Snowshoeing Hike @ ValDisere, France

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Been there, Done it…amazing in retrospect!Snowshoeing is a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the peace and quiet of snow-filled landscapes. Nature-lovers  can admire some of the most breathtaking scenery that the mountains have to offer, savour the back-country that begs to be explored. Easy to learn, snowshoeing opens up a world of wild valleys and craggy summits…

I was lucky to get ace snowshoeing leader Michel Gavet (http://raquettesvaldisere.com) as my guide. On 24th January 2012, at 0900 hrs we started our snow shoe hike. Little over 20 minutes of drive from my Hotel L’Aigle des Neiges at ValDisere, we reached the new skiing town of Bonconseil. After donning the oversized Raquette (snow shoe- works by the principle of distribution of weight over a larger area- thus preventing sinking in fresh snow) over my trusted Skechers, i was given a 5 minute tutorial on walking on snow. It looked easy, but after few steps I realised the difficulty of wide based gait…also realised the difficulty in walking on a slope, where your right foot is at a lower level than the left…First few steps were like a duck walk. Fresh snowfall compounded my problems…it would crumble if you don’t place your foot flat on. First destination was L`Echailon, with few summer houses (abandoned during winter). Second river side village was Chenal Gite with St Lawrence Church. Here we took a 20 minute break for a hot cup of Lemon Tea brought by Mr Gavet (Lemon Tea never tasted so divine- whether it is the altitude or the setting, which made it so tasty, I still do not know!), Orange and sandwiches. Our base here was the balcony of an abandoned house. Mysteriously even in freezing weather, there was a tap with running water! Third stop was at Le Monal – probably the highlight of the snow shoe expedition…with stunning landscapes. Landscape changes quite quickly in the mountains! Then started the painful downhill walk…which was a bit faster. Reached the start point at 1530 hrs. I could not wait to get rid of all the layers of thermal wear…After a sumptuous dinner at the Hotel and a warm hot water soak in the bathtub, slept like a baby for next ten hours!

(Logistics: Private expedition with Mr Michel Gavet with hotel pickup & drop: Euro 280 (Group tours cost less Euro 80/person), Peak Performance Thermal Jacket Euro 300, Thinsulate Gloves Euro 48, North Face thermal headgear Euro50, Overall experience: Priceless! Carry Enegry Bar, warm beverages, fruits for the refreshment break. Dark glasses with UV protection, sun screen are absolute essentials for personal care). Make sure you have a good camera, which works even in extreme cold. My Sony Nex500, did well!

Click here: Earlier post on ValDisere

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If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul !

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Istanbul! Colorful, historic, chaotic, mesmerizing city torn between Asia & Europe…The strategic position gave its strength as a hub of trade in the past…Many who transit through Istanbul are confused…what to do in Istanbul?

If you have a short transit, just do Blue Mosque, Aya Sofiya, Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace & of course a visit to the Spice Bazaar!

An unexpected rain during winter forced me into this amazing bazaar…and I was lost wandering inside its long yet crowded corridors. Built in 1664 to help pay for the construction of the Yeni Camii, or the New Mosque, the Egyptian Spice Bazaar has for centuries been a marketplace for food products. It’s name comes from the spices that came through Egypt via the renowned Silk Road out of central & southern Asia. Nowadays, vendors still sell such items here – fresh spices, fruits, nuts, meats, & candy, as well as other…

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