I tested canyoning in the Sierra de Guara.

In July I returned to a little-known region of Spain, the Sierra de Guara National Park. I had stopped there for two days during our road trip in a van from Arcachon to the Sierra de Guara, and I loved it. I promised myself that I would come back to explore the region a little more.

The park is considered as the “near Pyrenees” composed mainly of gorges and canyons in dry and Mediterranean vegetation. This region is very famous for canyoning in Spain, with no less than 60 canyons, and climbing (among other things). The walls of the gorges make it a spectacular playground.

A day Canyoning in the Sierra de Guara

 

For this experience, I chose the Petit Mascun course; this canyon is an excellent choice for beginners. The path is quite accessible; jumps are not mandatory, there is no abseiling or too vertiginous stuff. But it remains fun, sporty and amicable.

 

A short hike in the Gorges

I start the day in Rodellar, a cute little hamlet. After taking possession of the equipment, I dive into the river fully dressed to stay cool for an hour’s hike to reach the start of the canyon.

During this walk, I discovered other villages made of stone. Here it is the headquarters of climbers, everywhere the athletes who indulge their passion.

 

Canyoning departure

 

I picked up on the edge of a small beach before putting on our suits and putting our stuff in waterproof cans in our backpack. Then it’s off! Now I can’t march anymore. I trust our guide who is very reassuring and attentive, no pressure. The spectacular landscapes that I can only see in canyoning revealed itself before our eyes. I don’t know what to expect; the route takes river paths that I would never have dared to cross without our instructor. What an excitement!

The first jump

 

That’s it, and I’m finally getting there. The first jump on the course is 2 meters, a good start to build confidence. After a few hesitations, I jumped into the water! And it’s too good! This jump moved our friend who had never done anything like this before. It feels good to let go and push your limits a little bit. I’ll ask for more.

 

Second jump 3 meters

 

As I said at the beginning, jumps are not mandatory, and there is always a way around them. But I like to do a little violence to myself, so it happened all by itself. My friends and I made a block on this one, and we had to go down a little on the rock to jump, get on your buttocks, get up all of a sudden and go. She was afraid to slip because she didn’t trust her shoes. So make sure you take good sneakers with you.

 

Last jump of 6 meters

 

The end of the canyon and another river joined, the walls here are steeper and allow higher jumps than I can do several times. And I had a great time with Laure. I admit that once I was upstairs, I was less smart, it was necessary to be motivated to jump. But I loved that feeling so much. I lost confidence in myself during the last few months, especially when hiking, the fear of falling, slipping and dizziness disabled me a lot during our walks in Reunion Island. And this day gave me back my confidence.

Most underrated travel destinations in 2018

amazing philippines

The end of the year is always an opportunity to think about the following year. Including for your trips ;-)

At the end of 2017, I have decided to share with you some ideas for destinations for 2017. The only logic of this list is to try to orient oneself towards less visited destinations and to go to unknown regions of tourist countries.
My year 2017 has been rich in travel and some of these destination ideas for 2018 come from my travels this year. But not just that!

South Korea, A Forgotten Destination

Last revelation of 2016 and destination that I highly recommend to you, South Korea. It’s a country to discover. Korea has points in common with China and Japan but is different from these two countries.

South Korea is little known in France and is full of places to discover. Between the small traditional villages, the bustle of Seoul or the tea plantations of the south of the country, it is a destination where activities can be numerous and varied.

Okinawa, Another Japan

Japan is an increasingly popular destination for Europeans. Nevertheless, the vast majority of tourists visit the same places in Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto, and their respective surroundings.

Japan has many other places worth visiting. I will soon tell you about my last trip to Japan in unknown places in Japan, notably in the prefectures of Tottori and Hyogo.

The Okinawa Archipelago is another place to discover in Japan. Isolated from the rest of Japan, the archipelago is famous for its cuisine, its art of living but also for karate, native to this archipelago.

After three trips to Japan, I can’t wait to go back and why not to Okinawa this time? If you have already been to Japan, it is most certainly for a trip to discover the great classics. This is quite normal and very often the case for a first trip. If you plan to go back, why not try Okinawa?

A Paradise Journey To The Philippines?

If you dream of a trip to paradise islands to enjoy the fine sand and turquoise sea, head for the Philippines!

My trip to the Philippines was one of my favorites of this year 2016. Beyond the dream islands, a trip to the Philippines also allows you to discover culture and grandiose landscapes.

The Philippines attracts fewer travelers than other Southeast Asian countries, and yet, the country of 7000 islands is magical! I invite you to read or reread my travel diary in the Philippines.

Iran, A Country To Discover!

I have never been to Iran before, and this country has attracted me for a long time… This idea of destination can concern you but also concerns me. This is one of my objectives for 2017, to discover Iran. Iran has been on my list of travel desires for far too long.

Tourism in Iran is developing following the gradual lifting of the (scandalous) US embargo.

A resolutely cultural destination, Iran is a fascinating country full of historical sites. The hospitality of the Iranians is no longer to prove and rare are those who return from Iran being disappointed…

Oman

Another little-known yet magnificent country, the Sultanate of Oman. The cost of living in Oman must certainly be a factor. Traveling to Oman is not necessarily cheap.

But this country is beautiful. From superb beaches to the desert through magnificent mountains and valleys, the Sultanate of Oman is a delight for lovers of nature and wide open spaces.

This country lends itself perfectly to the road trip, and it is according to me the mode of travel to retain to discover Oman. So if you want to embark on a road trip in 2017, think of the Sultanate of Oman and its wide open spaces just for you:) And there are plenty of places of interest in Oman…

Trendy destination of the month: Djibouti

djibouti travel

Nestled in East Africa, between Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, Djibouti is still a popular destination for tourists promising to delight nature lovers.

Bordered by the gulfs of Aden and Tadjoura, this small African country is known for its black lava fields and steam-spitting chimneys, created by the tectonic plates that animate the soil. These landscapes with the appearance of Martian or lunar decorations attract geology fans particularly, admiring in front of the extinct volcanoes, the limestone columns, the jerky plains and the deserts of dark stones. It is the ideal place for the curious wishing to lose the thread of time in front of a view that exists nowhere else, except perhaps on Lanzarote, the island of the Canary archipelago, or in the region of Myvatn in the North East of Iceland. Salt lakes, like Assal, with their millions of small white crystals, fascinate all visitors to the country.

Between volcanoes and heavenly beaches

Lazy lovers will also enjoy Djibouti on the white sandy beaches and turquoise waters of the Gulf of Aden. These clear waters also allow snorkeling fans to admire the incredible marine flora and even dive with whale sharks. In this French-speaking country, you will also discover a fantastic mix of cultures between Arab and African traditions, without forgetting French influences. Leaving Djibouti City, the capital where the majority of tourist resorts are located, you will be able to make numerous expeditions in a great diversity of landscapes which will mark your spirits. To be accompanied by a guide will allow you not to miss anything of the essentials and will avoid you losing yourself too long in the middle of the plains of rocks.

Today, Djibouti welcomes about 50,000 tourists per year, a figure that is continuously growing. You wish to enjoy this nature still in its wild state? It’s time to go!

Rules to know about leaving tips when traveling

Leaving a tip can be confusing because the rules vary from one country to another. While it is impolite to leave a tip in some of them, it is very wrong to leave them in others.
Here’s what you need to know.

Always have money in local currency.

fgsghdshsdjdajqdjehjdaBeing an organized traveler means having enough local money on your hands to cover any planned or unexpected expenses. It is essential to be able to pay tips in local currency because changing foreign currencies costs service providers a lot of money and it is very likely that they are not even allowed to do so. It is also often impossible to add a tip when paying with a credit card.

Know when not to tip

In some countries (such as Japan, China, South Korea or French Polynesia), staff may be offended to be offered a tip because service excellence is an integral part of the culture there.
If you tip Japanese Ryokan staff, a taxi driver or a tour guide, for example, be sure to place the tickets in a card or envelope and hand them over with both hands and bow your head.

In French Polynesia, tips are almost perceived as rudeness because they indicate that the person receiving them occupies a lower status. Even if you’ve received excellent service, the tip is not welcome. If in doubt, please refrain.

Leave a tip only for a service received

In India, for example, make sure you have received a service in exchange for a tip. Some beggars ask for alms, but giving them money sends a wrong message. As it is an impoverished country, try to buy them something or hire them to do a small job, if you feel compelled to give them money.

Check your bill before you leave a tip.

lsngosngorsngosnoswsdgdIn the United Kingdom, Chile, Brazil, Portugal, Portugal, France and many other countries, restaurants, hotels and other establishments already add service charges for most of their services.

And check if the bill includes a “service charge,” as opposed to a “tax” on service before you think you have been billed for the tip. A service “fee” does not go to servers. A small clarification concerning Brazil:”Although tips are not necessary, they are nevertheless desirable because of the very modest salaries,” notes Dan Boland. In general, people who work in tourist destinations have become accustomed to Canadians leaving some money behind.

When can you leave more?

In Iceland, as in many European countries, a tip is not required in most cases. Restaurants will often include a 10% service charge on the bill, which means you don’t have to leave a tip, but you can leave 15% if you’ve received exceptional service. Taxi drivers, hairdressers and tour guides add an amount to their bills to cover service charges.

European exceptions

Although many European countries do not have a tipping culture, Greece, the Czech Republic, Spain, Italy and a few other countries are the exception. In Greece, when dining out at a restaurant or taking a taxi, a tip of 5 to 10% depending on the service is highly appreciated. It is also well worth giving a few euros to your maid at the hotel and your tour guide.

Cannabis tourism in California

california the land of marie jeanne

Some marijuana tours are luxury style with limo drivers and med-stops before going to the 5-star restaurant downtown. Then there’s those that go on nature trails and hikes.

When California legalised marijuana for medical use in 1996. It historically, caused a small boom in the industry with various businesses, one being the travel tourism business. Historically, California was the most tolerated of the states which were the first one to decriminalise marijuana in 1975.

smoke whatever greenery you wantOn November 8th, 2016, Proposition 64 was passed. In other words, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act states marijuana is legit. Legalisation of the cannabis is for recreational use and those over the age 21. With much efforts and support, it eventually became legal, and many marijuana dispensaries surfaced.

Because of this, the marijuana tourism grew as well. And naturally, it boomed again with recreational usage as the focal point. It became legal in various California cities and towns. Some of the most notable ones are Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland, Fresno, Long Beach, San Bernardino, Sacramento, Tahoe, Santa Monica, Anaheim, Huntington Beach, Riverside, …and many others.

Adults have an option to legally be allowed to utilise the green alternative within the medicine bureaucracy.

In fact, residents of the cities are allowed to possess 1 oz. of marijuana at a time and cultivate six plants yet, out of the public’s viewing or eyesight.

Here are the basic policies in the marijuana law:

– Individuals seeking a medical marijuana I.D. = Proof of age (18+)

– California residents

– Qualified patients possess up to 8 oz. or 1/2 lb. of marijuana at a time.

– Qualified patients = cultivate 6 mature plants or 12 immature plants.

Marijuana Tours

Depending on your needs, smoking on these tours vary. There are places where smoking is prohibited in certain spots. It is for the privacy of those around the smokers.

Although it may be legal, at the discretion of the owner and his/her property on certain tours, respecting their space is important. Therefore, enjoying the experience while vacationing at the hotels, bed and breakfasts are recommended. They accommodate smokers. Tours manage the itinerary accordingly, and they do a great job doing it.

tour with the most experienced guides
Tour with the most experienced guides

Food based tours.

Some of the tours available in California are food based. It means that guests will go through the dispensary’s site tour, have the option to purchase medication, then eat a three-course meal!
Whereas there are tours that have their guests go for the appetiser at one restaurant, then go for the main course at another restaurant, making the experience more quality driven.

After eating a delicious meal at a fantastic restaurant, the option to medicate once more before going for desert is given.

There’s a fine tour for you!

California is not only accepting to specific tour packages and respect the need for outdoor marijuana users since it’s inception. Although, it’s said that those who smoke should also respect the natural surroundings as well.

Encouraging the discretion of marijuana smoking in California is always enforced by many dispensaries and tour guides. They recommend Vape pens which are popular in the state but, also, it’s the best way to consume it if you are in a public place. Also, don’t drive while high is truly enforced. Plus, you can be convicted of a DUI for driving under the influence of marijuana in California.

Street Art Tours

If you are passionate about art them, you’ll love this type of tour.
Street art and the appreciation for it can come with a price. The price is enjoying the atmosphere as you immerse yourself in a tour of fun that’s cannabis involved. While doing so, there are tour packages which nurture the historical significance of contemporary public art.
In Venice Beach, for instance, there’s a guided Pedicab tour that travels through the entire beach town.

While travelling, the guide presents to tour guests the various locations and hot spots for public art created by locals; some people there for years.

Not only is the cannabis legal here, but in Venice beach so is the graffiti art which is a hot commodity in the California beach town.

Visitors from all over the world.

a growing area in californiaThe activities on these tours vary, therefore, the prices will too. For instance, if a customer pays at a higher pay scale, naturally they’ll be able to get the 5-star luxury activities. For an average pay rate, then the mediocre tour; but, it’s all great because you and your friends are in Cali. And this is what your mission is to relax and vacation on these tours.

Visitors come from all over the world, plus, visitors regularly consume from all over the world. Celebrating significant events and milestones is the best way to go through these tours.

Most tours have a welcome presentation from the guide including the schedule of the day. The majority of the time, there’s certain spots that the group will stop at one at a time, as the day progresses. And all the engaging with the marijuana are spent in unique ways.

They’ll learn and be more educated with the herbals from the expert guide.

You will get to also stop by the most famous grow shop of California and buy souvenirs and equipment such as vaporisateur pour herbe and other bongs as well as various accessories!

Finally, when as the day ends, visitors or guests will not go empty handed. There’s always a package or gift given or souvenirs to take home to. They are normally cannabis infused ingredients in the food given or creative crafts that were made with clay and resin…etc.
All in all, the cannabis tour in California will be an unforgettable experience for you and your guests, especially if you have to head back home where it may be illegal. Although, you may have to consume it if you have leftovers and you live in a state where it’s illegal.

My Take on Hiking Gear

good quality Hiking Gear is paramount

After a rad winter spent in Colorado, hiking and skiing, I wanted to share my take on hiking gear for all you adventurers out there!

There are several things you need to consider before deciding on the hiking gear you will need. Is this a simple hike of short duration, a hike that will require sleeping and eat on the trail, or is it an organised hike where amenities are supplied.

The hiking gear you need will depend in large part on this information, and, if it is not a planned hike, you will consider how willing you are you to rough it.

The first step when determining what hiking gear you should take is to get together with your hiking partner. If you are hiking any distance and plan to eat and sleep on the trail, you do have some choices to make! When you plan carefully so that each person has the responsibility to bring certain items, it can lighten the load considerably, and it is important to remember that these are items you will be carrying on your hike.

The first thing to consider is the pack itself.

Some stores specialise in hiking gear, and even military surplus stores, where you can find used hiking gear inexpensively.

A hiking pack should be approximately four thousand cubic inches unless you plan on carrying a lot of extras such as photography equipment, or things such as hunting and fishing paraphernalia. When shopping for hiking gear, try to keep in mind that it needs to be functional and efficient as well as light weight.

If you plan to be on the trail during the night, you should decide if you plan to sleep in the elements, or if you will need to include a tent in your hiking gear.

Again, it is never wise to hike alone, and you will need two one man tents or one two man tent. Trail shelters are available that weigh from three to four pounds. If it rains or gets chilly, you will be glad you brought a tent on your hike. You will need sleeping bags as well if you plan on sleeping on the trail. Depending on the weather and terrain, you might choose a very light weight sleeping bag or even one much colder resistant and even a sleeping bag liner.

Sleeping bags

There are sleeping bags available that provide protection from the cold down to thirty degrees. These sleeping bags weight as little as one pound and two ounces, and pack down to about the size of a softball. You could choose MRE (meal ready to eat) such as those the army uses, which can be heated with a small can of Sterno. Should you want to hunt, fish, forage, and cook on the trail include cooking essentials made to be lightweight and compact, specifically for hiking gear.

Clothing

Clothing to include in your hiking gear depends on the season, climate, and duration of the walk. In summer, you need basics like plenty of socks (wet ones tend to cause blisters) comfortable outerwear, boots, and any climbing accessories you might need.

However, if you are hiking in cold weather, or climbing in high altitudes, you’ll need long underwear, light nylon shorts, a mid-weight fleece jacket, a light rainproof layer, gloves, hat, and accessories to suit the weather and your needs. Extra hiking gear includes a headlamp, tool/knife, first-aid kit, compass, sunglasses, and sunscreen, and you’re good to go!

Here is an interesting video with a solid checklist for you :

My Time-Share Presentation Experience

Aerial view of Mexico city
my timeshare presentation
my timeshare presentation

I wanted to share something quite special that happened to me recently. Aside from being known as a “party” guy, I sometimes happen to work…

I had never been to one of those time-share things until the first time I went to Mexico. You know, those presentations where they hold you hostage for hours while demanding to know the dollar amount in your savings account. True story that is what happened to us! Landing in Puerto Vallarta at about 8 pm, we de-boarded the plane by a staircase and walked across the runway to the airport.

After clearing Mexican customs, we left the airport walking down a long ramp towards the front doors. All along the hallway were booths. These booths displayed taxi services, car rentals, horse back riding, cruises, fishing trips, the works. We did our best to avoid being stopped but eventually a charming Mexican boy, and a beautiful Mexican girl got our attention and held us in conversation. They promised us a free taxi ride to our hotel that evening and a cruise the next day if we went to their 90-minute time-share presentation. An all-day, all-you-can-drink-and-eat cruise, free, tomorrow, in exchange for the 90-minute presentation. We caved.

Of course, we had to pay for our taxi that night. It would be reimbursed on the cruise. The taxi driver promised he would pick up the next morning. The next morning we were waiting outside our hotel when an entirely different taxi driver insisted we went with him to the cruise. He drove us from the opposite direction of the port, out of town for half an hour on a narrow jungle winding highway.

At a brand new 5 Diamond time-share resort, we were offered mimosas. Then they separated my friend and I and we were each presented to our time-share real estate agent. She showed me condos I could never afford. They insisted I drink champagne and demanded to know why I wouldn’t sign up to buy a condo. Supervisors were sent over to ask what my the savings in my bank were. They made me fill out a work-book demonstrating how much more affordable it was to buy their time-share than any other type of travelling. After four painful hours, I was let go. I found my best friend waiting for me at the bus stop. There were no taxi rides back to the city, not for those of us who did not buy a time-share. Our taxi ride was redeemed, however, and the cruise turned out to be the real deal. I don’t like the way they tricked us into attending the time-share and held us, hostage. But he next day we spent eight hours on a boat eating ceviche, drinking “cervezas”, and trying to forget our first full day in Mexico.