From Amazon With Love - Our Dream Trip in a Few Words

As a little boy, I remember marveling at the photos of the Amazon in the dusty copy of the national geographic magazine that we had at home. There is the incredible beak of the toucan. There is the prehistoric monstrosity of the caiman, and the semblance of the mythological piranha.

The child's amazement caught fire again as it flew over the endless inn of the Amazon forest. It looks a lot like broccoli, as my lover pointed out during our flight.

From Amazon With Love - Our Dream Trip in a Few Words

Day 1

We arrived at the Leticia airport, where the air was thick and there was a mixture of Colombians and travelers with ponytails. After picking up our backpacks without delay, we met our guide. He rushed us in a taxi and then to a boat. We had arrived late and therefore we were losing the light, besides that we were besieged by an opaque cloud.

We get wet during the hour and a half of trip by the Amazon River to our lodging. I was amazed how the driver effortlessly dodged pieces of driftwood in the vanishing light. He occasionally stopped to untangle the propeller of the underwater vines (or perhaps anacondas).

We arrived amidst the chorus of frogs and birds in full swing. I assured my partner that in almost everything it would be a spider-free experience. However, after taking only a few steps on the small dock, an old man sitting in a chair pushed a broom towards my face. At the end of it was a tarantula that raised one leg as if to say how are you doing? The scream that followed was enough to silence all the frogs in love.

This baptism of fire prepared me for the nocturnal walk through the jungle that we take later. During the trek my lantern incidentally illuminated a family of tarantulas going to the piltra. Our guide had an amazing knowledge of all the insects, and of the wet plants on which they settled. The favorites included the plump caterpillar and the tree whose bark was covered with unfriendly thistles.

From Amazon With Love - Our Dream Trip in a Few Words

Day 2

We got up at 5 o'clock in the morning to go bird watching. The previous night was rainy. It meant that there were not many left, but we spotted a striking hawk and witnessed parrots chatting on a palm tree.

Then we walked through the sticky jungle to meet a woman. She worked in the nearby sanctuary of the monkeys. Despite being a woman in her sixties, she rowed through the flooded forest to the sanctuary without help from anyone.

Since the most loyal companion of all my childhood was an embalmed monkey, I considered this sanctuary a kind of mecca. I started chatting with the man who runs the sanctuary. He explained that it works like a halfway house for the monkeys that had been kept as illegal pets. In the middle of the conversation, a confident Capuchin threw himself on my shoulder. His embrace became a friendly robbery. He began poking around in my pockets and tried his luck with the zipper on my bag.

Then our guide led us through the indigenous Macuna community. I felt a little uncomfortable about this, afraid of perpetuating the human safari trend that takes place in many parts of the Amazon. But our guide assured me that the community welcomes tourism when it is done that way with a guide that people know.

Actually, our guide is not from the Macuna tribe. His father is from Cajamarca in Peru and his mother came from the largest tribe located in the Javari Valley in Brazil. Now she lives in Leticia (located appropriately at the border point between Colombia, Peru and Brazil) with her family.

I asked him what was the biggest problem facing the Amazon and its indigenous communities. He paused, and began to tell me about a trip he made a few years ago.

While traveling to Marajo Island, in Brazil, he witnessed the common phenomenon of young Amazonian Brazilians (the caboclinhos). They ride in their canoes, approach commercial boats and with iron hooks jump on the boat to sell fruits and products from the jungle. With pain, he recalled that a child who did not have the practice of boarding the boat, slipped and fell on the propeller.

Our guide also talked about his environmental concerns. Not only are there external pressures on the forest and its communities, there are also problems within. Many products arrive in the Amazon like bags, plastic, packaging. The indigenous people lack education about recycling. All the instructions are written in Spanish, instead of the indigenous languages. The result is that there is a lot of trash in the river. We are accomplices of what is happening with the planet, he said.

A little more than half an hour passed while we sat outside, both crushing mosquitoes in our arms. It was hard to imagine that this seemingly pristine paradise was at the bottom of all the problems. It was getting dark. So we got into a small boat again, this time with the aim of catching a glimpse of the pink dolphin from the elusive river.

At first I was impressed by the sight of a gray dolphin. After a while the astonishment gave way to a kind of greedy desire to locate a pink dolphin. Our guide was convinced that the pink dolphins liked music. At first we tried to attract them without success, but halfway we saw a large and muscular pink body that shot out of the water.

It was incredible. The first to make an appearance gave the confidence of the more timid dolphins to approach. By the time the Beatles began to hum, we were practically dancing with the dolphins. More than satisfied, we went back through the glassy river, which was orange with the sunset.

From Amazon With Love - Our Dream Trip in a Few Words

Day 3

This morning we went to Leticia. I rejected the option of a piranha for breakfast. I guess they are not mythological after all. We said goodbye to our guide. He gave me a copy of his book to read and I gave him one of the new, bright coins, which he liked very much.

I have to say there is nothing like the real thing. As we flew over the miles of broccoli, I noticed that every adult on the plane was looking down with the same wonder of a child's wide-open eyes.

Travel Sweden & Stockholm between Elks, Trolls & Endless Forests

Sweden is a destination with many micro-destinations that have something to offer each one. There is a lot for nature lovers in Swedish Lapland with its immaculate landscapes and the northern lights. There is Viking history on Lake Malaren. The culture and museums fans in Stockholm look for solitude in one of the numerous routes. If we leave aside its capital Stockholm, the rest of Sweden remains one of the great hidden treasures of Europe.

It is a country with an overflowing nature and with some villages of really fantastic colors where the quality of life is a non-negotiable factor. Welcome to the frozen wilderness, cozy cabins, virgin forest, rocky islands, reindeer herders and Viking tradition. Sweden has all that and also a crazy style.

Day 1 - Malmo

Only at 8:15 am we leave the boat and drive for the first time on Swedish soil. By 10 am we will go out to explore Malmo. We are here in the district called Westerhaven. In the past, there were all factories here, but now it is full of modern apartment buildings. We follow a path along the water, beautiful, and head towards the Turning Torso. That is a real landmark of the city. It is a 190m high apartment building, with 9 layers of 5 floors each with the highest block rotated 90 degrees to the bottom block.

After the necessary photos, we continue towards the station and the city center. It amazes us how quiet it is here on the street. Few cars but also few people, although this is a mix of houses and companies.

We easily find the way to the old center where we see a mix of old and new buildings. Around two o'clock we go to Tilla Torg, which is the tourist center of the city. We order sushi in advance, noodles with sirloin steak and a beer. The weather has now turned from occasional drizzle to a heavy downpour but we are nice and dry under the umbrellas on the terrace of the restaurant.

But we notice that the clouds are getting lighter and that is right with the prospects for tomorrow. Let's hope that they do not suddenly turn around. At the Turning Torso, we had also noticed a supermarket this morning and when we return we go inside to take the necessary provisions.

By 17h we are back at the camper. The provisions are stored away and we walk to a lookout point because the view of the bridge is better than this morning. Right in front of the camper is a swimming area with pontoons, walkways from where we can enter the water and so on.

Back in the camper, we plan the trip for tomorrow. It will only be a ride of about 50 kilometers to Borstahusen, just above Landskrona. That should be a cozy fishing village according to the guide with a good restaurant with refined cuisine. I'm curious.

Day 2 - Borstahusen

It was a good and quiet night. We are here with seven Campers in the parking lot. A disadvantage of being near the sea, of course, is the seagulls. Until late in the evening they keep screaming and those animals are back in the morning before five o'clock. By eight o'clock we have breakfast with the delicious bread that we bought yesterday in the organic supermarket.

At 8:45 am we start for our short drive, mostly along the highway, to Borstahusen. We check in at the campsite and find our spot. We leave for the village around 10:30. We go via a path along the sea, about 1.7km away and find 'our' restaurant very easily. It is the only modern building at the marina. We enter and reserve a table for 12:30. Then we walk in the village that includes very beautiful old houses, most of them with a beautiful rose bush before.

We head towards the meal because well the breakfast was early morning. And again it does not disappoint us, as the restaurant is super. We start with a nice bowl of fresh shrimps. They serve a block of hard cheese here which at first glance seems very strange to us, but of which, once we have tasted the combination, we have to say that those flavors match very well.

Then comes a short fried tuna that is simply super. We conclude with tongue fillets. And the whole is topped with a bottle of bio-cava. Dessert really does not work anymore afterward. A little later I see someone with an ice cream. At the sea, we find the stall and we order an ice cream with two balls. The rest of the day is relaxing. We walk to the pier for some photos, and walk around the campsite, doing nothing. We look into the guides for some time of what we can do in Goteborg tomorrow.

In the evening we watch an old film and then crawl into our bed.

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Day 3 - Goteborg

We slept well despite the strong sea wind tonight. At eight o'clock we get out of bed and immediately prepare coffee. After breakfast we rummage the camper. The water is refueled on the spot and after discharge of gray and black water, we drive around 10:15 from the campsite. Soon we are on the highway that we have to follow up to a few kilometers before our destination of Gothenburg.

The highway follows the coast and we notice that. After 1 we reach the campsite. There are still about 15 Campers there and we find a perfect spot right next to a picnic table. Around half past three, we leave on foot from the motorhome towards the tram. We stop at the reception of the campsite to buy a day pass for the tram.

Little later we are on the tram towards our first goal this afternoon, namely the Goteborg opera. By leaving the backpack in the camper, I also left the guide there. We do have a city map. After the opera, we wander through the city. And the tourist part of the city is quite compact, knowing that this is the second largest city in Sweden after Stockholm.

We decided to take the Hop on Hop off bus to tour the city. Being Sunday we thought it was the best option because the stores were going to be closed and that we were going to go around a boring city. But it was not like that. It is almost all open and there is enough activity in the streets. It has taken us through the most touristic areas of Gothenburg.

Occasionally we would get off the bus to walk around. We visited the fish market. It is an indoor market where one can buy all kinds of fresh seafood. We then head to the Kungstorget Market. There are stores and restaurants representated from all over the world. Outside is Kungstorget with an open-air market selling fruits, vegetables and flowers.

We then head to Lilla Bommen. It is a part of the Gothenburg port, used for ships that visit the port. The building of the same name, the Opera, and the Viking ship are located there. Nordstan Shopping Center is the largest shopping center in Scandinavia.

We finished our tour at the gates of the Tradgardsforeningen (Horticultural Society). It is an oasis of tranquility in the middle of the city. A beautiful place that you can not miss, with a rose garden with more than 4,000 roses, with its greenhouses where you can see cactus, palm trees, and other tropical species. There are several cafes in the park where it is very nice to spend some time.

As the park was near the hotel, we took the car and went for a walk through the Slottsskogen gardens in the southwest of the city which is mostly covered in forest. It is a nice place to take a walk.

We visit Botaniska tradgarden, the Botanical Gardens of Gothenburg. Then we move to Lacko Slott on Lake Vanern, at a short distance from Gothenburg. It seems straight out of a fairy tale and well worth a visit. We find a very nice place to have a beer and a cider.

We took a tram and went to Liseberg, the Gothenburg amusement park. There was the option of the Universeum, which they recommended us but we went to the park instead. The trams are easy to catch and they take us all over the city. We pay inside with coins or credit card. The ticket lasts 90 min.

Each attraction cost between 1 and 4 tickets. It is not worth taking the ticket to ride in everything. There are lines to eat. There are also performances. We left there around 7 and took another tram back.

The weather stays dry all the time but as soon as the sun dips behind clouds, you immediately notice a significant drop in temperature. By 7pm we are back at the camper after another stop at the supermarket nearby. It's time for an aperitif.

The city map and the guides are taken out and I already plan a route for tomorrow. I check the weather and that's good. It is sunny from 8 o'clock in the morning.

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Day 4 - Haga

I slept well tonight despite the rain showers. Outside there is only blue sky and the sun is already strong. The weather report was indeed correct. After breakfast we leave the camper at 9:30 am, ready for our discovery tour of the city. Just as we get to the bottom of the mountain, the tram is already there, nice on time. We drive to the center and get off there.

We decide to go first to an old neighborhood, Haga. So we walk on to the Feskekorka, a fish market hall that looks a lot like a church on the outside. We do not buy anyway because we are still out all day. From there we go to Da Matteo, a famous coffee house where the best barista of Sweden is at work. We enjoy a coffee and take a cinnamon ball and chocolate ball. Especially the latter is delicious, comparable to chocolate fondant.

Since the inner man is now equally satisfied, we decide to do the boat trip over the canals. And again we are lucky because we leave after ten minutes. The teacher gives good explanations in Swedish and English, a piece about the history of the city, and the buildings we pass. We even go into the harbor.

After 50 minutes the cruise is on. Near the quay are a number of food trucks and there we take falafel roll as lunch. It was delicious and more than adequate. During the cruise, we were given an explanation about a church on a hill, the inside of which must be worthwhile, so we go there. We come back through the old city district Haga but now take one street further. And what a difference that is to that morning! Everywhere there are shops and cafes. And quite a few people too. So we stop for a coffee.

I love the Swedes. For them, coffee is a basic right and enjoying that coffee is ingrained in their culture. So asking a coffee means that you can come back for a refill. Well, after that coffee break we continue. We first come to a church but we see immediately that it is not the right one. We go up the hill and there she is. The inside does not disappoint because the ceiling is completely covered with round wooden beams. We indeed feel that a boat is on the roof. The wooden pillars are also nicely worked out. Since we are on a hill, we also get a nice view of the river.

Back down the hill, we get back to Haga. And there again we dive to a coffeehouse for a coconut top and chocolate ball. Completely satisfied we can go back again. Instead, we find a shopping center where it is very crowded. As we take the tram afterward, we immediately buy some food for tonight. We keep it healthy with smoked marinated salmon (gravadlax). In addition, a mousse of lobster, a salad of tomato and cucumber and potato salad (potatissallad).

A tram just stops in front. We go to the motorhome. Our glass of wine tastes so good now. Today we also stepped into a state-alcohol (Systembolaget) shop to look at the prices and actually they are not too bad. For wine and beer, we pay a bit more but not too much and certainly not like in Norway where we easily paid the triple of the prices.

Day 5 - Skarhamn

Before we leave, we first refuel our fresh water. By 9:45 am we are ready and our first destination today is the Volvo museum. Yes, that of the cars. It is only 18 km away and we go smoothly. We will lose the camper in the parking lot, near the sea where a Volvo boat is already on the quay. We pay our access and walk through the collection of old cars, concept cars, trucks, and military vehicles. The camera clicks them lustily. Back outside we head for the island of Tjorn which can be reached via a bridge.

On the island, we also stop at a supermarket so that we can supplement some provisions. Then we search and also find Pilane Gravfalt, an area with burial mounds, and stone circles from the Iron Age (according to the guide). On the spot, we read that they could date the bones from somewhere between 500 BC to the year 1000.

The nice thing is that they also hold a sculpture exhibition here in the summer. There is a gigantic woman's head on top of a hill. The weather is wonderful today. I take a look in the GPS and see that there is a campsite not far from here, in Skarhamn, so we just go there. A little later we are at our place, with table and chairs outside and enjoy a fresh, glass of white wine.

Now that we've got something, it's time for some action. So we walk to the village, about two kilometers further. There is a sturdy marina and on the quay there it is time for a terrace and a refreshing Ol (beer). Then we take the walk back to the campsite and reward ourselves again with a white wine. We can eat outside although it cools down quickly.

The map, atlas, and guides are taken up and the destination for tomorrow is already prepared, namely Fjallbacka, just over 100km to the north. The weather looks good for the next few days.

Day 6 - Fjallbacka

At 8.30 am we are already outside to have breakfast. We will start the camper around ten o'clock. We have just decided not to take the shortest route to Fjallbacka which would lead us a large part of the highway. No, we take the scenic route. On slightly winding roads, we go from 'our' island of Tjorn to the island of Orust. Then we go to the mainland to cross the ferry to the only real Swedish fjord.

While waiting for the Ferry the route is adjusted once again and we decide to explore the town of Lysekil. Once there we find a place for the camper. The first one we find is a paying place and it is not our intention to spend the night here. So we drive a bit further, a lot further until we reach a fishing harbor where we put the camper in such a way that we have a beautiful view of the sea and pink-red granite rocks.

Afterward, we return to the city and park in a normal parking lot. It fits right inside the place. There are beautiful houses, marina, and promenade. After an hour and a half of photos and video, and after buying strawberries and cherries, we leave. It is just over 50km to Fjallbacka and we drive it smoothly.

And the sun, in the meantime is at its best again. In Fjallbacka it is not easy to find a place for the camper. After we have translated a sign, it appears that we are allowed to park at one of the car parks. We walk into this small town and it is pretty busy here. Well, it was the favorite site of Ingrid Bergman at the time and we notice that. She has a statue and a square with her name. It is not great, but we see again of those beautiful wooden houses in all kinds of colors.

The city and the region are also known for the exciting stories of Camilla Lackberg. But we are also fast around here and it is less than four hours now. So we decide to go a little further to the destination that was meant for tomorrow, namely Tanumshede. The area is known for rock engravings from the Bronze Age. We stop at a museum and see, that museum is also free. Next to it is a counterfeit farm from the Bronze Age including sheep.

On the parking lot of the museum, it is clear that we cannot camp. I had already found that there is a free motorhome at about three kilometers from here, at a shopping center, so we drive there. We are here only but it is still early so that can change of course. Just before us, there are 16 Tesla charging stations (superchargers), two of which are currently in use.

And yes, of course, we enter the shopping center. In the shopping mall, we also see a shop with boats. It is strange to see. The route for tomorrow will also be set out and it will be a completely different Sweden, because we are now moving away from the coast, inland towards the largest lake in Sweden, namely Lake Vanern.

Day 7 - Lake Vanern

Today we are on the road for a week and, as always, we feel that it is already longer because we get to process so many impressions daily and by moving. Yesterday evening there were a few more Campers, a Swede, a French camper and a German caravan. At eight o'clock I get fresh rolls at the supermarket in the mall.

After breakfast, at 9:15 am, we leave. The GPS is set to Bengtsfors. The road to it is picturesque. At 80km/h the trees slide past us. We are not there for fifteen minutes and suddenly two deer cross the road, mother and daughter or son it seems like.

On the way, we see a moose farm, but we pass it by. A little further there is one and now we stop. We cannot resist the opportunity to see such a moose. We pay our entrance fee and go looking for the elk. And yes, those animals apparently do not like the sun and so hide in a stable. No matter how the teacher calls and swings with tasty branches, those two beasts do not come off. We do get a whole explanation about the moose, that are in Sweden, and their natural enemies, but outside of two heads, we do not see a moose.

From the farm (with two animals), we go on to the Dalsland Canal. Somewhere there must be an aqueduct. Fortunately, there are not too many oncoming traffic because the road is quite narrow. We reach the locks and have lunch first in the camper in the parking lot. Then we look at that aqueduct. And we are lucky because a little later a boat leaves the canal, so first through the various locks, then over the aqueduct. It reminds me a bit of something we saw a few years ago on the Canal du Midi.

Here's a stuffed moose so we take advantage of taking a selfie of course. From there we drive to Fengersfors. From Fengersfors, we go to Amal on Lake Vanern where there is a motorhome. Fortunately, we are well on time because there is a blues festival this weekend. We occupy one of the last spots. Then we walk into the town. There is not much to see outside a sturdy marina. Here and there in bars, live music is already being played and there are posters showing which performances are going to follow.

It is weekend and the sleds come out. I have never seen so many American bins together and see driving like here in the town. After a quick bite at the harbor with a view of the lake, we return to the camper. We hope it will be a cool night because at different Campers there are already a lot of people together and we can enjoy blues and rock music from different sides.

Day 8 - Sveg

It is not such a good night thanks to the neighbor who wanted to play loud music in his motorhome. Fortunately, it started pouring around half past two in the morning, making it finally quiet. Around a quarter to ten, we leave the motorhome, not without first greeting the noisy neighbor. Soon we are on the highway and look, occasionally it even has two lanes and we are allowed to drive at 110 km/h.

The weather varies throughout the day from dry to drizzle to downpours in variable sequences. In Malung, however, things go wrong. Without being aware of it, the GPS takes us along smaller roads. Oh, it's beautiful, though. We land on a plateau. We are on beautiful roads where we see a beautiful piece of nature. From a red track, we go to an orange, a yellow and even a white one.

And once we arrive at our destination, we are really in the middle of nowhere where it is beautiful of course. Yet the map is taken out and the GPS is set again. To our final goal, it now shows us another 86 km. We first search for a supermarket in the GPS so that we can get some more supplies.

We have already encountered very nice places to stand in the wild. Only next to the funny signs that warn for crossing cows, snowmobiles and elk, we now see signs warning for bears. Eventually, we bite a bit and fly from 850m altitude back down to 400m, to the village of Sveg where we stand on the local campsite. At 7:15 pm we are at our place, later than initially planned but with richer memories.

The next few days we will still have plenty of opportunities to be free when we drive down the Wilderness Route. I program the route already in the GPS for tomorrow. On the way today we pass a campsite in Sarna where we stop for a while. We order coffee.

Day 9 - Gaddede

We got up at 8:45 am. Therefore we leave the campsite at 10h45. We drive down the campsite, cross the junction and we are immediately on the E45 to the north. I set the GPS to Gadedde but that is 406 km away. We'll see where we get today. First, we pass Ostersund. On the way to the next stop, Stromsund, we refuel for a while, because since the refueling yesterday morning we have already covered 564 km.

The weather is like yesterday so sometimes dry, sometimes drizzle, ordinary rain or serious rain. After one and a half hours of driving, we suddenly see a moose along the road. Around half past two, we stop at a parking lot next to the road for lunch.

Then we go quietly until Stromsund where we stop at a Dollarstore. We have already driven past a few on the way. It is a cheap supermarket with a mixed bag in terms of supply but we still find our new cutting board in the camper and a few other things.

Actually, we are already tired of the trees. You have to think that since yesterday morning we were almost constantly surrounded by forests so that eventually becomes somewhat monotonous. But in Stromsund we drive up the Vildmarksvagen, the Wilderness Route. And we get to see a beautiful spectacle until Gadedde. Left and right the road is interrupted by views of different lakes. And besides, the road is zoomed with beautiful flowers. It is a pleasure to see and the ride is pure enjoyment.

We reach the final destination Gaddede and stop in the center. We look at the available information at the tourist office and also go to the supermarket for a few items. There is a small campsite but we would rather stay somewhere free along the lake. So, we start and drive. Every time we think we have found a nice place, it turns out that this is private land. We go over a narrow peninsula.

And so we go on further. We are a beautiful place where we can stand freely with a view of the lake in front of us and the mountains behind where snow is still here and there. It is just beautiful, and even though we are close to the road, there is not much traffic here so it will be fine.

During dinner, we are even treated to a double rainbow.

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Day 10 - Trappstegforsen

We had a very good night's sleep. There were no hungry wolves, bears, gluttons or elks near the camper. The night here in the north is a different concept than at home. At 11.30 pm the lights start to dim but the solar panel still has enough light to charge the battery. And at 3:45 am it is already back.

After breakfast we leave around 10:30 and we are not there for fifteen minutes there is already a deer on the road. Not much later we stop at Brakkafallet, a waterfall on the way. After a small climb, we are already at the bottom of the waterfall. We climb a little further and we now see them from the top.

Then we drive to Ankarede, with a church, a few wooden houses and then a whole bunch of teepee-shaped wooden huts. And the weather is wonderful today. At the very beginning of the ride we got a few drops but the rest of the day it stays dry and the sun is often there.

From Ankarede we continue to the highest point of the Wilderness Route to the plateau of Stekenjokk. That is also the farthest point of our journey. This is nature at its best. We see at hills around us. Here and there is a lot of snow, and no or little traffic. It is breathtakingly beautiful. It is there that we have lunch with a beautiful view.

We spin a little further and it is getting more and more beautiful. At another waterfall, we do a stop and walk. From the plateau, we go down again and the next stop is the church village Fatmomakke. On the last seven kilometers, there is a gravel road, but our mountain goat cannot be fooled by that.

There are still those church villages here in the area but also further north and to Norway. And Finland, the region where the Sami live. Tomorrow we should be able to find one more in Vilhelmina. Before we leave that church village, we step into the local cafe for coffee and vafflor (waffles). We have already seen that a number of times and we have to taste it again. It turns out to be heart-shaped waffles with home-made jams on it and, for me alone, freshly whipped cream. It was blissfully delicious.

From Fatmomakke we drive to our final destination for today, namely the Trappsteg Forsen, the stairway waterfall. We are now here with the nose of the camper pointed towards it. There is nothing between the waterfall and the camper that can disturb our view. An excellent place to spend the night. There are four other Campers here in the first row. Now let's hope that the waterfall does not make too much noise tonight because outside for the camper I measure 85db.

Oh yes, after that deer from this morning we did not see any more animals. However, a herd of 10,000 reindeer should have walked around on that plateau. But yes, we do not see any of what once again proves how extensive it really is here.

We received the entire explanation of these church villages from a very helpful Swede who we meet again later in the day, at our final stop. He gives us the necessary tips for the further course of the journey (places worth seeing, and boring roads that can be avoided).

Day 11 - Namforsen

Had a very quiet night. Only Veerle could hardly get asleep from the noise of the waterfall that still produces 65 to 70 DB even inside the camper. Earplugs bring happy salvation. It also cools down considerably during the night, presumably due to the height in combination with the water. So the heating goes on again in the morning.

We have now also officially seen the midnight sun. Moreover, there was no cloud in the air, so that we kept seeing the sun's light behind the waterfall. It was very strange because the body says that it is bedtime but the brains indicate that it is still day.

We are on our way at half past nine. It remained dry until eight o'clock, but then it started to rain and the rain continues to keep the entire route to Vilhelmina. There we stop for some purchases and bread and we decide to suddenly continue to drive to Dorotea, about 55 km further. We stop for lunch at a parking lot near the town. Then we walk to the local market and go to the church where in an adjoining chapel. Here the last supper is depicted in real size by wooden statues.

In the village, there are also wood sculptures by a local artist who makes them with a chainsaw. We also find where that person lives so we go looking. First, we think that we will not find the way but after a few kilometers, we suddenly see a sign along the road to the village where that person lives. From the main road we immediately arrive on a sandy road and yes, with a bit of luck we find his house.

We think for a moment to step out and view the statues in the garden, but that was of course counted outside the estate. The man himself comes outside and takes us on a walk through his beautifully landscaped garden. In the end we even have to set up our hood to protect ourselves a bit, but it is already too late. By the time we are back in the camper, we are both badly battered by mosquito bites.

We follow the Wilderness Route a little further to Hoting and then descend to the south towards the Namforsen, another waterfall. There are two roads and we take one with a small detour because it is greener colored on the map (nice to drive). At some point, the asphalt has apparently been gone because we end up on a sandy road for a long time.

And hop, suddenly we are standing in front of the power plant that was built just before the waterfall. Moreover, this region is the area where most of Sweden's rock engravings from the Bronze Age can be found (more than 2,500). They are now colored in red to see the subject better. From boats, animals of all kinds, people, everything can be found there.

Here, on top of the rocks, there is a campsite and we drive there. Even later we stand on a spot between the trees and far enough from the waterfall so we still have a bit more guarantee of a good night's sleep. We are a bit ahead of schedule so that's good because that gives us a bit more time in Stockholm and South Sweden.

The camp itself is pretty basic. On the outside are the necessary Stugor (cabins) that are rented. There is even a fully-fledged old train wagon on the campsite that is obviously also rented as a place to sleep. We are the only foreigners here at the campsite, for the rest only Swedish.

Day 12 - Hudiksvall

There is no noise from the waterfall. The result, of course, is that we sleep longer than usual. After breakfast and discharge/filling of the water we leave around 10:30 am. The destination is Sundvall on the Gulf of Bothnia. And, although it was still dry when we left, the weather turns quickly and it starts to rain. But we are inside the camper.

We stop on the way at a Thai pavilion. It is strange to see that building here in Swedish nature. And we are lucky. When we arrive, it stops raining and it stays that way during our visit. From there we go further to Sundvall. When we drive into the city we refuel for a while because we have again driven 850 kilometers in the meantime.

In Sundsvall when we succeeded at a parking, it turned out that we as a foreigner actually could not pay. So we started back and found another parking space, near the station and first had a late lunch before we walked into the city. There is not much to see here. We are just in time because suddenly it starts pouring solidly again. We decide not to stay here but to drive a bit more to the south. So we turn the E4 towards Stockholm.

The next big place is Hudiksvall. The GPS tells us that there is a motorhome and we follow the guidelines that it gives us and come out on a perfect site. So we fit ourselves between two big Campers while we take out the map and guides back. We decided to bridge the 300 km to Stockholm in one go.

Tonight we are going to eat in one of the local restaurants. A railway line runs right next to our site. The weather is getting better, in the meantime! And the weather forecast for the following days also looks good. It is sunny with + 20 degrees. I already take out the bermuda.

Day 13 - Stockholm

It was another wonderfully peaceful night. There are strange birds flying around here at the harbor. They are smaller than a seagull but with the same colors, slightly more pointed wings and a tail that sometimes tapers, sometimes opens in a V like a swallow. They do not scream like a seagull either.

Around a quarter to nine, we leave after we have discharged some water. The GPS gives 300 km to Stockholm. After ten minutes we drive on the highway and this time it really pulls on a motorway. Yes, things are going well, of course. The weather has evolved from a fresh 12 degrees to a pleasant 20 degrees here in Stockholm.

The place is full. They give us an alternative but that is 6 km away from the center. That is why we drive to the smaller motorhome. In addition, there is a parking and with some maneuvering, we get the camper parked in a place.

We have lunch first and then head for Gamla Stan, the old town, two kilometers on foot. The first impression is already good. We buy a 72-hour pass for public transport and walk around on the island. We also go to a part of the royal palace where armor and carriages can be seen. We walk along the quay. It's cool to see how close the cruise ships are to the center. We also see a narrow ship sailing the Gotha Canal, a canal that goes from Stockholm to Gothenburg, through Sweden.

Later we take the Stockholm metro back to the camper. Afterward, we dress and then go in 'our' neighborhood looking for a restaurant, rather than going to the touristy part of the city. Eventually, we end up in a business where we have very nice food where we pour the whole thing over with a bottle of Chardonnay. Afterward, we walk back to the camper at ease.

Day 14 - Gamla Stan

We again slept wonderfully and did not suffer from the road here just before. We stand up with a lovely sun and at 7am it is already very nice outside, that promises for the rest of the day. The city map and guides are being pulled out and a route for today has been mapped out so that there is a bit of structure in our wanderings today. After breakfast, we take the metro towards Gamla Stan and from there the boat to the island of Djurgarden where the first destination is located.

At 10h15 we are at the entrance of the ABBA-museum and we stay more than one and a half hours in the museum. It tells the history of the four band members before they became ABBA, the road to their victory at the Eurosongfestival and their entire career afterward. Of course, we can hear their music everywhere. We get CDs. Unfortunately, the Christmas balls with the logo are sold out.

It is time for coffee! We take it on a terrace in the sun and of course, the obligatory cinnamon ball cannot be missed. From there we go to the Vasa museum. This museum is actually a large hall that was built around a ship that sunk on its maiden voyage in the harbor of Stockholm in 1628 and was brought back above water in 1961. After a few years of restoration work, the result can now be seen and it is absolutely impressive how big this ship is.

It is perfectly exhibited because we can admire the ship on all levels from all sides. Here too we spend a lot of time and the camera have a lot of work today. When we leave the museum, there is a queue outside. We have clearly just arrived here because, although there were quite a few people walking around in the museum, it was certainly still feasible.

The plan is to take a boat to the island of Skeppsholmen from here to have lunch, but it will only open at 3 pm. We walk over the bridge to the mainland and end up in the Kungstradgarden, the royal kitchen garden, to eat there. It feels good after so much time, we eat Kottbullar, the Swedish dish that has conquered the whole world thanks to Ikea. These are meatballs with puree, cranberries, and cucumber. We feast on half a liter of wine.

From there we pass the Kulturhuset and then go to the opera. It is high time for coffee. On deck, we take coffee with a view of Gamla Stan, the old city. This old ship is a youth hostel with rooms. And between a few coffees, we plan the day of tomorrow already.

After the coffee, we cross the island for a while because on the other side I want to look at an old wooden loading crane from 1751 on the quay there. There are also beautiful ships and we have a clear view of Strandvagen on the other side of the water, a boulevard on the water with beautiful buildings. We definitely need to get there.

It's been good for today. We take one last walk along the water to the boat bus, from there to the metro and back to the camper.

Day 15 - Skansen

This morning after breakfast we take the metro towards the Central Station. The sky is sky blue, with no cloud to find. Our first goal of the day is Stockholm City Hall. We get a very good explanation from our guide about the construction of the building. It is used as a town hall and also as a banquet place for the presentation of the Nobel Prizes. Even the New Year's concert is broadcast from the blue room which is not blue at all.

From there we go to the first floor where the tour continues to the council chamber. When we come out, the sky is suddenly involved. We feel a little drizzle and we even hear it thunder. We rush to the Riddarholmskyrkan because it has a very specific cast iron tower. Then it's time for coffee again (and a little candy because we want to follow a good example of the Swedes of course).

From there we go to our boat stop for the trip to the island of Djurgarden because there is our next destination, namely Skansen. Skansen is the oldest open-air museum in the world and includes 150 old farms, houses, and a school. But what is even better is they also have a whole section with the animals of Sweden. And finally, we see them. There are five brown bears, two gray wolves, three elks and a whole pack of reindeer. And the air has now completely cleared up again!

Now it's time for lunch and on the island, we eat once again Kottbullar. After the inner man is strengthened again, we go back to step. From Djurgarden we cross a bridge back to the mainland and arrive at Strandvagen. A very nice boulevard near the water where there are a lot of things to eat and drink (a bit more pricey than we have seen) but it really lives there. The sun naturally plays along with that.

Our list of items to be visited has been handled. So we still have enough time to walk through the city and to shop. Until we want to get an ice cream. And so we come back to the old city where we see a shop that is also mentioned in one of the guides.

I go for the blueberry dream and a chocolate de luxe. Once we have done our job and have eaten the ice cream, we go back to the camper.

Day 16 - Vattern

At 9.10 am we start the camper. There is blue sky, sun, and 22 degrees. We quickly get on the Stockholm ring and then to the E4, the highway that we will follow for a long time. Today we plan on to Vattern, 245 km away. We go via the motorway so we run well and at 12 o'clock we are in the motorhome. In the meantime, it has become cloudy and the temperature has dropped to 16 degrees, much less than before.

We need bread for lunch, so we just go to the town. All the stores are closed. Even in the far corners we did during this trip they were open on Sunday but not here, however, we search. So we have lunch at a subway, as there is nothing else. Meanwhile, it has started to rain so we are still dry here.

Our sandwich has been on for a long time, but the rain keeps on. A little wetness cannot hurt. So we return to the camper on foot in the rain. We benefit from the bad weather to plan for the rest of the week. We have to be back in Malmo because the boat leaves next morning.

Later in the afternoon, we take a walk. We are at the place where the Gotha Canal flows into Lake Vattern. We follow the lake over a walking path and see beautiful summer houses including private boat dock. We return to the camper.

Day 17 - Kosta

Around 9h20 we start the camper. We are quickly on the right track and we go smoothly this morning. Yesterday evening the sky cleared at 8 pm and this morning there is still no cloud to be seen! First, we drive through a sloping landscape where agriculture is clearly done but soon we are back in the woods.

The first destination is Eksjo. The city is not disappointing. According to the guide, it is the most authentic wooden city in Sweden. All colors are represented here. The camera has their work again, especially if there is also a brook in the city.

We tiptoe in the tourist office to find the exact location of the gap because the GPS does not know them. The young lady there gives us a very good explanation, two maps, and a brochure. We walk back to the camper, enter the right address and, after two attempts, we are on the right track, 13km from the city. We keep going higher and higher. The road winds and meanders that it is a pleasure and we get the railway feeling that we had already once had.

On the last two kilometers to the parking, the road becomes narrower. Fortunately, we have no oncoming traffic and we get into the parking lot quickly. Just find a place where we are almost right and then have lunch because on an empty stomach we do not want to start that walk.

On a board, I read that there are different types of mosses to be found in the gap. First, we have to walk a stretch of 600m. There are other visitors but it is certainly not a traffic jam here. At the end of the gorge, we go up steeply and then higher and higher because there is also one of the highest points in the region. Once we are up, we are not disappointed. The view reaches very far and the clouds in the sky, interspersed with the blue, give a beautiful picture.

We go back to the camper and on to the next destination. Should it have been later in the day, then this was the perfect place to spend the night. Our next goal is Maleras. Even now the road does not disappoint again. While driving, I read something in the guide about the Glasriket. And the destination is changed to Kosta. On the spot, we follow the necessary signs and end up in an Outlet center!

After we leave the camper in the parking lot we go up a couple of floors through the shopping center, built on a hill. We walk outside for a while, then we certainly reach the glassworks. The studio is already closed at 4 pm apparently so we are late for that. Then we go back to the mall where we are going to eat in one of the cafes.

We will stay overnight in the parking lot and then go to the glassworks in the morning. On the ground floor of the shopping center, there is apparently another glass store that sells work from different workshops here in the region.

The GPS gives us a route and after checking it turns out to be about red roads on the map. After the first exit we are still on asphalt but then it is about 6 km on gravel through the forest. It is a pretty narrow road where we really do not want to see oncoming traffic. But luckily we do not encounter them and we get back on the bigger track without problems.

Maleras can best be described as a village of about fifty houses, built very far apart in the woods and one larger building, namely the glass factory. It, of course, is already closed but the parking looks good. On an information board, however, we see that there is a motorhome here at a few hundred meters. So we bulge there and take the last place.

We ask our Swedish neighbors for a moment and apparently, we have to find the goods in the youth hostel next door. But it is not there.

Day 18 - Karlskrona

At 9:44 am we leave at the motorhome to the glassworks and we arrive at 09h45, even without GPS. We wait a bit because they are only open at 10 am. There is an old steam locomotive with a wagon behind it that we just pop in. Inside there is an exhibition about the past of the village.

At ten o'clock we enter the glassworks. Well, it is only the store and an exhibition space where a number of beautiful artworks are exhibited and sold. In order to see a glassblower at work, however, we have to wait until 11am. Then I quickly went to a local leather factory, because we were planning to do that anyway.

Then back to the glassworks and we can easily find a place on the seating stage so that we can hear a young lady in broken English about the history of the company. Meanwhile, there is a glassblower at work who creates something very beautiful in colored glass and crystal.

We keep it for now and start the camper with Kalmar as the goal. But on the way we see a sign for a moose farm. We hit and drive to it. We park the camper in a large parking lot with some vehicles and walk to the checkout.

A few dozen meters further we are close to three elks, all three males with full antlers, eating in a barn. And those animals are not called the king of the forest for nothing. With a shoulder height of 2 meters, there is still a massive head above. We walk a bit further into the domain and find a female a bit further.

And to celebrate this meeting, we have lunch on the spot with a hot moose, a hot dog made from moose meat. We assume that it was not meat from those critters we have seen but from one of the million specimens that are fired every year when the elk hunt is opened in the autumn.

We decide on the spot to adjust the planning and leave Kalmar and go straight to Karlskrona. A little after three we are at the motorhome on the harbor and park the motorhome just before a giant ship of the Swedish Coast Guard. We notice that the motorhome is actually just a little further but it is full and there are already a lot of Campers.

We walk further and arrive via a bridge on an island that used to be a military domain but now houses a number of museums. We do not enter but enjoy the view of the island outside. There are two torpedo hunters outside the navy museum. Then we go into the city to the big market. It is indeed very large and, moreover, there is one ice cream shop where a long queue is at the door and on the footpath.

The big wide horns are full of ice cream. Five minutes later we are a meter further, another five minutes later a meter again. If that goes on like this, we are standing here between an hour and an hour and a half.

So we walk on to the Fisketorget, to the fish market. There is nothing to see, no fishmongers, but just a Scandic hotel. We continue walking until we have rounded the city and are back at the camper. Nearby there is a restaurant that attracts us. It has a modern interior and a nice view of the marina. In the camper, we solve that on the internet of course and our choice is made quickly.

And we certainly will not be disappointed. We have a plate with some fish, then the catch of the day and that is turbot. It is delicious, especially with a red wine. We leave dessert for what it is. It has been more than good. We do a little walk and then return to the camper.

Day 19 - Ahus

At 9 am we start towards Ahus. But in the end, we get to our destination to determine that the motorhome is closed this week because there is a beach handball tournament. The motorhome has become an ordinary parking lot. After some searching, we find a parking that is even free, in the center of the old part of town.

It is time for a walk. Well, yes, it is a bit more than expected because only after 2.5 km we see the beach and the sea. There is the Baltic Sea. But we have to keep an eye on our time for the tour so we return to the camper for lunch with a stopover at the local supermarket.

At about twenty meters from the camper is an ice cream stall and we see again of those mega-sized horns. After lunch, we walk the full two minutes to the Absolut experience center. What's in a name. Because of refurbishments, there is no tour of the distillery and there is no testing!

We get to see two films and a powerpoint about the company history. After our visit, we return to the camper and have ice cream. There is a traffic jam but we persist and after twenty minutes it is our turn. In the meantime, we walk to the canal that flows into the sea. On our side, there are some older houses, and on the other side more modern quarters with jetty and boat in front. The old part of the city is beautiful again. There is a mix of stone houses, wooden houses, and half-timbered facades.

And the weather is excellent today. Since we do not stay here tonight, we pick up the map and we choose Simrishamn, just over 50 km to the south.

Day 20 - Simrishamn

We take breakfast outside in the sun. Then it is reading time until lunch, in the sun. We are almost alone here in our section, as a lot of people have left this morning. After lunch, we walk one and a half kilometer to the center. We do a little window-shopping, check menus at restaurants and so on. Eventually, our choice falls on one and we already reserved a table for tonight.

We walk further along the harbor, look at the sailing boats, including a very nice Dutch flat-bottomed boat. I browse the internet for restaurants in Malmo and fall on a Lebanese restaurant near the motorhome. The reviews look good. We know that it has a beautiful view, so I call immediately to reserve a table for tomorrow.

We are in our restaurant on time. It was lovely again. I start with local starters of toast with shrimp salad and then go for one of my favorites with the Steak Tartare. There was smoked shrimp with risotto with mushroom and truffle. It is quite firm but super tasty. I do take a Swedish whiskey which is very nice.

Day 21 - Malmo

It's all the easy this morning. We do not have to go far today so it can all be more relaxed. By half-past ten we leave. The first destination today is Ale's Stones in Kaseberga. It is a stone formation from the Bronze Age, near the sea. Last night it rained a little and, as predicted, it is still rainy on the way. We park the camper on a very spacious motorhome.

From there we go up on foot, through the village of Kaseberga to the stones. We are not alone, despite the rain. The stones are in a boat form, 69 meters in diameter. We take a steep path down where we end up at a tiny fishing harbor. There are a few restaurants and a fish shop that also smokes fish. There is a bar full of goodies but we limit ourselves to a seafood mousse that we have already tasted here in Sweden.

From there we go back to the camper where we first have lunch. Afterward, we start towards our second goal of the day namely Trelleborg, 75 km further. There we visit the reconstruction of a Viking castle. Inside a building is a small exhibition of where those castles were all around the year 1000 and how that of Trelleborg fit into the village.

The castle itself is disappointing. And so we leave for our last destination of the day, the motorhome of Malmo. And so the circle is completely round and we are again at the point where our journey in Sweden started three weeks ago. We walk towards the Turning Torso and the supermarket close by to buy a few chocolate balls, my favorite.

We are in the restaurant on time. Fortunately, we had reservations because, apart from us, there is still one couple with two children! And Tripadvisor can, therefore, best be wrong or at least the reviews that appear on it. In summary, it was a disappointment. In an hour we ordered, waited, ate and settled.

We take a walk on the dike here, take a few goodbye pictures of The Bridge and then go back to the camper for tea, chocolate and the rest.

Tomorrow we have to get up early so we will not be late today.

Trip to Iran in First day of Spring

For a very long time I dreamed of going on a trip to Iran. I do not know exactly why. Iran has a mixture of ancient history with the Persian Empire, Alexander the Great, the Silk Road and also a taste of forbidden. At random, I do a search to Tehran and divine surprise, there is a return flight with stopover in Dubai in our budget and with good schedules.

No sooner said, I validate that it is possible to obtain a visa on arrival and tickets are reserved. Now some questions! How to move on the spot? What to do and where to go in such a short time? Where to stay?

As every time we travel abroad, we like to be independent in our travels, which goes through the rental car. After some research on the web, it turns out that it is not available for foreign tourists. The traffic would be chaotic and it would be almost impossible to rent a car agency because of the impossibility of using international bank cards.

In short, it is not won. In terms of local traffic, we will accommodate. In Albania, it was also inadvisable to drive according to tour guides and finally it is quite manageable. For the rental, I find a car at acceptable price. This set point, we can tackle the route of our road trip. With 6 full days effective on the spot, there is no question of going around Iran.

One of the wonders of Iran is the city of Isfahan, ancient capital of the Persian empire. It is located 450 km south of Tehran and is connected to the capital by a highway. So it will be the most distant destination from our mini road trip. According to the tour guides, the city of Tehran is interesting but not unavoidable in terms of sites and monuments to visit. So we decide to just cross it because I have another idea behind the head.

I have known for a long time that there are ski resorts near Tehran. In the 60s and 70s, the Shah of Iran as part of its project of Westernization and modernization of the country initiated the creation of the Dizin station. I must have a snobbish side (I admit!), as skiing in Iran is one of the objectives of the trip.

Dizin, 50 km north of Tehran and Isfahan, 450 km south. The 2 ends of the route were defined, missing only one step between the 2. After a few hours spent between maps, forum and guides, the choice was on Kashan, small town at the door of the desert, step on the road silk, famous for its bazaar and its old merchant villas.

To go to Iran we take off in the night to Dubai and Tehran. Next morning, after an uneventful trip, we land at Tehran's new Imam Khomeini International Airport. We are not worried about obtaining the visa however we wonder how long it will take us. You have to stand in line to pay, then queue up again to file your visa application and finally wait for the visa to be edited and pasted on the passport.

In total it takes 2 good hours but in a relaxed and rather friendly atmosphere. We then take possession of our superb car and Dizin management taking care to bypass the center of Tehran, city known for its almost permanent traffic jams.

On the road to Dizin

Once out of the suburbs of Tehran, we head north along the Chalus Road, a road that crosses the Elborz Massif to reach the Caspian Sea. The road is in very good condition, overlooked by snow-capped peaks. After tea and cakes in one of the many cafés and restaurants along this tourist route, we arrive at the end of the afternoon in the station of Dizin located at 2600m.

We recover our room with views of the slopes, the hotel and the buildings of the resort are not fresh any more but the light of late afternoon offers a magical view.

We take advantage of the last rays of the sun to go on foot reconnaissance and look for rental equipment. Having planned to ski for only one day, we did not take any equipment with us. At the foot of the slopes, we meet a group of Austrians who bring their equipment to a small stall installed in a log cabin that groceries and ski hire. Skiers seem satisfied with the material, we decide not to look any further. After a few tries, we ended up finding the right shoes for our size and skis in good condition. Before returning to our hotel with our equipment, we ask if it is necessary to leave a deposit, a piece of identity or if it is necessary to pay the rent in advance.

None of that, leave with the equipment and pay when you're done skiing! Obviously, here, we do not think that foreign tourists can be dishonest! The next morning, we have an appointment with Iranian friends.

In Dizin, it was not possible but the next day in Tehran, we were invited for the night by a snowboarder who also gave us some practical tips to prepare our day skiing. The area is not huge compared to the big alpine resorts but the elevation is important with more than 1000m. The lifts are very old and suddenly very slow but the pleasure is not in the cumulative drop in the day. From the top the panorama is breathtaking with as far as the eye can see the summits and stops at more than 4000m and in the distance Mount Damavand culminating at 5610m.

We had a bright sun but it had not snowed in a few days, so it was the typical spring snow, very hard in the morning and transformed in the day. The ski season is very long (from the end of November to the beginning of May). Thanks to the altitude, the temperature variations are important and the snow changes very quickly. Throughout the season, we spend a few days from powder to spring snow. The ski area deserves one to two days of skiing depending on the conditions but for those who would also like the ski tour, the potential is almost infinite nearby.

Spring wallpaper

Back to Tehran

After this day in a magical landscape, we go back down to Tehran. At first everything is fine. We arrive in Tehran at the end of the afternoon. We decide to take a break and walk in a shopping area near the Milad Tower.

After leaving, we go only a few meters before falling into a traffic jam. It will take us more than 2 hours to finish the few kilometers separating us from our host.

For dinner, we finally arrive late in the evening. We think we risk going to bed without eating but not at all, we leave on the heights of the city, guests at the restaurant. We have the chance to taste a multitude of dishes that are unknown to us all. The card is only printed in Farsi (the language of Iran) in an unknown alphabet. We have no choice but to let our hosts choose for us. After this very long day, we only dream of a shower and sleep.

Around 8am, we are ready to leave, the program of the day is dense but enticing. The morning crossing of Tehran finally goes pretty well, after less than an hour drive we leave the huge agglomeration. Few people know that, but the Tehran agglomeration has more than 15 million inhabitants, almost as much as the Los Angeles metropolis (18 million).

Highway No. 7 that connects Tehran to Isfahan (450km south) and soon Shiraz and in perfect condition. It is paying but our move to the 1st toll station will be a good surprise. We decipher the billboard but when we release our banknotes, we still have a doubt. The amount indicated seems so low that we ask ourselves if it is displayed in Rial or Toman, or even if we read well. The sum represents a few tens of cents, and it was good Rial!

On the way to Kashan

Arrived at the level of the city of Kashan, we extend slightly to the south to go to the Jardin de Fin. It is actually one of the residences of the Sha (King) built in the 16th century built around a garden irrigated by a source and multiple fountains. It is reputed to be the perfect example of Persian garden art.

We continue our afternoon in Kashan visiting the house of Boroujerdi, house or rather palace built by a wealthy merchant in the 19th century. It must be known that Kashan was for a very long time a prosperous trading town established on the Silk Road.

We finish the afternoon passing through the famous bazaar of the city to buy from a local tailor a comfortable and decent outfit. It's time to join our host of the day. I'm very proud of his surprise when we ring directly at his door after parking our car in front of his house. It regularly welcomes foreign travelers and this is the first time it has visitors traveling by car without driver and who, moreover, arrive directly to his home, thanks to GPS maps without which I will not do anything.

Once again, we suffer the Persian hospitality. The early evening meal was only considered as a snack in fact. So we quickly went back to the mosque Aran o Bidgol located a few kilometers north. It is a gigantic mosque built in the 20th century around the tomb of Hilal ibn Ali, son of Ali, himself a son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, in short a sacred personality for the Shiites.

The style is loaded to see "kitch", but the size and scale of the building make it an impressive and magical place at night. To conclude this long day, we end with the magnificent Agha Bozorg mosque, dating from the 18th century, much more sober.

Road to the Maranjab Desert

We leave Kashan the next morning towards the Maranjab desert. Having no all-terrain vehicle, we limit ourselves to a few kilometers of track, the sand is very colorful, from pale yellow to an orange turning ocher. The landscape is magical with on one side of the dunes as far as the eye can see and on the other, in the distance, the first peaks of the chain of the Zagros Mountains that can be distinguished snow-covered.

Direction the village of Abyaneh

We then cross the desert plain to go up a valley to the village of Abyaneh. This village is in all the tourist guides but as it is slightly eccentric compared to the main roads, one can not say that one is embarrassed by the crowd.

All the buildings are plastered or built of red earth whose color blends with that of the surrounding mountains. Spring is just beginning (we are more than 2200m above sea level), which allows us to enjoy the flowering of fruit trees that do not have their leaves yet. Everything is mineral with the exception of innumerable small white flowers.

Following our route of the day to Isfahan is mainly from the highway, we take our time to stroll. Random streets, we come across a tea stand, not really a coffee because open air, where a gentleman with the look "baba cool" offers cakes, fruit and tea in the middle of a bric-a-brac various handicrafts, a place and a character that one does not expect to meet here.

Side unusual meetings, on the parking of the restaurant where we take our meal, we see 2 motorcycles registered in Australia. We quickly identify these table neighbors to their unusual attire here, even for tourists. This is a couple of Australians who came mainly by road via Indonesia, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Like us, they loved Iran and traveled the country for a month.

In the late afternoon, we leave for Isfahan. The light makes the colors even more beautiful. The highway is almost deserted and we have plenty of time to enjoy the scenery.

Visit to Isfahan

We arrive near Isfahan at dusk. After the bad experience of giant traffic jams in Tehran we are a little worried but finally it is quite acceptable. Thanks to the GPS application of our smartphone, we reach the foot of the building of our guests. We are surprised to be addressed in the street via the intercom, so we are well expected.

We are offered to go to another part of the city to join a birthday party. We obviously accept, as we wanted to discover Iran through the Iranians beyond the clichés.

On the road, we make our first visit to Isfahan, the Si-o-se Pol bridge, bridge with thirty-three arches. It is one of the two most famous bridges of the city, place of walk frequented day and night. Its illumination being very successful, the atmosphere is magical and peaceful. They seemed to us that it is forbidden or at least frowned upon for couples to hold hands in public. Here at least it is not appropriate.

We arrive at the house of the friends of our guests, who have already become our friends. Once again we are captivated by the warmth of the welcome. We have the impression of being guests of note without distance, with spontaneity.

The evening is spent talking around the meal and then in front of the TV and the computer, watching clips of Iranian music, via the internet connection or the satellite. Nobody looks at the Iranian channels considered boring and uninteresting. In the late evening, everyone finds themselves dancing on the living room carpet!

The next day is Friday. Our hosts have reserved their day for us. So we will have once again local guides to make us discover their city!

The morning crossing of Isfahan is finally calm. It is the first time that we circulate in a big city without being in the traffic jams. We park directly in the city center to perform all day tours on foot. We start with the Chehel Sotoun Palace, 17th century palace built in a large garden and surrounded by ponds.

We continue for a few minutes to reach the Sha Square (or Naghsh-e Jahan Square), one of the largest (almost 9ha) and the most beautiful in the world. This place and the buildings that surround it are one of the musts of our trip, after having seen many times in photo or video, I am impatient and then moved to be there. This square and the monuments that surround it alone deserve the trip.

It is bordered by the Sha mosque, the Ali Qapu palace, the Sheikh Lotfallah mosque and one of the doors of the Grand Bazaar. We visited all these monuments, all are exceptional but the smallest mosque of Sheikh Lotf Allah is our favorite with its extremely fine decoration and relaxing atmosphere. It is on a human scale, almost intimate unlike the mosque of Sha which can accommodate several thousand faithful during the Friday prayer.

The Grand Bazaar of Isfahan is not exceptional architectural but it is nonetheless unavoidable. Unlike Istanbul, it is mainly used by locals and not by tourists. There are among other things very beautiful local and regional crafts, obviously Persian rugs but also objects in marquetry and fabrics as well as many merchants of herbs and spices.

No, there are not only mosques in Iran, there are also Christian and even Jewish places of worship. The Cathedral Vank and Saint-Sauveur Cathedral of Isfahan is the center of the Armenian quarter of Jolfa. It dates from the 17th century. From the outside, apart from the cross, it looks like a sober mosque but the interior is incredible with a wealth of ornaments unheard of.

Before heading back to Tehran Airport, we pass by the Khaju Bridge, another wonder of the city. And it's an opportunity to live a magical moment when we walk under the arches. A singer comes to enjoy the perfect acoustics to offer walkers a few minutes of singing.

We leave Isfahan in the afternoon to reach a hotel in the immediate vicinity of Tehran airport to take off the next morning via Dubai. This time there is no question of falling back into traffic jams and for that we prefer to sleep on the spot. If your budget allows, it is a good option for a morning departure without stress.

This lightning trip was obviously too short but it is better a trip too short than no trip! In a week, we have seen a multitude of surprising and beautiful things and ecu remarkable encounters. We will always remember this morning of skiing in Dizin, our amazing evening at Kashan, our visit of Isfahan.

Iran is as much beautiful landscapes and monuments as human encounters rich and spontaneous. This country is paradoxical with a very present modernity and a very strong conservatism, limited public liberties but a great freedom of the individuals in the private environment.

In the end we were shocked by what we saw and lived in this country and we will definitely come back for longer stays in the future.

Paper Boat Drinks Review

Summer is the time to stack your refrigerator with fruit drinks when the season makes you feel the full force of the hot weather. This season is ideal as the non-alcoholic fruit drinks feel refreshing and thirst quenching and gives the much-needed chill, leaving you with a full of energy for a long time, for its characteristic vitamins that give you the charge.

Today we talk about a great way to quench your thirst, and the product of which we are going to talk about is a fruit juice, which is good, and healthy as recent studies have shown that the health properties of fruit and vegetables are not only due to the vitamins and minerals but is as well as for the fibre and naturally contain some special compounds, like phytochemicals.

Paper Boat is a new brand in the market for fruit-based beverages, and has been able to distinguish right from the start by marketing the colourful line of fruit juices, to launch the juices in attractive tetra packs, thus guaranteeing perfectly unaltered flavour and properties, and create good products in step with the times, staying close to the needs of consumers that has been an innovator in the market for fruit-based beverages.

This fruit drink has variety of very specific tastes which are cool, non-carbonated good and healthy drink, creamy, delicious and special that is an innovator in the market for fruit-based beverages for the variety of very specific tastes with convenient packaging with flavours like of mangoes, jamun and jal jeera which are natural, and very tasty and definitely the natural supplements for our body with substances that have a protective action on the various systems of the body.

The product can be found in specially designed Tetra Paks, comfortable and convenient to carry anywhere in single-dose packs of 250 ml, which mentions in its back all the ingredients and nutritional values. On the front are depicted the types of fruit that make up the drink. Finally, there are the name of the manufacturer, helpline number and the Internet addresses and expiry date. At the top are the caps with knurled sides for ease of opening.

Paper Boat Drinks

The packaging is convenient because it is not made of glass and therefore there is no risk that it breaks, the shape is really handy because the soft plastic does not give in to the weight of the liquid inside when it is poured, which instead it happens with many other products with little packaging. The fact that it also has the cap then it is also a safety factor because the juice does not stay open and you can open and close depending on your needs.

The drinks are very refreshing but at the same time very sweet and pleasant, sweetened to perfection, in light and comfortable packs presented graphically, each of which is characterized by a different colour having no colours or preservatives that tastes different which is better to keep in the refrigerator before serving, instead of adding ice cubes that dilute the drink.

To taste the juices, you have to break the plastic seal by unscrewing the cap that would make your taste buds jumping for joy, just shake well before pouring to enjoy the full pleasure that these drinks can take you where as soon as you open the box you can smell the smell of the flavours and feel a delicate scent.

However, it should be stressed that this drink contains the minimum percentages of juices that are added to 10 to 45% of fruit that contains no antimicrobial preservatives and coloring agents. The rests are water, sugar, generic flavorings (to enhance the taste) and other natural substances, so it must be taken into account for calorie intake.

The juice is thick and creamy and, it is far from aqueous even if the water is the first among the ingredients, apparently, this must be mixed well before drinking and is definitely recommended for who like fruits and fruit juices accordingly.

Trip to Mihir Garh in Rajasthan

Needless to say, the alarm clock is absolutely calamitous. I go down yawning, and then remember that there is no buffet at breakfast. The service is slow as always, and I wait for my tea. I go back, free the room, and go out and board the van. I try to sleep. Upon arrival in Jodhpur, we leave for an hour by car, which takes us to Rohet Garh, a small palace in western Rajasthan.

It is a family home standing for 300 years. On the outside, there are traces of small hands embedded in the walls. It is those of the women of the family who burned themselves, as the tradition of great families had done, after the death of their husband.

We then depart in an open jeep, for a typical Rajasthani village in the backcountry. In Dhundhara, 50 km south of Jodhpur, the houses have just been repainted for Diwali. A single wall, pierced with doors, gives access to all houses that do not close. The walls are very low and never reaching the roof. It is basic but very colorful, relatively clean, unlike the clouds of filthy children running in the dust.

This is the moment our driver chooses to offer us an opium class. It was a warrior tradition, it seems, something that the soldiers offered themselves before going to battle. It is at once an anesthetic, steroid, and good for the stomach. Today, it would be rather a sacred ritual of concord, good agreement, conflict resolution. Here, men always clink with opium to celebrate a wedding or bury a hatchet.

In short, the quantity of opium is negligible and is stacked, mixed with water, with molasses. It is then filtered in socks made of camel wool, five or six times until the liquid be very clear and then it is offered to the gods. And to everyone, in the palm of their hand. After this we can continue our exploration of villages in southwest Rajasthan.

We go on the way to the Thar desert, a succession of arid lands, dunes. On the left as on the right, there is sand as far as the eye can see, with some dunes on the horizon. The landscape is punctuated with thorny and silver acacias by dust and drought. Here and there, a few goats stand on a trunk, camel huddle in a puddle of shadow. We see a round hut topped with brown thatch, indicating that life exists.

We go to see the Bishnoi, a particularly strict sect, I am told. Their idea is to protect everything from trees to animals. They are totally vegetarian, and strongly oppose that anyone attacks all these little animals. Shepherds or blacksmiths, this population has preserved the customs of the ancient civilizations of the Indus.

It seems that they owe the survival of the antelopes. They are also the only followers of hinduism who bury their dead instead of burning them, as wood is scarce in this region. Their welcome is warm. We sit a little on a kind of bench, take some pictures of men in white, women in color, and then go back to our lives. Our hike takes us to the heart of the fields of millet, sesame and sorghum, cereal crops typical of the region.

We head to Mihir Garh. Overlooking the desert, there is a place straight out of fairy tales. Proudly set on Mali Nathji ka Dhora, the sacred dune dedicated to the God of War, the Mihir Garh surprises with its gigantic structure and impressive beauty. It is distinguished, majestic, among the golden sands of Marwar, as if the desert itself had carried it in its bosom.

Its architecture is inspired by local villages on the west side of Rajasthan, with its large mud walls, slightly rounded corners, numerous alcoves and fireplaces. The tones, from blue to yellow and red, perfectly highlight the traditional furniture. The view of the desert is omnipresent. We are invited to an almost sacred rest.

There is a parade of drums, horses, and dances in the setting sun, with all that is needed of shimmering colors and insistent melodies, which finally leads us inside the palace. The common areas are very good and quite simple.

After a drink in the very pleasant dining room, then another endless glass outside, we finally go to table. It's time and, while the others are struggling to know who will go on a horseback ride on the Marwari horse. They are horses with legendary history. Indeed, for some, the Indian thoroughbreds are the fruit of love, under a crescent moon, a black stallion of the desert and a blonde mare from elsewhere.

But it would seem rather that these proud Indian horses of Rajasthan, mounts of Rajputs warriors and princes, are the descendants of thoroughbred Arabs rescued from a shipwreck on the Indian coasts. Married to more powerful local ponies, they would have developed this unique peculiarity, transmitted over generations.

They are courageous in combat, it is said, and only the princes and the warriors were allowed to ride them. Its story is therefore related to the rajput. What a gift to ride them. The excitement wins us! Thali and chapatis are among other things our meals, in a camp just extraordinary, mounted like a village. We sleep on thin mattresses and observe the stars as children. The sky will also offer some shooting stars.

After a few grilled toasts over a wood fire, a hard boar and a winery, I go to sleep.

A Walk through Hyderabad in Telangana during Bathukamma

This morning, we leave Mamallapuram to head for Chennai. We know that from now on, we will cross much less touristy areas than Kerala or Tamil Nadu. After only 5 km, we make our first stop to go to the Tiger Cave, a holy place dedicated to Durga. Carved out of the rock, it dates from the 7th century and, in the absolute calm of the beginning of the day, its sculptures, flooded with sun, are dazzling!

After seeing everything with full eyes, now is the time to turn on to Chennai. Suffice to say that we do not intend to stay there and even the idea of ​​crossing it worries us. Luckily, the city is located by the sea and its inhabitants are proud of their 17 km of beach. For us, it is the opportunity to cross it along its coast. No wonder the landscape and tourism exploitation of the site will surely wait a few decades. For the time being, only a few modest rides and street vendors have entered the beach.

In deciding to flee the city as soon as possible, we took the risk of not finding accommodation and tonight we are not disappointed! It is with all the trouble of the world that we find an acceptable guest house on the outskirts.

Telangana during Bathukamma

Day 2

Our road continue north to Guntur before heading west to Hyderabad. The journey is mostly on a 4 lane highway. We are now in Andhra Pradesh and we start seeing ultramodern factories along the road. There is little doubt that the economic situation of this state is better than that of Tamil Nadu that we have just left.

We feel this same feeling in agriculture which is now more mechanized. After crossing the eastern ghats, we move in the rich Krishna valley and the crops are in full swing (tobacco, cotton, pepper, rice). However, a lot of work is still done manually such as picking and sorting peppers under a blazing sun.

But if we really enjoy travel, it's because it allows us to see these men and women in their daily lives. The opportunities to be surprised are not lacking. But they are reciprocal and our passage in this region surprises many! The country is celebrating the Dussehra festival. Every region of India has its own way of celebrating Dussehra. In Telangana, it is celebrated as Bathukamma. We find families make garlands and small altars from pretty orange flowers like Dahlia.

So I arrive at Hyderabad. Arriving in Hyderabad, we entered this new state of Telangana. We are here in predominantly Muslim territory and innumerable palaces and mosques recall the grandeur of its Mughal past. I visited the historic center of the city where hides marvels of Islamic architecture! I head to Golconda which is the ancient city but abandoned at the time for lack of water. There I visit the Golconda fort, a marvel! See other photos.

Hydrabad gives me a contrasting impression! In addition, I love Islamic architecture, and that is much more refined. Hyderabad is like in the tales of Arabian nights! It's still classier and much more refined, with much more taste, much more purity and aesthetic clarity!

I would have really believed I was in the Middle East! I was able to travel for a moment in Afghanistan or Palestine but without the danger! Currently, the city is busy restoring its rich heritage, like its Charminar or mausoleums of the sultans of the Qtub Shayi dynasty, built in the Indo-Persian style and grouped in one place about ten kilometers from the old city.

I still have to say a few words about this Birla Mandir temple. Photos are not allowed inside. This is a beautiful white marble construction that contrasts with the small neighborhood temples flooded with kitsch decorations and acid colors. It is dedicated to Venkateshwara whose black statue is at the entrance.

We take off our shoes to go up the steps in a white step heated for several hours. We go up in single file and we pass small altars that seem dedicated to particular gods. Then we pass a security gantry next to which is a large basin. I realize that most people are with a plastic bag containing half a coconut and flowers.

People who go down and have kept their empty plastic bags by hand can recover the coconuts but all do not and the balance seems positive. The coconut seller who is in the street at the bottom of the temple therefore has some benefits. Even more curious, it is a guard of the security service that ensures the deposit and/or recovery of coconuts!

After arriving at the top of the temple, we can admire sculptures in low relief very fine and very beautiful. A priest officiates in an altar by distributing holy water. At each stage people pray by shaking hands under the chin and putting coins in the trunks. Colored pots allow the passage to get a red or orange dot between the eyes.

From the temple there is a panorama of Hussain Sagar Lake, an artificial lake dug by the Qutb Shah, in the middle of which is a Buddha on its pedestal. The lake does not bring much freshness to the environment and it is 33 degrees this afternoon on the Birla Mandir hill.

At the foot of Charminar, there is a beautiful market, in which I did not recognize half of the vegetables. There are cucumbers, gourds, carrots, aromatic herbs. I was able to identify dozens of varieties of hot peppers. They also sell plenty of shrimp and dried fish and, despite the 33 degrees in the shade, it did not smell that bad. It is time to eat. The mutton biryani at dinner time was a delight.

Taking Off in the Mumbai Monorail

I land at 6:40 in Mumbai. It's dawn and the airport looks like a huge empty shopping center. The image is far from what I remembered when I arrived here eight years ago, when rickshaw drivers, motorized or not, crowded the fences at the exit. I find it difficult to find an ATM, but a security tells me where to find one, hidden behind a prepaid taxi stand.

I cross the parking area and I run into the drivers chatting in their rickshaws. One of them offers me to get closer to the nearest station at Andheri, for 20 rupees. I smell that something will fail but I have time to get to the hotel at a decent hour.

The driver leaves me next to a brand new monorail station. The 20 rupees turn into 50 due to the shortage of change. In Andheri I see a brand new monorail station. I'm alone and the man who controls the X-ray machine tells me the path to which I should go and the number of stations that I should. I get to Andheri and the corridors are getting busier.

The businesses start to lift the shutters and people who sleep under the posts begin to stretch. The city smells intensely under humidity. I take the platform and I am surprised to see the convoys traveling at full speed with the doors open. I climb to the first one and get off at Grant Road, the station next to the hotel. It's 9:30 and despite having spent the whole trip eating, I'm hungry.

I cannot resist going into a busy bakery. It does not have much variety but it is very cheap, the cheapest breakfast of the whole trip. I take pav bhaji. I enjoy as a spectator to those people who come and go from the place to take a quick bite with all the time in the world. It takes about an hour to find the hotel. The addresses in Bombay are only approximate and in the middle of the internet era, any error in google leads to chaos.

The traditional question answer method allows me miraculously to find it. And is that its tiny sign is crouched among a large row of stalls that clutter the sidewalks. It's early and the rooms are not ready, but I can clean up and leave the lumps. I walk through the city until I reach Chowpatty beach and I sit in one of the empty beach bars to see the horizon. There I realize that this adventure has already begun and that place is the starting point.

I walk to the Gateway of India. On the way to the Gateway of India, the streets and parks remind me at all times that it was an important British colonial metropolis. I see the old two-storey buses, the strangely Gothic buildings without any relation to the traditional Indian architecture or the old information panels. All this highlights the intense character of the culture, capable of imposing itself on any novelty.

From the Gateway of India the boats leave for Elephanta Island. I assume that there was an economic mode of transport to go to the island and I move to look for it (maybe it is too early), but there is no way. So I ride on the first boat that leaves for the island.

The walk is pleasant, although the views are not too good due to the pollution that there is in the area. I take advantage of this trip by feeding the seagulls. I reach a pier and there is a stretch of approximately 500 meters to the entrance of the island. This can be taken in a mini-train, although it does not start until it is full. I made the stretch walking and arrived before the mini-train.

At the entrance to the island I have to pay a small fee, as here they charge for everything. Then I go up to the caves of the island where I pay the entrance fee. The climb is full of stalls, most of them with an awning above. On the way down they were all open. I climbed almost running. I arrived tired.

I arrived so fast that there was no one in the caves when I entered. In the caves the most impressive thing is the huge three-headed Shiva of the main cave. The place is a bit simple for how expensive it is. When I was leaving I see the monkeys were trying to steal from the many tourists who were already arriving.

Before descending again I took a detour along a road, full of shit. I can see that it was going up towards the mountain, followed by a Japanese tourist who was interested in the area. And I got it right. I ran into two batteries of tremendous cannons from World War II and I saw part of the rest of the island from above.

On the way down I take advantage and do some shopping. Back at the Gateway of India I get hungry and buy a lassi on the way to the hostel. Once at the hostel I find a cheap gym nearby. On the way to the gym I take a walk through the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal and adjacent buildings, since this one is in the bazaar area and I am passing through.

The gym is very shabby. It is on the fourth floor, but it has everything necessary to do a basic and correct training. It's expensive for my taste. I trained intensely, but lasted 10 minutes. I guess I was still weak from what had happened before on the trip. When I left I bought a protein shake at a sports shop next door and booked an Uber.

I did not know this service and it fascinated me. Uber and Ola, are two great applications to use in India. The Uber did not take long. The Uber leaves us at the Kailash Mandir, a local specialty in Lassi and Mithai, which is right next to the Dadar Monorail stop. I ordered the Punjabi Full Lassi and I loved it. I get back on the subway, and sneak in without paying. Arriving at the hostel I eat dinner.

Taking Off in the Mumbai Monorail

Day 2

I had breakfast early and I had a city tour of the area with buildings with colonial architecture. I started it at the Gateway of India and ended up at the Horniman Circle gardens. One of the stops was the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, which did not open until 10:30.

I saw many buildings, but I was more struck by the number of cricket matches that were being played in the Oval Maidan. For a good time I watch one of the games. In the area of ​​Eros Cinema which was under renovation, I want a beer, but I cannot find where they sell it. It was 11 in the morning.

I continue to wander until I get back to the hostel. This area did not look at all like any other Indian city I have been to. After resting a little, and waiting for the heat to loosen another bit, I ventured to take the subway, to go to the distant ISKCON temple.

I got lost in the subway as I had to change at one of the stops and I did not, and to go back I went even more. I left the main routes. I looked like two lost legs and asked everyone. A very kind kid showed us an application that indicated everything very well. I did not collect references but it exists and it seems that it helps a lot.

I went inside in the Khotachiwadi, where one of the popular bazaars of the city is located. It is surprising to see how little things have evolved here. The sale items occupy a public space that shares with cows, carters, porters, cars, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians. I arrive at the Mumba Devi Temple, which gives the city its new name, but I cannot enter because a security decides that my ipad cannot pass.

The afternoon falls and I continue my walk to Chowpatty with the hope of being able to see a beautiful sunset. After a great walk I return to the beginning. I take the Uber to go to Marine Drive and watch the sunset. Night falls and I walk towards the hotel, although first I stopped at an Italian pizzeria on Marina Drive for a beer. I left by legs, not embarrassed.

Travel To The Valley of Roses in Morocco

They say that when the desert wind blows, the scent of the roses of the M'gouna reaches as far as Marrakech. Who does not have the patience to wait for the wind, can take the road that leads to the South, between the peaks of the High Atlas. At the foot of the High Atlas mountains that approach the Sahara, we find an unexpected place, the Valley of Roses. Here, in spring, the whole area is dressed in pink and breathes a wonderful smell. It is a delight for both sight and smell.

Crossing the Tizi n'Tichka pass (2260 m), we proceed to the oasis of Skoura. The ocher gives way to the brown red of the rocks. Soon, the landscape becomes harsher. We visit the kasbah of Amerhidil, one of the most impressive fortress constructions in Morocco. We get to Skoura, the first great oasis of the Dades valley. Here, among the date palms, eucalyptus and oleander, the spectacular ksar, the castles of land of Morocco, rise up .

On the route of the kasbahs, about 90 kilometers from Ouarzazate, in the Dades Valley, there is a fortified town known by the name of Kelaat M'Gouna. It is the main access to this beautiful valley and one of the last oases in the area before reaching the infinite sands of the Sahara. While this town is the starting point for hiking trails and excursions, it is, above all, the Moroccan capital of the rose.

We continue to El Kelaa M'Gouna, the capital of roses, where the secret of the master perfumers of Provence is jealously guarded. The rose gardens stretch as far as the eye can see, for over 50 kilometers, along the banks of the Dades. The valley extends from Kelaat M'Gouna, to Bou Tharar, which is about 30 uninterrupted kilometers of rose cultivation.

In Bou Tharar, from the magnificent and imposing Ksar de Bou Tharar, which dominates the beautiful oasis, we admire the spectacle of the collection during the morning. The rose found in this valley, called rosa damascena, is resistant to cold and drought, and one of the most perfumed and sought-after species in the world. According to the legend, it was introduced by chance in some of the caravans of pilgrims that returned from Mecca some 300 years ago.

After breakfast, visit the oasis of Skoura. Going back to the north-east the river valley of Dadès and M'Goun, we reach El Kelaa. It is a small town surrounded by thousand kasbahs and incredibly green fields. It also stops at Bou Tharar, a village of lace land, with its four-storey fortress. Then we head straight to Boumalne. We have dinner and stay again overnight in a kasbah.

Rose petals are used mainly to make rose water, soaps and cosmetics. In Kelaat M'Gouna there are stores dedicated to their production and sale. When we ask, they also explain the distillation process. We visit some of the distilleries and purchase rose water and other products. Walking through the rows of flowers is in its own way a wellness therapy.

We also attend one of the most popular rose festivals in Morocco. For three days, from Friday night to Sunday, visitors from neighboring towns and a multitude of tourists come to Kelaat M'Gouna to enjoy the music and the colors in the balconies, terraces, gardens and streets. They flood with flowers.

We attend shows and open-air concerts by Berber groups, exhibitions of agricultural and artisanal products, mainly jewelry and carpets, and competitions. The Queen of Roses is also chosen for which, the most beautiful women in the area dance in the streets dressed in their best caftans and adorned with petals.

Many of the kasbahs in the valley have been renovated and have been converted into beautiful accommodations, decorated in the Moroccan style. Here we spend some quiet and relaxing days enjoying the beauty of the surroundings.

At the exit of the town of Kelaat, there are, for example, Kasbah, with spectacular views over the valley, hammam and panoramic views of the Atlas Mountains. About 7 kilometers away is a Kasbah on the banks of the M'Goun River and surrounded by a beautiful garden. From the parking lot we walk about ten minutes to the kasbah.

In the village of Agoulzi, about 9 km away, we move to a Kasbah situated on top of a cliff overlooking the Atlas Mountains in the distance. The rocky hills in the foreground and the green oasis of the Roses valley below. Another one, about 17 kilometers away, is in the valley, in Hadida. It has a hammam, terrace, garden and barbecue area.

Next day after breakfast at Boumalne we leave for an excursion into the rich Ksour valley, villages of pressed land. The oldest buildings are three to four centuries; some are inhabited, others in a state of neglect. We go all the way to the Dades gorges, one of the most spectacular in Morocco. We have dinner and stay overnight in a kasbah in the lush oasis of Skoura.

Next day after breakfast, we cross the chain of the Atlas to return to Marrakech. We do it along a different route, which starts after Skoura. We cross the Tessaout torrent, in the Berber heart of the High Atlas, and descend towards the valley to Demnate. We arrive in Marrakech in the late afternoon. We complete our discovery of the thousand faces of the May rose that comes from Damascus.