Author Archives: carolinehelbig

Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

No offence to my hubby

I think back over the last three weeks. How is it possible that so little time has elapsed but so much has changed? The worldwide COVID-19 situation, our response, even our vocabulary (social distancing, self isolation…) are in constant flux. I have gone from no worries to big worries mixed with confusion, guilt, reflection and gratitude. I’ve had a frustrating number of false starts on this post. I don’t usually deviate from my travel and hiking themes but I feel the need to get a few things off my chest.

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Categories: British Columbia, Places | Tags: , , , | 33 Comments

Saint-Malo: My most anticipated stop in Brittany

Saint-Malo in Brittany, France

I became obsessed with visiting Saint-Malo, a seaside city in northern France, after reading Anthony Doerr’s novel All the Light We Cannot See. It tells the story of a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in Saint-Malo during WWII. The story is riveting, but it’s the author’s description of the ancient walled city, perched on a rocky promontory overlooking the English Channel (la Manche) that totally captivated me. Saint-Malo was my most anticipated stop on our cycling trip in northern Brittany and it did not disappoint.

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Categories: Biking, France | Tags: , , , | 19 Comments

Cycling in Brittany: The V4 from Morlaix to Mont-Saint-Michel

Cycling Brittany’s north coast

In a recent post, I wrote about the highlights of our 3.5 week independent cycling trip along France’s North Brittany and Normandy coasts. This post features an overview of the Brittany portion of our trip—from Morlaix to Mont-Saint-Michel—focussing on logistics: our route, itinerary, accommodations, and helpful resources. If you’re thinking about an independent cycling trip, hopefully this will give you a few pointers. If not, enjoy the photos. Brittany makes a great travel destination whatever your mode of transportation.

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Categories: Biking, France | Tags: , , , | 23 Comments

A short trip to a different planet: Death Valley National Park

Death Valley Extraterrestrial

Giant craters. Windswept dunes. Warped mountains. Monochrome hills dappled with garish green rock. Death Valley National Park may provide the best otherworldly experience while being firmly planted on Earth—you might even meet an extraterrestrial. Located in Eastern California, near the Nevada border, the park is stark, harsh and magnificent. We left the Vancouver rain behind and spent three mid-January days hiking and camping in warm, dry Death Valley. This post features my favourite photos from an out-of this-world park.

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Categories: Hiking, United States | Tags: , , | 63 Comments

Cycling France’s Brittany and Normandy coasts: Top 10 highlights

Along the V4 cycling route in Brittany, France

Last September, Mike and I cycled in coastal Brittany and Normandy. Our 732 km (455 mile) independent journey took us to charming French towns, pink-granite seascapes, iconic monuments and World War II battlegrounds. We feasted on huîtres (oysters) and moules-frites (mussels and fries) washed down with wine and cider. Except for a few killer hills, and one day of route-finding mayhem, it was a marvellous 3 1/2 weeks of slow travel. In future posts, I’ll provide details on logistics, but for now let me entice you with my top 10 highlights.

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Categories: Biking, France | Tags: , , , , | 35 Comments

Jaffna, Sri Lanka: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

Hindu temple in Jaffna

Perched on the northern tip of Sri Lanka, Jaffna is different from the rest of the country. While other parts of the island nation are easy for travellers to define—beach spots, hill country, cultural hubs—Jaffna’s identity is more complex, more elusive. Most of its guidebook-identified “highlights” are good but not wow. There are better beaches, landscapes, cultural attractions elsewhere. Why is it then, that this flat, sun-baked region left such an impression on me?

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Categories: Sri Lanka | Tags: , , | 45 Comments

Sri Lanka’s magnificent cave temples: Dambulla and Mulkirigala

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Reclining Buddha at Mulkirigala Cave Temple

The cavern is enormous. It’s filled with statues of Buddha, kings and deities. The walls and ceilings are covered with murals. Of all the amazing cultural sites in Sri Lanka, my favourites are the cave temples. We visited two: the large, busy Dambulla Cave Temple in the country’s Cultural Triangle and the smaller, lightly-visited Mulkirigala Cave Temple in the south. They’re historically significant for their role as places of Buddhist practice and ritual for over 2000 years, and they remain important holy sites. I’m overwhelmed by the visual feast that’s housed in these natural rock overhangs carved into the cliffs. Continue reading

Categories: Sri Lanka, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 37 Comments

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