaking, climbing and cruising , for more infos about this cruise , check out this site  to find the best otpions of tours for you

What to do in Hai Phong and Lan Ha bay cruise

Established in 1888, Hai Phong is located on the coast of the East Sea. The city offers many historic sites, temples, pagodas, mausoleums, shrines, all witness a rich tradition. You can stop here then visit some sites in the city center

Du Hang Pagoda

It was built as early as the first Ly (980-1009). Tran Nhan Tong Emperor (1258-1308), a fervent Buddhist liked to come to prayer. Pagoda, classified historic site still retains many relics including Buddha statues, urns, bells and gongs bronze and the prayer book Trang A Ham, which is an ancient Buddhist manuscript.

The  Hang Kenh communal house

It was built in 1856 and enlarged in 1905. His reputation is due to its beautiful wood carvings total of 156 rooms, with the dragon as the base theme. There are 308 dragons of different shapes and sizes. The pagoda also houses a statue of King Ngo Quyen and a palanquin old.

Do Son Bay

Do Son is some 22km south-west from the center of Hai Phong city, between two mouths of  Lach Tray and Van Uc Rivers. It is a mountainous and forest peninsula that stretches about 5 km to the East Sea. Nice beach with red water

The Cat Ba Island – Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba,  the largest island in Halong Bay, home to numerous lakes, waterfalls, caves and a huge national park, home to 20 species of mammals, 69 birds and 20 reptiles and amphibians. The Vooc , rare species under threat of disparition  is found on the cliffs that separate the island from the sea The island is also home of the yellow monkey, chamois and other rare birds such as the Cao Cat-king fisher, the Hut Mat, Dau Riu. The Cat Ba National Park has the largest expanse of tropical forest and pristine in  Vietnam. According to statistics it must host 745 plant species, 495 original lines, 149 families with a lot of medicinal plants such Cho Doi, the Trai Ly, Lat Hoa, Kim Giao and the Nuoc Va. Most of tourists come to have beach holiday as the islands have nices beaches  and for the Lan ha bay cruise, then cross Halong bay

How to find a cheap flight to Vietnam and to prepare your bag for Vietnam trip


How to find a cheap flight to Vietnam

Airline tickets to Vietnam are often expensive and discourage some travelers choose this destination. So how to find a cheap flight to Vietnam? Here are our top tips for finding cheap flights to and from Vietnam in the best possible conditions:

1-Except promotions last minute, we recommend you take your ticket in advance. More you do it, the sooner you’re likely to have the cheapest tickets.
2 – Choose tickets go / return, especially if you travel less than three months.
3 – Go rather slow periods, avoiding weekends, holidays and school holidays. Remember to check the calendar on the Vietnamese festivities.
4 – Buy online rather than in a travel agency you save commission fees.
5 – Use comparators flights to find the cheapest flights to Vietnam as kayaking / skyscanner / i comparator
Check the option “date flexible travel” to estimate the price of the period of your stay. You will be directed to the following agencies online.
6 – Some online agencies that we recommend: / Govoyages / or Voyage Vietnam
7 – Check the costs of the airports of departure and destination. You might pay less leaving major cities (Paris, London, etc …).
You can also choose your tickets directly on airline websites such as: Vietnam Airlines and Air France (direct flights). They regularly offer deals. Beware of ticket taxes for low cost flights, they may be equivalent to the price of the ticket!

The perfect bag for her trip to Vietnam

Vietnam is a wonderful country to visit but that the stay more enjoyable, consider taking the practical and all important documents

It is not useful to take a big suitcase because you find cheap clothes and even make you custom make, once on site. However, be aware that it is more difficult to find larger sizes and larger shoe sizes. Here are our recommendations to help you prepare and take only the essential …


A swimsuit to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Vietnam
Shorter clothes (shorts, shorts, skirts, dresses, T-shirts)
Long clothing (pants, long-sleeved T-shirts, shirts, vests) to prevent cool evenings, sunburn or even in some areas of insect bites
Comfortable and easy to remove (Thongs and light shoes) shoes, it is not uncommon to have to remove to get at people or in some stores & pagodas
A cap or hat
A cape or a waterproof jacket to protect you in case of heavy rain
A toiletry kit with sunscreen, of tropical mosquito repellents and earplugs (if you are sensitive to noise)
Drugs, for large quantities, consider taking your prescription. – A lightweight backpack for excursions, typically remain suitcases at the hotel (see our advice on health and vaccines in Vietnam)
A camera to capture your vacation  in Vietnam

CAUTION: Do not forget your passport, your visa to Vietnam (or your record prior acceptance), airline tickets and possibly your health record


If you go make sure to take a trekking,  good walking shoes are recommended
In winter, in northern Vietnam, take a jacket and some warmer clothes (sweaters, turtlenecks, scarves)

Purgatory and Greenline Velo: the Path to Illumination

Purgatory is not so much a place as a process. Purgatory’s texture was sculpted by one of the most famous Italian poets, Dante, working off the ideology of the founders of the early Christian church. It is the second kingdom where the pilgrim wonders and the first where the human spirit has “hope” in reaching heavenly enlightenment: quel secondo regno/dove l’umano spirito si purga/e di salire al ciel diventa regno (Chiavacci Leonardi, 10). This literary ladder between heaven and hell is a mirror-image of the latter: where hell is a pit (easily “falling into sin”), purgatory is a mountain, where the sweat and physical efforts of the penitent pay off in attaining an entrance to paradise. Yet, the pilgrim’s journey through Purgatory is not solitaire: Beatrice assumes the role of guide, leading the pilgrim along the rough and burdensome cliff faces to the heavenly kingdom.

Similarly, the cyclists from Greenline Velo are on their way to redemption. A young bike team from Boston, they are facing a great challenge: organizing a new, NEBRA ranking bicycle race. They are slowly learning the necessary steps in organizing such a large event: paying the police, having the proper emergency services in place, keeping the areas clean, finding sponsoring, and more. But like our pilgrim, the going will get easier the further they climb up the mountain. The more they make their plight known, the more prayers will help them and the easier their climb will be. Of course – like our voyageur in the Italian classic – they need a helping hand, or they won’t make it up the mountain. They are missing funding to get them closer to a heavenly illumination.

Honestly. This is not literary invention.

It is no coincidence that the cyclists from Greenline Velo are organizing a bicycle race whose proceeds support an environmental cause. The National Grid finances the installation of solar panels on the Sutton Public Schools and an awareness of energy consumption with its students. Thus, any assistance they receive goes directly to finance the switch from conventional to alternative energy. Plus, it helps the riders from the club establish themselves as a viable team, and places the race on the map as one of Massachusetts’ qualifying circuit races. Anyone interested in information or donating to the project should email Kyle Butler at connection.

What’s the name of the race? The Purgatory Road Race, of course.

Purgatory Chasm in Sutton is thought to have been formed from a sudden glacial water break. The race is in part criterium, yet anyone who lives in the area and has ridden in bike races before should test their skills on the circuit. The race is June 19th, 2010, and even if you don’t bike, I suggest you take the time to watch the racers (some international) make Massachusetts cycling history. Hopefully it will find it’s place in Massachuetts’ cycling along with the Lonjo Classic and the George Street Bike Challenge for Major Taylor as one of the state’s legendary races (and if you haven’t heard about Major Taylor, I suggest you read up on him here). As we watch the pilgrim make his way up the mountain to heavenly enlightenment, we have the opportunity to witness the young riders at Greenline Velo make their way through the chasm, brightening the Sutton Schools with solar panels. So give them a hand, and help them along the road to alternative illumination.

Andiamo in Kuota: A new discovery in the Dolomites

Cycling in the Dolomites is an experience comparable to beholding the handiwork of the divine. Harsh rock and cliff faces in this part of northeastern Italy are harmoniously married to lush emerald fields and evergreen forests. Anyone who has participated in the Maratona dles Dolomites (The Dolomite Marathon) knows how stunning the panorama can be, especially when biking through these glorious passes, roads closed, with other cyclists. Nine thousand other cyclists, according to the statistics from the official Maratona dles Dolomites website In 2008, there was again the same number. Needless to say, this is one of the most popular of the great Italian Granfondo (an “endurance” or “long distance” cycling event, loosely translated). In fact, the organizers of the Maratona dles Dolomites need to cap the number of participants every year. The more people who sign up, the more difficult it is to organize, and the more dangerous the event becomes. If they were to get 10,000 or more on these narrow roads, the start would be more than chaos: it would be hell.

Setting the opening scene, many of the participants have never competed in a “race” of this caliber (90% of cyclists are there to safely finish the course), and the starting line is the most daunting part. Beginning at La Villa in Alta Badia, there are three general routes one can ride: the short 55 km, the medium 106 km and the long 138 km options. Some look at the 138km and think it’s easy, yet forget to consider the elevation gain is around 4190 m (yes, meters – for feet, multiply by three). In addition, the three courses are all interlinked in some way – especially the short, a loop all cyclists must do no matter what option they choose. Around 7:00 am, everyone starts. Everyone. The elbow-to-elbow riding from La Villa (flat) is invigorating, but when ascending Campolungo, that’s where technique comes into play. Speed is dictated by the allure of the surrounding cyclists, pinched between the Sunday stroller ahead and the weekend whizzer behind – while climbing uphill. It’s a rather precarious situation and every year I have participated, there has been an accident coming down from Passo Sella, in the exact same spot. No misunderstanding, it’s a great race and one I’ve done four times. Unfortunately it’s the number of people that make – and break – all the fun.

Enter Kuota. I have already written a blog post on Kuota’s commitment to cycling in their local community through the Granfondo Fabio Casartelli here. Kuota saw what was happening at the Maratona dles Dolomites and decided to join with others to do something about it. They are, in part, sponsoring another race in the Dolomites. The Gröden Bike Marathon takes place in the Val Gardena, crossing other famous peaks such as Fedaia and Pordoi. Their event has a two-fold advantage: one, the racers get to see a completely different side of these majestic mountains, and two, since this is the race’s first year, not many cyclists know about it, thus numbers will be low. Of course, like all Granfondo, there is an entry fee. However, if you show up with your Kuota bicycle, you don’t pay anything – the registration is free. It is a UDACE certified, pro/amateur race, complete with all the other extras expected at these memorable events: gifts and awards, pasta lunches and good people who are there just to have a fun time. If you’re interested in the event itself go to the Gröden Marathon site (you may need Google Translate since the site is in Italian and German). If you’re interested in the Kuota bike line check out their website here. Again, Kuota sees cycling – and the mountains – in a different light, from a different valley. Consequently, thanks to the Gröden Bike Marathon, cyclists can now appreciate this divine art from more than just one perspective.

Flemish Fun

Few people have heard of the Tour of Flanders. Certainly, the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia are older and more popular than this spin through Belgium. Yet there is something about these “minor” bike races (and by minor I mean less popular, not less important) that, in my opinion, makes them as exciting to watch as the others. Maybe even more so.

I have had the privilege of witnessing first-hand a number of the great races. But once, I had the honor of competing in the amateur circuit through the Flemish Ardennes. It was an experience of a lifetime. The countryside is some of the most picturesque in Belgium, riding along the silky-soft asphalted roads on the flattest ground imaginable. Until you’re faced with Molenburg – the second of many uphill, cobblestone stretches – lasting about a half kilometer at an average 5% grade. Then it’s Paterburg: a 300m cobbled climb at an average 12.9%. Then the infamous Koppenburg: 600m of cobbled slope at an average of 11.6%. The entire course itself covers approximately 250km with 17 of climbs like these – some cobbled, some not – at various intervals. But the trick isn’t so much knowing when to anticipate the hill, as it is a game of avoiding the ruts. Certainly these cobblestone streets have “grown apart” over the years and it’s easy to let the wheels steer you into catastrophe. Derailleurs, chains, pedals and all kinds of debris are literally ripped off the bicycles by the mere strength of the climbing cyclist, and scattered along the base of every hill. These climbs eat bicycles. Thus the only solution through the pounding and vibrations is to keep hands firm, feet churning, and asses down. Missing any of these means walking along the side of the hill. Which calls into mind the next element of this adventure: space.

Not only are riding the fat cobblestones a challenge uphill, but there’s also the challenge of jockeying for position. On the asphalted flat bits the road is smooth, wide and speeds increase. Mere meters before the beginning of Kapelmur, for example, the road narrows considerably. As it should: all of these cobbled sections echo a time when horse drawn carriages ruled the roadways. There was no need to make the avenue any wider than needed. So when approaching the base, there is a mad scramble to stay on the bike as a group of cyclists, possibly ten or twelve wide, narrows to three. Speeds slow down instantly to a standstill, and most riders dismount since the grade is too difficult to attack from a stopped position. And it is here rivers of cyclists on foot flow uphill, walking their bikes along both sides of the cobblestone road – making the going even more narrow for those able to stay in the saddle.

Add to this mix the freezing cold, pouring rain, harsh winds and globs of mud and sand that pool at the base of each steep climb, and the adventure only turns more epic. Legendary, actually. The event is usually the 14th Sunday in the year –  around the beginning of April – and the weather patterns in northern Europe are anything but trustworthy. Even the adverse weather adds to the uniqueness of the event: a one-day race that lasts a lifetime.

Good Winter Riding

Just a year ago I was living my adolescent dream of playing in a British punk band. I met Leather Zoo while managing a Snowsport Team in Livigno, Italy. We were trapped in a three-bedroom apartment located above a stall housing about 300 cows. The smell was very natural and organic, but after four months, a little fresh air was needed. So the Zoo (the band not the cows) invited me to Sheffield, England where I filled in for their drummer who was unable to make some of their UK venues. For two weeks I lived a dream. One of the venues – The Packhorse in Leeds – was a major venue for little-known up-and-coming bands of the ’60s and ’70s such as The Who and Led Zeppelin. After flying into Midlands Airport, I had five hours of rehearsal before our first gig that evening. Fleur de Lys was the first song we played that night and it has stuck with me ever since. Leather Zoo often tours around Europe every summer and fall so try to catch them when they come by. Their sound is organic and raw, drawing on a number of personal experiences and talents that the band possesses – especially the allusive “Mr. Woddy.” They are excellent people, awesome musicians and amazing athletes. Mel and Biff have quite a history of cycling behind them – but both are too modest to talk about it.

Thus, when I was out the other day on my classic ride, this song came to mind. It reminds me of spring and the sudden liberty felt after a long, smelly winter. This route is simply a spin around the Lac du Bourget just outside of Chambéry, France. The climbs aren’t too severe (not like the Col de Colombière or Col de Galibier for example), yet the Col du Chat and the Col de la Chambotte are challenging enough after a winter of downhill skiing. Little known is the fact that the Lac du Bourget is the largest and deepest natural lake located entirely within France. The poet Alphonse de Lamartine was inspired the lake’s magnificence in 1820 and wrote “Le Lac, addressing questions such as the futility of the past, human memory and love; only the beauty of the countryside can conserve these “souvenirs” better than any poet. I couldn’t agree more. This bike ride around the lake retains some of the greatest memories of my life. Often I’d bike it with a friend who has since moved back to Massachusetts, but the ride itself is always a trip down memory lane – I’m never riding it alone even when I’m by myself. And so I hope you enjoy this film of the ride and my Leather Zoo soundtrack.

More Magic Powder from Vail

If I’m reading this analytics thing correctly, there were over 500 views of this blog yesterday. In just one day, 500 views. I can’t thank you enough: I was certain to have lost readership in the four weeks I was out and about. But apparently viewership has increased – and that’s a very nice thing.

In celebration of Vail’s final days of the season, here is yet another short video of just my friends and I skiing around in Vail. I ask myself what all these folks do in the off-season (those who aren’t year-rounders like Tom) and my answer came from this article in the Vail Daily. Apparently most people are looking to get to Europe (or back home from Europe), creating a travel agent’s nightmare at a time when the skies are full of ash. I find it ironic how mountains can be both the cause of such happiness and unhappiness depending on which side of the slope you’re on. At least Vail isn’t on a fault-line and the only ash they have to worry about is the clean-up after the holiday bonfires.

The shots in this video could be a bit more exciting I admit, but I wanted to try different editing techniques and see what I could come up with in my “studio” (which quadruples as a kitchen, garage and dining room). A few friends have expressed interest in seeing more of me in the film, so this one features me talking and skiing in the end. I think the most interesting shot is my stack at the end of the clip. And yes: I know my Telemark form needs improving. This was only the third time I had Telied in about three years (excuses).  A special thanks to everyone out in Vail who made my stay a great experience and to the boys who lead me around the mountain for a week. Another special thanks to Soundgarden for the soundtrack. They didn’t give me permission to use it, but it’s the song that always runs through my head when coming down a mountain and I think it adds a lot of energy to the clip. Hope you enjoy the film.

New “Kuotes” from Kuota

For some of you, bicycles may be no more than a child’s pastime. Others may find them annoying velocipedes hogging the side of the road (which was made for cars, right?). Most cities in North America have been developed around the automobile: the long highways, the absence of bike paths in most urban centers and the animosity towards cyclists in general, are just a few clues. In Europe, however, the bicycle has been a means of transportation for some commoners well before the horse and carriage. It has played a significant role in both World Wars, in unifying countries, and in expanding economies. It is still used today by European postal workers, bakers, carpenters, priests, fisherman and thousands of adolescents. A bicycle’s attributes are endless.

The fellows at Kuota also have endless attributes. They are bicycle manufactures, pioneers in Italian design, and supporters of local charities all at the same time.

Kuota has humble beginnings as a bicycle fork company, specializing in steel and aluminum forks. They equipped most bicycle frames in the ’80s and ’90s with high-quality metal forks. As carbon fiber became a more popular material, they were the first company to specialize in carbon bicycle forks and again supplied them to all of the major bicycle brands. As Kuota began to watch bicycle frames switch from metal to carbon fiber in the ’90s, they began producing full carbon fiber frames. In 2001, Kuota bicycles (from the Italian “quota” – meaning “attaining new heights”) was born. Today, they supply the bikes for the professional racing team AG2R and in 2008 and 2009 they sponsored Agritubel. They’ve raced under Christophe Moreau and Cyril Dessel in the great bicycle races, rolled to victory with Norman Stadler’s Ironman conquests, and they are getting increased recognition and praise from the biking community in a number of product reviews such as this one from Bike Radar. It is for Kuota’s excellent craftsmanship, design and accomplishments that Pomegranate Journeys has decided to equip each of its European departures with Kuota’s Carbon-framed bicycles.

Much of Kuota’s recognition comes from the innovative design of these bicycles. They were the first to design the aerodynamic oversized carbon fiber tubing. As a result, most vibrations and wobbling is eliminated at high speeds. As Bike Radar points out in the above review of the KOM, the fork is constructed out of oversized tubes, and thus the front is exceptionally sturdy and solid in the turns. The boys in the Kuota engineering studio create each year’s model with an Italian designer’s eye. Rather than read the geometry sketches, they prefer to have the first prototype on hand to “see” what the final product looks like. Although they are interested in functionality, it is the beauty of the final product that they are most focused on. If they are not pleased with the final design, they start all over. Needless to say, Kuota bikes are chic, Italian design married to stylish efficiency.

But Kuota doesn’t stop at simply making a better bike, they also aim to make a better cyclist. They sponsor the Fabio Casartelli Medio Fondo (an amateur bike race) in honor of the late cyclist (and Lance’s domestique under Motorolla). Casartelli crashed in the 1995 Tour de France on the descent from the Col d’Aspet. It was because of that accident that the UCI began to make helmets obligatory in the pro races. All proceeds from this Medio Fondo go to fund bicycle safety programs in local schools through the Fabio Casartelli Foundation: how to ride in a line, how to keep to the side of the road, and especially how to properly wear a helmet. Kuota makes an impressive product, but they are also actively involved in bettering cycling for their local communities. By teaching the young proper cycling techniques, these young riders will have more concern for other vehicles on the road and incorporate safety into every ride. Then these kids will eventually grow into adults. Adults who will eventually get behind the wheel of a car and have a lot more respect for the kids – or anyone – cycling along the side of the road.

A Bicerin in Torino: Not your Everyday Latte

To most people, Italy has enough coffee. In fact there’s the caffè lungo and corto, the caffè corretto and stretto, caffè machiato, americano, caffè latte and caffè d’orzo and – of course – the quintessential cappuccino, just to name a few. To the many folks who come from the land of “shots,” “grandes” and “Frappuccinos,” I can understand how this can all be very mystifying. Yet the next time you are in an Italian coffee house (or simply, caffè), remember that you may just be touching the bean when it comes to Italian coffee.

Just as most regions in Italy have their own cuisine, many also have their own local version of coffee. In Torino, for example, the Bicerin (pronounced /bee-sure-ean/) is a beverage you can only find in the coffee houses of Fiat’s native city. It’s a combination of coffee, foamed whole milk and chocolate – another local specialty. More interesting still is the history behind the drink, and the historical figures who used to drink it (and those important figures who still do today). Apparently the beverage came about in the early 1800s – although some reports date it to the 1700s – from another coffee house in Torino the Café della Bicerin: a few blocks away from where I made the film below. If you consider the drink was already popular by the time Torino became the first capital of Italy in 1861, chances are personalities like Cavour were drinking bicerin in 19th century Torino.

Often times it’s not just the coffee you drink that’s important, but where you drink it. In the case of Baratti and Milano, they have been making chocolates and coffee for well over 150 years. The architecture is reminiscent of the Italian Risorgimento, and the coffee house’s interior is stunningly beautiful. It’s no wonder the upper-class Italian bourgeois would meet here in the 1800s and discuss Italy’s political future. It’s true that at times a coffee is just a coffee. Yet at times it’s also a step back in time to taste the savors of another century. When drinking a bicerin at a historic Italian bar, it suddenly becomes an experience beyond just coffee: it’s cultural engagement.

Garmin Garmin Garmin Chameleon

Technology keeps changing and Garmin is no different. It’s extraordinary how advanced personal GPS units have become over the past five years. In 2006 I picked up one of Garmin’s Edge 305 units to use here in Europe. At the time I was really impressed with its functionality. It didn’t have all the memory necessary to have a true map of where I was biking, yet it was able to trace all of my routes, pinpoint markers as well as calculate altitude, speed and all the other fundamentals by calibrating geographic location. The screen was pretty “primitive,” but in all respect it was a great starting point for many of today’s Garmin models, notably the Edge 705. This unit is a must for any long-distance bicycle adventurer. The 705′s joystick makes it a handy tool to toggle through the screens (which are color) and the classic buttons make it easy to activate the programs. The simultaneous displays are also customizable and the screen itself is huge compared to the 305. The added benefit is that it records your routes as its younger brother does, and it will tell you how to get to where you’re going if you download the regional maps to the unit. It will then memorize your routes and favorite locations just as your car Garmin will. It’s an exceptional piece of equipment for anyone interested in testing out their adventurous spirit who doesn’t have a map (although a map is a handy thing to have). If you’d like more on the reviews of the 705 check out the lads at They’ve done an excellent job explaining the 705′s assets and what Garmin needs to do to improve the next model (I would also add a feature to upload all of your data to the web by remote connection – maybe we won’t be waiting too long since Garmin has recently come out with the Nuvifone. Only time will tell).

After working as a bicycle tour guide for a decade and a half, I’m surprised so many of these niche tour operators are still using paper directions. Sure, from a cyclist’s point of view there’s a bit more security in having a hard-copy of directions in your hand, but I wonder how green the process is. I can imagine the amount of paper and toner wasted on each cyclist for each departure. There aren’t many companies in the industry making the switch from paper to portable technology. However Pomegranate Journeys is implementing the Garmin units on every bicycle for every tour. That’s a bold move considering most people are accustomed to thumbing through maps and folding over directions while pedaling along the itinerary. It’s only a matter of time before people start operating the units and follow the itinerary displayed on them instead of reading and riding (we’ve all just about replaced our land lines with mobile phones and our computers with smart phones right?). Granted, a map is still a nice thing to have, but when you’re on an organized tour with ten other cyclists, two guides and a van, you can do without the map and focus on the road. This initiative also gives Garmin a great opportunity to test multiple units simultaneously, affording them another huge technological change in next year’s model. What color will it be?

La Thuile: The Best Skiing in both France and Italy

Contrary to popular belief, ski instructing is not an easy job. Its fun but not necessarily easy. First of all, you’re in charge of ten skiers whose aptitudes are unknown to you. There’s one general rule concerning their abilities: if they say they are advanced they’re usually intermediates; if they say they’re intermediate they’re usually beginners; and if they say they are beginners they usually have never put on a pair of skis in their life.  Over the next four hours you spend about an hour-and-a-half standing around: someone has lost a glove, someone needs the toilet, someone has the giggles and can’t go on, etc. At the end of the afternoon you have about one hour to ski on your own – which isn’t a lot if the lift lines are miles long. You grab the last cable car to town just in time to get in a happy-hour beer – and that slides you into a coma. You trudge off to the hotel for a quick shower, dinner and a nice book before passing out like a toddler on a road trip. If you’re younger than 27 of course you’ll go out, get wrecked, and pay the price the next day. But hey, that’s your business. I like to sleep at night since I know I have to do the same thing all over the next day.

The busy week is the reason why we ski on Sunday. Sunday is the official day off and no matter how shattered legs and minds can be from the prior week, we rally to wake up early, get the boots on and spend a day skiing – preferably at another resort. So Kenny, Steve and I went to La Thuile: 30 minutes from Courmayeur by bus where the skiing was top-notch. Situated along the French-Italian border in the Aosta Valley, it is a huge resort connected to La Rosière on the French side (just above Bourg St. Maurice on the South-facing side of the mountain). What does this mean? It means 150km of piste as well as some of the most spectacular off-piste in the Aosta Valley (in my humble opinion). You can get a ski pass for both sides (read: the whole mountain) but keep an eye on the weather: at 2650m the top of the Piccolo San Bernard has been known to host zero visibility conditions,  strong winds and winter storms. In the summertime you can cross the Petit St. Bernard with hundreds of cyclists looking to imitate the Tour de France racers (the “Grande Boucle” came though last year touching the Grand St. Bernard on the other side of the valley and then the Petit St. Bernard all in one day). Regardless of the season the Piccolo San Bernardo is a great place to hang out for outdoor fun.

Getting to La Thuile is easy: there are numerous buses from Courmayeur and Aosta that go directly up to the ski station or drop you off in Pré St. Didier from where you can take a second bus up the mountain. I would link in the schedules here but SAVDA (public bus system) hasn’t updated them online. The buses run about 30-45 minutes apart. Just don’t travel on Sundays or around lunch time – you may get stuck for a few hours.

When in Pré St. Didier stop by the Tennis Bar (owned by Stefano Amatori). You’ll find it chock full of skiers enjoying an après-ski afternoon/evening/late night and Stefano plays some of the greatest music including Warren Zevon, Boston, and Blue Oyster Cult (well I think it’s great). The Tennis Bar is a good time if you’re on your way out of – or into – La Thuile. We were able to stop there on the last night of our stay in Courmayeur. The video below documents our “fun-day” of skiing without students in La Thuile. It’s nothing more than a neat little film and a good memory I shared with some excellent friends. I hope you enjoy it.

An Alpine Guide for Your Pocket: Cycling in the French Alps

Its nice to have friends that do cool things. But its also nice to have cool friends. Paul Henderson is one of those and his book, Cycling in the French Alps (Cicerone), is as much a testament to his extraordinary life style as it is an incredible compilation of magnificent biking routes. The routes are as varied as the roads themselves, taking you through the Savoie, Haute-Savoie, Drôme and Ventoux regions of France. Just reading the itineraries makes me breathe hard. Paul is from Durham, England (so its [pawl] not [pol]) yet has been living in Savoie, France for a long time. Over this period Paul has skied, climbed and biked just about every nook and cranny in Southeast France, most of Provence, and a good part of Italy, Corsica, Australia and other continents. His personal list of accomplishments is endless but thankfully just the French Alpine cycling routes are compiled in one book: a must for anyone who is looking to spend a week, a month or a summer biking in the Alps.

I appreciate how Paul is able to touch upon the “dreams” as well as “misconceptions” of cycling in the Alps. These are important factors that most of my guests seem to forget at times:

For most cyclists the French Alps conjure up images of the great champions of the Tour de France…Of course, mountains do not have to be snow-capped giants to provide worthwhile cycling. Many lower-areas are criss-crossed by quiet roads that meander through varied landscapes of open pastures, dark forests, deep gorges and unspoilt villages. The scenery is just as beautiful as in the high mountains…When cycling in the mountains, the amount of vertical height gain is a much better indication of the difficulty of a route than the distance covered. The circuits were planned with this in mind…

Personally having ridden most of Paul’s routes, I can attest that the views from these “minor” mountains are just as beautiful as the better-known giants. What’s even better is you’ll never find the crowds around the Col de Granier that you would find around Galibier, which makes the riding even sweeter. The book is brimming with all kinds of useful information I’d only expect from Paul Henderson: from hints on taking bikes on the trains to lodging suggestions to useful websites and spectacular photography to help you visualize the itinerary (which could sometimes bring you to some rather remote locations). The itineraries themselves are highly detailed with route directions, elevation maps, hints on getting to/coming from, when to go and climate stats, paper map suggestions, as well as where to find water, campsites, hotels, banks, bikeshops, and cafés. He’s even included useful French phrases (since the author is also a full-time translator I wouldn’t expect anything less). Having done a number of Randonnée Ski Tours with Paul, I can attest to his level of detail and dedication in the mountains. The same applies to this guide: a fundamental tool for biking legendary circuits in the French Alps.

In Defense of Lindsey Vonn: Get the Medals, Ignore the Hype.

Lindsey VonnI’ve spent most of the day thinking about Lindsey Vonn. As I took the train to Annecy under the snow and rain, I thought about skiing (of course) and I also thought about this article that I saw in one of the Yahoo,217525! blogs earlier today. I went to the article in question at and read a lot of their concerns. I feel the Sports Illustrated cover is being a bit dramatized and is nothing more than a combination of elements brought together for – basically – one common goal: to sell a magazine.

For those of you who haven’t seen the cover yet, here it is:

I wonder how many of you will see the cover and read the controversy without looking at Lindsey Vonn’s stats? They’re outstanding for a young skier – for any skier. Let’s begin by saying that since the beginning of 2010, she has finished in the top three of the FIS various World Cup disciplines eight times so far. She has also been focusing on winning five gold medals at the Olympics – a feat never before accomplished. In fact, according to this New York Times article no skier has ever won more than two gold medals in a career, let alone an Olympics. Not to mention that recently she locked up the Super G title

The talk of the web may focus on her “provocative position” on the cover of the recent SI magazine. I don’t think I’ve ever skied in any other position going down hill. In fact, I’d add that if she’s ripping 100mph or more down hill her position is incorrect: she needs a helmet. The suit is just par for the course: ever try skiing downhill in a rain jacket?

Unfortunately, Lindsey is the victim of a lot of hype. Yet at the same time she’s breaking old standards. On the original blog post on One Sport Voice, the author states that only four percent of SI covers have portrayed women over the past 60 years. I totally agree that is a low percentage, but let’s look at women’s sport in America over the past 60 years. Or better yet, let’s look at the American women’s National Soccer team compared to other nations. America has never been considered a strong soccer nation (the men’s team is only recently getting better on a world scale). Yet the women’s National team is ranked No. 1. Why? Because no other nation in the world supports women’s soccer as much as the US does. I’d be willing to bet that 60 years ago women in skiing, or soccer or basketball or any other sport that wasn’t gymnastics or ice-skating or pigeon-holed as “a woman’s sport” were nonexistent. There were less women in popular athletics, and as a result, there were fewer women on the cover of SI. But athletes like Lindsey are going to change all that.

Lastly, Sports Illustrated is a magazine that makes its money off of print sales (possibly one of the few that will remain offline). Their customer base is primarily men. However an interesting report by Harper’s Index shows that SI readership increases during the swimsuit edition within men by a factor of two; whereas in women the increase is by three. That shows us (as the Greeks knew as well in their classical theater – a certain Helen comes to mind) that attractive people bring audiences to the stadium. That is what all of the designers, photographers, hair stylists, make-up technicians and Sports Illustrated managers are paid to do, regardless of Lindsey’s talents.

It’s just a magazine. Lindsey is the real star. She’s not showing her backside – she’s breaking ground. And I’ll be there cheering her all the way down the slope to her quintuple gold medal dream.

Wrapped and Ready to Roll

Winter exercise is never easy: you either freeze your tuckus off outside or you breathe in all the moist nastiness that is other people’s perspiration in the gym. Let’s face it: in the winter, everyone flocks to the gym where there is a higher concentration of human beings, a higher concentration of CO2, and a higher concentration of sweat and humidity in the air that no gym ventilation system can really aerate. It can’t be good for you to have a fan blowing on you as you run on the treadmill (that’s how my grandmother said we all get sick). I prefer dressing up warmly and going outside. Even if its cold, I’ll take the outside.

P1010995-300x225Here in Chambéry temperatures can get pretty low at times. There is a lot of humidity in the valleys and it makes the evenings bitter, bitter cold. At times I had to triple-check to make sure the heaters in my apartment were on. What’s fantastic about biking in the cold (or doing anything in the cold) is you get the same rush as skiing: cold temperatures outside while your body cooks nice and warm. The Romans and Nordic tribes knew about the benefits of hydrotherapy, as did the Greeks and Egyptians. The expansion and contraction of blood vessels pushes blood through the body giving you the rush needed to return to your cube and finish the day’s projects, or prepare for the afternoon’s three-hour meeting. Chances are if you try it once you’ll get the taste of it and you’ll keep doing it.

This is what my buddy Marc taught me to do: invest in the gear and get out there. Great summer riding begins with great winter riding and in this video you’ll see a few suggestions of how to go about facing the bitter cold. The panorama and adrenaline rush are worth it. This is a simple ride we often take around Chambéry that isn’t very difficult but gives us a nice two hour spin – especially in the winter time when the cols are snowed in. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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A Tale of Two Tires

Hmm, where to begin. Well, let’s begin with Napoleon III who launched a campaign to Vietnam for Imperialistic means. Since the North was a stronghold, the ships attacked the Southern weaker states and eventually gained ground around what is present day Saigon. From there, between 1859 to 1867 the French expanded their domain in Vietnam, just at the same time they needed more rubber trees for developments back in the mainland. To read more about French Indochina, Wikipedia has a pretty nice wrap up of events here

P1010993-225x300Almost a hundred years prior, back in France, Charles Marie de La Condamine presented a research paper to the Académie Royale des Sciences introducing rubber in 1736. By 1829 rubber in manufacturing is begun by Edouard Daubree and by way of various ins and outs of the development of the company, in 1889 Edouard and Andre Michelin take control, creating what we know today as the fine tire company that has been in business for over 120 years. For more on the development of the tire company read this excellent article by Liz Smith

It’s a fascinating part of history and one that plays a huge role in our daily lives – especially if you like to bike. I’m not here to talk about the history of rubber in France (although, it is pretty interesting for those who didn’t know); I’m here to talk about tires. Two tires. Two French tire companies and why one is better than the other. I average about 7,ooo kms on my bicycle per year (I work outside) and my tools are steel and rubber. Last year Hutchinson created a “Tour de France” edition of their Fusion road tire (which they do every year for marketing purposes?). It lasted a very short while before getting a tear in it. In fact, it wasn’t just a little tear but down to the threads just two weeks after I had put the tire on the wheel (approximately 1500 kms). I’d have a hard time believing a Tour de France finisher – riding approximately 3,500kms over 21 days – would put so much faith into this rubber on the road (unless they have a different type of tire).

However, the Michelin Pro Race have an extraordinary lifespan. I’ve been able to go through a season with replacing the rear tire just once mid-season. The front tire will last well into the end of the season. I have hit rocks and have come screaming down high altitudes without a problem. I don’t really understand the chemistry behind these intense polymers, but I’d believe that 120 years of experience speaks through their product. They’re usually a bit more expensive than regular tires but I think the price is worth it since your life depends on them. So which tire did I put on my bike? The Hutchinson of course: I don’t want to get the Michelin Pro Race dirty just yet. Thanks Chuck.

Competences et Talents Part II

A few weeks ago I posted an entry on the Compétences et Talents visa issued by the French Government . The interesting part is that after you’ve taken care in preparing an outstanding project and presenting it to the French Consulate in the states, you need to do the same thing over here in France. But the trick is, you have to reprint everything all over again. My friend Erin had mentioned it was necessary to have the original project on hand in order to complete the process over here. So when I was in the states I had asked the Consulate if I could have my original project description back (Erin was given hers back). However, the French Consulate said “absolument pas.” According to them, the whole point of going through the rigorous visa process is to facilitate the applicant’s integration in French society once they’ve arrived on French soil. So all I needed was the letter from the Consulate General, my passport, passport pictures and proof of residence. And then within a few weeks I’d get my carte de séjour.

They were a little wrong.

I don’t blame the French fonctionnaires for knowing so little about what is necessary to get the visa; this process is all new for them too (in fact, I’m the second person in Boston to be accepted and the first person in Savoie to ever apply for this visa. So both entities seemed a little perplexed on how everything actually worked). In the end, it depends on which Département you eventually live in, but wherever you end up, you need to go to the local Préfecture with the following documents:

  • The letter from the consulate general that issued the visa in your passport.
  • 4 official pictures.
  • Original birth certificate and photocopies.
  • The official Titre de Séjour application.
  • The medical examination application
  • A copy of the original application project, all pages, materials and photocopies of them.
  • Proof of residence.

Of course this list may change depending on the Département, but as a general list this is what is needed. What’s surprising is that although the visa was meant to make things faster and easier, it takes just as long as anything else. When I dropped off all the documents on the 10th of January, the woman behind the glass said it would take a good month/month-and-a-half to get any kind of carte de séjour out to me. Wow. Good thing I got it in the system when I did.

Come to Courmayeur

MonteBianco2-300x225This is Courmayeur the Italian equivalent to Chamonix, but a little more real. It is the last village in Italy before the Mont Blanc tunnel and driving underneath the legendary mountain of the same name. The mountain itself (4810m) is the largest in Western Europe and when approaching it from either side, it’s immensity is breath-taking. I have come through the tunnel over 100 times in the past four years and I slow down to appreciate its beauty during sunny and cloudy skies. As a result of its remoteness, the countryside is stunning yet internet connections are few and far between (apologies for this late post). I have been ski instructing for the past few days in Courmayeur and have been able to get to an Internet café once every two nights or so (sometimes the grolla gets in the way). Since the resort is one of the most popular ski destinations with Italians, it also has its share of high prices. But if you know where to go – and where not to go – you can avoid the trouble spots and enjoy an exceptional ski vacation under the shadow of this majestic mountain. For example, the Bar delle Guide in the village is worth avoiding (yet I’d suggest using it for the Internet). The drinks are expensive yet the couches and exposed wood make it a nice area to sit back and answer emails or start tweeting. After eleven o’clock the music gets louder and the tourists start laughing loudly in their native tongue. On the other side of the town (via Roma) you’ll find Bar Roma and they have an interesting twist on the après-ski activity: they serve delicious hors d’oeuvres and you can relax on comfortable sofas near a fire in the entrance way. Its not a loud ski bar, but a calm place to enjoy a glass of local Petit Rouge, Torrete or even Morellino di Scanscano (my favorite) for a few euros with all the appetizers you can eat (from oven roasted potatoes to cold pasta salad to vegetable frittata). When on the hill, make sure to grab the pizza from Il Cantuccio at the top of the Checrouit gondola – large slices covered with cheese certain to appease any mountain appetite. But be careful during the weekends: that’s when the Italians hit the slopes and the lines to the register are infinite. Towards the end of the day, grab a vin chaud – hot spiced wine – from the Bar du Soleil in Plan Checrouit. They make the best on the mountain. There is no pretense along the Courmayeur slopes. In fact, you’ll find that the ski area is often less expensive than the town itself (that’s mainly because most people come here to be seen but don’t actually ski). So go hit the slopes, and leave the beautiful people in the town for your evening people watching events.

Salomon XWing Fury All-Mountain Skis

I’ve read a few reviews on last year’s Salomon Fury All-Mountain skis and I think there should be some correction. Although I agree with the reviews that the ski lacks versatility and is tough in rounding out the turns, I still feel that the ski is very well suited for general all-mountain skiing. I had used the Fury and the Tornado over the course of a full season last year while I was out in Livigno, Italy and there is an obvious difference in side cut between the two which translates into a tighter turning radius for the Tornado. In fact, the Tornado on piste was heavenly: nice short turns and a breeze to maneuver on any level piste and in the bumps as well.  With the Fury’s 16.6 radius, I was considering getting a longer ski (for powder and off piste), but what I did was go with a slightly smaller ski to keep the handling on piste within range. Since I was doing a lot of work both on and off, I honestly needed a ski that could do, well, everything. It was one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made. Not only did the ski float in powder and cut through crud, but the edges on the Fury are razor-sharp and over some nasty ice patches the ski danced like Jeremy Abbott. True, you have to convince the ski to initiate and round-out the turns, but I think its great for the legs: there’s no harm in putting a little work into your skiing right? Besides, it’ll get you ready for cycling season….

The Full woodcore makes for great absorption and there is literally no flap. I’d give it a higher recommendation than some of the other reviews out there. Especially when you’re looking to ski directly off-piste from the run (at the same speed) it is the ski to have. I’m curious to see what Salomon has come up with this year in its Fury line. Seems the radius is a little shorter to allow for cleaner short turns with little skidding. But I have yet to get a pair of the new skis: I’ll keep mine until I’ve worn the edges down to the core.

First Ascent Point Success Jacket & Mountain Guide Jacket

First Ascent is the most recent branch of the Eddie Bauer line of apparel. In fact, I have never been an Eddie Bauer shopper, but when I was in Canada a few months ago, a good friend of mine suggested checking out the store primarily because of the First Ascent mountain-line outdoor apparel. “Eddie Bauer makes mountain gear?” I asked. I knew they made down jackets and sweaters to wear as you sit by the fire, but I didn’t think they made material suitable for high-altitude activities.

I was wrong. Very wrong.

It seems that this entire line of jackets, fleece, socks, – you name it – is tested by mountain guides involved in mountaineering, ice-climbing, hiking at high, high altitude. In fact, Eddie Bauer was the premier high-altitude outfitter in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, and they were there in the 1953 expedition to K2. Since their lives depend on the stuff working, I though it’d have to be legitimate. I’ve so far tested the First Ascent Point Success Jacket and the Mountain Guide Jacket and I am pleasantly surprised (read “amazed”) by the results. And by the way: I do not work for First Ascent or Eddie Bauer, but I do work where its cold and nasty.

Mountain Guide Jacket

AscentJacketnFleece2-300x270Pros: The jacket is a pretty amazing feat of engineering and design: not only is it lined on the inside by a type of thin fleece, but also the outside is completely water and windproof. By mixing just the right quantities of spandex, nylon and polyester. The jacket is unbelievably light and doesn’t get in the way of moving arms or equipment. It is unlike any jacket I’ve seen on the market – and that’s a blessing. The whole system is breathable: there is enough lining on the inside to keep you warm (depending on what temperatures you’re working in) without creating a greenhouse in your jacket. The pockets are smartly lined with a mesh-nylon fabric also helping to wick-away moisture. The pockets themselves are few and deep – and that’s a good thing: two large external pockets (for goggles, hats, gloves – I was able to get all of that into one pocket) and two breast pockets: one internal (for wallet and documents) and one external (iPod friendly!).

Cons: The integrated hood is a nice touch. But its not easy to tighten down the sides when the wind blows in your face, blowing back the hood. So, the trick is to tighten it down before you see trouble coming. In any case it’s a small price to pay for an extraordinary shell.

Success Jacket:

Pros: The most intriguing aspect of this “fleece” is that – well, it not a “fleece.” Its not bulky and bunchy and it doesn’t prohibit your movements. Again First Ascent has perfectly married nylon and spandex to give the jacket a fitted-feel in the back and at the hips. I believe this is their secret to keeping the body warmer (much warmer than in my other fleece jackets) and the Polartec material keeps all wind from getting in. As with the Mountain Guide Jacket, the Success Jacket wicks away the moisture from your body so you aren’t soaking wet at the end of the day. In fact, while my friends were trying to “air-out” by taking their jackets off, I hardly even realized I had mine on: I was not over-heated or uncomfortable. I cannot emphasize enough how having fitted equipment makes the experience in the mountains all the more enjoyable. I feel most manufacturers cater to the “large and loose” body type which is not practical for winter activities.

Cons: The only thing I’d like to see is maybe an integrated zipper between the Mountain Guide Jacket and the Success Jacket. This way they could be worn as a full unit without having to take one off and then the other (or to facilitate putting them both on at the same time). Apart from this, I’d say First Ascent has made just what their jacket is: a success.

I’m very happy Eddie Bauer has decided to reinvent expedition clothing, and at the same time retain the image of themselves that was theirs in the middle of the last century. I’ll be off doing some Randonée skiing in the next few months, and I’ll be testing the Rainier Storm Shell Pants. If they’re anything like the jackets, they’re bound to be a success as well.

Skiing in Les Karellis

celinepatrick-300x225There are certain things about France that don’t cease to amaze me. One is the incredible skiing in the winter. I’ve skied in a number of the more popular resorts in the French Alps (Courchevel, Val Thorens, Méribel, etc.) and of course the conditions were great and I had a great time. But what’s more interesting – and fun – are the resorts that people don’t know about. Les Karellis is one of those. Nestled away in the Valley of the Maurienne (about an hour’s drive from Chambéry to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne) you’ll find the slopes pretty empty and nicely groomed. We went last Saturday and the tourists either leave or arrive on the weekend and thus don’t get out on the slopes much on the weekend – but this was amazing. Except for a few locals (and I mean locals from Savoie, not locals from Paris) it felt like we had the mountain all to ourselves. There was great snow in the morning and the off-piste was spectacular. We sat around a few picnic tables at noon to eat lunch with Combe de Savoie cheese, ham, tea, and peanut butter and jam sandwiches (supplied by me – my French companions did not appreciate the American delicacy). Not only was the weather perfect, but so was the company: Lucile is an old friend of mine who organized the trip – this was the first time we got to ski together. She’s from the other side of the valley from Les Karellis and knew all of the surrounding valleys and peaks. She also pointed out the local fauna that were grazing just above her house. Natasha is a student in Geology and works with the local mountain guides; Céline hails from the North, but prefers the mountains and changing atmosphere of Savoie; and Patrick is half-Venezuelan, half-French and is a mad driver (especially when he stuffed four people and all their kit into his Peugeot to take us safely back to Chambéry). Towards the end of the day, we sat around Lucile’s house and ate crêpes, drank hot chocolate and tea and chatted about the enviromental issues concerning the Maurienne valley. A great day and a great way to listen to the concerns of the local Savoie youth, who are just as concerned for the mountains and the environment as are many of us who enjoy the outdoors.Thanks to Lucile and the rest of the gang for your hospitality.

If you want to check out the film of Les Karellis, its here Otherwise you can go to the Vids page and see it there.

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Another one of France’s hidden secrets: La Féclaz

AHSkierBetween the cities of Chambéry and Annecy in the French Alps, lies a mountain range called the Massif des Bauges. It is part of the French pre-Alps and contains a number of summits above 2,000m – meaning that in the winter time there is plenty of snow. If you’re into a ski ‘resort’ with short lift-lines and pretty amazing views over the Lac du Bourget, then you ought to take a detour towards Le Revard, La Féclaz and St. François de Sales (together known as the Grand Revard). It’s also oddly known as “Little Canada” primarily because it resembles the vast winter tundra of the Canadian west: miles of rolling sunlight clearings spotted by thick evergreen forests, exhibiting only the peace and tranquility a winter tundra can provide.

Although situated in the mountains, the whole ski range is on a high-plateau, thus allowing for miles and miles of endless Nordic skiing. In fact, the resort reputes itself as being the number one French destination for Cross-Country skiing with Alpine sking and snowpark activities as secondary attractions. But if the skiing isn’t enough for you, there are snowshoeing itineraries, dog-sled rides, tobogganing, ski-touring, snowscooting and an old form of Savoyard sledding called yonner. To top it all off the ski passes couldn’t be at a better price: a five-day pass costs 70 euro and gives you full access to all the services I mentioned above.

It is without a doubt one of the most impressive ski areas in Southwest France, and not overrun with hundreds of skiers. You can stay in any one of the Chambre d’hôtes found in the mountains or in any one of he hotels in the valley. For a bit more you can get the 5-day pass and bus transport. In fact, many shuttle busses leave daily from Aix-les-Bains and Chambéry making this little-known-little-Canada a perfectly convenient destination for anyone interested in breaking new ground on the skinny skis.

If you go up early in the day, remember how cold forests can be (regardless of how hot you’ll get later on in the day). Temperatures were well freezing at even 9:30 am as we cut through the thick of the forest. Thankfully, the ticket booth and the main activities area are all located right where the sun’s rays come shining through even at 8:00 am. But dress warm, lots of layers and a good change of clothes for when you’re hanging out at the Creux de Lachat drinking vin brûlé and experiencing that post warm/cold bliss that’s as delicious as the mountains surrounding you.

Compètences et Talents – Living in France

For those who are interested in pursuing a career/life in France, the Pres. Sarkosy has recently instated (2008) a new visa aimed at streamlining foreign entrepreneurs who wish to work in France. Since there is very little on the subject except for a well detailed French Embassy site in Washington DC, I thought it would be helpful to include here all of the necessary paperwork needed in the French US-based consulates. Keep in mind that the criteria is tough, since the French are looking for serious business – they will not accept any application that seems weakly prepared. The list should include the following items:

a) Visa Application for long séjour: 2 copies
b) Multi-page project description: if you write it in French its better. They only ask for 1 page, but you’d be smart to write several detailed pages (mine was 7). Include the following:
–     How project will benefit France and include where in the project there is a strong component of multicultural sharing.
–     Goals of Project: What is it specifically you intend to do? What are the benefits for everyone involved?
–     Business Plan: if you’re an independent contractor, its good to have a translated business plan.
–     Estimated Income: very ball-park, but put in how much you are expecting to earn over the first three years.
c) Birth Certificate (original, photocopies and translation)
d) CV (in French)
e) Diplomas: for this visa you need an M.A. I’m sure they will make some exceptions, but I haven’t heard of any yet. If you don’t have an M.A., they will probably not consider you for the visa.
f) Tax returns for any given tax year as well as any bank and investment info (they want to see you have cash).
g) Customer Testimonials and references: if you’re in sales, give a list of customer references as well as professional references.
h) Articles: if there are any write-ups about you in any newspaper, magazine doing what you do then add it along.
i) Any sample work that can be incorporated is a great help as well (i.e.: if you’re in design add some of your portfolio).
j) Criminal Record Check – this is fundamental
k) 4 official pictures
l) approx: 150$ application fee

A big thanks to Erin who went through the whole grueling process before me, so that I was able to fly my application by without any trouble. My application was for an entrepreneurial endeavor – there are also possibilities for people who are employed with French companies to apply for the same visa, but a few more documents need to be put into the application (such as the cerfa document, etc.).

I put all of these documents in order of importance (project description and business plan first, birth certificate second, etc.) into a three-ring binder which had tabs along the side, so the consulate could easily find whichever document it was looking for. Then of course the outside of the binder was labeled as well with my name, the date, my passport number and the type of visa I was applying for.

Seems like too much? Maybe, but at my consulate I was told that I was the second person to get the visa. Plus, the organization of the paperwork (and maybe giving all the documents necessary) prevented me from having to go back to the Consulate every week to bring them one more piece of paper. I got the visa in 1 month so I must have done something right.

2010 New start?

Many say that 2010 is the year of new beginnings. In fact, many friends I’ve spoken to say that January 2010 has been the pinnacle month for making drastic changes in their life. Frankly, I think it’s all crap. The Gregorian calender was made in part to measure the movement of the celestial bodies, but I think it it a continuous reminder of how finite our lives really are (certainly by 1582 they realized that). In all, 2010 has no more importance than 1974 or 1312. I’m not a pessimist, but a realist: the time we have on this planet is short. You can either work, play, find a happy medium of both, or play while working. The latter is what this blog is all about. I have not changed anything in my life over the past 10 – 15 years (well, small changes sure) and this public display of what’s happening through my eyes is intended for my friends, family and anyone else keen on doing things differently in their lives. From skiing in Zermatt, Switzerland, to sipping Mersault on a wintry afternoon in France; from biking in Girona, Spain, to eating steamers and chowdah in Marblehead, MA, I hope that within these rambles you’ll find something interesting to entertain and advise. If you have any comments, don’t keep them to yourselves. Let me know what you think – all comments will be answered in due time, regardless of how finite time is.

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