Category Archives: City

Bye Bye Lisbon!

Well, this is the end of our one month long dream stay in Portugal.

A big thank you to all our friends who have been offering us shelter, food and a lot of joy during those weeks that were a great way to land softly from our journey around the World!

We were lucky to be able to visit some of the most beautiful places in and around Lisbon, including amazing Sintra, one of the most mystical places on earth.

I was also lucky to get wind and decent waves almost everyday, allowing me to complete this trip with my favorite sport in one of my favorite spots: windsurfing in Guincho!

So here are a few pictures of beautiful Lisbon, a European capital that is proposing one of the best Lifestyle / Cultural / Natural combo!

I wish we could live here one day…

And here is the complete Portugal Photo Album as usual;-)

Now off to our last destination: home!

 

 

 

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North India Roadtrip – The Video!

Here is the full feature movie of our 3 weeks in North India. A roadtrip across the states of New-Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Himachala at the northernmost point of the country !

Such a great trip in many beautiful cities like Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Dharamsala, and many more. Amazing sceneries, great people, dirty roads, sacred animals everywhere, and sometimes bad weather, but always a real adventure like nowhere else!

Here is the last movie of our Beautiful World Tour before we returning to Europe where other adventures are awaiting for us.

Enjoy !

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North India road-trip – The Photo Album

This is it. Our time in India is almost over, and we are leaving the Himalayas today.

After the retreat, we could enjoy the Dharamsala countryside, visiting waterfall, temples including beautiful Norbulingka, craftsmanship centers and a beautiful Tibetan school, all under the lovely monsoon weather (I think we didn’t see the sun even once;-)

 

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Norbulingka gardens and temple near Dharamsala

This area of India was definitely the most peaceful once, and it was great again to see all those communities living together in peace. It was also quite moving to see this Tibetan community thriving here, perpetuating the Tibetan culture and arts, with the desire to be able to go back one day in Tibet, be it a free country, or an autonomous province within China, the “middle-way” proposed by the Dalai-Lama. With their many monks & nuns and living compassion culture across all ages, the Tibetan people are a living exemple of what world peace & love should be.

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Norbulingka Buddhist temple

We will be back here one day!

Please find the complete North India road-trip photo album here, with the best pictures of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himichala states we visited.

And below a quick snapshot of the last days in Mc Leod Ganj. Now heading back to New-Dehli before taking-off for Europe!

May Tibetans we able to return their home country any time soon!

 

Dharamsala, the Tibetan culture capital (in exile)

ENGLISH: Dharamsala is the north India city where His Holiness the Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetan monks and citizens take refuge, fleeing from the invasion of Tibet by China that started in 1949. The atmosphere of this city is quite unique, with a blend of indian and tibetan culture that make the place unusually peaceful compared to the rest of India. That’s why many indians and westerners have been coming here for decades to discover the tibetan wisdom, often through its well conserved Buddhist traditions.

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Traditional tibetan dances in Tsuglagkhang temple

On July 6th, Tibetans, friends and devotees of His Holiness the Dalai Lama gathered in large numbers at the Tsuglagkhang temple, the main Tibetan temple in Dharamsala, to participate in the official 81st birthday celebration of His Holiness. Traditional dances, rituals and beautiful costumes where showcased, all generations being actively involved in this celebration, from very young kids to the elderly, giving a sense of harmony in this peaceful community.

2 days later, we were fortunate to see His Holiness coming back to Tsuglagkhang after his long trip teaching around the world. Many people came there to see him just a few seconds, and we were fortunate to receive a big smile from him.

We continue our discovery of the tibetan world for a few more days, the time to meet with Vincent again after his retreat.

FRENCH: Lieu de résidence de Sa Sainteté le 14ème Dalaï Lama, Dharamsala est aussi la terre d’accueil d’une grande communauté de tibétains ayant fuit le Tibet lors de l’invasion et de la répression de la Chine en 1949. Il y règne une ambiance différente du reste de l’Inde, les tibétains sont des gens très pacifistes, généreux et d’une bonté naturelle. Beaucoup d’indiens viennent découvrir ce lieu insolite.

Dharamsala à cette époque, est plus fraîche que le reste de l’Inde, la mousson est là. Les rues se transforment alors en un torrent d’eau qui dévale les rues montagneuses de Dharamsala , drainant sur son passage tous les détritus laissés sur les routes. Personne ne semble habitué à garder et jeter les déchets dans une poubelle, les gens préfèrent jeter par la fenêtre, tout ce qu’ils consomment. Les routes sont animées et étroites alors chacun klaxonne sans cesse pour imposer son passage. Il n’y a pas de trottoir pour marcher… il faut éviter les motos, les tuk-tuks, les camions, les voitures, les vaches sacrées, les chèvres, bref c’est une aventure à chaque déplacement !!!! 

Le 6 juillet, les tibétains ont célébré le 81ème anniversaire de sa sainteté le Dalaï Lama au temple de Tsuglagkhang. Il n’y avait plus un centimètre de libre pour assister à cette fête. Les danses traditionnelles se sont succédées au rythme des musiques et des chants. Chacun a revêtu sa tenue traditionnelle, les nouvelles générations sont aussi très impliquées, les enfants vont perpétuer les traditions. 

2 jours plus tard, nous avons eu la chance d’assister au retour de Sa Sainteté à Tsuglagkhang après son long périple autour du monde à enseigner la sagesse Bouddhiste. Des milliers de gens étaient venus assister à son retour, et nous avons eu la chance de recevoir un sourire de sa part.

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May Tibet be free (or an autonomous province in China) soon again!

 Notre découverte de ce monde tibétain continu pour encore quelques jours le temps de retrouver Vincent après sa retraite.

Delphine

North-India roadtrip adventure

We have completed our road-trip in north India in Utar Pradesh and Rajasthan states, going through Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Adaipur cities… 1000 kilometers of insane driving on roads where reaching the next destination always seems a miracle, and landing in cities that all offered very different experiences.

It was just a week, but it seemed ages as it probably was the most intense part of the whole Beautiful World Tour ! We knew India would shake us, and it did, with mostly positive things, but also some bad ones.

Landing in New-Delhi

The start of the road-trip was pretty tough for us. First, coming from Cochin, we landed in New-Delhi with a lot of delay (around 2AM), then got lost on the way to the very cheap hotel we booked around the airport… too cheap to be true, as we never found the hotel after driving a long time on dirt roads in an apparently dangerous area as our driver got scared too;-(
The poor guy could not really read maps, so we had to change strategy and end-up in a « normal hotel ».

Agra and Taj Mahal

The real road-trip started by visiting Agra and the world famous Taj Mahal under very high temperatures (see previous post), and being the only western tourists there, it was quite fun to merge with the crowd and sometime be treated like rock stars with people queuing to get their picture or selfie with us. But the downside of being off-season was that we were the only « tourist target » for dozens of guides / beggars / kids who all wanted to get a little contribution to improve their life. The pressure was intense and it was of course difficult to resist giving as many seemed quite desperate. Even if a lot were probably acting, we also felt real misery of orphans kids who agglomerate around big tourists sites to make a living. I guess the only way to go through this is to follow your heart and select the sincere vs the fake.

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Fatehpur Sikri nightmare

So Agra was a tough start, and the pinacle of that pain was the next day in a holy place called Fatehpur Sikri, 100 kms after Agra. There is a pretty nice palace called Jodha Bais, and the Jama Masjid Mosque, but that later place seemed to gather all the misery of the country in one spot. Being again the only tourists, it was shocking to see such a holy place turned into a commercial souk with hundreds of poor people, kids and handicapped people trying desperately to sell or beg something. I have some experience with poverty, and I saw true desperation there.
Again, it was very difficult not to feel touched, but quickly we had to turn back and leave the place the heart broken (not mentioning the bad idea to start giving a bit of money which gave a signal to more to come and get a bit of luck).
In one hour, we got our energy completely depleted by the vision of what could have been « hell on earth ». It’s also then that one of our Visa cards got hacked with major withdrawals on our bank account : zero money left !

At that time, we where wondering how the rest of the trip would turn out….

Entering Rajasthan: Jaipur, the pink city

Fortunately, things got better and better.
We entered Rajasthan, the land of the kings, stopping at the capital first : Jaipur, the pink city.
We have seen many beautiful things there : the Wind palace, the Amber fort and the City palace. But more importantly, we started to have genuine human contact again. Very little unpleasant pressure, and welcoming people. That was a relief.

Jodhpur, the blue city

We then took small roads to go to Jodhpur, the blue city, where we saw the amazing Mehrangarh fort that is a beautiful fortress located at the top of a mountain like an eagle nest, with Jaswant Thada « little Taj Mahal » palace nearby, a place built for the wife of the city Maharadja.
We took the time to get lost in the Ghantaghar market, and have seen the incredible indian lifestyle that is hard to describe : you can only live the experience ! Noisy, dirty, smelly (good and bad), speedy, but incredibly intense and authentic, with great human interaction with people really welcoming and honest, not at all what we had seen in the previous « tourists traps ».

The road to Udaipur

On the way to Udaipur, we stopped in many places in the countryside, from small temples to cooperative farms, where the lifestyle probably didn’t change for thousand years, with caste systems still very vivid, unmechanized agriculture, animals living with humans, arranged marriages as the norm, peace between all religious communities, and overall, a sense of harmony with nature and gods. Despite the language barrier, we could communicate through smiles and body language with people happy to exchange with strangers interested in understanding their lives.

One place, the Chaturmukha Jain temple, was particularly moving. This temple of this « small » religion that is close to Buddhism was build in 1450 during 50 years with more than 2500 artists. It showcases religious art in its purest form, with hundreds of columns and beautiful Buddhas carved in pure white marble. This place that was created by a man who reached enlightenment under a tree (still in that temple) was filed with spirituality and definitely felt sacred.

Udaipur, the lakes city

Our last stop was the ancient city of Udaipur where we could finally find some fresh(er) air thanks to its elevation and three lakes. We had to leave our car and driver to enter the old city with a tuk-tuk (sort of a 3-wheels scooter) because of the narrow streets. Reaching our hotel was a real adventure with the pinnacle of the road mess we had so far, with vehicles, humans and animals going in all directions with different speeds, all crossing within centimeters of space without ever slowing down or touching. Our hotel was a 250 years old museum where we could stay in a suite where important men serving the Udaipur Maharaja were staying.

Here again, we could walk in the city, experience the indian lifestyle, engage with people in the street, watch the sunset over the city and the beautiful lake, with families and kids enjoying the last moments of the day. Both vibrant and peaceful at the same time. The last day, we could also visit the City palace and the Taj Lake island palace on the lake, right before heading to the airport to fly back to New-Delhi.

We love India!

In the end, this road trip in the north of India, despite the challenging beginning, was one of the most memorable experiences we had during the whole world tour.
« Incredible India » did live-up to our expectations : there is no other place on earth that is so staggering, with intense and genuine human experiences. India can not leave you with neutral sentiments, and if we do understand the many people we met who did not like it, we loved it.
Our journey across India was a way to deeply connect with human nature.

Next : Dharamsala for a peaceful Meditation retreat to conclude this Beautiful, really Beautiful World Tour !

 

 

 

Rajasthan road-trip

After a short stay in New Delhi, we have started our road-trip across Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan states, going through the cities of Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur (and many other stops on the way).

The beginning of that journey was tough for many reasons (more in the next post), but we have been delighted to start with the discovering of the Taj Mahal, one of India’s most beautiful monument, a tribute of a Mughal emperor (Shah Jahan)  to his wife in the 16th century. He was devastated by the death of his wife who died after giving birth to his 14th child, and build the white marble mausoleum to celebrate his eternal love with her. This jewel of Muslim art in India took 11 years and 20 000 artisans to build, and his today considered is one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage. The emperor finally got buried next to her. Entering that last place where the lovers lay together was especially emotional…

The second most photographed thing after this monument was… us! Being the only western tourists there at this (very hot) time of the year, we have been very successful and are now probably featured on hundreds of pictures and selfies on social networks. People were even queuing to get there picture;-)

Now heading to the next city with certitude to be impressed and shocked: incredible India is definitely incredible in many dimensions!

 

We are having a great start in North India! More from us soon!

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All together in Cochin!

The whole family is back together in Cochin !

Delphine finished her Ayurvedic retreat in the north of Kerala, and she arrived the same day as us for a short 3 days stay in that old colonial city that has a lot of charm like the rest of Kerala. Chinese fishing nets along the coast, many religious buildings with the same beautiful chants happening all day long (before and after sunset), local spices and food markets, and the vibrant indian lifestyle at every street corner.

Our stay in the south of India was truly fantastic, and we have been delighted by the peaceful, spiritual and welcoming atmosphere. Everywhere, people gave us big smiles and kind attention.

We will certainly be back one day to immerse ourselves deeper into this wonderful culture. We love India!

Now heading to the north of India and it’s megalopolis: Delhi!

Australia Road Trip – The Video

4000 kms road trip from Melbourne to Noosa Bay, discovering beautiful nature, from cold Tasman sea climate to tropical bays north of Brisbane. Long roads, many hikes in natural parks, theme parks, surfing… and loooong moments stuck in the campervan practicing survival skills!

This is our Australian road-trip story.

Melbourne to Sydney road-trip

We left Melbourne with a pretty bad weather, and we were impatient to find some sun on the road to Sydney!

We stopped in the beautiful Wilson’s Promontory park where we could see plenty wildlife: Kangaroos, Wallibies, Ostriches, dozens of birds including the famous laughing Kookaburras (that do indeed laugh), and the cutest animal ever: Wombats! This place is truly amazing, and off-season, we could have it for ourselves. But the weather still being cold, we headed straight to Sydney!

The road was quite tiring, with Kangaroos jumping in front of the car, and unfortunately, dozens lying dead along the road, together with Wombats that also suffer from these roads cutting their habitat…

We arrived in Sydney where we had to deal with a number of issues, like a dead computer, and getting visas for India, which took 2 days, 3 attempts, and 8 hours total in the worst bureaucratic private company we had ever seen. We still hoping to get those visas on time!

Appart from those usual world traveler duties, we could enjoy what must be one of the coolest city in the world: young, dynamic, cosmopolitan, and surrounded by nature! We could attend the kickoff of the Vivid Festival, an amazing Light show across the city where the main buildings are transformed in art at night.

But the highlight was certainly our 2 days in the Blue Mountains. We initially were a bit scared by the proximity of the Highway that is getting people into this “World Heritage” natural park, but once you leave one of the numerous lookouts along the highway, you really quickly enter beautiful nature, and despite the crowds and dozens of tourists’ buses (mostly Chinese tourists) arriving there, we could do two hikes almost alone, as we were of course taking the “off the beaten track” trails, including the 3 sisters rock trail that is revealed only to those daring the 900+ steep stairs going down!

We could also meet our good friend Tom, the Marketing Director of South Pole Group, the company that we used to offset our Carbon footprint. We had passionate debates about Carbon compensation and how the world should move to go towards a more sustainable economy. The conclusions were not too enthusiastic, but we are still doing our best to travel with the lowest possible today.

We are now heading to the Gold coast and Sunshine coast, and we hope they are well named, because cold weather stuck in a camper-van is not fun (see Jade’s latest video telling all the truth;-) !

Here is the Melbourne To Sydney Photo Album with some highlights below!