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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Belfast

Well… after the underwater pics from last weekend I have to start catching up with my trips. First of all the ‚oldest‘ one: Belfast. I went there over Pentecost, flew over on Friday and came back on Monday. I flew to Dublin and took the bus to Belfast from there. This is easy – unless there is an accident on the highway which closes it entirely to traffic and you have a plane to catch… but since I somehow had a hunch that it would be a good idea to take a very early bus I still had plenty of time to reach my flight – others were less fortunate.

As a short resume of the trip I have to say that I immensely enjoyed my second trip to Ireland although the weather was really irish and I got soaked through to the underwear several times during my day trip to the Giant’s Causeway. But still – that is Ireland and I really like that country. Belfast was nice too and I enjoyed exploring the city. I don’t usually to the ‚hop on hop off‘-thing because you are wasting a lot of time waiting for the next bus. It was the best option for me though although I DID spend a lot of time waiting for the next bus. 😉 Although… at the Titanic Museum I spent a lot more time taking pics before the crowds came in. 🙂

Here are some impressions from the three days…

 

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Underwater photography macro workshop

Yeah, I know, I am way behind with updating this blog… my entries from Belfast in May, Zurich in July and Prague in August are missing. I promise they will come within the next days… but let’s start with some underwater pics. Last weekend I was in a lake not too far from Cologne for the ‚Critters im Rheinland‘ UW-macro workshop. It was really interesting, I had a great buddy for two of the three dives we did in the lake and I learned a lot about how to optimize my equipment. I am going to show some pics but note that I am not really happy with them. I have to adjust the focus-settings of my camera because the focus was mostly not where I thought it would be. While sometimes this makes for interesting effects I prefer that my camera does what I WANT it to do… here are some pics from that weekend.

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Zurich…

Oh sheesh, I haven’t posted any pics from my trip to Ireland over Pentecoste yet… sorry, but this will come. I have been so busy geo-caching over the past weeks that I didn’t really have a lot of time for anything else. Tomorrow I will go back to Zurich to do some geo-caching there too… 🙂 It will be interesting to be there without having to work. 😉

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Last day in Longyearbyen

When we got back to civilisation I had one more day left but due to the fact that had been sick for several days already I didn’t do that much. I went for a walk to find some more geocaches and I wanted to go back to the church as well as I had read that there was a polar bear inside. The first time I went up there I didn’t go inside and didn’t want to repeat that mistake. There actually IS a polar bear inside but the entire church is more like a big living room with coffee and cake waiting for visitors… so here are the last pics from the walk in Longyearbyen (there is a small village close to it that is a 15 minutes walk away and I had wanted to go up there). The last pics are already from the flight home. I was lucky enough to again have 3 seats to myself and since the flight left at 2:30 AM that was nice as I could spread out and sleep a bit.

That memorial is a memory of a local boy who died in the tragic terror attack in Norway in 2011

The old post office (there is a geo-cache hidden below the stairs 😉 ).

Mine 2

Street sign

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Last pics from expedition

Here are the last pics from our days on the boat… glacier, spring and then suddenly snow… several seasons in just one day. Second stay in Barentzburg where lots of vodka was consumed. Not by me since I was sick but by others… Barentzburg is a russian village after all. 😉

Tanja was the most elegant one to jump in… 🙂

Polar fox

And suddenly it was spring….

Those three kept us company the entire time we were on land. Ran away and came back, ran away and came back …. repeat…

Barentsburg again

Our skipper Nick… he was hilarious!

And then suddenly it was snowing…

A humpback whale

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Expedition part 2

So, here are some more pics… part 2 of the expedition (more to come). The first ones are from a coal mining village called Svea where usually tourists are not allowed to go on land. And then some more walruses… 🙂

 

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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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Lüttich/Liege

Tomorrow morning I will take the train to go to Lüttich/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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