Category Archives: Travel

Back home – we made it!

This is it!

One year and 5 days later, we are back to our home sweet home in Carry-le-Rouet after a once in a lifetime family adventure around the World.

IMG_1355When we flew over Marseille, the whole family got quite emotional as we were a few minutes away from landing. After seeing so much beautiful sceneries around the world, it was striking to recognize that we actually live in a beautiful part of the planet!

Our little house did not change much, even if the garden did grow a lot (and died in some areas;-), but it feels very special to find our “house of love” intact and filled with those good memories. It’s so weird to drop our 130 kilos of luggage once for all!

First thing the kids did: run down the street to meet their friends!

Here are some funny stats for the Beautiful World Tour:

  • 370 days around the world
  • 15 countries and islands visited
  • 44000 kms by plane
  • 15000 kms by car & campervan (2 cars and 1 campervan broken)
  • 2000 nautical miles by boat
  • 1 broken campervan & 1 car accident (minor)
  • 130 kilos of luggages that made it back (minus 3 boards broken on the way;-)
  • 80 days of class for the kids
  • 100+ books read
  • 150+ different animals seen (as counted by Ulysses)
  • 10 hours of video produced & 10000 pictures taken
  • and of course countless memories!

We had this dream 2 years ago, and the map was still there on the wall to remember us the initial idea, the plan, and what we finally achieved (not exactly the plan like always;-)

IMG_1362

Now, we are back with many unforgettable memories, new dreams for the future, and great family bonding forever!

There will probably be a few more posts to digest and reflect on the experience. Stay tuned.

We did it, and we are so happy to be back home!

IMG_1368

The Rosier – Stuhlen family

 

Advertisements

We are back to Europe!

We have arrived in Lisbon! So gooood to feel back home, be able to meet our best friends, and enjoy beautiful region around Lisbon.

This is now a new phase in our journey, slowly settling down after 11 months of non-stop mouvement, a way to get back to normal life before returning to our home in Carry-le-Rouet (small village close to Marseille) mid-August where the real life will start again with shopping, school for kids and business!

In the meantime, we take this last opportunity to have a full month of leisure life to relax… and shape new dreams!

1-IMG_0129
Our new base camp in Lisbon for 2 weeks: thanks Arthur & Lili;-)

Taking-off from India!

After 11 months around the planet, we are taking-off back to Europe!!! The whole family is soooo happy!

Our last day in New-Delhi has been wonderful, having been invited by a lovely family. Everywhere across India, we had many friendly encounters, and we really hope to be back here one day, hopefully in a not too distant time!

Thank you Shashi and friends for your warm welcome!

Bye India!

 

Dharamsala Retreat

We have arrived in Dharamsala in the extreme north of India in the mountains of the Himalayas. This is the place were the 14th Dalai Lama and tibetan government have decided to live their exile from 1959 after the invasion of Tibet by the Chinese in 1950.

We choose to stay in a very small village, Mc Leod Ganj, as this is a very special place where people come from all over the world to attend meditation retreats given by Tibetan Buddhist monks and lamas.

While the family will enjoy the mountains and some Yoga, I’m going for an 11 days meditation retreat in Tushita, a centre for the study and practice of Buddhism meditation from the Tibetan Mahayana tradition. A beautiful place to meditate and reflect on this one year journey!

I will be completely cut from the world, so don’t expect any news from me (Vincent), but Delphine will certainly do a good job maintaining this blog;-)

See you in 2 weeks!

P.S: images borrowed from the Tushita website

 

 

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.

14-IMG_7911

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!

funky giphy

 

 

 

 

 

Kerala: God’s own country

Kerala is known as “God’s own country” as it is the Indian state with the most religious diversity… and tolerance. Hindou temples, Christian churches and Muslim mosquee are often located within the same village area with a few meters between them, enchanting the atmosphere with religious chants often happening at the same time (even if it sometimes leads to a loudspeaker volume competition;-)

After our Yoga retreat in Varkala, we went north to Kollam to visit the ancient colonial city that saw Portuguese collons, followed by Dutch and the British… The backwaters, a long laguna between the ocean and the forest, stretching from Kollam to Kochin, are also a beautiful area to explore as it allows to approach nature and people from a very quiet perspective.

Kollam was also the starting point for a big surprise for Jade’s birthday…

Indeed, we had a “Kettu Vallam“, a traditional house-boat, coming right next to our guest-house, and she had to do just a few meters to jump onto that beautiful boat that we hired just for us to take an unconventional route, from Kollam to Kochin, going through natural lagoons, lakes and man-made canals.
And it was a good idea, as it is known that more than 500 Kettu Valams cruise around Allepey, leading to water-traffic-jams that pollute the experience, and we didn’t see any until we arrived… in Allepey😉

On the way, we have seen beautiful small villages with people literally “living with the river”, from fishing to washing, small hidden temples and churches, India’s Green Venice on Munroe island, holy places such as Amma’s Ashram where people from all over the world come seeking for enlightenment (which is internal peace and love), fishermen markets, and much more…

A deep immersion into Kerala’s nature, lifestyle and culture!

Here is a snapshot, and the full photo album below:

The full photo album is available here.

The video is on its way!

 

 

 

We are in India!

What a journey: 48h to reach the Kerala state in India, and our final destination: Varkala.
3 hours flight from Brisbane to Cairns. 7 hours from Cairns to Hong-Kong. 8 hours to go to Bangalore. Another 2 hours flight to Cochin the next day. And finally 5 hours of crazy taxi-driving to Varkala… We were cooked on the arrival!

As soon as we landed in India, the trip become intense, which is expected in this country that can not compare to any other country in the world. It’s a different planet, especially when it comes to traveling on the roads… We left Delphine at the Cochin airport (she went for her own Ayurvedic retreat while abandoning me with the kids;-) and took that crazy taxi-driver who must have tried to break the Cochin-Varkala speed record.

It seems local drivers must believe in some sort of road divinities who guide their destinies and survival if you consider the general insane driving habits. Several times, I thought we would crash. By night, under heavy monsoon rain, it’s kind of a miracle that on a 2 lanes road, a cow, a cyclist, a moped with a whole family on it, an overcrowded rickshaw, a truck, a bus and finally our taxi, all manage to perfectly align in the last second to allow all vehicles coming in different directions to cross with just a few centimeters of space between them!
When such a miracle happens several times in one journey, you definitely tend to believe in road divinities;-)

we finally made it to Varkala, one of the nicest beach city, but also home of holy saints and of authentic Yoga practices.

It was the place to take a full week Yoga retreat, which we just started with intense 2 x 3 hours a day, with the kids attending some of the more simple meditation and yoga sessions. I feel really blessed to share this experience with my children!

Kids also rejoiced (well, not really) to start school again, but this time it’s a bit different with Mindfulness Meditation classes and some Yoga for sport. The hardest thing for them so far is to adapt to the Yogi regime, especially the rice soup at night;-)

This is the beginning of our Indian journey that we wanted to be the spiritual part of our family experience, and it is starting just like that.

Namaste