Category: Blog

The 7 best travel apps from 2018

What we use most probably is Google Maps: roaming allowing, around the world it is difficult to do without online maps. Then there are the apps to find accommodation and transport savings. And those with the reviews written by users: very useful not to go blind in places where we have never been before. But of app that can make our relationship with the world less complicated in 2018, there are a lot of them. Just a few clicks, for example, are enough to understand how safe a place is, which is the best way to go from one place to another (which is almost never the fastest), when is the best time to fly to the east (or west) or how to bypass web censorship in countries where it is in place and not only … There are at least 7 free apps for iPhone and Android that are useful for traveling in 2018.

Google Trips

If you are the type of person who prepares for each trip by designing each route in detail, Google Trips allows you to do it without the hassle of having to print everything: the app collects all travel information from Gmail and organizes it automatically. It also offers half-day or one-day itineraries, with ad hoc suggestions. And most importantly, it works completely offline, so you do not have to worry about getting to a new country and having to find a wifi hotspot before you can find out where you are going.


This urban route planner helps you find your way to somewhere, based on your interests and preferences. Are you looking for a coffee or a pharmacy on the way? Do you prefer the cultural route to the fast one? Sidekix is ​​full of suggestions taken care of by locals (the so-called “local”) and currently works in about 100 cities, but every week new ones are added.


How safe is the place where we are? Geosure is a “personal security” app that, based on your location, provides you with a safety score that reflects health risks, any political issues, environmental threats, food hazards and even info on the possibility of theft and assault that occurred in the area. All useful information … even if not peremptory.

Cool Cousin

As the title suggests, it’s a bit like having a “cool” cousin in cities like Barcelona, ​​New York, Paris, Tel Aviv … The app offers a series of tips on what to do and what to see by experienced residents (and a little hipster) off the beaten track in more than 60 destinations: their suggestions are not what you would find in a tourist guide, but if you are looking for new trendy places in emerging neighborhoods, you will love it.

Tunnel Bear

If you want to play streaming movies outside your country, but most importantly keep your Internet connection safe while you are abroad – and you should do it if you connect to many random wifi spots – then you will need to use a VPN (virtual private network) ). VPNs hide our IP address and location and act as “tunnels” in another country, even bypassing censorship. There are many apps to choose from, but TunnelBear is particularly easy to use, and has a free version if you do not use a lot of data, or you just want to test it before becoming a premium.

Other than Stonehenge, Sicily is the richest archeo-astronomical heritage in Europe

On an anonymous Sicilian rock called “U Campanaro” (the bell ringer), somewhere on Mount Arcivocalotto (in the countryside of San Giuseppe Jato and San Cipirello, in the province of Palermo), for about 5,000 years, every 21 December, the the first ray of the morning sun has slipped silently and very precisely into a specially dug hole without anyone, not even the local mafiosi (usually attentive to what happens on “their” territory), had never noticed.

Who knows how many other centuries the phenomenon would have been invisible if a discovery by prof. Ferdinando Maurici, one of the most prolific Sicilian archaeologists of the last 50 years, of Alberto Scuderi, national vice president of the “Archaeological Groups of Italy”, and of prof.

Vito Polcaro of the National Institute of AstroPhysica, had not shown that it was not a simple natural hole in a rock, but a work of man. A specially oriented hole targeting the point where the sun rises on the horizon on the day of the winter solstice (December 21st).

When, around 3000 BC, the hands of our ancestors dug that hole, Italy was much greener: there were neither machines nor smartwatches. There were not even the clocks: neither the Rolex given to politicians, nor those for the pocket. In addition to not having the calendar, neither that of the Guerrero Indovino, nor that of Pirelli, there was not even the numbering of the years as we know it (ie organized with the before and after Christ).

There was, of course, the passing of time. Our ancestors measured it, respected it and celebrated it by observing the sun and the stars. In this way the times of practical activities (such as sowing and harvesting) and of liturgical and social ones (parties) were dictated.

After the sensational discovery of the first astronomical calendar in Sicily , that of Mount Arcivocalotto, many pierced rocks, present in the Sicilian countryside, have revealed themselves for what they are: an archeo-astronomical heritage without equal in Europe.

“I irons” and waffles seal, love in Marsciano

Country you go, gift you find. An iron scissor with two rounds at the ends whose interiors are characterized by noble symbols and letters. It is the waffle plate, “the irons” so this instrument is called to Marsciano. This is the inevitable gift of marriage that received, until the last century, the spouses of this small Umbrian village known for bricks.

The plates, marked the initials of the two newlyweds on both sides so that, when the waffle was cooked, showed their “seal of love”. Those of her on one side and those of him on the other. Prepared the creamy mixture for the waffle, with the addition of aniseed, if you take a spoon to be poured on one of the two plates. Once the other was placed over the roof, the scissor was inserted into the chimney for a few seconds. A thin host emerged from it, which was rolled into a cone. Today the most gluttons fill it with cream. But she is very greedy even by herself, just as Mr. Attilio, Marscianese doc, made me feel, and enriched my weekend with this beautiful story.

Rarely the plate still gives, but in return is also used outside ceremonious situations, if going on the course of the country you can taste it, you will be more fortunate to find it if you happen during the carnival period.

Torre Bolli, Boccali tower and Porta tower are the three “points” of Marsciano, which in addition to its waffle, to its green hills surrounded by medieval castles, also has a unique museum in Italy of its kind entirely dedicated to bricks. It is a dynamic museum, a place of emotions evoked by movies, sounds and noises of all that is the world of terracotta. Earth, water, air and fire are here that merge, becoming manufactured for human use. The museum is defined as dynamic because it has more locations inside the village that tell the story of the brick.

The furnace of San Fortunato, with its curious tunnel shape, is located along the historic Via Orvietana, downstream from this there is a small pond built with “sides” in masonry for the collection of rainwater, used to knead the clay excavated in the immediate vicinity. Then there is the Fornace di Compignano, where the visitor can become a craftsman for the entire duration of the visit thanks to the ancient tools put at his disposal for the construction of bricks. In this furnace, it is possible to observe the oldest brick dated 1775. Then there is the Palazzo Pietromarchi, a fascinating building of the ‘300.

Jill Paider: “I have visited 102 countries with only one piece of luggage, people are surprised that a woman travels alone”

Can you travel from north to south and from east to west of the globe, carrying only a small trolley with you? As impossible as it may seem, Jill Paider succeeded. In fact, this American photographer visited 102 countries , immortalizing the most evocative glimpses of Chile, Bolivia, India, South Africa, Jordan and the other places in which she chose to bring her curiosity. Jill is a professional who has obtained numerous prestigious awards , specializing in design photography, architecture, gastronomy (and travel in general) and publishing several books that collect the most beautiful and fascinating shots of his collection.

The camera, therefore, is a must-have in its travels. But if the equipment is already heavy in itself, how to limit the inconvenience of the trip if not choosing to rely on only one hand baggage? To recount the itineraries he has traced over the past few years, Jill recently released the Carry-On Only volume . Confessions from 100 Countries (or “Only with hand baggage, confessions from 100 countries”), giving meticulous advice to those who, like her, can not really dream of visiting every corner of the Earth.

Let’s start from the beginning, Jill. How and when did you discover your strong passion for travel?

It all started in high school, when I had an important first holiday in Spain. I immediately fell in love with traveling in itself and have been looking for new experiences ever since.

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How many countries have you visited and what was the place that really bewitched you?

I’ve visited 102, a good number. It is always difficult to choose one of a special one, everyone gave me something. I would say that my top 5 is made up of Namibia, South Africa, New Zealand, Fiji and Chile.

You wrote a book called Solo with hand luggage ( Carry-On Only ), a sort of memoir about your travels, full of beautiful photos. The title explains your habit of traveling with one, small baggage. How do you succeed in this “business”? Have you ever wanted to carry a bigger suitcase?

Ca rry-On Only collects my travels as a professional photographer and the publications I’ve made over more than 10 years. It is a volume full of shots and includes cards for each country, with a focus on architecture, design, food and views of the place. Most of my travels have managed to do them with only one hand baggage, following the principle of “less is more”. Over time, I started to understand what was essential and what was not for my travels.

What is it that can never be missing in your suitcase? And what is the useless thing to insert?

In my baggage the camera can never be missing, while in my opinion it is useless to bring a large assortment of the same object. One of everything is enough.


Arrival to Togean, Wakai and Kadidiri

Our pretty wooden boat passes near many lush islands. Groups of flying fish emerge from the clear water.

After 5 hours, the boat stops at Wakai, the capital of the archipelago. “Ben it’s tiny!” A canoe takes us with three other tourists to the island of Kadidiri. It is the island of which speaks the Lonely Planet, the most famous Togean.
I’m expecting a little village, but no!
In fact, Kadidiri is a wild island, with its jungle and beaches. The arrival on the only inhabited beach, is almost worthy of the film The Beach: the sun, the hot wind, the big rocks which pierce the turquoise water, the corals and the tropical fish in transparency, the beach and its coconut trees and behind , only a few wooden bungalows on the sand and finally the tropical forest.
Rather wild!
Even so, as there is a tiny dive center, I can pay by credit card and my cash problems are fixed.

Daily life in paradise

We are about 15 people all over the island. Everyone shares the usual fish with rice at every meal around the same table. After a week you feel like a small family.

Every day, we go diving near the surrounding islands, or simply swim with a mask. The sites are still entirely ours. This is different from the overcrowded sites of Koh Tao divers in Thailand and it’s just as beautiful.

One day a fisherman takes Julien, Doriane and me in his canoe to take a tour of the islands further afield. It stops us on several really deserted islands where the little clownfish, Nemo, may never have seen humans. On some islands, there are villages of Bajos. They are also called gypsies of the sea. An old traveler lost for a few years on the island of Katupan lends me a traditional harpoon Bajo a little twisted. I’m not getting anything, too bad. On the return we stop in a mangrove. The worm-eaten plank boards break under my feet. The trunks of submerged trees are soft and rotten. I expect to see a crocodile at any moment, but nothing. We go back home admiring a beautiful sunset over the sea.

How to organize your dive trip

Diving in a wreck in Tulamben

Tulumben is a boat wreck close to the edge and shallow. It’s near Amed on the east coast. A good freediving diver can easily enjoy it because the maximum depth of the wreck is only 15 meters deep. Of course with a bottle it is easier and it is a perfect site for beginners who can enjoy a wreck without even having level 2 PADI or diving bathemes.

The wreck is covered with coral and there are plenty of fish, a nice dive!

Diving in Lembongan

Lembongan is a small island south of Bali that has plenty to offer. There are fabulous little villages full of temples, beautiful cliffs from which you can jump (without dying), beautiful beaches, seaweed growers and sinners and it’s a good place to surf … Alala is beautiful! Downstairs I even had the opportunity to make money betting on cocks fights and playing a local roulette funny with a ball and animal drawings.

But lembongan is also the best place to dive in Bali. In fact all the clubs of L’ilevous take you to the nearby island of Nusa Penida where the dive sites are precisely located. But as there is no diving club on this island and very little tourism, everything is happening on Nusa Lembongan.

In season we are almost sure to see the gigantic Manta rays and with a little luck we can see the rare, bizarre and not less gigantic Mola Mola also called Moonfish

The Mola Mola is a fish of which we know little about the circular form and which can be 3 meters in diameter. He has a big soft flap at the top and bottom. A funny thing in short.

In lembongan in 2 dives I saw more than 5 manta-rays of more than 4m, 1 Mola Mola not to mention the multitude of multicolored fish and very pretty corals. Very impressive!

I wanted to go to Nusa Penida. And I was able to reach for myself without problem the very beautiful spot called “Crystal Bay”. It’s really beautiful to take your time to snorkel there and enjoy the beach. It saved me from paying a tour to do the same thing from Nusa Lembongan.


Avoid clubs in the cities of Kuta and Sanur?

Tourism and overdeveloped in Bali. Do not go straight on the first agency that sells diving trips. There are many diving clubs in Kuta and Sanur where Bali’s largest tourist mass is located. In fact, if there are so many clubs there, it is only to catch the maximum number of customers because most of the diving sites in Bali are located further around the island of Nusa Penida in the south of Bali.

So these clubs make you pay much more for dives to cover the price of the speed boat that takes you to the dive site. In all you can count between 30 minutes and 1 hour to arrive.

The major disadvantage in addition to the price is that we arrive at the last dive sites and there can be a lot of people. the advantage is that in the evening we are back to where we started. It is convenient for the hurry ones who want to dive quickly and return.

See you at most dive sites

The good technique is to go yourself where the dives are. Among the best diving spots there is Tulumben on the east coast to dive into a shallow wreck (perfect for beginners) and Nusa Lembongan a small island all the way south of Bali. It is in fact in Nusa Penida not far that are located almost all the dive sites in the area but there are no diving clubs on this island on which tourism is very little developed.

By organizing your dives with a local club you will arrive earlier on the site and you will pay less. Instructors will also know better the sites.


Arriving in Lombok, Sylvain sees his first cars for two months. But it does not last. We head straight for the village of Senaru, at the foot of the Rinjani, the Lombok volcano, which rises to 3700 meters. Here, there is no question of leaving alone to attack the summit. The path is not very difficult to find, but it is mandatory to be accompanied by a guide. We leave the next day with three other French and one English. Our theory is verified once more: as soon as there is a place back and many pebbles to climb, it is stormed by the French, as in Nepal. This time, we even have porters for tents and food, luxury! Finally, we will realize later that it was not so much luxury that it …

The first day of walking is quite hard: 1500 meters of positive difference in 6 hours is hard. And then after Gili, we are not very good. But the surprise that awaits us at the top is well worth the effort. We arrive in time to see the sunset on the huge crater of the volcano, magic!

On the second day, we descend into the cratere towards the lake that fills it. We stop at noon at a hot spring. In fact, it is more than a source, it is a small stream run through several basins at different temperatures and waterfalls: our first hot shower for months and above the clouds. We go back to the edge of the cratere to sleep before the final climb of the next day.

On the third day, you have to get up early to get to the top before sunrise, very early. We leave at 3 o’clock in the morning. We were warned that the climb was difficult. Indeed, it’s really difficult. In the ashes of the volcano, it is two steps forward for a step back. The French who were with us eventually give up. There is even one who vomits so much she can not anymore. Finally, we arrive at the top just in time to see the sun rise. We have a great panoramic view of the island of Lombok. Francois, who had lingered at the top to enjoy a little more of the view, attend a beautiful shouting. A group of Belgians has hardly arrived, begins to insult themselves surrounded by an incredible panorama that they do not even see. C ‘ is worthy of the movie The Hikers. One of the Belgians is away, very calm, she said to me: “today is my birthday, they forgot”. The situation makes me laugh. The descent is long, very long. In total, we walk 10 hours today: 900 meters of positive altitude, then 2600 meters of negative altitude. We arrive below creves. Francois swears it’s the last time he’s done a trek (in fact he’s bluffing, it’s over).

The 3 Gili Islands

After the dive, everyone meets at Tir Na Nog, the Irish bar of the island. Instructors, DMTs, customers, everyone comes for a drink or a party. It is not always easy to get up the next day to go diving … Although the roosters and the muezzin who begs for prayer at five in the morning help to wake up. After two weeks, Pierre, our Dive Master at Koh Tao joined me at Gili Trawangan. There is a job at another dive center. For the birthdays of the instructors, they organize special evenings. For one, it’s a kind of olympic games on the beach: a human wheelbarrow race in fins, a race in fins holding a lemon in a spoon … For the other, we go to eat the cake of

I spend most of my time with Pierre and Caroline, a Dutch Dive Master from my center. He can only stay one month because his visa expires. On the advice of the people at the diving center, I took the risk of giving my passport to the captain of a boat who took him to Bali with a small sum that allows him to return duly stamped by a customs officer, as if I had left the country and returned. Not very very legal all that. I must admit that I was not too reassured during the two weeks that my passport was in transit.

At the end of September, the end of my training is approaching. Francois joins me to attend the “stress test” and the “snorkel test”, the two final tests of the DMT (see videos). For the stress test, it is a question of exchanging all the equipment under water with another diver while breathing on a single bottle. If you put the head back out of the water, it’s lost. Tradition has it that during this time, the instructors have fun tearing off our masks, cutting off the air, handcuffing us or passing us beer under water (Grand Bleu style , but in English version). For the test snorkel, it’s happening at the bar. It is a matter of ingesting the alcoholic content of a pitcher through the snorkel with the mask on the nose in a single step, so without being able to breathe.

 And then, it’s the beginning. It makes me a pinch in the heart to leave my little island. I started to feel at home here. Finally, I would console myself by listening to the Indonesian reggae tube of Gili Trawangan: Welcome to my Paradise


Welcome to my paradise

Our roads separate here for two months. While Francois goes exploring the islands of Indonesia, I stay at Gili Trawangan to spend my Dive Master. This is the diploma that allows you to work as a guide in diving centers. After the departure of Francois, the party continues a few days with the group of French meetings on the island. Then, they leave. It’s time to start looking for a dive center. I opt for Manta Dive, who has hammocks at the entrance, it’s a good sign. Here the staff and the other students in Dive Master are mostly English. But there are also people from South Africa, Canada, Holland, Denmark, Switzerland and Italy and of course from Indonesia. First step, pass my Advanced Open Water. I do it I had already been to Australia five years ago, but, as a matter of fact, I had never returned the papers. So I have to iron it.

The second stage is Stress and Rescue. The other Dive Master Trainees (DMT) assure me that this is the funniest course. Indeed, I’m not disappointed, for three days I dive with an instructor and a DMT who spend their time simulating problems under water. One shot he panics and tears my regulator to breathe, another she is drunk from the depths and fun to remove his bottle 20 meters deep …

Third step, the Dive Master. There is a lot of theory, swimming tests and a lot of practice. I attend the instructors during their classes in the pool and at sea. This is really another way to dive. It’s almost like I’m working for the club. I dive two or three times a day, most of the time accompanying groups with instructors.

The atmosphere is great: the guests are here on holiday, always in a good mood and happy to discover the dive. The dives are superb with excellent visibility and often a lot of current. No need to get tired, we let ourselves go, quietly. I see turtles and sharks almost every day. The small rarity of Gili Trawangan is the “bumphead parrot fish”, huge fish looking like dinosaurs that go up in band around the full moon to eat the coral. It looks like herds of sea bison. On another note, we also saw a couple of swimmers who, thinking themselves alone, were doing textual stuff in the sea. It was the general laughter going up to the surface. One day, we went down to 55 meters with other DMTs and monitors to experience nitrogen narcosis. To make the effect, it makes the effect. Arrived downstairs, I felt very very Zen and I felt that my brain was running twice as slowly, really unique as an experience!