Rétrospective 2011

2011 a été une année plutôt riche en rebondissements et en voyages inattendus et planifiés à la dernière minute, aussi bien personnels que professionnels. Voila la liste des pays que j’ai visité.

I. Pays

1. Royaume-Uni

Londres - Angleterre

Au mois de janvier j’ai travaillé une semaine à Cambridge, ville que j’ai beaucoup appréciée, puis j’ai passé un weekend à Londres.

2. Malte

Gozo

Complètement hors-saison, cette semaine à Malte constituait les premières vacances de l’année, les plus historiques.

3. Madagascar

Madagascar

Deuxième « mission » de l’année, une semaine de travail et un trop court weekend pour visiter un pays qu’il faudrait des mois pour découvrir.

4. Qatar

Doha - Qatar

La destination bling-bling de l’année, la plus torride aussi, au sens propre, a fait l’objet de 2 voyages.

5. Allemagne

Alexanderplatz - Berlin

24h dans la capitale allemande pour débuter les grandes vacances. Puis quelques jours plus tard, au retour, des arrêts éclairs à Munich et Stuttgart.

6. Pologne

Tatras - Pologne

Après un passage par l’ancienne capitale Cracovie, quelques jours de randonnée itinérante dans le massif des Tatras jusqu’à son point culminant. Cette randonnée a sans doute constitué le point d’orgue de l’année, question voyages et paysages.

7. Slovaquie

Spis - Slovaquie

Fin de la randonnée, quelques visites de châteaux et de Bratislava avant de quitter le pays.

8. Autriche

Schönbrunn - Autriche

Des jardins de Schönbrunn aux rives du Danube, un petit aperçu de Vienne.

9. Belgique

Belgique

4h pour traverser l’extrême sud du pays, la haute vallée de la Semois, dans la grisaille en plus. Ça mérite à peine que je le mentionne.

10. Luxembourg

Luxembourg

Destination d’un petit voyage à vélo, la capitale du Grand Duché était parée de ses plus belles couleurs d’automne.

11. Suisse

Le Mont-Blanc vu du Mont Racine

Le temps d’une excursion en raquettes au dessus du lac de Neuchâtel. C’était fin décembre.


Le précédent record personnel, établi l’année dernière, est donc battu et c’était vraiment contre toute attente lorsque l’année à commencé.

Un autre record probablement battu, bien que je n’ai pas de point de comparaison possible avec les années antérieures, est celui du nombre de kilomètres parcourus à vélo. La barre des 8000 km est franchie, dont 7500 sur le seul Fahrrad et au moins 600 sur le Dahon. De quoi faire une deuxième liste, celle des régions traversées cette année.

II. Régions

1. Île-de-France

Moret-sur-Loing

Merci Captain Obvious, résidant dans cette région, c’était difficile de ne pas y traîner mes roues !

2. Rhône-Alpes

Pont-en-Royans

À Grenoble et dans la Drôme des collines en Avril. Puis plus tard en mai, dans le nord de l’Ain entre Mâcon et la Franche-Comté.

3. Midi-Pyrénées

Toulouse

Le long du canal du midi à Pâques, en partant de Toulouse.

4. Languedoc-Roussillon

Toujours le long du canal du midi, en passant par Carcassonne, Narbonne, Béziers et Sète.

5. Bourgogne

Mâcon

Via Cluny et Mâcon pour une randonnée « familiale » sur une voie verte renommée (dans le milieu !) au mois de mai.

6. Franche-Comté

Lac de Narlay

A travers le Jura et le Haut-Doubs en mai, dans la continuité de l’excursion bourguignonne.

7. Haute-Normandie

Falaise du Tréport

D’abord sur la route de Rouen en août, puis sur la côte d’Albâtre dans son intégralité en octobre. Les falaises les plus dramatiques de l’année !

8. Picardie

Laon

Jusqu’à Laon pendant les journées du patrimoine. La plus longue journée que j’ai jamais faite à vélo : 175km.

9. Champagne-Ardennes

Asfeld

Via Reims et Charleville, à travers la montagne de Reims, le Porcien et les Ardennes, sur la route du Luxembourg en octobre.

10. Centre

Château de Frazé

En partant de Chartres vers l’Ouest en novembre.

11. Basse-Normandie

Mont-Saint-Michel

Dans l’Orne et la Manche, jusqu’au Mont-Saint-Michel.

12. Pays-de-la-Loire

Perseigne

En franchissant par endroit la frontière des Pays-de-la-Loire, via Mamers, la forêt de Perseigne et le Mont des Avaloirs.

13. Bretagne

Avec une étape dans les environs de Fougères, dont je n’ai même pas une photo potable, le château était pourtant splendide de nuit.


J’espère que cette année sera aussi pleine de surprises.

Très bonne année 2012 !

Publicités

Doha II

After a first look at the capital of Qatar last june, I was again in Doha last week.

The temperature was more bearable, only 35°C, and allowed walks along the corniche during daytime.

This is the Museum of Islamic Arts at the southern end of the corniche, by far the best museum in Doha. We tried also the museum of modern art (mathaf), but only 3 rooms were open. It’s a bit oversold, or at least the communication about it occurs too early.

The Museum of Islamic Arts

The skyline of Doha changed a bit since last time. Some buildings have more floors. In all this area there was only one building in year 2000.

Doha skyline day and night

To escape the heat outside, we went to the Villagio mall one afternoon. Shops are like inside Italian houses. The ceiling is painted with clouds and the lights intend to make you feel in Tuscany at dusk. There is even a canal, swimming-pool blue, with electric gondolas sailing on it. And of course there is also an ice ring in this mall!

Villagio

The gondolas:

Villagio

The luxury shops area:

Villagio

One evening we went to the artificial island called the Pearl. The marina is still half empty, but luxury shops are already open while some buildings are still under construction.It’s nice on a map or satellite view, but nothing lets you guess the shape of the island once there.

The Pearl

Some people also advised us to go to the culture and heritage center Katara, but like the museum of modern art, I found it oversold. Not many things to do beside the Doha Tribeca Film Festival and we weren’t in a mood for a movie. There are only a couple of restaurants here, and the beach is private. We also expected some old buildings (as heritage would suggest), but it’s all newly built.

Katara

Katara

Katara

Finally, my favourite place in Doha remains Souq Waqif. And strangely I don’t have any picture of it. It’s more an atmosphere and the many cafés and restaurants that made us spent all of our evenings here.

Islamic center next to Souq Waqif

The pearl sculpture

Doha

Last week I found myself in Doha, Qatar. A place I wouldn’t visit by myself, but still, I was curious.

Even if it was a very short stay, I found time to visit the Museum of Islamic Art. Very interesting. It was the last day of an exhibit about Dutch painting, mostly from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. This one being under major renovation, I didn’t saw much of it last November and this exhibit was a pleasant reminder and addition.

But most of the museum is of course about Islamic arts, of any kind : sculpture, paintings, clothes, tiles, glass, … My favourite part was about science and the amazing collection of astrolabes.

Museum of Islamic Arts

From the museum we have of view on the skyline  the other side of the bay.

Doha Skyline

(This picture has been much redrawn to remove the dust screen)

Every single building in Doha seems to have air-conditioning.  Which is more than welcome. The temperature went up to 47°C last tuesday. And Doha is along the coast. It gets even higher inland. June is definitely not the best time to come.

During daytime, there is nothing to do outside. Besides museums or staying in a hotel, you can also crawl the « city center », which is actually a huge mall. In the center of which you find an ice-ring  ! And this is funny that almost no one on it seems to know ice skating.

Ice-ring in the city center

The sunset occurs early, around 6pm, and life restarts then. Temperature slowly decrease to it’s minimum, 35°C.

Sunset out of the city center

The northern end of the Corniche is the business center of Doha, full of skycrapers, half of them still not finished. It’s quite impressive how everything is very new.

Skycrapers

Skycrapers under construction

Golden skycraper with a ball

Doha street

Skyline

Skyline

At the seafront is the Sheraton hotel, convenient meeting point. Architecture is not outstanding outside (it looks like a truncated pyramid), but inside is interesting and pleasant, a huge hallway with the ceiling at the height of the top flour.

Inside Sheraton

Doha is not all modern, there is a small neighborhood, south of the bay, wich is still intact, the Souq Wafiq. Is it really ? No it has been mostly rebuilt and is now full of sheesha bars and restaurants. I’ve been there only in the evening and have no picture of it. It reminds me the « Bercy village » in Paris. Mostly because it is a very small area, the only pedestrian street in Doha, and it’s surrounded by car parks.

The city is unlivable for me, no matter how welcoming are the locals. Not only because of the weather, but because it’s not a city for people, it’s a city for cars. Huge white SUVs preferably with air-conditioning. Doha is not made of streets, it’s made of expressways, 3 lanes in each direction. Walking, when the temperature is bearable, leads you to huge detours to find a pedestrian crossing, if one exists. Motorists are not aggressive if you cross anywhere but still the road itself is not friendly. It’s also the first time I saw a drive-in cash machine. Everything is built so that you don’t have to exit your car. Pedestrians are « allowed » in the Souq and along the Corniche, anywhere else you feel like you shouldn’t be there.

Eye-opening glimpse on something totally different from what you can find in Europe.

Madagascar

Madagascar is so huge that naming an article like this is a bit exaggerated. I had the chance to go for work in Antananarivo for one week and found time in the weekend to visit the surroundings. So I’m far to be able to say I visited Madagascar.

I stayed in Tana— everybody uses the short name — in a nice guest room on the hill above the center. From which the view was nice but that’s almost everything I saw from the city by day during the week.

Tana from guest room

But I also enjoyed the nicest restaurants in town with my colleague. Food is really cheap for European standards. I only took time to walk in the city on the sunday but actually there are not much things to see in the city. The Queen’s palace burnt 15 years ago and is still not rebuilt. The city as a strange atmosphere, it’s more like mountain villages together, you never feel like in a 2 million inhabitant city. Very hilly !

On the hill side

Tana from the Rova

In the centre the main attraction is the market. But don’t carry anything valuable.

Down the stairs to the market

Market

Market

Tourists usually stay in Tana for convenience to catch their plane back. Really the nature in Madagascar is more amazing than the capital city. So we rented a car and took a driver for a day to go explore a volcanic area near Ampefy and lake Itasy, 100km West of Tana. We saw geysers and waterfalls in a very green landscape. Looking like Auvergne in the centre of France but with tropical plants like papaya and banana !

Not sure it's a good idea to clean the geysers

Geyser

Green landscape

A lot of water flows in rivers and waterfalls. It’s still the rainy season in Madagascar.

Lily Waterfalls

Volcanoes

View on Itasy lake (far !)

Rice is cultivated in every possible valley.

Rice is cultivated in every possible valley

On the way back we stopped at a lemur’s park to observe those animals you’ll find nowhere else in the world. Unfortunately they are threatened because of the extreme poverty of the country. People are simply hunting them to eat. But some nature areas are (supposed to be) protected.

So here is a selection of species you usualy don’t find in the same part of the big island.

Maki

Maki

King Julian

Maki

Maki

Guess who they are. The guide told us but I don’t remember !

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemuridae