Posts Tagged ‘cheap travel’

Lovely Lyon, it’s never hard to choose where to go for a short holiday in France with so many choices just about every part of the country has something unique to offer. This year a lot of travellers will be trying to stay local, either because of their budget or for environmental reasons. The whole “buy local” has caught on globally and there is nothing wrong with exploring what’s in your backyard. I wouldn’t say Lyon is in Paris’ backyard but it’s close enough to make a great road trip for a weekend away if you fly.

My proposition: buy local. Even if it means staying home for holidays. Take a short trip away, hire a car (a hybrid is even better) and explore cities you’ve never seen in your own country. Lyon, if you’ve never been is a perfect destination whether you’re travelling solo, with a sweetheart, with your kids in tow, even with your parents!

Lyon is for lovers of food, wine (especially Beaujolais) and picnics in river-side parks. Architecture is at its best at the church of Notre-Dame de Fourvière in La Croix Rousse. The city is easy to enjoy and you shouldn’t waste any time getting to know Lyon’s dining scene: Lyon is second only behind Paris for the most restaurants per square kilometre in Europe. Not just restaurants, but delicious restaurants.

What to see in Lyon:

Musée des Arts Décoratifs – inside an 18th c. mansion is the city’s collection of silverware, furniture, porcelain, textiles and art objects.

Rue du Boeuf – located in Vieux Lyon, Rue du Boeuf has hidden courtyards, spiral stairs, fragile facades and endless towers and traboules. There is a lot to discover ion this street from 15th century houses to renaissance sculptures.

Jardin des Chartreux – a leafy park, it is a perfect place to set down yoru picnic basket while basking in the afternoon sun and soaking in the views of the rivier and Fourvière Hill.

Maison du Crible – one of the oldest mansions in the city, Maison du Crible has a charming courtyard with a rose tower.

Hotel de Ville – a gem designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart and Robert de Cotte after a fire in 1674, the rest of the building dates even earlier than that in the 17th century.

Where to eat in Lyon:

Café 203/Café 100 Tabac – located near the opera, these two sister bistros are really popular for cheap dishes that are served from dawn until long after midnight. You should ask there the names came from. (9 rue du Garet, Presqu’île)

Juliénas – for something classically French, head here. The menu is almost strickly Beaujolais and is priced for those with a budget, even if you order a glass of wine with your meal. (236 rue d’Anse, Villefrance-sur-Saone)

Les Lyonnais – the local celebrities are immortalized in photographs on the walls of this French restaurant in Lyon’s old town. The menu features simple dishes adn tehre is always a plate of the day. (1 rue Tramassac)

Where are you heading for holidays this summer? Have you been to Lyon?

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The legendary Silk Road, which wind itself on land and over the world’s great waters has always been an interest of mine. More specifically, the places  along this historical trade route between my home and Ancient China, Tibet and India.

The route was used during the Han dynasty, in the first century through the Roman Empire until the Renaissance, to export silks, jewels and gems, rhubarb and glass, medicine, herbs, spice and perfumes, other rich textiles and even slaves. The main route starts inland China, Luoyang and goes west passing India and through Persia to Damascus. The rest of the trip is made by boat to Turkey, Italy and Greece.

One thing is true about this route: it is filled with unforgettable cultural adventures!

I’ve always wanted to travel it, but I know that even in historical times it was rare that anyone ever travelled the entire way. Agents used to transport the goods and silks only for part of the way, passing it on to the next agent on the route. The first thing to do in order to get ready to travel the Silk Road is gathering the literature: stories, art history books, anthropology studies, novels… There is no shortage of folklore and references to the Silk Road in literature.

The next thing is starting to make your itinerary. Deciding to do the journey in parts is a good idea, especially if you don’t have too much time to travel like me. Even now I wouldn’t put trekking through Iran or Iraq at the top of my list because of their current political situation, but if you want to pass through the least amount of countries possible, head this way: Syria, Iraq, Turkmenistan, Iran , Afghanistan, Tajikistan and China.

I’d love to start my journey from the beginning, working my way back towards Europe, keeping north of the Plateau of Tibet and hiking along the mountains. Read up on the countries and more specifically the regions you want to visit, some have tourist advisories, danger areas and required visas.

The only way to travel this route is with all of the necessary research. Knowing about the currency, culture, history (modern and ancient), geography and current affairs will make the journey much more rewarding. Some recommend picking up a Lonely Planet for each country, but to be honest I don’t want to weigh down my pack with guide books. Keep a notebook with the most important information or tear out (I know, I said it, I want you to rip out pages of a book) the pages that are necessary, keeping them in a small folder or inside a notebook. You also won’t be spotted as the “tourist” from first glance.

This is where I’m going to leave you, stranded at choosing an itinerary. What do you pack for such a journey? What would be your top choices for countries?

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