You say the Earth is round?

Yet another RTW travel blog

Friday, October 16 2015

Short stop in Qom

16-10-2015

126 reads

In my opinion, Qom doesn't deserve more than a couple of hours unless you're a fervent Shia (Qom is the second holiest city in Iran). Actually, the most part of the city is rather ugly with nondescript concrete apartment buildings.
A huge religious complex occupies the city center, surrounding the Shrine of Fatima-al-Massumeh (Imam Reza's sister) where all the numerous pilgrims converge everyday.
Shrine of Fatima-al-Massumeh

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Wednesday, October 14 2015

Kashan

14-10-2015

186 reads

Kashan is a rather small city located half-way between Tehran and Esfahan. It used to be a major commercial hub and during the 19th century many merchants built sumptuous houses to show everyone their wealth. A few of those houses remain and have been carefully renovated to become tourist attractions (the biggest ones), hotels or restaurants.

Traditional house

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Monday, October 12 2015

Wedding

12-10-2015

219 reads

A very friendly Iranian guy recommended me to visit his hometown (or village), Varzaneh. I'm so glad I followed his recommendation. It's been an incredible experience!

Varzaneh is located about 100km southeast of Esfahan on the edge of the desert. It takes more than 2h to get there from Esfahan by a local bus and it gives you plenty of time to befriend other passengers (although there's a fair chance that none of them speaks more than a couple of words of English).

The town is pretty small and you could walk to any place in less than 15 minutes if there weren't all those friendly, welcoming and curious people. They all want to chat chat with you, to know where you come from, to come and meet their friends and their friends' friends, and eventually to invite you for tea :-)

Tea time

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Saturday, October 10 2015

Esfahan

10-10-2015

249 reads

Shah Abbas I moved Iran's capital to Esfahan in the 17th century. He made sure this city was worth of the mighty Safavid empire by completely remodeling the town. The most emblematic place of this period definitely is Naqsh-e Jahan (aka Imam square), the second largest square in the world (after Tiananmen square in Beijing).

Naqshe Jahan at night

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Tuesday, October 6 2015

Welcome to Tatooine!

06-10-2015

196 reads

When you arrive in Yazd , it seems like the town blends into the surrounding desert. From the distance, you mostly see brown buildings under a blazing sun. The city's historical center consists in a maze of tiny lanes zigzagging around mud-brick houses. When you're wandering in those lanes it seems like you've been transported to Tatooine, the desert planet in Star Wars (without the strange aliens you usually meet over there :-) )

Lane in the old city

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Sunday, April 12 2015

Thessaloniki

12-04-2015

271 reads

The Northern capital of Greece has plenty to offer: Byzantine churches, Roman remains, museums, bars, parties, a long pleasant shore line, nice neighborhoods, former Turkish buildings... Take your pick!
One of the best views over the city is the one you get from the surrounding Byzantine walls in the Old city (Ano Poli).
View from the Byzantine walls

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Tuesday, April 7 2015

Meteora

07-04-2015

456 reads

Meteora region is both a stunning natural wonder and one of the most important centers for Greek Orthodox.
Huge rock pinnacles overlook Kastraki and Kalambaka, the 2 small cities where most travelers stay to visit this area. In order to get there we need to cross a large stretch of flat land which makes this sight even more impressive (and a little bit scary too...).
View of Kalambaka

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Tuesday, November 25 2014

The coolest capital city in South East Asia!

25-11-2014

419 reads

Arriving in Vientiane is such a shock! Compared to all the other capital cities in South East Asia, Vientiane is quiet and clean, there's little traffic and drivers behave in a civilized way (at least more than in Paris): they mostly comply with traffic rules and almost no one is honking.
Maybe the more than 6000 Buddha statues of Wat Si Sakhet (one of the oldest temples of the city) inspire such calm.
Wat Si Saket: Buddha statues

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Saturday, November 22 2014

Stopover in Tha Khaek

22-11-2014

450 reads

After spending almost a week in southern Laos, I realized that I needed to head up North faster because I was running out of time. I had to skip Savannakhet which apparently is a charming former colonial town. I briefly stopped at Tha Khaek on my way to Vientiane.
Local bus to Thakhek

Travelers usually use Tha Khaek as a starting point for off-the-beaten-track motorbike adventures around the nearby national protected areas. However, you'll need to know how to ride a motorbike on pretty rough tracks and at least 4 to 5 days to enjoy the tour. Since I lacked both time and ability to drive I spent only a few hours in this city.

Friday, November 21 2014

Puppets and another Angkor temple

21-11-2014

476 reads

From Don Det island, I reached Champasak after a few hours traveling North using several means of transport (boat, bus, then boat again and eventually tuktuk). Champasak is a (very) sleepy town on the Mekong (Is there any town on the Mekong which is not sleepy?). The city itself doesn't offer much to see or do apart from a couple of temples and an unfinished royal palace which has apparently been converted into a stableUnfinished palace.

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Wednesday, November 19 2014

Another traveler's mecca

19-11-2014

409 reads

With some other travelers we organized our transfer from Stung Treng to an area in southern Laos called Si Phan Don (4000 islands). The roads I traveled in Cambodia were in bad condition but the one between Stung Treng and the border was even worse: it was just a dusty track full of potholes. We got to the border nonetheless. On the Cambodian side, the customs offices consist in a couple of wooden shacks while on the Lao side, the whole building seems brand new and rather clean.
IMG_9125.JPG

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Sunday, November 16 2014

A necessary stop

16-11-2014

536 reads

My plans to go to Laos directly from Phnom Penh fell through when I discovered that the bus companies which used to travel there had all suspended that route. One agency told me that Cambodian buses couldn't cross the border due to political issues between Laos and Cambodia. Actually, I discovered later that it wasn't the only reason...

Anyway, I followed some advice to go to Stung Treng the northernmost Cambodian city on the road to Laos and to try my luck once I got there. The bus journey took more than 11 hours due once again, to the road conditions and to the fact that the driver stopped in every single village on the way to pick up passengers or cargo.

We finally arrived at Stung Treng in the evening. This city is a dusty outpost which doesn't offer much more to the travelers than a few hotels and restaurants.
IMG_9118.JPG

Luckily, the hotels could organize the next morning a transfer to the Lao border by car.

Thursday, June 26 2014

Rethymno

26-06-2014

526 reads

Rethymno is the third largest city in Crete. It's located half-way between Chania and Heriaklion. The old town is very similar to Chania with a nice Venetian Harbour and a lighthouse.
The problem is that tourist crowds coming from the nearby all-inclusive resorts flood the whole city for their weekly "cultural excursion". That's why most of the streets in the centre are plagued with nondescript souvenir shops and it's impossible to even notice the dock around the harbour since it's covered with restaurants tables.
Venetian harbour

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