[Guest post] Crown Mountain – the taste of conquering a crown

Gostaria de ler esse post em Português? Clique aqui.

Since I’ve arrived in Vancouver, I’ve been hiking a couple of mountains, lakes and parks. What started as a touristy activity, fortunately became part of my new life-style, a real passion. I’ve found in nature the peace I had been looking for and in addition, the certainty that I’m always going to live a unique adventure as the challenges are always going to appear in different ways on the trails. Therefore, I’ve started searching for more challenging trails, instead of easy and mainstream ones. That’s when I discovered Crown Mountain, the hardest challenge for me so far.

What makes this trail so difficult is you have to hike down a very steep trail into Crown Pass before hiking up the steep side of Crown Mountain, then return the same route. The elevation change is therefore misleading compared to other hikes as you have to essentially hike the elevation change twice. (Vancouver Trails)

After two unsuccessfully attempts to reach the top of Crown Mountain, a friend and I decided we should try it once again. In both, we’ve supposed to be stronger than the nature trying to face a bad weather condition. But our third attempt should be a success, thus we thought about our mistakes in order to prepare ourselves better and waited for the day with the best weather conditions. There wouldn’t be anything able to discourage us to reach the Crown’s top. We had made up our minds and were focused on reaching that.

Cloudy and rainy weather have pushed us off the mountain in our very first attempt.

In order to save energy for the Crown trail, we ascended the Grouse Grind in 1h27m. An average of 20 minutes above the time we had done the last times. Then we stopped at the Grouse restaurant for a quick coffee and later on headed to the Crown trail. At the Grouse top, the staff were already making arrangements for the ski season, throwing snow with some machines and covering all the ground. The landscape and the environment were completely different from some weeks ago.

lake-crown-before-later-copyright

Two photos at the same place in a four-week span.

The trail was also looking quite different from our last attempts. There were ice and snow on some places, which turned the path slippery and a little bit dangerous. Some parts of the trail looked like an ice skating rink, we didn’t have another choice but slide over the ice from one point to the other. And when we were neither sliding nor walking, we had to climb. We often stopped for a couple of minutes staring at the frozen rocks and the water draining beneath the ice, trying to figure out a way to go forward on the blocked path on the trail. The risk of falling and rolling down the slope was imminent. The adrenaline is always inherent in the mountain.

IMG_3371-copyright

Ice skating was sometimes the only option to go forward on the trail.

Despite all the obstacles and risks presented on our way, we headed up on a good pace. That was when we got at the point we had stopped in our very first hike. From there on, everything would be new. We double-checked our map and saw that we were close to the summit. The anxiety increased after each footstep. The feeling of being so close of a tough conquer was relieving.

ice-rotated

Stalactites that looked like ice spears.

The last footsteps till the summit seemed the longest. The mountain somehow seemed to push me up, giving me strength when I had none left. And the summit’s sight preview was stunning. Every breath filled up my lungs with a cold and light air. The feeling of happiness was unique, generated by an incredible sight of the snowy mountain-tops and endless valleys full of trees.

Shortly afterwards, we spotted a crow on the summit. Our goal was to get to the spot where it was sitting, but it seemed to reign there, showing to be the mountain’s owner when it looked at us. As if it was saying to us that it gets there way faster and with a lot less effort than us, whenever it wanted. However, the king of the mountain was generous and flew subtly over a stone beside and conceived us some room, so we could feel like kings for a while as well.

IMG_3406-edited-copyright

The last footsteps till the summit. The king was already there.

Sitting on a stone at 1,504 meters high left me speechless. Any neglect or loss of balance could cost my life. There wasn’t anything below to hold me if I slipped down. A 360-degree spin gave me a real notion of how high we were. It was possible to see Squamish and Whistler mountain ranges northwards, the Coquitlam region mountain range and Chilliwack eastwards, the Vancouver Island westwards and even a couple of mountains from the USA border southwards. I didn’t know where to look at. At this point it became clear to me why the crow felt like the king sitting on that stone, privileged to be able to have that sight whenever it wanted.

crown2-copyright

The numerous valleys and the snowy mountains from the Squamish and Whistler area.

I started counting with my friend the quantity of valleys that we could see eastwards and we count 8. Between one valley and another, there were mountains full of pine trees still green and some of them even with snow at the top. That sequence, whimsically sculpted by the nature, gave me the impression that the mountains were like the waves of the sea and were in constant movement taking us far away. However the most impressive was in fact the uninterrupted silence, that gave me a felling of being in another dimension. The silence would only be broken every now and then by the cry of a crow or the wind bypassing the mountain. It was a mysterious silence, that didn’t bother us at all. It seemed to have so much going on down there in the forest, but at the same time we seemed to be far from any living being. A rare silence full of peace, impossible to be felt in the city.

IMG_3412 - Goat Mountain and Mount Baker-edited-copyright

The Goat Mountain featured and all the grandeur of Mount Baker in the background, with its 3,286 m altitude and the 116km away in a straight line, already in American territory.

The English Bay ships looked like toys, as if somebody had put them with the fingers and left them there stopped for hours. The city buildings, trees and parks seemed a scene of the game The Sims, and for sure, as if I was there playing it. I saw the city but the city didn’t see me. I didn’t hear the city and nobody heard me as well. I was close to everything and far away at the same time. I was on the mountain, but the world continued to happen.

IMG_3413-edited-copyright

The mirror, the model and the ship toys.

At a mountain-top, the sun is the only thing that makes us realize that time hasn’t stopped. And the autumn Sun always far on the horizon illuminated English Bay and the sea, reflecting the sun’s light like a mirror. The valleys located behind the high mountains shouldn’t had received a single sun light for days, and sure enough, will stay like this for the next few months. Its warmth, which almost didn’t reach us, wasn’t enough to keep us warm. Luckily there was no wind and we were well bundled up this time. Moreover, the temperature at the top of the Crown should be nearing 0° C. As the sun was going down, we remembered then that it was time to go, after all it was an autumn day and there was just over 8 hours of daylight. We couldn’t ignore the time, otherwise the descent in the dark could be even harder.

The way back wasn’t worse because we rested and relaxed our legs at the top of the mountain. We came back slowly, but in a constant pace, with that wonderful sensation of a conquered goal. Even though, between one climb and another on the trail, I would feel the thigh muscle pulling off and begging to me to stop. Of course that I would ignore it and kept on walking. However, some stops were inevitable so we could appreciate the beauty of the sunset, shyly shinning between the pines, with the city lighting up and preparing itself for the night. And before returning to the city, we still stopped for a while at the beginning of the trail to appreciate the last rays of sun on the horizon and the uncountable stars starting to show up in the clear sky.

IMG_3500-edited-copyright

The city lighting up with the arrival of dusk.

The bigger the challenge, the bigger the will to conquer it. It might be a mountain-top or all the challenges that show up in life, we should never give up our dreams and goals, it doesn’t matter how many times we’ll have to attempt or how hard they’ll be, if we believe we can do it, so we really can. The Crown Mountain was one of the biggest psychological tests I’ve ever had in my life. However, it made me discover that I’m stronger that I thought I was. And such as in life, the mountain had set up rules and had determined tough obstacles to reach it. As if it was a queen and had given us a message: “I’ll make you think about quitting from start to finish, but if you persist you won’t regret conquering my crown.”. Do I still need to say whether it was worth it or not?

dusk-copyright

All the time the Sun is always down for some and rising for others. Challenges that come to an end, new challenges that arise.

Advertisements

[Post convidado] Crown Mountain – O sabor da conquista de uma coroa

Do you wanna read it in English? Click here.

Desde quando cheguei em Vancouver tenho feito algumas trilhas. Entre montanhas, lagos e parques, o que começou como uma atividade turística acabou se tornando parte do meu novo estilo de vida, uma verdadeira paixão. Encontrei na natureza a paz que eu tanto procurava e além disso, a certeza de que sempre irei viver uma aventura única já que os desafios sempre irão surgir nas trilhas em diversas maneiras. Comecei então a procurar por trilhas mais desafiadoras, ao invés das mais fáceis e populares. Foi quando descobri a Crown Mountain, meu maior desafio até o momento.

O que faz essa trilha ser tão difícil é que você tem que descer uma trilha muito íngreme até a passagem da Crown antes de subir o lado íngreme da Crown Mountain, e então retornar pelo mesmo trajeto. A mudança de elevação engana se comparada com outras trilhas, pois você tem que essencialmente caminhar pela mudança de elevação duas vezes. (Vancouver Trails)

Depois de duas tentativas mal-sucedidas de chegar ao topo da Crown Mountain, um amigo e eu decidimos que deveríamos tentar novamente. Em ambas, achamos que poderíamos ser mais fortes que a natureza tentando encarar as péssimas condições do tempo. Mas nossa terceira tentativa deveria ser bem-sucedida, assim refletimos sobre nossos erros pra nos prepararmos melhor e esperamos pelo dia com as melhores condições climáticas. Não haveria algo que pudesse nos desencorajar a chegar ao topo da Crown. Nós estavámos convencidos e focados em chegar lá.

Fomos expulsos da montanha devido ao tempo nublado e chuvoso na nossa primeira tentativa.

Com o intuito de guardar energia para a Crown, subimos a Grouse Grind em 1h27m. Uns 20 minutos acima do tempo que tinhamos feito das últimas vezes. Paramos então no restaurante da Grouse para um café rápido e seguimos para a trilha da Crown. No topo da Grouse, os funcionários já estavam preparando a pista de esqui para a temporada, jogando gelo com as máquinas e cobrindo todo o chão. A paisagem e o ambiente eram completamente diferentes de algumas semanas anteriores.

lake-crown-before-later-copyright

Duas fotos do mesmo lugar com 4 semanas de diferença.

A trilha também estava bem diferente das últimas vezes. Havia gelo e neve em alguns trechos, o que deixava o caminho escorregadio e um pouco perigoso. Algumas partes da trilha pareciam uma pista de patinação no gelo, não tinhamos então outra opção a não ser deslizar sobre o gelo de um ponto ao outro. E quando não estávamos deslizando ou caminhando, tinhamos que escalar. Diversas vezes ficávamos parados por minutos observando as pedras congeladas e a água escorrendo por baixo do gelo, tentando descobrir uma forma de avançar o caminho obstruído na trilha. O risco de cair e rolar ribanceira abaixo era iminente. Segurança era algo inexistente. A adrenalina é inerente na montanha.

IMG_3371-copyright

Patinar no gelo às vezes era a única opção para avançar na trilha.

Apesar de todos os obstáculos e riscos presentes no caminho, seguimos numa velocidade boa. Foi quando chegamos ao ponto que tinhamos parado da primeira vez. A partir dali, tudo seria novidade. Confirmamos no mapa e vimos que faltava pouco para alcançarmos o topo. A ansiedade aumentava a cada passo. A sensação de estar tão perto de uma dura conquista era aliviadora.

ice-rotated

Stalactites que mais pareciam lanças de gelo.

Os últimos passos até o topo da montanha parecem ser os mais longos. Mas a montanha parece de alguma forma me empurrar para cima e colocar as forças que já faltavam nas minhas pernas. E a prévia da vista do topo é estonteante. Cada respirada enchia meus pulmões com um ar frio e leve. O sentimento de felicidade era único, pois era gerado por uma vista incrível das montanhas com neve no topo e vales intermináveis repletos de árvores.

Logo avistamos um corvo no cume. Nosso objetivo era chegar onde ele estava, mas ele parecia reinar e demonstrava ser o dono da montanha quando olhava pra nós. Como se estivesse nos dizendo que ele chega ali muito mais rápido que nós e com muito menos esforço que nós, na hora que ele quiser. Mas o rei da montanha foi generoso, voou sutilmente para uma pedra ao lado e nos deu espaço para nos sentirmos reis também por alguns instantes.

IMG_3406-edited-copyright

Os últimos passos até o topo. O rei já estava lá.

Estar sentado em uma pedra a 1.504 metros de altitude me deixou sem palavras. Qualquer descuido ou perda de equilibrio poderia custar minha vida. Não havia nada abaixo de mim para me segurar caso eu escorregasse. Um giro de 360º com a cabeça me dava a real noção de quão alto estavámos. Era possível ver a cadeia de montanhas de Squamish e Whistler ao norte, a cadeia de montanhas da região de Coquitlam e Chilliwack ao leste, a Vancouver Island ao oeste e até algumas montanhas da fronteira com os EUA ao sul. Eu não sabia pra onde olhar. Neste momento ficou claro pra mim porque o corvo se sentia o rei sentado naquela pedra, privilegiado ele por poder ter essa vista quando quiser.

crown2-copyright

Os inúmeros vales e as montanhas nevadas da região de Squamish e Whistler ao fundo.

Comecei a contar com meu amigo a quantidade de vales que conseguíamos ver em direção ao leste, conseguimos contar 8. E entre um vale e outro, haviam as montanhas repletas de pinheiros ainda verdes e algumas com neve no topo. Essa sequência, caprichosamente esculpida pela natureza, me dava a impressão de que as montanhas eram como as ondas do mar e estavam em pleno movimento nos levando pra longe. Mas o mais impressionante mesmo era o silêncio, tão constante que me dava a impressão de estar em outra dimensão. Poucas vezes interrompido pelo grito de um corvo ou do vento contornando a montanha. Era um silêncio misterioso, um silêncio que não incomodava. Parecia ter tanta coisa acontecendo lá embaixo dentro da floresta, mas ao mesmo tempo parecíamos estar distantes de qualquer ser vivo. Um silêncio raro cheio de paz, impossível de ser sentido na cidade.

IMG_3412 - Goat Mountain and Mount Baker-edited-copyright

A Goat Mountain em destaque e toda a imponência do Mount Baker ao fundo, com seus 3.286m de altitude e a 116km de distância em linha reta, já em território americano.

Cidade que de lá de cima parecia ser uma maquete. Os navios na English Bay pareciam de brinquedo, como se alguém tivesse colocado eles com o dedo e deixado lá por horas parados. Os prédios, árvores e parques da cidade pareciam uma cena do jogo The Sims, e claro, como se eu estivesse ali jogando. Eu via a cidade mas ela não me via. Eu não ouvia a cidade e ninguém também me ouvia. Eu estava perto de tudo e longe ao mesmo tempo. Eu estava na montanha, mas o mundo continuou acontecendo.

IMG_3413-edited-copyright

O espelho, a maquete e os navios de brinquedo.

No topo de uma montanha, a única certeza que temos de que o tempo não parou é o sol. E o sol de outono sempre longe no horizonte iluminava a English Bay e o mar que refletiam sua luz como um espelho. Os vales localizados atrás das altas montanhas já deviam estar há dias sem receber uma luz sequer do sol, e com certeza, passarão os próximos meses assim. Seu calor, que quase não chegava em nós, era insuficiente para nos aquecer.  Por sorte não ventava forte e estávamos (dessa vez) bem agasalhados. Aliás, a temperatura no topo da Crown devia estar beirando os 0ºC. Conforme o sol foi baixando, lembramos então que era hora de partir, afinal era um dia de outono, tinhamos pouco mais de 8 horas de luz natural, não podiamos esquecer do tempo, senão a descida no escuro poderia ficar mais difícil ainda.

O caminho de volta só não foi pior por causa do descanso e da relaxada nas pernas que tivemos no topo. Voltamos devagar, mas numa velocidade constante, com aquela sensação maravilhosa de objetivo conquistado. Ainda assim, entre uma escalada e outra da trilha, eu sentia o músculo da coxa puxando e implorando para eu parar. Claro que eu o ignorava e continuava andando. Contudo, algumas paradas foram inevitáveis pra apreciarmos a beleza do pôr-do-sol que timidamente brilhava entre os pinheiros, e a cidade se iluminando preparando-se para a noite. E antes de retornar à cidade, ainda paramos por um tempo no início da trilha pra apreciarmos os últimos raios de sol no horizonte e as incontáveis estrelas começando a aparecerem no céu limpo.

IMG_3500-edited-copyright

A cidade se iluminando com a chegada do anoitecer.

Quanto maior o desafio, aior a vontade de conquistá-lo. Pode ser o topo de uma montanha ou todos os desafios que aparecem na via, nós não devemos nunca desistir dos nossos sonhos e objetivos, nao importa quantas vezes nos teremos que tentar ou quao dificil eles serão, se acreditamos que podemos fazer, entao realmente podemos. A Crown Mountain foi um dos maiores testes psicológicos que já tive na minha vida. Porem, me fez descobrir que sou mais forte do que pensava ser. E assim como na vida, a montanha definiu suas regras e determinou duros obstaculos para chegar la. Como se ela fosse uma rainha e tivesse dado o recado: “vou fazer você pensar em desistir do início ao fim, mas se você persistir não se arrependerá de conquistar a minha coroa”. Preciso dizer se valeu a pena?

dusk-copyright

A todo momento o sol está sempre se pondo para alguns e nascendo para outros. Desafios que chegam ao fim, novos desafios que vem a surgir.

[Guest post] The day I was close to the sky twice

Gostaria de ler esse post em Português? Clique aqui.

In my last post I wrote (and showed) a little bit about Vancouver city, its surroundings, its gorgeous nature and some amazing trails around here. Today I’m going to tell you guys about the trail that has marked my life and made me definitely feel that I’m in Canada.

It was a sunny summer Sunday and I had scheduled with my friend to get on the very first bus of the line 160 right after 9am. We wanted to arrive early in Buntzen Lake Park to hike and enjoy the day. We got off in Port Moody to take another bus (C26) and some minutes later we arrived in the park. At 10:30am we were ready to start the trail.

bear3

Warnings before the start of the trail let people aware of the existence of bears in the area and also warn people to be careful.

The beginning of the trail is really easy and well signalized, but soon the one-thousand meters climbing starts and my sedentary legs began to hurt. It’s a peaceful trail, we met only a couple of few people on our way, perhaps because there’s not much information about it on Internet, which gave us a even higher sensation of freedom, because when we were not talking it was possible to hear the sound of the birds and squirrels running through the bushes. Every person who likes nature, would appreciate this moment.

tree-name

Twin trees grew over the rocks and built a cave.

After some hours going up we had already a preview of the sight from the mountain. We had stopped for a while and kept hiking. The heat and the sweat were increasing and our bottles of water getting empty. We were hoping to fill our bottles with water from some river during the trail, but almost all of them were dry or with no apparent drinkable conditions. The first challenge had been set for us. Even though, the trail and the park in general have a different energy, many mushrooms and blueberries everywhere made the trail become lively. All types and sizes of pines made us stop often to take some pictures and appreciate them.

mushrooms-name

I was willing to eating those huge mushrooms on the trail. (Maybe hallucinogens?)

It was about 1:30pm and we had already been hiking for a long time neither meeting nor hearing anybody. The silence was almost absolute. The sensation that we were far away from everything, from everybody and nobody knew where we were, it was like an immersion in the middle of nowhere. But all of a sudden the silence was broken. We heard a strong noise coming from somewhere in the middle of the bushes. At that time we stopped hiking and were speechless, we knew that the strong noise wasn’t being made neither by a squirrel nor by a bird. My heart started pulsing strong. In a fraction of a second I thought about getting my camera off my backpack and start recording, but not all the moments in life wait to be recorded. After some seconds there he was: a huge black bear some 10 meters ahead of us. My friend who was in front of me just opened his arms. I was in doubt between screaming, speak something or simply wait for my death. The bear starred at us and went back to the bushes. As if we had disturbed him coming up on his way. We got close to the sky, but it wasn’t our turn to get there yet.

trilha-bw-blur-name

Just around 10 meters in front of us there was the bear. It was like to have lived a dream.

According to the story, the meeting with the bear seems to have lasted long, but actually it was just a few seconds that seemed to be forever. I felt a threat completely different of everything I’ve ever felt before, different from a robbery, or the adrenaline of skydiving, or being over 160 km/h in a highway, etc. It was like it activated on me a primitive natural instinct, as if I had come back to become part of the nature, such as the primates who lived over 200,000 years ago. My legs were shaking non stop. After that, we would stop to pay attention at any noise we heard throughout the trail, despite knowing that the probability of meeting another bear (or even the same) was very low, after all, bears don’t use to live in groups, they are roomy and live in a many-kilometer range between each other.

red-lake-name

One of the reddish lakes we found on the top of Eagle Mountain. Their colours are impressive, but all of them were lifeless.

With our legs still trembling for a long time, we followed our way. We saw some blurred-water lakes with no life on the top of the mountain and finally arrived on the top of some rocks, a little over 1,000 meter high, where I could have one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. It was possible to see from there the Buntzen Lake, Diez Vistas, North Vancouver, city of Vancouver and surroundings. The name of the mountain suddenly made sense by itself when we saw some eagles flying over our heads. After a while, some clouds showed up and started drizzling, but I knew that drizzle was falling just over us and wasn’t strong enough to reach the ground, as if it were some signal from the sky or some message for us. I felt from those rocks a closeness from the sky and a very good energy.

top mountain-name

Our sight from the top of the Eagle Mountain.

We were willing to spend the rest of the day and camp overnight there, but we weren’t ready for that. So, I hiked my way back with some certainties in my head. To come back to that place better prepared in all meanings, but also sure that after that I knew Canada indeed and had lived a unique experience. If each trail has been a different adventure and in this one I felt so close to the sky twice, what can I wait for the next ones? Actually, I’d rather not have expectations, nature always take care of us and surprises us. It is perfect.

sky-bw-name

A message from the sky: live longer, it isn’t your turn.

SOCIAL MEDIA

fb-icon twitter-icon instagram-icon pinterest-icon google-plus-icon

[Photography] Refuge des Évettes, France

On mid-August we had the chance to explore a bit the French Alps and here you’ll find a couple of pictures we took while hiking up to the Refuge des Évettes in France. More to follow on a full post soon.

No meio de agosto tivemos a chance de explorar um pouco os Alpes Franceses e aqui você encontrará algumas fotos que tiramos subindo a trilha até o Refúgio dos Évettes. Post completo em breve.

SOCIAL MEDIA

fb-icon twitter-icon instagram-icon pinterest-icon google-plus-icon

[Guest post] Vancouver: where the nature gives its special touch

Gostaria de ler esse post em Português? Clique aqui.

Many people say that Vancouver is the city which least looks like a Canadian city, however they are the same people who say that Vancouver is the most beautiful city in the country. It is the least Canadian city perhaps due to the large quantity of immigrants who have been living here, especially Asians. Most beautiful probably because its surrounding mountains, parks, beaches, wooded and cleaned streets.

So that in 2011, over 8 million tourists visited Metro Vancouver, and over half of the tourists were Canadians. Over one-third of the travellers have come to Vancouver and its national and provincial parks to practise outdoors activities, such as camping, fishery, kayak, etc.

Most of the tourists have come to Vancouver during Summer and it makes sense, the city is really beautiful in summertime. Days last longer with the sun setting over 9pm. Flowers decorate streets. Music festivals have happened weekly. Many free attractions. Many people occupying parks and beaches. Vancouver is a city where the diversity is common and everybody may express themselves whatever they want, everybody here is welcome.

Vista do centro da cidade a partir do Waterfront Park em North Vancouver.

Downtown seen from Waterfront Park in North Vancouver.

But what most delighted me until now was indeed the nature. Many parks and trails are accessible by Public Transportation from Down-town and most of them are free entrance, which makes sunny weekends much cheaper to enjoy.

Man fishing in a clear river in Capilano River State Park. Accessible by bus from Downtown.

Man fishing in a clear river in Capilano River State Park. Accessible by bus from Downtown.

In the trails we can often meet whole families (including pets) hiking or camping. And even when they meet unknown people while hiking, Canadians are used to greeting whoever comes their way, therefore don’t be scared if you listen to “Hello, how are you doing?” or a simple “Hi!” with a smile from an unknown person. This is the polite Canadian way to be and live.

Upper Joffre Lake, o maior e mais bonito dos lagos em Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, um parque próximo de Pemberton, a pouco mais de 2 horas de carro de Vancouver.

Upper Joffre Lake, the largest and most beautiful lake in Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, a park near Pemberton, about 2 hours by car from Vancouver.

Spending hours hiking a trail is much more than a basic hobby to me, there’s always a new challenge. It’s about testing the body and mind limits. From the body, when the legs can’t stand it anymore. When the blisters on the foot beg you to stop. When the mouth dries and the bottle of water is over. From the mind, to control all the difficulties struggled and body limitations.

Depois de mais de uma hora subindo 1000 metros, a vista é recompensadora no Garibaldi Provincial Park.

After over one hour hiking up 1000 meters, the sight is rewarding at Garibaldi Provincial Park.

According to the legend there’s always a pot of gold in the end of the rainbow. Here in Vancouver in the end of a trail there’s always a beautiful lake with hundreds shapes of green and blue or a stunning sight of a valley, a city, of the mountains. And in the end, all the pains is forgotten and all the effort is rewarded.

Garibaldi Lake e suas dezenas de tons de verde e azul.

Garibaldi Lake and its dozens shapes of green and blue.

SOCIAL MEDIA

fb-icon twitter-icon instagram-icon pinterest-icon google-plus-icon

Les calanques de Marseilles, Cassis and La Ciotat: one of France’s natural wonders

Gostaria de ler esse post em Português? Clique aqui.

In the last days of May we went on a road trip down to the south of France. It was the beginning of summer and we wanted to enjoy it.

Marseilles

The beautiful old port of Marseilles.

The beautiful old port of Marseilles.

The second biggest city in France and the capital of Pétanque and Pastis, Marseilles is a beautiful city located a bit more than 300 km south of Lyon. It was historically the most important trade center in the region and functioned as the main trade port of the French Empire. Nowadays it seems to have a bad reputation (that’s what I heard from French people) regarding safety. We spent the day going around there and frankly I saw nothing bad. I guess like in all cities, you just have to be street aware and no need to paranoia. We visited the old port, the MuCEM (an impressive Museum that’s worth checking. Free entrance.), Marseilles’ Cathedral and went up to the beautiful Basilica Notre-Dame of the Garde.

Les calanques

The first open view of calanque de sugiton and its short beach.

The first open view of calanque de sugiton and its short beach.

After a good night sleep we went exploring the beautiful calanques along Marseilles’s coast. Starting in Marseilles its range extends 20 km in length going through Cassis until La Ciotat.

Map of the Calanques between Marseilles and La Ciotat.

Map of the Calanques between Marseilles and La Ciotat.

We started with the calanque de Sugiton that can be reached from Luminy University Campus. It’s a fairly easy hike and it won’t take you more than 1 hour to reach the small beach between the mountains. Parts of the way is paved so you’ll find lots of families hiking with their kids.

Going back to the trail you will find another path heading to the calanque de Morgiou. Hiking along the path you’ll find signs for a belvedere in the top of the mountain. We stopped there to take a look and it’s impressive.

After this belvedere you can go back on the trail and go all the way down to find a little beach. It’s a long walk and as we were a bit tired and still had to go all the way back to where our car was parked (near the University), we decided to skip that. However I think it’s totally worth it if you got time.

We took the road again heading to the calanque de Sormiou. You will reach a parking lot where you can start your hike. It’s a long paved way down to a beach and we decided to stop in a place where we had an amazing view and enjoyed the sunset, rather than go all the way down.

A beautiful view of the calanque de Sormiou.

A beautiful view of the calanque de Sormiou.

La ciotat, Cassis and Route des Crêtes

We had the small village of Ceyreste as our base, as we were staying at the Camping de Ceyreste. Village is pretty small and we were very glad that the only restaurant opened by the time we went back to spend the night was a pizzeria (yes, I love pizza :P).

Some mushroom, ham and cheese. It was delicious!

Some mushroom, ham and cheese. It was delicious!

Next day we took to visit the small cities of La Ciotat and Cassis. They’re both nice cities by the sea. Where we chilled out and relaxed after a busy day going all over the calanques. The best thing about those cities is the road between them. The route des crêtes has some scenic views and passes through the beautiful Parc Naturel Régional des Ballons des Vosges.

Once in Cassis, we skipped the touristy restaurants in front of the old port and walked around some narrow streets away from the port to find the Le Bonapart restaurant, where we had some fresh fish. Delicious meal and least expensive than the touristy restaurants. 

Once in the south of France do as the southern people and have some pastis (an anise-flavored liqueur and apéritif from France, typically containing 40–45% ABV (alcohol by volume)).

Once in the south of France do as the southern people and have some pastis (an anise-flavored liqueur and apéritif from France, typically containing 40–45% ABV (alcohol by volume)).

After lunch we enjoyed the afternoon by The beach of the Cassis’ bay

That’s it. Time to take the road again and go back home.

On our way back to Lyon.

On our way back to Lyon.

Hope it was useful in case you’re planning on spending some time on the south of France.

Click in this picture for more pictures of this area :D

Click in this picture for more pictures of this area 😀

SOCIAL MEDIA

fb-icon twitter-icon instagram-icon pinterest-icon google-plus-icon

Pérouges : one of the most beautiful villages of France

Gostaria de ler esse post em Português? Clique aqui.

You might have read our first post where we wrote that what excited us most about travelling is meeting people. However, there are other things that we’re passionate about when it comes about travelling, and one of these things is nature. We love being outdoors and last weekend we had the chance to visit the medieval village of Pérouges, one of the most beautiful villages of France.

Medieval building connect to the church in Perouges' main entrance.

Medieval building connect to the church in Perouges’ main entrance.

Pérouges is located only 30 km northeast of Lyon, where we’re currently living, so we decided to have a look.

Old bulding in Pérouges

The village is small and very charming, and if you are around Lyon, you should definitely consider spending some time there.

Church in Pérouges

Yes, this place is awesome with all these beautiful old buildings, but our objective was to explore a hiking trail around it. There are 4 trails, starting on a 2.3 km long, taking approximately 40 minutes, and the longest one with 9.3 km, taking about 2h30m to finish it.

The trails around Pérouges

We decided to take the longest one, as we arrived early in the morning and had a lot of time to spend there. Needless to say that the trail is amazing and we loved it.
It was pretty easy and I guess even people who aren’t used to hike can do it. It’s more like a long walk rather than hiking. We loved the landscapes and get closer to nature.

IMG_2201-16-1

In the end of the trail we went back to the main square to grab some food and try the local beer, which was great.

Local beer made out of corn

Some saucisson and ham.

So whether you take the shortest or the longest one, you should definitely spend some time exploring this trails when in Pérouges.

Corn is Pérouges' main production

You can find more pictures of Pérouges and other regions of France in our Facebook and Pinterest albums.

SOCIAL MEDIA

fb-icon twitter-icon instagram-icon pinterest-icon google-plus-icon

Hitchhiking in Ireland: from Glendalough to Waterford – Part 1/3

Gostaria de ler esse post em Português? Clique aqui.

March, 2013. My time in Ireland was about to end. After quitting my two jobs and spending an amazing St. Patrick’s day in Dublin it was time to start a short trip around this country.
Hitchhiking was the main idea, but it could change depending on the weather, which is very likely when you’re talking about Ireland.
So, my trip would start in Glendalough, I’d take the first bus in the morning and spend my first day there. I had seen pictures and heard a lot of good stuff about the Wicklow National Park and was looking forward to seeing a bit of it through the trails in Glendalough.

One of the entrances to the national park

One of the entrances to the national park

Glendalough

I’ve spent only a day hiking around there and I felt like I should had stayed longer. Such a beautiful and quiet place. The weather was a bit shitty, but again, that’s Ireland, so you gotta suck it up and move on. Hiking with a bit of snow in a place like this is definitely one of the most memorable things I’ve ever done. Amazing views from the two lakes and being in touch with animals in their natural habitat is such an incredible experience. I saw like a dozen of deers at about 10 meters from me. They wouldn’t stop staring at me and I did the same. When I moved further they would move backwards. Amazing. I’d highly recommend you to spend at least a whole day in these mountains, and if you can get there when there aren’t many people, your experience will be truly incredible.

Be aware of bear. This path leads to a hiking trail along the ridge

Be aware of bear. This path leads to a hiking trail along the ridge

Path along the ridge in Glendalough

Path along the ridge in Glendalough

http://www.wicklowmountainsnationalpark.ie/UpperLakeSites.html

View from the Upper Lake

People

I was sleeping in a hostel right beside the visitor centre and my next day would be on the road. I had no idea of how it’d be, as it was a weekday and there was not too much traffic going through the road I had to take. Hostel was empty too, but there was someone in the same room that I was sharing. Unfortunately, I didn’t meet them until the next morning.

Old cemetery near the visitor centre and the hostel.

Old cemetery near the visitor centre and the hostel.

Daniel, an Irish man, who had lived in the US, the UAE and in several places around Ireland told me in a good mood that he almost didn’t sleep due to the fact that I moved too much while sleeping and my bed was very noisy. We’ve talked a lot over a terrible continental breakfast, that cost me more than 5 Euros, and I told him that I was planing to hitchhike to Waterford that day. He told me that he was going to Dublin, so it wouldn’t be to much of a help, but he could drive me to the road and save me a 20 minutes walk. Well, that’s great.
Once on the road, we both realized that it’d be a bit difficult to get out of there heading to Waterford. We looked at his map, and then he said he could take a different (much longer) route to get to Dublin, leaving me in a better spot. While talking about life and how people deal with the ups and downs, he quoted someone that he couldn’t remember: “Rather light a candle than complain about darkness.”
He dropped me in Kilcullen where we had coffee and he gave me his map. He said he could get another one easily and it’d be much more of a help if it stayed with me.

Upper Lake in Glendalough

Upper Lake in Glendalough

Amazing how nice people can be with strangers. This guy who I had just met, the very one that couldn’t sleep due to my noisy bed, had offered me a lift to the completely opposite direction that he was going, and also gave me his map. Wherever you are now, mate, I’m very thankful for what you’ve done for me.

Do you wanna read the second part? Click here.

SOCIAL MEDIA

fb-icon twitter-icon instagram-icon pinterest-icon google-plus-icon