DreamingOutdoors Photography: Blog https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog en-us (C) DreamingOutdoors Photography (DreamingOutdoors Photography) Wed, 01 Mar 2023 02:47:00 GMT Wed, 01 Mar 2023 02:47:00 GMT https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/img/s/v-12/u158787272-o491617133-50.jpg DreamingOutdoors Photography: Blog https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog 120 80 Big Island Roadtrip https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/2/big-island-roadtrip On our final day, we were at a bit of a loss. We had our rental car for the whole day, but also didn't want to get sweaty/salty/sun-screeny for the long journey home. We drove north, first stopping to watch the whales at an established viewpoint. We then checked out the macadamia nut factory and bought our quota, carrying on to Hawi and Kapaau. Here, the weather really came in. We checked out some shops and proceeded to the Pololu Valley lookout, choosing not to hike down to the beach due to the wind and rain.

On our return, we really enjoyed the winding decent to Waimea through lush ranchlands.

Beyond Waimea, the volcanic landscapes reminded us of a tropical Iceland.

We continued to drive all the way to the Kealakekua Bay and Manini Beach. Here, we blissfully dipped our feet in the water while watching our final sunset in Hawaii.

After the sun hit the horizon, we drove to Kona for a dinner at the Outback. This left us with a perfect amount of time to return the rental car and shuttle to the airport for our return.

We really enjoyed our time on the Big Island. On a return trip, or given more time, we would have selected a second base on the other side of the island, but this was a relaxing and digestible amount of touring for a short / inexpensive getaway.

Here's the recap video:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) hawaii international travel usa https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/2/big-island-roadtrip Mon, 20 Feb 2023 02:46:40 GMT
Hapuna and Kua https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/2/hapuna-and-kua We picked up our rental car at the airport on our second last day, after calling an Uber to our condo at Kona Plaza. We had found the beaches within walking distance of Kona to be a bit lacking, so we started with Hapuna Beach to the north, even though the water / restroom services were not working. It was a stunning beach; wide and long white sand with a gentle slope into the surf, which broke with large but soft turquoise waves. One of the highlights was watching humpback whales breach in the distance.

Afterwards, we went to the shops at Wailea for some gelato. We continue to Kua Bay, another gem, to sit and watch the sunset. This seemed to be a popular spot, and we noted the water stations which we thought we might use the next day if we required a rinse before heading to the airport.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) hawaii international travel usa https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/2/hapuna-and-kua Mon, 20 Feb 2023 02:34:00 GMT
Kona https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/2/kona We took the red-eye from Vancouver to Kona, and didn't manage much sleep on route. A lot of people bring tiny humans to Hawaii!

I had planned to grab a taxi into town when we got in, but there were very few at that late hour. There were no Uber rides available. Perhaps pre-booking a shuttle would be the thing to do if arriving at night. However, Erin spotted one and the driver was nice enough to pick us up. We stayed at Kona Plaza which was very well located; after ditching our bags around midnight, we walked up the hill 10-15 minutes to Safeway (open 24 hours) to stock up for our stay. 

We spent the first 3 days right in Kona, without a car. We used the small beach at the Marriott one day. Another day we walked to the Queen's Bath, a tidal pool in front of a gated neighborhood (foot access was through a small gate behind the ball diamonds). 

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Hawaii international travel USA https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/2/kona Mon, 20 Feb 2023 02:23:25 GMT
Sunrise in Zurich https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2022/11/sunrise-in-zurich I set my alarm for before sunrise and headed across the river to an elevated viewpoint. I was very glad I'd made the effort, because I love these photos:

It's always nice to have a still perspective as the city comes to life. I returned to the Altstadt Hotel for a lovely included breakfast, and then headed to the train station for transport to the airport. This was a worthwhile one-night detour on my return!

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Switzerland travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2022/11/sunrise-in-zurich Fri, 04 Nov 2022 17:27:33 GMT
A day in Switzerland https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2022/11/a-day-in-switzerland The exam for my course was scheduled for 9:20. I carried my travel bag with me, and after the exam continued to the train station. This was the only time I used the ticket counter. The agent scheduled me on a train 35 minutes later, which would be direct to Lugano. This worked perfectly! I arrived at the Paradiso station in just over an hour. From there, it was a short walk to the funicular station which took me to the top of the mountain (San Salvadore). The weather was magnificent: in the low twenties and not a breath of wind. I spent a long while eating my picnic lunch on the park bench I shared with a young Australian girl. I used my infrared filter to get a unique long exposure.

After returning on the funicular, I walked the lakeshore and meandered up the steep hill to the central station. In the early afternoon on a Sunday, most of the shops were closed. There wasn't much to stick around for, so I caught the next train to Zurich.

The train was clean, comfortable, and fast. Some of the glimpses I got of the Alps were beautiful. It was interesting to watch the architectural characteristics change from Italian to German as we reached Zurich.

Once in Zurich, I marvelled at the bustling and glistening train station and made my way to the river. From the bridge, I pulled out my camera and tripod for a nice sunset photo.

After checking into my hotel, I found few dining options on a Sunday night. A local place called the Raclette Kitchen was open, and absolutely packed. I got a seat at the bar and treated myself to this casual Swiss dish.


(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Switzerland travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2022/11/a-day-in-switzerland Fri, 04 Nov 2022 17:24:43 GMT
Inter Milan v Viktoria Plzen https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2022/11/inter-milan-v-viktoria-plzen I wanted to get back to Busto Arsizio in plenty of time to get situated and return to Milan for the Champions League match at San Siro. To do so, I took the early train to Levanto and purchased a first class ticket on a direct train to Milan. This was a more comfortable journey than the one I'd made on the way to the Cinque Terre. I made the change at Milano Centrale and then climbed aboard the Malpensa Express to Busto Arsizio. 

My hotel was a boutique family-run place in an unassuming alley, located right in the centre of the city. It was lovely in all respects. I spent the afternoon studying on the terrace, then set out to return to Milan. I passed a children's store in Busto and found a replacement Lego character for Clara, hilariously sporting an acorn hat. The metro was easy to navigate right to San Siro where I enjoyed pre-match food and drink in a great atmosphere and lovely weather. The stadium had awesome energy and Inter played really great football. All four goals were really well created. The local fans were hospitable and I had a terrific experience.

The return journey was more challenging because the first three metro stops I walked to were closed, presumably to prevent crush injuries. At last I found an open station and jammed myself into the hottest, most humid train journey of my life. Thankfully it lasted only 6 stops or so, and I was able to find a train back to Busto. 

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Italy travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2022/11/inter-milan-v-viktoria-plzen Fri, 04 Nov 2022 03:57:00 GMT
Riomaggiore and Manarola https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2022/11/riomaggiore-and-manarola In the morning, I took an early train to Riomaggiore, hoping to get some sunrise photos. It's a very interesting entrance to the village from the train station; you have to walk down quite a long tunnel. It turned out to be a broody morning and I had the whole harbour to myself. I walked up the main street, which was congested with delivery trucks jockeying for space along the steep and narrow road. There seemed to be scarce options for good cafes compared to Vernazza, so I headed back there.

Stormy Morning in RiomaggioreStormy Morning in Riomaggiore Stormy Morning in Riomaggiore - portraitStormy Morning in Riomaggiore - portrait

In Vernazza, there was a market setting up, so I bought some fresh vegetables to supplement my carb-rich diet. I packed up my things and returned to the station for the short trip south to Manarola. I really enjoyed Manarola. Like Riomaggiore, you have to walk through a tunnel to get to the town. I found this town had the most selection of quality shops, cafes and restaurants. I had a really nice ravioli lunch and spent the majority of the afternoon relaxing on the beautiful terrace of my hotel. 

Sunset was gorgeous. I took some photos from the viewpoint at the top of the town, and then rushed past the water for a second viewpoint at blue hour. It was from this viewpoint that I got my only view of Corniglia, just north along the coast.

Manarola SunsetManarola Sunset CornigliaCorniglia Manarola Blue Hour ColoursManarola Blue Hour Colours

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) europe international italy travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2022/11/riomaggiore-and-manarola Fri, 04 Nov 2022 03:46:44 GMT
Monterosso and Vernazza https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2022/11/monterosso-and-vernazza I walked around Monterosso a bit before checking out and taking the train to Vernazza. My accommodation was kind enough to let me check in before noon, so I had a place to stash my bags. I had lunch at a place across the street: tuna with a light exterior cook on a bed of tomatoes, and a beer. I spent the rest of the day meandering around the village and scoping out my photo locations for evening. Sadly, it was at one of these viewpoints that I tried to take a picture of my Lego kids and dropped Clara's into the abyss.

Monterosso AlleyMonterosso Alley Monterosso PanoramaMonterosso Panorama Vernazza PanoramaVernazza Panorama Vernazza HarbourVernazza Harbour

There was an absolutely fantastic liquorice gelato in the shop down by the harbour.
Vernazza SunsetVernazza Sunset Vernazza Pink SkyVernazza Pink Sky Vernazza Blue HourVernazza Blue Hour Day 2

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Italy travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2022/11/monterosso-and-vernazza Fri, 04 Nov 2022 03:35:55 GMT
Monterosso https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2022/11/monterosso My flight left in the early afternoon for Montreal, and then I boarded a sparsely-filled, brand new Air Canada plane after a short lay-over. The journey was comfortable and I did manage a bit of sleep. Upon arrival in Milan, I caught the first train on the Malpensa T1 line into Milano Centrale. It's actually quite a long ride, probably an hour by the time I got on the train to wait. 

I was hoping to be as efficient as possible as I burned this travel day on the way to Monterosso, so I grabbed a quick focaccia in the central station and bought the first ticket to La Spezia from one of the machines. It required a quick change in Genoa and after almost 4 hours I was finally in Monterosso. Quite a day!

Painterly BicyclePainterly Bicycle   Hidden MonterossoHidden Monterosso
Statua del GiganteStatua del Gigante Day 1

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Italy travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2022/11/monterosso Fri, 04 Nov 2022 03:29:51 GMT
Austin https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2022/1/austin After our PCR tests in New Braunfels, we drove up to Austin to meet old friends Nate and Lindsey at Butler Metro Park. This is a lovely space near the river with lots of fun equipment, tunnels, climbing structures, and slides for kids. As it turned out, it was unseasonably warm at 28 degrees.

We moved across the street to play mini golf, then north of the river and east of 35 to a restaurant called Wilder Wood. It made gluten-free dining non-stressful, if not overly refined. We ate under the silo and enjoyed the sunset over the state capitol.  

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) international travel USA https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2022/1/austin Thu, 13 Jan 2022 06:20:40 GMT
Seaworld and San Antonio https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2022/1/seaworld-and-san-antonio

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) international travel USA https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2022/1/seaworld-and-san-antonio Thu, 13 Jan 2022 05:00:10 GMT
Dolphin Beach Encounter https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2022/1/dolphin-beach-encounter

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) international travel USA https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2022/1/dolphin-beach-encounter Thu, 13 Jan 2022 04:58:09 GMT
Texas Road-Trip https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/12/texas-road-trip Day 4 was spent traveling from Galveston to New Braunfels. It felt like a long drive, and after a few bathroom stops and Interstate traffic jams we made it to the little country place we booked. The host was very welcoming and after dinner we drove into the historic town of Gruene. This was the first place it felt like there was no pandemic going on. The beer gardens were full of people enjoying live music under hanging lights and Christmas decorations. The atmosphere was really enjoyable but we chose caution over walking around amidst the crowds.

The next morning, I decided to return to take a couple pictures of this charming place and its historic hall.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) international travel usa https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/12/texas-road-trip Tue, 28 Dec 2021 01:34:05 GMT
Galveston https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/12/galveston The kids started the day by swimming in the pool. The water was cold, but the sun was quite warm. After an early lunch, we left for the beach and spent the whole afternoon playing in the surf. 

After supper, we drove to the historic center of town and I took a few photos:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) international travel usa https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/12/galveston Mon, 27 Dec 2021 22:11:01 GMT
Space Center Houston https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/12/space-center-houston Traveling with celiac and autoimmune paleo needs requires some planning. We had brought lunches for the plane packed in Rubbermaid containers and froze water in them overnight to use as ice packs. We'd also brought a cooler bag within our checked luggage, so we packed lunches and were able to keep them cold in the trunk of the car. We arrived 20 minutes before our entry time and met up with Jason, Tandi, and Jax. 

We jumped on the first tram tour to the training facility and toured some of the exhibits before a picnic lunch on the lawn in the warm breeze. After lunch, we listened to a presentation by retired NASA astronaut Bill McArthur.

After our fun day at the Space Center we left for Galveston and checked into our condo at The Victorian, just across the street from the beach. The day concluded with a bit of fun by the water as the sun went down.


(DreamingOutdoors Photography) international travel usa https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/12/space-center-houston Mon, 27 Dec 2021 22:07:08 GMT
Traveling Again https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/12/houston

It had been a long two years since the last time we traveled anywhere! We got our rapid tests done and drove to Calgary the night before. Steve was kind enough to drive us to the airport in the morning after putting us up for the night.

There was a family check-in area with Westjet which was incredibly convenient. They checked our test results, proof of vaccination, and sent us on our way without any lineups. We had been sure to arrive 3 hour before our flight just in case; however, there were no lines at US Customs either, so we found ourselves with quite a wait in the departure area. We were much happier to have it this way than a hurried departure. We also took this time to pre-order groceries at a Kroger close to the Houston airport, and change accommodations in the San Antonio area after having second thoughts about staying in the congested downtown area in the middle of a pandemic.

It felt like a long wait after boarding as we queued for de-icing but the flight was uneventful as we arrived into Houston close to supper-time. We made the grocery pick-up and drove to the Clear Lake area south of the city, checking into a Sonesta Suites. I'd forgotten about these freeways: big roads and big speeds. We were starving at this point and the kids were both excited and exhausted (a dangerous combination). We prepped some food for the next day and crashed.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) international travel usa https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2021/12/houston Mon, 27 Dec 2021 19:44:35 GMT
Laid Over in Iceland https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/4/laid-over-in-iceland On our way back from Ireland last year, we were disappointed to find out at our check-in that our continuing flight from Keflavik to Edmonton was canceled due to weather. After a period of uncertainty and scrambling around on our phones, it was announced that the flight was reinstated. We were certainly relieved as we proceeded through check-in and security.

However, during the boarding process I received an alert on my phone that all outbound flights from Keflavik to North America were cancelled due to high winds. And here we were about to fly to Iceland! I knew there would be a much greater chance of us getting home on time from Dublin than to be stuck in Iceland with only one way out. However, I was told that my only choice was to proceed, so we boarded the plane as instructed.

Upon our safe arrival in Iceland, we found out that we had been one of the only flights coming in that day. There were hundreds of people lined up for customer service. Nearly resigned to nursing our hangovers on the floor of the airport as we waited our turn, Erin happened to catch the notice of a passing Icelandair staff member, who in turn caught the eye of the supervisor. The supervisor was surprised (and annoyed) find out they had sent in another plane knowing the situation. She whisked us to the front of the line and in moments had us booked on an emergency flight the next day to Edmonton! What luck! She then issued vouchers for a hotel and meals and we found ourselves soon on a bus destined for downtown Reykjavik.

It was surreal to be back in Reykjavik after a few years, without intending to be there. It was a cold, windy day but with blue skies. The kids were missing us terribly, and the stress of disappointing them did not leave us in a mood to make the best of it. However, we were happy with the way Icelandair cared for us and it's kind of fun to look back on the situation now.

Reykjavik WeatherReykjavik Weather

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe Iceland international travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2020/4/laid-over-in-iceland Mon, 20 Apr 2020 22:12:17 GMT
A day in London https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/a-day-in-london We stayed at the Premier Inn in Croydon, south of Gatwick, which was well worth the small taxi fare for the difference in nightly rates. We took the train into the city from Gatwick (this time using our Oyster Cards) and headed straight for St. Paul's. Clara was certain we were at the wrong church because it looked more like a castle to her;  I needed to have one of the staff confirm to her that it was indeed St. Paul's, which Clara was very excited about seeing.

Once inside, the novelty quickly wore off for the children. Again, we cut our visit short due to the nagging claims of boredom. Our friend Claire was waiting for us in the gift shop, and we walked across the street together for lunch at Wagamama. Callum did a great job about being more adventurous with his meal, and enjoyed a noodle dish. The staff were amazing with Clara's celiac disease and Erin's autoimmune paleo diet. At the end, one of the staff made a big deal about Callum's picture he'd coloured, and even posted it in the front of the restaurant which made a young boy's day.

We took a taxi over to Covent Garden to pick up tickets for an evening performance of Matilda at the Cambridge Theatre. We walked around in the rain a bit, stopping at a pop-up tea shop for a great time with some friendly staff, and to a crowded Monmouth Coffee for a late-day espresso. Tony met us for dinner at a great Italian pizzeria near Seven Dials. We said our goodbyes and the four of us took in a very fun evening of theatre. What a memorable way to conclude our family vacation to Europe!

Here is the final video of our trip:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) England Europe international travel UK https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/a-day-in-london Wed, 25 Dec 2019 17:02:39 GMT
Goodbye to Andalusia https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/goodbye-to-andalusia Once again, I got up before the rest of the family to catch the sunrise and enjoy some quiet time. I started in the old, quiet section above the Roman baths, and then crossed over the main road and descended the trail into the gorge to view the bridge better.

Then we packed up the car and headed for Malaga. Looking at the skies, we chose the less scenic option. This turned out to be a good choice, as the ceiling was quite low and it rained heavily even at lower elevations.

It wasn't the nicest way to end our vacation in Spain; we arrived in Malaga in the early afternoon and had planned to spend the afternoon at a park or on the beach. It was really cold and windy after the rain quit but after eating lunch in our car outside the outlet mall, we braved the conditions along the promenade. The kids had fun but Erin and I shivered the whole time. What then followed was a frustrating search for a gluten-free restaurant that was open at 4:00 pm. We finally found a pizza joint that could accommodate us, though a gourmet experience it was not. Our early evening flight timing had given us probably the only logistical challenge of the entire holiday. However, we were in plenty of time for our flight after returning our rental car, and a stress-free return was the main priority on this day.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Spain travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/goodbye-to-andalusia Wed, 25 Dec 2019 16:50:50 GMT
Roadtrip to Ronda https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/roadtrip-to-ronda We were picked up by a taxi at our apartment after breakfast and arrived at the VW dealership as it opened. We were outfitted with carseats in our Renault hatchback and soon found ourselves crossing the bridge towards the mainland. It was so nice to have the freedom of the road after using public transportation until this point in our trip. I had planned for us to eat a picnic lunch at a scenic rest-stop overlooking Arcos de la Frontera. I had imagined a sunny warm viewpoint, but instead it was very much a cold and windy viewpoint. Regardless, the view was terrific and I used an infrared layering technique in my photos:

The drive became increasingly scenic as we approached the mountains, but also increasingly wet. By the time we neared Grazalema we were fully in the clouds and crawling slowly around the hairpins behind a vehicle intent on setting a new speed minimum. There was a little rainbow of hope at the bend in Grazalema as the rain pelted down.

We descended towards Ronda and dropped out of the clouds. The rain eased up, and by the time we checked into the Hotel Polo and eaten lunch in a nice little restaurant, it had stopped entirely. We walked around this amazing little city taking in the breathtaking views of the valley below. One of my favourite memories will be watching Clara dance to the accordion music in a mirador overlooking the hills of Andalusia. 

We ended the day with some gluten free churros and chocolate.

Here is our video recap:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) europe international spain travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/roadtrip-to-ronda Wed, 25 Dec 2019 16:38:23 GMT
Dusk to Dawn in Cadiz https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/dusk-to-dawn-in-cadiz I headed for the seawall in Cadiz for sunrise while everyone slept, and was treated to some incredible colours.

Once everyone else woke up and we had some breakfast, we went for a walk. Back to the apartment briefly to re-fuel, we went down to the beach. It was chilly but the kids enjoyed playing in the sand. Callum built a fort and the walls withstood the waves of high tide.

In the late afternoon, we went to the Torre Tavira and saw the camera obscura, which was really interesting. The views from the top in the late day sun were terrific.

We walked past the cathedral and through a square filled with music before taking the seawall back to our apartment as night fell.

Here is a video recap:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Spain travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/dusk-to-dawn-in-cadiz Wed, 25 Dec 2019 16:16:23 GMT
Cadiz https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/cadiz A comfortable Renfre train journey brought us into the old city of Cadiz. We hired a taxi to drop us at the door of our aparthotel, located within easy walking distance to everywhere in the old city. They were accommodating to move us into a non-smoking room after ours wasn't to our standards.

It was, however, cooler than we'd hoped; the wind off the ocean had a bite to it. The kids were thrilled to have a fantastic playground just outside the hotel. Unfortunately, this part of the city seemed to be quite sleepy this time of year, and cafes, restaurants, and music were limited. 

Here is the video recap from the day:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Spain travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/cadiz Wed, 25 Dec 2019 07:05:41 GMT
Adios, Sevilla! https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/adios-sevilla I got up early to enjoy some final solitary moments in this wonderful city. I found some puddles to create some reflections, and although the sunrise didn't amount to much, it was a nice way to end my time there. Sevilla has so much to offer, but it's hard to fully explain why it's one of my favourite places in Spain.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Spain travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/adios-sevilla Wed, 25 Dec 2019 06:59:36 GMT
Alcazar de Sevilla y El Gran Derbi https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/alcazar-de-sevilla-y-el-gran-derbi I slept through my alarm and didn't take any sunrise photos. Our first activity of the day was to visit a large playground along the east side of the river, rather far to the north. It was a mistake to walk, in retrospect, we should have taken a taxi. The kids loved the big pirate ship and water features at the park and we took the bus back towards the centre. 

Our second activity after lunch was to visit the Alcazar. The gardens were extensive, and would have been magical in the spring or summer. It was a cold day so we didn't linger as long as we might have otherwise. The palaces were also very beautiful but the kids were predictably underwhelmed. While the Alcazar certainly cannot be missed, it is difficult to beat the Alhambra Palace in Granada.

After supper, Callum and I left for the highly anticipated match at the Villamarin between Betis and Sevilla, intercity rivals. There was great energy as we arrived outside the stadium. We found ourselves behind a crowded barricade under guard while the Sevilla fans paraded towards the stadium flanked by mounted police. The chanting between the fans was really something to witness, although I had to explain to Callum that some words are not okay to repeat, even if they are in a different language.

The start of the match, including the unison singing of the Betis Hymn, was unforgettable. The rest of the game won't linger as long in the memory. We got to witness a tying goal by the home side shortly before halftime, but overall the match was rather disorganized and lacked some of the reckless enthusiasm going forward, which I'd accustomed to seeing from Betis in recent years. 

We left the stadium amongst the masses, and with luck caught a bus when Callum was clever enough to identify the #3 which I missed. This got us home just before midnight, and we hung up our green and white striped scarves for the evening.

Here is a video of another very long but very enjoyable day in Sevilla:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Spain travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/alcazar-de-sevilla-y-el-gran-derbi Wed, 25 Dec 2019 06:50:55 GMT
Seville Sights https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/seville-sights I got up early while the rest of the family slept, and enjoyed the incomparable Plaza de Espana with few other people around. 

Afterwards, we had a late breakfast and toured the Cathedral. It was a very popular attraction but we had purchased our tickets at another cathedral the day before, which allowed us to skip the line. Once inside, however, we were faced with even more people and it took quite some time to reach the top of the Giralda Tower. The church itself was breathtaking but it was difficult to take in as much as we wanted to, due to young children claiming boredom.

We had a late lunch and went back out for a good espresso at Torch, a playground stop, and then returned to a bustling Plaza de Espana where we rented a pedal cart and toured around the park. 

We could have spent a bit longer, but we wanted to get to the Setas before dark. We thought about taking a taxi, but in reality it was just as quick to walk. On the way, we passed through some colourful squares:

We did catch some nice colours after sunset from atop the "weird mushroomy thing." By this time, the kids were quite tired; however, we found it a worthwhile stop for the interesting architecture and good views.

Here is a video recap:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Spain travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/seville-sights Wed, 25 Dec 2019 06:32:21 GMT
Bienvenido a Sevilla https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/bienvenido-a-sevilla The day started early, with a taxi to Luton airport. We were in good time, but it's amazing how the moments evaporate. The security line at Luton is not my favourite; it feels reminiscent of a cattle auction, and sure enough Erin had to wait quite some time to have her bags manually searched. Meanwhile, I thought I'd get started towards the departure area with the two kids. In the dutyfree shop, we found a double decker Lego bus that was a perfect souvenir for Callum. Clara was begging for water, so I picked up those items and carried along the way. After several minutes, it became apparent that I'd walked right out of the shop without paying for the Lego and water. We hadn't passed through a payment area near as I could tell, so we backtracked against the flow of people. As time ticked along, we found the payment area located off to the side, waited in the queue and paid for our items. Looking up at the departure screen, it now said that our flight gate was closing. I picked up Clara and ran with Callum sprinting behind me. Erin was waiting at the gait, quite worried and confused about our absence. Fortunately the sign turned out to be rather alarmist, as we were penned in for quite some time before boarding our EasyJet flight to Seville.

The flight was uneventful until we started descending. I got a fantastic view of Arcos de la Frontera from the air, though now photo of it. The pilot was most welcoming to the children and allowed them to sit in the flight deck once we started deplaning. 

We had planned to get a taxi direct to our apartment, but a strike left us taking the bus into the city. In the end, this saved us a bit of money and the walk from the station was okay. As it was, we needed to drop our bags and head out for lunch prior to being able to check into the Giralda Suites near to the Cathedral. 

We had a nice lunch, wandered over to Triana, then back to check in. In the evening, I returned to Triana for some sunset photos. The atmosphere was very pleasant as the sky turned from orange to pink to purple.

Here is a video from the day:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Spain travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/bienvenido-a-sevilla Wed, 25 Dec 2019 03:59:23 GMT
Crossing the Pond with Kids https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/crossing-the-pond-with-kids This would be our first overseas trip with our kids, aged 5 and 7. 

We booked Westjet flights from Edmonton to Gatwick via Toronto. Even though our final destination was Spain, Westjet did not offer their seasonal flights to Barcelona in November. We thought it would be a good opportunity to see London during our trip, and EasyJet offered excellent flight options. We flew all four of us return to Spain from London, including one checked bag, for $400 CAD total. 

Westjet's new 787 Dreamliner comfortably took us from Toronto to Gatwick overnight. Sleep was minimal; I find this flight is not quite long enough to get comfortable for a night's sleep, and you don't get the same quality of meals as on a flight from Calgary to to London, for example. 

We got in earlier than expected and were onto the train by 9:00 am. Changing to the Underground at St. Pancras, we exited Baker Street and found my friend Aaron's place, which was generously offered to us as a staging area for our half-day in London. Becoming quite hungry at this point, we met at Nando's in Picadilly. This was a safe and healthy option for us, as we were traveling with a 5 year-old celiac. 

We walked through Trafalgar Square to the Thames and crossed over Westminster Bridge. We used the 2-for-1 promotion offered through the National Railway to purchase tickets for the London Eye. I had chosen to pre-purchase train tickets from Gatwick rather than using an Oyster Card, in order to qualify for this promotion. This also allowed us to buy ourselves "regular" Oyster Cards at St. Pancras rather than the tourist ones which were available at Gatwick. The children could travel for free with our Oyster Cards, although we needed to purchase them a child's fare on the railway. It's all rather complicated, and needlessly so.

With luck, there was no queue and it was sunny in the late afternoon.

Southern View from London EyeSouthern View from London Eye St. Paul's Cathedral from London EyeSt. Paul's Cathedral from London Eye Charing CrossCharing Cross Google LondonGoogle London Looking Down on YouLooking Down on You Thames BWThames BW Northern View from the EyeNorthern View from the Eye

We walked to Waterloo Station, and after making a wrong turn we by chance bumped into friends from home! We collected our luggage from our layover residence, ate some Pizza Express takeout (celiac friendly), and returned to King's Cross to see Platform 9 3/4. 

I had also pre-purchased tickets from St. Pancras to Luton, and we arrived at the Ibis after a small hiccup when I assumed the shuttle would drop us at the hotel, but finding in retrospect it only stopped outside the Holiday Inn before carrying on to the airport. We were more than ready for a good sleep when we finally got there. Our budget-style room had a queen bed and a small single next to the window. I slept comfortably in the single, while Erin and the kids shared the queen. 

Here is a video from our very long day!

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) England Europe international travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/12/crossing-the-pond-with-kids Sun, 22 Dec 2019 20:41:19 GMT
Driving to Dublin https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/4/driving-to-dublin This leg of our journey was relatively uneventful. We left Killarney in the late morning after a good sleep and had lunch in Cobh. I wish we had more time here; it was a very cute town perched on a steep hill with bright-coloured buildings and a seaside promenade.

Then it was the tedious return to Dublin on the motorway. We made good time until we approached the city through a construction zone and the beginning of rush hour traffic. We dropped off the rental car in Swords and caught a taxi to our hotel in Malahide. 

Here's a video recap:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe International Ireland travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/4/driving-to-dublin Tue, 16 Apr 2019 05:08:41 GMT
Kenmare and Sneem https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/4/kenmare-and-sneem We slept late and were on the road by late morning. Hardly out of Killarney, we stopped to see Torc Falls which were pretty, but not particularly special. I found the stream itself a bit more photogenic:

The climb to Ladies View and then Moll's Gap was really exceptional.

It didn't take long before we found ourselves in Kenmare. The triangular shaped historic town centre was really attractive and pleasant to spend a couple hours. After some ice cream and espresso, Erin found some lovely boots for a good price at Simplicity Shoes.

The weather was holding so we ventured a bit farther to Sneem. This little tidy town was attractive too, but felt more contrived for the benefit of the many tour buses which seemed to make it a regular stop. However, we had a truly amazing dessert and coffee at The Village Kitchen. They offered a couple tasty gluten-free options too.

Our luck with the weather seemed to be running out and we had grown weary of the winding roads. We chose a high-country return route to Moll's Gap and enjoyed the views immensely; clear skies and green grass would transform this landscape into something really special later in the spring I'm sure.

The rain began in earnest after our return to Killarney. We enjoyed dinner at Robertino's and then settled into a local sports bar for a couple pints and to watch some Champions League games. 

Here is a video recap from the day:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe International Ireland travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/4/kenmare-and-sneem Tue, 16 Apr 2019 05:03:05 GMT
Road to Killarney https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/4/road-to-killarney I forced myself out of the cozy B&B to make the most of our time in Doolin. I roamed the quiet streets in the cold, humid morning air and caught some soft pink clouds over the street we'd been on the night before:

I then returned to the house on the hill where we stayed, capturing these shots:

After a nice, relaxing breakfast in the southwest facing dining room, we hit the road for Killarney. The first stop was to check out the grounds surrounding Bunratty Castle but we chose against a visit. We had learned that what looks like a short distance on the map can turn into a surprisingly long day of driving, so an earlier arrival in Killarney appealed to us after our late evening fiasco getting into Doolin.

Lunch was a healthy one in the suburbs of Limerick at Delish and we did arrive in Killarney in decent time as anticipated. We found the centrally located Scott's hotel to be adequate for our needs, and the underground parking was actually very convenient in the city centre. We walked around a bit, in and out of some shops, before settling on pizza for supper at Milano.

After dinner, we enjoyed a quiet dusk at Lough Leane in the shadow of Ross Castle. Here is a video recap of our day:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe International Ireland travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/4/road-to-killarney Tue, 16 Apr 2019 04:51:23 GMT
Connemara Roadtrip https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/4/connemara-roadtrip We enjoyed a relaxing morning and a nice breakfast before calling a taxi to the Enterprise car rental agency on the east side of Galway. We soon found our way in a nice Toyota C-HR hybrid.

Driving in Ireland (or on the left) for the first time is quite an experience. It was extremely helpful to have Erin watchful in the passenger seat, but really I adapted quicker than I expect to the directional flow of traffic. It helped that we picked up the car on the outskirts of a smaller city; this was by design. The other helpful factor was getting an automatic. I actually really enjoy driving a manual transmission, but we did so much slowing down and speeding up as we wound up, down, and around the wild curves that Erin was almost carsick even with an automatic. The hardest thing to adapt to was not hugging the nonexistent shoulder on the left side, especially as tour buses and trucks often leaned over the centre line. The speed limits on the small, windy roads were ludicrous; 100 km/h in places that the laws of physics would prevent you from reaching 60 km/h!

Given the sunny weather, we chose to go north instead of south towards Doolin, our next night's accommodation. We did a loop north through Headford, Cong, Finny, and to the head of the Killary Fjord before traveling counterclockwise through Connemara and south back to Galway. It was a great drive with some terrific scenery, although the photos don't really do it justice.

Our ambition also turned our day into a very very long one. We pulled into Doolin as the sun was setting and rushed out to see the Cliffs of Moher under favourable conditions. It turned out to be a nice time; very quiet without other tourists and the light was quite nice. However, we didn't linger as we were starving.

We found seats at the bar at Gus O'Connor's pub and enjoyed a very good pub meal and a pint. They even had quality gluten-free beer for Erin! On this Sunday night, some folks were playing/singing some traditional Irish songs and it was quite a nice atmosphere.

We then retired to the Doolin View B&B for a good night's rest. Here are some video clips from the day:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe International Ireland travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/4/connemara-roadtrip Wed, 10 Apr 2019 21:13:46 GMT
Getting to Galway https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/4/getting-to-galway The flight over from Edmonton via Reykjavik was fairly direct. After clearing customs in Dublin, we picked up a SIM card for 25E at the airport and some lunch for the bus ride. Our new connectivity system was to use an old phone with a local SIM and run it as a wifi hotspot for our Canadian phones kept on airplane mode. This turned out to work really well.

The GoBus is located straight out the airport doors past the parking garage, at point 13. It is very well signed and easy to see. I would also note that there are a couple places to get food in this through-way that are far less busy than the ones inside the airport. The bus fare to Galway was 20E cash, and other than stopping in central Dublin, it was very comfortable and direct. 

It was easy to find a taxi at the drop-off point in Dublin and we were dropped off in front of Merrion Townhouse bed and breakfast in no time. The rooms and bathrooms were very small, but that is to be expected in a conversion of such an old building. The host was lovely and the breakfast offerings were very good, including a proper french press coffee. Compared to other options in Galway, it was pretty good value. 

Craving a proper meal, we walked to Hooked for some seafood. This was a terrific little family-run restaurant and Erin was thrilled to have some fish and chips made gluten free in a separate frier! I went with a fish taco and some slaw. There was a Spanish spin on this place but I was too full to indulge in some churros for dessert. 

We walked around the city a bit and found the central area to be very touristy and crowded. Uninspired for whatever reason, we stopped at The Secret Garden
for tea and dessert. This was a good choice. It was a packed little place with a cool vibe and a cute stone-walled patio out back. A musician was just setting up as people were gathering around tables and on the floor nearby in anticipation. Had we not been so tired, we would have definitely hung out for a while. But that was to be the end of our first day in Ireland. 


(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe International Ireland travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/4/getting-to-galway Wed, 10 Apr 2019 09:09:50 GMT
Newcastle, again https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/2/newcastle-again Arriving around 9:00 pm from a day in Edinburgh that started with a sunrise photoshoot in Newcastle, I was pretty beat. But the stars were shining brightly and the next day's forecast looked poor. After a brief glimpse of the still reflections on the Tyne, I decided I'd really kick myself if I didn't go shootin'. A couple hours later, these were the results:

The next morning, I had a very productive business meeting. Wrapping up around 11:00 am, I took an Uber to Ryton and found the address of my great-great-great-great Grandfather!

My driver then brought me to the Blaydon cemetery where I was very pleased to find the headstones I was in search of.

I walked down Shibon road, the presumed site of the family farm, and then to the train station

Here are some videos of my little family history foray:

From the station, I caught a perfectly timed departure to deliver me back to Newcastle in time for a very fun afternoon of lunch, coffee, and tea at Quay Ingredients with Sam, a travel blogger I met on Twitter. She was lovely and we really enjoyed our time chatting. I arrived back to my hotel in time to put my feet up for a few minutes and catch up with family back home. Then I packed a bit for my return journey and got dressed for a cold night at St. James' Park. I had wood-fired pizza nearby at a terrific place built underneath the train bridge to fuel up for the match between Newcastle United and Manchester City. It was a really fun event, with great energy, and unbelievably a win for NUFC! 

And finally, here are a few other scenes to remember my time in Newcastle:


(DreamingOutdoors Photography) England Europe International travel UK https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/2/newcastle-again Wed, 06 Feb 2019 05:27:23 GMT
An afternoon in Edinburgh https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/2/an-afternoon-in-edinburgh I arrived just before noon on a crisp, sunny winter morning. The train journey had given me glimpses of the seaside, shimmering blue under the bright morning sun. I had no agenda, other than hoping to catch the sunset from Calton Hill, so I wandered west across a bridge and up a hill. I found myself in Old Edinburgh with the sound of bagpipes echoing through the streets.

It seemed natural to continue uphill, and I soon arrived at the castle. The light was harsh and the day was young, so I decided to take a spin through the castle. It was an interesting couple hours; I saw the one o'clock gun fire, I read stories of medieval history that made Game of Thrones seem like a documentary, and I saw the Crown Jewels. I looked at the time and the rumblings of my empty stomach convinced me to sit down for a truly underwhelming and overpriced lunch at the restaurant (my only bad meal of the entire trip).

I thought I might have quite a bit more time to wander around after my castle visit, but the sun began dipping quite low to the horizon before I knew it. I proceeded up to Calton Hill as planned. It was a viciously cold wind and it seemed I was growing quite accustomed to adjusting my camera and tripod techniques to accommodated for that. In the end, I got a few nice ones and the sunset was quite intense. I had to count myself quite lucky for the short time and season I was there.

I retired to an Andalusian restaurant for some very nice tapas, followed by desert at another second floor cafe where I meditated the time away until near to my departure time. 

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe International Scotland travel UK https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/2/an-afternoon-in-edinburgh Wed, 06 Feb 2019 05:02:08 GMT
Newcastle Arrival https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/2/newcastle-arrival My first memory of Newcastle Upon Tyne was listening to Coldplay's bonus track "O" off the "Ghost Stories" album as the train rattled across the bridge over the river. After arriving around midnight from Liverpool, I really should have slept in. After all, I didn't need to leave for Edinburgh until nearly 11 am. However, the forecast was good and I simply couldn't pass up a sunrise photoshoot. Fortunately, my hotel was close to the High Level Bridge and I first set up there to get my first view of the Tyne. Had I waited here, I would have eventually captured a blooming colourful sky. But I chose to carry on towards a second location down-river.

Happy with my morning's activities, I settled in for a breakfast back at the hotel, backed up my photos, and repacked my backpack for a day's adventure in Edinburgh. 

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) England Europe International travel UK https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/2/newcastle-arrival Wed, 06 Feb 2019 04:30:50 GMT
Liverpool https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/2/liverpool I arrived on the train just before lunchtime. It was dry, thankfully, and I was able to walk easily from Lime Street Station to the Ibis Styles on Dale Street. Endeavouring to eat healthy on this trip, I suppressed all cravings and bought a wrap from a raw food place called "Naked" just down the street. Then it was time to get out and explore, since my course wasn't starting until the next day.

I started with the docks area, in order to scout possible evening photoshoot locations. All these daytime photos were taken with my iPhone XS; it was liberating to walk with only a phone in my pocket, and I was really happy with the quality I was able to achieve with a device that could both help me navigate and take photos.

Next, I walked southeast to the Baltic Triangle. It was an interesting area that looked previously derelict but now quite revitalized in areas. I saw some nice street art along the way:

One of the best, of course, was this one of Jergen Klopp:

At this point, it began raining quite hard and I took refuge in the coffee shop across the street from Klopp. When it relented, I carried along towards the Ropewalks via Chinatown.

I returned to my hotel to pick up my DSLR kit as sunset approached and snapped this photo from the end of the hallway:

Sunset didn't amount to much, so I waited patiently as the light diminished. It became a challenging photoshoot to fight the cold wind gusts and keep the tripod stable. Thankfully, between volume and technique, I ended up with quite a few keepers:

I thoroughly enjoyed the city and the course that followed for the next couple days. The weather degenerated over the rest of my visit and my work stuff kind of took over, so these were the last photos I took:

Here are a few video clips of my time in Liverpool:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) England Europe International travel UK https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/2/liverpool Mon, 04 Feb 2019 04:28:28 GMT
London, briefly https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/2/london-briefly This began a very good business trip to England. I worked Wednesday morning, left at noon, and arrived in London late Thursday morning via a Vancouver stopover. Unfortunately the Heathrow-Paddington express train was out, so I endured 24 stops on the Underground to King's Cross. I used to find international arrivals so disorienting, but by now less novel and I walked confidently in the drizzle past St. Pancras towards my aparthotel. This was the first photo I took:

St. PancrasSt. Pancras

I walked past a coffee shop called Origin on my way across the street. Then I doubled back. What was the hurry after all? So I sat at the window, sipping an espresso with a veggie toastie, slowly acclimating to my new environment. Later, having checked into my hotel and getting cleaned up, I went to a grocery store to pick up some yogurt and bananas for breakfast. 

Then it was off to Camden Market for a meeting. We wrapped up around 8:00, so I found myself back at my hotel quite early. The intelligent thing would be to go to bed. However, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see the Thames for a second time. I took the Underground to the London Bridge station, walked along the south bank to Millennium Bridge, and hoped to see the bridge nicely lit up. It was not, so there would be no photo opportunity on this occasion. I crossed the bridge and carried on towards St. Paul's. I quickly found myself in a great perspective with excellent foreground leading lines and lighting. So this is the only DSLR image I have of London on this trip, but I'm quite happy with it:

St. Paul'sSt. Paul's

The next morning I was off to Liverpool, so I hurried back to repack and turn in for the night.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) England Europe International travel UK https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2019/2/london-briefly Mon, 04 Feb 2019 04:10:06 GMT
Costa Rica https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/11/costa-rica This was the first international trip for our kids, ages 4 and 6. It was a great holiday and a perfect destination for a combination of comfort, safety, culture, nature, and adventure. We spent time in La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano area for a few days before getting comfortable in a rental house in Playa Hermosa.

Videos from each day can be seen HERE

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Central America Costa Rica International travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/11/costa-rica Sun, 18 Nov 2018 04:00:42 GMT
Los Angeles https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/9/los-angeles Well, I guess I crossed this city off the bucket list. There were a few neat pockets spread far apart and not linked by any decent public transit. The people were... eclectic? The weather was fantastic. There were some good restaurants, coffee shops, and gastropubs. Hollywood was awful. The view from Kenneth Hahn park at sunset was epic. Uber came to my rescue a couple times, most notably when I left my wallet in the car. I liked Pasadena and Santa Monica but there wasn't much to fall in love with. These are my good shots:

And here are my iPhone snaps:


(DreamingOutdoors Photography) California International Los Angeles travel USA https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/9/los-angeles Fri, 14 Sep 2018 05:13:45 GMT
Vancouver https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/7/vancouver It had been a while since I was in Vancouver. I was soon reminded what a fun place this is for a couple days. Some great coffee and terrific meals at La Taqueria Pinche and The Nightingale.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) BC Canada travel Vancouver https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/7/vancouver Mon, 23 Jul 2018 02:29:14 GMT
Layover in Brussels https://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 Europe International travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/5/layover-in-brussels Fri, 11 May 2018 01:26:51 GMT
Algarve https://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.

Here is a video recap from Portugal:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Algarve Europe International Portugal travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/5/algarve Sun, 06 May 2018 15:25:25 GMT
Porto https://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) Europe International Portugal travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/5/porto Sat, 05 May 2018 23:59:02 GMT
Porto Street Art https://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) Europe International Porto Portugal travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/porto Sun, 22 Apr 2018 08:43:28 GMT
Lisbon https://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) Europe International Portugal travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/lisbon Sun, 22 Apr 2018 08:43:09 GMT
Sintra https://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) Europe International Portugal travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/sintra Sun, 22 Apr 2018 08:33:01 GMT
Real Madrid vs. PSG https://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) Europe International Spain travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/real-madrid-vs-psg Mon, 19 Feb 2018 18:34:49 GMT
Return to Madrid https://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) Europe International Spain travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/return-to-madrid Mon, 19 Feb 2018 18:28:26 GMT
Santiago Bernabéu https://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) Europe international Spain travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/santiago-bernabeu Mon, 19 Feb 2018 18:20:46 GMT
Return to Rome https://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) Europe International Italy travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/return-to-rome Fri, 16 Feb 2018 18:38:00 GMT
The London Book-End https://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! Here are a few video clips from London:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) England Europe International travel UK https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/the-london-book-end Mon, 23 Oct 2017 17:12:57 GMT
Go with Gord, from Slovenia https://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 erupted 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) Europe International Slovenia travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/go-with-gord-from-slovenia Sat, 21 Oct 2017 05:15:00 GMT
The City of Dragons https://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) Europe International Slovenia travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/the-city-of-dragons Thu, 19 Oct 2017 17:49:57 GMT
Piran https://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) Europe International Slovenia travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/piran Thu, 19 Oct 2017 17:34:18 GMT
A day in Croatia https://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 Europe International travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/a-day-in-croatia Thu, 19 Oct 2017 17:28:33 GMT
Arrival in Slovenia https://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) Europe International Slovenia travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/arrival-in-slovenia Tue, 17 Oct 2017 06:02:18 GMT
London; nice to finally meet you. https://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 Europe international travel UK https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/london-nice-to-finally-meet-you Sun, 15 Oct 2017 05:42:43 GMT
Waterton Lakes National Park https://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 Canada mountains Rockies Waterton https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/7/waterton-lakes-national-park Mon, 03 Jul 2017 14:21:18 GMT
Amsterdam https://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) Europe Holland international travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/amsterdam Thu, 06 Apr 2017 14:45:54 GMT
Angel of Haarlem https://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) Europe Holland international travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/angel-of-haarlem Wed, 05 Apr 2017 05:32:36 GMT
En Marchant https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/en-marchant We began the day at sunrise at the Trocadero, hoping to do some self-portraits with the tripod, to moderate success. I didn't post those photos here. We then walked a lot, north of the river ending at Montmartre and Sacre Couer for a picnic lunch on the sunny south-facing slope. The day concluded at the Luxembourg Gardens for (almost) sunset before the guards kicked everyone out at the stroke of 8:00. We headed right back to the apartment, hoping for an early night before our morning departure for Amsterdam.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe France international travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/en-marchant Mon, 03 Apr 2017 19:41:41 GMT
Paris Scenes https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/paris-scenes We walked the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe in the morning, visited Notre Dame, and watched night fall from the Trocadero.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe France international travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/paris-scenes Mon, 03 Apr 2017 05:13:47 GMT
Musee d'Orsay https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/musee-dorsay On Sunday, we went to this beautiful museum, set in an old train station. However, the line was so long when we first arrived, we actually went walking to the Arc de Triomphe instead. We returned later to the museum, hoping for a shorter line but, not finding one, realized the first Sunday of the month was free admission!


(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe France international travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/musee-dorsay Mon, 03 Apr 2017 05:08:21 GMT
Louvre https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/louvre The day finished with a walk along the Seine at sunset... ... but the day began with the Louvre!

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe France international travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/louvre Sat, 01 Apr 2017 20:07:07 GMT
Arrivez https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/arrivez We started the trip off in style with a free quasi-upgrade to business class legroom seats. The flight was uneventful to Paris, and we easily found our apartment and checked in. Our day concluded with a world class sunset atop the Tour Montparnasse.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe France international travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/arrivez Sat, 01 Apr 2017 17:28:31 GMT
Dodging puddles in Oslo https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/11/puddle-dodging-in-oslo I had an early exam time Sunday morning, after which I drove with Nick to Oslo for the rest of the morning. We walked around the center of the city and, with our eyes often looking up at the nice architecture, found ourselves stepping in puddles left and right. Here are some iPhone shots from the morning:



(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Norway Oslo travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/11/puddle-dodging-in-oslo Tue, 22 Nov 2016 04:05:23 GMT
More Moss and a Bakery Tour https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/11/more-moss-and-a-bakery-tour I had another great day at my course, but had to sneak out at lunch and during the afternoon break for a little walk to see the sunshine. Here are my photos:

What followed was a fun little adventure to Sarpsborg. I had a care package to deliver to a friend's relative in that city. Thanks to Google Maps on my smartphone, I made it to Sondre's house where he lives with his family. It was a beautiful home, decorated like a Christmas dollhouse. We chatted over delicious pastry and coffee before going on a tour of the family's bakery, which first opened in 1930! I learned a lot about the process and their hospitality was much appreciated.

I made it back before too late. Here is a picture of the church next to the Moss Hotel.


(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Norway travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/11/more-moss-and-a-bakery-tour Sat, 19 Nov 2016 17:49:58 GMT
Moss https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/11/moss I was busy with my course all day, but snapped a couple pictures during an afternoon break.

I picked up some food for supper at a local grocery store, ate in my hotel room, and went out for a walk in the increasing drizzle.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Norway travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/11/moss Thu, 17 Nov 2016 20:45:25 GMT
In Transit https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/11/in-transit After the course wrapped on Tuesday, I flew to Munich on a very comfortable Lufthansa flight. I had a good sleep and the time passed quickly. Here was my supper in the Munich airport, at what my body thought should have been breakfast time.

I then arrived in Oslo after a short flight, picked up my rental car, and successfully navigated in the dark rain to my hotel in Moss, about 1.5 hours with detours.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Norway travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/11/in-transit Thu, 17 Nov 2016 20:41:08 GMT
A Full Moon and a Firefly https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/11/firefly After our course Monday night, Amanda and I went down to the Bay Bridge to watch the "super-moon" rise.

Afterwards, we went up to Noe Valley to have a nice dinner in a restaurant called Firefly. It did not disappoint.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) California international San Francisco travel USA https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/11/firefly Thu, 17 Nov 2016 20:36:21 GMT
Wandering in San Francisco https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/11/wandering-in-san-francisco I had only half of Sunday to get out and see some of the city. I forgot how much it smelled of urine. But there were also some lovely sights as I wandered the streets between Mission and Castro, south of Market. At one point, a large anti-Trump demonstration marched by.

After tiring of walking around, I got a Uber ride to Marshall's Beach, where I watched the sunset over the Pacific and the lights of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The return to the airport hotel was long via public transit, but in all it was a successful day touring the city.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) California international San Francisco travel USA https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/11/wandering-in-san-francisco Mon, 14 Nov 2016 09:04:38 GMT
Hunting the Tombstones https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/11/hunting-the-tombstones Late August in Tombstone Territorial Park has long been a bucket-list trip of mine, and it certainly did not disappoint when Alana, Dad and I went on a 3-day woodland caribou hunting trip. The ripe berries and yellowing tundra made for beautiful hiking, and encounters with caribou, Dall's sheep, and moose only added to the experience. Here is the eye candy:

Blackstone RiverBlackstone River Angelcomb ReflectionAngelcomb Reflection The HunterThe Hunter Glassing the HillsGlassing the Hills Mt. Boyle Summit RidgeMt. Boyle Summit Ridge Boyle RidgeBoyle Ridge Going NorthGoing North Ogilvie PanoramaOgilvie Panorama Ogilvie Range MonochromeOgilvie Range Monochrome Yukon GoldYukon Gold Blackstone FadingBlackstone Fading Angelcomb SunriseAngelcomb Sunrise The Leading EdgeThe Leading Edge The Cloudy RangeThe Cloudy Range Colors of the KlondikeColors of the Klondike Cloaked MonolithCloaked Monolith North Klondike Valley PanoramaNorth Klondike Valley Panorama

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) backpacking Canada hiking mountains North Yukon https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/11/hunting-the-tombstones Sat, 05 Nov 2016 20:02:17 GMT
Madrid https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/madrid I couldn't pass up one more time at the lookout on the Parador hill at sunrise. It wasn't anything special photographically, but the memory is worth it.

We had a smooth start to the train station in Toledo after dropping off the car at the Europcar office. The train was pleasant and soon arrived in the heart of Madrid. We navigated to our hotel and made a plan to see the city on foot.

And here are some photos with the big camera:

Here is a video with some clips from the trip:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Spain travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/madrid Tue, 19 Apr 2016 11:55:14 GMT
Holy Toledo! https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/toledo We bid a reluctant farewell to Alicante after a lively Saturday night. When I went out to watch the sunrise, the young people looked to be just returning out of the clubs and the street sweepers were just wrapping up a herculean clean-up effort.

The drive to Toledo meant 3.5 hours on the Autovia through wine country. There were innumerable abandoned farmhouses which we hypothesized had lost their occupancy through the consolidation of farmland into wealthy hands. Toledo: What is there to say? The place is a marvel. We stayed at the Parador with a commanding view of the city, and had an exemplary meal at Restaurante Alfiterios 24 inside the old city.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Spain travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/toledo Sun, 17 Apr 2016 17:59:09 GMT
Alicante https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/alicante We got a late start from Granada after returning to the car park from the palace. The scenery was quite nice as we passed through land reminiscent of a spaghetti western. There were some beautiful rock formations in the mountains, and in one region we spotted some old dwellings carved right into the rocks. Unfortunately, it seemed to take forever because we were so tired. At one point, we pulled over for a power nap when I could no longer keep my eyes open. We were nearing the end of our rope as we arrived in Alicante. After squeezing into a parking garage, we located our apartment along a pedestrian street. Paloma met us at the Beach and Urban Attic which was truly beyond our expectations. It was clean, spacious, and modern, with a large terrace. We found a friendly and bustling pub called Tribeca just down the street that was very celiac-friendly; a gluten-free burger and beer was just what the doctor ordered for Erin. Barcelona was playing Atletico Madrid, drawing a captive audience.

Alicante has a bit of everything: shopping, cuisine, nightlife, markets, and a great beach. It was a bit more cosmopolitan and lacked the white-washed appearance of the Andalusian towns we'd become accustomed to. The weather was great; 23 degrees and sunny.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Spain travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/alicante Thu, 14 Apr 2016 22:11:55 GMT
Alhambra Palace https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/alhambra-palace I did it! I got in line for the few tickets that were to be released the same day for the tour of the Generalife gardens and the Nasrid Palaces. And let me tell you, 6:45 am was none too soon. It was down to the wire -- quite tense actually -- as I watched the number of available tickets diminish to single digits before I got to the wicket at 8:20. My only advice for others would be to take a taxi and arrive at 6:30. One would think that two hours of waiting in the dark/cold in a queue would be a waste of time. This is not the case with the Alhambra Palace. However, booking in advance would certainly spare you some leg fatigue.  

Leaving the Generalife gardens and exploring the rest of the palace grounds:

Before we had our scheduled tour of the Nasrid Palaces, we had the most exceptional lunch at El Trasgu, recommended for their gluten free accommodation, and they did not disappoint. It was the best meal we had thus far.    

Next came our tour through the Nasrid Palaces, which were superlative.

So after this long, warm day got started, we struck off towards Alicante.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Alhambra Europe Granada international Spain travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/alhambra-palace Thu, 14 Apr 2016 18:17:37 GMT
Granada https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/granada We had a final breakfast at Casa Mercedes in Nerja, enjoying fresh fruit, meats, cheeses, and coffee. We discovered a fruit called medlar, which is grown very few places in the world, and characteristic of the region.    

We then drove directly to Granada. The freeway ascended next to the high Sierra Nevada range, home to Las Alpujarras UNESCO heritage site. En route, Erin read this fascinating article about vegetable and fruit production in the Almeria region. Yes, I'm serious -- it's worth a read.

Finding our hotel easily thanks to the greatness of Google Maps and cheap data, we were lucky to be checked in early, before noon, and we took off on foot. I think we walked every street in the city! I found it interesting that very few people in Granada spoke English compared to Nerja. This led to an entertaining Tapas experience for lunch, where the chef, waiter, and owner bent over backwards to provide Erin a satisfactory "sin gluten" meal. I'm happy to say they were successful. I put a Canadian quarter on the tray with the rest of their tip, resulting in some excitement on their part.

We voluntarily subjected ourselves to the Bib Rambla market district, full of Moroccan merchandise, typically made in Nepal.

Here we are climbing through El Albaicin up to the Mirador San Nicolas.

This is the fabulous view from the top:

And a few more photos as night fell on the city:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Spain travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/granada Wed, 13 Apr 2016 04:28:15 GMT
Frigiliana https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/frigiliana After lunch, we went to tour the Nerja Caves, not far from town. The caverns were immense and we walked through at our own pace with a self-guided tour app we downloaded.

Then it was up the mountain a little ways to Frigiliana. I had found a couple spots on Google Streetview that I thought looked quite photogenic, and the roads were quite literally goat trails in a couple places.

We decided to head to Nerja for supper, then return to Frigiliana to photograph the sunset from a viewpoint we had discovered just beyond the town, up the hill. The sunset didn't materialize, so we waited for night to fall on the town. It was a nice end to our second day.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Spain travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/frigiliana Mon, 11 Apr 2016 21:57:51 GMT
Nerja https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/nerja While Erin was sleeping, I went back to the Balcony of Europe to catch the sunrise. It turned out to be a great one, well worth the effort. The colors were so overpowering I had to reduce the saturation in parts of the first image. After a terrific breakfast at the hostel on a sunny terrace, we struck off to explore the town by foot. We stopped in some nice shops and I finally found a suitable hat to replace the one I'd lost on the plane. Erin bought a scarf for 5E and I found a very nice leather wallet for 15E. The morning was capped by a light lunch with the most delicious sangria at La Fuente and a chat with a few nice British people along the way.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Spain travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/nerja Mon, 11 Apr 2016 15:58:25 GMT
Arrival in Andalusia https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/arrival-in-andalusia Our Westjet flight left on time at 10:00 to Toronto, and other than forgetting my favorite hat on the airplane, our connection went smoothly to our overnight flight to Paris. The descent to Paris was lovely, as the dawn was breaking over the English Channel and the fog was lifting around the city. I had a great view of the Eiffel Tower from the plane.

The airport in Paris is huge. We were bused from the airplane to the terminal, where we waited at a bustling and newly constructed terminal gate for the final segment to Malaga. It was on this flight we finally slept for a couple hours:

We had no trouble navigating the lovely airport in Malaga, and had a local SIM card loaded and activated in no time. To Erin's surprise, our bags arrived and we were on our way to the car rental counter. After a fairly aggressive attempt to up-sell us at the EuropeCar counter and some difficulty finding our old Peugeot wagon in the parking garage, we documented all the various dings and scratches with photos and struck out.

Always the biggest shock of arriving at a new country is the moment you find yourself thrust into the local traffic. Our SIM card cost 15E and allotted us 1.5GB of data with 60 minutes of calling, so we felt much more confident navigating by the "little blue dot" on Google Maps. Here we are climbing east on the A-7 from Malaga:

We checked out the promenade in Nerja for a few minutes while waiting for our check-in time at Hostal Casa Mercedes. We were greeted promptly at 5:00 and whisked up to a beautiful room overlooking the city and the sea. After a much-needed shower, we headed out for supper (or what our bodies were telling us was breakfast). We found La Fuente, a friendly restaurant that was extremely celiac-friendly, much to Erin's excitement. The owner's wife is celiac, so they have all the proper precautions and more options that you could imagine, including gluten free beer, pizza, and pasta. The meal cost 42E for 2 beers, appetizers, and entrees.

A bit of a storm starting blowing in as we finished supper. We quickly took a photo from the Balcony of Europe and headed back to our room for the night.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Spain travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/arrival-in-andalusia Mon, 11 Apr 2016 03:38:06 GMT
Wet in Whitehorse https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/10/wet_in_whitehorse Anytime you leave for a holiday, you're prepared for some inclement weather. But you kind of expect to have an afternoon here, a morning there, where the rain holds off or the low clouds lift. Such was not the case this time. This August, we had a week of +3 degrees, rain, snow, and a low ceiling without relent. When we drove to Haines Junction I had to assure Erin that not only were there mountains around us, but they were some of the most large and majestic mountains in the country. The northern lights activity was very high, and we had the most picturesque view of Cowley Lake from the yurt, but the low clouds never parted; the autumn colors were brilliant but we couldn't see the mountains; I had six days to arrange a flight-seeing tour for Erin in Kluane National Park, but the plane didn't fly once. So we spent a fair bit of time in Alana and Jonas' apartment, enjoying time with them, and concluding that we'll need to return sooner than later.

This is the highest the clouds lifted for an entire week, and fortunately allowed me one photo I'm quite happy with, taken just below our yurt. Can you imagine the northern lights?? So can I... Cowley LakeCowley Lake

One afternoon, we visited the hot springs and did a tour of the wildlife preserve. The rain held off but it was cold and windy.

Woodland CaribouWoodland Caribou Licking LipsLicking Lips Crouching LynxCrouching Lynx Stone's SheepStone's Sheep Mule BuckMule Buck Mule Deer KissMule Deer Kiss

On the final day, the best weather forecast seemed to be in Skagway, so off we went. It turned out to be a good decision, as we had a relatively nice day on the American side of the White Pass. Back in Canada, the inclement weather continued -- at least until we had returned to Alberta. Apparently, the next few days were spectacular around Whitehorse!

Skagway, AKSkagway, AK Fraser, BCFraser, BC South to AlaskaSouth to Alaska

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Canada mountains North travel Yukon https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/10/wet_in_whitehorse Fri, 04 Sep 2015 03:15:00 GMT
Landslide and Lake of the Falls - The Reprise https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/8/landslide-and-lake-of-the-falls After a few emails back and forth between Clayton and me, we had settled on a backpacking destination for the long weekend which ultimately got derailed late Friday night when I learned the trail had been closed for high bear activity. Now past 11:30pm and sitting outside a gas station in Wetaskiwin, I woke him up with a phone call to inform him of the news and to try to come up with a back-up plan (which, of course, we should have done in the first place, in addition to checking the Parks trail bulletins).

Lake of the Falls was one of my first significant backpacking destinations several years ago, and having been quite a while since Clayton had been there, it immediately held some promise. Being outside the Parks, it would require a minimum of planning and fit the three-day itinerary. We chose the difficult ascent route up Wildhorse Creek and over the col to Landslide Lake for scenery, simplicity, and novelty.

Day one was long. We gained 1000 m over the first 5 km before descending sharply to Landslide Lake. It's a long walk from the upper meadows past the lake, and then a short 2.8 km through the forest to the junction with Entry Creek. New since our last visit was a couple kilometers of re-routed flagged/cairned trail zigzagging through rocks and fallen trees since the floods a couple years ago. It was easy to navigate and there were no major obstacles. We then gained about 650 m up to Lake of the Falls, completing a 12 hour day over 22 km. I was happy with how my legs held up on my first hike since last year at the same time. There were only 4 other camps at Lake of the Falls; Landslide Lake, by comparison, seemed quite busy. A few folks had pitched camp around the fork along Entry Creek. The camping area at the far end of the Lake of the Falls is preferable for hikers and photographers; it is very well laid out with a green throne, flat tent sites, and fresh running water down the hill. The areas along the lake are handy for fishermen, which seemed to be the majority on this trip.

Here are some pictures from the first day:

Day two was more relaxing. We poked around in the morning, taking some photos, and then moved camp to the meadows above Landslide Lake. We found an excellent spot on a bench at treeline, with good visibility and clear water below. We had a great evening as the smoky sky turned orange for sunset, and retired for another peaceful evening in the backcountry. There seemed to be a lot of campers at the lake, and it was nice to have the solitude and views from the meadows. Here are some photos from the second day:

The ascent to the col the next morning was quite straightforward, and we detoured slightly up the small peak for a different view of the area. We soon learned that 1000 m straight down is almost as unpleasant as 1000 m straight up. Regardless, we arrived at the vehicles in good time, but with sore feet. For a hastily planned trip, it turned out very well; the weather was fantastic, the scenery as good as I recalled, and the company was good as always. I only took one photo on the last day, but linked together some videos from the weekend at the end:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Alberta David Thompson Rockies Canada hiking mountains https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/8/landslide-and-lake-of-the-falls Tue, 04 Aug 2015 22:36:33 GMT
A Whirlwind in Montreal https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/5/a-whirlwind-in-montreal This was officially a trend. Early starts. We checked out of Le Port-Royal (which we absolutely loved for its amenities, location, and cleanliness), and walked to the Via Rail station with our luggage. This station was beautiful, designed by the same architect responsible for the Chateau Frontenac. The staff were very helpful to a family toting too much luggage and a baby, and we were soon seated in the priority boarding area. I got chastised for trying to take a picture inside the building. After some clarification, I deduced that I was allowed to take a photo if I was in it, but not just a regular picture. That kind of pissed me off, because I saw plenty of other people with their phones out. There must be something about a DSLR that makes grouchy security ladies grouchier. Here are a couple iPhone grabs:

The train was spacious and comfortable with reasonable wifi; we enjoyed our train journey to Montreal with just a few short stops en route.

Upon arrival, we got oriented and began walking towards McGill and our hotel for the night. It was a bit of an adventure navigating crowded streets with lots of luggage and a stroller. How anyone with a wheelchair can go in or out of any building in Quebec City or Montreal is a mystery to me, as ramps don't seem to exist.

Fortunately we were able to check in early, and had a power nap and lunch before heading down to Old Montreal. We walked around for a while before sitting in the park a while to enjoy the sunshine. We scouted out a location to return for sunset, near the clock tower, and then settled on dinner at The Keg on Rue Saint Paul.

After dinner, we walked back to Le Vieux Port and anchored down for sunset.

It was a great spot, and we wondered what a helicopter was doing hovering over downtown for well over an hour. We wondered if it was getting aerial footage of the Bell Centre where the Canadiens were facing off against the Lightning, but it turned out to be a May Day demonstration and police kettle. A couple worked-up demonstrators warned us to avoid the area where they, with flags, signs, and gas masks, were taking it to the "capitalist bastards." We had no idea what May Day meant, and they were surprised by our puzzled looks. We got the insinuation that we looked more like capitalist overlords than disenfranchised workers from them as they crossed the street, but nevertheless they were quite concerned that we keep our bourgeois baby clear of the fray. Anyway, it was quite a scene from our vantage point a block away. 

On the way back, we walked past Notre Dame:

For just one half-day in Montreal with a baby, I think we did it pretty well!

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Canada Montreal Quebec travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/5/a-whirlwind-in-montreal Sat, 02 May 2015 22:42:13 GMT
Citadel and Burning Both Ends https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/5/citadel-and-burning-both-ends My alarm went off at 5:00 am so I could try to catch a sunrise and somehow overcome the drab spring appearance of this beautiful city. The sunrise wasn't much, but I got these photos:

Then up the hill, to the statue of Samuel de Champlain. And back down the hill again...

After breakfast, we packed a picnic lunch and struck off to Le Petit Champlain for an espresso before walking up the hill and peeking inside the Chateau.

We then walked around a bit and found a clothes store to do some damage in. 

We proceeded to the Citadel for our picnic lunch, followed by a guided tour.

We looped north and stopped at a grocery store for supplies. We didn't get the kangaroo.

Thinking a dinner out might push our luck with the infant, Erin made a delicious meal in our hotel kitchen:

As evening approached, I had one last chance for a sunset, and the sky looked good. From the viewpoint below the citadel, I set up the tripod in a very brisk and cold wind. I wanted to have both the colour in the sky and the city lights in the foreground. To accomplish this, I would need two exposures taken quite some time apart. I anchored the tripod as securely as possible to the concrete wall, attaching my bag underneath for extra weight. When I pressed the shutter, I would straddle the wall and crouch around the camera to block the wind. I was absolutely frozen, but next to me was a guy without a jacket, playing dice all by himself on a park bench. I'm not sure he was fully human. The first photo is a shot of robot dice-solo's bench, and the second photo is a combination of two photos taken 1 hour apart. 

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Canada Quebec travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/5/citadel-and-burning-both-ends Fri, 01 May 2015 14:17:00 GMT
Walking Quebec City https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/4/walking-quebec-city It was a cool, breezy grey day as we walked up, down, up, and down again through Quebec City. We enjoyed the sights but wished that spring had arrived on time this year!

We walked through the market at the old port, picking up some nougat and licorice.
Then to find our Christmas decorations for 2015:

Walking around Le Petit Champlain

And to Chez Ashton for some poutine!

I went back out as the sun was setting to see if I could get any decent photos. A few turned out okay:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Canada Quebec travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/4/walking-quebec-city Wed, 29 Apr 2015 22:40:03 GMT
Bienvenue au Québec https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/4/bienvenue-au-qu-bec On the second day of my course, I took the Queen's Quay streetcar to Union Station, reaching Yorkdale Mall in about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, Erin checked out of the condo and took the short walk with Lara to the Billy Bishop airport ferry. Apparently everything went smoothly for them, and it was a beautiful day to be on the island.

From my course from near Yorkdale Mall, I used Uber for the first time. I give it a strong endorsement! The app is great, and the driver arrived promptly in a nice vehicle that didn't smell like a taxi. Salim was very nice and dropped me off right at Terminal 1 in record time. The whole trip cost me $0.07 due to my $20 first-time user coupon.

I breezed through security and soon found myself having a bite to eat, sipping a Mill Street seasonal ale, and listening to The Tragically Hip pound over the restaurant speakers. How very Ontario-ey!

Guillaume was kind enough to pick me up from the airport despite working a very long day and feeling under the weather. His sister Marie had picked Erin up earlier, which was very helpful. He oriented me to the city and dropped me off at l'Hotel Port Royale, which turned out to be an excellent choice for both location, space, and amenities. 

As the day was winding down, I went for a little walk and took these photos:

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Canada Quebec travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/4/bienvenue-au-qu-bec Wed, 29 Apr 2015 18:04:22 GMT
Sun Sets on Toronto https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/4/sun-sets-on-toronto Our time here was short, but enjoyable. The setting sun was glowing in the west-facing windows of the downtown office buildings. Here are a couple unique pictures!

Toronto Skyline SunsetToronto Skyline Sunset

Toronto Skyline DesaturatedToronto Skyline Desaturated

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Canada Ontario Toronto travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/4/sun-sets-on-toronto Tue, 28 Apr 2015 12:28:52 GMT
Walking Toronto https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/4/toronto We arrived yesterday after a long travel day, beginning with an April snowstorm on our drive to the airport. Clara, at 7 months, was an angel on the plane and just as terrific as we negotiated the bus to Kipling station, then train and streetcar to our Lake Shore destination. In all, the public transit probably took over 2 hours as we humped luggage and stroller through the crowds. Lara was kind enough to meet us on Fleet Street as we exited the streetcar, and we met up with Uncle Steve, Aunt Deb later on for a nice visit. We all ate at "Fresh" on Queen West. It was a nice meal. Fresh, indeed:

We had a nice sleep but I woke early to catch the sunrise. What a great start to the trip!

Toronto SkylineToronto Skyline

What to do with one full free day in Toronto? The weather was just nice enough for a long, long walk. These pictures were all taken with my iPhone.

From Dan Leckie and Lake Shore, we cut across Fort York Blvd, crossing Spedina, towards the Rogers Centre, where a Blue Jays game was about to start. It was tempting, but not with a baby.

Continuing north along Blue Jays Way, we passed a memorial to the Chinese railway workers, then Wayne Gretzsky's restaurant en route to King Street.

I spotted The Second City along Mercer St. Then a left and a walk north along John Street to Grange Park and the Art Gallery of Ontario.

We stopped so Erin could nurse the baby in a relatively cool spring wind. The next leg of our journey took us up to Dundas and back west to Spedina. This is Chinatown. We then went a bit north to reach St. Andrew Street into the Kensington Market area.

We walked around Kensington Market for quite a while, and stopped for an excellent coffee at Jimmy's Coffee. I got called "cute" a lot by passing women. Or maybe they were talking about Clara, rocking her baby sunglasses.

An awesome lunch followed at The Kensington Cornerstone, an all-gluten free restaurant featuring a wide selection of GF beer.

Too soon?


Recharged, we walked north to College Street, then west for quite some distance, through Little Italy (perhaps a little less impressive) to Crawford.

Turning south down Crawford, we enjoyed the pretty houses en route to Trinity Bellwoods Park and cut through to Queen Street West.

Erin did some shopping along Queen Street West, as we made our way back to Bathurst, then south to Lake Shore, completing a long but enjoyable circuit though some lovely neighborhoods.

I came to the conclusion that, in contrast to Edmonton's assholes and Vancouver's asocials, the people of Toronto are very friendly. Lara had tried to explain this to me, but I kind of get it, after just a day here. We had lots of great conversations and found everyone very approachable.

As the day ended, I went down to Ireland Park to catch the sunset. Here are the results:

Toronto HarbourToronto Harbour

I really like this one. It's like the Canadian version of "Coming to America."

Immigrant NationImmigrant Nation

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Canada Ontario Toronto travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/4/toronto Mon, 27 Apr 2015 23:21:38 GMT
Sunset on the Granville Street Bridge https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/10/granville-street-bridge Finding myself with no plans on this warm and sunny October evening, I took the Sky Train from Richmond to the Olympic Village Station, hopped onto the first bus I saw, and got off at Granville Street. I had taken a couple nice shots last time I was in Vancouver from the Burrard Bridge and Vanier Park, and thought I'd catch sunset from a slightly different vantage this time. Here are the results: Granville Island City GlowGranville Island City Glow Granville Island SunsetGranville Island Sunset Granville Island Blue HourGranville Island Blue Hour I couldn't pass up the ironic placement of this sign: Vancouver: Experience It!Vancouver: Experience It! Afterwards, I retired to White Spot to have dinner and a couple pints while watching the Oilers' season opening disappointment. Another great evening in Vancouver!

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) BC Canada travel Vancouver https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/10/granville-street-bridge Fri, 10 Oct 2014 06:54:53 GMT
Cataract Pass and Valley of the Lakes https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/8/cataract-pass Ever since I day hiked to Cataract Pass in 2010, I've been itching to return and visit points beyond -- specifically the evocatively named Valley of the Lakes in the White Goat Wilderness. Fortunately, Clayton also had the weekend free and agreed to join me on short notice. Even the forecast was looking great, with temperatures in the low 20's under mostly sunny skies.

We both arrived late Thursday night at the Nigel Creek trailhead and slept in our trucks. It was an enjoyable morning of catching up on life events as we meandered up to Nigel Pass. We stopped for a snack before heading up the upper Brazeau valley. It was as remarkable as I recalled, and we made very slow progress while taking lots of photos and marveling at the colorful and erratic scenery.

Pretty Horsefly NurseryPretty Horsefly Nursery

The horseflies escorted me up to the base of Cataract Pass, despite my insisting otherwise, where we stopped for lunch. The trail was better worn than what a recall from a few years ago. It stays to the left of the valley and our feet stayed dry the entire time. The pass itself was a relatively short climb from the head of the valley, while the descent into Cataract Meadows was much longer, though not any more steep. At the bottom of the pass, we found some bright patches of wildflowers. We also took some time here to scope out a route up the ridge across the valley.

Cataract WildflowersCataract Wildflowers Cataract WildflowersCataract Wildflowers

Here we encountered another couple of hikers who were quite familiar with the area, so we stopped to chat for a bit. While the best camp spots turned out to be within a few hundred meters downstream of the base of the pass, we continued across the hummocky meadows to make camp closer to Saturday's intended destination. It turned out to be a nice spot at the edge of treeline next to a creek. Sunset was unremarkable under clear skies, so while I took a lot of photos, none made the cut. However, I've resolved to take a few more self-portraits, so here I am in my glory:

Turning InTurning In

The next morning, I took a few photos by a little reflecting pool near our camp:

Cline Pass ReflectionsCline Pass Reflections Daybreak in Cataract MeadowsDaybreak in Cataract Meadows After a quick breakfast, we headed towards a small valley to our east, before reaching Cline Pass. The "conventional" route into the rarely-visited Valley of the Lakes takes you over a steep ridge just beyond Cline Pass, but we liked the looks of a higher, flat ridge further to the southeast. Initially we had planned to cross the moraine and ascend a natural ramp to the lowest point on the ridge. However, from below and after traversing a dark grey boulder field, we saw a decent route heading straight up a tan-colored fall line. We aimed for some rocky outcroppings, switching up towards a prominent "stack," and occasionally using our hands on the loose medium-sized scree. Sprocket ClimbSprocket Climb From this point, it was just a short ascent beyond some larger rocks until the grade eased. The rest of the way was easy walking, and we took advantage of a long snow field to aid our ascent. We aimed for the peak at the end of the ridge and took in a terrific view from the summit. Cresting the WaveCresting the Wave Cline PassCline Pass We carried along the ridge, walking slightly downhill, just feet away from the steep edge. There wasn't even a hint of a trail along the crest, which is unusual for a ridge-walk. Clayton's keen eye spotted a goat with a kid at the far end of the ridge. I wasn't carrying a telephoto lens so I didn't get any shots. Each of the multiple small lakes in the valley glistened a different color, and the mountains on the far side took on a really purple hue, particularly through a polarizing filter. I was surprised when I processed my photos, as it looked almost unrealistic. One of my favorite aspects of this trip is looking at the layers and veins of different colored rock: grey, tan, salmon, red, and apparently even purple.

Purple RangePurple Range Valley of the Lakes Self PortraitValley of the Lakes Self Portrait Valley of the LakesValley of the Lakes Sprocket RidgeSprocket Ridge We descended the slope at the end of the valley, went straight down the moraine, and were about to return to camp when we decided to detour to Cline Pass. Here I found a really neat natural cobblestone pattern just south of the tarns.

Cobblestone by NatureCobblestone by Nature

We iced our feet in the stream and napped on the rocks until suppertime, then turning in quite early as the skies clouded up. At one point in the night, the wind became quite strong, but we received only a little rain overnight and woke to dry tents.

Sunrise was better on Sunday morning, tinted a bit by the smoke from nearby forest fires. Alpenglow Through SmokeAlpenglow Through Smoke Spot My CampSpot My Camp We packed up and crossed the meadows in the morning light, noting how the west side of the meadows received the sun at least an hour before our campsite on the east side, pictured above. We hiked up the prominent hill in the center of the meadows to get a perspective on a small green tarn Clayton had spotted from atop the ridge the day before. This is a panorama from that promontory:

Cataract MeadowsCataract Meadows

After that, it was a bit of a long, tedious hike up Cataract Pass, and then a relatively uneventful exit, other than me blowing out the sole on one of my boots. The section from Nigel Pass to the trailhead seemed so much longer this direction but, with thunderstorms brewing behind us, we made it back to the trucks in good weather.

Cataract PassCataract Pass

Here's a little video retrospective:

In conclusion, don't do this trip. It will be thoroughly miserable and not worth your time or effort. In fact, when you finish this sentence, you will forget you ever read this trip report.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Alberta Banff Canada hiking Jasper mountains Rockies White Goat https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/8/cataract-pass Wed, 06 Aug 2014 19:59:32 GMT
Iceland: Day 8 - It's a Wrap https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/6/iceland_8 Saturday, May 31

It wasn't a pleasant morning in more ways than one. Everything seemed disorganized as we drove in circles trying to fill the tank with diesel and find places to empty the grey water and sewer. Our motorhome banged and clanged around the traffic circles and over the speed bumps, and I recall muttering under my breath a lot as I shifted furiously. We found Touring Cars again and Erin packed meals for later while I tried to load the suitcases. The clock was ticking as we finished cleaning out the motorhome, but at the end of the day, they decided we didn't damage it at all and refunded our 600 E deposit. They were surprised to see we had put on more than 2000 km in just a week, but being from Western Canada it didn't seem like a lot to us. Back to the airport, just a little later than intended, but early enough. It had been an awesome trip but we were eager to get home.

Our trip went about as well as we could imagine; the weather was variable, and that is the way it is with Iceland. However, we certainly hadn't expected high temperatures of 15 degrees on a couple days, so that was a pleasant surprise. We had packed our sleeping bags and pillows with an extra blanket for use in the motorhome. It turned out to be warmer than expected at night, so we didn't need the blanket. In addition, we purchased a wool blanket as a souvenir in Vik (the best place we found to buy blankets). As far as kitchen supplies, Erin brought a collapsable colander, a couple paring knives and plastic cutting boards which saw a lot of use. We brought lots of Ziploc bags. We didn't find food exceedingly expensive in the grocery stores, and it was certainly cheaper than eating in restaurants. Their hotdogs were as good as advertised. Skyr, unfortunately, didn't live up to is reputation in my opinion. 

Clothing: For bottoms, we packed synthetic base layers, quick-dry hiking pants, and rain pants. For tops, we wore regular shirts with a light thermal layer on top, a down jacket for a heavy thermal layer if necessary, and a Goretex waterproof shell. I always kept a thin pair of gloves and a buff in my pocket. We were perfectly comfortable in all weather.

Communication was quite easy. I bought a $20 Alterna nano-SIM card for my iPhone 5s at the duty-free shop upon arrival. A word of advice: bring a little safety pin with you to pop the SIM tray out. It was easy to replenish the card on the fly, simply by visiting the link sent by Alterna via SMS and adding money by credit card. Gas stations were always easy to find. I was unable to use my VISA chip card at the pump, while it worked inside at the till. I would purchase pre-paid 10,000 ISK cards that specifically are designed for the pumps, and can be used later if there is some left over. Late in the trip, I discovered that my Mastercard chip card worked fine at the pump. As far as our combined transportation and accommodation were concerned, our choice to use a motorhome turned out to be a great one, with the obvious restrictions of restricting the amount of gravel we could negotiate, and I would recommend this to anyone seeking to explore the country of fire and ice.

Here are some videos to wrap up the trip:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe Iceland international travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/6/iceland_8 Tue, 03 Jun 2014 19:08:31 GMT
Iceland: Day 7 - Return to Reykjavik https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/5/iceland_7 Friday, May 30

It appears I ended the last post too early. The wind became so strong that I moved the motorhome into town and parked in a sheltered nook behind a gas station. After a poor sleep, we made our way back towards Reykjavik. The drive was one of the least pleasant of the trip, as the wind was quite strong on this grey day. We stopped for a time in Borganes before carrying on. The highlight of the drive was a 6 km tunnel underneath the ocean. It was almost a bit of culture shock arriving in the city of Reykjavik after seeing such little traffic. Three things I hate about driving a motorhome with a manual transmission, and Reykjavik had them all: roundabouts, speedbumps, and wind.

We successfully found parking across from the conference centre and walked up a few streets into the shopping district. The street was quite long with a variety of shops, mostly overpriced and redundant. But it was fun nonetheless. We made sure to get another frappe at Te & Kaffi; Erin went with the usual caramel while I tried a spicy chilli mocha.

After a quick tour of the church and scouting out a swimming pool, we returned to the RV for a quick dinner. With an hour before closing, we pulled up to the swimming pool in a building that resembled a boarding school at best, and a prison at worst. But cleanliness is never an issue in Iceland, and they have a strict policy that I wish Canadian pools would adopt. You shower completely naked and aren't allowed to put on your swimsuit until afterwards. Upon exiting the pool, you strip down, shower, and dry off before returning to the lockers.

I went up to the viewing platform of the church again, with my camera this time, while Erin waited patiently.

HallgrímskirkjaHallgrímskirkja   LokiLoki Reykjavik Jelly BeansReykjavik Jelly Beans Reykjavik HarbourReykjavik Harbour

Reykjavik GraffitiReykjavik Graffiti

We made our exit by way of the Pearl (revolving restaurant and fancy-pants building on a hill), and figured we'd spend the night at a campsite in Grindavik, close to our rental place. This didn't really work out, as the winds were the most severe of the entire trip, and right about the time we reached the Blue Lagoon, I decided to turn around and head for the safety of a Bonus parking lot. We camped there, only a stones throw away from Touring Cars.


(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe Iceland international travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/5/iceland_7 Sat, 31 May 2014 05:15:00 GMT
Iceland: Day 6 - Searching for Snafflehounds https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/6/iceland_6 Thursday, May 29

We woke up mid-morning, cooked some oatmeal, and walked to the centre of town. Not much was open, as it turned out to be the holiday “Ascension.” In search of wifi and a licorice frappe, we ended up in the Icelandic equivalent of a Chapters/Starbucks. The upload speed was too slow to get photos up on my website, so we just sat around for a bit, watching the street. A few stores opened up around noon, so we did some looking around before heading back to the vehicle. We really enjoyed the feel of Akureyri. After looking at the forecast, we realized the high mountains were holding the bad weather in the west at bay, and reluctantly bid farewell to the sunny city in the north.


Here are some photos taken with my iPhone. 

Another high pass separated us from the west. At the summit, there were multiple snowmobile trailers and the terrain looked great for ski touring. Another long descent to Varmahlid reminded me of my fear of “the careen.” I don't know why I have the overwhelming fear of twitching and causing the tippy RV to sail through a turn, crashing and tumbling into a burning pile of steel and bone, but this feeling is certainly not helped by Iceland's apparent reluctance to put up guardrails.

We had a nap and lunch at a pull-out where a bunch of Norweigans killed each other back in the 12th century. I don't remember all the details, but we strolled around the battlefield imagining a bunch of Vikings bludgeoning each other to death.

We made two stops outside Blönduós; the first was to catch the storm clouds over the distant mountains as we entered the city, and the other was to photograph some Icelandic horses on the way out. They were very friendly, which makes me think they were accustomed to getting treats.

As I was driving and Erin was navigating, we developed a goofy habit of re-naming cities and towns so the other person would understand, rather than attempting to pronounce them properly. Hence our foray into the Snafflehound peninsula.

The rest of the drive was really rather boring after we'd seen such amazing sights over the last several days. A look at the forecast said that, while cloudy, very little rain or wind was expected overnight on the Snaefellsnes peninsula. The beauty of smartphones; I highly recommend getting a SIM card upon arrival in Iceland. Telus unlocked my iPhone 5 over the phone for only $35, and a $20 Alterna nano-SIM purchased at the duty-free shop lasted almost the whole week for checking emails, directions, references, and using Skype occasionally. Anyhow, we decided to drive out to the peninsula as the evening progressed, remembering what a fun experience it had been to drive through the night. We were surprised that no one else was taking advantage of the near-24 hour daylight and found the roads almost eerily deserted. All this made for a great feeling of adventure.

We pulled into Grundarfjörður sometime around midnight. The weather was really starting to blow in, so I darted up to a small waterfall Kirkjufell for the final photos of the night. We parked at a viewpoint over the bay for the night, as the pitter patter of rain eventually drowned out the chatter of the shorebirds.

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe Iceland international travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/6/iceland_6 Fri, 30 May 2014 05:00:00 GMT
Iceland: Day 5 - Sun in the North https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/6/iceland_5 Wednesday, May 28

We started our day with a stroll down a path of wet volcanic sand to Dettifoss, and then further to Selfoss. The sun was already warm by 9 am, and we were happy to be back to the RV by the time the tour buses arrived. We were really appreciating the convenience of the camper, which allowed us to stop whenever and wherever we liked. Few places seemed to have signs restricting overnight parking.


Back on the road, we soon encountered the Namafjall mud pots. This scene was a remarkably colorful but odorous, hissing landscape of sulphuric gases. We were able to wear only our t-shirts in the hot morning sun and save our outer layers from the stench.

Steaming GroundSteaming Ground Hissing EarthHissing Earth

We then headed up to Viti to see the crater and power station at Krafla, which still looked very much like a winterscape.

Over the pass to Myvatn, we soon found the road to the famous hot springs and took a lengthy break to soak in the bright turquoise pool. It was interesting because often your left leg could find a hot jet while your right settled in a cool spot. At $30 per person, it was still worth the money. We found some humor in watching the bus-load of noisy old Germans pile into the pool, and were slightly disturbed by a young couple a corner who we were quite certain were having sex.

Lake Myvatn is a bizarre volcanic landscape, perhaps more interesting than beautiful. The flies were bad next to the lake, which made filling with diesel a nasty experience. We talked about having dinner at the Cattle Shed (it is exactly what it sounds like), but their unfamiliarity with celiac disease and high prices had us moving on towards Akureyri by way of Godifoss:


Akureyri was a lovely town, and our favorite urban centre so far. We ate at Noa restaurant which came highly reviewed on TripAdvisor. It touted “local food, local beer, and local art,” and did not disappoint. We started off by being surprised sashimi, which the owner boasted was the best he had served. I couldn't refuse his offer, but sadly discovered that even the best sashimi is nearly unpalatable for my prairie tongue. Fortunately, the Viking beer I had was delicious and washed it down nicely. While Erin had the chef's salad, I tried the local meat and cheese platter. Not knowing what the meat was, I enjoyed what tasted like prosciutto, lamb, and venison. The dark, salty wilder meat was very good, and I asked the waiter afterwards. He said it was horse. Our main course was a shared pan of fresh cod fillet, and it was terrific.

It cost us almost $120 for this night out, but we enjoyed the local cuisine and personal service. Also, we had been making our own meals in our little RV kitchen and were ready for a break. We saw the parking lot behind the newly-opened Hof arts centre, next to the harbor, and pulled in for the night. The building was gorgeous in its design, cylindrical in shape, and the sides were reminiscent of the basalt columns seen throughout Iceland.

Akureyri HarbourAkureyri Harbour Akureyri HarbourAkureyri Harbour

While Erin went to bed, I caught up on processing photos and ventured out to take some more. The bar scene seemed to be in full swing on this weeknight, and a few local boys wanted to be models for me. Icelanders like to party.

Party SceneParty Scene Akureyri StreetlightAkureyri Streetlight Akureyri Street SceneAkureyri Street Scene

(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe Iceland international travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/6/iceland_5 Thu, 29 May 2014 05:00:00 GMT
Iceland: Day 4 - Iceland Revealed https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/6/iceland_4 Tuesday, May 27

Our decision to stop early at Skaftafell and hope for the weather to clear turned out to be a good one. We poked our heads out the window to see partly clear skies for the first time in the trip. At 7:00 am we hit the trail to ensure we took advantage of the opportunity, and also knowing that we would have a long day of “catch-up” ahead of us. We hiked up to a viewpoint of a small tongue of the enormous Vatnajokull glacier, stopped for some photos, and then traversed across the alpine to Svartifoss. I had hoped to hike up to the summit of Kristinartindar, but the trail was closed beyond the viewpoint in order to protect the trail from erosion and braiding. One of the questions I'd had prior to the trip was whether the summit would be snowbound, but it looked easily attainable by late May.

Back at our RV by the time the rest of the tourists were starting up the trail, we filled up with more water and dumped the septic. We planned to dump the grey water, but apparently the valve had been open from the time we left Touring Cars. With all the rain, it was impossible to tell!




We arrived at Jökulsárlón and made lunch. I walked around a bit to take photos while Erin had a nap; the hike took a lot of gas out of a pregnant woman! I had expected this stop to be a bit overrated, as I've seen several glacier lakes in Canada. However, the sheer scale here was overwhelming.

The Break-UpThe Break-Up


Common ElderCommon Elder

Pulling out of Jökulsárlón, we picked up Andy who wanted to hitch-hike to Höfn to pick up groceries. We all agreed there seemed to be a shortage of grocery stores around Iceland. Conveniently, I discovered Icelanders have a thing for chocolate-covered licorice, and I made it my mission to try every variety.

Höfn was not particularly appealing, so after an hour's drive, poor Andy was going to try to catch a ride back the other direction. Again, it was windy and raining, but this was about to change.

Shortly after Höfn, we passed through a tunnel more than a kilometer long and emerged to a completely different scene. The mountains and glaciers in Iceland appear to shape the weather immensely, as the eastern Fjords were much warmer and sunnier, and with each bend of the road seemed to become more beautiful. We were beyond the typical tourist route along the south coast, and the drive was serene. At one point, Erin spotted some reindeer and I reversed into the nearest approach. I took some pictures but they were beyond the scope of my zoom, but we took advantage of the opportunity to have a quick Skype with Callum and my mom. Pulling out of the approach turned out to be pretty tense, as it was plenty steep and the gravel was loose. In addition, my angle was less than ideal. I had to get a pretty good run at it and spun some good-sized ruts on my successful exit.

Lupins on the FjordLupins on the Fjord

The road snaked around the mountain, revealing a magnificent view. Knowing we had a long way to go, hoping to reach Mývatn by nightfall, we parked down by the ocean and I napped while Erin made supper.

East FjordsEast Fjords

Onward to Djúpivogur, we arrived shortly after 7:00 hoping to get diesel for the next leg. To our horror, the station had closed at 6:00. It was a pretty town but we were in no mood to stop. We had just over a quarter tank and Egilsstaðir might be just within range.


It was a good thing we pushed on, because the “major paved road” marked on the map turned into a gravel road around the fjord to the next town and took us quite a while to rattle around to Breiddalsvik.

Calculating the amount of fuel we used over this last distance, we thought it wouldn't be too dangerous to continue on to Egilsstaðir. Up the valley into the setting sun, the pots clanged and the drawers banged.