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Why? and Note about the early travels


[On the beach somewhere in France, in the late 1980's] [Somewhere in France]

Somewhere in France way back in the early 80's, possibly 1983. A tiny page about that is here.



Meteora sunset Meteora monastery

A visit to Greece, most likely in 1986. See also here.



[San Francisco, probably 1988]

On my first visit to the USA in 1988. I did the do the 'standard' tour that most Europeans seem to do on their first trip to the western US.

Starting in San Francisco, I went on to Los Angeles, Anaheim, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and back to SF.

Here I am at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Other stations of the trip can be seen here.


[Near Fuhrhop, Germany, mid 1980's]

There's a small village with the name 'Fuhrhop' in the north of Germany.
And this is a photo of me and the traffic sign that shows the way to 'Fuhrhop'.
Not one of the most exciting images.


[Versailles in 1991]

Sitting near the pond in the park of Versailles, France in 1991.
At that time I was working for an EC founded project called ARGOSI.
Two of the largest project partners were located near Paris, so I spent a lot of time in that area during the project
(and I also had a couple of trips to other countries, and some pictures are here...)


[About to fly in a balloon over Nappa Valley, 1991]

This is me about to fly in a balloon over Nappa Valley, California, 1991.


One of the best holiday experiences I ever had. It was a perfect day for flying (though I suspect that most days in Nappa Valley are), the early morning sun shining over the land adding textures to the ground, a few small clouds adding textures to the sky, about a dozen other balloons adding colour to the scene, a friendly tour operator, an opulent champagne breakfast afterwards...


[Denali Park, Alaska,  1991]

This is me in the Denali National Park, Alaska, back in 1991. Feeling wet, miserable and frustrated.
I had to be in Anchorage the evening, so and there wasn't enough time to take one of the park busses, go deep into the park, walk around a couple of hours and get back. Time would have been barely sufficient to take a bus into the park and take the next bus back. So I tried to get on one of the sightseeing helicopter flights that take you to a look at Mt.McKinley and back. They did two flights early that day, and they were booked solid, but they didn't have enough reservations for an additional flight. But additional requests might come in, so I was asked to call again two hours later. Having nothing else to do, I walked around the outskirts of the park. When I called back, they told me that the weather had become that bad in the meantime that they wouldn't fly anyway, even if they got additional reservations.


[British Columbia, 1991]

After the slightly frustrating trip to Alaska, I went on to British Columbia in Canada. This is me and the rented car near a small lake in close to Bakerville. Bakerville is a small village from the time of the gold rush. They have people walking around the village in period costumes and try to recreate the atmosphere with reasonable authenticity. It's quite charming, since they don't try to make it artificially 'exciting', so there are shoot outs, no bar fights, no pre-scripted enacted scenes, just the normal day-to-day work. It's also fairly clever how they integrate the visitors. Instead of just ignoring modern clothing and cameras, visitors are regarded as immigrants from some odd country where clothing styles just happen to be different. After all, around the time of the gold rush all kinds of people came to Bakerville. Anyway, when I went there, I expected a sort of Disney-esque history theme park and I was very happy with the way it turned out to be.


[In a helicopter over Vancouver in 1993]

Later on the same trip, this time over Vancouver.
[Yes, the 1991 vacation was a fairly long and exciting one that took me to a lot of places.]

After the helicopter trip in Alaska failed to happen, I had my first flight in a helicopter over Grouse Mountain in Vancouver. This was a short but fun trip, since the pilot was in a good mood and did all these nice things you can do with helicopters that you can't do with planes, like standing still in the air and than 'slipping' off to one side, or sneaking 'sidewards' over a mountain ledge.

Another one of the nice things when travelling alone is that you tend to get the front seat in sightseeing helicopters. Sightseeing helicopters usually have a seat beside the pilot and a bench behind him. So if you're travelling alone and someone else is in a group of two or three, it usually means that you will get the front seat, while the other ones have to sit in the back seats.

Additional pictures from the 1991 North American vacation are here.



[Near Oxford in 1991]

Another ARGOSI memory. One of the partners in England was Rutherford Labs near Oxford. They have a guest house in Abbingdon (?), which used to be part of an old abbey. It was a great place for the 1991 workshop on 'Graphics and Communication', and they have a marvellous garden for taking small walks during the breaks.

They also had one of those tough country cats that gave the impression that it had the habit of chasing small dogs up on trees. Definitely a real cat. [If you wonder what I mean with 'real cat' in this context, read the Terry Pratchett book...]


[Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, 1993]

In 1993 it was time for my third trip to North America. Starting in Toronto, flying down to Philadelphia, continuing to Anaheim near Los Angeles for the SIGGRAPH conference, back for another week to Toronto, moving on to Halifax, Nova Scotia and spending a week driving through Newfoundland before flying back.

The picture obviously shows me next to the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

Thanks for the hospitality there!

[CN Tower, Toronto,  1993]

Later on the same trip, looking down from the CN Tower in Toronto. It's a slightly odd feeling stand there and watch the tiny planes from the airport on the small island in the lake making their take-off and landing exercise circles deep down below you.

Additional pictures from the 1993 US/Canada vacation are here.



[Squirrel in Hyde Park, 1993]

Attacked in Hyde Park by a squirrel with a laser gun.

Well, actually a peanut.

I was in London with my sister and her husband to watch the last night of the BBC Proms'93. We still had some time to kill, so we bought a bag of peanuts and fed the squirrels in Hyde Park. (While trying to memorize the words for 'Land of Hope and Glory'.)


[Dolphin, Seaworld Florida, 1994]

In 1994 I visited another SIGGRAPH convention, so I went to Orlando, Florida. I didn't have much time, so it was just a two week trip to Florida with the weekend in between in Washington. A couple of pictures from Florida are here.


[Goodbye to our VAX, 1995]

Early in 1995 the VAX at GMD-FOKUS was shut down. At that time I was working at another company, but since I had spent literally years working with this machine, I took a day off and went to the farewell party. Hopeless nostalgic, I know.



[Scotland,  1995]

After another 'Last Night of the Proms' in London (this time the Centenary Proms in 1995), I went to Scotland for two weeks. This is on a mountain close to Fort William. More here.


[Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin, July 1995]In the summer of 1995 the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrapped the Reichstags-Building in Berlin. It stayed wrapped for about two weeks and became the place to be for those weeks. The wrapped building drew artists, jugglers, street musicians, painters, weirdos, and huge crowds of spectators. Some people brought sleeping bags and stayed overnights to wake up and see the first rays of the sun strike the building and the silvery cloth make it look like the building was glowing from within.

While I didn't stay there overnight, I spent most of my spare time there. Getting up two hours earlier than usual, I went to the Reichstag to see it in the morning glow, sitting on the grass, enjoying the (relative) solitude, then went to work and returned after work to enjoy the atmosphere, the crowds and the fun, listening to music and having a great time.


During that time it was also possible to do flightseeing trips over Berlin in an Antonow-2 bi-plane, so I got the chance to see Berlin from above and fly in a rather odd plane at the same time.

[Berlin flightseeing in Antonow-2] [Berlin flightseeing in Antonow-2] [Berlin flightseeing in Antonow-2] [Berlin flightseeing in Antonow-2]


[Coast of Greenland, Ilulissat, June 1996]Greenland, June 1996. My most fantastic holiday so far. Or, as a story I read put it, "If I could freeze-frame my life, it would have been then." This was just a short trip, basically just three days and I probably spent more money on it than I did on four weeks in North America in 1991, but it was worth every pound. I've only put a few pictures and a short summary on this overview page, but more can be found here.

After a short stop in Keflavik on Iceland, where we landed at 11:45 pm, just in time to see the sun drop below the horizon and left at 0:15 am, just in time for the sun to rise again, we went on to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. Next day we flew north of the polar circle to Ilulissat and spent two days watching icebergs from hilltops, helicopters, planes and ships.

[Midnight sun and icebergs]The picture on the left was taken on a midnight sun cruise among the icebergs near Ilulissat. The time was shortly after midnight. I was a bit surprised by the brightness of the midnight sun. Most travel guides described it as 'bright enough to read a newspaper', but it seems like I have been reading newspapers with very little light, since I assumed that the midnight sun would be like twilight. Actually it is more like a normal autumn afternoon.

Watching the icebergs float by is an experience that's very difficult to put in words. The problem is that there's hardly anything that compares to it. While you might describe Newfoundland as 'similar to Scotland, only more spread out', (apologies to those living in Newfoundland and Scotland) I hadn't experienced anything similar to the coast of Greenland before. It's probably one of the most unique places on Earth (unless you happen to live near the Antarctica, then you'll probably be bored by 'more of the same').

The next day we flew back to Kangerlussuaq, where our plane for the trip back to London was already waiting. It was the first time a Concorde had been in Greenland, so my first supersonic flight also happened to be the inaugural flight of a Concorde from Greenland. The Concorde itself happened to be the most 'classic' Concorde, since it had the registration code AA, so it was the first Concorde that British Airways put into service.
[Concorde inb Kangerlussuaq] [Concorde on runway in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, June 1996]



[Alps near Meiringen, Autumn 1996] There is a group of game designers that does 'Murder Mystery Weekends' in Meiringen. They develop a new case every year and then they go to Meiringen for eight weekends and stage the current case before they go and develop the next one. Why do they go to Meiringen. Well, Meiringen is next to the Reichenbach Falls, where Sherlock Holmes 'died' in Doyles's story "The Final Problem". And a hotel in Meiringen was the place where Holmes spend his last night. So the place has a certain history of intellectual crime fighting. (They also got a tiny 'Sherlock Holmes Museum'.)

The 'Murder Mystery Weekend' was cleverly done, challenging and exhausting. They have managed to create a fine balance between pre-planned acted scenes, improvisation and audience participation. And, what's especially impressive, they were very good in offering opportunities to participate without forcing anyone to. So it was fun for those who wanted to play along and interrogate (well, ask politely) the suspects as well as for those who just wanted to watch, observe and draw conclusions. And the plot was reasonably complex but still 'worked', without relying on too many coincidences or improbable events. [And don't even ask how it came about that I co-hosted an "Introduction to Klingon language and culture" during the event. Those things just happen...]


[Polar Circle in Sweden, April 1997] [In the Ice Hotel, April 1997] [Northern lights in northern Sweden, April 1997] North of Sweden, April 1997.
This was a great trip with snowmobile riding, a stay in an ice hotel (and that is not a typo for a nice hotel, even though it was) and northern lights. This one had so many great moments that it has a page of its own.



[Reindeer sleigh driving, December 1997] [Posing with a reindeer, December 1997] [Path of silence in Santa Claus Village, December 1997] [Path of silence in Santa Claus Village, December 1997]

My second trip on Concorde with Goodwood Travel, this time with the Christmas tour to Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland. A nice trip, including reindeer sleigh driving, snowmobile driving, theatre in the snow, a visit to the arctic circle, a large Christmas banquet and a flight back at twice the speed of sound. Not quite as perfect as the trip to Greenland (there are few places that even come close to Greenland's natural beauty), but a great vacation nonetheless. [Even though they had to jumpstart the Concorde with the help of a Finair DC-7 (-9?) because they had problems with their generator.]
[Quite a lot of snowmobiles on this tour, December 1997] [Four wheel driving on the snown, December 1997] [Twice the speed of sound in the Concorde, December 1997] [Concorde Cockpit, Technology 60's style, December 1997]


[A town called Å, January 1998] [Vättern Lake, Sweden, January 1998] [Trees on Mount Omberg, Sweden, January 1998] [Trees on Mount Omberg, Sweden, January 1998]
From mid-January to mid-February 1998 I worked as a guest scientist at a company in Linköping (Sweden) called UID (which has become a part of Nokia now)[and by now that research lab has been closed down again]. It was an extremely enjoyable time, even though the weather was slightly different than I expected. Originally I assumed that it would be cold and snowy in winter (which, as you can probably tell from the other trips, is a weather condition I like). It turned out to be an unusually warm winter and on Friday nights people had their drinks outside the pubs, so it looked more like a summer evening in Italy than a winter night in Sweden.

Though, as you can see from the pictures here, there were also cold, snowy and wintery days. I spent a lot of time driving around during the weekends. One of the places I passed was a town (well, more a small village) called Å, which is (obviously) the town with the shortest name in Sweden. I also spent a weekend in Stockholm, which is 'Cultural Capital of Europe' in 1998. As one of the art events they build an ice pavilion as an exhibition hall for ice art. This pavilion was build by the same guy who is also responsible for the ice hotel in Jukkasjärvi, although the ice hotel was much more impressive. Although the warm weather might have something to do with it. As you can see in the second picture below, the pavilion was already half-molten, dirty and partly washed away by the rain. The artwork inside changed weekly. It was an even mixture of abstract art and 'fun art' that had some sort of visual pun (like the 'heating radiator' made from ice [see picture below] or a bath tub).
[Ispaviljongen, Stockholm, February 1998] [Ispaviljongen, backside, Stockholm, February 1998] [Ispaviljongen, interior, February 1998] [Ship in museum]


[Heureka Science Center near Helsinki]

[Heureka Science Center near Helsinki]

I had a day off while being in Helsinki in June 1998, so I went to 'Heureka', the local 'hands on' science center. It is one of the most interesting science center I've seen in Europe so far (though my knowledge is far from complete) and has a lot of clever presentations and original ideas on how to get visitors to interact with the exhibits.
Since the weather was fine and I still had time left, I went to the zoo in the afternoon (passing the cathedral on the way). The zoo is also pretty neat, since it is located on a small island a bit outside of Helsinki, so it's rather quiet and relaxing (even for seals).
[Helsinki Cathedral]

[Seals in Helsinki Zoo]


[Seal, relaxing on ice, July 1998] I've been to Svalbard / Spitsbergen in July / August 1998, which basically is the most northern place you can reach as a 'normal' tourist. It was a nice trip and I made lots of pictures, so there are a couple of pages about that vacation that can be found here. [Glacier in Spitsbergen / Svalbard]

[Hovercraft ride] In September 1998 I went hovercraft riding in England. It was definitely a fun thing to do. More about this trip, including a couple of video clips (since still frames don't really fit a dynamic thing like hovercraft riding very well) can be found here. [Hovercraft ride]

[Florence, Italy] No interesting travels for a long time.

In June 1999 I was at a conference in Florence, Italy. Didn't even manage to do any significant amount of sightseeing, just took a few pictures while rushing through the city during lunch break.

[Florence, Italy]

[Total eclipse of the sun]

[Bell tower in Karlsruhe]

August, 11th, 1999. I went down to the south of Germany to see the total eclipse of the sun. Originally the idea was to see it from Stuttgart, but thick cloud layers made that impossible. Trying to find a place that had a clear view of the sun, I ended up in Karlsruhe. Luckily the clouds opened up ten minutes before the total eclipse and there was even a bell tower to watch the eclipse from. [Not that being a couple of meters closer to the sun made any difference, but it was a nice place to be at.] Unfortunately an eclipse doesn't look very exciting on photographs, looking mostly like a lit cigarette at night, seen from the front. It's just one of these 'you had to be there to appreciate it' things.
Next day, there was a bit of time to visit some caves in the area south of Stuttgart.
[Strangely blue sky]

[Cave south of Stuttgart]


[Milan Dome]

[Milan Dome]

[Lazy, but observant cat]

[Milan Dome]

I have been in Milan for a conference at the beginning of September. The most interesting tourist sight is clearly the cathedral or 'Duomo'. Very large, very impressive, and you can walk around on its roof and have a good look at the city.
Leonardo Da Vinci also lived in Milan, and he has a statue directly opposite the Scala opera house. Milan has a long scientific tradition and a fairly well stocked historic science museum, even though it seems a bit chaotic. For example, they have a (non-working) Cray XMP supercomputer standing right in the middle of a room with models of historical ships. Actually quite nice, because it gives you have a nice round bench to sit on, but it does look a bit out of place.
[Leonard Da Vinci Statue]


[Street Theatre Performance] [Huskies race Holyrood] [Relaxing Teddy Bear] I've spent my New Year 2000 vacation in Edinburgh to celebrate Hogmanay there. So why do the pictures from that vacation show a teddy bear, huskies and strange looking people? Read about it here.



Elephant seals on the beach

Pacific Coast in Monterey

February in California is clearly off-season, so is there anything exciting to see and do? Actually there is, and quite a lot of it too. In the short time I've been there, I've seen an elephant seal on a beach giving birth, I've been flying in a glider plane over Monterey Bay, seen Kevin Costner play golf and stayed in an amazing hotel room among the treetops with almost a 360 degree view. And I've visited the typical tourist sights, like the "Hearst Castle", the Monterey Bay Aquarium, "The Tech" and the Exploratorium as well. To read more about it and see some more pictures, click here. Being towed from Hollister to Monterey Bay

Eagle's Nest room at Blackthorne Inn


[Dome panorama picture] [Millennium show] [Millennium show] [Prime meridian separating eastern and western hemisphere]


When I was in Edinburgh for the Hogmanay celebration, I did see the opening of the Millennium Dome (or just the 'Dome' as it seems to be called now) on TV. Little did I suspect that I would visit it six weeks later. But I happened to be in London, so I thought "why not?". There have been a lot of negative reviews and the attendance rates seem to be rather low, and it's easy to see why. Visiting the Dome is fairly expensive, and there's not a single big exciting attraction (much less a lot of them).
But it is an interesting expo-like presentation and while there's not much you can actually do or experience, there's a lot to see, and it looks impressive. Most of the 'themes' are presented with style in an original and interesting way and while I originally just wanted to go there for a couple of hours, I found myself spending the whole day at the Dome. So there is intriguing stuff there, it's just not a single element to get really excited about, just a bunch of neat bits that somehow never manage to become more than the sum of it parts. To a certain extent it was like a puzzle right out of the box. I've always had the feeling that some parts belonged somewhere else, that there might be a complete picture that made sense hidden somewhere, but that right now it was just a jumble of colourful pieces, filled with the depressing sense that someone might be able to do something really impressive and wonderful with that place, if he only had an idea what the result would look like and be willing to put lots of hard work in it.
The really nice thing about the place right now (and the only thing that almost justifies the entrance fee) is the 'Millennium Show', which is shown a couple of times a day. [According to the booklet it's "up to five times a day", but when I was there, it was just two shows at noon and 4 pm.] At first I wondered how they could do a show in such an enormous place, since the inner arena is fairly big and the stage in the middle seemed quite small. When the first performers dropped from the ceiling I stopped wondering... By the wonders of stage technology and acrobatic artists, they managed to fill the room with the show in a fairly spectacular way. This was very much a 3D-Show, that used the available space quite well. With music by Peter Gabriel and a smart choreography, it was impressive to experience.

[Inside the Dome panorama picture]



300 sparklers ready to go

450 sparklers from above

Not exactly travel related, but some time ago I found a web site that showed how to make sparkler bombs, which aren't actually bombs, but more like fountains of light. So here are the results of two experiments with sparkler bombs, one containing 300 sparklers, the other one 450 of them. MPEG of 450 sparklers at night

AVI of 300 sparklers going woosh



London Eye

At the top

Another visit to London. And another new tourist attraction. The "Millennium Wheel", officially called the "British Airways London Eye" had its share of problems at the beginning. But now it seems that it will be (unlike the Dome) hugely popular and is widely accepted. The Eye was opened to the general public on the 1st of March 2000 (before that only competition winners, people from the press and invited guests could have a turn) and I happened to be in London on the 3rd, so I didn't really expect to be able to get a ticket. Signs saying "advance tickets for the weekend all sold out" weren't a cause for optimism either. Fortunately they don't sell all available spaces as advance tickets, so there's a fair chance to get a same day ticket if you come early and are willing to stand in line for a bit.
An unexpected bonus was the good weather during noon. When I arrived in Heathrow the same morning, it was overcast and raining, and later that day dark clouds came up again (see last picture), but when I was there, the weather and the view was good. London isn't exactly filled with high-rising buildings, so the London Eye is the fourth highest structure around (and the highest place that is accessible for tourists) and it's in a fairly central location. Which means that you can basically see the whole city from there.
At the top of the London Eye

When I went away, the weather got worse


Antonow AN-2

For my 40th birthday I wanted to do something more interesting than sitting around and having a couple of drinks with my co-workers. So I chartered a plane for a sightseeing flight with friends and colleagues - before standing around and having a drink with them. More about that and a lot of pictures of Berlin from above are here. Antonow AN-2



Svartifoss waterfall

Iceberg lagoon

My 'main vacation' in the year 2000 (after Hogmanay in Edinburgh, the trip to California and a couple of short trips to England) was in Iceland (with some side trips to Greenland and the Faroe Islands). Compared to the vacations in the last couple of years, it was a very long vacation (three weeks).

And I've done quite a few things, like driving with an offroad vehicle through the interior of Iceland, riding a dog sleigh on a glacier, riding a snow mobile on an even bigger glacier, seeing a whale amidst the icebergs at the coast of Greenland, swimming in the warm water of a crater and visiting a mountain younger than me.

So this time the travelogue is split into five parts:   1  2  3  4  5 
If you want to read all of it, you should probably start here.
Huskies relaxing

Whale near greenlandic coast


London Eye view with rain Hovercraft in Dover Hovercraft on ground in Dover Hovercraft deflated

September 2000 found me in London once again. I had taken a few days of vacation after a project meeting. I did take another turn on the London Eye, unfortunately this time with a bit of rain and no narrator. It seems like they had a live narrator only in the beginning, so except for a short security announcement at the start, the tour was silent.

I had taken my first trip on the London Eye on the third day after it became open to the general public, and on this visit to England, I went to another technical attraction only three days before it closed down. As you can see from the images, I am talking about the big hovercrafts. I already wrote two years ago, when I had my ride on the small hovercraft, that I always wanted to be on one of the big ones, and even though I knew then that they wouldn't be around forever, I always assumed that I would just go there one day and take the Dover - Calais tour. Well, in August I had read in a newspaper in Berlin that they would cancel the Hovercraft service soon. They did say something about the end of September, but didn't give any specific days. So my chance to travel with them seemed to have gone. But now I was in London, having a day off on Friday, September 29th and there was the chance that the service might still be operating. So I took a train to Dover, went to the Hoverport and was glad to see that there was a hovercraft just arriving. So I bought a ticket for a round trip and went to France for fifteen minutes. Just a quick ride over the channel, through passport control and back on the same hovercraft and back to Dover. Only when I came back to Dover I noticed the sign that the hovercrafts would stop two days later, so it was fairly much a 'last chance to see' and I am glad that I made it.

Hovercraft leaving Dover Hovercraft reaching Dover Interior of Hovercraft End of an Era



Ein Avdat

Petra

Since I was in Israel due to a business trip anyway, I decided to tag a couple of days of vacation to the end of it. I went through the Negev desert to see the spring in the rocks at Ein Avdat, on to Petra in Jordan to see the city carved into the rock, dived underwater with a submarine in the Red Sea in the morning, dived with dolphins in the afternoon and went north again on the next day to float in the Dead Sea and see the Masada fortress. A rather full schedule for four days of travelling. More about that trip can be found here. Dead Sea

Dolphin in Red Sea


Looking into the sunset

Sunrise in Lusaka

Why am I looking that smugly into the sunset? Where is that glorious looking sunrise? What's the point of the dark sun over the monolith? What's the connection between Lusaka, Zambia and the Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna, Austria? What has my birthday got to do with that all?
If you want to find out about all this, look here.
Dark sun over 'monolith'

Hundertwasserhaus


Cinema museum, Torino

Cinema museum, Torino

I was in Torino, Italy in July 2001. The most exciting thing was the movie museum. And while the exhibition itself is very good and rivals the MOMI in London, the more interesting feature is the building itself. It doesn't look much like a museum at all, but more like a big tower. (Supposedly it's the world's tallest brick building.) Most of the exhibition is on one floor, leaving the interior of the museum almost empty. The inside of the building is mostly one large (180 feet high) hall, with a walkway winding up along the side wall to about a third of it's height. Inside the large hall are some movie props, decorations and projection screens, but mostly it's just big empty space. And in the middle of it an elevator. Which is very odd, since it is hanging from a hole in the ceiling. There's no fixed supporting structure around the elevator. It is hanging from its cable and is only kept on the right path by a set of guiding cables on the corners. It's rather odd riding this elevator, since (except for the bottom) it is fully transparent and it is going up right in the middle of the room. So when you stand in it and look outside, you pretty much get the impression of floating freely towards the ceiling. Since the tower is also converging towards the point where the elevator goes through the roof, it adds to the feeling of vertigo and makes the elevator ride a surprisingly strange trip. It can be especially strange if you do the elevator ride before seeing the exhibition, since you board the elevator in the basement, and you go through one floor first, so it looks like a normal elevator. And then you emerge from the hole in the floor and suddenly you're hanging down freely in the huge hall without any warning. Cinema museum, Torino

Cinema museum, Torino


The Wave

Bryce Canyon

The trip in March/April 2002 to the USA came about in a slightly unusual way. My sister wanted to see the Wave (see picture to the left) and asked me if I could work on getting the permits and whether I might be willing to 'tag along'. After some planning, it turned into a full-fledged tour of National Parks in that area, including Arches, Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon, some other nature sights like Goblin Valley, Natural Bridges and Antelope Canyon with some ATV driving and jet ski riding thrown in for fun. A detailed description with lots of pictures can be found here. Arches

Goblin Valley

Jet ski

Antelope Canyon Antelope Canyon


In Krizna Jama In Krizna Jama Sneznik Castle Rakov Skocjan area Rakov Skocjan area

In July 2002 a meeting took me to Ljubljana in Slovenia. Since I had never been in Slovenia, I added a weekend vacation to the trip. One of the things Slovenia is well known for are its caves. So I went to visit a couple of them. The best experience was the Krizna Jama tour, since that one is in a cave system that consists of a number of connected underwater lakes. (A very good web page with great panorama pictures about that cave can be found at this site.)
You can visit the cave with a tour guide and paddle about a mile along the underground lakes (feeling a bit like a Gollum-wannabe most of the time). The cave has no electric lighting or other touristy trappings, so you get to see the cave 'in the raw'. It is also not particularly crowded (about 300 people visit the cave per year). When I was there (at noon on a Saturday in summer), I was the only one doing the tour, so I had a private tour with my personal guide and the whole cave system for more than three hours just for myself.
After that I was at Skocjanske Jame, which is a bit more touristical. Basically it's just two big caverns. The first one is reasonably nice, but the real attraction is the second one. It's an enormously large cave which you enter at about middle height, with a river running through a gorge deep below you and the ceiling high above. If Krizna Jama feels like Gollum's place from 'The Hobbit', this one automatically triggers the response "It's Moria!", especially since there's a small bridge at the smallest part of the cave that takes you to the other side. Fortunately I didn't remember the exact words, otherwise it would have been very hard to resist the temptation to stand in the middle of the bridge, stop the other tourists from passing and shout "You cannot pass, I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass." (Although there's probably a tourist every other day who actually does that...)
Afterwards I went to the Rakov Skocjan area, which is a nice area to wander around, with natural bridges, small caves formed by the Rak river through which you can walk along the river shore, lush green vegetation, just a nice place to finish a 'cave themed day'.

Rakov Skocjan area Rakov Skocjan area Sunset near Rakek Sunset near Rakek Sunset near Rakek

Reichstag

Legoland Germany opened in May 2002 and I had nothing much to do in August, so I went there for a day. The main attraction for me where various buildings from Berlin, which were built from Lego bricks and a lot of other Lego sculptures.

The pictures from this trip and some remarks about how Lego differs from Disney can be found here.

Relaxing knight


Cessna seaplane

I finally got around to making the seaplane sightseeing flight over Berlin. Here are some pictures.

Rotes Rathaus, Nikolaiviertel

Phantom Manor

These two pictures are only marginally connected by the fact that they show buildings that are about 20 miles from Paris in different directions. The picture to the left shows Phantom Manor in Disneyland Paris, while the one to the right shows a church in Auvers-sur-Oise, of which Van Gogh once made a painting. More about this trip to places close to Paris can be found here.

Church in Auvers

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Guggenheim Museum Detail 'Spider' outside Guggenheim Museum
Balloon Dog Flower covered 'Puppy' outside Guggenheim Museum

Later that year, in June, I had a project meeting in Bilbao, which I managed to combine with a bit of sightseeing (thanks to the odd pricing schemes of the airlines). Bilbao itself is rather nice. While it has a great tourist attraction (the Guggenheim Museum), the attraction is quite new and Bilbao is also away from the sea, so Bilbao is not a typical 'tourist city', but a normal 'working city', which is something I prefer.

The Guggenheim Museum is impressive, but as it is often the case with modern museums, there's always a competition for the viewers attention between the museum and the art displayed in and around it. In this case, the museum is probably winning, although the flower covered 'puppy' outside comes a close second.

Another thing that I like about Bilbao is the large number of good restaurants. Which is especially good since I happened to have my birthday during the trip, which is more fun to celebrate with a good dinner...

There was also a short side trip to Puente Colgante a 'transporter bridge', which is a couple of metro stops from Bilbao. A transporter bridge is a rather strange cross between a bridge and a ferry (and in my opinion just manages to incorporate the negative aspects of both). It's a high bridge crossing the Nervion, but you don't cross the river over the bridge, but hanging down from the bridge is a gondola, which 'ferries' passengers and cars over the river at a height of about 10 feet.

Puente Colgante

Shrimp Carpaccio

Me, being seriously embarrassed

Blue whale

The idea? To see the world's largest animal. The destination? Iceland. The planning? Nearly absent.

For no very good reason, except for the usual "it seemed like a good idea", I decided that I would like to go on a big whale watching tour to see a blue whale. There is a company in Iceland that has fast ship that does whale watching tours looking for the large whales, so I took their tour. And I did see a blue whale! (As well as other whales and dolphins.) More about this short vacation is here.

Orca whale Sei whale

Sand sculpture Sand sculpture Sand sculpture

This is not exactly travel related, since the 'travel' involved only five stations on the subway, but there was a nice exhibition of sand sculptures here in Berlin, and here are a couple of pictures from that event.


Sydney opera house

Tasmanian coastline

Hydro-sledging

Towards the end of 2003 I flew south for the winter. I spent my vacation in Australia (more specifically in Sydney and Tasmania) and in New Zealand. It probably was the longest vacation I ever did (even though the trip to San Francisco / Las Vegas / Alaska / British Columbia back in 1991 may have had a similar length) and without any doubt it was the vacation with the most activities on the way. As a side effect, the description of the vacation is quite a bit longer than previous travel descriptions.

To read about the vacation, start by clicking here.

Jet boat, New Zealand

Ice cave, New Zealand

Sperm whales


Sand sculpture, Berlin 2004

No travels for quite some time now. But at least there is another exhibiton of sand sculptures in Berlin, so there is a bit of an update to this site with some new pictures here.

Sand sculpture, Berlin 2004


Lego Mount Rushmore

During a very short vacation in Denmark (only a couple of days) I visited Legoland in Billund. Some pictures can be found here.

Lego Concorde


A quick visit to Dublin in October. Didn't take many pictures there (the main attractions are pubs and bookshops, both of which are for enjoying, not for photographing...), but I did like the Spire. Basically it's just a metal pole about 400 feet tall. There are some markings at the base and some lights near the top, but unless you stand right next to it, it's just a metal needle, stuck into the city, pinning the city to the ground like a butterfly. Or maybe it's Cori Celesti, the hub around which the world turns metaphorically. Or someone went to Seattle and said "That is a Space Needle? I'll show you what a space needle looks like!". Whatever. Anyway, it's abstract, it's cool, it's daring. Here's a view of it as seen from the shopping street.

Dublin Spire


Herodeion and Parthenon

I've only been to Athens once before, and that was about 14 years ago, and I only had a day for sightseeing, so I didn't do anything special and just revisited the standard places, starting with the Acropolis. Not much of a travelogue this time, even though there would be a story to tell, but a number of pictures from the trip are here.

Parthenon


Shrine near Tokyo Tower

I had never been to Japan before (well, except for a couple of hours wait on Singapore airport on the way to Australia, which don't rally count, I've never been in Asia at all), so there were lots of preconceived notions and stereotypes when I went to Tokio for ten days.

Most of what I read and heard turned out to be only slightly true and I did enjoy the trip quite a lot. More about it can be found here.

Tokyo sunset


Sand sculpture, Berlin 2005

After being quite some distance away, this one is a lot closer to home. As in 2003 and 2004, there was an exhibition of sand sculptures in Berlin. Some pictures from this can be found here.

Sand sculpture, Berlin 2005


Water jet in Geneva

In July, I visited Geneva. Which has a water jet. And little else. But at least it also has ships going across the lake. More about this (and an odd drawing) here.

Paddle steamer on Lake Geneva


Cloud pattern over Patriot Hills

Penguins. Lots of them.

This was it. The journey. I went to the end of the world. I stood at the South Pole.

Even now, I find it hard to believe that I actually did that. It is so far removed from previous travel experience that it has an almost dreamlike quality. But I did get to the South Pole and I enjoyed being in the Antarctica more than any other place I have ever been to.

I also went to see the penguins on Magdalena Island in Chile and the Torres del Paine National Park, which are both very impressive sights, but, compared to being on the ice, just minor moments.

More about the best journey of my life (and I don't think that I will ever have a more exciting trip) and many pictures can be found here.

Standing at the South Pole

Torres del Paine in Chile


Duomo in Milan

While going to the South Pole was clearly the ultimate in travelling for me, this doesn't mean that I now only sit at home and go nowhere ever again.

While not even remotely as exciting as going to Antarctica, April 2006 had me visiting northern Italy. Didn't have much time for sightseeing, but a couple of pictures can be found here anyway.

Mausoleo of the Visconti di Modrone


Luxembourg

I managed to go to Luxembourg in May 2006, but that was only a day trip and I had to work, so there was very little time for sightseeing. So beside a picture of a heron (which was taken right in the middle of the town, even though it doesn't look that way) and a fountain, there isn't anything to show. Luxembourg


Air Race

Much closer to home was an event at the end of May, which took place about a mile from where I live. There was an 'air race' with pilots steering airplanes through a tight course of inflateable pylons. Although this should have been exciting, actually being there was kind of dull, so here are just a couple of pictures without further commentary. Air Race


Sand sculpture, Berlin 2006

Building sand sculptures are becoming a regular event in Berlin. As in the preceeding years, I went and took a look. So here are some pictures from 2006.

Sand sculpture, Berlin 2006


View from Bucegi Mountains, Romania

Towards the end of 2006, I went to Romania for a week. Most of it was for a project meeting, but I did manage to add a few vacation days and go sightseeing in Bucharest and do some walking in the Carpathian Mountains, specifically the Bucegi Mountains. A number of pictures from that trip can be found here.

Peles Castle, Sinaia, Romania


Snow on the mountain, haze in the valley, Schwarzseespitze, Italy

In January 2007, I ended up in the north of Italy again, but this time in an area I hadn't visited before, specifically the Bolzano / Bozen area in South Tyrol. I didn't have that much time for sightseeing, but I managed to do a bit of walking on the plateau above Bolzano / Bozen and also went to some mountains in the Dolomites. Pictures from that trip can be found here.

Mountain in the Dolomites, Italy


Howling dog near iceberg

Footsteps in the snow

In March 2007, I went to Qaanaaq in northern Greenland to spend some time on the sea ice and look at icebergs. I did two one-week sledge tours with an Inuit hunter, spend a week in Qaanaaq and walked amidst the icebergs just outside the town. Also did some more iceberg watching in Ilulissat, which was sort of 'on the way' to Qaanaaq.

It was a sort of a 'follow up' trip to the South Pole trip. Back then I learned that I am really fond of icy landscapes and Greenland has some very impressive ones to offer.

The (fairly lengthy) write-up of the Qaanaaq trip can be found here.

Coffee break on the sledge

Young dog in Ilulissat


In June 2007 I was back in Geneva again. Once again, the planned rafting trip on the Arve failed to happen. Once again, I noticed that there's not much to do in Geneva on a spare day. It's pretty much a leisure town. Great food and nice for sitting in a cafe and watching the scenery, but not a good place to actually do things interesting enough to write about.

But there are some nice details to the city, like the artful 'TV-set' on a childrens playground somewhere or the fact that some of the phone distribution boxes (or whatever they are) aren't just ugly grey boxes, but often painted. For example as an old radio.


Sand sculpture, Berlin 2007

Another sand sculpture exhibition in Berlin. As in the preceeding years, I went and took a look. So here are some pictures from 2007.

Sand sculpture, Berlin 2007


Jericoacoara Beach, Brazil 2007

Hole in Rock, Jericoacoara Beach, Brazil 2007

Tropical beaches? Cocktails by the pool? Not an iceberg in sight?

Not one of my typical vacations, but in July 2007 I went to visit the northern part of Brazil and stayed a couple of days in the beach village of Jericoacoara before trying a day trip to Ubajara National Park and spending some time in Fortaleza. The trip told me pretty much what I knew already: I am not much of a beach person. But I like to travel and visit places I haven't seen before, even if they don't match my 'usual preferences'.

So here are some pictures and remarks about the trip.

Jericoacoara Dunes, Brazil 2007

Tropical Sunset, Jericoacoara Beach, Brazil 2007


Cave, Hungary, 2007

Well, visiting a cave in Brazil somehow didn't work out. But luckily I went to Hungary in October 2007, which has lots of caves. So, in additon to seeing Budapest and the countryside, I did spend some time seeing the Aggtelek mountains from below. More about that here.

Castle ruins, Hungary 2007


Skiing on the polar ice cap, April 2008

Me, at the North Pole, April 2008

About two years after standing at the South Pole, I stood essentially at the same spot, just upside down and (as seen from the South Pole) about 12000 kilometers below. Or, to put it in simpler terms, I went to the North Pole.

The trip itself was somewhat easier, since the North Pole is a lot closer to civilization than its counterpart. To make up for that, I skied the last couple of kilometers (just a small distance, five kilometers or so) to the Pole and also spent the night in a tent at the Pole.

I also spent a couple of days in Svalbard (Spitsbergen) afterwards and did a couple of small trips: a dog-sledding tour, a snowmobile tour and some crawling around in a glacier.

More about the vacation can be found here.

Arctic landcape at North Pole, April 2008

Camping at the North Pole, April 2008


Mountains, Northern Italy, May 2008

Less than a month after visiting the North Pole, I was once again in a frozen environment, though closer to home. I went to Italy to stay at the hotel with the highest altitude in the Alps (at 3212 meters, about 10500ft). I didn't have much of a plan after that, so I just travelled around Trentino-Alto Adige for the rest of the week.

There's not much to tell about the trip, but a short description and a couple of pictures are here.

Lake Levico, Italy, May 2008


Cave tour, Hungary, June 2008

When I was in Hungary for the first time (half a year earlier), I visited some caves. I liked that a lot, so on my second trip to Hungary I went to two "extreme" cave tours (and to a much more accessible cave). Too bad that caves don't photograph well with 'normal' equipment - it's not really an environment suitable for snapshots. But at least a couple of pictures and a description of the cave tours are here.

Cave tour, Hungary, June 2008


Sand sculpture, Berlin 2008

Another sand sculpture exhibition in Berlin. As in the preceeding years, I went and took a look. After a while, they are starting to look kinde of same-ish. So, without much commentary, here are some pictures from 2008.

Sand sculpture, Berlin 2008


Ice cave, Romania, 2008

A month after visiting some caves in Hungary, I had some spare time in Romania, so it seemed like a good idea to visit some caves there (mainly the Ice Cave and the Bear Cave). The weather in Bucharest was quite hot in July, but unfortunately the weather out in the countryside wasn't that great, so driving to the caves (which are quite some distance away from the capital) was a bit of a mixed experience. More about the trip and the caves is here.

Bear cave, Romania, 2008


Lençóis Maranhenses

Back to Brazil, even though only for a couple of days. The main attraction this time (after spending a short time in São Luís) was the national park of Lençóis Maranhenses. It's a bit of a 'convenience desert'. It looks pretty much like a desert, if you just look flat over the top of the dunes, but between the dunes are small (rainwater) pools, so you can always go for a quick swim. More pictures here.

Lençóis Maranhenses


Grotte de Gournier

After visiting caves in Hungary and Romania this year, it seemed sort of appropriate to looks for some caves during a short visit to France as well. Even though it was off-season, there were still some caves that had regular 'visiting hours' and since it was off-season, I was the only visitor at both caves, so I got my own guided tours there. Pictures from the caves (and of Lyon and some of the places nearby) are here.

Les Grottes de La Balme


Ubajara Cave

Much sooner than expected, I was back in Brazil. I had only been there three months earlier. This time, it was a fairly sandless visit. I didn't have any time for beaches or the dunes of Lençóis Maranhenses.
But I did manage to do some walking around in Fortaleza and São Luís and, more interestingly, I also visited the cave in the Ubajara National Park, something I had tried to do without success the previous year. So, a bit unexpectedly, I added another cave visit to a year that had a surprising number of them. A short summary of the trip and pictures can be found here.

Ubajara Cave access


Sledge dog and me

Sunset on ice

About two years after travelling as a passenger on a dog sled over sea ice, I was on another dog sled on sea ice, but this time I was in control. (Well, as much control as you can have as a novice over a team of ten experienced dogs.) This time the scenery was in northern Canada, at the northern end of the Yukon Territory, driving the dog sled from Herschel Island to Aklavik.

Dog sledding turned out to be a lot of fun, especially if someone (ie. the dogs) has expert knowledge in doing it. The only problem with the trip was that visiting Vancouver (which I like) seemed a bit boring afterwards...

Much more about that trip can be found here.

Dog sprint

Bald eagle


Louvre and pyramis Arc de Triomphe

In May, I got to visit Paris. But since it was only a short trip and I mostly just walked around, there's not much to show or write about. I did, however, manage to visit the 'Grande Arche' at La Defénse, which houses a small computer museum with a lot of old home computers, but also a Cray X-MP, though, unfortunately, not as a bench for public use.

Grande Arche at La Defénse Cray X-MP

Sand sculpture, Berlin 2009

Time to visit another sand sculpture exhibition in Berlin. As in the preceeding years, I went and took a look. After all those years, they are starting to look kinde of same-ish. although there were a couple of nice ones on display this year. Some pictures, without much commentary, here.

Sand sculpture, Berlin 2009


Stampe SV-4 biplane, June 2009

Exactly nine years after having a sightseeing flight in a biplane, I was in a biplane again. This time, it was much smaller (just a two seater) Stampe SV-4. And this time there was no roof above me, since this was an open plane. I also got to wear a rather goofy looking leather helmet with goggles. Some background conerning that flight as well as some pictures are here.

Me in Stampe SV-4 biplane, June 2009


Tiger Moth biplane, July 2009

Only three weeks later, I was sitting again in an open biplane, this time in a seventy year old Tiger Moth. More about the flight and some images are here.

Me in Tiger Moth biplane, July 2009


Zeppelin NT, September 2009

To follow up the two biplane flights, I did a sightseeing flight with another (sort of) old flying machine, a Zeppelin (even though the actual Zeppelin was a modern one, it still looked like being from a different era). And after that, I did some driving around with an utterly useless (but fun) car, a Caterham Seven. More about the flight and the driving can be found here.

Caterham Seven, September 2009


Beach

Heading south of the equator again, I ended up in Mozambique. Not a typical vacation for me, since the place is a bit too warm for me. And I also stayed (for the vacation part of the trip) in an expensive resort, which was a first for me and, while nice, wasn't all that exciting. (Which, I realize, is the point of having a relaxing vacation, but still...) More about the trip is here.

Beach


Ice sculpture

While there have been a number of sand sculpture exhibitions in Berlin, in December 2009 there was also an exhibition of ice sculptures. Some pictures of them are here.

Ice sculpture


London Eye, pod at highest point during sunset

After not having been to London for quite some time, I did more touristic things this time than I used to do when I was visiting there more regularly. So in addition to re-visiting the London Eye, I also managed to visit Battersea Park and Greenwich, which I had never visited before. More about the trip is here.

Shepherd Clock

Prime Meridian


Snowmobile

Sled dogs

Traveling on a dog sled is fun. I liked it the previous year and I wanted to do it again. But going to Canada for just a week is a bit pointless, since you spend more time go to Dawson City and back than you spend dogsledding, so I added a week of snowmobiling to the trip. Which turned out to be much harder than expected (I only had been on snowmobile day trips before and didn't know how to handle a snowmobile off-trail in deep snow), but also fun. But the best part was still the dogsledding on the Yukon River.

Much more about that trip can be found here.

Snowmobile

Sled dog


Portmeirion

After only two months, I found myself back in the UK. After some time near Norwich (where I did go on a rope climbing course), I went to Wales for the first time and visited Portmeirion and the Snowdonia Range before finishing the trip in Windsor. Some pictures from that trip are here.

Windsor Castle


Portmeirion

On my 50th birthday, I was looking for something interesting to do and chartered two balloons to invide a couple of friends for a sightseeing flight south of Berlin. Since the date was (obviously) fixed, we had to take the weather conditions as they were on that day, which were less favourable than hoped for, but sufficiently good to allow the trip to take place.
Pictures and some text regarding that trip are here.

Balloon flame


Sand sculpture, Berlin 2010

And once again there was a sand sculpture exhibition in Berlin. The location had moved again (almost back to where it had started) and while sculptures once again looked pretty much like the one from previous years, there were a couple of nice exceptions. Some pictures can be seen here.

Sand sculpture, Berlin 2010


Car stunt, Berlin 2010

Another activity that does not really count as travel, but was fun to do nonetheless. As a birthday present, I got a 'stunt course' or 'action weekend' where I got to do such things as choreographed fighting, a fire stunt, a car stunt and some abseiling. More about this can be found here.

Fire stunt, Berlin 2010


Lofoten landscape

Since I didn't do any real travel for quite some time, I took a couple of days of vacation and went to Lofoten Islands in Norway. Didn't do any interesting activities there, just looking at the landscape while walking and driving around. It was pretty much an off-season visit, too late for the busy summer season, too early for winter activities, so the pace was fairly relaxed. Some (repetitive) description and pictures can be found here.

Lofoten coastline


Pragelato, Italy. ski jumping hill

Pragelato, Italy, cross country track

Went to Turin in February 2011, but I didn't have any spare time to do anything touristic. But I flew to Turin two days early, so I had some time to travel to Pragelato and do some cross country skiing.

Pragelato was the site for the ski jumping and cross country skiing competitions of the 2006 winter Olympics. I can't ski, but luckily, Pragelato not only has the 'Olympic cross country route', but also a 'Tourist route', which was a nice flat track going evenly along one side of a river and back on the other side of the river. Nice, easy and scenic, with sun, blue skies and very few tourists. So I wasn't blocking the way for anyone and there was also a wide prepared area beside the actual trail, so I could stumble around there and wasn't blocking the real track for those who actually could ski. So it was an ideal situation for me and I more or less doubled the total distance I have ever travelled on skis.

Pragelato, Italy, cross country track

Pragelato, Italy, cross country track


Sled dog Jinx

Tempelfjorden dog sledding

After spending my main vacation for two years going dog sledding in Canada, it felt like it was time for a change. So I went dog sledding in Svalbard instead. And since there wasn't any sufficiently long dog sledding trip, I did two trips this year. Plus two snow mobile tours, just to provide some balance.

I did get to see all sorts of weather conditions, northern lights, some wildlife (reindeer, arctic foxes, ptarmigan, seal, though no polar bear), many dogs, a lot of scenery (though Tempelfjorden might get repetitive if you visit it on three of four tours) and spent some nights in an old sailing ship in the ice.

A detailed account of the Svalbard trip can be found here.

Svalbard polar lights

Noorderlicht


Bench with a view

I didn't have much free time in southern France, but I managed to do some walking in the mountains along a Planétaire walk, visit a cave, do some more walking (with a lot of rain) to see a natural arch, and then do some quick visits to Monaco and Nice to round it off. Add some good eating and it sums up to quite a pleasant trip of of which a description and pictures are here.

Saturn


Face imprint

I was in London in September 2011. Didn't do much sightseeing, but I had a lifecast of my face taken and turned into a plastercast. Some pictures of that are here.

Plaster face


Indoor skydiving

Palos Verdes peninsula

I didn't have that much spare time when I visited Los Angeles (just three days of vacation), but I tried to do as much as possible. So I went flying in a biplane (including some minor aerobatics and flying the plane myself for a bit), went whale watching (seeing lots of dolphins and also a blue whale, as well as some sea lions and pelicans), 'flew' in a vertical wind tunnel and also went ziplining in the mountains. Just to fill in the empty spaces in my schedule, I also visited Universal Studios, went to a concert at the Wiltern and went to an exhibition at the LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and also the California Science Center and the Griffith Observatory.

So it was quite a busy trip, of which a detailed account and pictures can be found here.

Common dolphins

Ziplines and sky bridges


Lego Dragon

About a month after visiting London, there was another trip to the UK, this time to the Windsor area. It was a short trip, so I didn't get around much, but at least managed to visit the Legoland there (with lots of Lego animals, real and imaginary) and have a walk in the Windsor Great Park (with a few real animals there as well). Also managed to visit Windsor Castle. A bit more about the trip and the corresponding pictures can be found here.

Windsor Great Park deer


Penguins and Plane

Lone Emperor Penguin

I didn't expect that I ever would visit that continent again, but in November 2011 I returned to Antarctica.

This time I didn't go to the South Pole, but headed to the edge of Antarctica to camp near a colony of Emperor Penguins. And since travel to and from Antarctica is always a bit unpredictable, I also did see more of southern Chile than I had originally planned. And, just to make the trip more interesting, I also visited Easter Island.

A summary of the trip and a lot of pictures can be found here.

Emperor Penguin

Easter Island Moai


Alps north of Torino

Early 2012 I was in Italy twice (in Torino in January and in Catania in February). I didn't do much but walking around for a bit (the specific plans I had failed due to the weather conditions), so there are just a few pictures and a short summary here.

Mount Etna


Sled dog

Happy sled dogs

March 2012 found me back in the Yukon again. And once again on a dog sled. And while this by now almost seems like 'business as usual', a few things had changed since I was the last time in Canada, only two years earlier. But being out on the snow with a group of nice and eager dogs pulling is always fun. Some text about the trip (and the usual pictures of dogs and snow - but this time also with 'action shots' of me on the sled) can be found here.

Me on dogsled

Squirrel


Rock arch

I had a weekend to spend in the area around Lyon and went to the Gorges de l'Ardèche for some kayaking, passing through the Pont d'Arc, a natural rock bridge. I also went to visit two tourist caves and a number of small waterfalls. Pictures and a short description can be found here.

Aven d'Orgnac


On Lesse River

Spa Summer Classics

I only had a weekend off in Belgium, but I did manage to get around quite a lot (even though this meant spending a large part of the weekend just driving around).

After some kayaking on Lesse River, I also managed to do some ziplining in a quarry near Dinant. And I did see some car racing at the Spa-Francorchamps race course before visiting an exhibition of sand sculptures at Blankenberge. Pictures and a bit of descriptive text can be found here.

U-Zipwire

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves


Spreepark water ride

No vacation pictures this time, but something closer to home. There is an abandoned amusement park in Berlin and they are offering guided tours of the area. As the place has been unused for more of a decade now, quite a lot has been vandalized and destroyed, but some of the attractions are still standing. Some images of rusty and run down rollercoasters and other rides can be found here.

Spreepark rollercoaster


37 meter waterfall abseil

Down the rock face

While Greece is mostly known for its beaches and its history, I tried to do something more contemporary and somewhat less 'laid back', although, in a quite literal sense, I spend some time 'hanging around' - namely, I went canyoning.

And, since I had another weekend to spend, I also went rafting on Lousios/Alfeios River. And, since you can't avoid historic sites completely, I also visited Ancient Olympia. Pictures and more details about the trip are here.

Rafting Alfeios River


Cave abseil

I went caving in the Grotte de Courtouphle in France. While I had been on cave tours before (even outside of the 'show cave' parts), those have been mainly walking tours with a bit of crawling around and scrambling over rocks. This tour was a bit trickier, since it involved a fair amount of rappeling in the dark. Which was fun at first, but then I slipped and hurt myself. Nothing serious, but it did put a damper on the rest of the trip. More about the cave visit can be found here.

Cave abseil

Cave rappel


Montreal Skyline

Another trip to Canada, although this was pretty much outside of any season that had interesting tourist activities, so most of the time was spent walking around in Montréal and Ottawa as well as some walking around in the woods. Hence, a summary about nothing of much interest can be found here.

Algonquin Provincial Park Trail


Foggy mountains

At the beginning of Spring 2013, I was in Madrid. And while I had expected warm and sunny weather in central Spain at that time of the year, I ended up snow shoeing in rather foggy weather in the mountains north of the city. But the weather in the city itself was different, so when I got around to posing with a dolphin at the Madrid zoo, it was all bright and sunny, as can be seen here.

Dolphin and me


22 deg sun halo

Blizzard tent

In April 2013 it was time for the main vacation of the year - driving a dog sled all the way from Inuvik to Herschel Island and back. A full two weeks of dogsledding in the Arctic wilderness. But on this trip, things didn't quite work out the way I was hoping they would. Being there in a phase of bad weather contributed to the problems, but even then there's a difference between sitting out a blizzard for three days in a cabin or with seven people in a single tent without an outer fly.

So I didn't make it to Herschel Island. And there also wasn't as much dog sledding as I had hoped. But on the other hand, there were a couple of nice days as well and I did get to see Tuktoyaktuk. And, as it is sometimes the case, a near-disaster story makes a better trip report than one that's filled with only happy days.

Two sled dogs

Frank Turner and me


Abseil next to a small waterfall

Big abseil at waterfall

I spent a weekend at Lake Garda in Italy and did a canyoning tour there. It was fun to do and it included abseil sections as well as natural 'water slides'. I also did a quad tour, which was nice as well. To round off the trip, there were also visits to the cites of Torino and Como. Photos of the time in northern Italy can be found here.

Lake Garda quad tour

Superga Basilica near Torino


Seeing Oxford from motor glider

Kart track in Oxford

While the main attractions of Oxford are the University colleges, the museums and other historical sites and not so much "things to do", there is some things that can be done in the area. Most of the popular ones involve sitting in a pub somewhere, but there are also outdoor activities. The most traditional one is probably punting, but I also managed to do some flying in a motor glider and some rounds on a kart track located in a former greyhound racing track. More about this short trip to Oxford is found here.

Punting on Cherwell river, Oxford


Climbing a rope up a tree

I didn't have to travel much for this (as it was just a subway ride away), but I did spend an interesting afternoon learning how to climb a tree. Or, to be more specific, how to attach a rope to the tree and then climb that rope. More about this here.

Climbing a rope up a tree


Interesting rock formation

Another UK trip in September 2013, this time heading to the Bournemouth area, with a short stop at some stones near the road. And while I was at the coast anyway, it seemed like a good idea to try some kayaking and coasteering. Whether this really was a good idea can be seen here.

Kayaking Poole Harbour

Easy coasteering jump at Dorset coast


Main character statues

Only had one spare day when visiting Paris in October 2013 and I used most of it to visit a theme park north of the city. And, of course, also to have a look at the Eiffel Tower. More about that day can be found here.

Not the real Eiffel Tower

The real Eiffel Tower


Lithuanian stone sculpture

Lithuanian stone sculpture

Art collections aren't the things I usually seek out when I'm in a place where I have never been before, but (without any particular reason) when I visited Lithuania, I spent a surprising amount of time to look at massive stone and metal sculptures. Luckily, I also found some time to just walk around in the woods and generally enjoy the scenery. Details are here.

Neris River


Shenzhen skyline

I had never been to China before (the only Asian country I have been to is Japan - and that was almost a decade ago), so traveling to China was a new experience, even though, as far as mainland China is concerned, I just had about an evening for some sightseeing in Shenzhen. But I had some more time in Hong Kong, so most of the photos that I took (and can be found here) are from Hong Kong.

Hong Kong skyline with junk

Hong Kong skyline


Globe Theatre

After Vilnius, Shenzhen and Hong Kong, I also visited London in November 2013 (it was a busy month). Not much to tell about this trip, but I visited the Globe Theatre on a guided tour and put some pictures here.

Globe Theatre


Dogsledding in Vindelfjaellen nature reserve

Sled dog and pig ear

My main vacation in 2014 was another dogsledding trip, but this time not in Canada, but in Sweden. It was the longest dogsledding trip I ever had (more than 500 km travelled on the sled) and so far the most relaxed one.

Unlike previous trips, which were mostly tent-based, this one used huts, houses and hostels. Which reduced the 'out there in the wild' feeling a bit, but allowed for a certain amount of comfort and enabled us to spend more time dogsledding.

In addition to spending a lot of time with dogs, I also visited two fairly unusual hotel rooms and also ended up on a horse (which is not necessarily one of my favourite places. A trip description and lots of pictures (most of them showing snow, sun and dogs) are here.

Back at the stables

UFO at night


Ilhabela coast

Less then a month after dogsledding in Sweden, I was in a somewhat warmer climate and spent some time in São Paulo.

Although I didn't spend much time in the city São Paulo itself, I stayed in the state of São Paulo and visited Ilhabela, an island a couple of kilometers off the coast for some beach visits, waterfalls and walking and also Campos do Jordão, the highest city in Brazil for some quad driving, walking and other tourist stuff. More about that here.

Quad tour Campos do Jordao surroundings

Porquerolles south coast cliff

I was in southern France in May 2014 and spend some days just walking around in various places - Sophia-Antipolis, Gourdon and the Loup River gorge, Antibes and the island Porquerolles. No real stories to tell, but some pictures are here.

Water pipeline


Tree bed

There weren't any larger trips in Summer 2014, so I decided to do a short weekend trip to spend the night in a tree bed close to the easternmost point of Germany. Pictures from the tree bed (basically a small tree house without any walls), as well as from some airplane museums on the way, can be seen here.

Tree bed


Me standing on the Equator

While I had been to the 'Ends of the Earth', by visiting the South Pole and the North Pole, I had never been at the 'Middle of the Earth' (speaking of the surface, not of the 'Center of the Earth' - and not to be confused with 'Middle-Earth'). I did cross the Equator a couple of times, but I never actually stood on it.

But on this trip to Macapá I managed to change that.

Equator marking concrete block, Macapá, Brazil


Partly rebuilt rooms

Caiman and me

I didn't go to Brazil just to stand on the Equator. I also stayed in a somewhat odd hotel in the rain forest, held a caiman, caught a piranha, spent some time with river dolphins and, to add a bit of culture, took a guided tour of an opera house. More details and pictures are here.

Me and Amazon river dolphin


Le tournoi de chevalerie

Ice hotel exterior view

I tried to visit the Ice Hotel in Quebec a couple of years ago, but it was a warm winter and they closed the hotel a week early - which was the week when in was in Quebec City. I did do some other sightseeing back then, but seeing the ice hotel remained something I wanted to do.

This time I went there at the start of the season, just to be sure that it was open. I also used the trip to Canada to go ice canyoning. Pictures of the ice hotel suites and me rappeling down a frozen waterfall are here.

Me, hanging beside a frozen waterfall


Not that interesting

I was in Paris in February 2015 and added a day of vacation to visit the recently renovated zoo. They have an interesting concept of grouping animals by 'biozones', so I tried to see how that would work in a zoo. My experience of it can be found here.

Artificial zoo mountain


Dogsled, dogs and me

Dog staring

As my 'main' vacation, I went dog sledding again. After being on dog sledding tours for the last six years, I thought by know I knew what I was doing and booked a two week trip in Finland that would have ten days of dog sledding.

But it didn't go quite as expected and, after crashing a sled, the trip ended halfway through. So instead of dog sledding, I spent most of the second week of my vacation sightseeing in Helsinki and Tallinn. The events of the trip and pictures are here.

Crashed sled

Seaplane Harbour Museum in Tallin


View from zipline

I went to Brazil again and spent some doing ziplining on the longest zipline in the country, which is almost two kilometers long. After that I went to Iguaçu to see the waterfalls there and also included a daytrip to see the waterfalls from the Argentinian side as well.. More about this trip and lots and lots of pictures of waterfalls can be found here.

Iguazu waterfall and rainbow


Geres National Park Canyoning

Castle of Santa Maria da Feira

On my first visit to Portugal, I went to Aveiro in the northern part of the country and visited the ruin of a convent, which is now used by storks as a nesting place, an enduro bike race, an abandoned pulp factory and a few other places. I also did a lot of walking and went canyoning in Gerês National Park as well. More about this trip and some waterfall picture (though less than on the recent Brazil trip above) are here.

Convent ruin with stork

Enduro racer on beach


Amphicar logo

Amphicar side view

I didn't do any real travelling during the summer, but I did do a couple of things that were interesting and didn't fit anywhere else, so I put them all on one page. I rode a mechanical bull (badly) in a 'Western Town', went to a 'Cabin Pressure' fan convention and drove with a car on the river Rhine. More details about this, as well as pictures and also some short videos are here.

Dressing up like a cowboy


F1 Cars in opening lap

Me at Red Bull Box, mechanic in background

It was pretty much a coincidence that I was in São Paulo in the week when the Formula 1 race in Interlagos took place. But as I was in the area anyway, I thought "Why not?", bought a ticket and watched the race and the events surrounding it. After that, I want to a place near Porto Alegre for some rappelling and ziplining. Including a 50 meter abseil from a steel frame and two down a waterfall. More about the Brazil trip can be found here.

Ready to rappel


Discoverers monument, Lisbon

I hadn't been to Lisbon before, so I did what I sometimes do when I get to new places without a plan: I just walk around and have a look. So no big activities in Lisbon, just a couple of pictures of tourist sites, a couple of museum, aquarium and zoo visits and two boat tours on the River Tagus. So this time, from Lisbon, there are more pictures than stories here.

Oceanarium shark


Glass Igloo

In March 2016 I spent two weeks in Finnish Lapland, visiting places like Saariselkä, Kakslauttanen and Kilopää. I did some cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and sledding (well, tobogganing), slept in a glass igloo, rode a horse and watched ATSX (All Terrain Skate Cross).

The sky was overcast for most of the time, so I didn't get to see the Northern Lights this time. And I didn't do any dogsledding (that will have to wait another month), but otherwise I seem to have covered most of the activities that are offered in the Inari area of Finland. Some pictures and two short video clips can be found here.

Reindeer

Arctic Landscape


Vindelfjällen dog sledding

Vindelfjällen dog sledding

A month after riding a snowmobile and a horse (though not at the same time, obviously) in Finland, it was time to get back on a dog sled. This time I went to Sweden for that, where I had a good dog sledding experience in 2014. This year, the tour started roughly where the 2014 tour turned around - at the Vindelfjällen Nature Reserve.

Most of the tour (eight days of sledding, one rest day) took place in the nature reserve, where we were mostly as far away from anything else as you can get in mainland Europe, as the nature reserve is one of the largest protected areas in Europe.

While there were a few mishaps along the way, there weren't any serious problems. And we managed to have a great dog sledding and sightseeing experience.

On the way to Swedish Lapland I spent a couple of day in Stockholm, did sightseeing and spent a night in a Jumbo Jet that was converted to a hostel.
Pictures (mostly showing dogs), stories, a few short video clips can be found here.

Vindelfjällen dog sledding

Jumbo flight deck bed


Stampe SV4 at Grossenhain

I didn't do any large trips in Summer 2016, but I did a couple of smaller things in Germany. Including flying in a Stampe SV4, ziplining in the Olympic Stadium in Munch and driving a Morgan car. A summary of these activities (with some pictures, but fewer than I had hoped for) is here.

Olympic Stadium zipline user Me in Morgan car

Fichtelberg view

Another thing I've been doing in recent years, where the individual trips don't justify separate trip reports, is to visit some 'mountain' peaks within Germany. It's not an activity that I follow with much determination. It's mostly something that I do when I get bored and look for something to do. More about that here.

Highest point in Brandenburg

Tiger Moth

Me flying a Tiger Moth

After a summer without much traveling, I went to the UK in September 2016. It was just a short trip, but I packed most of the summer experiences (flying an old plane, walking on top of a landmark building - although not including any cool vintage car) into four days of vacation and went on and added a second flight in a vintage plane, punting on the Cam and a theatre visit in London, watching Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart on stage. I also did a short visit in Charles Darwin's study quarters and looked at some artefacts of Scott's final Antarctic expeditions (and the rest of the museum that hosts them). So it was a busy four days. Of which some pictures and remarks are here.

Dome walk

Darwin study quarters, Cambridge


Two Concorde aircraft at Le Bourget

I only had one free day when I visited Paris in November 2016, so I didn't manage to do much while I was there. The time was spent visiting three technology oriented museums. A fairly short report about this is here.

Early 360 degree camera

Casa do Penedo Paddling down a rapid

A week after visiting Paris, I went to northern Portugal, where I managed to get a bit more active. So, after visiting an odd house on a hill, and slept in a somewhat 'coffin shaped' house on stilts, I went rafting, ziplining across a valley and riding a small rollercoaster down a hill. A fun way to spend time in Portugal. Pictures and descriptions can be found here.

Pedras Salgada tree house Ziplining in Portugal

Monza track surface Frozen time

A bicycle on a racing track, a famous landmark hidden by clouds, rooms with snow carvings, not really famously beautiful looking cars, a helpful border guard and an unwanted receipt. A common theme for the trip? Not really. I was in Milano and had three days available, so I went to Monza, Zermatt and a museum near Milano. Of which more can be read here.

Bubbly looking car Alpine scenery

Scenery between Jaekkvik and Miekak

Dogsledding in whiteout

This was the ninth year in a row where I spent my main vacation driving a dog sled. Surprisingly, it doesn't get boring. Whike the weather wasn't that great this year (some nice days, but most were just white nothingness), this was the longest tour I've been on so far (covering 570 km in ten days on the sled). And while I didn't see as much of the Swedish landscape as I might have liked, just being out on the sled was still as great.

Afterwards I tried to add some more 'strange hotel visits in Sweden' (in addition to the 'UFO', the 'Jumbo Jet Flight Deck' and the "Ice Hotel"), but that hit some unexpected problems. Nothing serios, but things did not quite wotk out as planned... More about the dogsledding and the hotels is here.

Sled dogs Pippin and Zink

Oboy relaxing

Jet Engine Room

Charcoal burner hut