jeudi 24 mars 2016


Japan is a beautiful country. That isn't breaking news. I don't think I'm wrong when I assume that the country is on most people's wishlists. It's not hard  to see why. The culture is rich, complex and everywhere. Nature is wild, pure and easy to access, even in big cities like Osaka or Tokyo. There's always something to learn about, or discover be it modern or ancient. People are wonderful. Everywhere you look is worth taking a picture. Had I not been in love already, Japan would have stolen my heart when I first visited 4 years ago. 

Whenever people ask me what my favourite place in Japan is, or what was the most beautiful city I have been to I cannot choose. I want to pick Kyoto over Tokyo for its amazing architecture and peacefulness, yet Tokyo is intriguing, charming and addictive. I cannot get over Kamakura, nor ignore the beauty and history of Hiroshima. 
Even in Kyoto alone, you could choose different areas, prefer temples to museums, Gion to the more modern streets and little shops... And you could even take the train for a few minutes, and arrive in Arashiyama. Your choice would be then made even more difficult.

The day was hot and extremely sunny. Way too hot for an April day. With no map or plan in hand, we just walked around the city making our way through the rather impressive crowd of tourists. As we were heading towards the river, I noticed a man about to take a selfie with his mobile phone and moved aside to avoid photobombing him. Just when I walked past him he moved closer, took my arm, smiled at me and took a picture. He left as quickly as it all happened. 
That isn't rare in Japan, my pale skin combined with my green/blue eyes and hair apparently make a very picture worthy combination. But usually people ask politely, with a big smile and a few giggles. This took me by surprise but it was quickly forgotten when the emerald blue ribbon appeared in front of us. The hills surrounding the river were a myriad of greens, some teenagers and couples were laughing in blue barks, families were walking in the shade.
A few kms away, the bamboo forest was a wonderful picture of lines and shades, rays of light in which parcels of dust were dancing. 
That's one of the many charms of Japan; every leaf, every drop, every cloud and every stone whisper a poem of beauty and delicateness. 
In one deep breath, in one glance, one can hear it, being hummed, oh so gently.

dimanche 20 mars 2016

When travelling isn't that great.

Travelling is a wonderful thing. The experiences you get on the road, the people you meet far away from home, the sceneries, the food, the knowledge, the historical legacy and a lot more ... are wonderful. They change you and never really leave you.
That being said, travelling can sometimes turn out to be ... not so nice.

The #1 thing that can momentarily (or for good) a trip is sickness. Getting sick while you're travelling is ... really a challenge. A challenge for your organization, dignity at times, and mind. I tend to get slightly panicky, quite scared, usually resulting in a worst state. I have been various sorts of sick while traveling, i've had conjunctivitis, really bad colds (when I was in Japan in 2012 I was coughing every night because of a badly irritated throat that lasted for about 2months, imagine coughing for 2months....), very painful period cramps, and i've also had the typical traveller sickness: the upset stomach and the diarrhea. When I first strated travelling I never bothered with taking medicine at all. But how I wish, I had! I could have used some in Russia in 2011, after faiting twice and spending half of the day in the toilets. 

I was so sick and scared that I didn't see anything of Moscow but the underground, the hotel I was staying at, the supermarket which toilets I used and the venue in which the concert I was attended took place. Such a shame! My stay could have been pretty different if I didn't feel like I was dying every ten minutes.

A shitty mood can also impact your trip in a rather consequent way. Just like back home, when you're abroad things happen. You might argue with your travel partner, you might have a bad encounter with a few locals, dislike the food or for no particular reason be moody. Those things are out of your control. What you can control though, is how you respond to those things. It may be difficult depending on where you are, how long you've been traveling for and other circumstances, but you might want to remind yourself that this is a special time. You might never come back to that place, you spent some money to get there and you should probably try to enjoy the experience to the fullest.
During the same trip than the one that led me to Russia, I visited Stockholm. Most people who visited the city will tell you that they had a great experience! That it was a pretty city, that it was clean and edgy and that they would like to go back!
I had the worst time there, and I wasn't even really sick. For some reason nothing worked out. The staff at the hotel, the people that we met throughout the trip, the weather, the food... and the city, that I wasn't very fond of to start with, ended up losing all interest to me.
I am pretty sure I could have enjoyed the city at least a little bit more, had I been more mature and more experienced, because after all there's always something to be seen and discovered wherever you are!

in the line for the show, numbers for each person that slept outside in the cold....

Last but not least, a serious lack of organization or experience can make travelling a lot more difficult than it should be. When I landed in Moscow, for my first travel experience, I took a cab from the airport to the hotel I was staying at and was charged 130 euros... I also didn't bring any map of the city, or guidebook or had any knowledge of russian so that made every little thing very complicated and expensive too. I also had not checked with my bank what my authorized overdraft was (I ended up exceeding by a lot), I also hadn't printed out some important reservations ... 
When I went to Japan for the first time, I hadn't packed accordingly, I had taken utterly unnecessary stuff and not only was my bag therefore very heavy, but I had to pay an extra fee on my flight back to Paris ( a big one).  Out of few bad experiences I have had travelling, those are the ones I mind the least, but when money is involved it can have serious consequences on the rest of your trip. 
That's why you want to plan things before flying off to a foreing country where wifi might not available, or information as easy to have access to.

If you want to hear more about my worst travel experiences (in details) head over to my youtube channel, where I have uploaded a video sharing some of them. 
& let me know what yours are! There's at least one comforting thing about bad travel experiences : we've all experienced some!

mercredi 9 mars 2016

Cabo da Roca

This is probably not a surprise or news for most of you but I wasn't born in Paris. I was born in the very south of France, and lived about 15minutes away from the seaside by car until I was 18. Then I decided it was time to go to Paris and study. Well, it wasn't that easy and that simple, but ... let's stick to this. Growing up, I never really realised how lucky I was to live in a rather quiet town, in such a beautiful scenery. Now, I sometimes catch myself missing the sea, missing the beach and the overall atmosphere you only find where you can hear the waves and smell the salty air. 
The sea and the ocean are pretty different, and I love them both. The first time I saw the ocean was in Japan, in Kamakura. Well, we now count a second time, and a rather impressive one.

Thanks to one of Yolaine's friends, we heard of Cabo da Roca and decided at our arrival in Sintra to take the bus to what was described to us as "an amazingly beautiful place". or something along those lines.

And it was worth the rather ... sinuous and long drive.

It felt almost too good to be true. The sun, how unexpected visiting this place was, the rolling waves and beautiful cliffs. This was such a great experience, one of the highlights of my trip to Portugal. And seriously, there was way too much blue for me to not be in awe!

mardi 1 mars 2016

Big Buddha and big luck.

Let's start this post with saying that this picture is pretty cool. Because I am standing next to the 2nd biggest statue in the world. Yes. 100 meters high plus a 20meters base. A total of 120 meters, and a very very impressive statue. A Buddha that makes the one in Kamakura, no matter how much I love it, look really really small. The pictures don't pay it justice at all. 
Back in April of last year, my sister and I travelled through Japan, and after visiting Kyoto, Nara, Akameguchi and Takao san, coming back to Tokyo and its skyscrapers felt a little bit too much like the end of this wonderful trip. 
My sister and I spent the evening looking online for a daytrip from Tokyo, a last but not least adventure in Japan. Hiking spots and trails were many but we were both way too tired (don't underestimate how much you'll walk in Japan), so we decided to look up our other main interest : religious buildings. And we saw that less than two hours away from Tokyo you could see the 2nd biggest statue in the world, an amazing Daibutsu that you could even enter... our choice was made!

One of the things I love about Japan is how easy it is to navigate between cities, villages and sightseeings. Yes, knowing japanese does help but the buses, metro, trains are so efficient, the people so helpful that it's never a real issue. And if you remain in the most known and urban areas, most signs are in english anyway.

Finding the daibutsu wasn't very difficult thanks to the lovely lady who asked for us (twice) to the bus driver whether he was driving there or not. With us in the bus, two chinese tourists and other japanese people. We were the only non asian tourists, and even when we reached the park in which stands the Daibutsu, there weren't that many visitors.  A surprise, given how affordable it is and most importantly, how beautiful both the statue and the surroundings are!

so many little buddhas in the big one

While we were sitting a few meters away from the Buddha, next to a pound an old japanese man came to us and we started chatting, in my rather meagre japanese. He had just gone through a surgery on his leg, and was talking weekly walks in the park, enjoying the nature and lack of crowds or cars. I had to agree with him, it was a wonderful place. Peaceful, beautiful, interesting and out of time. Out of the city. 
I felt very lucky. I felt so lucky. To be there, to see those monuments, to meet those people, to share those moments with my sister. I can't even count how often I felt this way : lucky, while on the road. In Italy, in Ukraine, in Japan, in Portugal ... Lately I have been reading a few posts about how privileges and luck are important in travelling. Why it matters, and why no, a desire to see the world and savings don't necessarily make it possible to travel. Because there are many factors in my life that made it possible for me to enjoy a bento box in Ushiku, other than me working and saving money. 
Here is a wonderful post by the brilliant Brenna, and another one by the blogger Oneika. 
I will perhaps write a bit more about it, in a next post, because just like anyone who travels a bit, I get the question very frequently "but how do you afford to travel?", and the answer is much more complex than I'm saving and have a part-time job.

samedi 27 février 2016


I have been lucky enough to travel quite a bit within Europe. I have been in the north, the east, the west and the south of the old continent, yet there was a little piece of land that I had never set a foot on. I had never been to Portugal nor Spain. Not that I had no interest, I had actually been wanting to visit Portugal for a while, but ... it just never happened. There would always be a better deal on Germany, or another amazing eastern european country to discover, or... well, Budapest.
I am one of those travellers that is always torn between discovering a new country and visiting a good old lover. So this time, when my friend and I were planning this trip I naturally found myself in that position again. Venice or Lisbon?
To be honest, I really wanted to visit Venice again, despite having already been there twice. We eventually ended up booking flights for Lisbon, and I am SO glad we did.
Don't get me wrong, I would have loved walking in Burano again, and hearing italian all around me, but Lisbon exceeded my expectations. I knew the city would be lovely, what I didn't know was how much I'd love it. Almost as much as Budapest, which, if you know me, says a lot.

There are a few things that make me think " I'm going to live it here". Among those, architecture, people and the vibes of the city. I have a thing for slightly hectic, old, messy architecture. When different kinds of buildings, eras, styles and colours are all blended together in a street, I feel happy. When I get to experience multiculturalism, I'm happy too. I perhaps strangely, feel at home when I see asian supermarkets, indian restaurants and hear several languages in the same metro wagon. I also love narrow streets, little shops and restaurants, laundry hanging from windows and colorful walls. 

 People were also very lovely. I felt safe, comfortable, the metro was efficient and clean, the metro stations really impressive and artsy ... To make it brief, I loved Lisbon. As soon as I stepped oustide the plane, felt the sun on my face I knew it would be a good trip. Later, when we met the fruits&vegetables sellers down the road where we were staying, and we started chatting and ended up leaving with free oranges, I knew it would be a really good trip. 
And when I saw all the blue walls, blue azulejos, the blue sky, I knew it would be a wonderful trip.

I still have loads of pictures from Lisbon, including some of the most beautiful religious monuments I have seen and many pictures of the amazing Sintra. So I shall see you very very soon, to share all that beauty with you!