This saturday I was lucky to have dutch friends whom I met in Norway last year coming to Cologne. We met in the afternoon and I did a tour with them showing them some of the sights and telling them some of the old stories linked to the sights as well. Of course we went to the Glockengasse too where they have rebuilt the 4711-house that has been destroyed during WWII. On the groundfloor there is a shop. My friends asked me how 4711 smells and walking close to the entrance I found that the smell came out the door. Once they went to the door they both said ‘I know that smell!’ 😉 I know it is pretty well know. Then we entered the shop and I have to admit that I have never been inside before. There was some really interesting stuff inside. And when we were about to leave we even found out where the small at the entrance was coming from: a 4711-fountain… 🙂
This weekend we went to the Netherlands. Last year I couldn’t take the pics of tulip fields that I had dreamed of so this year I went again. But since there was a flower corso we decided to go and see that too. I can only say that the floats were awesome. Definitely going again! We found a good spot to watch the parade and then we found some nice colourful tulip fields to take pics… Spent saturday evening in Leiden and after another quick stop at the tulip fields around Keukenhof in Lisse on sunday we went to the Unesco World heritage site in Kinderdijke that hosts very old windmills. Unfortunately for us the Viking-Cruise-ships carried several bus-loads of people there so it was a bit crowded.
The weather this weekend was not optimal but I’d say we could have had it worse. During the parade the sun was shining and the dark grey clouds announcing the rain and the hail made for dramatic lights on some pics. It was VERY cold but I had my warm jacket that I had bought for Norway with me so I was mostly OK… it was a great weekend and I am happy with the pics (the ones below are all like they came out of the cam).
So I had to go back to Paris this week and on thursday I was finally lucky because the weather was cooperating (not that I had seen any daylight all day since the meeting room didn’t have any windows) so I left the office early (meaning 6 PM) and together with one of my colleagues from Dublin took the metro over to the Montparnasse Tower. Going there had been on my bucket list for a while but something or the other always made me not go. The only regret I have is that I didn’t stop at my hotel to get my tripod but I didn’t know if I would be allowed to take it up on the tower. E.g. in New York you can’t take tripods on the Empire State Building or the Rockefeller Center. Next time I will bring it though!
If you go up the Montparnasse Tower the elevator brings you to the 56th floor where you have a bar and a souvenir shop and a view all around too. But you can walk up three floors to the roof and from there you can see even better (and take pics without any glass in front). We went up to the 59th floor twice and really enjoyed the time we spent up there. Thanks, Kate, for going with me!
Copyright Tour Eiffel – Illuminations Pierre Bideau
Well, I wasn’t really happy about it but this week I had to go to Paris for 3.5 days. If work needs to be done, work needs to be done. Nothing I can do about it. I was lucky to get a room in my favorite hotel again, which is not really a hotel, but a ‘serviced residence’. Meaning that nobody makes my bed, I have to clean up after myself BUT I have a kitchen with water cooker, toaster, microwave and dishwasher. In addition these appartments are usually bigger than the hotel rooms in Paris AND they are cheaper. And this specific one does have rooms with view to the Eiffel Tower. They have already upgraded me several times too so I really like it there. The area is nice as well with lots of shops and brasseries. When I checked in I was curious if I would get a room with view to the Eiffel Tower and I DID! 🙂
Copyright Tour Eiffel – Illuminations Pierre Bideau
This year carnival was a bit different… we mostly did the same stuff as usual but as opposed to prior years I watched part of the big parades on sunday and monday on the street as there were not nearly as many people around as usual. Here are some pics from the events. 🙂
Our last day in Andenes started good… we all got ready to go in the water and I actually jumped in too. In that instant there were no orcas though and I quickly realized that my drysuit was not dry. So I got out of the water and that was it. The orcas didn’t really cooperate that day and shortly after midday a big snowstorm came up so we returned to the mainland. I can tell you that the cake in the cafe that afternoon was REALLY good! 😉
In the evening we packed and had the last dinner together. The next morning everything was frozen and when we arrived at the airport someone who was supposed to take a flight 3 hours earlier was still there. Our flight was the only one that left Andenes that day and even in Tromsoe we left later than scheduled. I arrived mostly in time at Duesseldorf and the taxi got me back home before the ice hit the roads that night… 🙂 Even if I still don’t have my underwater-orca pic it was a great week. We had a lot of fun and I think I got some nice pics out of it. I am already thinking about where to go next for the Northern lights but it won’t be Andenes… 😉
On the first pic I was really unhappy that the camera focussed on the water close to the boat when two humpback whales came up feeding with their mouths open… 🙁
That day we saw that the sky was clear when we came back in with the boat. Stefan kept checking the aurora forecast and we decided to leave the hotel around 5 in the afternoon to go to the beach and see if we could detect some green activity in the sky. Only a block away from our hotel we saw the first green lights in the sky. We stopped immediately to take some pics but then continued to the beach… it was one of the best evenings especially since the light was not only green but we had some pink in it too… after one hour Sven called to give ‘aurora alarm’ (we just laughed since we had already taken lots of pics). After two hours it was time to meet for dinner but after dinner Sven drove us over to Bleik Beach where we had another hour of aurora-photographing bliss. I took lots of pics and was more than happy that now I finally have sharp aurora pics. 🙂 The pics below are mostly as they came out of the cam…
I think Day 5 was the most amazing among several amazing days. First we had once again wonderful colours in the sky, we saw the sun, saw whales, had snow storms in between and all that was much better than the weather forecast had said the week before. I am not going to cover the evening in this entry as that was even more amazing… I will let the pics speak for themselves. And yes, I know there was dirt on the lense. I tried to find it but found out only later that it was not the lense but the camera… it is not visible on all pics… I am just too lazy to remove it. 😉
On day 4 we started out on the west coast and I was finally ready to jump in the water to get my UW-Orca picture. The first group that jumped actually saw a baitball with orcas but that was over rather fast. And then the orcas were gone. We went searching for another baitball but didn’t find any. A real highlight of the day came later though when a group of about 20 finnwhales (that we had seen several times before) came swimming straight on to our boat. Uli jumped in to take pics because finnwhales are very fast and there are not a lot of pictures of them but unfortunately it was already too dark. And then Tobi was able to get close captures of a humpback whale with his drone (I hope the drone can’t smell anything because it was in the middle of a humpback blow – sheesh these blows STINK!!!) and then the whale showed it’s fluke and the drone was right behind it. The whale was next to our boat so we got close shots too. Again we were fascinated by the colours in the sky that day. It was amazing! AAAND for the first time that week we actually saw the sun!