Sorry but not yet ready for posting pics from Sardinia. I really don’t know why the time seems to fly by even faster than usual but that is what is happening these days. Now I am already starting to prepare for my next trip to Vanuatu and Australia. Most dives and excursions have already been booked when I booked the trip nearly a year ago but I still have a few things to do. I just booked three dive days in Sydney and will book a trip to Kangaroo Island on my last day in Adelaide. Other than that I am mostly done with planning. And really looking forward to that trip… 🙂
And it is nearly that time of the year again… it won’t be long now till I am going back to Sardinia like I do every year in June. The difference will be this year that I am a bit later than usual but I will still miss all my dive-buddies from Italy-mainland. The ones from Sardinia like Freddy, Gabriele and ‘il nonno’ are always there (although Alberto, ‘il nonno’ is not from Sardinia) but it won’t be the same with my other friends. We’ve been diving together for 5 years so I am going to miss them – in and out of the water… 🙁 But I will probably going to see other friends again that I haven’t seen for 2 or 3 years. Looking forward to that since our families have been friends since 1980… a lifetime… 🙂
I know that it is kind of crazy to fly to North Carolina for a long weekend but the thing is that we had met there 8 years ago and somehow we decided to do it again. And I am really glad we did. I mostly went to meet friends and we were a group of peeps from all over the US, plus Canada and me. We had so much fun and it was really great to see everyone. Since the main purpose was to meet friends there are not that many ‘tourist’-pics as most of the time we just hung out at the property. Either at the pool or at the owner’s house. But here are some impressions of that weekend…
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!
After having seen a lot of whales the day before on day 3 we were not as lucky. We saw some blow in the distance but no whales close to us. So what do you do when there are no whales? Fishing! I think that was part of dinner that day. 😉 And when we finally got back on land we had a strong snow storm. Soenke, Stefan and myself headed out to take some pics in the snowstorm. The lighthouse is always fascinating even in a snow storm. And so far we could not figure out why some of the street lights in Andenes have blue light…
We went out early but knew that the sea would be a bit rough. Right out of the port I saw an orca follow us but we had to go out further to see one male orca swimming around a fish trawler. We stayed for photo-session but then went back closer to the shore. In the distance I saw a lot of whale-blows so I know there were a lot of whales around. Unfortunately they are a lot faster than we are with our boat. We saw a few humpbacks and a few orcas but we had an amazingly big group of fin whales. These are the second biggest whales that exist and our group consisted of about 20 animals. They are REALLY fast so we could take some pics while they were swimming away from us. Later we saw them come back and they came right on to our boat. Uli jumped in the water but it was too dark already to get pictures of them. Really a pity because there are not a lot of fin whale pictures.
In addition to the whales nature gave us a lot to look at. We didn’t really see the sun but after sunset it takes about 2 hours till it is really dark. Then there were dark clouds with snow showers in the distance…. amazing views. So all in all it was an amazing day even if we didn’t go in the water because there were no orcas to look at…. 😉
We already knew that the forecast for the day was that we wouldn’t go out on the sea by boat because the swell of the waves was still too high from the previous day. So Sven presented us with three options on the evening before. We met as breakfast and Sven presented a 4th option and all of us opted for it. That option was to drive to Friskenes, a little village not too far away, on the chance that we might be able to snorkel with orcas from the beach. We were there – the orcas were not… 😉 Still, we took nice pics and after we had eaten some soup we got the news that there would be humpback whales near the lighthouse in Andenes. So we decided to go there… when we arrived the humpbacks were gone. After that part of the group returned to the hotel while another part when to the snow covered sand dunes on Bleik beach. After dinner we went back to the lighthouse and saw a very thin stripe of Northern lights. But clouds wame up and covered that small stripe so nothing really to write home about….
The day went by fast and it was was typical Andenes day: you never know what to expect so you just go along, plan and adjust the plan again and again and again… 🙂 Makes it rather adventurous. 😉
Since I didn’t have any underwater orca-pics from last year I decided to come back this year. So yesterday evening I was back in Andenes. Weather forecast for this week was really bad last week so I had a deja-vue and was not too happy. In the evening we met for dinner and the forecast was zero northern light activity. But when I was about to go to sleep a quarter past 10 there was a knock on my door ‘Get dressed!’ and off we went because we had ‘aurora alarm’. 😉 It was not much but better than nothing. Here are three pics…
I still have some blog entries to do but that might happen only after christmas. Sorry for repeating one pic but I like the Christmas-Light-Parade too much not to use it for my christmas card. I wish all of you out there a peaceful christmas (don’t eat too much 😉 ) and a healthy and wonderful 2016.
I have several blogs to catch up with the past two weeks… I have a lot of pics of different things as I went to Paris, had a great weekend walking over the christmas markets here in Cologne but the highlight has been the ‘Christmas Light Parade’ – Lichtgestalten last sunday again. These pics are as they came out of the camera… we watched the parade twice and absolutely loved both times. It is a lot of fun for photographers but our two non-photographers loved it as well. 🙂
Today after work the trams were either not coming or not going so instead of being fed up with waiting I decided to walk home. I had my Olympus cam with me so I went by three christmas markets and some other nice stuff… I know that the quality is not the best because I just did a ‘point and shoot’-thing but hopefully I will take cool pics when my friend Katrin is coming to visit in a little over a week. 🙂