Expedition part 1

Here are the first pics from our expedition (it was more a scouting tour since instead of going north for the tour we went south). They are mostly from the best day we had there with the walrusses and beluga whales. And I know that there is dirt on the first pics… 😉

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Trip to Barentzburg and Piramiden

These little villages are russian coal mining settlements. While Barentzburg still has an active mine (mostly ucrainians work there), Piramiden is now ghost town. Only 9 people left to live there. On the Piramiden part I met my norvegian friends Thor and Kari (we didn’t know that we would be on that tour together but it was good to spend more time with them).

Am I the only one who sees a face on this snow scooter?

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Pics from day 1 in the Arctic

Since I don’t have a lot of time I am just uploading the pics here and will comment on everything later…

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Way behind with updates…

This June is a very busy month for me and I am already behind with updates. I went back to Ireland over Pentecost. This time I visited Belfast. Even though I got way too wet I still like Ireland very much. Will post pics later on. Tomorrow I will fly out to Norway again to the arctic area Spitzbergen. Really curious how this will turn out. You will find out in a few weeks… 🙂

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Liege day 2

The next morning I took my time because the weather was not as nice as the day before but luckily it was not raining. So I went to do some more geo-caching and take some long-term exposure pics at the most beautiful bridge they have. All in all I have to say that I was not too impressed with the city. I had read that they do a lot of construction but a lot of the new buildings I have seen are just plain UGLY… so I am sure I won’t be back. Dut the train station…..

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Liege day 1

So I went to Liege on a sunday morning. It is just a one hour train ride from Cologne so it is not really far. The train station in Liege is a photographer’s dream… so when I arrived I took some pics and when the room in my hotel was not yet ready I came back for another photo-session… 😀 Afterwards I walked around the city chasing geo-caches and exploring. And taking pics of course since it was really good photoweather. By 5 I was back at the hotel, unable to walk any more after havin walked for 6 hours without sitting down. Here are some impressions.

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LĂŒttich/Liege

Tomorrow morning I will take the train to go to LĂŒttich/Liege in Belgium. It is one of the three stops on my way to Paris. And most of the time when we stop there I think that I should take a trip to explore this city. I have been there only once about 25 years ago for a swimming competition (I didn’t swim, I was a referee) but I don’t think I saw a lot of the city and I think the city is not really that nice anyway. But I don’t really remember that trip. I read an article recently though that the city had much improved. When I investigated on foto-pages most of the pics were from the train-station Liege-Guillemins. So it seems to be a given that I have to put in a foto-session there. But I am sure I will find some really nice places too… my list of geocaches to find there is really long and my experience from Iceland (where my friends were doing this) is that most of the times the caches lead you to places that you would never have found without geo-caching. So I am really curious… 🙂

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Rheinpark…

Today we had lots of demonstrations in the city so I went geo-caching in a park along the river which has been re-constructed for ‚Bundesgartenschau‘ when I was a kid. There were three caches I wanted to find but I got distracted. When I go caching I have my camera with me too so I took some pics of course… Here is some feasting for colour-deprieved winter-eyes…

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Geo-caching in Cologne

When we were in Iceland my friends were looking for geo-caches as they are geo-cachers and have done this for quite some time. I was thinking about starting this too and got registered a few weeks ago. Today I was at my sister’s and instead of taking the metro back home I walked and started to look for my first geo-caches. I am not yet used to it so my first took me about 20 minutes to find. But when I finally found it I was really proud of myself. Found 4 more plus one where I have to answer some questions (based on information I find on the places that have been indicated). My second one was a really funny one and I absolutely loved it. Made me smile… The caches were in the coconuts. 🙂

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Paris

I know that I usually post some pics from carnival but it is mostly always the same and I was just too busy to upload them… a week after carnival I had to go back to Paris for several days. I wanted to take pictures with the Eiffeltower at sunrise but unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate. The sun probably did rise but not anywhere were I could see it. 😉 But I played around a bit in the evening…

 

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Iceland, day 6 – the last one

And again we got up early although the weather forecast was not too good. The first stop of the day was at Seljalandsfoss, another beautiful waterfall. When we arrived there we were not alone but the big busses had not yet arrived so it was possible to take some pics without people in it. And after a while I could see on my pics that the rising sun was painting the clouds above the water. I DO like the pics from that. 🙂
Then I walked over to smaller waterfalls but didn’t really like it because school classes were following me and the smaller waterfalls were not as picturesque. Once we were finished Susanna needed to get more geo-caches (which was not a problem since most of the times we detected really nice places where they were hidden). 🙂 So we went to another smaller waterfall which was quite nice. We had a good view over the plane and the sun was shining. But even without knowing in which direction we were heading I would have known it: the are with the dark grey clouds. 🙁 So we stopped again in Selfoss at Kaffihuus Kruug which has wonderful cakes *yumm*After that while looking for another geo-cache we finally found a restaurant that cooks with geothermal heat. I had seen in films that people were baking bread in the ground but didn’t really know where exactly that had been filmed. Unfortunately the restaurant was closed.
Then we stopped at Urridafoss but by then it was raining hard again and I couldn’t take the pic I would have liked. We drove on along the coast which at some point was lava covered by green moss. Then we stopped at a geothermal area where large steam-clouds came out of the earth. At the coast behind we were waiting for the sunset (which didn’t come) and it was very stormy there. I love it when waves are hitting on rocks…
After that as a conclusion of my vacation in Iceland we went to the bridge between America and Europe. Since in Iceland the continental plates of America and Europe are meeting we went over to the Americas and back (in two minutes 😀 😀 😀 ).
Then we went to our hotel and were assigned an unmade room. When we complained that the room was not ready and with dirty towels we were assigned another one. Only to get company later when other people got assigned the room that we were in… bit weird that hotel. 😉 We went for another dinner at Kaffihus Duus and that was a nice finish of my Iceland vacation. Stuffed chicken breast… btw. that restaurant offers mink whale too. I didn’t want to eat that though.
And that was my week in Iceland. I had a wonderful time although the weather didn’t really cooperate. And we were disappointed that we didn’t get to see any northern lights which was why we went there in the first place. But I have learned now that next time I go back to Norway to see northern lights… 😉 Apart from that Iceland has wonderful places although usually they are too crowded. Go early in the morning or late in the day if you want pics with nobody in them…

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Iceland day 5

Once again the weather forecast was not that good but we intended to walk over to the DC3-plane wreck. It is one of the most famous sights in Iceland and we wanted to go early to take pics of the sunrise there. Fortunately our hotel served breakfast at 7 AM already so we ate and then we were off to the parking lot of the plane. It is a 3.5 km walk through a lava-landscape. Straight ahead and rather boring. It was cold, it was drizzling and it was dark… there are nicer past-times when you are on vacation… 😉 But the wreck was well worth it. Once again we didn’t have a sunrise but after a while it stopped raining and the clouds opened up so we had that wonderful landscape with the mountains in the background. We were very happy to have the wreck to ourselves for one hour before the next tourists arrived. On our way back to the car the line of tourists walking over never stopped but that didn’t bother us any more since we had our pics… 🙂
From there we went back towards Vik to a basalt cave and the black beaches. The waves on these beaches are impressing (and dangerous). People tend to ignore the warning signs and go too close to the water. One bigger wave and they are in serious trouble. We knew that only one week before we flew to Iceland a german woman had drowned there (her family was able to get out of the water and save themselves but she was not so lucky). But to be honest: I found the waves rather scary so I would never go too close to the water anyway (even without knowing about the danger). Then we went over to Vik and had lunch there in a Kaffeehus again. I think I had a pizza which was actually very good. And then we drove back towards our hotel because it was raining again and then Susanna wanted to go for another of her geo-caches close to our hotel.

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Iceland day 4

We left early again but at least that day we treated ourselves to breakfast before we left. 😉 The plan was to drive to the black beach at Jokulsarlon for sunrise but then suddenly we saw the full moon rising over the mountain range and the spot was so beautiful that we stopped and stayed there for the sunrise.

Once the sun was up we continued to Jokulsarlon and when we arrived at the beach we couldn’t believe our eyes. Over night a big part of the glacier must have broken off because not only the lagoon-lake and the river were full of ice but the beaches were covered by thousands of ice-blocks too. It was incredible (and incredibly sad to think how much of thousands of years-old ice is not melting…). Of course we stopped to take lots and lots of pics. The size of the ice-blogs looks much smaller than it is in reality…

After that we stopped shortly at FjÀllsjökull again but the mirror effect was gone because the water was frozen. Then we continued our way towards Vik where the weather again was not so nice. Cloudy and when we arrived at the Skogafoss waterfall (where we had a hotel for another two nights) it was slightly raining again.

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Iceland day 3

Sorry, I am really busy these days but I hope to get all missing days from Iceland up today. So here is day 3. The weather forecast indicated that it might be the best and only sunny day during our whole week so we decided to get the fullest we could get. Meaning getting up at 6 AM, no breakfast and taking pics with the ice blocks at the beach of Jokulsarlon lagoon. We arrived there around 7 AM. It was dark, it was cold so we stayed in the car to wait for the sun to rise… only the sun didn’t rise. So we got out of the car to play around with the ice blocks during blue hour. Then we saw a an ice-berg coming down the river from the lagoon so we went to the river to wait for it to flow by. But it was stuck before the bridge. Instead we observed seals and birds playing in the river… they always swam upriver and then let the current carry them down again. I didn’t really know what to expect from the black beach with the ice but that day it didn’t really impress me (but it is one of the most famous places in Iceland…). Little did I know that I’d be totally awestruck the next day… 😉 We went to the other side of the bridge to take a few pics of the ice-berg and the ice-free lagoon then we headed towards a waterfall that my friend Susanna really wanted to see. Since Susanna does geo-caching we made a short detour which turned into a major foto-session because we found Fjallsjakull-lagoon which was sooooo beautiful that we just couldn’t get enough of the view. It was one of these places where I actually take my time to just enjoy the beauty of the place. The lagoon was very still (no wind) so the glacier was mirrored in the water. It was just breathtakingly beautiful. The first panorama-pic is from that lagoon.

From there we drove further south towards Skaftafell and the Svattifoss-Waterfall. During the drive the sun came out and we were awarded with the view of snow-covered mountain ranges. It was wonderful…. We stopped at the tourist center and then walked up to the Svattifoss-waterfall which is the only one with basalt-pillars. From up there we had a wonderful view over the plane as well. Once we got down we walked over to another glacier tongue which was quite majestic too. Then we left and were looking for a place to wait for northern lights to show up. We ended up at yet another glacier tongue where we took some pics at blue hour. Once it was dark we drove away to where the road was in the open so we wouldn’t miss the northern lights behind mountains. The problem was that there were no northern lights and clouds started to come up. So finally we reluctantly decided to leave. We went back to our hotel, packed, payed and were ready to head out early again the next morning…. here some pics of the day

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Busy

Sorry but I just didn’t have time to post anything the last days. We always got up early because we wanted to take advantage of the light at sunrise and then the days went by in a blurr and it was evening again pretty fast. I will post pics later but that might have to wait till I get back home. I have so many pics that it really takes some time to sort through them. But I can promise you one thing: you won’t be disappointed. 😉

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Iceland day 2

This morning we got up early again, full of the spirit to explore Iceland. And what did we find? Weather, weather, weather… In fact it was raining as hard as yesterday, only the storm had lessened a bit. So we were not sure what to do because we didn’t have a lot of options in the rain. Without rain it would probably have been a wonderful day but with this weather… I don’t really want to complain because vacation is still better than sitting in the office but when you are on vacation you would like to see where you are. With all the rain and fog it was not possible to see that much. So we went north towards the ‚city‘ of Höfn where we chased some geo-caches and pokemons. I took some pics there but whenever we left the car we got really wet.
From there we decided to drive around the lagoon because there is a wonderful mountain range called Vestrahorn. You will see a pic on it of the pics. 😉 I mean, I DID take a pic of the Vestrahorn too – you just don’t see it! 😉 😀 In Stokksnes (which is at the bottom of the Vestrahorn) we saw the Viking Cafe and from there we went towards the lighthouse. As the waves were still going strong I finally had one dream come true: take pics of a lighthouse with the waves crashing as high as the lighthouse. But as you can see on the pics we were a bit far away (the lighthouse itself is closed off and we couldn’t get closer). From there we thought about what to do and started to take some side-roads to maybe see glaciers… no luck there. We found hot springs where people were bathing. But for me the thought that you had to get out of them and it was wet and cold… enough to kill the desire to go in…
Finally we were back at the hotel by 4 because we decided that it didn’t make sense to go anywhere else in that weather. Keep your fingers crossed because the forecast is saying that it is supposed to stop tonight…

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Iceland arrival and day 1

Well, my flight with Icelandair from Frankfurt to Keflavik Airport was quite uneventful. The plane was mostly empty so I could switch to a seat with nobody sitting next to me. When we landed the sun was shining and I thought that this was a nice Welcome to Iceland. After getting my luggage I waited for the plane from Switzerland that was bringing in my travel companions. When they arrived we went to get the rental car and then we tried to put all our luggage in it… 😀 But somehow we managed. We went to our lodging then and it was a rather cheap hotel that had the charm of a caserne. But it didn’t matter since we were only staying one night anyway and intended to leave early this morning.

We then drove into Keflavik to get some provisions at a small supermarket and then we had dinner at a restaurant that Susanne and Stefan knew from a prior trip. It was REALLY good but really expensive as well. When we got back we mostly went to sleep immediately because we were all tired.
This morning we intended to leave at 8 but Stefan heard at the reception that a huge storm was there and we were advised to check for road closures. So we discussed what to do because staying another night at this lodging was not really something any of us wanted to do. After checking out a few options we decided to try and turn around if it didn’t work out. For the first hour we drove in the dark until the sun came up. Our first stop was at a beach church and it was difficult to take pics because it was nearly impossible to keep the camera without moving. We had difficulties walking around….
Next stop was at a mouth of a river to the sea. You don’t really see on the pic that it is a river because there were a lot of waves on it (the ones of the sea were much higher though). Then we came through Selfoss which Lonely Planet described as a very ugly city. We went to a caffee though and had REALLY good cake.
Shortly behind Selfoss and stopped because we saw two waterfalls where there were no falls anymore because the water was flying away immediately. While we were standing there it suddenly started to hail and then lightning and we were in the middle of a big thunderstorm. All while the storm was still blowing very strong.
We visited the black beaches close to Vik but didn’t go close. Not only because it was still raining hard but as well because these beaches are dangerous even without strong winds. We stopped a few more times, the last stop was a lagoon where ice from a glacier is swimming into the sea. By then it was nearly dark so that most of the pics we took there are blurry. After that we finally arrived at hour hotel for the next 3 nights (took us nearly 10 hours for a 400 km) and this one is really nice. I have never seen a hotel room with so many plugs for electronic devices…
Aurora hunting tonight will probably be non existing again as the clouds won’t go away till tomorrow but the weather forecast for tomorrow has considerably improved so we hope to have a better day tomorrow. Although today was not a bad day as we think we saw some pretty unique things… 🙂

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Iceland….

I know I haven’t blogged in a while but there actually wasn’t a lot to tell although I have been quite busy the whole month of January. But now I am ready to see some northern lights again. At least I very much hope that they will show themselves… this time it won’t be in Norway but I will go to Iceland. Iceland has been on my wishlist for a long time and I am happy to finally go. If only the weather forecast included a bit less rain. *sigh* Oh well, nothing I can to about it. It is much less cold than in Norway as well so I have to re-think my clothing. Can’t wait to leave… you will see the pics there.

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Merry christmas and a happy new year

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Concert in the Cologne cathedral

I have been a bit busy over the past weeks. There might be some christmas market pics in the next weeks but not sure when I will have time to post them.
Today I was at a concert in the Cologne cathedral. It was a special concert because it was a ’sing along‘-concert and everyone had to bring an instrument. My instrument was my voice. 🙂 We all had lyrics and music sheets. To be honest I didn’t really practice actually SINGING the songs I didn’t know but I listened to the melodies and they did sound familiar (mostly). So this afternoon we went to the cathedral and after having had one ‚test‘-singing of all songs the actual concert began. The sound in the cathedral is really cool. It was aired live in TV and the internet. It was really a lot of fun and I will be back next year. 🙂

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