Edinburgh, capital of Scotland but also home of Charles Darwin, Shirley Manson (from Garbage the band you know right ?), Arthur Conan Doyle, Sean Connery, is super well-known among backpackers. Before to go to Scotland, I always had some stereotypes about Scotland such as haggis, bagpipe musician, guys wearing kilts, Lochness monster, mysterious castle well you name it ! It’s only when I reached Edinburgh, that I realized it was more than those.
We left London King Cross train station early morning for a journey until Edinburgh.
Note: I recommend anyone who consider travelling by train in UK but also anywhere in the world to have a look at SEAT61. In this website, you will find tons of info, useful tips that will help you in the preparation of your trip.
4h20 min later with the East Coast train. We reached Edinburgh Waverley train station. The station, located in the heart of Edinburgh, is connected to Princes Street (very popular commercial street of Edinburgh). I was caught, immediately, by the imposing Balmoral Hotel (also called North British Hotel). Of course the Balmoral is beyond my budget.
For this city trip, we were staying at Ibis Hotel. Not a bad choice, as the hotel was located centrally and their price and service were good enough.
NOTE: I would recommend to skip the breakfast at your hotel, and instead, take a traditional Scottish breakfast at The Scotsman Hotel. For sure you will not be disappointed !
Edinburgh is, without any doubt, a city you can easily discover by walk.
Moreover, despite the relatively small size of the city, Edinburgh stays a very dynamic city, it’s certainly due to their well-known university, their flamboyant music scene, their lovely people but also the various museums/exhibitions available all year round.
I particularly enjoyed walking in the following area:
- High Street with St Gilles Cathedral, Parliament House
- Edinburgh Castle located on castle rock
- Calton Hills with the Old Calton Burial Ground (located on one of the seven hills of Edinburgh: Calton Hills). Great place to go to have a panoramic view of Edinburgh.
- Victoria street and the several whisky shops (you can’t live the city without trying it !).
- Arthur Seat (formed by an extinguished volcano ..)
- Georges street, popular street with lot of shops, restaurants (why not stop at The Dome for an afternoon tea).
- Princes street where I passed along The Scott Monument In remembrance of the famous writer Sir Walter Scott. Don’t miss also the Princes Garden as well.
Finally, I want to conclude this post by encouraging anyone of you if you have an opportunity to visit Edinburgh, you will not regret it !
Delhi, huge megalopolis of 22 millions habitants. Delhi is the second biggest city in India just behind Mumbai.
We knew that we had very little time to discover Delhi as we were in transit for the beautiful Ladakh. We knew there are so much to see that it will be impossible to visit even the tenth of the long list of sightseeing. However, what we didn’t expect was the extreme heat that was hitting Delhi at that period of the year.
We landed in Delhi International Airport around midnight. About forty minutes later, we met our taxi driver. It was midnight, and the temperature was around 30 degrees celsius. Yes it was hot, very hot. No fresh wind around.
We reached the Woodcastle hotel, located in Karol Bagh, about an hour later. First thing was to start the air-con in our bedroom then take a cold shower before going to sleep.
The next day, after a rapid breakfast, we asked with the owner of the hotel, if we could have a driver for the day. So we won’t lose so much time looking for our way. Also, we didn’t want to rush to visit the maximum of things, instead we chose two or three places to visit as we wanted to be relaxed the entire day. Usually, we always mange by ourself and often use public transport but because we had such limited time, we didn’t have the chance to experiment it.
The hotel owner kindly provide us the service of a young driver who know very well Delhi. As soon, we step outside the hotel, we felt the heat hitting us like a knife so sharply. We had the feeling to be the chicken in the oven. No escape possible. We bought a few litres of water in order to avoid any dehydration.
The car has no aircon, so we open our window as much as we could. Riding around Delhi, has been a great experience.
We just felt in a different world, no repair mark. I found Delhi a real paradise for the eyes, but also in terms of flavours.
Finally, if you are a photographer, Delhi should be on your top 10 destination.
During these few hours, we visited the following:
We will come back to Delhi, no doubt, for a longer time and hopefully that time we will try to avoid the extreme heat we had.
A very quick post about outdoor activities with kids
Not so long ago, as you know already, I was in France where I was snowshoeing in the French Alps.
During my stay, I came across some very pathetic situations between parents and kids. Let me explain you what I saw before to go further.
First episode: I saw at numerous occasion, while walking along the ski tracks or along the ski stations in France, some parents shouting at their kids because they were too slow or because they fall down and were crying. I never saw such a level of stress and aggression between parents and children. It seems that bring their kids for skiing was an ordeal for the parents. And guess what, neither parents and kids seem to enjoy their time. Not fun !
Second episode: I was snowshoeing with my friend. At some point, during our hike, we followed a young couple with a young kid (maybe 5 or 6-year-old). The father was pulling a sledge where the kid was sitting and seem to enjoy the ride. At some point, the path became narrow and they had to cross a tiny river which was covered mostly by the recent snow. While the father was pulling the sledge and going uphill, the kid fell and could not catch the sledge. He was in a sort of little hole and below was the river. At that time, we had no clue about how deep was the river. Luckily my friend jumped directly near the river and help the kid to go back on the trail. The mum was trying to cuddle the kid as he was afraid. The dad, on the other hand, didn’t seem to bother at all. No thanks, nothing. He asked the kid to sit again on the sledge and they continue their hike. This is what I called a total irresponsibility.
I’m a big fan of outdoor activities and I like to bring my kid with me as it always more fun. However, I know also that I need to be extra careful and make sure that I’m prepared for any critical situation that could occur. Also, I know that I will communicate more with my son in order to give him the type of outdoor activity we will do, and also give him some guideline that he need to be careful.
Note for the parents:
- Skiing with kids is not only to give a pair of ski and a helmet to your child and tell him to enjoy …
- Check with your children if they are interested about having an outdoor activity such as skiing, hiking, cycling … Communication should go in both way.
- Be responsible when you are performing some outdoor activities with your children, be ready to any situation. You are the one who need to have the situation under control.
- Refrain shouting at your children because they just have hard time trying your favourite outdoor activities
- Take the time and be patient to initiate them to your favourite outdoor activity
Should you do an outdoor activities with your children ?
Without any doubt YES, but you know as a parent that you have to do your homework in order to have a great and fun time with your kids !
Until next time.
Belledonne, anyone ?
Belledonne is a range of mountains, part of the French Alps which is close to Grenoble.
The highest peak is “le Grand Pic De Belledonne” culminating at 2907 mt.
In Belledonne, you will find 4 ski stations. Due to its proximity with Grenoble, it’s a popular destination for the local people but also for the foreigner who love outside activities (ski, snowshoeing..).
I could not finish this series of winter posts without mentioning my day trip to Belledonne.
If you have not followed my last 2 posts, I would recommend you to check the following:
How to reach Belledone:
In this case I was triggering one of the ski station that would be my starting point of my snowshoeing hike. So early morning, I left Grenoble Bus station to Chamrousse Ski Resort. It was a Sunday, and yes it was crowded but not massively crowded. I was expecting more people as winter holidays were just starting in France.
I got a great weather, and I could see such a fantastic scenery of the Belledonne Massif.
Note: if you are like me and don’t have your own transport and therefore you depend on the public transport. I would recommend to book in advance your bus ticket to Chamrousse or any other ski stations. There is a limited number of busses available and if you arrive late, you will miss your chance to catch one of those few busses. Then the only option to reach one of the ski station will be to go with one of the expensive taxi (around 70 euro one way).
Shortly after my arrival in Chamrousse, I immediately found my way to start my snowshoe hike in the Belledone Mountains. Snow was thick and compact. I noticed once again that snowshoeing is a very popular activities in Belledonne. Snowshoeing is a mountain activity for everybody and it does not require a long training before you start enjoying. Snowshoeing tracks are straightforward and well signed, follow them, don’t go outside of those tracks without any advice.
NOTE: Every year, a certain number of serious accidents are happening because some people don’t follow rules, so be responsible when you are in the mountains !
After 2 or 3 hours, I stopped on a little hill where I could picnic but also enjoy the scenery of the Belledonne. The Vercors Plateau was just in front of me.
Sometimes, you don’t need more, a good hike, a great spot to rest and enjoying the time passing while looking at the scenery. I tried to record every moment of that day in my memory !
After some rest on that hills, it was time to go down to Chamrousse. I had a lot of fun going down through the narrow path among the massive pine trees section. It was a great day, no regret about it !
If you need any additional information about Chamrousse, I would advise you to contact directly their Tourism Office
That’s it for my winter experience in the Alps, I do hope you enjoyed the serie of posts and the picture. Feel free to contact me if you need any additional information, you can eventually leave a comment below this post.
Altitude sickness is also called Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), we all heard about it, but do you know how armful can it be ?
Altitude sickness occurs when you have a lack of oxygen while you are at high altitude. Air is thinner, you may have a feeling of having difficulty to breath properly.
Last few months, I have been talking about different trips I made in the mountains (Himalayas, Alps..) but I realised I should write a post to highlight the potential risk of having altitude sickness while you are hiking in the mountains.
What are the symptoms of the AMS:
It can start with mild symptoms such as headache, loss of appetite, dizziness, difficulty sleep and can become more serious and severe symptoms such as strong headache, irritative cough, lack of coordination and balance, vomiting, irrational behaviour and unconsciousness.
Keep in mind that altitude sickness(AMS) can be fatal.
At what altitude, can you get the altitude sickness?
Well, there is a debate about it, some say it can start at 3000m, some say you can already have the first symptoms at 2000m. There is no real evidence stating when you start having the symptoms of the altitude sickness.
How to prevent altitude sickness (AMS):
- Ascend slowly
- Have frequent rest days. Plan to have two or three night at each rise of 1000m.
- Always sleep at lower altitude than the highest heights you reach during the day (if you climb until 4000 during the day, it will be wise to sleep at 3500m for instance ..)
- Drink a lot, the mountain air is very dry and cold and you can be dehydrated very quickly if you are not cautious.
- Eat light, choose meals high in carbo-hydrate
- Avoid alcohol or sedative while trekking mountains
- Listen your body
My experience with altitude sickness and how I deal with it:
I suffered from AMS when I went to Ladakh.Leh being the capital city of Ladakh is at 3500m. As soon I went out of the airplane, I could feel the thin air. A few hours after my arrival, I had a constant but mild headache. I could not sleep well (I had the feeling to drown in the sea and wake up suddenly breathing heavily). I had those symptoms for 3 days. During that time, I didn’t do any hiking at all.
On the first day, I stayed in the guesthouse, just relaxing, drinking a large quantity of green tea (around 5 liters) and ate very lightly (white rice with egg and some fruits).
On the second day, I still had the signs of altitude sickness but it was slightly improving. So I decided to go for a short walk and the rest of the day, I stayed in the guesthouse drinking tea and eat lightly.
On the third day, I still had a slight headache, but I could go out for a walk around the city without any problem. Again I was drinking a lot of tea and eat lightly. On the fourth day, I was totally fine, I could start finally a long hike.
It’s important to understand that your body need time to acclimatize to the altitude. Don’t rush! The best advice I could give you if you don’t want to suffer from altitude sickness, it’s to take a few days to relax (at least 3 days if you go in the Himalayas for instance) before to start any trekking.
Diamox is a medicine used to treat AMS, however, you need to consult your doctor and be informed about possible side effect. Diamox is a strong medicine and should not be taken without advice. Keep in mind that diamox medicine need to be taken before you go to high altitude.
Keep in mind that even if this medicine exists, the best way to prevent AMS is to have a proper acclimatization.
Last advice before your departure:
- Check with the Hotel where you will be staying if they have some oxygen bottles available (just in case)
- Check if the hotel staff are educated to help customers having “altitude sickness”.
- Check also if there is any medical center in the area you will be staying which have pressure chamber and can deal with AMS issues.
Finally, and depending on your health history, it might be useful also to have a check up with your own doctor and inform him about your plan.
Note: If you would like to know more about “altitude sickness” you can have a look at this excellent article here.
While I was snowshoeing in the Vercors, I had the chance to spend a few days in Grenoble.
Grenoble was my HQ during my last winter trip in France.
The least I can say about this old Olympic City (1968), is that Grenoble is a very dynamic city. It should keep you busy easily for a few days. I enjoyed walking in the old cobbled streets of the city centre where you can see a lot of small shops selling all kind of art crafts. I spent a certain amount of time in some bookshops. I didn’t regret Amazon at all . I guess I miss the fact of going to a bookshop and spend time there walk around the several alleys of books.
The city is well-known for the following:
- La Bastille (Old fort dominating the city but also all the surroundings)
- Museum of Grenoble (this museum could easily compete with Le Louvre Museum in Paris)
- Education with some of the most reputable scientific centre such as National Centre for Scientific Research, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility but also European Molecular Biology Laboratory (I could extend the list easily ..).
Let’s come back for a minute to the first point: La Bastille. Once you reach La Bastille, you have a large panorama of Grenoble and its surrounding. To reach this fort, I had two options:
- Cable car (you reach La Bastille in a few minutes)
- Walk (you reach La Bastille in 40 min).
I chose, as you know me, to go by walk. I found this walk very pleasant and not too difficult. I chose to go at the end of the afternoon so I could enjoy the golden hour.
In La Bastille, you can visit a museum of the mountain troop, you have also a restaurant where you can have a very charming dinner while enjoying the view of Grenoble by night.
I could not finish this post without giving you a good address in Grenoble where you can have great food for a cheap price. My top recommendation is : Le Casse Croute a Dede. Be prepared to eat one of the best tartiflette of the region !
What could be the best spot for a tea ? I would say without any doubt : The Majestic Vercors Plateau.
Vercors, here I am. Alarm is ringing, it’s 6 AM, still dark in Grenoble. My first move is to check the sky and the horizon. It does not seems cloudy, I can see the stars, I can see also the imposing Vercors mountains from my friend’s apartment.
After a quick shower and a rapid breakfast, I’m finalizing my bag.
So I make sure I have enough water for the day, a thermos of hot tea, some snacks for the day, a sun lotion with the highest factor, a first aid kit (just in case), a pair of snowshoes, a pair of sticks, 2 pairs of gloves, two warm hats. I almost forgot my shades (you better have a good one because UV in mountains are very strong and can damage your eyes if you are not careful).
A few minutes after, I am outside the apartment, running to catch the bus that will bring me to Tourist Office of Lans en Vercors. Not so many people in the bus going to the Vercors today. It’s already -12C when I reached Lans en Vercors (1102 mt high), blue sky. I’m wondering what is the temperature up there. We need to wait for a bus shuttle that will to take us for a short ride until one of the few ski stations. While waiting for the shuttle, I try to warm up myself by walking here and there.
My target today is to reach the ridge that lead to the peak of La Petite Champerotte (around 1900 mt high). I expected to reach it in 2 hours. Well that was the plan,as I lost my way at the start, I will spend 3 and half hour instead …
The track itself is going mostly uphill until you reach the Vercors Plateau. During the climb, I was going through some pine trees forest where the sun was playing hide and seek. After what seems to me an eternity, I reached the Vercors Plateau. From that point I had a decent view of the Vercors valleys (French Pre-alps).
Then my climb was not yet over. I had to continue snowshoeing until the ridge. I finally made it. And guess what, as soon I reach the ridge of the Vercors Mountains, I totally forgot my tiredness as I was in front of one of the most mind-blowing scenery I encountered.
In front of me I had a large panorama of the French Alps. Mont Blanc, Belledonne, Rousse, Oisans, they were all there in front of me. Between the French Alps and where I was standing (The Vercors Mountain), I could not miss the valley where Grenoble is laying.
Don’t you think it’s the perfect place to enjoy a cup of tea ?
As all the good things have to end, it was time for me to go back down to the Vercors Valley where my bus was waiting for me to bring me back to Grenoble.
How to reach Lans en Vercors from Grenoble by bus
Grenoble Tourism Office (partially in English)
I’m just back from the French Alps !
Yes, I left the cold and windy Dutch Winter weather for another colder place. Well this time, two very good reasons brought me there: firstly I was about to learn snowshoeing for the first time, and secondly an opportunity to visit an old friend who fell in love with the magnificent French Alps.
Last week,I stayed in Grenoble where I had a great time with my friend. Grenoble is perfectly well located. Imagine, on the West side you face the French Alps and on the East side you have The Vercors (Pre-Alps). Yes the city is almost and completely surrounded by two ranges of majestic mountains.
Are you fan of outdoors activities and of course winter sports ? Then, Grenoble is certainly the perfect choice for your next winter holidays. Grenoble is the perfect gateway to the French Alps ski stations but also to The Vercors ski stations.
During my stay in Grenoble, I had the opportunity to experience:
- Snowshoeing in the French Alps (in Belledone)
- Snowshoeing in the Vercors National Park where I had a fantastic view of the French Alps chain and the beautiful Mt Blanc (tallest mountain in West of Europe)
- A stroll within the city of Grenoble
- A climb to La Bastille, which is the highest point of Grenoble and attend a beautiful sunset on the French Alps
All those points will be developed and documented in my next coming posts. If you are interested, feel free to subscribe to receive automatically my next series of posts.
In the meantime, I let you enjoy the view of the French Alps (you may see the Mt Blanc, also called the White Lady, on the left side of the picture culminating at 4810 mt).
Take care and enjoy your day where ever you are
Texel is an island located in the North of Holland and are part of the Five Wadden Islands (Texel, Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland, Schiermonnikoog) facing the North Sea.
Texel is Holland’s largest island. The island is located in the UNESCO world heritage, “The Wadden Sea”.
The other day, my friend Cocomino arrived from Japan in The Netherlands. As he had the intention to spend a couple of weeks in the flat land, I decided to bring him to Texel Island.
We left Amsterdam Central Station in the morning and start our journey by train until Den Helder. From there, we will take the TESO ferry for a short crossing to Texel. The weather was good, blue sky and sunny.
Timetable Boat from/to Texel
As soon we stepped our first foot on the Texel Island, we decided to rent a bike and cycle to Den Burg where we will be having our lunch. Cycling was easy, no major difficulties (it’s flat and not much wind …).
Note: you can also use public transport (bus) or eventually bring your own vehicle.
Den Burg, is a sort of typical Dutch village, very charming. Despite it was a Sunday, the village was very lively specially due to the fact a marathon was taking place that day. As the sky was slowly turning grey, we didn’t last long in the village, we headed straight to the Dunes of Texel National Park.
No more blue sky, wind was getting stronger and stronger, dark clouds were coming from the West. It was the perfect condition for several kite surfers to play with the waves. The beach of Texel is large and long and not overcrowded as it can be in Zandvoort or other popular beaches.
I was amazed about how fast the weather in Texel can change all of sudden. I just had time to capture a few shots and it was time already to go back to the harbour.
Going back by bicycle and against the wind was very challenging but luckily the distance to cover was not too long (10/15 km).
One afternoon in Texel is not enough, I told myself I will surely be coming back from time to time (as it;s not too far from my place).
As Texel is part of the five Wadden island, I thought it could be a good idea to do some islands hopping during Spring or Summer and possibly do some camping.
My last advice if you want to visit Texel Island:
- Make sure you check the weather before going to Texel (bring a rain jacket could be a good idea ..)
- Plan enough time to visit the island (there is enough in Texel to keep you busy one or 2 full days)
Bangkok, I’m back !
During my last trip in Bangkok, I had the chance to to try some restaurants I have never been before. Well the restaurant scene in Bangkok is huge ! Bangkok has hundreds and hundreds of restaurants which can offer a large variety of food and satisfy our stomach and also our wallet.
In case, you plan to open a restaurant in Bangkok, be well prepared as the level is high and competition very fierce.
In fact, to be successful, your food must be at the top in order to be noticed.
Anyway, I’m digressing from my topic. In this post, I wanted to recommend you some good place to eat during your next stay in Bangkok.
In order to be complete, I should also recommend you to check two posts I wrote about a year ago where I was suggesting some cool place to eat. Consider this post as an addendum to my two previous posts (here and here).
Laem Chareon Seafood (curry crab …)
: Located at 3rd Floor Beacon Zone, CentralWorld (near Siam). The restaurant is specialised mainly into seafood. I had a great curry crab and I’m still salivating just by thinking of it. Service is fast and reliable and prices are fair.
Zen Japanese Restaurant
: Located at 3rd Floor Beacon Zone, CentralWorld (near Siam). Despite a lot of unsatisfied customers complaining on Travel Advisor website, I tried my luck and I was not disappointed. We had fresh sushi and sashimi, again the service was fast and reliable, it won’t hurt your wallet.
Taiwanese Din Tan Fung
or the paradise of dumpling: You can called me an ignorant, but I was not aware of this “institution”, Din Tai Fung are in the business since 1974, they opened their first restaurant in Taipei then they export their “savoir faire” in various place such as Singapore, Bangkok, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, US. My friend living in Singapore and who came to meet me in Bangkok and keep praising Din Tai Fung, so I had no choice than give a try (well as my friend was paying the bill I didn’t mind at all) .
Located also at Central World but on the top floor, you simply can’t miss it, it’s often crowded. I would suggest to arrive earlier or eventually book in advance.
My first impression was: WOW. The restaurant looks like a factory where kitchen staff are working with surgical precision on producing hand-made dumpling. Yes they produce dumpling as soon they receive orders and steam it during exactly 3 minutes, so YES dumpling are fresh ! Dumpling are delicious and full of flavors and yes I will go back again at my next trip !
(Chamchuree square). MRT Samyan Station. Another great seafood restaurant (5 branches in Bangkok), but more into Thai/Chinese style. It’s a well-known establishment in Bangkok. They started their business in 1969, their speciality: Fried Curry Crab ! Customers are mostly Bangkokian. Highly recommended.
Overall, I am still impressed about the level of quality of the food provided but also the creativity of the dishes in terms of flavors. Bangkok is certainly becoming a leader in terms of gastronomy in Asia and you should not miss an opportunity to explore their culinary gastronomy during your next stay in the city of angels.