Day 7 Thingvellir, Geysir and Gullfoss

And here we are coming to the end of the trip. On my last day in Iceland I had booked a tour to Thingvellir National Park (where you are between American and Europe without needing a passport ), the geysirs and then Gullfoss waterfall. I had taken my tripod to take some longterm exposures at Gullfoss but when the hail comes down hard on you you know that there is no way you can take longterm exposures. White water steam from a geysir in front of grey clouds is equally hard to see on a pic… it was interesting anyway. When I got back to Reykjavik I booked another Aurora-tour but that was more an adventure than anything else. We saw a green spot somewhere but nothing really exciting. That was it from my trip to Iceland!

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Day 6 – Southwest

That morning after breakfast we went to the Diamond Beach first. If the sun comes out and the ice on the black beach starts to sparkle you know exactly where the name is coming from. Then we went back over to Jokulsarlon lagoon where we had been on day 5 already but ‚today‘ the lake was reflecting everything so it was another of these perfect moments where you should just stand there, breathe and enjoy. Then we went over to my favorite place in Iceland: Fjallsarlom glacier lagoon. We went to a different spot than where I had been last year but again it was breathtaking. After that we had lunch and then we went to Skaftafell National Park where the rest of the tour group had booked a walk on a glacier. I went in search of a geocache instead. Unfortunately the guide of the glacier-walkers was an idiot and he messed up the entire rest of our trip. Because when the group went into the bus to return to the place where I was waiting, their tour guide went into a car to come over separately but he didn’t tell anyone. So their bus waited for nearly one hour for the missing guide who was already back at base. For us that meant we had lost one hour and had to drive back to Reykjavik without any more sightseeing stops…

 

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Day 5 – Southwest

Day 5… first day of an overnight trip to the South West where I had already been last year. Our driver/guide Friman was a source of a lot of information. He kept telling us what king of music/which artist he had selected for the next leg of our tour. First we went to Seljalandfoss – one of the nicest waterfalls in Iceland. Usually you can go behind it and I wanted to take pics from there but the path was closed. Next was Skogafoss, one of the highest waterfalls in Iceland. After that we went to the black beaches at Vik and REynisfjara. The waves at Reynisfjara are downright scary. The guy you see as a comparison for how high the waves were actually got wet feet. There are basalt caves at that beach. Then we stopped at the moss-covered lava landscape. Then the highest cliff (600m). After that it was Jokulsarlon lagoon with it’s glacier tongue and the ice berg. On the last two pics you can see some northern lights activity but apart from the fact that the pics are not really in focus it started to rain so we gave up and went to sleep.

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Day 4

Day 4 was another day off. Meaning without excursions. When I woke up it was raining but the forecast said it would stop around 11. So I took it slowly, had breakfast and was surprised when I didn’t get any latte macchiato at the coffee machine. When I asked if the milk was empty the guy told me they were out of milk… weird!!! Especially since there was milk going with grains… anyway… shortly before I was to leave I watched out of the window and saw the rainbow over the Hallgrimskirkja. Since the sky cleared I want back to the Solfar-sculpture but taking pics there without any tourists on it was impossible. I waited a long time but it wasn’t happening. Then I walked on, looking for geo-caches again and ended up in the aurora-center where I heard that the aurora-tours for the night were on. So I went back to the hotel in the afternoon to get some rest because it would be a long night. The tours start at 10 PM and you are back at your hotel around 2 AM. Short night as the next day my tour pick-up was at 8 AM… In between I went to meet some geo-cachers which was fun as well.

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Day 3 – Snaefellsnes Peninsula

On day 3 I had the first excursions which was towards the Snaefellsness Peninsula. I wanted to go there because of the famous Kirkjufjell mountain which is one of the landmarks. I usually see it with waterfalls in the foreground. Our bus stopped at another place though and I saw that the road is going below the waterfalls and not above it as I somehow had assumed. It was raining hard that day but on most stops we were lucky that it mostly stopped raining while we were outside of the bus. I hadn’t imagined this excursion to be that wonderful. In the afternoon it stopped raining so on the way back to Reykjavik we actually saw the landscape we were driving through and it was breathtaking. With the grey sky a lot of my pics look much better in black and white although I am not usually a fan of black and white pics.
Our tour guide Inga told us a lot of stories about trolls and elfes that she had heard from her grandmother. It was quite interesting. So on one of the pics you will see a big black lava rock and the story is that these were two trolls who stayed outside too long so they saw the sun and turned into stone. The big one is usually the female.

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Day 2

On my first entire day in Iceland I had a ‚day off‘. Meaning I was free to roam without any tours booked. So here are impressions from in and around Reykjavik (I went geo-caching…). Weather wasn’t toooo good but at least it wasn’t raining so that was something… Aurora tours for the evening were cancelled again. Imagine why… 😉

The National Airport

The PUNK Museum

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Northern lights

Yes, I know I am jumping a bit ahead as those pics that are going to follow have been taken only on day 4 of my trip but I know a lot of people have been waiting for them. I consider myself lucky and I am immensely grateful to have been able to experience something as wonderful as this show last friday. I know that other tour groups who went to other places didn’t see any northern lights while our show started as soon as we arrived and it wasn’t finished when we left more than one hour later. I know that some of my pics are a bit on the dark side but the thing is that if you make the exposure time longer you can’t see on the pics that they were dancing…. so my pics are a compromise and I can’t say I am too disappointed with them. 😉

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Iceland 1

Since it is raining hard this morning I have lots of time to write my first entry. Yesterday I arrived after an uneventful journey at Keflavik airport and there were only scattered clouds. Not what the forecast had said. During the bus ride to Reykjavik (about 50 minutes) the weather got worse altough I could still see some blue sky in the distance. Once checked into my hotel I discovered that I have a room with a wonderful room over Reykjavik. It is a 180° view and in the distance I can see snow covered mountains. The additional plus to this is that during the nights I can check for northern lights from my balcony and don’t have to get dressed to go outside (only to discover that there is nothing to see 😉 ). Since the weather was still basically OK I didn’t unpack but instead went out to discover Reykjavik. First walk was to the waterfront where there is a sculpture walk. The one I really wanted to see is Solfar, a wonderful sculpture that looks like a viking ship. There I found my first geo-cache in Iceland too. 🙂 Then I walked over to the concert hall and then slowly back via the Hallgrimskirkja to the hotel. That was about a 2 h walk. Then I went to the supermarket to get some supplies. Once back I finally unpacked and relaxed a bit. Since I have that cool view from my room later I had this spectacular sunset that I could admire… clouds are not good for northern lights but for sunsets they really make for dramatic skies….
I woke up several times during the night and checked for northern lights but there was nothing green… activity is supposed to pick up today though and if I can believe my app I will have a wonderful aurora tour tonight… 🙂

Here are some pics from yesterday.

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Iceland

So tomorrow it is the big day… I will be off to Iceland again. After weeks of not too bad weather forecasts it totally changed this morning when it went to rain, rain, rain… It was a bit frustrating. But like last year I will make the best out of it. Tomorrow I am going to meet someone who lives in Reykjavik and if I am lucky during the next week and there is a chance to actually see the northern lights somewhere I might go there with the ’northern light catcher‘ from Reykjavik.  Wish me luck… the northern lights are supposed to be fireworks in the next week – I only need to chase away the clouds so I actually can SEE them (and take pics of course)…. 🙂

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Two weeks to go…

Well… I am finally back to my usual health and before it went all bad this week I booked another trip for the one to Norway that I had to cancel this week. I will fly to Iceland in two weeks instead. Can’t wait… 🙂 Already checking the geo-caches that I want to find and have booked several excursions. The main idea is to stay in Reykjavik for a week and do some excursions but I will go on a two day tour to my ‚ice lagoon‘ Jokulsarlon too. Really looking forward to this. Will go to places that I haven’t visited so far as well so this will be an interesting trip… 🙂

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Change of plans

Well, life doesn’t always work the way we want it to. Had to cancel my trip to Norway this morning as I am sick and my doc told me to stay in bed this week. Now I have to see what I will do instead. I already have a pretty good idea of what that will be but haven’t booked anything yet… stay tuned… 🙂

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It has been a while….

I know that it has been a while since I posted anything. My life has been anything but boring over the past weeks and there was nothing really to post. Two and a half weeks to go and I will be back in Norway, freezing my but off just for pics of the northern lights (if there will be any.. 😉 ). So let’s wait and see. 🙂

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Cologne cathedral – guided tour

Yeah, I know that I still have to post underwater pics from Sulawesi… just don’t have the time right now to make the selection. Instead I have other nice pics for you. For quite some time I wanted to take a guided tour on the Cologne cathedral with the christmas markets. This year I finally was in time to secure the last space for the tours during that time… see the pics below… 🙂 Plus afterwards some pics of St. Alban which was illuminated in red while there was an event in the Gürzenich.

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Overwater Sulawesi

Since I had to change my plans due to the evacuation of my resort in Bali I had finally decided to just fly directly to Manado in North Sulawesi and spend one week on the mainland before ‚going home‘ to my usual resort in Lembeh. Below you will find some overwater pics from both resorts. As you can see the rainy season had already started. Usually it was just a downpour though and after half an hour it was dry again. Sometimes the sun was back then, sometimes it wasn’t.

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Singapore day 3

Sorry, I know I am late but once I was back ‚home‘ in Sulawesi I became rather lazy… I had intended to get a massage and go on a tour – but it was all too much work. I did two dives in the morning and in the afternoon I just relaxed… so now here is the final day of Singapore. I left my hotel to a rather hot day and walked towards the Marina Bay Sands in order to visit the Gardens by the Bay. It was interesting there but at some point my body was protesting. Walking too much and just too hot. So I returned to my hotel to get some rest. Went back to the Circular Quai in the evening to eat something. Here are the pics from day 3….

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Singapore day 2

Yeah, I know… I am late. But after arriving in Sulawesi I went in total relax mode. I realized only yesterday that I hadn’t even remembered that I have a company phone with me… good sign I guess. 🙂

But let’s continue with Singapore. I started to walk around in the morning but it was so damn hot… after I had walked a bit through the Fort Channing Park I tried to find a stop for the ‚Hop on Hop off‘- but while doing that a thunderstorm came in and I was blocked half an hour as I had left my umbrella in the hotel. So I finally gave up on trying to find the hop on-stop and went back towards my hotel. Had lunch in the food court of a shopping mall and then found a stop of the Hop On Hop Off. They have four lines in Singapore and I wanted to go to Little India… Unfortunately I went on the red bus but it was the yellow line which went in a totally different direction. Since it didn’t really matter I just stayed on the bus and toured Singapore a bit. Orchard Road where most of the shopping centers are had already put out christmas trees and christmas decoration… *eeeek* Went back to the bus stop afterwards and then took the other line only to find that the spot I had been looking for is not in Little India but in Chinatown. So I got off the bus and walked around Chinatown. It was so damn hot there… walked back to the hotel from there but relaxation was difficult because there was a major construction site next to the hotel that I had in front of my window. I switched the room but it was still not entirely separated from the construction site. When it started to get dark I walked over to Circular Quai to take pics in the dark and I can’t say that I was disappointed… 🙂 See for yourself…

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Singapore day 1

I started my trip yesterday with a funny encounter. When I boarded the train a nice young man asked if he could help me with the dive-bag. And then added ‚if someone is travelling with that … travel agency.‘ Since he obviously knew it (it is not in Cologne) we started to talk and it turned out that we have several common friends (not only in Cologne). Small world… 😀

Flight was uneventful but I didn’t sleep much although I was exhausted. After I arrived it took nearly one hour till my transport to the hotel was ready and then another hour till I could get into my room (which was generous as they let me into it at 10 AM which is really early). I wanted to sleep then but that was hard because in front of my room is a big construction site and they were very loud. In the end I used earpluggs. When I woke up 2 h later I went out for a short stroll which was not THAT short in the end. But I am close to a lot of the major sights so that was fine. At 6 PM I fell asleep again but only for one hour. I am trying to get into the rhythm now and keep jetlag to a minimum… 😉 Here are some pics from today. They are displayed in the wrong chronological order but that doesn’t really matter.

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Nearly time to go….

Oh well… time has come to pack my stuff again and leave… although this is not really what I had planned I am really looking forward to it. And I am in dire need of a vacation too as the past weeks in the office have not been easy. I am exhausted. One more day and I will be off… Can’t wait to be on the plane, drink a Singapore Sling and start to relax…

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Some news…

Yes, I know, Prague is still missing… the thing is that my mind was elsewhere over the past weeks. I am going to fly out to Indonesia soon and the first leg of the trip was supposed to be Bali. I had been looking forward to visiting Bali for nearly a year. But then two weeks ago a volcano started to rumble and has been threatening to erupt any minute ever since. The resort I had booked was evacuated and closed. So for the past weeks I didn’t really sleep, always thinking about what to do and waiting what was going to happen. Then this week I couldn’t stand it any more and I cancelled the Bali-part of my trip. I thought that since the resort is closed they would at least show a bit of goodwill towards the customers (who they can not accomodate anyway) but no… as much as I can understand that this is their life at stake I feel a bit ripped off. I know that this is not their fault but neither is it mine. So I am not happy that they made me pay a lot of money for services they are not even able to offer right now. I have learned from that and I have insurance for this kind of thing now (I didn’t know that coverage for natural hazards existed) because I DO have travel-insurance but it doesn’t cover something like this. Suffice to say that this resort will never be part of my travel plans ever again…

So instead I will stay in Singapore for a few days to do some geo-caching and take some night-pics. Maybe I will cross over to Malaysia for a half day tour… will see. Then I will fly on to Sulawesi where I will spend a week on the mainland before I head over to my ‚Lembeh-home‘ three days earlier than I had initially planned. I really do need a vacation now as the past weeks were not good for my health… Can’t wait to be back in Sulawesi… 🙂

EDIT: have to update the situation with the resort in Bali. There was an information that I didn’t know till yesterday: the resort in Bali had offered to postpone the entire vacation to next year so I wouldn’t loose any money. Unfortunately this is not an option with my financials right now. But I appreciate the offer. If I had had the money I would have taken them up on it. As it is I get a 50% of my paid vacation back and the rest is a credit for a vacation next year. So no ripping off. I just didn’t have all the information. 🙂

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Zurich

To continue with the pics of my city-trips Zurich is next. I hadn’t been there in two years so when I saw a flight for 90 Euro I just couldn’t resist. So it was an early saturday and an afternoon sunday flight. This time I went geo-caching a lot and was able to see some parts of Zurich that I had never been to. Here are some pics…

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