Who are you?
Well, Véronique (or short Vero) is a French girl from Paris. Of course, all French are from Paris, but she really is: born in the 15ème (July 1963, to be exact) and brought up in the 14ème, Montparnasse. She studied English and German and then went on to marry this German boy. Vero has lived in Germany for more than a decade, then put in an 18-month stint in Belgium; in 1998 she moved lock, stock and barrel (and husband) to Great Britain. She has spent most of her working life with a US high-tech conglomerate but left when we decided to travel more. These days she occasionally does temp office jobs, preferably something to do with spreadsheets: she's the Queen of Excel.
Thomas, born October 1959, is a German boy from a small place called Hochheim am Main, in the Land of Hesse. They make a very good white wine down there and he spent some of his youth in a tipsy state before going on to university, studying chemistry. Later he founded a software company and wrote books: a mixture of non-fiction (about travel, computer programming, the internet) and fiction. He still writes, does website stuff and also has started another foray into writing software (see http://idle.thomaslauer.com/ if you're into computers).
We both love travelling, hence this site. We worked a lot in our twenties and thirties and early forties, but we always thought there should be more to life than work. We have no kids (this was a conscious choice) and we always wanted to spend more time exploring this fascinating world of ours.
So these days, we tend to be half of the year in Britain (mostly during the season our Met Office likes to describe as “barbeque summer”) or on the Continent. In the winter half we go off to warmer climes (for instance to India or SE Asia) or indeed into the mountains: we very much like the Great Outdoors and we love trekking and hiking.
We always travel on our own, with just the bare flight tickets booked, and almost never pre-arrange hotel stays. (In all the many, many months of travelling we only once ran into trouble and had a hard time finding a place to sleep: that was in Vadodara, in India.)
All this means we travel light and always on a rather tight budget. The latter has two main reasons: one, it saves money; two, living and travelling — and sometimes roughing it — like locals (have to) do is a very interesting and intriguing (though occasionally frustrating) way to travel.
What are your favourite countries?
Nepal. And Nepal. Of course there's Nepal. And not to forget Nepal.
Okay, seriously. Beyond that country, there's also Syria. And Wales — yes, good old waterlogged Wales. These three countries are clearly our top favs (we're, of course, leaving out France and Germany;-)).
Then there's Iran. And India. Spain has always been a favourite as well. We liked Vietnam: hard going, but satisfying. Turkey is another lovely and often under-estimated place.
What are your least-favourite countries?
Hmmm… Perhaps Laos and Algeria? The first is extremely slow-paced and way too apathetic for our tastes; the second was quite violent and actually deeply depressing when we visited (to be fair, that was in 1991, so quite a while ago: things have probably changed).
However, in an important sense, this question is irrelevant because travelling is all about making and sharing experiences, so why should there be any such thing as a least-favourite country?
What is the single best site you've so far visited?
We do get asked this question quite regularly and we still can't answer it. There are just too many wonderful sites and sights. But let's be foolish and have a go with a somewhat fortuitous shortlist. Actually two.
As far as natural sites are concerned we'd go for these five, in no particular order:
- The desert valleys in the Annapurna rain shadow
- Teide and the Caldera on Tenerife
- The Upper Khumbu region and Mount Everest
- Wadi Rum
(As you can see, we're mountain lovers and no water people.)
With regard to human-made sites, there are:
- Angkor Wat (the whole complex, not just the eponymous temple)
- Luxor, the Nile and the Valley of the Kings
- Mont St Michel
- Petra (which is also a must-see natural site in its own right)
- The Taj Mahal
And finally, to make three lists out of two, a shortlist of favourite cities:
- Paris (this is Thomas saving his marriage;-))
So, once all is said and done, perhaps the answer should be Petra… because Petra is a top human-made site and a natural wonder!?
Yeah, perhaps. Then again, one could say very much the same about Angkor Wat: without the backdrop of the jungle and the way these huge trees overgrow and slowly consume the temples, the site would have a totally different character.
Or take the influence humans had in forming the Cappadocian landscape…
So there's simply no final answer to this question. Sorry.
What are those funny boxes around some of the words?
Move the mouse pointer over such a box and let it rest for a short while: a small pop-up window will come up.
What can I do if I find an error? Or a typo? A dead link?
Please tell us, by all means. We're both perfectionists. As such we abhor erors.
As to dead links, we will replace or kill them (hm, let's see… how does one kill a dead link?). If you can send in a nice replacement link, we will be eternally grateful.
What's your favourite photo?
That's difficult as we literally have tens of thousands and fond memories are connected with many of them. But how about this one?
Vero and Thomas in the Upper Gokyo valley, Everest region, Nepal. The year is 2003, the altitude is 5400m, the temperature is freezing.
We're standing on the very top of a long-drawn glacier called Ngozumpa, in an area called Six Lakes, about three to four walking hours above the lodges of Gokyo. The cloud-plumed summit of Lhotse, the fourth-highest mountain in the world, rises behind us; Mt Everest is to the left of Lhotse, but its summit is not visible.
This was a perfect excursion and a perfect day. We had no cameras with us (we sometimes go on a trip without taking photo equipment: a quite enjoyable way of travelling) but after trundling up this valley for a few hours in total solitude, we met this single guy from Holland, Johan, who was just preparing some hot tea for himself on a tiny sibilating gas-cooker. He would share his tea with us, while we added some dried and broken coconut biscuits to the feast.
He also took this picture on the spot and later sent us a print. Thanks, Johan!
I'd like to know…?
Any unanswered question? Simply send us an email and we'll try to answer it. We may even put it here.
$updated from: Welcome.htxt Fri 15 May 2020 14:57:28 trvl2 (By Vero and Thomas Lauer)$