Tag Archives: France

How to get to Antarctica by sea

If you’ve ever wondered how it is to reach Antarctica by the sea, here’s a story about it.

Giant flat iceberg and sea pack in Antarctica

If you are so lucky to have the possibility to visit Antarctica, the journey from your residence place to your Antarctic destination will be typically made of two distinct parts.
First you will reach a country in the southern hemisphere–like Argentina, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand–by commercial transportation.
Then you will fly or sail to Antarctica.

This article tells a story of how Antarctica is reached by the sea in the form of a navigation log. The source is first-hand, since I’ve written it myself during my first trip to Antarctica not long time ago.

This journey has started in Christchurch, New Zealand and has ended at Dumont D’Urville, Adelie Land, Antarctica.
Going from a civilized, temperate-climate region, to Antarctica is like traveling to another planet, especially if you don’t have any previous experience in a polar environment.
You see the world you are familiar with transforming into something else, something really, really different. That happens in the span of a few days.

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Saint Petersburg’s architectural beauty and attractions: a photo essay

The Bronze Horseman, 1782 equestrian statue of Peter the Great, Senate Square, Saint PetersburgWhat do you do when you are in St Petersburg for a short time?

I basically did two things. One is a must: visiting the Hermitage Museum.

The Hermitage is a huge, super-rich collection of pieces of art hosted in buildings which are pieces of art themselves. One of them, the main one, was the royal palace, the Tsar’s residence.
I haven’t seen anything similar to the Hermitage in my life, except for when I visited the Louvre in Paris and the Vatican Museums in Rome.
How long you’ll stay in there depends on your resistance. I think it can be up to one whole day

But what else to do in St. Petersburg on a two-day stay?

Since its first stone was laid in 1703 by Peter the Great, the Tsars called the best European architects from all over Europe to build what is now known as the most Western-like city of Russia.
Mainly Italian and French architects, but also Russians, year after year, century after century, called by Tsar after Tsar, erected a wonderful historical center, made of several different styles: the Petrine Baroque, the Baroque, the Neoclassical, down to nineteenth century’s styles.
All that has produced a large downtown that is an open-air piece of art, and which was promoted UNESCO World Heritage site.

Therefore, I decided to take a bus tour. Below you can find a selection of the photos taken during that two-hour memorable bus ride.

If you’ve never been to St. Petersburg, by looking at the following pictures you can decide yourself whether I’m exaggerating in being so enthusiast about this Russia’s pearl.

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Facts about the Alps, Europe’s great mountain range

The Alps have always been an important part of Europe.

They are geographically important, representing 11% of Europe’s surface and heavily influencing its climate. They are important from a historical point of view, as they were a barrier for people movements and trade. They are culturally important for a shared, cross-national Alpine culture has developed on their valleys and mountains.

matterhorn in winter

Matterhorn, at the border between Italy and Switzerland

Local lifestyle and the way the Alps are seen from the outside have both changed dramatically during recent decades. From a remote, hard-to-live-in region where economy was mainly based on livestock, the Alps turned into one of the most important tourist destinations in Europe, especially in winter.

This is not a surprise, since the Alps provide awe-inspiring and majestic views.
If you’ve ever been on the bottom of one their valleys, which look like being hollowed out of the surrounding rocky walls, or on a flower-covered meadow on the top of a hill with high snowy peaks all around, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Besides, since the Alps are made of high mountains spanning for several hundreds of miles, they are a natural venue for countless ski slopes and related resorts. Here is one of them featuring the highest suspension bridge in Europe.

Let’s check some facts about Europe’s most famous mountain range.

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Chateaux in Loire Valley

Chateaux in the Loire Valley are a multitude of magnificent and old castles located along the course of the Loire River and its tributaries in Central France.

Once upon a time residence of royals and nobles, they are now a tourist destination where enjoying both architectural beauty and quietness of nature.

Chateaux of the Loire

There are more than three hundred castles in the valley.

Although some of them were built starting from 1000 AD, most of them and most famous ones are example of French Renaissance architecture. Golden age for Chateaux de la Loire spans between XVI and XVIII century.

The castles were built as residence for French royals and nobles during the era in which the Loire Valley was France political centre of power. After royals moved back to Paris, the chateaux slowly saw number of their residents decrease and most of them became summer residences.

Nowadays castles of the Loire Valley are partly inhabited and partly a tourist attraction.

Here is a list of the chateaux.

Here pictures from Google:

Chateaux of the Loire pictures from google

Travel to Loire Valley

Loire Valley in Central France

Loire Valley in Central France – click to enlarge

Loire Valley is in located on western-central France. It is nicknamed “le Jardin de la France“, the Garden of France, and it is characterised by beautiful landscapes and a mild climate. The Loire river, which flows entirely on French territory and empties in North Atlantic Ocean, forms this gorgeous valley. The Valley has been declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000.

Eastern limit of the World Heritage section of the Valley, around city of Orleans, is only 100 miles from downtown Paris. You can reach Orleans in two hours by car, thanks to French freeways. Valley’s western limit is in Angers area, 180 mi away from Paris.


Loire Valley Chateaux Map

There is plenty of information in the internet about castles in the Loire Valley, accommodation, and tours. Unfortunately many websites are only in French.

The most comprehensive one is Loire Valley Tourism.

There is a good map in wikipedia.

Hotels in Loire Valley

Among hundreds of hotels and restaurants available, you may be interested in sleeping and/or having dinner inside a true Loire Valley chateau. This webpage is a good starting point for that. Prices are for sure not cheap, but not even that high so that only rich people could afford a night in one of those castles. Give it a try.

Loire Valley Chateaux Tours

When it comes to tours, a great resource is this website.

Loire Valley Chateaux Pass

Loire Valley Chateaux Pass is a ticket that will grant you access to ten different chateaux. At publication of this post, it costed $39.69.

Chambord Castle, Loire Valley

Chambord Castle, Loire Valley

Artistic rendering of Château de Chaumont

Artistic rendering of Château de Chaumont

Chateaux in the Loire Valley are one of the most shining example of renaissance architecture in France and in Europe. A region where touching the past is made possible. I look forward to drive there with my car, and sit on the top of a hill with the river and a castle in sight.

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