"My travels" JLBG's Profile

2011

For almost a year, I have not built any travel page. I have now resumed building pages but I have changed my policy: I will not build anymore pages about each place I have visited but only about locations where there are few pages or no page at all. If I have nothing to add to what others have already written, I feel it is useless that I build my own page.

I have recently traveled in the Middle-East, to Georgia. I have already built a few pages : one on Gori, Stalin’s birth town, another on Mteskheta, the old heart of Georgia, Kutaisi and in eastern Georgia, Telavi and the palace of King Irakli II, Shuamta with a Vth century basilica, Ikalto, famous fir its academy, Alaverdi with the tallest ancient cathedral of the country. I will soon build pages on T’bilisi, Batumi, Uplistikhe, Sighnaghi and a few lesser known locations.

I have also done a round trip from Greece (Igoumenitsa) to Albania (Gjirokaster, Himarë, Vlorë, Fier, Berat, Tepelene, Korce), Macedonia (Ohrid, Bitola), Greece (Metsovo, Ioannina, Monodendri and Vitso canyon, Igoumenitsa). I am currently building pages on this trip.
In Albania, I have already built a new page on Korce, from where I have visited two mountain villages. In 1788, Voskopoje had 35,000 inhabitants and was only second to Istanbul in the Ottoman Empire. Only a few of its 24 churches remain today but have amazing paintings that are worth the visit. A little known “must see” in Albania.
Dhardhe, a pretty mountain village has kept its look from centuries ago. Almost all its houses are covered wit slates. Another “must see”!
In Macedonia, I have already built a small page on Bitola


2009
After we had so many times driven across Slovenia without visiting any place, in late August, 2009
we stayed a week in Logatec and did day trips around.

On the coast, Piran and Koper are outstanding cities with a strong Venetian touch. Piran, in my opinion is a must see.

In the North-West, Radovlica is an under rated location with an old city core, close to touristy Bled.
Nearby, Idrija is an amazing city that lived 5 centuries on quicksilver.
Closer to Ljubljana, Skofja Loka has an outstanding old city core.

Postojna cave is worldwide known as THE cave to visit, Predjama, with its castle built in a cliff, in the entrance of a cave is another must see.
Hrastovlje with its outstanding Danse Macabre frescoes reminds of Beram, 30 km away, in Croatia.

Along the Albanian Riviera, I have new pages on Lukove, Llogora pass and Qeparo, Himare, Dhermi and Vlore.
In North-west Albania, an amazing page on Ishull-Lezhë
I have also updated my Gjirokaster and Berat pages.

Personal data

I enjoy : traveling, learning foreign languages, photographing, cooking, swimming, hiking, cycling, reading, genealogy and many other things. And VTing, of course!

I consider that there are three kinds of places :
1- Places I have not visited yet and that I want to
2- Places I have visited and enjoyed. Of course, I want to go there for another visit.
3- Places I have visited and that have not fulfilled my expectations. I feel I have missed something and I want to go for another visit and improve my feeling.
BTW, there is virtually a fourth category with countries I don't want to visit but this category is empty, except for ''dangerous'' countries that should temporarily be avoided.

I love to prepare carefully our travels with several guidebooks, maps, dictionaries and the Web, I read books about the country and it's people, their past, present and future. And now VT is an additional treasure of information. When available, I use a lot the "Guide du Routard" (only in French), a bible for practical tips,

I prefer travels where you have not to book anything in advance and can wander freely, depending of what you find, feel, meet and want.

When I travel, I spend as little time as possible in touristy places and large towns. However, some places are unavoidable ! I prefer to visit places ''out of the beaten path'', that most travelers won't visit, which can be found even in large towns and in touristy places. Thus, I mostly choose to drive, which, with additional hiking, is often the easiest way to reach even the most remote places.

When I travel, I try to look as local as possible (not disguised, everybody should remain himself !) or where it is not possible, I try to be taken as a local permanent foreign resident. Corollary : my greatest achievement is when, in town, a lost local asks me its way or at least when a lost foreign visitor asks me its way. My greatest pride is when I can tell him !

What I think about the important issue (I feel it is an important issue !) of travel and language ? It is evident for everybody that exchanges with the people are much easier when you speak their language. Moreover, it allows talking with everybody and not only to those who know a foreign language. Even a limited knowledge of the language helps a lot, as the person you are speaking to, will appreciate that you have tried. Besides speaking the country's language, it is always better to use the foreign language the most widely used in the country (because of neighborhood, of previous political and/or economical exchanges, etc…) than your own language (avoid as often as possible) or the international exchange language, I have named English (avoid as often as possible). Though, English can be used everywhere with travel professionals (hotels) and is undoubtedly the last chance when no other language is available.

My travels can be categorized into 6 wide areas :
France,
Central Mediterranean,
Western Mediterranean,
Southern Mediterranean,
Northern European countries,
USA
.
Most were independent travels with a car, our own or a rented one, some were independent sailing cruise, some were camel treks in the Sahara in very small groups with specialized Tour operators. Most were itinerant camping travels (tent, caravan, camping-car, small sailing boat), some were living in a rented cabin and touring around, both allowing to make our own food, which I consider to be a must. Besides point visits to a single large city, only very few of my travels imply hotel, as I find highly frustrating not to be able to make our own food with local products and not to be able to select the restaurant where we want to go for dinner !

France

My Grenoble page should be viewed together with associated pages on St.Martin d'Hères, Meylan and St.Martin le Vinoux. I have also build a general Rhône-Alpes page.

December 2006 and March 2008, visits in Alsace.
The Marchés de Noël in Strasbourg, with the whole city center a world heritage site.
Selestat, the 18th century capital of humanism.
Obernai, a must see in Alsace.
Colmar, capital of the former decapole.
Under Orschwiller , Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg.
Ebermunster in the Grand Ried.
Boersch, a cute little city of the Alsace Piedmont.
Kintzheim to visit l’Empereur de la Tarte Flambée.
Mutzig, more than a beer.
Rosheim, with many remains of the 12th century.

In Spring 2004, we made a round trip presented on my Montpellier page with links to several smaller but very interesting places.
Anduze, the ''door to the Cévennes'', where you should not miss the Bamboo nursery of Prafrance
The Parc National des Cévennes stronghold of the ''Camisards''.
Saint-Guilhem-Le-Désert, for centuries a main stage for pilgrims on Saint-Jacques de Compostelle's road, inscribed in 1998 on the World Heritage list.
The Clamouse cave, one of the richest cave in Europe, a must.
La Cavalerie, where the Hospitalers village still exists with its fortified enceinte of the XVth century.
La Couvertoirade a living mediaeval village built by the Hospitalers, an actual architectural and urban treasure.
Millau has given its name to the famous ''Viaduc de Millau'' (Millau's viaduct) finished in May 28th 2004. In the old city, the weekly city market plays a main part in the city life.
25 km away from Millau, Montpellier-le-Vieux is a ''mega lapiaz'', dolomitic rocks carved by water and wind to make the figure of a ruined city.
Nant is a nice and quiet little town, not far from the ''chaos'' of Montpellier le Vieux, of Roquefort, of Millau, la Cavalerie, etc... It is a good stop for an evening and night.
Only cheese that has been matured in a well-defined area can bear the name of Roquefort. You can visit the caves and see the cheese maturing.

In September 2004, a journey to Rouen offered me the possibility to build a page on this city that mixes a medieval aspect into a very modern town.

In November 2004, a journey to Marseille allowed me to build a page on that amazing city.

I have built a small but very special page on Paris that I have never visited as a tourist (I should !) but always on job related journeys.

Central and Eastern Mediterranean

Since 1975, I have paid numerous travels in the Western Balkans.I will here outline only the most significant pages

Croatia

A general page on Croatia

Istria:
Istria.
Pula, touristy but an absolute must see !
Porec, a must see in Croatia, inscribed in 1997 on the World Heritage list, worth its reputation!
Rovinj, a must visit
Beram, a hidden marvel that few know.

Dalmatia.
Unavoidable Dubrovnik, the jewel of the Mediterranean, inscribed in 1979 on the World Heritage list
Cavtat, the south of the south in Croatia!
Sibenik, a must between two National Parks.
Trogir, an island from the Middle Ages.
Zadar, the city on an island.

I sailed several years in a row in the wonderful Kornati islands, and in the whole Dalmatian Islands.

Slovenia
On the coast, Piran and Koper are outstanding cities with a strong Venetian touch. Piran, IMHO is a must see.

In the North-West, Radovlica is an under rated location with an old city core, close to touristy Bled.
Nearby, Idrija is an amazing city that lived 5 centuries on quicksilver.
Closer to Ljubljana, Skofja Loka has an outstanding old city core.

Postojna cave is worldwide known as THE cave to visit while neighboring
Predjama, with its castle built in a cliff, in the entrance of a cave is another must see.
Hrastovlje with its outstanding Danse Macabre frescoes that reminds Beram, 30 km away, in Croatia.

Montenegro
Kotor, inscribed in 1979 on the World Heritage list
Perast, a nice little town in the Boka Kotorska
Ulcinj, close to Albania

Greece
Temple of Apollo Epikourios, a little known gem, though the first Greek site on the World Heritage list in 1983.
Parga, a picturesque village and bay, famous for Greek tourists, almost unknown by foreigners.
Metsovon and Kastoria, two small mountain cities of north western Greece, very different from what is usually expected in Greece.
Mani, in southern Peloponissos. with amazing fortified house-towers.

Albania
ancient Buthrint, a World heritage site.
Gjirokaster and Berat pages, both World heritage sites are “must see”
And a general page on Albania

Turkey
Ephesus with the amazing ruins of the ancient city.
Dalyan with Caunos ruins and the Lycian tombs.

Western Mediterranean

Italy
Italy is so close from home that I have very little stuff to build pages ! Until now, I have only built a few pages but might build more.
Portogruaro, a nice little city, very pleasant for a stage.
Vernasca, a very nice small hotel in the middle of the woods, not far from Piacenza. Another very pleasant stage !

Three pages on the 1st European VT meeting in Verona. One on Vallegio/Mincio with two travelogues, another on Lago di Garda and one on Verona.

Several pages on places we visited in Piemonte on various occasions
Alba
Barbaresco
Bra
Guarene
Neive
Susa, a little mountain jewel of Piedmont.

Spain
I have a few pages a 2002 travel in Spain.
Villafranca del Penedés, a nice city close to Barcelona, perfect to spend a night.
Cartagena an underrated city of Murcia.
I hope to add a page on two previous travels in the Canary Islands.

Portugal
I will add a page on Portugal that I visited only once, in 1993.

Southern Mediterranean and more

I have often visited the Maghreb, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, the first time in 1971, the last in 2005.

Morocco
I have a general page on Morocco with links with local pages.
From Safi to El Jadida by the coastal road, with superb landscapes
From Essaouira to Safi by the coastal road
Essaouira, a must visit in Morocco, inscribed in 2001 on the World Heritage list.
Casablanca
In Casablanca, you should visit the impressive Hassan II mosque.
Fés El Bali is a must see in Morocco, inscribed in 1981 on the World Heritage list.
Rabat is an under rated city though an excellent introduction to Morocco.
Salé, the twin city to Rabat has excellent shopping opportunities.

Tunisia
I have also a general page on Tunisia with links with local pages.
Île de Djerba with its capital, Houmt Souk and Guellala, well known for its potteries.
Medenine
Gabès, a large oasis town of southern Tunisia, in front of Djerba island.
The Roman limes, a completely "off the beaten path" location, though easy to reach.
Tamerza, a mountain oasis.
Douz, a charming little oasis surrounded by sand.
Tozeur, a typical Sahara oasis.
From Metlaoui you must take the "Lézard rouge" to visit Oued Seldja and its breathtaking cliffs.
Matmata and its troglodytic houses,

Algeria
I will build later pages on Algeria and the Sahara desert. I have been 7 times in the Sahara, off road, once in a 2x4 504 Peugeot, 3 times with my own Land Rover and 3 times on a camel trek. To begin with, I have built a small page on Djanet, a small oasis in the eastern Algerian Sahara, gate to the Tassili N'Ajjer National park.
A large page on a camel trek in the Tassili N'Ajjer with its fantastic landscapes and famous rock paintings.
A page on the M’Zab and Ghardaïa, a world heritage site and a very special location .

In 2005, I have been (for my job) to Annaba as Algeria is now as safe as any other country. I have been several pages :
A general page on Algeria, that gives up to date information on this under visited destination.
A page on Annaba with its patrimony of superb end of 19th-begining of the 20th houses.
I have also a page on Ras El Hamra/Cap de Garde (under the name of Sidi Ibrahim), a pleasant seaside resort close to Annaba,
Ain Berda, a small village south to Annaba with yummy brochettes,
El Kala and its wetland National Park, between Annaba and El Kala/La Calle.

Hammam Meskoutine is a hot spring with extensive mineral deposits that build huge draperies.

I will also build a page on a travel to eastern countries, Yemen and Djibouti.

Northern European countries

I have a lot of slides from several travels in Scotland and Ireland and will build pages. Later…

Until now, I have only built a page on a wonderful trip in the wilderness of Iceland
and to the amazing Faroe Islands.

I will later build pages on Norway (Lofoten Islands and North Cape) and Sweden.

USA

I have began to build some pages with the slides I have taken when I stayed one yearlong in Davis, California, from where I did a good deal of week-end trips to San Francisco, the Death Valley, the Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, and many other places. I did also a 3 weeks round trip across the Western states and have altogether brought back a hundred rolls of slides !
I have now built several pages (more to come) :
Death Valley NP,
Palm Springs,
Joshua Tree NP,
Mexican Hat,
Grand Teton NP,
Jackson

I have now added a few pages about OBP locations in California along the ocean.
The superb Victorian houses in Eureka
The amazing story about the failed attempt to build a Russian America at Fort Ross
The windiest and foggiest place of the coast under a bright sun at Point Reyes
The tallest trees in the world in the Redwood Parks
More to come with Lassen Park and the Lava Beds.

And other OBP locations in California, along Highway 395:
Bishop and the outstanding ghost town of Bodie
Mono Lake, an endangered ecosystem almost siped off by Angelinians and now slowly recovering.

Another interesting travel I will have to build is a travel in Hawaii, hoping from one island to the other.

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“I believe that tourists are very valuable to the modern world. It is very difficult to hate people you know. (Steinbeck)”

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Jean-Louis
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