10 wonders of Provence and Cote d'Azur

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The following list was the one that inspired me much before planning the trip itinerary for the Cote d'Azur travel: the 10 wonders of Provence and Cote d'Azur, that can be easily considered as top travel destinations.

What was really exciting was the presence, besides the main touristic destinations, of some precious and less known places, worth a real exploration of Europe! :-)

Due to the lack of time, we could not visit all of them, but the few visited were stunning and I hope to visit the other ones!

This is the list of the 10 wonders of Provence and Cote d'Azur (keep in mind that's not a chart):

- Antibes: the beautiful Antibes has an incredible medieval town, a couple of castles, a quiet atmosphere within its ramparts and some of the best Cote d'Azur beaches.
                                                                                                                 Picture from Wikipedia

Presentation of the Cote d'Azur travel

Friday, December 14, 2012

Have you ever wondered of a place where you can combine beautiful sea, charming and medieval cities, the Mediterranean atmosphere and stunning landscape? Yes, it has a name: the Cote d'Azur ( for some known as French Riviera) in France.

Just few weeks later than the road trip July 2012, another road trip was planned together with my girlfriend and was the Cote d'Azur travel, that I can consider one of the best road trips ever made too because of its cities, islands, sea and particular atmosphere.

We chose the Cote d'Azur travel because it is not far from Milan, approximately 3 hours and a half by car, and for its incredible appeal.

In fact it is a coastline that should be visited by everyone, ideal to relax on the Cote d'Azur beaches and visit beautiful cities and little islands.

This time the trip itinerary was a bit different from the one of the road trip July 2012, as we did sleep in different cities but just chose a base close to Cannes, in an Etap Hotel and day by day we went to a different city or island.

Travel essentials: a quality photo camera

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The modern traveller or explorer can use many electronic devices such as digital cameras, notebooks, mobile phones, smartphones, tablets, e-books and much more.

People that love travelling and visiting constantly new cities along their journey know that it’s impossible to bring everything: if you belong to this group, welcome on board! The more you travel the more you realize that there are so many useless things that you bring and you will reduce the next time.

In few words it’s important to identify your own travel essentials, things you cannot leave at home. This depends on you: you could think that your smartphone or tablet is an travel essential, or your reflex camera, or your mp3 player with your favourite playlist.

Presentation of Travel News

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Today Diaries of an Explorer is going to make a presentation of the website Travel News.

Last month I realized that some traffic was coming from this website and I was thinking it was one of the directories where I submitted my rss too, typical strategy of each webmaster.

One day the webmaster of Travel News, Homer, asked me if I could write a guest post as some users of this website were sharing my posts! :-) It was really pleasant to me!

So I checked the website and found it so interesting that I put it there on my "Interesting sites and links" list that you can find on the right side here.

The birth

Travel News was born at the end of June 2012 as a community of travel bloggers whose purpose was to collect in one place good articles for places we wanted to visit, as in that time Homer and his team did not know where to go on holiday last summer.

After the first article about Mallorca, they came back from holidays and the website "collected more than 1.000 articles" from people they "didn't even know". So he said "we started to support more actively and we started to implement features that users were requesting".

Final trip reports of the road trip July 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

8 days of journey, 1.520 km, 8 cities, 2 monastic sites and 1 natural are some of then numbers of the fantastic road trip July 2012, for sure one of the best road trips ever made.
Diaries of an explorer

Now it's time to give the final trip reports regarding this travel, but before I want to recommend the website Booking.com ( you can also find the banner on the rightside) to book and find a wide range of hostels and hotels. The big advantage is that you can book something and you can decide if pay immediately but also to pay at the hotel. If you decide to unbook some hotels some of them give you even the opportunity to not be charged ( for other you have to unbook before a certain amount of hours or days).

Normally I was used to book via Hostelworld, probably the largest booking website regarding hostels around the world, that normally asks you a 10% of initial fee: that's not much, but honestly I think that Booking.com gives you more freedom and is more flexible.

Bellinzona's Castelgrande and the old medieval city

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Castelgrande, literally "The big castle" in English, is the oldest and largest of the three castles of Bellinzona.

In fact the first fortification was built during the 4th Century a.d. and the current one was built in the 13th Century, modified during the Sforza's governement, and finally completed during the 17th Century.

Bellinzona's three castles: Sasso Corbaro

Sunday, November 18, 2012

After Montebello the next one of the castles to visit was Sasso Corbaro Castle.

Located at 230 m over the city of Bellinzona, Sasso Corbaro was built in 1479 by the Sforza family.

Bellinzona's three castles: Montebello

Friday, November 9, 2012

After having left the enchanting Lucerne the last stop of this great road trip of July 2012 was Bellinzona, mostly known as the city of the three castles. After three popular destinations I came back to the off the beaten tracks again!

If you are fond of castles
, dream about knights, epic battles against dragons or being a feudal lord, this is one of ideal castles to visit.

In fact Bellinzona has been appointed to the list of Unesco sites as the "three castles, defensive walls and ramparts of the market-town of Bellinzona".. The World Heritage List site specifies: "The fortified ensemble of Bellinzona is a unique example of European architecture erected in defence of feudal structure guarding a key strategic Alpine pass".

It also adds that it is "the sole remaining example in the entire Alpine region of medieval military architecture, comprising three castles, a wall that once closed off the whole Ticino valley, and ramparts which surrounded the town for the protection of its citizens".

Well I was unlucky as on the way to Bellinzona you have to cross the San Gottardo gallery and this means traffic jam especially in a holiday period like the end of July.

So I got to the city around 4 pm and I had just 2 hours to visit 3 castles!

Well among the 3 castles which one I chose first? the middle one, Montebello Castle.

Travel highlights: Photo effects - Lucerne, Switzerland

Sunday, November 4, 2012

This post will be a little bit different as Diaries of an Explorer is going to show you the differences between a cloudy day and a sunny day.

Look how the weather can change the photo effects and the colours of the pics: this is what I get when I left the Gletschergarten:

Travel highlights: Gletschergarten Lucerne, Switzerland

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Lucerne, besides being one of the top travel destinations that you do not have to miss, has also some interesting museums.

Its main museums are Alpineum 3D (Panorama of the Alps), the Gletschergarten (the Glacier Garden), the Swiss Museum of Transport, and the Museum Sammlung Rosengart (collection).

My choice was to visit the Gletschergarten, or the Glacier Garden, as I visited many art museums like the Rosengart and also a transport museum in Leeds, UK. Being an explorer, I was attracted by something new and the perspective to visit the glacier traces was exciting. I've never seen before some geoparks like this.

Thanks to the Visitor's card provided by the hostel, you can get a discount for all the museums ( in this case from 12 to 10 CHF). This museum - geopark is included in the list of the National Natural Monument of Switzerland.

Youth Hostel Luzern

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Youth Hostel is similar to the other ones where I slept the nights before...it's not that big as the one in Zurich, it has 4 beds dorms as in Zurich and also it offers many services. Toilets and showers were clean and the position not that far from the city centre ( you can take a bus). The breakfast was good but not the offer was better in Zurich. I saw also many families staying in the hostel.

The position is not that distant from the historic centre but you can take easily the bus number 19 and then you can take the bus number 1, 20 or 22 or walk as you are not far from the Gletschergarten or the Dying Lion monument.

There's no lift in case you bring many cases with you. However there were many families, lonely travellers or groups of friends.

The old medieval town of Lucerne, Switzerland

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Coming back to the moment when I crossed the Kapellbrucke you start visiting the old city of Lucerne, which is the most interesting part, surrounded by the Musegg Wall.

Once crossed you get to Kapellplatz, or Chapel's square,

Lucerne and its fortifications, Switzerland

Saturday, October 13, 2012

From the Loewendenkmal you can easily follow Zurichstrasse and walk along Museggstrasse, where still remains an impressive portion of the medieval fortifications, the so-called Museggmauer, or Musegg Wall.
Built around the end of the 14th Century, its walls are almost entirely intact: you can walk along the roads and stairs that run at the foot of the walls

Lucerne and its symbols, Switzerland

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

During the morning of the 30th of July I left Zurich and in less than an hour by car I reached the following place, that is Lucerne

The landscape is not different from the one of Zurich: in fact Lucerne is divided in two by the River Reuss that flows into the Lake Lucerne (Viewaldstattersee). In bright days the landscape is enriched by the Mount Pilatus, but I could not see it as that day was a bit cloudy. 

This landscape can be seen nearby the main station, or Hauptbahnhof, in Europaplatz, the first seesight point

Youth Hostel Zurich

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Youth Hostel Zurich was the biggest I've even seen in my life, 4 floors, probably just 4 beds dorms. The hostel has many services, they organize special nights like bbq, they offer you dinners for 15 Euros. 

The breakfast buffet was good and the staff very friendly and helpful. The lockers are inside the rooms and this is good. Not so central the position, but if you catch the tram N.7, in 10 minutes you are in the city centre. 

Maybe the price for an hostel is quite high but not expensive to be in Switzerland. Another thing that is similar to the Youth Hostel Vaduz is the fact that if you don't have the wi-fi device you have to pay as usual 4,50 CHF per hour. The Youth Hostel Zurich is strongly recommended for groups of friends or lonely travellers.

Two days in Zurich

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

When I left Strasbourg it started raining and I could arrive in Zurich, one of the top travel destinations of this road trip July 2012, during the evening. After hundreds of km by car I had a rest in the Youth Hostel Zurich, the biggest hostel ever seen. The morning of Saturday 28th I started the visit to the city. "Welcome back to Switzerland" that's what I said...and a return ticket by tram costed 8 CHF, approximately 6 Euros. However, the first place I saw was the railway station, the biggest one even seen, with more than 60 platforms. 

As one of my passions is the history, especially the modern and contemporary one, I crossed the station and reached the Schweizerisches Landesmuseum, whose location was a medieval castle.
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer

Strasbourg and its Grand Ile in one day, France

Monday, September 17, 2012

After some days around Karlsruhe, on the 27th of July the next destination would have been the close city of Strasbourg in the Alsace region, object of several wars between France and Germany and nowdefinitely part of France.

However, besides what happened in the history, several towns around Strasbourg keep its German names. Once arrived in Strasbourg you realize that the main language used is French and the name of the streets are bilingual ( French / German).

Honestly I knew there was the European Parlament there (I'm a supporter of European Union), but the main reason of this visit was the Grand Ile, the historic centre of Strasbourg that is part of the list of Unesco sites.

Diaries of an explorer

Ready to explore it?

Maulbronn monastery complex, Germany

Monday, September 10, 2012

After the visit of Bruchsal the following destination was the Maulbronn monastery complex, located at 30 km far from Bruchsal and Karlsruhe, another site of the off the beaten path places to visit.

After having crossed an area of woody hills and vineyards I reached the town of Maulbronn. The main street leads to the abbey, considered "as the most complete and best-preserved medieval monastic complex north of the Alps", one of the reasons why this site has been added to the list of Unesco sites.

The complex is surrounded by fortified walls as you can see immediately at the entrance
and from outside it seems to be more a fortress rather than a monastery complex.

Bruchsal and its castle, Germany

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

In the morning I started a trip around Karlsruhe with 2 off the beaten path places to visit: Bruchsal and Maulbronn, visited both on the 26th of July.

Bruchsal is just 30 km far from Karlsruhe and has a little city centre with pedestrian shopping area. However what is really worth of this city is the Castle of Bruchsal, built at the beginning of the 18th Century in Baroque Style, that I will insert for sure in the list of castle to visit. Once arrived at the gate the view was impressive.

Hotel reports: hotel Barbarossa, Karlsruhe

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Hotel Barbarossa is located in the district close to the central station of Karlsruhe. It's a nice quiet area with little roads with many shops that seems to be populated by people from all around the world.

This 3-stars hotel was choses because of a nice offer on Booking.com and the stay was pleasant. I slept in a single room, plenty of tapestry and with enough space: perfect for a couple of comfortable nights. Well as it's located in an old house, sometimes in the toilet there were some little problems but nothing to say about.

The breakfast buffet was nice and they gave you also fresh fruit ( strawberries, pineapples, redberries) besides the classic breakfast offer.

In the end this is a recommended hotel to stay, especially if you pay 50 Euros per night for a single room in a 3-star hotel, central and cheaper than the Ibis Hotel of the central station.

Karlsruhe in one day, Germany

Sunday, August 26, 2012

After the night in Stuttgart, in the morning my off the beaten tracks travel went on and I got to Karlsruhe in the morning. The destination was the Hotel Barbarossa, booked thanks to an offer found on Booking.com.

Diaries of an explorer

Hotel reports: Etap Hotel Stuttgart

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The funny thing was that due to a booking's misunderstanding I could not go to the Business Apartments in Karlsruhe so I decided to stop in Stuttgart and find an hostel or hotel...when I found via the Tom Tom the Ibis, I realized that the price was too high...like 75 Euros so I decided to spend less as my budget was lower and lower.

So using the internet on my mobile phone I tried to find the Etap Hotel in Stuttgart located in a suburbian area. At the beginning I was trying to travel around the the city in order to find an hotel...well I had the opportunity to see the central area of the city and it did not impress me at all.

The price was 51 Euros per room and this was better than the Ibis, as the concept of the Etap is ideal for a couple plus a little kid as it has a double room plus a bunk beds. Then there's a shower, TV, washbasin and toilette: so it has everything you need to stay comfortable and spending not so much.

If you don't mind being sometimes far from a city centre this is the ideal place, especially if you have a car.

The Etap Hotel will be called Ibis Budget Hotel in the future and also it gives you the opportunity to have a breakfast for a variable amount. In my case it was around 7,95 Euros and the buffet was really great! :-)

This seems to be not a review but a sponsorship, but for my idea of travel this is a great concept, that I would love to have in Italy too.

Monastic Island of Reichenau, Germany

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

After the visit to St Gall in the first afternoon I drove to Reichenau, not far from St Gall, close to Germany and during the trip I could see some landscapes of the Lake Costance.

My destination was the Monastic Island of Reichenau, included in the list of Unesco sites. The reason why the site was appointed to the list was the following one: "The churches on the island of Reichenau retain remarkable elements of several stages of construction and thus offer outstanding examples of monastic architecture in Central Europe from the 9th to the 11th century".

The first place I reached was the church of St. Peter and Paul, located in the western side of this peninsula.

St Gall and its convent, Switzerland

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Because of the prices, I decided to stop in a Coop supermarket to buy something for lunch and then head to St Gall ( Sankt Gallen), located at the South-Eastern side of Bodensee, to visit the convent of St Gall, included in the list of Unesco sites, still travelling off the beaten tracks.

The reason why the convent of St Gall was included in the World Heritage List is the following one: "a perfect example of a great Carolingian monastery, was, from the 8th century to its secularization in 1805, one of the most important in Europe. Its library is one of the richest and oldest in the world and contains precious manuscripts such as the earliest-known architectural plan drawn on parchment.".

Arrived in the main square of St Gall, the first thing I noticed were Swiss houses, similar to the English ones, but decorated with different colours and with typical roofs of the Central Europe.
Diaries of an explorer

Hotel reports: Youth Hostel Schaan Vaduz

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The first of the hotel reports involve the Youth Hostel Schaan Vaduz, good for spaces and services. The dorms have enough space to host more people and there's the possibility to put all your luggages in the lockers just outside the dorms.
As in many youth hostels and hotels, there's free wi-fi connection. The bedrooms and the showers were somehow clean, like the dorms. The breakfast buffet was good and at end of the breakfast you have to clean the place where you ate.
It is located in Schaan, at 20 minutes on walk far from the centre of Vaduz.

For being in Vaduz, the price is not that expensive, but quite expensive for the hostels if compared to the other European countries. Another penalizing thing is that if you don't have a smartphone, tablet or notebook, to access to the internet you have to spend 4 Euros/hour.

This is the cheapest place where to sleep in Vaduz: it's not properly suitable for lovers or business travels; but if you have a minimum of adaptation spirit and if you want to spare that's perfect. It's not recommended to those people who do not want to sleep in 6 beds dorms; perfect for group of friends, backpackers and indipendent travels.

PS: the idea to put some hammocks outside the hostels was great! :-)

Second stop: Vaduz, Liechtenstein

Monday, August 6, 2012

Diaries of an explorer

After the visit to the beautiful natural arena, I got back to Flims to take my car and drive to Vaduz in Liechtenstein, always off the beaten tracks. 

In less than an hour I arrived to the hostel I booked, called Youth Hostel Schaan, where I would have slept that night. Once having done the check in and left my luggage, around 17 I decided to walk to the capital of this little state, that has just 30.000 of inhabitants.

30.000 of inhabitants??? yeah less than my hometown, Montebelluna, so I wondered to build the Principality of Montebelluna! :-)

Besides this, Schaan is a little town close to Vaduz: in just 20 minutes on walk you can reach the city centre, that has just 5.000 of inhabitants.

First stop: Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The 23rd of July in the morning I decided to start one of the best road trips ever made, head to Flims in Switzerland and then to take a cable ride in order to see the Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona, or at least a part of it, natural site included in the very long list of Unesco sites, as part of exploration of Europe.
Diaries of an explorer
After having chosen Flims as good starting point to reach the top of the mountain, I left Milan around 10 o' clock and arrived to Flims around 12.30. After having got the wrong way because of few indications, finally I found the cable way that leads to the Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona.

Presentation of the road trip July 2012

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Today I'm presenting the road trip done from Monday the 23rd to yesterday through Switzerland, Liechtestein, Germany, France and Switzerland again, for sure one the best road trips ever made.

I found an interesting site, that is Quikmaps.com, which allows to create a trip itinerary based on the Google maps. Here it is:

Opening of the blog

Saturday, July 21, 2012

As of today I decided to share reviews, travels and experiences. It won't be barely a travels blog, but also a diary: you can explore anything you want if you live your life curious and if you want to know more.

So you could find reviews of technologic products, books, movies and also casual comments...because the willingness to know and experience new things has to be a reason to improve yourself continuously...you have to stay always hungry to learn new things.

Well I hope you can enjoy the lecture of this blog and find useful information.

Please feel free to leave a comment.

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