11 movies all travelers should watch

When I’m not traveling, I am often tempted to drown my frustration watching movies on the theme of travel. Here is a list of 11 films that make you want to go on an adventure.

See also : 5 reasons why you should not be afraid to travel alone

Wild : an autobiographic and feminist movie

Wild, le film

Wild is a film based on the autobiographical novel by Cheryl Strayed. I really loved this film. First, because the main character is a woman and, unfortunately, women are still under-represented in this kind of movie. Second, this walk of 1500 kilometers on the Pacific Crest Trail enables her to “purify” her soul after big problems in life. This idea of purification through travel is the basis for the story. Focus on the essentials. Abandon the superficial.

The spanish apartment or “L’auberge espagnole”

It is a french-spanish movie. I could talk for hours of “L’auberge espagnole“, the following movie “Les poupées russes” and the last one “Casse-tête chinois”. These are the only movies that I can watch at least once a year ! It’s simple, I do not get tired. They talk about two passions of mine : travel and writing. The main character takes part in the Erasmus program in Spain and leaves with funny roommates. This film gave me a utopian vision of exchanges programs. Myself, I lived six months in Canada. This film really influenced my life. If you have not watch it yet, shame on you!

I’m French, Spanish, English, Danish. I’m not one, but many. I’m like Europe, I’m all that. I’m a real mess.

L’auberge espagnole

Into the wild

You will probably hate me but I did not like it. Yes, it is possible. Why ? I do not know, it’s just … not transcendent. But because it is a classic and for you, dear readers, I could not zap completely this movie from my list. If you loved it, you have the right to give me your reasons in the comments. Maybe I have missed something.

I do the same look in front of a good dish of french fries beautiful landscapes.

into the wild
source : giphy.com

Seven years in Tibet

A classic ! The movie “Seven years in Tibet” is a little bit old but it is still good to watch. It is a real postcard. Nevertheless, the movie hides deeper reflections on the nature of man, the hatred of others and repentance. The film is based on the autobiographical novel by Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian alpinist and Nazi sympathizer. He was captured by the British in India at the beginning of the Second World War while attempting to climb the mountain Nanga Parbat. He manages to escape from his prison with some friends. He hardly find his way to Tibet. There, he will spend seven years of his life and become the confidant of the young Dalai Lama. Brad Pitt and director were later banned from China for this movie.

Seven years in Tibet

 

The secret life of Walter Mitty

This movie makes me want to give up my routine and jump on a plane to make my dreams come true. I let you watch the trailer and judge for yourself !

The motorcycle diaries

Based on an autobiographical novel, this movie is about a road trip in motorcycle. The main character is Ernesto Che Guevara. The story takes place in South America. The misery and social injustices takes you in the guts.

Lost in translation

Still a classic. The action takes place in Tokyo. The main character is an actor who came to Japan to do a commercial for a whiskey. Obviously, he is a little bit lost because he does not understand this culture and do not speak a word of Japanese. Notice that he could have done some effort before, couldn’t he? Anyway … Later, he meets a fellow American, disoriented too. They will sympathize. It’s a good movie but it kind of bother me a bit. Indeed, we cannot have fun discovering a country alone ?

Himalaya

I first read the book (in french) when I was in college. This is a book that will really immersed you in the story. This is an amazing story about a little boy who goes for the first time with the caravan of yaks carrying salt on dangerous roads in the Himalayas. We discover a completely different and therefore fascinating culture. A book to read for those who dream of Asia and a movie to watch for the laziest of us!

Home

Home is a film to inform and educate the public to the preservation of the environment. You can watch it for free on Youtube. It shows our planet from every angle. You absolutely need to see this documentary. Thank you Mr. Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

Earth

On the same theme, the film “Earth” takes you all around the world, by land, by the air or in the water. The landscapes are breathtaking. You absolutely need to watch this movie !

The way back

Based on a novel, the movie “The Way Back” tells the story of prisoners who escape from a Siberian camp and walk more than 6,000 kilometers to reach India. Certainly, we would not like to be in the same situation but this movie is an amazing story about freedom and solidarity.

And you, what are the films that make you want to make your backpack and go away?

A few days in Budapest

Budapest is one of the most attractives cities. You can do so many things there : Partying, relaxing in a spa, going to a museum, discovering amazing architecture sites, walking in the nature or just tasting the authentic gastronomy. And you can do all of that with a small budget !

Getting to Budapest & accommodation

The easiest way to come in Budapest is, of course, by flight. I prefer to book my flight with a low-cost company such as WizzAir. I am not a big fan of hostels. I recommend you to choose an youth hostel in the touristic center. But the cheapest way to stay in Budapest is to book a bedroom with Airbnb or to test couchsurfing (for adventurous and sociable people). About change, I recommend you to avoid WU (to not tell their name). Do not hesitate to check a lot of money changers. We lost 40€ because of a bad choice. And in Budapest, this is a lot of money.

Buda & Pest, two cities influenced by several cultures

Palais Royal

Budapest, also called “Perle du Danube” (The Danube’s pearl) in french is, in fact, a mix between two very different cities : the residential Buda and Pest wich is more touristic. To really understand this unique city, you have to know a little bit more about its history. Hungary (and especially Budapest) has always been a land of wars and conflicts and, as a matter of fact, was populate by several people. Therefore, the city was influenced by several cultures. The first known invaders were the Roman. They named the city Aquicum. After them came the Huns, the Mongols, the Ottoman Empire and the Austrian under the dynasty of Hasbourg. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was dissolved at the end of the First World War. This same war which began because of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir of this same empire, by a Serbian nationalist June 28, 1914. During World War II, Hungary was occupied by Germany and then by the soviets. When Stalin died, a rebellion broke out and was severely repressed. It was a new national trauma. Nowadays, Hungary is a democracy.

Why am I telling you all this? To understand this population torn between several influences, marked by dark hours and yet filled with hope and desire for freedom. The many sights will also help you discover this rich history. Follow me!

The touristic center

Pest is more touristic than Buda. A lot of sights are in this side of the Danube. This district is known for its nightlife.

To do list :

  • Visit the Great Synagogue in Dohány street & the jewish museum.
  • Take a look at the two others synagogues (the orthodox synagogue and the one in the street Rumbach).
  • Shopping in the street Váci and the Vörösmarty square.
  • Enjoy the view of Pest from the top of St-Stephen’s basilica.
  • Take a look at the Sandor Petöfi statue (He played an important part in the rebellion against the Hasbourg dynasty, I told you so. It’s all about history !)
  • Go to a party in ruin bars for a night to remember.
  • Taste traditional pastries.
Grande Synagogue Budapest
Grande Synagogue

 

Buda castle

This is a very pleasant green district with a lot of museum. The Buda castle district is part of the Unesco World Heritage sites.

To do list :

  • From the city center of Pest, cross the Chain Bridge to reach Buda.
  • Take the Castle Hill Funicular (you can go by foot).
  • Visit the fishermen’s Bastion (free at night).
  • Visit a museum : Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest History Museum, …

château de Buda

Parliament, Margaret Island and Andrássy Avenue

Parliament, which draws heavily on the Palace of Westminster in London is a must. Margaret Island is known for its huge music festival: Sziget Festival.

Place des Héros
Place des Héros

To do list :

  • Visit the Parliament.
  • Stop and cry at the Shoes on the Danube memorial, reminding youngest the massacre perpetrated by the Arrow Cross (Hungarian fascist party of the German occupation) thousands of Jews were shot and thrown into the river. History again !
  • Spend a summer day in Sziget Festival or Palatinus Stand on the Margaret Island
  • Visit the House of Terror Museum (my favorite), The Opera House, Museum of Fine Art, …
  • Spend a winter day to the ice-skating rink near the Széchenyi baths and Vajdahunyad castle.
  • Take a selfie at the Heroes Square.
Shoes on the Danube
Shoes on the Danube

Gellért hill

Top of the Gellért Hill is the best place to enjoy the view of Pest AND Buda.

To do list :

  • Cross the Liberty Bridge to reach the other side of the Danube.
  • Climb up the hill to enjoy the view, the citadel, the Statue of Liberty and the Monument to Saint Gellért.
  • Test the thermal baths of Gellert Hotel and Rudas Baths.

Obviously, there are so much more places to visit but I can not tell you about all and, as indicated in the title, this is an article about visiting Budapest “in a few days”. It would take a lifetime to visit every corner, understand the hungarian culture and the turbulent history of Budapest. Outside the city, the Statue Park is worth seeing. It includes the statues of the Communist period. It was, I promise, my final declaration of love for the history of this country.

Mont Gellért

Next articles :

Love story in the Tower of London

Each trip is a way to discover the history of a country. In my opinion, we can’t understand someone’s culture without knowing the history. Looking at the past allows us to understand the present and, even more important, to foresee the future of a nation.

My visit of the British capital city (read also this article : 5 best things to do in London) included an immersion in the history. I definitely could not leave the city without a small detour to the Tower of London.

The well-guarded Tower of London

You can visit the Tower by yourself or opt for a guided tour of 60 minutes (in English only) with the halberdiers of the Royal Guard. Also known as “Beefeaters“, they have been living in this iconic monument since the fourteenth century. They are the suitable people to tell you more about all the amazing stories, the best kept secrets and bloody dramas that have occurred here. I urge you to opt for this tour. There are about thirty halberdiers. They guard the Tower, tell stories to the tourists and take care of … ravens ! According to the legend, if all the ravens fly away, the Tower collapse. Therefore, the halberdiers take care of seven ravens (6 incumbents and 1 replacement) everyday.

Interesting fact : During some times, there were a lot of exotic animals (lions, bears, elephants, …).

The white tower of William the Conqueror

Romans were already interested by England and especially by London’s area. Actually, they founded and fortified (200 A.D.) the city, but, the first tower was built by William the Conqueror. Indeed, after the defeat of the king Harold Godwinson in the battle of Hastings, William ordered the construction of the white tower to celebrate the victory and his return in London. Meanwhile, William the Bastard fought against the last rebels of the country. The Great Tower was built with rocks directly imported from Normandy. It was achieved in 1100 A.D.

William the Conqueror
Translation : “lol, watch my beautiful sword !” / “Keep laughing about it asshole” Bottom : William the Conqueror in the battle of Hastings

The tower of London in medieval times

The Westminster palaces were more comfortable than the Tower of London. Consequently, the royal family never spent too much time there. Nevertheless, this landmark never ceased to expand and grow stronger. Richard the Lionheart (1189-1199), his brother King John and Henri III ordered the construction of new towers, moats, defensives systems, …etc. Each king made a contribution to the edifice. After the House of Plantagenet came the reign of the House of Tudor !

The House of Tudor

Maybe you already have heard things about this royal family. Indeed, the story of this house has inspired novels, tv shows and even movies. The well-known Henri VIII is famous for his incredible love affairs. His marital life was turbulent.

His first wife was the queen Catherine of Aragon. He had one daughter from this mariage : Mary I. She will be queen herself. And this mariage was obviously going to failed. But you are surely wondering “Why ?”. Well, let me explain it to you. Catherine was his brother’s wife. And now, you said “WHAT THE F*** ?”.choc

Explanations : Henry became king after the death of his brother. That is why he married his wife. Well, that’s disgusting… But for this period of time, it is normal.

The first problem was the infertility of his wife Catherine. She didn’t give birth to a boy (and she was growing older). Moreover, Henry VIII was unfaithful. He had an affair with Mary Boleyn. But he fell in love with Mary’s sister, Anne Boleyn. More ambitious than her sister, Anne refused to be the king’s mistress. She wanted to be her queen. Henry, madly in love, has to find a solution to marry Anne and maybe she will give him an heir. So he asks himself :

  • Do I have to légitimante the bastard of Mary Boleyn ? But I am not sure he is my son, even if he looks like me.
  • Do I have to wait until my daughter Mary give birth to a boy ?
  • Do I have to make Catherine disappear in order to marry Anne ?

What a difficult choice to make !

The pope can’t authorize the divorce. Henri VIII sulked in a corner for a while. What to do when your are the king ? You do whatever you want … The English church broke away from the papal authority. That was just the beginning of the English Reformation.

Anne et Heny finally get married. The new queen gave birth to a girl, Elizabeth. She will become queen after the death of her half-sister Mary I. Henri VIII obtained what he wanted so badly (Anne’s virginity) so he will come back to his old habits : infidelity.

However, the new queen was jealous. The tension was palpable in the couple. Henry wanted a son. He also wanted to make out with his mistresses peacefully (Anne doesn’t want to give a son to her king, she is so mean !) so Henry charged Anne of adultery, incest and even betrayal. You better not mess with that guy… Anne is sentenced to death and executed in the Tower of London. But, the king was kind (lol) to her. He chose beheading instead of death by fire. Another kind gesture : she will be executed with a sword instead of an axe. This way, her death will be quicker. Thanks the king for this act of love !

Anne Boleyn in the tower of london

Henry VIII did not stop here. He had six wives and a lot of mistresses. After the unfortunate Anne, he married Jane Seymour. She gave him the long-awaited son and heir : Edward VI. But Jane died soon after delivery from an infection. That’s so bad, the carnage could have been stopped here…

His next wife was Catherine Howard. I have to tell you something first : this Catherine was Anne’s cousin. Anne Boleyn’s cousin … What the fuck is wrong with this guy ? She was his fifth wife. She was a teenager when she married the old pervert king. He was about fifty years old then. The old man (for this epoch) limped and stank because of a badly healed injury. Catherine was accused of adultery. We can’t blame her fort that. Middle Ages was not a very egalitarian epoch. The king can be unfaithful but not the queen. She was also charged of betrayal. She has been executed by beheading in the Tower of London.

Dexter
If Henri VIII was alive nowadays

Indisposed by the gout, obese and still affected by its suitante wound of pus, Henry get married for the last time. Finally ! He married … Catherine Parr. Well, this guy is a little bit obsessed by this first name. She was lucky enough to survive until the death of Henry. But, life was very fun in this time, she died soon after delivering her child with her second husband. I will not be surprised if her last words were “Life’s a b*tch” !

The Tower of London has been the stage of several tragedies and unbelievable stories. That is why I love this place so much. That is better than watching Game of Thrones. There is even more secrets ! I hope this article was readable and that I gave you the envy to visit this monument.

Documentary sources : book bought on site and wikipedia.org

Weekend in Milan : a travel guide to visit the city of design and fashion

Many people told me they did not enjoy Milan. Italy is an incredible country, as much for its culture as its history but Milan does not please everyone. Here is my guide to spend a pleasant weekend in Milan.

Tramway in Milan

Italy is a country that has always attracted me, especially because italians are in a constant search for perfection. The pursuit of beauty and pleasure affects all domains ! For example, gastronomy has been elevated to the rank of art. In Italy, you will not just eat, you are going to live an experience. Indeed, this country is the inventor of slow food. You do not eat, You taste… You take the time necessary to identify each flavor and then you can appreciate the true value of the harmonious blend of flavors from each dish. The dolce vita is not a selling argument for tourists. It eventually permeate your every move and even your way of thinking. Italy is the ideal country to slow down the frantic pace of everyday life.

Milan, the city of design and fashion

Unlike other Italian cities, Milan is deeply active, ambitious and modern. That is maybe why many tourists dislike Milan. The contrast is deep with Venice or Rome. The city itself does not necessarily seek to please to the tourists. Milan did not have time. However, it would be a serious mistake to be content with the experience of your friends and family without go there to make your own idea. But behind a cold image, Milan conceals valuable assets and, like the rest of the country, a captivating story. Lovers of fashion and design will, in turn, fall in love with Milan.

The ideal is to go to Milan for a weekend in May or June. In this period, you will enjoy a pleasant weather and avoid the crowds of the summer holidays.

Day 1 : Get to the top of the Duomo

Begin your first morning with an italian coffee and a pastry. Then, you should go to the Piazza del Duomo and admire the characteristic color of the cathedral. It is better to begin this week-end with the highlights before taking the pleasure to get lost in this city. This is the only way to discover the most beautiful streets, buildings and shops. Climb to the top of the Duomo and enjoy the view.

After that, take your time to visit the second must-seen landmark of Milan : Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This shopping mall is located just at a few steps from the cathedral, so you can not miss it. Made of glass and steel, it is among one of the most beautiful thoroughfares in the world for all shopping and fashion lovers. Milan, the economic capital of the country, welcomes a great Fashion Week. It has nothing to envy to the Fashion weeks in Paris or New York. If you want to do shopping, take a walk in the fashion district : Quadrilatero d’Oro. Please note that this activity is to be reserved for the rich travelers.

Duomo in Milan

After a lunch and an ice-cream in (taste GROM, near the duomo), hang around a little in the historical district of Brera and its picturesque streets. Please do not miss La Scala opera house. The ideal would be to attend an opera after the ritual aperitivo. It is indeed an institution in Italy. It consist on eating appetizers (usually between 8 and 9pm) with a drink (alcoholic or not). The aperitivo, especially if food is included, is often enough to fill the bellies. More than gastronomy, this time of day is an invitation to discussion and sharing. This is an important moment of conviviality in the life of Milanese and Italian in general. Thus a good opportunity to experience the true atmosphere and culture of the city.

Day 2 : Museums and gardens

In the morning, you should take a look at the Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper“, which is in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. After that, you can visit the art museum Pinacoteca di Brera. If you prefer modern art, visit the Museo del Novecento. For lunch, try the specialties of the city : risotto and Cottoleta alla milanese. The afternoon (especially if the weather is nice), visit the Castello Sforzesco and the Parco Sempione. This fortress was built, as the name suggests, by the Sforza family by Francesco Forza, the duke of Milan. If you have a small budget, just visit the outside.

 

From May to October 2015, Milan hosts the World Expo with the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”. One more reason to succumb to its charms!

Final recommendations : plan several months in advance your visit, including to book tickets to the opera and to have a chance to see The Last Supper !

3 destinations for whale watching

Destinations for whale watching

Whale watching is one of my favorite activities when I am traveling. They are majestic animals. It is an amazing experience every time. I would not miss an opportunity to try to observe these cetaceans.

Whales in Iceland

 

1. Whale watching in Tadoussac, Quebec (Canada)

Tadoussac is a small town of Canada (Quebec). It is ideally located at the mouth of the Saguenay Fjord. The St. Lawrence River welcomes many species. You will see blue whales, fin whales and, with luck, belugas. Whales feed themselves in these waters so you have a good chance to observe them.

In order to protect whales from this very profitable business, the number of boats and zodiacs is regulated. I highly advise you to do whale watching with a sea kayak or even from the land. In general, it is better to choose an eco-tourism company.

I recommend you to visit the whale museum where you can get very close to the whales or rather what’s left: skeleton, baleen, … etc.

What is the best period ? July – August

2. Whales and dolphins in Húsavík, Iceland

Iceland is my favorite country (after mine of course). I think to go back there a lot. This is one of the best place in the world to try whale watching but unfortunately, you can also taste their meat… We will not talk about this polemic subject in this blog but I advise you to watch them before. The experience is so touching that you will probably forget the idea to taste their meat.

If you did not get the chance to observe the caudal fin (the tail actually) of a whale, you can always visit the magical places of Iceland such as Reykjavik and the golden circle.

What is the best period ? May – june

Boat for whale watching in Iceland

 

3. Humpback whales in Colombia

Colombia is one of the best destinations for whale watching, especially near the port of Buenaventura. Humpback whales come to these waters to breed and give birth. Having never gone myself, I prefer to let you read the article (in french) of the blog instinct voyageur.

What is the best period ? June to early October.

Dolphin in Iceland
A dolphin in the icelandic waters

My tips for a good whale watching experience

As I said it previously, I recommend you to watch whales from land or at least,  you should opt an animal-friendly company. The experience is more charming from a sea kayak or a sailboat than a fast zodiac. Moreover, you will probably going to be nauseous on a zodiac, even if you are not subject to seasickness usually.

Companies usually offer what they call a “guarantee”. That is, if you do not see any whales, you are refunded or you can go around again. Beware though, if you see dolphins or if you miss one whale that appeared once far, the warranty no longer works. Do not count too much on it. However, these destinations have impressive success rate (are they inflated?). Therefore, you have 90% chance of seeing a whale for these three destinations.

Be careful when you choose a company, their pictures generally show a whale jumping out of the water. Some companies promise you that you will see at least one tail fin. For instance, fin whales easily approach boats and often come to the surface to breath but it is rare to see their tail. Generally, they only show their dorsal fins. Observe a whale jumping out of the water is even more rare. I badly envy you if you have had the opportunity to see this mother nature show (and please share your experience in the comments).

Finally, do not plan to do whale watching for your last day trip. Indeed, if the weather is bad, the company can delay the departure to another day but she can refuse to refund. And it is not a secret that whale watching is a quite expensive activity.

 

Alaska, Argentina, Australia, Norway, Mexico, … there is a lot of places in the world where you can observe whales. Regardless of the location, I still feel an immense joy at the sight of a dorsal or caudal fin.

Belgian gastronomy : meals that you must taste !

I live near Belgium so I have visited this country many times. I really fell in love with the gastronomy. If you love belgian endive, stincky cheese or french fries, you will not be disappointed !

Gastronomie belge

The famous french fries

I have to warn you : belgian gastronomy does not make you lose weight ! But what a delight ! You absolutely need to taste the local food specialities. That would be an unforgivable mistake not to savor at least a cornet of those crunchy french fries. Yes, it is a cliché but it doesn’t matter. Who goes to Paris without visiting the Eiffel tower ? Seriously ?

French fries are crunchy because they are twice cooked. The first sensation is the crunchy and salty but those feelings are quickly replaced by a delicious sensation : the potato that melts in your mouth … Yes, I would give my life for french fries. Do not judge me ! There is nothing wrong with that. Warning : french fries in Belgium are cooked in beef grease so they are not suitable for a vegetarian lifestyle.

Carbonade flamande, potjevleesch, waterzooi et stoemp

Vegetarian and vegans, you can move to the next paragraph because those local food specialities are not for you unfortunately. Do not worry, I will talk about desserts soon…

The “carbonade flamande” is a meal with beef, onions and brown sugar. It taste like “boeuf bourguignon”, a very famous french meal. But, it is cooked with beer instead of wine. It is usually served with French fries. Yes, potatoes are everywhere in that country ! Deal with it !

Potjevleesch is a mix of several meats (rabbit, pork, veal and chicken) in jelly. It is always served with potatoes too. Waterzooï is a meal with fish or chicken (it depends) cooked in a broth. It is a kind of soup. You still risk to find potatoes but this time, there will be vegetables too. Finally !

To conclude, the stoemp. It is mashed potatoes. Yes, potato again ! Let me comfort you, you will find a few vegetables in this mash. This local food speciality is generally served with a white sausage.

Liege, city of salty and sweet delights

Liege is a French-speaking city of Wallonia in Belgium. “Le sirop de Liège” is a fruit syrup (pear and apple, sometimes dates). The texture is strange and the color is black like “vegemite” (famous local speciality of Australia). Fortunately, the taste is much better. It replaces easily jam for the breakfast.

This syrup is also used for typical meals as the “boulets à la liégoise“. It is meatballs prepared with pork and beef meats.  Nothing original ? Well, it is served with a sweet sauce (thanks to “sirop de Liège”) which gives a typical flavor to this meal. And with the meatballs ? French fries of course.

Even more famous : waffles ! Do I really need to explain what it is ? I don’t think so ! If you do not know what it is (shame on you), just watch the photo. Yes, I can see you right now, you are drooling over. You can also taste the “salade liégeoise“. It is prepared with potatoes, green beans and diced bacon. I never tasted it so if you had, let a comment below.

On the other hand, the “bouquette” is a meal of my childhood. My mother used to prepare it. It is moreover very surprising because my family lives in the east of France and not in the North… Maybe it is not exactly a “bouquette”  but it looks like it. This local food speciality is a kind of pancake prepared with buckwheat flour and raisins. Simple and tasty.

Spéculoos and merveilleux

I would give my life for a spéculoos ! When I will write an article about Lille, my city of adoption, I shall give you the name of a restaurant where you will taste a spéculoos tiramisu. This is a spiced biscuit. It is a little bit grainy with a heady taste of cinnamon.

The “merveilleux” (wonderfull in english) is a very sweet cake. It is a mix of whipped cream and meringues. Our Belgian friends thought that it was better necessary to cover the cake with shavings of chocolate… You can also savour it in Lille in the shop :” Aux merveilleux “.

Belgian cheese & beers

This article would not be long enough to talk about belgian cheese & beers. These two things are too much important ! So I’ve decided to publish in the next few weeks a specific article.

Other popular dishes

You should absolutely taste :

  • Chicons” or endives : braised, in a soup, with cheese, with ham … 
  • Shrimps croquettes : popular dish in Brussels
  • The “fricadelle” : a sausage (only for those who are afraid of nothing)
  • The “mitrailette” : a fricadelle served in some bread (“baguette”) with French fries on top of it and some sauce. In the north of France, this dish is also called “Américain”
  • Mussels with French fries.

You do not have to forgot the “babeluttes” (sweet caramels), the “cramique” (brioche with raisins) and of course, eat a lot of chocolate !

Top 5 thermal baths in budapest

If you are going to Budapest, you really have to test the thermal baths. The inhabitants (lucky guys) enjoy all year the benefits of this hot and rich in minerals.

Must-Read article : A few days in Budapest.

Ottoman or neoclassical ?

Two opposing styles in Budapest. Ottoman-inspired baths are welcoming. You will experience a travel in time and space.You will be carried away, according to your imagination, in ancient Rome or in the Orient of the XVI century. Neoclassical buildings are also beautiful, brighter. However, I find that this buildings sometimes lack charm. Anyway, it was not easy to make a top 5. My advice? Try them all! It is not a real advice? Ok, here is my ranking of the best thermal baths of Budapest.

1. Szent lukács baths

As you know, I prefer ottoman-style baths. Nevertheless, my favorite thermal baths are of neoclassical inspiration. Why ? Simply because it is cheap, beautiful, less crowded and most complete.

You will find there :

  • Steam room (Hammam) and sauna.
  • Bassins de très froid à bien chaud (24 à 40°C).
  • Restauration area.
  • Outdoor pools with whirlpools areas. In the photo, the smallest circle is more “intimate” but the great circle is my favorite attraction ! Jets are sometimes triggered, creating a sort of current.
  • Swimming pools.
  • Mud baths (but we never find it).

These baths are still mixed. You can go there any day with your friends. Of course, there is, as in all other rooms, the possibility of a massage (surcharge).

For who? For those who really want to enjoy an outdoor hot tub less “popular” than the Széchenyi baths !

Meilleurs bains thermaux de Budapest

2. Rudás baths

At the second position of this ranking of the best thermal baths in Budapest … Suspens … Rudás baths. The best baths according to my boyfriend. Why it’s not my top 1 ? These ottoman-style baths are, of course, more welcoming but they are also smaller. The queue is thus important. Expect more than 30 minutes. However, be aware ! The wait is always long !

Located in the district of Gellert Hill, it was built by the Turks in 1556. Its dome, characteristic of Ottoman style is inlaid with colored glass. It is here that we find the hottest pool (42 ° C) ! A steam room, a sauna with several rooms, a pool at 4 ° C (very nice after the sauna), a swimming pool is extra (additional charge). However, the thermal baths are not always mixed ! Tuesday is reserved for women. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are mixed.

3. Király thermal baths

Here you will find thermal baths with fewer tourists and even locals. Ottoman style, it is a little tight but nothing insurmountable. The interior is beautiful too. The pools are classical, from cold to slightly warm. The pool below the big dome is my favorite place because light is sublimated it. They clearly compete with Rudas Baths mostly because they are always mixed.

Why the 3rd place ? A little too far out.

4. Széchenyi baths

The most known, tourist and the dirtiest … Why to go there ? Because you can not miss it. That is why they are in this ranking and also because of the huge outdoor baths. You can watch chess players with their floating trays. If you do not like the touristy places, do not go …

5. Gellért baths

I’ll be honest with you, I did not go. Why? Due to time first and then also because the entry is excessively expensive. I refuse to pay something expensive when I can find somewhere else the same quality but cheaper. However, there are “unavoidable.” Why go there? It is a must for lovers of architecture of the XXI century.

Que conclure de ce classement des meilleurs bains thermaux de Budapest ?

If you do not have a lot of time, I suggest you to test the Szent lukács baths and Rudás baths. That will give you a good overview of different styles. And believe me, test all the baths of Budapest to you readers was a difficult quest ! You have to relax all day in water at 40 ° C. No really, such a nightmare … What ? You do not believe me? Okay I admit, it was a pure delight.

Europe : Where to travel in December ?

I really love winter and snow. December is, on my point of view, the best moment to have fun. There is so much places to visit ! Some people prefer to go far away from home to somewhere sunnier. I am one of those people who prefer the cold and the snow rather than sun and beaches. Here are my top 4 destinations for december.

1. Shopping in Strasbourg (France)

Christmas market in Strasbourg

Strasbourg is a nice city in the East of France. Its centre has been listed as Unesco World Heritage. Strasbourg and the region of Alsace are a nice place to visit all the year because of its heritage sites, culture and gastronomy. You will walk in this amazing city, immerse yourself in its history with its half-timbered houses. Its unique atmosphere came from the double influence of Latin and German culture.

December is the best moment to come in Strasbourg. The city is known for its Christmas market, the oldest in France (28 nov – 31 dec).

 

2. Skiing in French Alps

Alps are always a good destination in winter. Skiing and snowboarding in French or Swiss Alps is a great experience. The landscapes are magical. If you don’t like skiing, you have plenty of other activities : snowshoeing, snowmobiling, dogsledding, ice climbing, …etc.

And what to say about the gastronomy ? Cheese and wine everyday ! Be careful, skiing is not always a good way to loose fat 😉

Where to travel in December : french Alps

3. Meeting Santa Claus in Lapland

Santa Claus is Finnish and lives in Lapland. You can meet him all year round in his office in Rovaniemi. Of course, this is a great destination for children but for adults too. Winter in Finland is a unique experience. First reason is the darkness and the cold weather. Of course, if you wear the right layers of clothing, the cold will be bearable. And you will come back home with the pleasure to say : I have been above the Arctic Circle. With luck, you will observe the northern lights ! After Lapland, you can also visit Helsinki.

The official travel guide of Finland : http://www.visitfinland.com 

4. Chilling in Budapest (hungary)

Budapest
Budapest

Budapest is a nice place to chill, especially with a low budget. One of the best things to do in Budapest is to relax in a thermal bath. I recommend you to test the Széchenyi bath and its open-air sections. There is more than 12 baths in Budapest. The city has also a lot of Unesco world Heritage sites : the bank of Danube, the Buda Castle, …etc. December is a good month to discover Hungary, its culture and history.

And you, where would you like to go in december ?

5 packing tips for traveling light

To really enjoy your travel, you have to pack smart. Heavy luggage will slow you down. If this is your first trip, I must warn you : you will walk more than you expected ! That’s why you need to pack smart and travel light. In this article, I will give you 5 packing tips for traveling light ! Feel free to leave your own advice in the comments below.

1. Choose wisely your travel bag

One month, two weeks or three days, it does not matter. I highly recommend you to choose a backpack instead of a rolling bag. Choose a bag between 30L to 40L. That will be enough for most travels, even for one month. If you take a bigger bag, you will take stuff that you do not really need. That is as simple as that. The only reason to take a 60-70-80L bag is when you have to take your food, gear and fuel with you for a long-time trip. It is said.

travel bag

2. Use at the most your smartphone

If you will have a constant access to a socket, you can use your smartphone for many things. There are apps for everything nowadays. One of my favorite is City Maps 2Go, an offline map and Travel Guide. You can plan your trip at home and use it anywhere without internet connexion. It is available for Android and iOS.

3. Use a money belt

A money belt has two functions. The first goal is to relieve you of your heavy wallet. Who needs all its loyalty cards in a foreign country ? The second goal and the most important one is to protect yourself from pickpockets. You can put your debit and credit cards and all your essential documents in this belt. Of course, the money belt must be under your clothes. Put your money for the day in another hidden pocket. Nobody should know that you are wearing a money belt.

4. Please, don’t take clothes you will never wear

The secret for traveling light is to take the bare minimum, especially concerning clothes. Be smart, and take functional ones. I love convertible pants. You can convert your pants into a short. Thereby, you will save space and weight.

I always bring quick-dry clothing (t-shirts, panties, towel, …) with me. To save space, you will have to do the laundry, so it is important to choose clothes easy to dry, especially if you are going in a cold country.

5. Traveling light is a lifestyle

Taking less is a good exercise to fight capitalism by changing our point of view. That could seems extreme but after a trip with the bare minimum, you will probably ask yourself : Do I really need that new smartphone ? That new fridge ? In a trip or in real life, always ask you the following question : Do I really need that stuff ?

If the answer is :

  • “No, I don’t” –> Do not take (or buy) it.
  • “Not really but … You never know !” –> Do not take it.
  • “Maybe” –> Put it aside and ask you this question again when your bag is almost finished.
  • “Yes, I want that stuff because I love it” –> Do not take it.
  • “Yes, I need that stuff to survive and enjoy my trip” –> Take it.

Congratulations, you are now a star at packing and traveling light !

excited
Source : giphy.com

Venice, the magnificent

Venice is one of the most beautiful city of all Italy but it is also very touristic. I absolutely recommend you to visit Venice but please, not in july or august.

Architecture in Venice

I immediatly fell in love with this city. I arrived at the train station. It was a hot day, I was tired and the only thing I had in my mind for the last 3 hours was to find my hostel and sleep. But when I crossed the door, I couldn’t breath for a moment. The view was incredible.

Venice, the magnificent

From the train station to the town center, you have the time to see all the highlights of the city : Rialto, Basilica di San Marco, Palazzo Ducale. If you don’t want to walk, you can take the vaporetto number 2 to Piazzo San Marco.

Basilica San Marco in Venice
Basilica San Marco

Burano : the island of fishermen you must visit

I also recommend you to visit Burano, an island near Venice, about 20 minutes by boat. Burano is a little town of fishermen. The island is known for its lace and, above all, for its colorful houses.

Colorful houses in Burano, an island near Venice

Fishermen painted their houses with these beautiful colors for one simple reason : find their home in the fog !

Burano, an island near Venice

This is also a great way to escape from Venice and its waves of tourists. But, don’t dream, there is a lot of tourist also in Burano. If you can, visit this island early in the morning.

Burano

To enjoy the particular atmosphere of Venice, take the time to roam its narrow streets at sunset and during the night. Walk in a district neglected by tourists. Find a nice bar where everybody talks italian, sit with a nice glass of Prosecco (sparkling white wine). Observe the people, listen the conversations in Italian and their exuberant accent. Immerse yourself in this unique venetian culture.

View from the Rialto bridge
View from the Rialto bridge in Venice, italy

For God’s sake, get lost ! In Venice, the amazement is at every corner.