I don’t usually blog pics from my mobile phone and even less food pics… but Loreto has had such great food that I am making an exception. One from our group of friends went fishing one morning and in the restaurants in Loreto they are happy to cook it for you. So here are some more pics from Loreto as I didn’t always have my big camera with me… 🙂
On my last day in Loreto I had booked another tour to the grey whales. So we took another 2 h drive through the canyon to go over to Magdalena Bay on the Pacific-side of Baja California. And I hoped that this time the whales would come to the boat to play. But… nature is unpredictable and so that day we saw ONE grey whale in the distance. The capt’n tried everything but there was nothing he could do. If the whales don’t want to show up they won’t. I added one pic so you can see that the waves were rather high. But the pangas (boats) are built in a way that you don’t get wet. I found that really amazing…
So we went on the dunes, watched fregatte birds again, had dolphins next to the boat. Then lunch at a local restaurant again and back to Loreto. The better part of the day came when I met with my friends again to have the final dinner. And as it happens in Loreto the owners of the dive-shop walked by so it was a propper send-off for me. It was not easy to say good-bye at the end of the evening as I had had a wonderful time with the best group of people… here a few pics from that day.
I had known before going to Loreto that I wanted to go blue whale watching. Turned out that my new friends Kim and Bob wanted to come so we were on the same boat together with another german-speaking, Susanne. I like that the tour company is not trying to put as many people on the boat as possible because there were more boats out – which turned out to be good for us. Not only made it whale watching more comfortable but because the brand new motor of our boat broke down towards the end of the tour and Kim needed to be at the airport at a certain time- So we had to switch boats to get her back in time to catch her plane. There was constant communication between the boats and our captain kept shouting ‚Tequila, Tequila!‘ in his micro. When we asked why he was asking for something to drink 😉 he told us that this was the captain of the other boat. 😀
What I read only this morning is that there are strict rules for blue whale watching in the Sea of Cortez. I can definitely say that those rules are not in place for the grey whales. With the blue whales there is a ‚passive watching‘-policy, meaning that the motor needs to be off. It is not allowed to drive with/follow the whales if the distance is lower than 100 m, if there is a mother with a calf then driving with/following them is not allowed at all. Chasing them is forbidden. And rightfully so! Our captain just left the motor out most of the time and we watched for whales. Towards the end we were really very, very lucky because twice a whale came up right on the boat and dove in front of the boat and twice a whale came up and swam by about 10 m from our boat. These animals are sooooooo huge!!!! You can’t really see that on the pics. I don’t know how many different blue whales we have seen but I estimate between 3 and 5. In between there is a pic of Kim eating the coconut cooky that Bob had baked for her. To end up the wonderful day we stopped at a beautiful beach with crystal clear waters… it was sooo beautiful. Not really surprised that this area is a national park. And here are the pics…
Sorry but I am a bit busy these days so I don’t have time to blog. And when I have I am too lazy… 😉 Reports and pics will follow at the latest when I get back home…
So… after all the exitement my body thought that I needed some time off in order to just relax. Since the weather was supposed to be bad (very windy) I didn’t really want to go in the water after freezing like hell the day before so I cancelled my dive day. The sky was clear though so I walked over into the city in the morning and since it was perfect photo weather I took a lot of pics. Loreto is small enough that I ran into most of the few people I know here. One of the things about Loreto I really like. I don’t know a lot of people here but the ones I know – we keep running into each other even if we didn’t set a meeting point and time. Here are the pics…
In the evening I met up again with the gang and it was funny that all divers seem to go to the same restaurants because even the ones who didn’t know we were there came to eat at the same place. We laughed a lot and had a fun evening again.
So we went out to go diving again. On the way to Coronado Island we saw dolphins and one of them jumped so high that it gae me enough time to grab my camera and get him on a pic… 🙂 We went to a sealion colony and went diving there. I didn’t take the camera in the water on the first dive as I wanted to enjoy myself. The sealions were playful among themselves but obviously didn’t want to interact with us. It was amazing though that even in a depth of 12 m you could hear them (the ones above water). We saw some endemic creatures of the sea of Cortez, nice nudis and a big shell with a bright pink ‚entry‘ (not sure what it was). But I have to say it was cold… the water was 17° Celsius. When we came out of the water it was still 17° but when you are wet that feels much colder. Capt’n Kiki had hot tea and cookies for us but that didn’t really help too much. So we froze till the next dive which was my 700th. I wanted to take pics again but when Kiki gave me the camera I realized that I hadn’t put it in in a good way so I couldn’t switch on the camera. 🙁 Therefore no dive pics from yesterday. The dive was faster than I usually prefer but we had to move because we were so damn cold… it was still a nice dive with some rays and other stuff. After the dive we went to the beach where lunch was served. Then we went back home. Later the gang met up again for dinner and we had lots of fun. There was a guy close by who was cleaning cars with two towels. And he did that while dancing to the music. It was sooooo funny… we should have paid him something for that show. 😉
Day 3 was the day I met some new friends: Bob, Kimberley, Robert and Capt’n Kiki. 🙂 We were a good group on the boat and we have been doing stuff together ever since. Yago was our guide (but he is owner of Blue Nations too) and he explained us a lot of things. One of the nudibranches is a tiger nudibranch (it is not the one with the stripes but the similar one – the one with the stripes is the tiger’s food). Since I am into macro I sometimes take random shots and as usual I find things on my pics that I didn’t see under water. In this case I found several skeleton shrimps (on pic 7 there is a skeleton is hiding behind a white stuff) and a small lady bug – but that is not clear. When I actually looked for skeletons the next day I didn’t find any. So here we go with dive-pics – the only ones I have from Loreto.
So the reason why I came up to Loreto is because it is closer to the grey whales. They come down to Mexico to give birth and mate. The interesting thing is that the curious calves get close to the boats and you can touch the whales (not interested in touching them but looking them in the eye must be pretty impressive). On the way down to the other side of Baja California we were told that this year they hadn’t seen many babies yet. So we didn’t think we would see any. But the first whales we saw were mom with baby. And we saw several more. The captain told us that the whales seem to be 20 days behind with giving birth this year. But the first calve was too small yet (about 3 weeks old) and stayed with mom. The other ones were a bit older but they still were not interested in socialising. We went to the area where Magdalena Bay opens to the Pacific which is where you find the whales. Moms and babies go there because swimming against the tidal currents makes the babies stronger swimmers. On the way back we saw fregatte birds. After a mexican lunch we started the way back to Loreto but stopped to see some desert plants. The ‚running cactus‘ grows on the ground so it gives the impression that it is running. Once back in the hotel I was too tired to do a lot. So here are the pics…
So here are the pics to go with day 1… unfortunately they are from last to first… don’t like the new features of the blog. 🙁
So…. I had lots of work, carnival, been sick twice…. and it was a really bad time to go on vacation from a work point of view but… it was booked. Lucky me! 😉 So two days ago I left for Frankfurt from where I took a direct flight to Mexico City. Watched Mamma Mia II but was not impressed… I arrived in the evening and it took forever till my suitcases came out. But I passed the time watching a customs guy with his dog. Not entirely sure what the dog was sniffing for but whenever he put his paw on a suitcase the owner put a mark on it and I am sure the owners of these suitcases were searched at customs. I had a hotel that is next to the Terminal and I knew that there was a passage way over. I got at the upper level at the right point but then I didn’t see that there were two passage ways. Of course I took the wrong on. Had to get down stairs (no moving ones) with all my luggage which was no fun and ended up at the back of my hotel. So I had to go up the hill in a thunderstorm and go around the block to reach the entrance. No fun. 🙁 If I had seen the other passageway I would have been in the lobby in two minutes without getting wet.
Didn’t do a lot as I was tired and had to get up at 3 AM again to catch my flight to La Paz. I missed the airport shuttle provided by the hotel by about 30 seconds (not sure why they didn’t wait because they saw me coming out of the door). My guess is that they are friends with the taxi drivers. Since I didn’t really want to wait 20 minutes I took a taxi to the other terminal which is about 3 km away. There is a train between the terminals but from what I read it starts service at 5 AM which was too late for me.
Flight to La Paz was uneventful. Once arrived Carlos was there to get me and drive me to Loreto which was a 4 hour drive. It was interesting to see how the landscape changed. First desert like with lots of cacti. Then there was an agricultural region. Later there were hills and Carlos at one point told me that we were in a canyon that had volcanic roots. And then we were finally in Loreto. Unfortunately it was noon and check-in was only at 3 PM so I walked into Loreto (I am a bit outside) to explore the area. And to have my first margarita and carne asado (both very good!). Loreto looks mostly unspoiled from tourism. I wanted to go to the shop with which I had tried to book the whale tours but they don’t accept bookings from single travellers. So they told me that I had to see if there were others going on the dates I wanted to go. Last week via email they wouldn’t tell me if the tours were OK and just told me to come by the shop once I arrived. Not really customer friendly. And when I went by they were closed…. so I went back to the hotel, checked in and later walked back to the ‚city center‘. This time they were open and I heard that I can go to the grey whales today. YAY! But the lady in the shop spoke only spanish so communication was a bit difficult. Then I went to the dive shop and we already did all the paper work. Later Monica came by my hotel to get my dive gear. 🙂 Tomorrow diving and if nothing goes wrong I will do my 70th dive the day after tomorrow.
And now I am curious how it will be with the grey whales. If I like it I will go back next week. 🙂
Yeah, January has already gone by with the usual BOOT-trade fair where I met a lot of friends. February is busy as well, been sick for a week and now several events for carnival before the official street carnival starts at the end of the month. And right after I will be off to Mexico for some more whales and a bit of diving and geocaching… 🙂
The next days were still full of whales but the weather was not really good. Although it could have been worse with more rain. So the grey clouds did not make the days longer. It was pretty obvious that the days got shorter very fast. It was stormy again one day and we had water tornadoes dancing over the water. And for once the humpback was not jumping behind my back. 🙂 Julian came down and told us that a humpback had just jumped in front of the boat. So we went up again and a few seconds later the whale jumped again. I was not fast enough to catch him when he was fully out of the water (he didn’t come out entirely anyway I think). One humpback that we saw had only half of his fluke left. Since it looked like cleanly cut off we think that he must have been hurt by a boat.
At one point we had a group of about 20 humpbacks swimming parallel to our boat and right next to us. I took a video with my mobile of that as pictures would never have caught that appropriately. In the evenings we hoped for Lady Aurora again but although we had clear skies she would not show herself. But the full moon was impressive on our last evening.
The trip back home was an adventure again as we flew out of Sorkjosen at the peak of storm warning red in a little plane. I am usually relaxed when flying but there were some moments that I was rather un-relaxed. It was an experience that I prefer not to repeat. But boy – those pilotes sure know how to fly… The rest of the trip didn’t go that well either but in the end I made it home. Here are the last pics… If you want to go through them in full size click on the first one and then you can navigate to the next one.
We had another great day the next day but we knew that the sunny weather would not last. So I enjoyed the show mother nature gave us in the sky again. That evening when we went out after lunch (shouldn’t have taken our time and went out earlier) there was something in the sky that looked like…. yes, Mrs. Aurora was showing herself. And not only that – we had a rainbow in front of the northern lights. Don’t think I will ever see this again. The pics of the northern lights were expensive ones for me though as it was still really windy. When I opened my jacket to get the mobile out (to let the tour leaders know that the aurora was dancing) the wind blew over my tripod. The camera survived but my lense didn’t. Fortunately I still had another lense with me but since this was my normal ‚Always on‘-lense I had to buy a new one when I got back home. *sigh* The next day weather was no longer so sunny but still OK. We got some breaching and spyhopping wales – and lots of fun. 😉
Earlier this year during the Boot-trade show I decided to go back to Norway with the whales. This time it was not in Andenes but in a little village north east of Tromsoe. What I hadn’t known that travelling there would be such an adventure… 😉 😀 Let’s keep the trip there short version… all looked mostly well but I hadn’t been too comfortable with just 35 minutes between flights in Tromsoe. In Oslo it looked like we were on time as they were already doing the pre-boarding calls – only 5 minutes before our scheduled departure time there was an announcement that we had to switch planes. That was when I met part of my group… 😉 Since we all had the same problem we met somehow at the counter. We finally departed with 45 minutes delay and before landing we were told that we go to the other gate as fast as possible as the other flight crew had not confirmed that they would wait. Before arriving at the gate we got the news though that they would wait. We ran anyway and of course the gate was at the other side of the airport… we boarded and when everyone was there we started towards Sorkjosen… little did we know that we would be back in Tromsoe after one hour. During the flight we were aware that there was a lot of wind and the flight became bumpy. I was deep in thought and didn’t realize that we should have had landed already when the captain announced that we could not land in Sorkjosen due to the storm. So we flew back to Tromsoe. Once arrived there we got vouchers for something to eat and drink and then we were brought to a bus that would bring us to Sorkjosen… 4 h drive in the pitch dark. At a quarter past 1 in the morning the bus left us in front of our hotel and we just got our keys and off to bed.
The next morning Anja and Sven from Northern Explorers waited for us in the Lobby and we went to the boat to get some security information. Since I had been on the boat twice before I knew the drill. After that we went back to our hotel for some more sleep because we couldn’t go out for the whales due to the storm. We met in the afternoon for coffee and cake and my Iceland cake was reeeeaaallllyyyyy good. After that the weather app told us that it had stopped raining (it lied! 😉 ) and together with Verena I walked around the village. 1.5 h later we had seen the entire village (including airport). 😀
The next morning we got up early again and then came a day of which I can honestly say that it was one of the best days of my life. Lots of whale action (humpbacks and orcas) and the sky was just awesome. The days started to get really short so sunrise was close to end when sunset started. That day we had a spectacular nearly two hours sunset and I took the time to just stand on the boat and enjoy. Those were moments that were really difficult to forget. Excuse me when I got a bit overboard with pics from that day…. 😉 After dinner we went out to check for northern lights but even with wishful thinking and lots of imagination we couldn’t see more than a very slight green veal.
Before I fly to Norway tomorrow I am uploading the pics from Kuala Lumpur. On my way back from Bali I stayed two nights in Kuala Lumpur because I wanted to see the Petrona Twin Towers. If I had realized that it would take me nearly 12 hours door to door from my resort in Bali I am not sure I would have done it. I arrived at nearly 7 PM when it was nearly dark so I just grabbed my camera and went off. Normally I would have just been at the entrance of the park in front of the Petrona Towers but since there is a huge building site I had to go around the area and somehow find my way over. I had to pass a big mosque and when I arrived at the Petrona Towers it was in time to see the colourful water plays in the evening. The next day was my only full day and in the afternoon I had organized a geo-cache event. One cacher turned up and we had a fun afternoon. We walked around the park again doing maintenance on geocaches (that I had to log 😀 ) and I had a really great time. Then I had only one morning left and my foot was hurting, my ear was hurting…. in short: I didn’t really feel like sightseeing. So even though I should probably have gone to see other parts of the city I again went to the Petrona Towers and took some more pics there. I know that I didn’t see as much of Kuala Lumpur as I could have but when you don’t feel well and can’t walk it is not really fun to go sightseeing… here are some pics…
Let me start with some more info on Bali… in the last post you could see some flowers and a ’stinky stick‘ that were put in front of my bungalow (and all other buildings) daily. I saw the girl putting them one day and she had ‚purifying‘ water too that was sprinkled on them. They were supposed to attract the good ghosts (if big spiders are good ghosts it worked 😉 ). In Bali you are not allowed to build jettys because the bad ghosts could use them to get out of the water. Which made getting to the boat for us a bit difficult at times. We had to go in the water on the stony beach and my feet didn’t like that. I still have problems with them.
Here are some pics from my 10 dive days (including the famous Liberty-wrack which is a 10 minutes boat ride away from the Alam Batu).
So here are my overwater pics from time in Bali. some are from the resort and some are from my two excursions. The first one was to a hindu temple and two water palaces and the second one was to a waterfall and a hindu temple. Unfortunately the second one was very hot and once we arrived at the water fall I was very dizzy so we only took pics of a local hindu temple (which I LOVED btw). On the way back to the resort we saw preparations for a cremation. Further to the pics of the two excursions there are pics from the resort and one attempt to milky way pics (wasn’t in the right direction for good pics unfortunately).
So now I am officially on vacation… 🙂 Since I still had a credit for one week of dive-vacation in Bali from last year I decided not to just simply let it slide but spend the last vacation days I had left on my planning to use that credit. Only I didn’t have that much vacation left. So I am going to Bali for 10 days and then I fly to Kuala Lumpur where I will stay for another two nights. Not a long asian vacation but better than nothing. 😉 Really curious but really tired too. Desperately needed a vacation so it is good that I am leaving tomorrow morning. Now if only someone else would pack my bags…. 😉
Today is the start of the annual pilgrimage of the Cologne cathedral. I had already read a while ago that there was an illumination for it that was to honour the 100th anniversary of the end of WW I. I tried to keep up with all the info and found out that on monday was the last big rehearsal. So on monday I went together with a friend and my mom and it was really cool. First they showed the lightshow (music not to be shown on the pics 😉 ) and afterwards they had only certain pics as image (not moving) for photographers. That was cool. Yesterday was the inauguration day and I was totally surprised that we could just walk in at 8 PM when it was supposed to start. I had expected long lines but nothing. Again we saw the lightshow mostly from the same angle as monday but after the first run we moved a bit more to the middle and that was a totally different experience because we were able to read all the words. There are the years 1914 and 1918. Everything begins with ‚hooray‘ as people were enthusiastic about the war. But then they found out in the 4 years to follow that there is nothing funny or good about a war. It ends with 1918 but still… then there are a lot of words that are very important in the current climate… hate and racism is too common nowadays. And then in the last 3 minutes there is an explosion of colours – that part is my favorite one…. beautiful and it is supposed to tell that there is hope and happiness around. From what I have heard from my sister today it was very difficult to get in so I think we made the right decisions to go on monday and yesterday… here are pics but to be honest: you would need to see it then the words are moving (with the music)…
On the last day we went geocaching more than sightseeing and then we had to go back to the hotel to get our luggage and then back to the airport to fly home. I liked Prague very much and might actually go back…