Tag Archives: landscape

USA Road Trip 2012 (3): Discovering the Yosemite National Park

A park. A National Park. World-renowned and designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984. The Yosemite National Park. That was the first destination of our USA road trip.

A few hours’ drive north-east of Los Angeles, the Yosemite National Park is well known for its giant sequoias, waterfalls, clear streams, granite formations and biodiversity.   95% of the park is designated as wilderness.

Driving in and out of the park at certain times of the year poses challenges: the long winters at high altitude prevent car access to many of the passes due to snow and ice on the roads. Visiting at the end of April we had to work around some of the access issues but the longer drives never became a problem.

Countless waterfalls are one of the main features of the Yosemite park, with  Yosemite Falls (the tallest in North America) and Bridalveil Falls the most popular and impressive ones. Late spring is the best time for a visit, and we witnessed some spectacular natural displays. Water then flows into streams and rivers, and through meadows into ponds and lakes.

The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, a must-see at Yosemite, is located near the park’s south entrance. This area contains about 500 mature giant sequoias, some of which are over 3,000 years old! A hike through the woods will let you get close to some impressive trees.

Next: USA Road Trip 2012 (4): Death Valley

An afternoon between Killarney and Kenmare, Ireland

I didn’t expect to find the sun in Ireland. Ireland is green for a reason: the (very) frequent rain. I found the sun instead.

Based in southwestern Ireland for a few days, on a lovely Saturday afternoon I was taken for a drive around County Kerry to discover some of its towns and beautiful scenery. Main focus: the area around Killarney and Kenmare.

Killarney (or Cill Airne in Irish – all road signs and town names are in both English and Irish Gaelic) is a popular tourist destination in County Kerry. The Killarney National Park, with its  beautiful scenery and opportunities for cycling and hiking, together with the region’s history, is the main attractions for tourists here.

Panorama from Ladies View, Killarney
Irish scenery

Kenmare (or An Neidín), a lovely heritage town, is also very popular with tourists and is located about 32Km from Killarney.

House in Kenmare
House in Kenmare
Street in Kenmare, Ireland
One of the main streets in Kenmare
Pub in Kenmare, Ireland
Enjoying the sun
Pub sign in Kenmare, Ireland
Pub sign

Road N71 connects Killarney and Kenmare, is part of the Ring of Kerry, and is a very scenic drive through mountains and forests and past beautiful lakes. There is hardly any public transport here so the best way to visit the area – and the one that gives you the most freedom – is driving a car or a motorbike. I would not recommend cycling as the road is quite narrow and drivers speed up a lot. Said that, there were several cyclists when I visited…

View along the Ring of Kerry
View along the Ring of Kerry
Sheep and lakes in countryside Ireland
The Irish landscape is not complete without sheep…

There are several viewpoints along the N71, one of the best ones being the Ladies View: stop here for a coffee and enjoy a stroll with view over the Lakes of Killarney down in the valley!

Lakes of Killarney from Ladies View
Lakes of Killarney from Ladies View

Muckross House&Gardens is another nice stop along the route. Located 6Km from Killarney, this mansion was built in 1843 and is surrounded by beautiful gardens leading to a lake. It also has traditional farms, craft shops, and cafes. On a beautiful sunny day, there is no better place where to enjoy the weather!

Muckross House Gardens, Killarney, Ireland
Muckross House Gardens
Muckross House, Killarkey, Ireland
Muckross House

Postcards from Con Dao

For an active person like me, beach life doesn’t always cut it. So this morning I rented a mountain bike and headed off to Ben Dam fishing port, a 12 Km ride from Con Son Town, up and down a hill.

From Con Son Town to Ben Dam port
From Con Son Town to Ben Dam port

The scenery was absolutely fantastic: white sand beaches, blue sea, mountains in the background! Ben Dam fishing port appeared very active (it was 9:15am when I got there), with lots of boats coming and going.

The ride back was a killer, first gear most of the time and the scorching tropical sun above my head. But it was definitely a ride worth all the sweat and effort!