The ascent of Adam’s Peak, a stairway to heaven?

Asia Sri Lanka

The ascent of Adam’s Peak, a stairway to heaven?

When we were preparing our itinerary, Adam’s Peak was very welcome, in particular knowing that we would have the opportunity to witness a magnificent sunrise. And then we also learned that it meant a lot to many cultures. Indeed, the idea of joining a stream of pilgrims of all religions for a nighttime ascent seemed interesting to us, although we have no particular beliefs. Moreover, as we liked to walk in our Swiss mountains, it seemed within our reach… However, indeed, we did not expect what we discovered in terms of effort.

This summit is revered by Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians, at the crossroads of religions, since the giant footprint at the summit is variously claimed to be either that of Buddha, Shiva, Adam or St. Thomas. Several legends mention this trace. It is said to be one of the oldest and most sacred footprints ever made (this footprint was even cited in the writings of Marco Polo)!

Aerial view, image taken on the official website

Adam’s Peak in English is the most important peak on the island of Sri Lanka, but by no means the highest, an honour that goes to Mount Pidurutalagala, also located in the part of the country known as the “Central Highlands”. At 2,243 metres, the peak is located 7 kilometres from the village of Dalhousie, commonly known as Nallathanniya. The ascent consists simply (what we thought at the beginning!) of climbing steps, more than 5’500 (yes, this is where it gets complicated) to reach the summit. To give you an idea, the Eiffel Tower has 1665 steps, and the Empire State Building has 1860. As a result, in just a few hours, we climbed up and down the famous New York landmark almost three times.

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“Ayu Bowan”: Itinerary and transportation in Sri Lanka

Asia Sri Lanka

“Ayu Bowan”: Itinerary and transportation in Sri Lanka

Although not fading away immediately, the tears of the 2004 tsunami and particularly of the civil war which will have caused thousands of deaths until 2009 have calmed down and dried up so that Sri Lanka can start smiling again and above all open up to tourism. Nearly 10 years after the declaration of the end of the war, this small country has become a fashionable destination that travellers love since Sri Lanka was crowned “major destination” for Asia and “best adventure destination” in 2017 by the World Travel Awards in the Asia & Australasia category.

So it was not innocently that I ventured into these faraway lands. Firstly, with the accounts of several of my friends who had spent holidays there, this island, formerly called Ceylon, seemed to have a lot to offer, and in particular, would allow me to spend a stay filled with adventure and relaxation. Besides, I had never set foot in Asia.

Asia is a continent that at first sight does not really attract me. In fact, you evoke with me South America or Europe and I am already looking at the flights, my bank account and my availability to fly to these destinations that amaze me, whereas when you mention Asia, my heart doesn’t make as much excitement. It is true that the Asian culture and its landscapes, although so rich, have always attracted me the least. So, I also had hope when planning to go to Sri Lanka, to discover and why not fall in love with this part of the world.

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Marvel at the Iguaçu/Iguazu falls

Argentina Brazil South America

Marvel at the Iguaçu/Iguazu falls

Exhilarated, this is the feeling I had when I arrived in Brazil and met up with my two friends.  Having arrived around noon in Foz do Iguaçu, I gently acclimated myself to this country and its atmosphere. The girls took me directly to eat the traditional feijoada: in Brazil, they are the guides!

We soak up the quiet city (although some 200’000 Brazilians live there) which doesn’t offer much interest but allows us to feel safe, to tame the Brazilian culture and to enjoy a bit of rest. And then, looking back in the evening on the rooftop of our hostel, how could I be more pleased than at that moment? I’m surrounded by Argentina and Paraguay and the next day, I’m finally going to discover the Iguaçu Falls, the ones I missed on my previous trip, the year before in Argentina and Chile.

Far away, Paraguay and Argentina
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Teufeulsberg, theatre of Berlin’s history

Berlin Europe Germany

Teufeulsberg, theatre of Berlin’s history

Sunday morning, families are cheerfully wandering, by bike or on foot, elderly people do the same, sometimes at a nicer pace, in the largest forest of Berlin, Grunewald.

Letting the walkers go deeper into the forest, we amble on the main road when suddenly a wood panel tells us to take that direction (actually, we didn’t know which way was going to the top). Heading to the hilltop, we eventually arrived up: but not on the right hill… 

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Around the world Brazil History South America

Brazil’s history

*This article has been written in January 2019. Since that date, many things might have happened which is not mentioned there.

View from the Corcovado, taken on this website

Towards independence

Despite some independence movements, Brazil became ” popular ” when the Portuguese royal family arrived in the country in 1808. As a result of this and the economic boom, many foreigners, mainly Europeans, immigrated to what they called “the new world”. A year after the return of the royal court to the country, the king’s son proclaimed the country’s independence and was crowned emperor in 1822. Without bloodshed, the transfer of power was easy but left slavery behind, which was in contrast to the reputedly liberal regime of the time. Slavery was abolished definitively many years later in 1888.

Subsequently, the republic was proclaimed in 1889. From these years onwards, a great deal of political and cultural change followed (a period of industrialisation and nationalism, but also of foreign modernist movements), which reinforced social inequalities.

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Brazilian clichés: reality or fantasy ?

Around the world Brazil South America

Brazilian clichés: reality or fantasy ?

*this article was first published in French on the 3rd of January 2019

Being the subject of fantasies or apprehension, Brazil generates a lot of clichés that are a bit hard-skinned. But are they really accurate?

For example, to mention just a few negative comments about this country, I was asked why I ventured there, apart from waddling my booty on beaches with a caipirinha in my hand, or that it was too dangerous to be an unaccompanied girl (three in this case for this trip) of a man to avoid being bothered!

To sum up, although I was a little annoyed by these prejudices about a country that does indeed have stereotypes but like every country on the planet; I challenged myself to deconstruct them and make my own analysis. Because of course, I also have my own preconceptions and I often ask myself a lot of questions about what I am going to discover while travelling. It is precisely this curiosity that allows me to change my points of view or to strengthen them, to open my view of the world and particularly of our society today.

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La Tine de Conflens, Waldesian idyllic walk

Switzerland Tine de Conflens Vaud

La Tine de Conflens, Waldesian idyllic walk

I am always so surprised when I talk about the Tine de Conflens and my interlocutor answers me that she/he doesn’t know this place at all. Then, I show her/him a few pictures and here I am once again on my way to make her/him discover this magnificent place.

However, more than a year ago, I didn’t know this place either. And what a discovery! Only a few kilometres from Lausanne, we can’t imagine the wonder that we are going to discover well-hidden at the heart of the Gros-de-Vaud!

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