DreamingOutdoors Photography: Blog http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog en-us (C) DreamingOutdoors Photography (DreamingOutdoors Photography) Fri, 11 May 2018 01:27:00 GMT Fri, 11 May 2018 01:27:00 GMT http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/img/s/v-5/u367683673-o491617133-50.jpg DreamingOutdoors Photography: Blog http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog 120 80 Layover in Brussels http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/5/layover-in-brussels We were lucky enough to get a flight arriving in Brussels from Faro in the mid-afternoon and not carrying on to Edmonton via Amsterdam until the following day, so we experienced a nice evening in the Belgian capital. The central area was full of people eating and, well, mostly drinking. We went for a long walk to find a good gluten-free Italian restaurant for Erin before taking the metro back to the Grote Markt area.

The next morning, I tried to get some early morning photos but didn't have much luck with the overcast skies. The clean-up along the streets and squares was immense after what must have been quite a Friday night. Workers with garbage and recycling trucks were feverishly trying to make the city look presentable again.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) belgium international http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/5/layover-in-brussels Fri, 11 May 2018 01:26:51 GMT
Algarve http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/5/algarve We caught an Uber to the airport in Porto from our downtown hotel and an early Ryanair flight to Faro. Thanks to our early arrival, we picked up our rental car, groceries in Faro, and to our apartment in Carvoeiro by noon. It's always such a thrill for the senses to arrive at the sea. We got into a nice relaxed routine for the next four days, spending most of the days on the beach and occasionally striking out at sunrise or sunset for photos.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) international portugal http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/5/algarve Sun, 06 May 2018 15:25:25 GMT
Porto http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/5/porto It turned out that we really liked Porto. It really is a hipster's paradise (not that we qualify, although I'm writing this with a Macbook while wearing dark rimmed glasses, t-shirt and blazer), with its street art, breakfast cereal cafes, vintage and other eclectic shops, and (of course), port.​​​​​​ We took a lot of iPhone shots, so I'll post them below and link to my better SLR photos here: http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/portugal/porto

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) international portugal http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/5/porto Sat, 05 May 2018 23:59:02 GMT
Porto Street Art http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/porto The weather system had set in by morning, which was probably for the best so I wasn't tempted to go take sunrise photos again. We had a leisurely breakfast and took an Uber to the Entrecampos station in an absolute downpour. The train, always a nice way to travel, hit 220 km/h en route to Porto. 

Another short Uber ride from the train station brought us to our hotel. After check-in, we set out walking. Porto is a hipster's paradise, with breakfast cereal cafes, eclectic shops, and cool street art; here are some examples of the art we found around the city, big and small:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) international porto http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/porto Sun, 22 Apr 2018 08:43:28 GMT
Lisbon http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/lisbon We dragged ourselves out of bed only to find ourselves running 10 minutes late as we headed for the Miradouro de Santa Luzia to watch the sunrise. Just in time, I rapidly fired off a bunch of shots into the burnt orange rising sun, just as I'd always imagined it over the clay-roofed Alfama district. We walked to the Terreiro Do Paco where we imagined kings and explorers arriving centuries ago. Then we returned to the hotel for breakfast and a nap.

The nap lasted until 3:30. Disoriented, we collected ourselves and packed a lunch from the grocery store nearby. We set off this time for Belem. As it turned out, this long nap may have been a bit unfortunate because the rain clouds threatened just as we arrived. I managed to get an interesting infrared photo at the riverside but had only one chance because the fisherman started pulling in his lines as the raindrops hastened. We found refuge in a nearby cafe where ice cream and coffee helped us pass the time. Finally, with the clouds looking like they'd never lift, I braved what had suddenly become a torrent and created a makeshift umbrella for my camera as I huddled, cool and increasingly drenched, over my low tripod. Successfully completing a couple photos, I sprinted back to the cafe and we called an Uber to take us back to the train station. Sure enough, just as we were dropped off, the clouds parted and it became quite pleasant again.

Back in Lisbon, we walked from the train station via the Baixa and Chiado districts to the Open Brasserie, recommended for their gluten free options. The service and food was excellent, though the price was a little higher than average. Still, it was a nice way to end the evening.

Here are some iPhone snaps from the day in Lisbon:

And Belem:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) international portugal http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/lisbon Sun, 22 Apr 2018 08:43:09 GMT
Sintra http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/sintra The night before we left for Portugal we had quite a scare. Labor action by AIr France employees had resulted in our flight from Vancouver to Paris being cancelled. In the chaotic few hours that followed, I discovered that trip interruption/cancellation insurance does NOT include a strike affecting airline service. Everything did turn out okay in the end, and perhaps better. We were rebooked from Vancouver via Toronto and then direct to Lisbon which gave us a slightly earlier arrival in Lisbon without the hassle of Customs and a plane change in Paris. 

We took Uber right from the airport which is quite centrally located by large city standards. It cost 9 Euro for the fare door to door. I think my days of taking public transport from the airport are over. 

After a shower, short nap, and lunch near the hotel, we took the train to Sintra for the evening. A bit hesitant given our late start, we were thrilled we made the trip. We didn't want to waste a moment so we caught an Uber to the Pena Palace right from the train station. The palace and the surrounding grounds were more beautiful in person than the pictures we'd seen online. Walking down via the Valley of the Lakes, Erin commented that it felt like we were walking in a fairy tale. The bird songs were music to our ears after a long Canadian winter.

Taking a taxi back to the town as darkness fell, we wound up in a restaurant called "Metamorphosis" which offered excellent service and good food at a very good price. We then returned to Lisbon confident that we'd made the most of our first afternoon in Portugal.

Here are the photos of the day taken with my SLR:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) international portugal http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/sintra Sun, 22 Apr 2018 08:33:01 GMT
Real Madrid vs. PSG http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/real-madrid-vs-psg I slept in again and headed into the city around noon. I went shoe shopping and ate at a nice restaurant for a late lunch.

Then I headed back to my hotel to change and get ready for the big game. I arrived early to greet the team bus and take in the atmosphere. The game was incredible and we came away with an important win. I doubt I'll witness such a spectacle for quite some time.

Afterwards, I met up with Frederic and Anton for a celebratory drink.

And like that, my brief time in Madrid was over. What an experience though!

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) international spain http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/real-madrid-vs-psg Mon, 19 Feb 2018 18:34:49 GMT
Return to Madrid http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/return-to-madrid After my tour of the Santiago Bernabéu I had a nice salmon fillet of a menu del dia around the block from the stadium. Then I walked around Madrid, visiting sights from our trip a couple years ago.

I went up to the terrace of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando to watch the sunset and night fall over the city. It was cold and windy, but it was a perspective I hadn't seen before. Unfortunately the Palacio de Cibeles was undergoing repair and covered in scaffolding.

Bumper stickers you don't expect to see in Spain:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) international spain http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/return-to-madrid Mon, 19 Feb 2018 18:28:26 GMT
Santiago Bernabéu http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/santiago-bernabeu I arrived late from Rome, and checked into the Ibis in Barajas. Here I am toasting my arrival with an Alhambra cerveza.

The next morning, I slept in until around 10:00. I headed straight to the Bernabeu for a tour, which was well worth the line-up and 25 Euro entrance fee.

The trophy rooms were interesting, but it was surreal to see the dressing rooms and stand pitch-side.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) international spain http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/santiago-bernabeu Mon, 19 Feb 2018 18:20:46 GMT
Return to Rome http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/return-to-rome 10 years after our honeymoon in Rome, I spent three days there for a course. It was a bit surreal to revisit so many of the same sights from so long ago.

St. Peter's SquareSt. Peter's Square Over the TiberOver the Tiber Piazza NavonaPiazza Navona Piazza Navona FountainPiazza Navona Fountain PantheonPantheon Trevi RearviewTrevi Rearview Spanish StepsSpanish Steps ColosseumColosseum Piazza VeneziaPiazza Venezia Trastevere Street ArtTrastevere Street Art Trastevere ProsciutteriaTrastevere Prosciutteria

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) international italy http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/return-to-rome Fri, 16 Feb 2018 18:38:00 GMT
The London Book-End http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/the-london-book-end I arrived back in London from Ljubljana at Gatwick, and found the whole passport control and city transport process to be a lot faster. I found my accommodation on the north side of Kensington Park, got settled in a bit, and went for a dinner of Thai green curry at Tuk Tuk, just a couple blocks away.

My course started the next day, so I didn't have much time to do any sightseeing. I met up with a Camrose contact, Aaron, for a terrific Italian dinner at Il Blandford's followed by a couple glasses of port at his house. I was back in my hotel at 12:30 am, which was perhaps a little too late for my 8 am start the next day.

The following day (Friday), I went for an evening walk from Waterloo Station across Westminster Bridge, past Parliament, and all the way to Victoria Station.

I took the tube to Notting Hill Station and strolled down Portobello Street. This was probably my biggest evening adventure in terms of mileage.

Saturday night, I went for a more abbreviated trip to the Thames to see Millennium Bridge. Then the weather turned, and I called it an early night with my exam coming up the next morning.

My final day (Sunday) began with the exam for my course at 8:30 am. Afterwards, I went for a nice walk through Kensington Park, Hyde Park, past Buckingham Palace, and along the mall towards Trafalgar Square, past Picadilly Circus to Oxford Circus to catch transit back to my hotel. It was cool, breezy, but quite sunny.

I picked up the direct Heathrow train from Paddington, and that was that!


(DreamingOutdoors Photography) england international http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/the-london-book-end Mon, 23 Oct 2017 17:12:57 GMT
Go with Gord, from Slovenia http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/go-with-gord-from-slovenia "Well, off I go, into the night," was the echo that accompanied the last warm sips from my mug of Slovenian craft ale. Here, in an Irish pub tucked away in an alley basement in the old city of Ljubljana, I had found more than the 1-1 Real Madrid-Tottenham draw I'd arrived for.

A few hours before, I'd slain the dragon city with a lucky photoshoot from the Neboticnik cafe terrace. Well, I suppose it wasn't just luck. I'd arrived just before sunset, not wanting to loiter for too long. I'd chosen a place near to one of the high bar tables that sat somewhat privately on the southeast corner of the terrace. I'd watched as the couple finally paid their tab and made their way from the table, then slid in amongst their crumbs and crumpled napkins to secure my position. It cost me only two pints on an empty stomach, but I would have paid far more as the overcast sky erupting ethereal rose for twenty, maybe thirty seconds, before fading to the blue that would usher in the night. My tripod perched unobtrusively on the table, positioning my camera over the glass to freeze the moment not only in my mind, but now on my screen:

I entered the bar a few minutes after the start of the match, having stopped first for a dinner of traditional Carniolan sausage, then at the hostel to back up my files from the day. To my memory, it was a welcoming pub, dimly lit of course, with walls of brick and arched doorways granting it an appropriately cave-like feel. There were two rooms sharing the adjacent sides of the bar. The first room was full of traveling Liverpool supporters and local Maribor fans gathering side by side for the Champions League match-up.

I asked for the Real Madrid - Tottenham match, and the accommodating bartender flicked on the TV in the other room for me. There was only one other patron on this side and, pulling a stool up to the counter, I asked for some help deciding between a couple different IPA's. The slim, long-haired young man a couple stools over made his recommendation, which settled the matter for me.

"So what part of the world are you from?" he asked in an accent that could have been my own.

"Canada," I answered. Then realizing he must be American, if not Canadian, quickly added, "Alberta. How 'bout you?"

"You wouldn't know it. Have you heard of Nelson?" 

Count me among the unsurprised.

"South of there, a small town in Washington," he continued. 

For the socially curious, this guy was like that big mysterious Christmas present having an odd shape and a low clunky rattle near the bottom, and couldn't ever be wrapped very neatly, but attracted your fascination more than all the others despite itself.

His slender forearms seemed poorly matched for the heavy glass beer mug frequenting his lips. Under the brim of a dark flat cap was long, stringy brown hair that draped his shoulder blades, and these were punctuated by a long nose and hollow cheeks that made my sister giggle when I told her reminded me of Niccolo Paganini. My wife, the hygienist, would have been drawn immediately to the periodontal situation revealed by his kind and nervous smile. This was a guy with a back-story.

We chatted back and forth casually as I looked down from the soccer game at times. He didn't have any interest in the match, and had moved into the quieter side of the bar after discovering he was too tall for the Liverpool guys to see over. It was obvious that Ljubljana meant something to him, since it would take anyone in their early thirties a fair bit of commitment to visit the same European city a half dozen times. It had been eight years since his last visit, however, and I got the sense it was a long anticipated return. "This is my city," was one of his comments.

"So where are you staying?" I asked. 

I think he was staying eight or ten days, so it made sense that he had rented an apartment. It's a great way to feel more connected to life in the city and reduce the restaurant tab at the same time.

"That works out nicely for you I'm sure," I replied. "That way you can cook your own meals."

"Yeah," he stated, "it would be, but I can't eat solid food."

It took me moment to step into the bear trap because he said it so casually and I was on my fourth beer, but ultimately I did take the bait. "What do you mean, you can't eat solid food?"

"In the ulcerating silence perspective comes. The way it always does for it's ransom" (The Tragically Hip: A Beautiful Thing).

He put his head down, and muttered, "I really don't like to talk about it, but I have a condition that's... well... it's going to kill me." He said it with such resignation. "I really should have a feeding tube."

I didn't muster much in return, other than a meek, "Gee, I'm really sorry to hear that."

I let the awkwardness linger for a bit, eyes drifting upwards to the football pitch, searching for some distraction. In the moments that followed, the beer mug two seats over bore witness to some deep, lonely sorrow. I can't imagine the story behind those tears. I wonder who he was texting with those long, shaky fingers.

"Long conversation or idle chit chat, maybe dive in or maybe hang back[?]" (The Tragically Hip: Escape is at Hand for the Traveling Man). We chatted a little more over the hour that followed. Neither about his condition, nor anything else of importance. I'm left with a hint of regret, unsure whether I ever did choose the right words or strike the right balance of distance and intimacy. When it was time to go, he got up and uttered that phrase, "Well, off I go, into the night." And that was it. I pictured him walking the vacant cobblestone alleys alone, lost in that slightly inebriated nostalgic sorrow that inhales treasured familiarity and exhales a final farewell.

Early next morning, as I pulled on the blue Tragically Hip t-shirt I'd bought at their final Edmonton concert, I scrolled my Facebook feed for the news of the day. Gord Downie had died. It was an interesting coincidence to be sure; I hadn't worn that shirt in months. 

Gord's final months were punctuated by headlines centred around the legacy of a Canadian music icon as he tirelessly championed reconciliation with Indigenous communities, love, and equality. His death made top headlines in every Canadian news service. Meanwhile, how many other individuals were grappling with the same challenges of impending mortality unnoticed in basement pubs, homes, churches, and hospitals around the world? 

There's a lot to un-pack here, and I don't really know where to start. Of course, there's the obvious lesson driven home: no time like the present. Another theme I keep returning to is, "how do we say goodbye?" The Hip lyric "Now the struggle has a name" takes on additional context (beyond the "Truth and Reconciliation" theme) when our final challenge is known. But should our actions be influenced by the "named struggle?" In a purposeful life it wouldn't make a difference, because our actions would always be made in light of our mortality. 

We generally don't do goodbyes very well. However, we need the closure of saying goodbye. We see this in the elderly who seem to have an uncanny ability to hold on until they have a chance to see or hear that last special loved one. But I've also been thinking about the smaller goodbyes in life: moving away, bidding farewell to friends, and even returning home from an endearing city like Ljubljana. I'm reminded of the time I turned the wheels north on I-35 from Belt Line Road, instead of the usual south, as I began my journey back to Alberta from Dallas. I think about the wonderful, generous people I knew in those days before Facebook allowed for easy ongoing casual contact; saying "goodbye" really meant it in those days. There are some people I wish I'd said a better "goodbye" to. What if I'd released from an embrace, looked a person in the eyes and said "Have a good life" with absolute sincerity? And while our relationships with people as they cast themselves in and out of our life's script hold great importance to us, so do our relationships with places and things. I think about our first house, the memories created there, and how it looked as I closed the door the last time. I remember the places in the world that continue tug at my heart, like South Africa, Spain, and Slovenia. I'm often asked after a trip if I'll go back, and I generally say "no," regardless of how much I loved the place. There are just too many gifts in this world to unwrap and I'm truly skeptical if a return trip would ever live up to the original as it's painted in my mind.

So how do we say goodbye to these places? For me, photography is the typical way I connect with a place. When in a city, I like to scout a location with a great perspective, arrive half an hour before sunset, watch the steepening angle of light reduce to the point of a sunstar on my camera sensor, and stay until the sky turns blue and the true energy and character of a city is revealed in the glow of the streetlights. Hopefully, this creates some great images, but it also imprints an experience. My photoshoot in Ljubljana from the skyscraper was one of these moments. Could it be that a really great "goodbye" is about intentionally creating the moment you want to remember? We recently watched Shakespeare in Love again, and I was reminded of how great the ending was; William wrote the ending that he wanted to exist, in all its joyous sorrow, which allowed his fantasy to triumph over reality. So long as I never return to Ljubljana, the fantasy that I've written about it can remain true. 

Gord was the author of his last act, which was played out on a national stage in a beautiful ritual of bidding farewell to his country, his fans, his band, his Chanie "Wenjacks," and more privately, his family and friends. The sincere "goodbye" at the end of each concert of the tour was proud, joyous, and above all, distinctly final. He had the look of a man relishing his living wake, wanting to press pause on the moment, to drink in every detail and preserve it eternally. So notable was his bravery, that he went outside himself to leave a generous mark on those who admired and loved him. He worked tirelessly until the end to push the Indigenous affairs agenda so dear to his heart. This was a man who wanted to leave a legacy; not for his own sake, but for the benefit of those left behind. Perhaps the glioblastoma added an element of urgency to the last several months; there was a need to compress the pace and trajectory of a life's mission.

"O' for a good life, we just might have to weaken; And find somewhere to go; Go somewhere we're needed; Find somewhere to grow; Grow somewhere were needed" (The Tragically Hip: It's a Good Life if You Don't Weaken).

Now picture my friend in the pub. Why did he go to Slovenia? He'd been several times before, so this wasn't a "bucket list" pursuit. He wasn't seeking something novel; he talked about visiting all his "old haunts." Is Ljubljana, then, a place where he found meaning, or at least was connected to by a strong feeling of nostalgia? I find nostalgia to be an interesting topic, perhaps because I'm a bit inclined that way. It is a therapeutic paradox; the yearning for something familiar but impossible, an un-scratchable itch that is itself more satisfying than if the itch was actually scratched. I believe my identity is rooted in such things. We saw Gord's identity defined publicly in the people places, and things that adorned the last months of his life. In this fellow's more private journey, I really don't know the rest of the story other than Ljubljana was one of those places for him. While the impression that Gord left behind is undeniable, somehow more personally profound is this odd interfacing with a stranger in a basement pub in Ljubljana. So regardless of whatever legacy this person will ultimately leave behind in the circles he travelled, I thought I owed him a few words as tribute. Whether or not he set out to make the last days, months, or years of his life count for others, he did manage to do something profound in my life. He's not someone I'll ever forget; each time I think about my surreal few days in Slovenia, I'll be reminded of these meandering thoughts of nostalgia and goodbyes, whether my struggle be near or far.

Here's a video of my trip, full of nostalgia:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) international slovenia http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/go-with-gord-from-slovenia Sat, 21 Oct 2017 05:15:00 GMT
The City of Dragons http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/the-city-of-dragons I don't think I've been to a sizeable European city with as much appeal as Ljubljana. The beautiful cobblestone streets, bright coloured architecture, cozy cafes and restaurants, and interesting shops in the shadow of a castle, under 22 degrees of sunshine and falling autumn leaves... I'm starting to swoon here.

I navigated successfully to the Europcar return, then stepped across the street into my hostel. After cleaning up, I went for a walkabout.

As sunset approached, I went up to the Neboticnik cafe and sat down for a pint of terrific local craft IPA. I snapped up a high bar table in the corner the moment a pair vacated it, and waited for my moment. Suddenly the sky erupted in pink, for mere moments, and after a flourish it was gone. But I have proof:

With my victory images in hand, I toasted the images with another pint and weaved my way down the charming streets on an empty stomach to find a restaurant. I got replenished with a nice traditional sausage meal and a truly awful ale, then headed back to the still-empty hostel to get squared away.

I wandered around the corner to an Irish pub for a final pint and to watch the Real Madrid v. Tottenham match. It was while chatting with a very slim young American at the bar that I stepped into quite a bear trap. Somehow he dropped the comment that he couldn't eat solid food. But I saw him drinking a beer. So I took the bait. It turns out he was on a trail of tears, visiting one of his favourite cities, before whatever condition he was suffering from ultimately took his life.

I have some more thoughts on this interaction, which perhaps I'll flesh out when I get a bit more time. So in an effort to post this quickly and head out to dinner, I'll put that on hold (as well as my thoughts on traveling Liverpool supporters). 


(DreamingOutdoors Photography) international slovenia http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/the-city-of-dragons Thu, 19 Oct 2017 17:49:57 GMT
Piran http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/piran I set my alarm early, hoping to catch the sunrise from atop the walls bordering the old town of Piran. Little did I know, they didn't open the gate until 08:00. And worse yet, the fog was thick. So I returned to the hotel for breakfast, which was lovely. I returned to my room to process some photos, and after a spell I looked out the window to see clearing conditions. So I raced back up the hill, only to be disappointed once again by the return of the fog. Down I went. This time, I found some good perspectives along the harbour and shoreline. Then I had second breakfast and tea. Finally, it did clear enough, so up I went to the walls. The girl remembered me from earlier, and let me in again without making me pay the 2 Euros. What a fabulous spot to take in the view of the sea. These types of views are such a novelty for me, I hated to leave. But, I had miles to make for Ljubljana.



(DreamingOutdoors Photography) international slovenia http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/piran Thu, 19 Oct 2017 17:34:18 GMT
A day in Croatia http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/a-day-in-croatia It was ambitious, but it worked out better than planned.

I made quick time to the border via the tollway from Bled. I stopped briefly along the way for groceries (ie. breakfast on the go), and then again at Koper in order to check my bearings on Google Maps on my phone. Thanks, McDonald's, for the use of your bathroom. 

The border crossing was quick. No questions were asked by agents for either country. I took the beautiful windy roads through northern Croatia to find a hilltop town called Motovun. I'd heard it was one of the nicest examples in Istria. The drive itself was thrilling as the road snaked up and over the hills. At the bottom of the hill approaching the town, you can pay for parking and drive up to one of the nearer parking lots outside the city walls. They take only local currency here; no credit cards. 

The town was lovely and the streets were lined with shops. It had a slight tourist trap feel to it, but not extremely tacky. As the weather warmed up to around 25 degrees and I realized I was in no hurry to get anywhere else, I slowed my pace. After a late lunch at the car, I headed onward to Rovinj. The drive was short but I grew quite tired. I pulled into a pay-for-parking lot with the old town in view, rolled the windows down, and smelled the amazing sea air. This is not a smell I'm accustomed to, and it screams 'vacation!'

I gathered some energy and searched some online forums (thank goodness for mobile technology), striking upon a free parking lot within walking distance to the old town, and moved the car there with the help of Google Maps (distracted driving - guilty).

This seaside city was bustling with people enjoying the many cafes and restaurants that bordered the harbour. It was a hot day, but waves of fog blew over the city and created some wonderful photo moments even before magic hour began. As I was watching the tower seemingly rippling with fire as it cut the fast-moving fog, a woman commented that she had visited Rovinj for 20 years and never seen such a thing. As darkness made its slow approach, I waited and waited until the right moment to take my final images, drinking in the view while fishermen tried their luck from the dock. Each passing moment would delay my return to Piran, but I told myself, "I'll only be here once, see it through!"

I made a fairly direct and easy return to Slovenia via the tollway and arrived quite tired to Hotel Piran, though very happy with the extent of my day's adventure to Croatia. 

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) croatia international http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/a-day-in-croatia Thu, 19 Oct 2017 17:28:33 GMT
Arrival in Slovenia http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/arrival-in-slovenia Exiting the airport in Slovenia was a surreal experience. Widespread fog was lifting, revealing lush greens and autumn yellows and reds on the hills. My first stop was to see Kamnik, near to the airport, and by all reports a pretty town. It didn't disappoint. I took in the view from the top of the hill, and then sat down to some homemade gnocchi and smoked salmon.

One of the first things I noticed on this sunny Sunday morning, was the number of people riding bikes. And not those urban bicycles you see everywhere in Holland, but proper road bikes, and people logging some serious km's. Another observation is that if the speed limit is 60 and you aren't going at least 80, you're holding up traffic. Which is difficult when you're also trying to navigate!

I then headed for the city of Skofja Loka to locate a couple viewpoints I'd tagged on Google Street View. Success! I was slightly unsure of my parking choices here but given that it was Sunday I thought perhaps things weren't enforced.

The Capuchin Bridge was built in the 14th century and leads from the monastery that bears its name. In the calm, sunny conditions I tried shooting some photos with an infrared filter. In the image that follows, I layered it with another identical image taken without the filter, and blended the colour into the infrared layer.

It was after Skofja Loka that my drive really got interesting. The roads twisted and turned up the mountains with one hair-raising hairpin after the next. It was simply stunning with the autumn colours as I passed Jamnik (the panorama) and Kropa en route to Bled.

I found my B&B (Rooms Jerman - recommended!) at 17:00. After a hurried check-in, I dashed for the vantage point overlooking Lake Bled, hoping to catch the sunset. It was more of a legitimate hike than I expected, though relatively short. At the top, I met two boys covered head to toe in mud and walking barefoot. Their parents explained that it was good for their growing feet to develop strength and touch, able to feel the earth as they walk. I couldn't agree more! Before we all began our hike down in the dark, we took this picture:

I paused on the lakeshore for another photo, then sat in the first restaurant I came across for supper, around 20:00. I retired to the B&B to deal with the plethora of images I'd taken from the day.

The next morning, I made a rather hasty farewell from Bled because I wanted to spend the day in the Istrian region of Croatia. I took these photos on the way out of Bled:


(DreamingOutdoors Photography) international slovenia http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/arrival-in-slovenia Tue, 17 Oct 2017 06:02:18 GMT
London; nice to finally meet you. http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/london-nice-to-finally-meet-you It was one of those days that started like most others, but had a very different conclusion.

I worked most of the day, wrapping up at 4:00 or so in order to drive to Calgary and catch a direct flight to London. The QE2 was shut down for an accident around Crossfield, and the radio told of power outages at the International Terminal at YYC, but by the time arrived at both sites, the delays had been fortunately dealt with. Having time to spare, I decompressed with a pumpkin chai latte in the shiny and vacant departure lounge as my 9:45 boarding time approached. 

Despite being at the very back of the bus, I have to commend British Airways for pleasant service, standard food offerings, and better than average entertainment selections. Being next to the washrooms and galley resulted in only a couple hours of sleep, and the very long queue at border control was not particularly welcome. I grabbed a bite at the convenience store on the other side of security, and navigated easily to the Underground station. A lengthy commute on the Picadilly Line followed, switching at Green Park and arriving at London Bridge Station. I found myself at The Shard with 45 minutes to spare before my entry time, and after a bit of wandering found myself at this lovely market:

Finding a couple fresh items to snack on, I returned to The Shard and waited for an eternity for blue hour, since the overcast skies did not break up enough to enjoy a sunset. 

It was a lovely view, but pricey and very, very busy on a Saturday evening. With my backpack and travel attire, I felt like a hobo compared to some of the well-dressed patrons enjoying cocktails.

I then walked across Tower Bridge, capturing these photos, before hiking all the way to Blackfriars Station.

By this time, it was after 20:00 and I was starving. I found a nice little Mexican restaurant near to the station, and had my first proper meal since Friday lunch.

I caught the train to Luton, on to the shuttle, and finally to the Holiday Inn Express at 22:00. Here I sit in the departure lounge at Luton after a 4:00 wake-up, thankful I upgraded to priority boarding and emergency row seats for my upcoming 2 hour flight.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) england international http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/london-nice-to-finally-meet-you Sun, 15 Oct 2017 05:42:43 GMT
Waterton Lakes National Park http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/7/waterton-lakes-national-park Incredible weather for camping with the family in Waterton Lakes National Park for the Canada Day weekend. Some photos from the trip:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Alberta mountains http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/7/waterton-lakes-national-park Mon, 03 Jul 2017 14:21:18 GMT
Amsterdam http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/amsterdam We didn't have time for a morning river cruise, so we walked around the city a bit before heading for the train station. We will certainly return on a stopover in the future, so we didn't feel bad about cutting short our time in Amsterdam, especially in favor of the wonderful day we had in Haarlem.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Holland international http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/amsterdam Thu, 06 Apr 2017 14:45:54 GMT
Angel of Haarlem http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/angel-of-haarlem Weary of crowds and pace, we took the short train ride to a small city neighboring Amsterdam for a beautiful afternoon of walking, shopping, and dining.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Holland international http://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/angel-of-haarlem Wed, 05 Apr 2017 05:32:36 GMT