Log in

No account? Create an account
International Backpackers' Journal [entries|friends|calendar]
International Backpackers

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ calendar | livejournal calendar ]

Walking in the Pyrenees Mountains - Ax Les Thermes [24 Mar 2011|03:24am]

[ mood | calm ]

 Exploring the lush Pyrenees mountains online gives excitement but exploring them live and setting your feet in their soils is much much more fulfilling. But because of its vastness, let us just take one area in these awesome mountains where we would want to take a stroll at - Ax Les Thermes.

Ax Les Thermes can be found at approximately 2000 feet up in the Midi-Pyrenees in the south of France. That's near to Andorra as well as the Spanish border. From Ax Les Thermes, visitors are able to explore the Pyrenees Mountains in the department of Ariege. And from this well-known town, our journey to the Pyrenees Mountains starts.

You may begin walking to the ridges of the lower hills and check the high peaks that would reveal the glacial lakes and rocky terrains. You may visit the top three popular areas - the Col de Pailheres, the Ariege Pyrenees and the Col de Puymorens. These areas are sure to remove your stressful memories as you go along and explore them. By the way, you should remember that walking in the Pyrenees Mountains is not joke so you must take note of the weather forecasts before proceeding on your expedition, otherwise the rescue team would be your next company.

The Pyrenees Mountains take care of more than 3,000 species of plants and flowers which amaze everyone who sees them. Walking in the Pyrenees would allow you to watch vultures and eagles soaring in the sky. Aside from the picturesque view of mountains, meadows and rivers, Ax Les Thermes also boasts its spas and springs. What you should not miss when you visit this town is the Bassin des Ladres, a pool with naturally warm water from the underground mountain springs. It is believed to heal wounds and ease sores. It was built by Count Roger of Foix. There are still 60 natural springs with temperatures that range from 17 to 77 degrees. These waters where used by early Romans which they claimed have treated their rheumatism and other skin diseases. It was in the 19th century that the spa tourism industry in Ax Les Thermes started to arise.

Although you're in the middle of great mountains, you may still shop and visit a casino in the nearby Andorra border. You may try to visit also the castle at Montsegur that is located about 40 km away. The town's economy is mainly based on livestock, spa tourism and snow sports.

Find out more information about the beautiful Pyrenees Mountains - Ax Les Thermes.

post comment

How to go Russia? [19 Mar 2011|12:26pm]

Hi folks!
I`d like to share one link on this topic:
whether I can travel in Russia without formal invitations and prepaid services?
post comment

Portraits of West Java Heritage [06 Mar 2011|07:54am]

Anybody had visited to West Java, Indonesia? Let's learn a bit their cultures and traditions. You can also learn more at Bandung tourism

Tradition and Culture

Wayang GolekPrincipally an oral tradition, the people of West Java developed more than 180 forms of artistic expression within 19 clusters, the oldest of these is supposed to be poetry. Traditional epic poems tell of the history and heroes of the people from time immemorial through the Galuh and Pajajaran kingdoms, and continue today. Haji Hasan Mustapa (1852 - 1930) is a giant in the tradition having produced some 10,000 works.

Today the languages of West Java bear an imprint of the oral tradition and remain popular for daily use. They are complex languages attesting to social roles and caste. Puppet plays were often used to transmit both legend and current events and continue to play a role in ceremonial and festive events. West Java is rich also in batik traditions from Tasikmalaya, Garut, Indramayu, and Cirebon.

Traditions handed down the generations mixed with beliefs (nature based and animistic) and religions (Hindu and Islam) formed the culture of the people. Marriages are the joining of families, and socially, most relationships are family-based. Still today a commercial company will refer to itself as a "big family" and seek quasi-familial relationships in day-to-day operations.

Nature and Plantation

With all its active volcanoes, West Java life has always been influenced by the forces of nature, bringing both momentary catastrophe and enduring fertility to the soil. Coastal peoples depend on the richness of the seas and the rhythms of nature form the core identity and very prosperity of West Java.

Colonial power organized the inherent riches with formal cultivation and institutions, providing great wealth for Europe. Plantations crops include tea, coffee, quinine, rubber, copra, sugar, cocoa, and coconut.

Village and City

Traditionally, geography and land use precluded large concentrations of people in the mountainous areas of West Java, but ports on the coasts bustled with trade and business. Villages remain today the most numerous settlements, but cities have burgeoned with population and economic shifts.

Village structures are made with materials at hand: bamboo, rattan, wood, grass, and rock and bonded together through the centuries as stylized and elegant constructions, and organization. Surrounding these villages are the rice paddies and vegetable farms that dictate the local economy.

Cities developed with industrialization and the western imprint is clear. West Java's strategic location and comparatively more comfortable climate made it a target of leisure and academic activities under colonial rule. The capitol, Bandung, was planned to become the capitol of the colony, and bears witness to its 1930's heyday in elegant streetscapes and outstanding architecture.
post comment

Anyone else plan a trip they couldnt go on? [15 Feb 2011|03:54pm]

other than weather related?

I cant tell you how fustrating it is that everytime a trip nears or I'am about to purchase a plane ticket my car starts to act up. Lucky my dad has saved me alot of money because he can work on cars and whatnot but everytime he keeps telling me to save my money. This gets me worried because I start to think well I dont have much because I have been using it on traveling lol. Acourse they dont know that which is another story.

Currently as some of you may have seen my below post I'am planning a trip to Iceland/Germany for this Oct. I already have my ticket to Iceland, but in the process of purchasing my ticket to Germany. Guess what? Right on schedule, I have a car problem. The drain plug damaged the threads on the oil pan. Not a big problem just need to re-thread it but my dad took a look at the car as he helped fix the porblem and got the same thing. He told me I better start saving because my car needs alot of work. So now Im freezing on planning anything else for this trip for another couple weeks.. The con is I do have quite a bit of debt to pay off. My plan was to put $100 away every paycheck for the trip and rest on bills. I also have stock whihc has close to 2k in it for emergencies.

anyone else have any stories of missed or almost missed trips?
2 comments|post comment

Need a little help...... [13 Feb 2011|08:15pm]

I'am having trouble planning my trip...

I wanted to take a small graduation trip in Oct but I cant decide on what to do.

I currently have a ticket that leaves Boston and goes to Iceland, then back home two weeks later to Boston.

I thought being in Iceland for that long was a good idea at the time but now for a "graduation" trip I dont think it is. I dont want to give the impression that I just want to party and not sightsee. I admit I do want to have some fun in between sightseeing esp on the weekends.

After doing even more extensive research and reading some feedback from locals I have come to the conclusion that Iceland just may be too expensive and too much of a tour driven trip for my taste(not a big fan of tours although I dont mind one or two). On this thought I started looking at other places to split my time.

I started to think about going to Berlin. I have been to Berlin a few years back for only 4 days. I dont get to travel much anymore because I live with the parents now(lon story) so I wanted to make sure I have a good trip planned. Since I cant travel much I dont know if I want to take the chance on a completly new location and Berlin seemed like a good idea because I had a good time and have the impression that there are tons left to see and do.

I like the idea of having a city where I can use as a base and chill like Berlin.

The bigger problem... How much time should I leave for Iceland?

I get to Iceland on Oct 2rd(sunday) and was thinking of jumping on a plane right away and going over to Berlin. Staying in Berlin till the 11th then going back and having three solid days in Iceland and go back on Saturday Oct 15th. Is this enough time to get a good glimpse of Iceland?
4 comments|post comment

If you had to chose Glasgow or Berlin? [12 Feb 2011|10:41pm]

If you were going to spend a week in a city the beginning of Oct and had to chose between Berlin and Glasgow which one would you chose and why??
9 comments|post comment

Stray Dogs [12 Feb 2011|07:29am]

In your travels, where have you encountered stray dogs? I've heard Greece is notable for the number of dogs on the street. Where else? I'm most concerned about dogs that approach humans aggressively (please tell me if the dogs ignored passersby, I would be elated). I want to hear everyone's experiences with dogs in other countries!

(I'm asking because I'm intensely phobic and this could honestly give me a heart attack if I don't know beforehand.)
21 comments|post comment

Staying at a hostel.. Does your friends and family understand the concept? [11 Jan 2011|01:06am]

I thought I would bring this up.. Maybe its an American thing but it seems to me no one I tell about the idea of a hostel understands the cocept or is good with the idea?

It could possibly take a "certain type" of person for those accomadations, or they do not like the idea of being in a room with someone they dont know.

Does anyone else get this with friends or family?

For me since I travel alone it is the best. Not only is it cheap but I have met amazing people
9 comments|post comment

How are you able to afford travelng? [10 Jan 2011|01:24am]

I travel a bit myself and got some debt to prove it lol. I was wondering how some of you are able to afford it?

Do you make sacrifices?
2 comments|post comment

[27 Dec 2010|06:22pm]

Best month to hike across Ireland?

Also, photos, stories, routes etc. are more than welcome
3 comments|post comment

A week in Iceland? Worth it? [09 Dec 2010|02:16am]

I just graduated and was wondering if a week in Iceland the first week of October is worth it? I heard its quite an expensive country? Will i be bored? It just seemes flights are too much for mainland Europe during that time...

Thank you
6 comments|post comment

Herkules, Kassel Wilhelmshöhe Park, Germany [15 Nov 2010|01:14pm]

October, 2010.
I am participating in photo competition “European Trip” with this shot made in my last trip in Germany.
If you like it you can vote for it here:
User d_a_r_k_i_y_a. Thnx!
2 comments|post comment

[28 Oct 2010|01:07pm]
Would anybody have any experience and would be able to point me in the direction of sites to work abroad, mainly in Singapore? i've been trying, without luck, to find a decent website which offers job placement in Singapore. I've had a few misses trying with monster.com and other sites that don't seem to go really far.
Thanks for any help.
5 comments|post comment

Singapore hotel [21 Oct 2010|11:49am]


I’m looking for a place to stay in Singapore next month for 3 nights.  I looked at Hostelworld but wasn’t too impressed with what I found.  I need a private single (shared bathroom ok) in a central location that’s safe for a solo female and relatively quiet.  Definitely not looking for a party hostel - usually I prefer small family-run guesthouses when I travel.  It’d be nice if it’s clean too, but I’m willing to live with a little dirt since I’m cheap.  :-)  I don’t have a particular budget but would of course prefer to spend as little as possible.  My top picks from Hostelworld are these, if anyone has any personal experiences to share:

Haising Hotel
InnCrowd Hostel
WoW Hostel

Also, has anyone slept in the rest area at Changi Airport?  I heard it’s nice but would love more info.  Is there any privacy?  Is it safe for a solo female?  My flight arrives at 12:30am, so I thought it might be easiest just to spend my first night at the airport instead of trying to find a hotel in the middle of the night.

Thanks for any advice you can give me!

1 comment|post comment

"28 things I wish I'd known before I started traveling" [18 Oct 2010|06:49pm]

Saw this artcile and thought it might be useful for some of us. :)

28 things I wish I'd known before I started traveling by Chris Guillebeau
1 comment|post comment

New Zealand: Paparoa National Park [30 Sep 2010|12:09pm]


Paparoa National Park

continued from part two

We continued journeying down the west coast from the top of the South Island and it was our goal to stay at this really awesome looking beach b&b called Breakers Boutique. It was our big splurge for the trip and it just sounded awesome- we had to wiggle timings around a little bit, but we made plans to spend the next night down there. The owner Jan was just fantastic to talk to online and her husband is a photographer as well. Seriously, this lady went out of her way to provide custom directions and sights where us photographers should stop. Amazing!

So it was still a few hours away from our previous hotel in Abel Tasman, well more than a few but that’s what I remember it as and so we had to do some hard core driving through the bush to get back over where we needed to be. The one benefit of the West Coast is it is home to many a Blue Penguin (Eudyptula minor). Next to the elusive Puffin it might be my second favorite bird I’ve never seen so we were holding out hope that we might come across one of those little guys. Sure enough as we’re driving down the ‘highway’, ie: two lane road, we start seeing signs warning us to not run them over. With all this excitement we had to see one right?

On the way down was another park called Paparoa National Park which has these water carved rocks called pancake rocks…essentially it’s a tour bus stop, but not too shabby. I had read all about this special cave in the area so we went and found that, got soaked, and used my special REI shopping spree flashlight to look for penguins [I bought it specifically for this purpose]. Sadly none, but we thought we heard a cave bear.

Not far down there’s also a really amazing small hike called the Truman Track which brings you through all sorts of trees and stuff and into a secluded cove [with tons of 'don't touch the Penguins' signs] and a medium sized waterfall that lands right on the beach! Nice! After all this fun we still weren’t seeing any stupid penguins so we decided to go for the gold and head over to Breakers, home of it’s own small colony! Maybe we’ll see some there…that and I was hungry and felt like I was going to pass out from all this sun. I don’t get out much.

As I mentioned Breakers was fantastic and after a quick little bite we took the path down to the beach to go look for penguins and take pictures and do fun things couples do on their year-too-late honeymoon. After we did a little walking we saw this little midget bird hanging out by himself next to a rock…a blue penguin?! It looked kind of blue if you stretched the imagination and it kind of looked penguin’ish. It even waddled a little bit! So we convinced ourselves it was definitely a Blue Penguin and it didn’t seem to mind us getting in nice and close and staring at it, all while giggling quite loud. Not soon after, we were seeing tons of these little guys just hanging out getting bitten by bugs. Sweet! And they totally didn’t fly so they had to be legit!

We enjoyed a gorgeous sunset by ourselves on the beach and with the knowledge that we just saw the long awaited Blue Penguin. Sure enough, as soon as we got back Jan told us that it wasn’t a penguin, but some other random gray sea bird that can’t fly for a bit when it’s wings got wet….seriously. Our excitement was destroyed, and we came away devoured by sand fleas. The little bastards destroyed our legs and we had bite marks for at least 3 weeks after. True story.

Paparoa National Park

++ see the rest++Collapse )

2 comments|post comment

New Zealand: Abel Tasman National Park [day two] [29 Sep 2010|11:11pm]


Sorry I’m just getting around to posting these now, I have a hard drive full of awesome New Zealand photos that I have to share! We’re actually going on our honeymoon v2.0 in a couple months, so I figured I should get the rest of these out of the way first…makes sense!

continued from part one

Abel Tasman National Park

So basically we chose to go to Abel Tasman National Park [up on the top of the South Island] because Tanya wanted a little R&R which we knew we weren’t really going to get elsewhere…being that we were doing a pretty massive roadtrip with some epic long drives ahead. What better place to chill out than along the beach in the sunniest part of the country! Not that we we actually going to sit on the beach or anything…

New Zealand is known for their intense hikes, and it’s not like maybe in the states where you can just pick up and go out for a couple hours- no, their hikes are MULI-DAY DEATH TREKS. Well to us out of shape folks anyway, but seriously, their famous hikes sound awesome until you realize what a multi-day hike really is. Anyway, we weren’t going to attempt that baloney, but instead walk from our little beachside home through the woods to the next little checkpoint of sorts. We had a day to waste, so why not! It also gave us an excuse to go on a shopping spree at REI.

So with this new found ambition we found out the next checkpoint was…8 miles away. Sounds easy enough, so we got our stuff together and here’s what we saw:

Abel Tasman National Park

++ see the rest ++Collapse )

6 comments|post comment

Cinque Terre [01 Sep 2010|11:49am]

[ mood | excited ]

Hi All,

Hoping that you guys can help me.

I'm planning to go to Cinque Terre from Cannes, one weekend in October. I want to get some costings done and packing planning, so would appreciate if you could help me out.

1. I've tried to check out the trenitalia website but they aren't able to give me the cost of the return from Cannes to one of the towns - I read that it goes direct to Riomaggiore?
2. Are there backpacker hostels that you can recommend there, and how much a night? I'm not fussy about how many beds in a room, etc.
3. Is it possible to stay in one town and move around the other towns and return back to the base town in the evening?
4. What is the cost for the trains from each town?

I really hope you guys can help me out, thanks guys!

(x-posted in _backpackers and backpacking.)

3 comments|post comment

East Africa 2010 [25 Aug 2010|04:47pm]

I spent a month in East Africa volunteering and traveling, and I thought I'd post my blog entries here. There are a few pictures interspersed, as well as a youtube video--the first half is safaris, gorillas, etc., the second half cute little orphans :) Enjoy!

Marley's Ghost: Reflections from a Kenyan Refugee CampCollapse )
A Typical Day in Kenya: Living at an Orphanage, Teaching at a CampCollapse )
Moving On: The Rwandan GenocideCollapse )
Africa, The Beautiful: Volcanoes, Gorillas, and Some Good Ol' Fashioned Lion CubsCollapse )
Reflections & ResponsibilitiesCollapse )

3 comments|post comment

Iceland Road Trip – Part Six [19 Jul 2010|11:10am]


The final days of my Iceland roadtrip were spent driving around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula on the Western coastline. For the first time on my trip I had a decent amount of rain which thankfully included really nice dramatic clouds [and not blinding swan-dive off road fog like usual].

Driving Snaefellsnes Peninsula Iceland Photos

Photos by Ian Grant Photography / Facebook

++ see the rest ++Collapse )

post comment

[ viewing | 20 entries back ]
[ go | earlier/later ]