DreamingOutdoors Photography: Blog https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog en-us (C) DreamingOutdoors Photography (DreamingOutdoors Photography) Fri, 20 Oct 2023 18:35:00 GMT Fri, 20 Oct 2023 18:35:00 GMT https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/img/s/v-12/u158787272-o491617133-50.jpg DreamingOutdoors Photography: Blog https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog 120 80 Gold Coast https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/10/gold-coast I didn't do much sightseeing while in Gold Coast. Here are a few photos and video clips. The beach and the surf were absolutely beautiful.

 

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(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Australia international travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/10/gold-coast Fri, 13 Oct 2023 01:23:07 GMT
From Coombabah to Byron Bay https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/10/from-coombabah-to-byron-bay The day started with the frustrating realization that my telephoto lens' focusing mechanism was broken. I had planned to go searching for wild koalas. Optimistic and armed with an early wakeup, I headed into Gold Coast hoping a nearby photo shop might have rentals available. It soon appeared I was out of luck. Frustrated, but just around the corner from Coombabah conservation area, I decided to go for a walk anyways. After about an hour of searching, I was lucky enough to spot a koala on the branch of a eucalyptus tree. As other folks walked up the path, I took them to the spot and one nice British couple let me use their binoculars for a better view. I was halfway back to the car when I ran into a couple women with two little girls in tow, hoping to find a koala. They are so difficult to spot, I offered to walk with them to show them the precise location. And what a coincidence, one of the women was from Beaumont and her husband was an Augustana alumnus, graduating a couple years after me!

On somewhat of a whim, and with plenty of day ahead of me, I decided to head down the coast to Byron Bay, the most easterly point of mainland Australia. The drive went smoothly and I spent time at the lighthouse first. After drinking in the views I had a bite to eat at a taqueria, wandered about town, and headed out to Wategos Bay to watch the sunset. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.

Here is a video recap:

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(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Australia international travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/10/from-coombabah-to-byron-bay Tue, 10 Oct 2023 12:49:17 GMT
Lamington National Park https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/10/lamington-national-park I got an early start to the O'Reilly entrance of Lamington National Park. The drive was memorable to say the least; the road was single lane in many places with countless blind hairpins along the steep grade. As I climbed from the valley bottom, the landscape changed from dry deciduous forest to lush rainforest.


O'Reilly's was a lovely retreat centre with colour birds noisily congregating everywhere I looked. The sun was trying to peek through the mist as I chatted with the volunteer at the visitor centre; his recommendation was that I do the 17.5km circuit to Toolona Falls and return along the Border Track. 

My first stop along the trail was a small detour to Elabana Falls.

The trail followed the creek for quite a distance, offering occasional viewpoints of other waterfalls along the way.

Coming up the trail from one of the waterfalls, I was startled by a Lamington Spiny Crayfish clicking and snapping at me. The trail kept gaining elevation into temperate Antarctic Beech forest towards an escarpment that was fully obscured in the heavy mist and rain. As the trail flattened out, my pace increased to a steady run. It was definitely preferred to hike this trail clockwise, as the second half was much easier and gently downhill. 

Here is the video recap of the hike:

At sunset, I headed over to Rosin's viewpoint to take a photo as the clouds cleared.

 

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(DreamingOutdoors Photography) australia hiking international travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/10/lamington-national-park Mon, 09 Oct 2023 22:08:23 GMT
Springbrook National Park https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/10/springbrook-national-park I arrived quite early at my B&B in Beechmont and was thrilled with the charming country setting and the fridge stocked with bacon and other essentials. The host shortly arrived with a fresh loaf of bread straight out of the oven. 

The weather wasn't ideal, so I opted for a drive to Sprinbrook National Park to visit the Natural Bridge / Glowworm Cave. It was raining quite a lot but the rainforest cover acted like a partial umbrella. The hike was a short one, and quite a pleasant half day-out.

I noticed how close I was to the border and a viewpoint over New South Wales. It turns out the Numinbah Valley is an old volcanic caldera.

Here is a recap from the day:

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(DreamingOutdoors Photography) australia hiking international travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/10/springbrook-national-park Mon, 09 Oct 2023 21:14:17 GMT
Brisbane https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/10/brisbane I left Vancouver technically on a Wednesday before the clock struck midnight, and arrived in Brisbane at 7:30 am.

The line at border control was the only delay as I took the train from the airport direct to South Bank station. My apartment prepared to accommodate my early check-in as I dropped my bags and had a long-awaited breakfast and espresso.

I stopped at the grocery store for a few items, and then after a shave and a shower I headed out for what turned out to be a very long walk through the city. I started in South Bank where I took these infrared photos:

I then crossed the Victoria Bridge, worked my way through downtown and the botanical gardens, over to Howard Smith Wharves at its massive beer gardens, across Story Bridge, along Kangaroo Point Cliffs, and back to my apartment.  
I had supper at the apartment and headed back out as the sun set to take a few more photos down by the river.

Here's a video wrap of the first day:

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(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Australia international travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/10/brisbane Fri, 06 Oct 2023 21:34:09 GMT
Smutwood Peak https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/9/smutwood-peak This was a scramble I've wanted to do for quite some time, since completing the Birdwood Traverse several years ago. I managed to find a free day to coordinate with Tony, and we had the good fortune of warm temperatures, clear and calm skies, and golden larches.

We started in the dark, around 6:30 am, whereafter the alpenglow greeted us in the valley of Commonwealth Creek.

Ascending the avalanche path was made easier by the early morning chill, and we pulled into the sunshine as we crested the top. 

We stopped for a bit of food and enjoyed the view from the pass above the lakes before carrying on towards the summit. It's a straightforward scramble that requires only a hand or two along the obvious route.

With not a breath of wind at the top, we were the first hikers up for the day. It took us 3.5 hours. Shortly thereafter we were joined by two other parties and we enjoyed about an hour of conversation and drinking in the views. 

We took our time on the way down, after for a moment considering detouring over to Burstall Pass but not wanting to risk the hitchhike at the other end.

In September, this might be one of the finest in-out easy scrambles in the Rockies.

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(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Canada hiking mountains Rockies https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/9/smutwood-peak Mon, 25 Sep 2023 00:21:06 GMT
Final Day in Rome https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/final-day-in-rome May 20

I woke up to my mom breathing very, very, very, loudly(aka snoring) so I got dressed and ready for the day. We were going on the subways so we ate and then  went on the subway until Roma Termini and then we switched onto line B so we could go to the Colosseum. Once we got to the Colosseum we had to wait for about 2:00 and when we got to the ticket box we purchased our tickets and went through security. After we went though security we went into the Colosseum we got audio tours around the Colosseum so we didn’t have to be in a tour group. We first went out to the arena and watched the video. After we watched some videos about the Colosseum we all went to the spot where the gladiators fought. Most of the gladiator were captured soldiers from when the Romans faught other empires and they might have been forced to kill their friends! If the crowd pointed their thumbs up and shouted save the losing person they would save him. If it was vice versa they would kill him. To make sure that someone was dead they would put a burning hot iron on him. If he was dead they would drag him out of the arena. After we got out of the arena we bought a Colosseum stone statue. After we went out of the Colosseum we walked up to the Aventine hill to look though the keyhole in the door. After we finished that we went to Piazza Navona, the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain and I threw a quarter in. After we stopped at all of that stuff we went out for pizza and I had a hotdog and fries pizza again. After our pizza we headed off to the metro and on the way we found a gluten free gelato shop and I got green apple and berry! My gelato tasted so good I  wanted to get 8 scoops of it! After we ate our gelato we went back to the metro station and took it back home. After we got home we went to sleep.

May 21

We woke up and got dressed and packed for our day of leaving Italy. We atee our breakfast, which was the usal yougert and cereal. After we ate we went to a bakery to get some bread for my friends. After we got bread we went back to our apartment to get our lugage. After we got our luggage outside we went to the metro station so we could catch the train to the airport. After we got to the airport we dropped off our big suitcase and went though security. Our food bag triggered the staff again because we had 4 butter knives in it. After we got out of that mess we went to our gate and waited until our plane was redy for boarding. It finally let us on and we took off. The flight took about 10 hours, and I was able to finish the angry birds world tour! I also met my friend named Mack from a sports camp at the  U of A in Edmonton! After we got off the plane we went to retrieve our suitcases.  

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(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Italy travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/final-day-in-rome Mon, 22 May 2023 13:19:36 GMT
Napoli to Roma https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/napoli-to-roma May 19

I woke up and got dressed for the day. Our host brought us breakfast and called a taxi to bring us to the central train station. We ate breakfast and went to the central station. When we got to Rome we waited for our train to arrive and we went on to the train. After we got on the train,  we waited for about 1:30. Then we got off the metro and we had to run to catch the right metro to our place in Rome. When we got there we went to our apartment and it was shared. After we dropped off our luggage we went onto the subway and took it to St. Peter’s Basilica and the line for security took about 1:30 to enter. The experience was so magical I can’t explain it in words. I will post a video of our experience in the Basilica. After we left the basilica we went out for pizza and I got a cooked ham margherita pizza. After we went out for pizza we went out for gelato and I got strawberry lemon gelato. After we ate our gelato we traveled back to our apartment and went to sleep.


 

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(DreamingOutdoors Photography) europe international italy travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/napoli-to-roma Sun, 21 May 2023 23:42:21 GMT
Procida https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/procida May 18

I woke up to an ambulance carrying someone to the hospital so I waited until 9:00 so the breakfast would come. After we ate our breakfast we went into a taxi and he drove us to the ferry port. We bought our ferry tickets and waited for it to come. It came in about 10 minutes and we got on fast so we could get seats. We got some outdoor seats so we could watch the boat move. I decided to go exploring and I found a snack bar as well as a luxurious place to sit. I found a 20 cent euro and I gave it to a little boy so he would stop chasing me. After we got to Procida we went to the beach and we made a sandcastle and ate lunch. After we ate we went and got gelato and I got orange chocolate, cherry, and lemon. We then went up a hill and my dad took some pictures. After he took pictures we headed back to the ferry port and on the way I found a ship and a Napoli flag. We waited for our ferry and it was a hydro-ferry so we got home faster. I called a taxi and he drove us to the pizza place and I got a crispy bacon pizza. After we ate we went back home. After we got home we went to sleep.

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(DreamingOutdoors Photography) europe international italy travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/procida Sun, 21 May 2023 16:52:44 GMT
Herculaneum https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/herculaneum May 17

I woke up to an ambulance wailing down the alley nearby so I got up and waited until 9:00 because our host served us breakfast at 9:00. He served us croissants and bread for breakfast as well as juice. We were going to Herculaneum so we traveled to the metro station where we got on a train to Herculaneum. The train took about 30:00 and when it arrived we walked to the ruins of Herculaneum. We got to the ruins and we went down to the ruins where Mt. Vecuivies covered the city and its residents.  Here are some facts I learned. It blanketed the town, but buried everyone in molten ash. Like the nearby city of Pompeii, Herculaneum is famous as one of the few ancient cities to be preserved nearly intact, as the ash that blanketed the town protected it against weathering effects. Although less popular than Pompeii today, it was the first discovered Vesuvian city (in 1709). Pompeii was revealed in 1748 and identified as Pompeii in 1763. Unlike Pompeii, the ash was hotter which helped    preserve more wooden objects such as roofs, beds, and doors, as well as other things such as food and paper. Today, only a small bit of Herculaneum has been excavated. The focus is now to preserve the exposed areas of the city rather than digging up more. [1]

Herculaneum was a vacation town, because it was wealthier than Pompeii. We saw the boat houses containing skeletons of at least 300 people. After we studied the site we went out of the site. We were walking down a street looking for a taxi, we heard and saw a lady screaming “ Pizzas and sandwiches for sale at my restaurant!” And my dad thought it would be a great idea to ask her for a ride to the train station and he said “ what could go wrong?” She had to ask two people to move their cars so she could get her car out.  I said,” please don’t do this to me!” Once she got her car out of the shady parking lot we went in and my dad paid her 10 euros and she tried to swindle him out of ten more euros by saying she “didn’t have change for twenty.”  She finally gave up and we got into her car which had a random whisk, a stained pillow and laundry detergent by my feet! The seats were stained with baking soda and there were no seatbelts! My dad showed her where to go and she totally went to the wrong place by a volcano! My dad showed her where to go again and she didn’t have a rear view mirror so she used her make-up mirror to back up. She almost hit a car in the process of backing up and I tried to escape from the car while she was backing up! She finally turned around and she drove down a hill that could’ve blown her tires at any moment! She finally drove us to the train station and we went to get pizza. After we finished our pizza we went back to our apartment. After we went back to our apartment we went to sleep. I was just happy to be alive!

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(DreamingOutdoors Photography) europe international italy travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/herculaneum Sun, 21 May 2023 16:49:48 GMT
Matera to Napoli https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/matera-to-napoli May 16

I woke up to my sister groaning so I woke up and made myself peach yogurt and cereal. We had to check out of our apartment at 10:00 so we packed up our stuff and headed off to the Salerno train station. The drive took 2.5 hours. Did you know it takes only 3 hours to drive from coast to coast? It took about 30 minutes for the train to arrive at Naples, but we finally got there. We had to take the metro to the station by our apartment. We then walked to our apartment and the host was waiting for us for once! He let us into our apartment and we put our suitcases in there and went out for pizza. I got a  stuffed crust with a thin Italian crust with mozzarella on it. After we ate we went out for gelato and I got strawberry and lemon. After we licked our tongues off we went back to the metro station where we boarded a train that took us back to our apartment. When we got back to our apartment we went to sleep.

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(DreamingOutdoors Photography) europe international italy travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/matera-to-napoli Sun, 21 May 2023 16:46:24 GMT
Evening in Matera https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/evening-in-matera May 15

On the way back I ripped an activity book because I had finished it. When we got back home we put our souvenirs in our apartment and went off to find a tour around the caves in Matera that people 2 centuries ago lived in. After we got there it was closing so we walked all that distance for nothing. After that unfortunate mishap we went to go get gelato and I got Nutella and milk and black cherry, it tasted so good! After the gelato we went  home and went to sleep.

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(DreamingOutdoors Photography) europe international italy travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/evening-in-matera Sun, 21 May 2023 16:41:03 GMT
Alberobello https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/alberobello May 15

I woke up to an ambulance driving down the street, I was hungry so I went and made myself peach yogurt and cereal. After I ate breakfast I went to work on this journal. After I finished working on this journal, my sister came up with this game Noah’s Ark and I played it. After we finished playing Noah's ark we drove for an hour and a half to Alrberobello where I got a stone Trullo house.  A trullo is at traditional dry stone hut with a cone-shaped roof. They were small dwellings and shelters for farm workers and they were built primarily in the late 1800s. Alberobello has a large area of a number of these types of buildings. Some people think the design of these houses originated because the people of Apulia realized they could avoid taxes if they could dismantle their houses quickly. [1] We went up a hill and I went and took a picture for somebody. After I took their picture it started raining so we went back to our car and we drove back to Matera.


 

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(DreamingOutdoors Photography) europe international italy travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/alberobello Sun, 21 May 2023 16:38:22 GMT
Agropoli to Castelmezzano and Matera https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/agropoli-to-castelmezzano-and-matera May 14

I woke up at about 9:30 and I went to finish yesterday's entry while eating breakfast  which was cereal and blueberry yogurt. After we ate breakfast I went to do my french that Mr. Stacey posted. My dad put his computer that I was using away and we drove the 3:00 drive to Matara. We went through a tunnel and it opened up into a beautiful mountain range! We decided to stop there to stretch our legs and have lunch at Castelmezzano. We went down a steep hill and I ran down, my face felt chilly while the wind blew in my face. When we decided to go up,  I asked my mom if I could run up the hill  and she said yes. I ran up for a bit but then I thought that I should wait for my family.  After they caught up to me, I sprinted up the rest of the  hill. After we got to the top we set up lunch and ate. While we ate, a cat strolled up on us and I pet its fur. We finished our lunch and we packed it up and headed towards Matera.

Then we traveled for 1:09, but we reached it in the end. We unloaded our things and my dad drove off to find a parking spot. He came back and we went into our apartment. It had nice bedrooms with fluffy blankets. It also had a very comfortable couch that we could lounge on.  After we unloaded our stuff we headed off to get gelato and groceries. I got white chocolate, gingersnap, and cookies and cream for gelato. We then looked for a grocery store, we found one but we left partially because it was shady and partially because they had a knife out in the open. My parents looked up a grocery store and they found one but it was 30 minutes away so we climbed into the car and went to that store.we got food and snacks so we went back home. Then we ate supper which was pasta and broccoli. My sister and I created a story together and read it to my parents.


 

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(DreamingOutdoors Photography) europe international italy travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/agropoli-to-castelmezzano-and-matera Sun, 21 May 2023 15:12:16 GMT
Paestum https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/paestum Sunrise in Agropoli:

May 12

I woke up because my sister was awake. I had blueberry and lemon yogurt for breakfast. After breakfast we traveled a 20 minute drive to greek ruins! There was lots of information about the Greeks and lots of eroded walls that would have been houses at one time! There also were wrecked temples that the Greeks made for their gods and goddesses. I got a stone statue of one of the temples! The temples were built in the years 450-550 b.c.! I also learned that they had used simple machines to build the temples including levers, pulleys, and wheels to help lift and move the materials. While we explored the temples a huge downpour came down on my dad and I. We climbed into the car and we drove home. After we got home it stopped raining and we went to get gelato. I got peanut and berry gelato, it tasted like berry peanut butter! We finished our gelato and we went back to our apartment and I had a bath. After I got dried off we ate our dinner which was pizza and beef. Then I finished off the tub of ice cream we got and headed to bed. I couldn’t sleep so I decided to do some math. My sister needed me to do some of her math from school which was math puzzle boxes. My mom turned the lights out and I put my math away. I went to bed and went under the blankets.


Rainy Agropoli
 

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(DreamingOutdoors Photography) europe international italy travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/paestum Sun, 21 May 2023 14:57:30 GMT
Agropoli https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/agropoli May 12

The next day a dog woke my sister and I up so I went to the bathroom and my sister climbed out of the bathroom window! We ate breakfast which was peach yogurt and cereal. After we finished breakfast we headed down to the beach and my sister and I built a sand castle and made a moat plus a huge wall. The castle somehow survived high tide and it is still on the beach until further notice!  Then when my shoes got sandy we went home and had showers. After we got dressed again we played avocado smash and I won! My sister got second and my mom got third. After we finished playing avocado smash we went souvenir shopping and then we wandered up some stairs to a hill. AFter we went up the hill we went up all the stairs that led to the top. When we got up to the top we saw a tower that connected to a castle! It started raining so we went to the gate which was thankfully covered. We had to wait for about ten minutes, but the rain finally stopped. We saw cannons  and I thought how dangerous they could be if there was something in them! After we saw the cannons we headed up to one of the turrets and we saw where the soldiers would crouch with bows and arrows through the narrow slits. We also saw where they would fire their cannons at other soldiers! Then we went down into a dungeon where there were some really scary noises and a jail!  After we got out of that dungeon we  went out through a small tunnel that led back to the entrance! We went up another set of stairs and we found the place where the soldiers would watch the drawbridge! Also up there we found some information about the castle. Some information I learned was that it was made in the years 535-553 A.D. Another fact I learned  was that Agropoli stayed in Byzantine hands until 882 AD, when it fell to the Saracens and was converted to a fortified base from which raids were launched against the nearby populations. In 915 AD, the Saracens were defeated and Agropoli returned to the rule of the bishops who, in the meantime, had established their seat at Capaccio. The last fact that I would like to share is that Agropoli subsequently fell under the power of Normans, Swabians, Angevins, and Aragonese. Between 1660 and 1806, Agropoli belonged to the Sanfelice, an aristocratic Neapolitan family that merged with the Delli Monti. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, due to consecutive invasions, its population fell to barely a few hundred. [1] When we came down the stairs we found a souvenir shop and I got a ship in a bottle saying AGROPOLI. 

After we got home, we got in the car  and went to a pizzeria and I had a pizza with fries and sausage and I ate ⅞ pieces of the pizza. The reason I didn’t eat the last piece was because the server brought out a huge tomahawk steak that the whole family had to group together and eat it all. The server packaged up my sister and I’s pizzas and we headed back home. We saw fireworks and we heard loud noises so my dad and I went to go check it out and it was a rock party to celebrate Napoli’s win in the Italian cup. It was too loud for me so we went home and went to bed. I rolled over into the middle of the bed and it split apart and I fell though! It hurt a lot! Then my dad helped  me out of the hole and I went to bed.

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(DreamingOutdoors Photography) europe international italy travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/agropoli Sun, 21 May 2023 14:42:52 GMT
Florence to Agropoli https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/florence-to-agropoli May 11

Today we woke up at about 5:30 am because our train left for Salerno at 7:14. We walked down to coach 6 and waited for the train. After the train came we went on and got comfortable. The train started moving and the first stop was Roma Termini. The train took about 2:00 to get there but we got there. Then we went to Naples and lots of people got off. Our last stop took another 2:00 and we got off there. After we got off the train we went to the rental car station and rented a car. We then drove to our apartment in Agropoli, but first we stopped at a beach and ate. My dad found these old German ruins and we explored them. There were geckos and these weird cellars that were full of cobwebs! After that we drove to our house and it was amazing! It had a pool, 5 decks, an amazing bathroom, and a sauna.  We unpacked and went to the pool, it was so cold! I got used to it after a while and I swam around for a little bit. I got cold so I got out and headed back up. I then went into the sauna and relaxed for a little bit. After I got out of the sauna I got dressed and put my swimsuit in the sauna and got back into my regular clothes. Then we went on a walk around the city and found a good gluten free gelato shop. We decided to visit it the next day, so we headed home and got undressed and went to bed.

      

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(DreamingOutdoors Photography) Europe international Italy travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/florence-to-agropoli Sun, 21 May 2023 14:39:28 GMT
Florence https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/florence Today we are leaving Venice and we are going to Florence, but we are just passing by the place because we are going to Agropoli. We packed all our stuff into our suitcase and backpacks and headed off to the train station to wait for our train to arrive. The train arrived at 9:26 and we got on to it. This time the platform it arrived at  is #6 instead of #2 like last time. We are sitting in seats 16-17 a-b. It was about 1:00 once we got to Florence so we took a taxi to our apartment. It was raining and we couldn’t get into our apartment because the host wasn’t there. So we went to a restaurant and put our bags in it. Then I ordered a raw meat sandwich and it didn’t taste very good. After we ate it was still raining, but someone came out and we went into the building of our apartment. We then waited for the host. It took a while but then she came! We thought the apartment would be cramped and dirty, considering what the outside looked like. But it was spacious and clean. After we dropped our bags off at our apartment we went to explore the city. We went to the Ponte Vecchio, a Lego shop, and another gelato shop. Then at the Lego shop we got mini figures. There were these naked statues and it was disgusting. Then we went up high and took pictures. It was boring for me because I didn’t have a camera. I paid 2 euros to look in a binocular for 2 minutes and it was so fun! We then went home and went to sleep.

Florence

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(DreamingOutdoors Photography) europe international italy travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/florence Sun, 21 May 2023 14:36:48 GMT
Murano & Burano https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/murano-burano

Today we started to travel outside of the island of Venice. We walked to the water bus station and waited for a boat. A boat arrived at approximately 11:18 and we got on to it. The wind was billowing by my face while I stood on the boat deck. My calves were hurting while standing on the boat deck, while the boat traveled through the water it finally reached Murano. We then traveled to the other water boat stop so we could get to Burano. After we got to the water bus stop we waited for a water bus to arrive. A boat arrived and this one had seats! It felt so nice to sit down after standing for a while. It took about 30 minutes to get to Burano, but we got there. In Burano there were lots of colorful houses including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and pink. There was a leaning bell tower that looked like it could fall down any moment so that made me a little uncomfortable. After my dad took lots of pictures we headed back to the water bus stop and waited for a boat. The same boat came and my family got some seats. Some teenagers were pushing through the crowd and my dad felt so disrespected that he wanted to collar them and lecture them about respect. When we got off of the boat we headed over to a gelato store and on the way my sister found 4 glass objects including a hedgehog, two small pieces of candy, and one big piece of candy. Then we went to a glass museum and looked at lots of amazing glass work. The glass work was so good it blew me away because it once was sand and it now is a glorious piece of artwork. Then we moved on to a glass factory and they were making something that was so cool and detailed it looked as if it wasn't real! After we left the glass factory we decided to move on home. We headed to the water bus station so we could catch a bus. We missed the first and second bus which made me feel very frustrated. Since the next bus arrived in 19 minutes it gave me time to go to the bathroom. The next bus arrived, but it made five stops. I was right down by the motor so it hurt my eardrums and gave me a headache. We then arrived at Venice again and we got off the boat and headed off to our apartment. Then we had supper and my dad and I went outside to sit by the canals. Then we found this plant that smelled like rosemary, so we researched it and found out it is called sea fennel and it is edible! We then picked some for my mom and went home. My dad and I waited until sunset and then we went out again to take pictures with his tripod. I got tired and we went home to go to sleep.

Murano and Burano

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(DreamingOutdoors Photography) europe international italy travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/murano-burano Sun, 21 May 2023 14:29:23 GMT
Wandering Venice https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/wandering-venice May 8

I woke up at about 12:30 pm and had an omelet and yogurt and went to find gelato. I had mint chocolate chip and salted caramel gelato. After we finished our gelato we walked across a bridge to a gondola station and we waited for a gondola to arrive. Thankfully a gondola arrived and we sat down in it and the gondola driver took us for a 30 minute row around Venice. After we got off we paid him 84 Euros and went to Captain Candy to get some treats. Then we moved on to St. Mark’s Square and sat down to enjoy our treats. After we left St. Mark’s Square we headed home. We then had some pasta and broccoli for dinner and had a nap for a little bit. After our nap we went off to look for souvenirs and I found a battery powered rocking gondola and a shirt. However my sister Clara wasn’t as successful because she was looking for a feather and ink plus an Italian journal. After we got home I put my souvenirs in our suitcase and went to watch Hammy & Olivia.

Walking Venice

 

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(DreamingOutdoors Photography) europe international italy travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/wandering-venice Sun, 21 May 2023 14:23:11 GMT
Arrival in Venice https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/arrival-in-venice Callum's Travel Journal

May 6-7

Today we traveled to Red Deer and dropped our kitten Luna off at my aunt and uncle’s house. Then, we proceeded to Calgary to get my dad’s international driver’s license so we could drive in Italy. After we got that we went to my Auntie Brooke and Uncle Steve’s house to eat supper. After we ate supper my Uncle Steve drove us to the Calgary airport. At the airport we dropped off our big suitcase while watching a hilarious little boy run away from his father. Then we proceeded to go through security, where our food bag had to be double checked because a container of salt had triggered the staff. After we got through security we went to gate D-78 and waited there for about 1:30 for the flight attendants to get ready. Then when we boarded the airplane there were screens on the seats and I played Angry Birds World Tour. The flight took nine and a half hours to get to Rome, but we finally got there. We then boarded the train to Venice and I am writing this document on it.

May 7

Today we are still on the train to Venice and I have been seeing lots of beautiful landscapes out the window. I also wait at the door to the snack bar and open it when anyone comes near it. Some landscapes include many tunnels, high mountains, vineyards, and grassy plains. The train’s top speed is 300 km/h! This kind of train is a streamlined TRENITALIA train, also known as a bullet train. Then after the train stopped at Venice we grabbed our bags and headed off of the train. It was about 15 minutes before we got to our apartment. After we dropped our bags off at our apartment we explored the streets of Venice. It was about 10:30 when we got back to our apartment and we took off our clothes and went to sleep in a bed for the first time in two days!

Venice Arrival

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(DreamingOutdoors Photography) europe international italy travel https://dreamingoutdoors.zenfolio.com/blog/2023/5/arrival-in-venice Sun, 21 May 2023 14:15:35 GMT
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:

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(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.

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(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). 

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(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!

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(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.

Switzerland

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(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. 

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(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

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(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

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(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

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(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.  

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(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

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(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

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(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.

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(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:

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(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.

 

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(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.

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(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

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(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:

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(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.

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(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:

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(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:

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(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:

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(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.

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(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:

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(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:

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(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:

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(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!

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(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:

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(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:

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(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:

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(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:

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(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. 

 

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(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:


 

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(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. 

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(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. 

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(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:

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(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.

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(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

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(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:

 

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(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.

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(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.

 

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(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:

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(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

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(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:

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(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:

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(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:

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(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!

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(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:

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(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.

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(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

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(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:

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(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:

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(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). 

 

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(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.

 

 

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(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. 

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(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:

 

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(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.

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(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:

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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!

 

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(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!

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(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.

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(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:

 

 

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(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.

 

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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

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(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:

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.