Tag Archives: Adventure

Umbria, Italy: Castelluccio di Norcia Stunning Mountains

Umbria-Italy-Stunning-Mountain-Castelluccio-di-Norcia-1-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

The Road To Castelluccio di Norcia

Umbria-Italy-Stunning-Mountain-Castelluccio-di-Norcia-2-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

Lost in The Middle of Nowhere

Surreal scene: first there is the huge plain in the middle of mountains covered with a velvet cloak … Stunning beauty, the soul rises! Then the road cuts the plain in two equal sides (photo 1) and leads to the famous village Castelluccio di Norcia (around fifty inhabitants all year).

We are in the Parco Nazionale Monti Sibillini, a natural reserve located in the regions of Umbria and Marche.

Getting out the car, I have the impression of entering in a film, a road movie of Wim Wenders. I think of the steppes to Central Asia where I’ve never been. I feel so far away, dazzled by the beauty of the landscape. Finally I feel the journey begins.

Umbria-Italy-Stunning-Mountain-Castelluccio-di-Norcia-3-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K


Umbria-Italy-Stunning-Mountain-Castelluccio-di-Norcia-8-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

So Unique For Me!

I did not grow up surrounded by animals and initially had some misgivings … Honestly, I’ve never imagined myself riding on a donkey (lol)! I did a horse ride in a Baja California desert years ago! Basta!

Kids love! I start the ride in a light rain with easy going Geronimo, a donkey or mule (I still haven’t understood the difference between the two) on the photo 1 (above photo montage). Unlike Zorro much more nervous (on the black and white photo)! A saddle as a portent …

Thanks to Roberto Canali of La Mulattiera for guiding my donkey, so I was able to really appreciate these beautiful landscapes (with big laugh every acceleration of Geronimo!). Roberto, a Rome native, perfectly knows these mountains!

Traditionally for centuries in this poor region of central Italy, they have used mules (muli) for transportation and agriculture and donkeys (asini) for transportation. 

Umbria-Italy-Stunning-Mountain-Castelluccio-di-Norcia-5-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le KUmbria-Italy-Stunning-Mountain-Castelluccio-di-Norcia-7-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

Lunch at Il Fienile

Umbria-Italy-Stunning-Mountain-Castelluccio-di-Norcia-Lunch-Agroturismo-Antica-Cascina-Brandimarte-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

The Weekend in a Remote Village

After our donkey-trekking stopped by heavy rain, a late lunch on the heights of the village. I am pleased to relax a bit in the agriturismo restaurant Il Fienile managed by Tiziano and Giovanni Coccia brothers.

Mountain menu. I really liked the extra lean local fresh ricotta, made with sheep milk (yummy!) and lenticchie di Castelluccio IGP, the tasty lentils grown without chemical pesticides. The IGP is a protected appellation meaning “Protected Geographical Indication”.

For norcineria lovers: the prosciutto di Norcia, coppa, cojone di Mulo and Norcino. On the first photo of the photo montage above: the roveja, this local specialty is a kind of wild peas with the taste of chickpeas.

And if you want to extend the experience … In winter, the road to Castelluccio di Norcia is often impracticable. With a little luck and lots of snow, you might get stuck a few more days. The Antica Cascina Brandimarte has comfortable rooms with lovely views over the plateau and mountains.

Umbria-Italy-Stunning-Mountain-Castelluccio-di-Norcia-6-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

Photos : © Mademoiselle Le K – Tous droits réservés


Regione Umbria and Alitalia


Many thanks for this beautiful invitation to Regione Umbria et Alitalia. As always these opinions are my own.

Centre of Portugal: Beautiful Hiking in Serra da Estrela

Center-of-Portugal-Serra-da-Estrela-Mountain-Walk-in-the-Central-Plateau-4-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

Central Plateau of Serra da Estrela

Center-of-Portugal-Serra-da-Estrela-Mountain-Walk-in-the-Central-Plateau-2-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

The road is pretty long,

two-hour drive from Casa da Cisterna to the natural park of Serra da Estrela, the largest protected area of Portugal: 101 000 hectares including a chain of mountains with a rare flora and fauna. And the highest top of Portugal that culminates at 1993 meters.

Today program: 19km (about 6 hours) of an easy mountain walk from the central plateau of the Estrela (classified as a biogenetic reserve) to Casa das Penhas Douras Hotel e Spa. 

Arriving at the car park, the set looks like a military base straight out of a movie about the Cold War (photo montage above). Very quickly we find ourselves on a trail and there I finally realize how much the view is absolutely stunning (photo below)! Let the adventure begin ; ))

Center-of-Portugal-Serra-da-Estrela-Mountain-Walk-in-the-Central-Plateau-1A-Photo ©Joao Center-of-Portugal-Serra-da-Estrela-Mountain-Walk-in-the-Central-Plateau-7-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K


Even in the mountains, I need to see water, lol! Depending on the altitude, the landscape changes. At the beginning very steep, the landscape offers an impressive panorama on the glacial valleys (dating from 20,000 years), lagoons and granite rock formations. And further down, the scenery turns into green pastures. But water is everywhere, sometimes you can walk on a kind of waterlogged foam.

Center-of-Portugal-Serra-da-Estrela-Mountain-Walk-in-the-Central-Plateau-14-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K Center-of-Portugal-Serra-da-Estrela-Mountain-Walk-in-the-Central-Plateau-8-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K Center-of-Portugal-Serra-da-Estrela-Mountain-Walk-in-the-Central-Plateau-10-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

Carnivorous plants?

Photo above: a butterfly is trapped. I wouldn’t have seen, if an emeritus hiker had not showed us the “creatures” … Actually I expected larger plants. I am really not a naturalistic (lol), I love the space, silence and beauty of the landscape in the “big picture” …

A spectacular setting, by far my most beautiful and inspiring hiking of this short trip in the Center of Portugal, although I liked the natural reserve of Faia Brava too. Enjoy!  

Center-of-Portugal-Serra-da-Estrela-Mountain-Walk-in-the-Central-Plateau-11-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K Center-of-Portugal-Serra-da-Estrela-Mountain-Walk-in-the-Central-Plateau-12-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K Center-of-Portugal-Serra-da-Estrela-Mountain-Walk-in-the-Central-Plateau-13-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K Center-of-Portugal-Serra-da-Estrela-Mountain-Walk-in-the-Central-Plateau-15-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K Center-of-Portugal-Serra-da-Estrela-Mountain-Walk-in-the-Central-Plateau-16-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K Center-of-Portugal-Serra-da-Estrela-Mountain-Walk-in-the-Central-Plateau-17-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K Center-of-Portugal-Serra-da-Estrela-Mountain-Walk-in-the-Central-Plateau-20-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K Center-of-Portugal-Serra-da-Estrela-Mountain-Walk-in-the-Central-Plateau-22-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K Center-of-Portugal-Serra-da-Estrela-Mountain-Walk-in-the-Central-Plateau-23-Photo ©Mademoiselle Le K

Photos : © Mademoiselle Le K – Tous droits réservés – Thanks Joao for the picture 3.


Visit PortugalTCP/ARPT Centro de Portugal, TAPA2Z AdventuresHistorical Villages


Many thanks for this beautiful invitation to Visit Portugal, TCP/ARPT Centro de Portugal et TAP. Thanks to our guide, Manuel Franco too. As always these are my opinions.

Thailand: 500 Rai Floating Rafthouse, A Bungalow With A View

What a fantastic view

when I arrived by boat at the 500 Rai Floating Rafthouse, a small hotel with 11 floating bungalows in a remote cove nestled in a pristine nature! Unlikely oasis in the middle of nowhere (not exactly Mademoiselle Le K, we are in Chiewlarn Dam, in Khao Sok Natural Park, lol!). And you can not play the jaded!

I’m so excited, I’ve never slept on a floating hotel! The setting is awsome and I’m euphoric! Let’s face it, comfort is very basic, but in front of such a view how I couldn’t be charmed! The hotel serves a very good Thai food. The staff is nice and the owner is a former Buddhist monk turned into a successful business man.

I discover my bungalow after the distribution of the rooms. Naively, I chose a room without air conditioning. Which would perfectly suit me, if there were nets on the windows, especially in the shower and toilet half open to the outside and lined with insects at nightfall. For the evening the slightly cooler temperature is perfect to sleep without air con. But repeated attacks of my “buddies” mosquitoes quickly become unbearable!

Not to mention other insects, I had an invasion on my bed of insects that looked like “flies”. This is the name given in Hong Kong to these tiny insects like small black dots. Anyway I sprayed the repellent all over the room several times. As the product is super harmful, I went to dinner while it was indeed. 

And finally I slept in front of the fan in two super large and comfortable armchairs, with the windows closed (pictures 1 & 2). And guess what? I slept very well! The must is to watch the sunrise. I opened wide the windows and put my seats in front of the landscape! Just amazingly beautiful! Pictures 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5: the view from my bungalow. Pictures 7, 8, 9 & 10: the public areas of the 500 Rai Floating Rafthouse. Photo 10: pontoon where we dined by candlelight in the evening.

Photos : Mademoiselle Le K – copyright 2013, tous droits réservés.

Follow my whole trip in THAILAND. You can also discover my other pictures in the Facebook of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Facebook of the Royal Thai Embassy in BelgiumENJOY!  

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