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Author Archive | Gilles

Catalonia – A Selection of Pictures

Forallac and Santa Cristina d’Aro

We spent 4 weeks in Catalonia and the Costa Brava, Spain, in August 2021. This was our first trip abroad since the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, and our first trip abroad since the twins had been born.

The Costa Brava and Catalonia were definitely not high on my travel list, especially in the summer and the heart of the tourist season. Nonetheless, I was very pleased to discover that it was indeed quite easy to partly escape the crowds, and that some parts at least were not completely built and turned into mass-tourism hotspots: beautiful Medieval Villages, a Wild Coast that really deserves its name, and of course Barcelona, which I discovered for the first time.

Of course, with 3 kids between 16 months and 3 years old, we were somewhat limited in our activities, and with photography – So here you go: my first Photo Essay solely shot with an iPhone 11.

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Grand Escapades’ Travel Guide To Morocco

A Few Glimpses Of A Great Travel Destination

Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou

Itinerary And Time Of The Visit

We traveled 10 days in the beginning of November 2019, and drove a loop starting from Marrakech to Essaouira, Taroudant, Agdz in the Draa Valley, Ait Ben Haddou (including the spectacular drive to Telouet), and back to Marrakech. This is only a small part of this huge and very diverse country, but it was an amazing road-trip nonetheless, that really put Morocco high on our list for the near future. Continue Reading →

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Grand Escapades’ Budget Guide To Morocco

Catering For All Budgets

Djebel Kissane near Adgz, Draa Valley

Type Of Travel

Morocco was our fourth trip with an infant (at the time of travel, Jules was 16 months old), and given the overall price level & our need to rest and relax, we decided to splurge a little and actually upgraded our standards of travel, going to a mid-range (upper mid-range ?) type of travel: Continue Reading →

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Morocco: A Selection Of 50 Pictures

The Fortified Walls of Taroudant

Morocco took me by surprise, honestly! It had never been somehow on my radar in the past, and I didn’t really know what to expect – Though I must admit I was surely biased about a country I considered mass-tourism orientated.

True, you will not be the only tourist in Marrakech… By far not! But as soon as we left Marrakech, we could enjoy a beautiful country with most of the time surprisingly few other foreign visitors, even though we covered a very classic route: Marrakech – Essaouira – Taroudant – Agdz in the Draa Valley – Ait Ben Haddou – Marrakech. Continue Reading →

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Travel Guide To Iran

Grand Escapades’ Travel Guide To Iran – Friendliness, Culture, Modernity: So Far Away From The Clichés!

Jamkaran Mosque, Qom

Itinerary And Time Of The Visit

In April 2014, I spent 2 weeks in Iran and covered the cultural heartland of the country (most of which has now turned into the “Tourist Trail”, except Na’In & Qom): Shiraz, Esfahan, Na’In, Yazd, Kashan, Qom and last but not least Teheran.

In September 2017, I spent 3.5 weeks and wanted to discover less visited parts of the country and covered Tabriz & Northwest Iran (Zanjan, Soltaniyeh, Takht-e Soleiman); Teheran; Mashhad & Torbat-e Jam; the Southwest of Iran (Sushtar, Choqa Zanbil & Shush); before returning on the “Tourist Trail” (Kashan, Esfahan, Yazd & Shiraz). Continue Reading →

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Grand Escapades’ Budget Guide To Iran

Easy To Travel On A Budget!

Young Girl, in the Old City of Yazd

Type Of Travel

My two trips to Iran showed a major difference: on the first trip in April 2014, we were 2 and hence shared quite a few expenditures (double rooms, sharing cabs…). In September 2017, I was traveling solo, and had to cover everything on my own. This makes a significant difference, especially in a country like Iran, where you will have to rely on chartered taxis further afield and where you will more often than not pay the same for a single and for a double room… Continue Reading →

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Surf Halong Bay – Turf Tam Coc

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay, Vietnam

It is all about limestone. At Halong Bay the tree covered outcrops rise from the emerald ocean, making it THE tourist attraction in Vietnam. At Tam Coc they stick out like pillars from bright green rice paddies. Hard to say, which one is more spectacular! We think it is best to start with Tam Coc, a two-hours drive south of Hanoi and then head for Halong Bay (even better to Cat Ba directly) since the latter might be the more spectacular one of the two. Continue Reading →

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Halong Bay – Tourism In The Fast Lane

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Yes, Halong Bay is a place of sheer beauty. Unique! The tree covered limestone outcrops rising from the emerald ocean create such a spectacular seascape you want to inhale it, so it won’t leave you.

Needless to say, to explore this splendor you need a boat. The options are numerous. Since most tourists travel in groups, their cruises are pre-arranged. Individual travelers have a wide choice of anything from a private junk to the typical packed cruise boats. Whatever you choose, the tours are organized by “Travel Agencies” all offering the same itineraries, taking everybody to exactly the same places, at the very same time, to a very limited part of the very vast Halong Bay! Imagine there are almost 2.000 islands and islets waiting to be discovered… Continue Reading →

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5 Reasons To Stay In Phong Nha Longer Than You Planned…

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park, Phong Nha, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park

Phong Nha National Park contains the oldest karst mountains in Southeast Asia and was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2003. Only after Hang Son Doong, the Mountain River Cave, was identified as the world’s biggest in 2009, tourists started arriving.

Nevertheless, there is much more to Phong Nha than “only” caves. It is actually a great place to spend a lot more time than what we had planned…

 

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Central Vietnam… Clearly Not As Expected!

Not less than three different UNESCO World Heritage sites are packed into in a relatively compact area in Central Vietnam:

Full Moon Festival, Old Town of Hoi An, Vietnam

Full Moon Festival, Old Town of Hoi An

The Old City of Hoi An

Its new semi-pedestrian zone makes the perfect place for strolling and breathing in the unique colonial charm of this ancient town. The lovely one-story buildings (most painted in dark yellow) have quaint pillars, wooden balconies and roofs made of tiles. Continue Reading →

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