Posts categorized under ‘Nature & Outdoor sports’

Pirin Mountains, Bulgaria

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

In early August while trekking in the Pirin Mountains I was taking these pictures which I later on forgot to post, so here they are. Pirin Mountains are located around 2 hours drive away from Sofia with the highest peak at 2914 meter. There are several huts in this Bulgarian mountain range but camping is also possible as always. If you camp be prepared with warm clothes as the nights are getting really cold even in the summer.

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains river

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains lake

Pirin Mountains lake

Pirin Mountains coffee

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains flower

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains cow

Pirin Mountains calf

Pirin Mountains tree shadow

Pirin Mountains empty hotel
Abandoned construction sites can make a good last-minute sleeping place inside a city, for example when hitchhiking and getting stuck.

Trekking to the 2468 meter peak of Gjallica, Kukes

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

I wake up slightly earlier than the alarm clock that I put on 5:40, but there is already some light outside here in Kukes, Albania. A quick shower followed by a walk to the petrol station from yesterday to tell the people there that I am walking to the mountain top. It is always good to tell someone if you are doing something like this, not that it probably will help in case of an accident. I have even told them earlier which hotel I am staying in, well, explaining its location as I do not know the name of it. The old man looks worried and double checks that I have everything: water, warm clothes, good shoes and so on. Then I start walking.

Albania Kukes Gjallica Fierza lake

It is about 1-1½ hours walk to get to the start of the mountain, and there is no distinct road or path so I walk partly on car road, partly on fields and finally inside a small village. On the way the sunrise is giving me a beautiful welcome to the mountain. There are people around but they look at me a bit strange and no-one of them speaks English. I ask them where the trail up the mountain starts and they point towards the mountain instead. Online I read something the previous night about a trail starting from behind a closed copper mine, but there is nothing like that around so I just start walking up the mountain on one of the shepherd trails from behind a private house.

Albania Kukes Gjallica fields

Albania Kukes Gjallica sunrise
The sun looking up from a lower mountain

Albania Kukes Gjallica mountain clouds
The 2468 meter peak which I will try to mount, covered in clouds

Albania Kukes Gjallica spring water

Shortly after my start I find a non marked trail which I blindly follow, but after 1 hours walk the path still looks the same. At least the sun is on the other side of the mountain, giving me shadow instead of the intense heat that I had expected. Still it is very hot just walking upwards so I change clothes. “One hour done, maybe two more before the top, and then 3 more down plus one back to Kukes” I think, calculating how many sun hours I still have left of the day. About 13, so as long as there are no problems on the way and if the path is correct, I should have more than enough time. One hour later I see what looks like the top near me, but at the same time I know it’s to early and from the beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and villages I estimate that I am still on low altitude.

Albania Kukes Gjallica low view
View on the shepherd’s path from behind the house

Albania Kukes Gjallica trail

About 1 hour later I reach a small green flat space with a water spring and some very simple huts. I find an old super lady, maybe in her 80s but extracting an energy like a young girl, and ask her how long time she estimates it is to the peak of the mountain. She tells me that it is 2 more hours, pointing out the path for me and asking me why I want to go there (I think at least, we do not speak the same language). Ok time to calculate sun hours again, two more hours means 5 hours in total up, 5 hours down and one hour to Kukes. This gives me little marginal for errors but is still good news, despite the fact that I am pretty tired in the legs and have to walk 2 more hours upwards before I can even start to walk back.

Albania Kukes Gjallica mountain spring

Albania Kukes Gjallica plateau

I start walking in the direction where the lady pointed, but after a while I make a turn in the opposite direction as supposed because the path seems to go very long in the wrong direction. I walk along a small trail that after a while just disappears into thin air, well, into semi thick forest. I start walking through the forest, knowing it is not smart to walk without a trail to follow back but as I have a gorge on the left side I know I can find my way back again. I walk upwards through the forest for about an hour or more until the forest gets less dense and a beautiful field opens up in front of me.

Albania Kukes Gjallica forest

Albania Kukes Gjallica high plain

On the field there is a big group of sheep walking around, with some of them drinking from a water spring. Now I can see what could be the top, but I know through experience that the peak is usually not as near as it looks, just hidden behind another hill. Suddenly I see two guys sitting down near the water spring. We meet middle way and greet each others. They tell me to refill my bottle which I do, although it is almost still full because the weather at this height is now more cold, making me drink less. We talk for a while, in different languages as usual, and the younger of them who is 15 years old joins my walk for a few minutes before turning to another group of sheep, just after inviting me for dinner or something like that after my peak ascent.

Albania Kukes Gjallica tableland

Albania Kukes Gjallica shepherds

Albania Kukes Gjallica shepherd boy

I continue to walk and after 2-3 more times of thinking that I have almost reached the peak, and about one more hour, I am standing on the actual peak of Gjallica, about 2200 meters higher than where I started walking (the valley below is on 250 meters elevation). Here, the wind is strong and new clouds are constantly created and pumping in from below. I change clothes and walk around for a while to explore the top, finding the last snow patch of the season, about 10 meters long. Keep in mind that this is on the 31st of July and that the heat below the mountain peak is intense. I linger around for about 10-15 minutes and then start to walk down again, now along a trail which I found a bit below where I was walking up.

Albania Kukes Gjallica near peak

Albania Kukes Gjallica mountain peak

Albania Kukes Gjallica peaks

Albania Kukes Gjallica July snow

Albania Kukes Gjallica peak view

Albania Kukes Gjallica path down

When I return to the shepherds, which to one more shepherd now have joined, we sit down in this idyllic surrounding and talk, enjoying some snacks I have brought with me on my trek. The sun is now very strong and the weather is perfect. After about 30 minutes I feel that I should get going, not knowing which path I will take down. The shepherds recommends the non existing path through the forest from where I came, but I want to walk on an actual path this time and they tell me where there is supposed to be one, probably the same as the old lady recommended for me.

Albania Kukes Gjallica shepherd friends

Albania Kukes Gjallica shepherd musician

I start walking and even though the path disappears several times I find my way down again to the field with the lady’s house. This time she seems not to be at home, but on the other side of the field I see some cows and people. We start talking and the younger girl who speaks good English tells me that she and her family from the village below have just walked up here with their cows, a donkey and some food to live here for a month during the summer. Around once a week they (or was it only the grandfather?) walks down for more provision. We talk some more and then its really time for me to get going after hearing that the time is now 5:30 PM.

Albania Kukes Gjallica caterpillar

Albania Kukes Gjallica dead forest

Albania Kukes Gjallica houses

Albania Kukes Gjallica house

Albania Kukes Gjallica mountain

Albania Kukes Gjallica village family

I hurry on my walk down and this time the path feels much longer than when I walked up. I am tempted to take some shortcuts I see but because I do not know where they end up I do not risk it this time. The sun is burning my skin and I do everything to try to hide from it, also putting on my final sun protection cream. Finally I get down some 2 hours later, still in strong sunlight and realizing that the time they told me must have been wrong.

Albania Kukes Gjallica city view

I start walking to Kukes but a minibus picks me up and drives me to the city for free. When I arrive I jump out at the gas station a bit outside the town to tell the people about my success and for them not to worry anymore. Then I walk into town to find the first possible place to sit down for a coffee and some food. Looking at my clock I realize I actually had more time to walk down if I wanted, but I feel happy being back in town without it being so late. After I finish the food I buy a beer and goes back to the room, turning on the TV and forgetting all about the beer in my tiredness, but still managing to repack half of my bag for tomorrows hitchhiking before crashing into bed.

Ometepe, Nicaragua

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

Wow I can not believe it’s already been a week here on the island of Ometepe. There are so much outdoor activities to do here and the nature is just amazing. Although there are almost no tourists on Ometepe at the moment (probably due to low season) I have spent a lot of time with the few travelers that I met here, as well as with some locals. So what did I end up doing during this week?

  • Bicycling around on the island. This is really nice but a bit slow in the southern parts because of really bad roads. The price to rent a bicycle is US $5 for one day.
  • Watching bull rodeo. Some locals told me there are bull rodeos every Saturday and Sunday, but at the same time other people told me that this was a special event sponsored by an upcoming politician on Ometepe. Well, if you miss the bull rodeo you can visit a cock fight instead which is organized frequently on the island.
  • Trekking up the active volcano Concepción. This is one of the two volcanoes that are the base of the island. Concepción is the oldest and tallest with it’s 1610 meters and takes about 7-8 hours to trek to the top and back, or about 2-3 hours one way to the 1000 meter plateau that has a nice view. The volcano peak is usually covered with clouds so you have to be lucky to see anything from there. The other volcano, Maderas is a bit smaller and with a lake inside the volcano that is possible to visit. Because a few tourists have died trekking up both of the volcanoes, the government decided that you nowadays need a local guide to trek on them. Although there is no control of this, it’s still recommended because the paths are not well marked. Cost of a guide is US $20-25.
  • Canoeing along the amazingly beautiful coast. I didn’t see the crocodiles that the local fishermen told me should be around, but I was mostly happy about that. The lake also have Bull sharks but both the crocodiles and Bull sharks should be concentrated on the east coast of Ometepe, and I can not see any locals that seem to care about them.

Besides the list above you can rent a motorbike for US $20 per day to explore the island. There are also a natural spring and a water fall to visit, as well as a ton of small charming villages. All in all, Ometepe left me with a really positive impression and I really recommend it as a travel destination for people who likes spending time in the nature.

Ometepe, Nicaragua. View from 1000 meter plateau of volcano Concepción.
View from the 1000 meter plateau of volcano Concepción

Ometepe, Nicaragua. On the way walking up to the top of volcano Concepción, surrounded by clouds.
On the way walking up to the peak of volcano Concepción,
surrounded by clouds

Ometepe, Nicaragua. Peak of volcano Concepción in wet clouds.
Peak of volcano Concepción in wet clouds

Ometepe, Nicaragua. On the way down from volcano Concepción, with local guide.
On the way down from volcano Concepción, with local guide

Ometepe, Nicaragua. Huge tree that now has the first 30 meters below ground because of the last eruption.
Huge tree that now has the first 30 meters below ground
because of the last volcano eruption

Climbing in Hungary

Monday, May 7th, 2012

The last weekend I finally started my climbing season for this year. Together with some new friends from Hungary I went to Csókakő in the Vértes mountains, which is about 1½ hour with car from Budapest. The rocks here are limestone and the routes are around 20 meters with fixed bolts rather far apart from each other in some cases. Difficulty levels vary but most of the routes that have grade VII to VIII also have overhangs, which suits strong climbers.

The mountains here are not so tall, around 350 meters, but the scenery is still rather beautiful with the Csókakő Castle just next to the climbing area; but without climbers and tourists walking the same paths.

Csókakő Castle in Hungary

Vértes Mountains in Hungary

Csókakő climbing

Vértes mountains with full moon

The Three Stars wreck, Limassol

Monday, April 9th, 2012

This morning at sunrise I went on a short road trip with a friend to see one of the many wrecks that exists in Cyprus. Just next to Limassol Salt Lake, in the area of Akrotiri, is the Three Stars wreck. This ship sank in 1972 after catching a fire and is now laying just 15 meters out from the shoreline at 7 meters depth and with one part even visible from the beach. The wreck is good for snorkeling when the waves are not to big and is also suitable for a beginner wreck dive. Entry is from rocks so if you plan to snorkel bring wetsuit boots or use fins.

Three Stars wreck sunrise

Three Stars wreck shoreline

Three Stars wreck

Cyprus pictures

Monday, March 19th, 2012

I recently rented a car here on Cyprus and did a road trip with a friend to explore the island. Cyprus is very small and it takes about 4 hours to cross the island with a car, so during the 3 days we were on the road we saw most of the country. The views here are very varied with coastline, mountains, small villages, medieval ruins and big national parks. Here are some of the pictures of Cyprus from this trip:

Cyprus tractor
Somewhere in the mountains on a random detour

Cyprus peninsula
Peninsula near Polis & Venus bath

Polis Cyprus
Again near Polis

Cyprus food
Plate with mixed seafood

Cyprus shoes
Lonely shoe on a beach near Polis

Cyprus harbor
Polis harbor in sunrise after waking up in the car nearby

Cyprus fish boats

Cyprus sailboats

Cyprus road
Finally up in the mountains again

Cyprus mountains
Near an UN area up in the mountains

Troodos mountains

Bulgarian Martenitsa in Cyprus
Perfect place on a 1170 meter mountain peak to leave a Bulgarian martenitsa

Mount Olympus
Part of Mount Olympus

Priest

TRNC mosque
Mosque in TRNC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus)

Turkish northern Cyprus
Near the border of the Turkish northern Cyprus (TRNC)

Occupy buffer zone
Occupy buffer zone, near border of TRNC

TRNC Cyprus
Again in TRNC

Car map
Car travel map with car keys and coffee

Potamia ruin
Medieval ruins in Potamia, near Polis

TRNC flag
TRNC flag on a hill in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

Caterpillar Cyprus
Hill in Potania with thousands of caterpillars

Potamia Cyprus
Again Potamia

Stavravouni monastery view
Stavravouni monastery view, near Larnaca

Cape greko
Arriving to Cape Greko in perfect timing for the sunset

Cape Greco Cyprus
Again Cape Greko (or Cavo Greco) near Ayia Napa

Map Cyprus
Trying to understand where we have been, only managing to pinpoint about half of the places

Indoor climbing in Sofia

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

One of the things I like to spend my time with here in Sofia during the winter is to do indoor climbing. While I really prefer climbing outdoors in the nature, indoor climbing is still a good option when the weather is cold. Here in Sofia there are 3 places for indoor climbing, with two of them being in the area Studentski grad outside the center. I don’t include the small climbing hall in the mall  “City Center Sofia” because it’s mostly for promotion or children.

Here are the indoor climbing halls in Sofia, Bulgaria:

Gravity
This is my favorite indoor climbing place with big walls of different difficulties. Here you will also find “rock” grips together with overhangs which gives you all the different sorts of indoor climbing you need. This climbing hall also have the possibility to rent equipment if needed.
Opening hours: 10-22 (weekends until 21) 

National Sports Academy (NSA)
Also a very nice indoor climbing hall similar to Gravity and again with possibility to rent equipment. NSA is a little bit smaller with it’s 650 m2 in comparison to Gravity’s 1000 m2.
Opening hours: 10-22 (weekends closed) 

Sofia University
Inside one of the domes of the Sofia university is the only climbing hall in the city center of Sofia. This hall is mostly for bouldering and you will need to have your own equipment and a membership to climb here.
Opening hours: varies

Gravity indoor climbing hall:
Indoor climbing

I am wondering, is indoor climbing still an outdoor sport?

Sofia protests

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Protests are part of everyday life here in Sofia but during the last month they have been more than normal, especially with regard to the record cold winter that is currently hitting Bulgaria.

Most protests this winter have been against the ski resort on Vitosha’s illegal expansion into nature protected areas, which resulted in the ski lifts on Vitosha being closed leaving people with no option then to go further away from Sofia to go skiing or snowboarding. Here is what Radio Bulgaria has to say about the whole event:

Issues there emerged when in 2007 the Municipal Agency sold all lifts in the most visited part of the mountain to a private company. It did not take long before the new monopolist showed its views for the future of the mountain. Saying it was renovating the ski runs it dug out 350 huge boulders part of the protected stone rivers on Vitosha. Plants and habitats were destroyed but the reaction of the management of the Vitosha Park and a coalition of 30 non-governmental organizations stopped the work of bulldozers in the park stopped. According to the management plan of the mountain, the company was not allowed to change in any way the relief or natural vegetation, owned by the State Forest Fund. The new owners did not replace the old lifts, but stopped them and lobbied for law changes, guaranteeing them construction of a new bigger ski zone. Days before New Year’s Eve the changes were adopted, giving a green light to the private owners’ aims to start building new lifts in Vitosha without even paying taxes for that. According to experts, these changes cause losses of more than 25 million euro of budget revenues.

Then there were the shale gas protests. I am happy the Bulgarian’s really care about their amazing nature and want to protect it, which is very visible on how many people are showing up for these protests. This time the protests actually worked and on the 18th of January the Bulgarian government banned shale drilling.

Last but not least is the anti-ACTA protests that will take place tomorrow in 17 Bulgarian cities, and here in Sofia will start in front of NDK (National Palace of Culture) at 11 am. These protests are a result of Bulgaria signing the ACTA agreement in Tokyo on the 26th January together with 21 more EU countries.

Sofia protests

Moshav & Kibbutz in Israel

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

While hitch hiking in Israel me and a friend got a ride by a guy who’s family are living in a moshav, and who were himself planning to live there in his near future. He invited us to visit the moshav and we ended up staying there for two days, living as a part of his family.

A moshav is a type of community or settlement with the members of the community owning their own farms, in comparison to the kibbutz where the community shares the farms. In a moshav the people get a specific amount of land for farming when they get married. Nowadays it is more difficult to find good farming land which have resulted in some of these farms have been placed in the no mans land between Israel and Jordan, thanks to a agreement between the two countries. The same agreement gives Jordan a bigger ownership of the Dead Sea which is getting smaller and smaller every year because of mistreatment by the salt companies.

In this specific moshav where we were staying, the Zofar moshav, 2 out of 3 people were workers from Thailand. These people work on the farm land but with no other integration in the community. They even live in specific areas of the moshav which is only for them. Walking around in the moshav you can hear the loud music and karaoke singing from these areas, and to walk there feels a bit like walking around in Thailand.

Besides the no integration part of the Thai people, the feeling of a moshav or kibbutz are of utopia. Everything is perfect, beautiful and calm. The relationships between the different families are close and only a few people or families have chosen(?) to be for themselves. The area around the moshav is amazing desert and perfect for walking, jogging or even taking the motorbike or quad out for a spin. Still, with the desert looking like it will never end you know in the back of your head that if you need to go to a town it is only some hour away.

Not only can a moshav be self sustainable and also sell what they produce, some of them are using solar power both for themselves and to sell the extra power they don’t use. This usually means a small initial investment that is already payed back within 5 years, and then 15 more years of around 2 000 euro per month earned per family for the power they sell to the power companies.

All in all a moshav is a very nice way of living and it seems that also the young people are interested in keeping this tradition alive, although sometimes with newer technologies and ideas.

Moshav
Zofar moshav

Agricultural worker
Farm worker

Family house
Family house with solar power

Family dinner
Family dinner with amazing food, wine & kippas (hats)

Farm dogs
Well trained dogs that do not enter into the houses

Cat and toy
Curious cat

Ping pong table
What is a sunny day without playing some ping pong?

Tea pot with palms
Tea and palms

Sheep fucking
Sheep’s having some fun

Family breakfast
Breakfast (Jachnun; dough with spicy tomato sause) with the neighbours

Dog upside down
Dog taking a rest upside down

Bird cage
Bird cage with tons of birds…

Hungry cat
…And one hungry cat outside

Lunch plate
Again food.. This time a quick lunch before hitting the road

Israeli desert
Beautiful desert with camels

Negev desert

Moshav farms
Farms in the distant

Moshav tomato farm
Tomato farm

Moshav paprika farm
Peppers farm

Climbing Lakatnik again (Alpine Meadow)

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Below are some pictures from yesterdays climbing, this time again in Lakatnik but climbing site Alpine Meadow.

Alpine Meadow river

Alpine Meadow walley

Alpine Meadow - cavers training

Alpine Meadow hut

Alpine Meadow in autumn colors

Alpine Meadow - autumn

Alpine Meadow hanging hut seen from below

Alpine Meadow river and trees

Alpine Meadow with village in the mist

Climbing Lakatnik

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

I can not believe how bad I have been in updating the blog recently. Well, I am still in Bulgaria, thinking of staying here for a while even though the winter probably will arrive within some month(s). Right now the weather is amazing and yesterday I was relaxing on our roof terrass in only a t-shirt, with weather that could trick anybody that it was still summer.

One of the best things with Sofia is how near it is to the mountains. It’s a very nice feeling to be able to see the mountains from the city, and knowing that it takes less then an hour with a car to reach amazing nature with possibilities for trekking, climbing, caving and much more.

Last Sunday I went with some local climber friends to Lakatnik. I had been trekking in the area before but this was my first climbing there. As usual, the autumn scenery was really beautiful and the unplanned detour we managed to take on the way there was just added pleasure.

Climbing Lakatnik
Climbing with a view

Lakatnik Climbers
One of many caves near the climbing area

In good company
In good company up to the mountain

Sofia Mountain view
Sofia Vitosha mountain view (from my living room)

Marine debris

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Marine debris

It is unknown to a lot of people that the majority of garbage that is in our seas is originally streets trash that are washed down to the sea through storm water drains and rivers. Every year an estimated 6 million tonnes of rubbish enters the world’s oceans. This results in a lot of fish becoming contaminated and even extinct, as well as disrupted ecosystems. Three times as much rubbish is dumped into the world’s oceans every year then the weight of fish caught in the same period of time.

One of the most common marine debris is plastic, which counts for about 60-80% of all marine debris and takes up to 1 000 years to break down. For example only in the U.S. 380 billion plastic bags are used every year. Less then 5 percent of these are recycled. For a glass bottle the time to decompose in the sea is about one million year. A whopping 2 million plastic bottles are used in the U.S. every 5 minutes. Most plastic containers never gets recycled into new containers, but instead to other products that can not be recycled.

When garbage enters the sea it can do both harm locally as well as travel far distances. There are also examples of garbage getting focused in specific areas because of ocean currents, like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with more then 3 million tons of plastic. In several areas of the ocean the mass of plastic are several times more then the mass of plankton in the same area.

The annual plastic production are today over 150 times more then 60 years ago. The only ways to stop the pollution of our seas is to minimize the society’s use of plastic products, or to make people aware of the problem and that way change human behavior on a big scale.

Here are some easy tips of what you can do:

  • Buy items with less packaging
  • Reuse shopping bags
  • Always use garbage bins, never leave trash (including cigarette butts) in the nature
  • Don’t flush down items in your toilett
  • If you see trash in the nature, specially in the sea, pick it up and throw it in a garbage bin
  • Participate on the international ocean cleanup day on the 15’th of September

Climbing again in Bulgaria

Monday, September 26th, 2011

One thing I had really missed and looked forward to do again was to climb in Bulgaria. The first weekend after being back in Sofia I went out with a friend to climb two places.

The first day we went to Kominite in Vitosha. This climbing site offers sport climbing routes with several rope lengths (multi pitch). At this place slow climbing is best while enjoying the nature and view, and the level of difficulty is not so high.

The second day we climbed Pod Polynata (translated “under the moon”) in Bozhenitsa. This is the only sandstone routes in Bulgaria and a lot of the indoor handles for climbing halls are actually molded from these rocks and exported all over the world. Climbing style here is also sport climbing but with only one rope length and more technical/difficult options.

Climbing in Bulgaria

Vitosha

Vitosha mountain

Bozhenitsa

Weekend in Sweden

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Last week I made a quick break from Berlin to spend some time with my family and friends in Sweden. Here below are some pictures I took in the Swedish nature.

Swedish leaves

Beautiful flower

Blueberries

Broken mushroom

Climbing spider

Golden berries

Mushroom picture

Nice flower

Swedish spider

Redberries

Rosehip

Wet flower

Swedish apples

Swedish flower

Spider web

Swedish forest

Swedish mushroom

Swedish mushrooms

Swedish pine

Swedish sea

Swedish nature

Swedish boat

Water hole

Sunflower picture

Swedish sunset

And finally some macro flower pictures. Click twice on a photo to zoom in on it.

Flower macro

Flower macro with water drops

Flower macro closeup

A walk in the park part II – Open Air Berlin

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

During the summer in Berlin it’s very common with Sunday parties and yesterday I went to a friends Open Air party which they organize for the second year in a row. The party takes place in a park near the area Wedding and just next to the river, which makes it a beautiful surrounding with both the feeling of the nature and at the same time people passing by just taking a walk in the park.

Usually these events start in the early afternoon and continues to a short time after the sunlight have disappeared. It’s very uncommon that the police in Berlin shuts down these illegal Open Air parties and if they arrive to the place they usually just ask polite to turn down the volume a bit, or sets an end time when the music should be stopped.

For me these Sunday parties are way better then going to a club and the atmosphere reminds more of a festival then a pub or a club. Sundays are perfect for a chill out party and to get beautiful nature, great music & friends at the same time – it can’t be better!

For you who know your minimal techno, here are the lineup for yesterdays party:

Rndm [DIAL]
Simon Beeston [Highgrade]
Chris Schwarzwälder [Bar25]
Fabian Drews [mama-j]
Convex Shape [Iwillchange.Ipromise]
Holger Hecler [juciemarket]

Minimal Techno Berlin

Wild Wedding

Open Air girls

Open Air equipment

Open Air Berlin

Open Air tent

Open Air party

Party sunset

Open Air packing

Parks in Berlin

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

I wrote earlier about the festivals in Germany being one of the reasons why I moved here about a month ago. Another good reason to be in Berlin during the summer is definitely the parks. Berlin have a lot of them, and wherever you live you will probably find a favorite park near you. Here are some of the central (AB area) parks which are highest on my list:


Görlitzer Park
Nice park to hang out in, both during the day time and night time. In this park you can almost always hear some live music that comes together with the young crowd that fills this park at all time, specially around the café inside the park.

Görlitzer Park Berlin


Mauerpark
One of the more famous parks in Berlin, due to the Sunday market and outdoor karaoke that takes place at 3 o’clock during the market days. The karaoke is with a huge crowd that sits in a ring around the singer, with the same layout as an old Roma theater. Besides this the park offer various possibilities for sports like basketball and boules, big chance for live music and a wall for graffiti.

Mauerpark Berlin

Mauer park Berlin


Tiergarten
Situated in the middle of the center and still big enough to have places to hide inside,  this park has something for everyone. Big green areas together with forest, not to many walking paths but still enough to easily bicycle here.

Tiergarten

Tiergarten park


Treptower Park
This park is a bit different as it follows a river which gives you that highly demanded water in the summer, at least to look at. Treptower Park has a lot of young people in it, and here you will find ping pong tables, boats for rent and a lot of barbecuing people. Within the park there is also a community with people living in circus wagons, where there sometimes is events taking place.

Treptower Park Berlin

Treptower Park

Treptow Park


Tempelhof Park
Tempelhof Park is also a very different park in many ways. To start with it is build on an old airfield. This makes it very flat and with no trees or vegetation besides the grass. Here you find a lot of different sports like RC airplanes, kites, roller blades and more.

Tempelhof Park

Tempelhof Park Berlin


Viktoriapark
Middle size park with a viewpoint over the city (not very high up though) and a waterfall, together with a few open green areas of good size and a restaurant.

Viktoriapark

Viktoriapark Berlin


Volkspark Friedrichshain
This is a really nice middle size park with a lot of possibilities for sport. You can for example find a bouldering wall, beach volley ball field, skateboard area, tennis and much more. There are also a lot of areas with water, but not for swimming. One bad thing is the abundance of trails which makes it difficult to find a green area without people walking by all the time.

Volkspark Friedrichshain

Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin


Volkspark Hasenheide
Really nice park with several big open spaces and a good combination of people. Big chance of live music.

Volkspark Hasenheide

Volkspark Hasenheide Berlin

Hasenheide Park


Volkspark Humboldthain
Park with some big open grass field without to many trails or people. Here you can also find an old military wall to rope climb on, as well as a view over the city from the old flak tower that was [unsuccessfully] used to defend Berlin against air raids during the World War II.

Humboldthain park

Volkspark Humboldthain Berlin

Volkspark Humboldthain

Climbing in Berlin

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Climbing is getting more and more popular in Berlin and I managed quickly to find some climbers here to go and climb with. Below are a list of some of the places in Berlin where you can do indoor climbing:

Der Kegel
Address: Revaler Straße 99
Type: Rope (outdoor) / Bouldering (outdoor & indoor)
Price: 4 euro
Web: www.derkegel.de

Magic Mountain Kletterhallen
Address: GmbH Böttgerstraße 20-26
Type:  Rope (outdoor & indoor) / Bouldering (indoor)
Price: 14 euro
Web: www.magicmountain.de

Ostbloc
Address: Hauptstrasse 13
Type:  Bouldering (indoor)
Price: 8½ euro
Web: www.ostbloc.de

T-Hall Berlin
Address: Thiemannstr. 1
Type:  Rope (indoor) / Bouldering (indoor)
Price: 9 – 12½ euro
Web: www.diekletterhalle.de

Prices are not including climbing equipment and it is recommended that you have your own, as not all climbing halls rent out equipment. Also, if you have your own climbing shoes you can go bouldering for free in the parks Volkspark Friedrichshain or Mauerpark.

Because there are no natural rocks in Berlin all the climbing places here are either old buildings you climb on, or normal handmade climbing walls.

Der Kegel Berlin

Der Kegel

Visit these links for more complete lists of climbing places in Berlin: indoor / outdoor

Nation Of Gondwana

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

After having moved to Berlin and finally found an apartment which I share with four+ Germans, I went last weekend to the open air festival Nation Of Gondwana. This is a minimal techno festival which takes place just one hour outside of Berlin, surrounded by a beautiful forest and a small lake. The last 3 days before the festival had been cold and rainy, but just in time the weather cleared up and was perfect during the whole festival weekend.

To go to the Nation Of Gondwana, take the train (about 4 euro one way from Berlin) to Bahnhof Nauen and from there the free shuttle bus that goes about every 30 minutes to the festival area. If you are not travelling with a tent, Woolworth in Germany have a cheap 2-3 person tent for around 20 euro. Price for the two day festival is 30 euro, which includes a trash fee of 5 euro that you get back if you collect your trash and leave at the exit. If you like camping a good idea is to come one day before the festival to enjoy the beautiful area.

Festival field

Early festival

Chill out zone

Festival lake

Festival sunset

Festival tent

German forest

Camping in Ras Muhammad

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Sometimes things just come to you when you wish for them. One recent example is that I really wanted to visit Ras Muhammad one more time before leaving Egypt in about a week from now. What happened to me was, one morning a girl I met the day before called me and asked me to join her and her free diver friends to camp one night at the Ras Muhammad. They were leaving town within 15 minutes so it was a quick decision followed by rush packing. Just a moment later we were leaving Dahab in a rented car full of free diving and scuba diving equipment, heading out for Ras Muhammad.

The group was very mixed, with 8 people from Russia, Brazil, Argentina, France and me from Sweden. We also had a big dog with us (“Hurry”) who was currently traveling the world, on his way to Bali. Dogs (and camping) are not allowed in Ras Muhammad, but we managed to talk the guards to let us pass with him.

When we arrived everybody went into the water directly, followed by a Argentinian barbecue and some vodka. The weather was warm and there were no problem sleeping under the stars, except for some biting flies and mosquito which i still have 50+ dots from.

The next day we went up early and went free diving in Shark Reef. Everybody were excited for what we would see, and like the day before we again find a shark (or he found us). This time, the about 1½ meter shark swim up to one of us to check him out. Also, we found a lot of turtles and other beautiful animals during the 2½ hour swimming in strong current.

After Shark Reef, we went back to the first reef to do some combined free- and scuba diving and then head back home to Dahab.

Note: If you are trying this for yourself, have long sleeves and a sleeping bag with you. Be very careful with the current, and don’t get into the water if you are not familiar with how it is moving at that specific reef. Drink a lot of water and stay in the shade, as one of us got dehydrated and had to go to the hospital.

Shark bay Sharm

Ras Muhammad guitar in the morning

Ras Muhammad camping

Shark bay Sharm Egypt

Ras Muhammad stingray

Ras Muhammad shark reef

Freediving Ras Muhammad

Ras Muhammad big fish

Ras Muhammad Yolanda reef

Ras Muhammad big school of fish

Ras Muhammad fishes

Ras Muhammad free diving

Ras Muhammad napoleon fish

Ras Muhammad toilets

 

Ras Muhammad turtle

Ras Muhammad swimming turtle

Ras Muhammad freediving

Windsurfing in Dahab

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Windsurfing is getting bigger and bigger here in Dahab, with some specific coast spots designated for this sport. If you travel to Dahab and want to learn how to windsurf by taking a course, or if you are a professional and want to rent equipment at a center where you can meet other windsurfers, the starting point for you should be the Lagoona. Along this beach, which is the only real sand beach in Dahab, you will find ten or so wind surfing centers together with kite surfing and other water activities like wakesurfing, wakeboarding, water skiing and more.

The price to rent wind surfing equipment are from 15 euro per hour to 105 euro for a whole week. For a one week course (10 hours total), be prepared to pay around 150 euro. Be aware that the weather conditions change a lot from day to day, so don’t book a course if you only have 5 days here, as 2 of them might be to windy for you to practice.

To find the beach, walk 30 minutes out from Mashraba along the coast out from Dahab, or take a pickup taxi for 50 cent and ask for the “Lagoona”.

If you are looking for scuba diving or snorkeling, then this is NOT the place for you. Instead go to the “Lighthouse” inside the center of Dahab.

I was lucky enough a while ago to get stuck on the beach with some friends at night time after wind surfing, and without we knowing about it in advance we witnessed a full moon eclipse from there. A night like taken from a fairy tale!

Windsurfing Dahab

Kitesurfing Dahab

Lagoona/Lagoon Dahab

Scuba diving in Ras Muhammad & SS Thisselgorm

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

Yesterday I did one of the best scuba diving ever in my Life. The day started with getting up at 3 o’clock in the morning to get a 2 hour minibus to Sharm El-Sheikh. From there, we took a boat 3 hours to SS Thisselgorm, in the outskirt of Ras Muhammad. Thisselgorm is a 126 meter long freight ship which sank in 1941 after getting bombed by German bomber planes, and discovered about 10 years later by Jacques-Yves Cousteau. The ship now lies on 30 meters depth with great visibility and still beautifully preserved.

At Thisselgorm we did two dives, one on the outside along the ship and one on the inside. On the inside it is possible to dive 3 levels, with two of the levels levels loaded with motorbikes, trucks and other wartime cargo. The last level is the small kitchen and connected rooms, which have air pockets in them creating an incredible unreal and beautiful mirror effect in the roofs. Don’t try to breath the air though as it is used and somewhat poisonous.

When scuba diving inside the ship you really need to have good buoyancy because most of the rooms are cramped, with you scuba diving on top of vehicles with only half meter to the roof.

After Thisselgorm we headed away with the boat, about two hours in the direction of Sharm El-Sheikh, where we found the two connected dive sites Shark Reef &  Yolanda Reef inside the national park of Ras Muhammad. When entering the water, the things I saw the first 10 minutes was better then any National Geographic documentary. Here, the marine life is abundant and everywhere are 100+ schools  of fish bigger then you have ever seen before. The visibility is superb and feels limitless.

Also in Yolanda Reef is a sunken ship, a freighter that sank in 1986 after the captain allegedly drinking to much and getting to near the reef. The result is a sight which you thought you would never see under water, a small hill of about 30 toilets standing on the bottom of the sea.

After the scuba diving and the one hour boat trip back to the port, we took a break in Sharm El-Sheikh to let the nitrogen levels in our blood get lower before returning to Dahab. This is needed due to the height difference on the road there which in other case can lead to decompression sickness.

All in all, an incredible scuba diving day that resulted in new friends and a wish to go back to Ras Muhammad to explore it further.

Ras Mohamed Sharm El-Sheikh

Ras Muhammad

Ras Mohammed national park

Ras Mohammed diving

Mount Sinai, Egypt

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

About a week ago I was up on top of Mount Sinai to look at the sunrise over Egypt’s mountains. This is a common thing to do here in Sinai, and although you will not be alone on the top it’s still recommended to go. The sunrise is nice, but even more beautiful is the dark night sky with all the stars visible and a clear view of the Milky Way Galaxy.

To go up to Mount Sinai, take a 2 hour transport from Dahab to Saint Catherine’s Monastery (total price 6-8 euro for two ways) and then walk up the mountain for 1-3 hours depending on how used you are to trekking. If you are lazy it is even possible to ride a camel up half the way. The monastery is around 1500 meter over sea level and the mountain top from where people use to view the sunrise is on 2300 meter. Bring some warm clothes and a lot of water, but there are also cafés on the way up where you even have possibilities to rent a warm blanket from the Bedouins that live in the area.

Remember, if you are scuba diving you need to wait at least 12 hours from your last dive before going up to the mountain, to protect yourself against decompression sickness!

Mount Sinai, Egypt

Mount Sinai mountain

Mount Sinai sunrise

Mount Sinai (Egypt)

Picture of Mount Sinai

Mount Sinai tour

Saint Catherine's monastery camel

Divemaster in Dahab, Egypt

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

After about 2 months here in Dahab I today got my Divemaster scuba diving license. This is a really fun and rewarding education, and even though it is mostly for people who wants to work with scuba diving I recommend it to all scuba divers who wants to take their knowledge to higher level.

First of all, after having the PADI Advanced license you have to take the courses Emergency First Response (EFR) and Rescue Diver, which teaches you how to save people in emergencies both on land and in/under water. The Rescue Diver also makes you more confident under water and teaches you how to deal with different under water problems.

When you are ready with the Rescue Diver, the Divemaster course takes about 1½ month to accomplish. I highly recommend to combine the course with an internship, which will give you much more experience as well as a lot of fun.

Within the course, one of the things you need to do is to learn the contents of “The Encyclopedia of Recreational Diving“. This is a really interesting book that covers way more about diving then you will ever need to know, but for the interested is the best dive book you will ever read. The book have 5 chapters, which covers different parts of scuba diving:

  • The Underwater Adventure
  • The Ocean Planet
  • Dive Equipment
  • Diving in the Material world (physics)
  • The Physiology of Diving

With the Divemaster license in your hand you are ready to work professionally with scuba diving if you so choose. Here in Dahab for example, that comes along with getting a work visa, which costs around 600 euro for a year. Also, for a while the government were not giving out more work visas to Divemasters, but that might have changed now. If you get the work visa, you will probably end up working as a freelancer because of the economical situation in Egypt right now.

For me, I will take a break from scuba diving now and find some other adventure. Maybe back to wave surfing and mountaineering, depending on what I decide during the upcoming weeks from now.

Divemaster in Dahab, Egypt

Scuba dive computer guide

Monday, June 6th, 2011

If you are a regular scuba diver you probably want to invest in a scuba diving computer. The primary purpose of dive computers in recreational diving is to tell you when you near or reach a no stop limit. If you exceed a no stop limit, most dive computers show you the depth of your first decompression stop and the decompression time.

On top of this almost all dive computers today have functionality to display current depth, elapsed bottom time and ascent rate, and some computers show current water temperature as well.

Here are some steps to help you along your way to choose the best dive computer for your needs. First, answer these questions for yourself:

1) Do you want to use the computer for free diving as well as for scuba diving?

2)  Do the environment you will be scuba diving in require a compass?

3) Do you, or do you plan to, dive with nitrox?

4) Will you be scuba diving at an altitude? (Lake diving above sea level)

If you answer no the the questions 1 & 2 above any model of dive computer will be enough for your needs, and the only thing left is to decide based on price and look. Here in Dahab a new scuba diving computer for beginners costs about 125 euro in the store (mostly Suunto Zoop), but you should at least not pay more then 250 euro for your scuba diving computer in this class. Don’t forget to check if the model you choose have support for nitrox or altitude diving, if you answered yes to those questions.

If you answered yes to question 1 or 2 above the price for your scuba diving computer will be a bit more expensive, probably around 300-450 euro. In this category you can also choose to have information about the current tank pressure and time left of your air supply (if you continue at the same breathing rate and depth).

The above information is only for normal recreational scuba diving. If you plan to do tech diving or commercial diving you will need a more advanced scuba diving computer.

Scuba diving computer

Happiness

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

Scuba diving Blue Hole (dive ever - work never)

Happiness is bicycling to work in swimming shorts

A farm for the future

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

In the BBC documentary “A farm for the future” it is discussed about the oil shortage that will occur in our very near future. Today, the way we are living are incredibly depending on oil and the way this will effect us mostly is that the food prices will go up very fast when the oil is disapearing. Not only are oil used for transportation of all kind of food today, but it is also used in the fertilizers when farming and of course also by the farmers machines.

A friend of mine in Gran Canaria have an organic farm, which is one of the possible solutions to this problem with todays technology. This is also brought up in the BBC documentary, where a few examples of organic farms is shown. These farms looks more like wild forest then designed agriculture, but the production can still be the same or even more then the today standard farm. Another positive thing is that these farms needs much less work from the farmer then a normal farm. If you want to learn more and experience an organic farm for yourself, visit the WWOOF web site which helps you find an organic farm to volunteer on.

Regarding the farmer machines, Marcin Jakubowski is working on Open Sourcing these machines along with all the other machines needed for a basic civilization. This hopefully means that the machines will become both more effective and economical. Of course this will create a negative effect for the today producers of these machines, but hopefully they will be able to find their own target group and not be affected to much. To learn more about the Open Source machines for the future civilization, listen to his speech at TED Talks.

Also NASA is working on personal transport helicopters, both for a single person or for transporting goods to and from us without the need of a driver. This will make it less necessary to live near the sources of the goods/customers and also minimize transport need.

Hopefully all the technology needed will be ready at the same time the results of the oil shortage will be visible to the public.

Organic farm

Scuba diving in Dahab

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

About a week ago I started working as a trainee on Aqua Divers here in Dahab, on my way to become a Divemaster. This means taking my scuba diving knowledge to the next level, as well as learning all aspects of how a scuba diving center works on daily bases.

The first step was taking the Rescue Diver certification some days ago, which is probably the most interesting and fun course you can do as a scuba diver. In this course, you learn everything you need to know about saving scuba divers (and other people) from accidents in the water. This includes recognizing different problems and attending them, searching for missing scuba divers and taking them up to the surface, rescue breathing in the water while removing equipment and towing to safety, carrying techniques, CPR and oxygen use, as well as to be the organizer of a rescue and assigning tasks to people depending on their qualifications.

The common red line throughout the course is your own safety first, which becomes very clear when you are trying to save a panicked person in the water. For example, if on surface, always stay clear from the persons grasp. Then drop his weights and inflate his BCD from behind or below, followed by taking a safety distance again. If impossible to get in contact with the diver or inflating his BCD, wait until he is exhausted before trying the rescue. The best option is always to throw a floating device to the person if possible, instead of going out in the water yourself.

To be able to take the courses in the Red Sea is a big extra, as the coral and variety of sea life here is incredible. Hopefully I will be able to get to Sharm El Sheikh within a week to buy an underwater camera, to be able to show you some of the things you can see here while snorkeling or scuba diving.

Also now is a good time to be in Egypt while it’s not overcrowded by tourists, because a lot of people abroad are not sure about the political status here. Both the Egyptian government as well as the charter countries that used to have regular trips to Egypt are trying to campaign the country again as a safe and fun place to go, and everybody here are counting on that in a few months from now the tourists will have found their way back to Egypt.

Dive in Dahab

Dahab sunrise

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Sunrise over Saudi Arabia seen from Dahab, Egypt this morning
at 5 am.

Dahab sunrise over Saudi Arabia

Camping on Gran Canaria

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Last weekend (in double meaning) on Gran Canaria I spent camping on a hidden nudist beach with a friend. Because of the easter holidays just starting the beach was full of tents and people. What started as a problem when our tent broke ended up as a perfect solution sleeping under the stars and full moon, accompanied by the sound of the waves and guitar music.

Although most people don’t know it, there are some free government campings on Gran Canaria. To find them you need to know where they are because there are no signs for them or even information on the governments official web site.

If you instead decide to camp in the nature there is a fee of some hundred euros if the police finds you, which means that most people doing this option choose a hidden place for the tent.

In the case you are camping near the ocean, have in mind the high tide which peaks at 12 o’clock in the morning and at full moon.

Nudist beach in Gran Canaria

Camping en Gran Canaria

Camping on Gran Canaria

Full moon Gran Canaria

Scuba diving in Gran Canaria

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Last weekend I finally got to scuba dive here in Las Palmas, just a week before I am going to leave Spain (booked a flight  some days ago). The dive I did was a wreck dive on 30 meters deep with a visibility of about 5-10 meters, which is not so good as the normal conditions here. Anyway, this was my first wreck dive so I was very satisfied with the dive, but also happy to come back to the surface because of a water temperature of only about 18 degrees Celsius.

The dive site I went to is called Frigorífico (“The Fridge”) and is a new dive site in Las Palmas, just 10 minutes out from the harbor with a boat (towards La Isleta). The name comes from that the people who dived it in the beginning thought it was a fridge boat, but later realized it’s a fishing boat from Soviet. The sea life around the ship was not anything to talk about but the ship itself is very interesting and with several possible places to dive into the ship. Also the superstructure is beautiful and well preserved.

Some of the most visited dive sites available here are:
Baja Fernando, Caleta Baja, El Cabrón, La Catedral, Pecio Angela Pando, Pecio Arona, Pecio Kalais, Playa Chica, Playa Grande and Sardina del Norte

With La Catedral being supposed to be the best one, where you scuba dive in a beautiful volcanic environment.

Price for scuba diving here on Gran Canaria is about 30 euro for one dive + 15 euro to rent full equipment (only at a few diving centers the locals get a cheaper price). On top of this the diving centers here insist that you have a scuba diving insurance, which will set you back another 12 euro for a one day insurance if you don’t have it already. You can also pay a bit more to get insurance covering a whole year.

Cuatro Puertas, Telde – Gran Canaria

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Yesterday I visited an interesting archaeological place here on Gran Canaria called Cuatro Puertas. This is a collection of hand made caves on the Montaña Bermeja where the religious priests or outcasts of the ancient Guanche people, Gran Canaria’s original inhabitants, used to live a long time ago. The name of the place comes from one of the caves with four openings in the volcanic rock, which was used for gatherings.

But to find the best place here you have to walk a bit further to a community of caves where people used to live, called Cueva de los Pilares. These caves are also hand made and have doors, windows, drainage systems and places for special rituals and beliefs, like a triangle marking for fertility. Besides the very well preserved caves this place also have a really beautiful view of the ocean and valley, and strangely enough no other people walking around so you can enjoy the scenery for yourself.

My camera is still in the repair shop, but I am surprised how good photos my mobile camera (without auto- or manual focus) took this time, even in the evening with bad light. All the pictures below are from the Cueva de los Pilares:

Gran Canaria caves

Cueva de Los Pilares - Montana Bermeja

Cuatro Puertas Gran Canaria

Cuatro Puertas

Surfing tips

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

A week ago I started taking surfing lessons here on Gran Canaria. I had only tried surfing once before in Ponta Do Ouro, Mozambique, but still I managed to stand on the board already on the first wave thanks to some practice on my technique before getting wet. Now I am totally hooked and just want to surf all the time, although it is really physically demanding even if you are well trained from the start.

Anyway, for any beginners out there that want to learn how to surf and have access to a board but not lessons, here are some initial surfing tips for you:

  1. Use a beginners board, that is, a long thick board. This will make it more difficult to turn but will help you with the balance.
  2. Check where the other surfers are in the water, or ask somebody where the best surfing spot is. If no other surfers are present, try to look for where the most white water is and where there are least rocks.
  3. Lay centered on top of the board, with your feet slightly out in the back and your chest lifted up
  4. If the nose of the board is high up, move more to the front. If the nose instead is dipping in the water, move back on the board or lift your chest even more if possible.
  5. When you see a good wave coming in your direction, check that nobody else is going for that wave (before you) and that nobody is in the direction that you want to surf
  6. Start paddling (like the swim style crawl) slow and softly straight out from the wave/white water (90 degrees) about 3-5 seconds before the wave will hit you, while looking back to have control of where the wave is
  7. At the moment the wave hits you, paddle fast to get even more speed
  8. When you feel that the board are leaning forward/down it’s time for you to stand up on it
  9. Put both your hands in front of you on top of the board, not on the sides. Then first put up your back leg quickly followed by your front leg. Stand up!
  10. Keep your legs bent and relaxed, and look at the direction you are going (not on the board)
  11. Try moving back/forth on the board or change your weight of the legs if the nose of the board is to much up or down. If the nose of the board points up it will make you loose speed.
  12. Don’t get happy about standing on your feet and jump of the board to fast, try to make it all the way back to the beach
  13. When falling, try to land on your feet. If this doesn’t succeed, protect your head with your hands not to dive into a rock or get a flying board on it.

When you feel more secure, you can try this:

  • Instead of paddling straight out from the wave, paddle diagonally out from it. Your weight should be more against the wave when it hits you, not to turn over. Then, when standing on the board, turn the board even more towards the wave to follow it for maximum speed. To turn your board, just turn your waist/upper body and look in the direction that you want to go.
  • Instead of standing up when the board start to lean down, stand up when you are on top of the wave. With this technique you need more weight on the front of the board though, to get initial speed.

If you don’t feel sure about what you are doing, or don’t feel confortable being in and under the water, I recommend you to find a surf mentor. I have done some wind surfing and other water sports before so that was not a problem, but I still felt that I want to know the right surf technique not to loose my time trying it out or learning it wrong. The school I attend is Ocean Side and I am really happy about my choice, mostly because of great surf teachers and that they are in a good location in Las Palmas (10 meters from Las Canteras which is the beach walk with some of the best surf spots here).

I know I have published this video before but my camera is still at the repair shop so I have no new pictures or movies from Gran Canaria.

Gran Canaria to Tenerife

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

I am just back in Gran Canaria after spending a weekend in Tenerife. I had a great time and really enjoyed Tenerife which is more green than Gran Canaria, both in the main city Santa Cruz de Tenerife and in the nature.

One of the interesting things that happened to me was when trekking with a friend in the north west part of the island. The plan was to only trek for one day, but the first afternoon we met a couple we started to talk to on one of the trails. The man told us he is a doctor and that he comes from a small village where he was visiting a patient of him, a kind of hippie. He also tells us that we probably can stay the night with Juan, as the man in the village is called. We continue our walk and ends up in the small village, which a man at the pub later that night tells us only have 10 inhabitants.

After some searching in the village we find Juan and his friends who are visiting him for the weekend. We end up staying at his place and head out the next morning for a walk to a bigger village where the car road starts, managing to hitch hike back to Santa Cruz de Tenerife with only some hour to spare before our ferry back to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria departs.

The most strange thing about this is the story a friend of mine told me when returning to Santa Cruz de Tenerife after the trek. She told me that her parents actually met on the beach in this small village of only 10 people which I had just returned back from. On top of this my friend and her parents lived before in a hippie community in exactly the house where I had spent the night, and her brother was also born there in that house.


There are two ferries from Gran Canaria to Tenerife and the most cheap of them are Armas which takes a little bit more time (2½ hours). For a timetable and prices, visit this web site:

http://www.navieraarmas.com/index.php?id_pagina=1&idioma=en

Standard price for the Armas ferry is about 50 euro for a return ticket, or half the price if you have the Canary Islands residency (NIE), which is very easy to get and costs only 20 euro. The NIE you can use for the rest of your life, or as long as you stay on the Canary Islands.


Finally, here are some pictures from Tenerife:

Tenerife travel with ferry

Tenerife weather by night

Tenerife meat market

Tenerife fish market

Tenerife market with fish

Man reading while sitting on ground bradying- Tenerife

Barefeet guy in tenerife

Tenerife nature

Tenerife waterfall and lagoon

Tenerife rock

Tenerife bar

Tenerife flowers and trees

Teide volcano, Tenerife

Tenerife coastline

Tenerife village

Villa in Tenerife

Tenerife balcony

Tenerife bird

Tenerife beach

Unknown island (peninsula) Tenerife

El Faro sign, Tenerife

Las Palmas de Anaga, Tenerife

Tenerife coast

Tenerife climate

Picture of cloud in Tenerife

Near Taganana, Tenerife

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria by night with ferry

5 days of improvisational travel

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

I just arrived back to Las Palmas after travelling for five days without a plan. It all started with packing my backpack with a borrowed tent, my computer (for work) and some other things, adding up to a total of 14 kg. Five days later I have learned that hitch hiking on Gran Canaria is easy, I have camped under orange trees & at the hippie festival Rainbow Gathering but most of all walked up and down a lot of mountains.

The trekking here is nice with some small villages that does not feel too touristic, some empty trails and a lot of beautiful views. Following the trails is tricky though, as the markings are really bad if even existing, and the markings look the same all over the island which means that you can easily mix up the trails and end up somewhere else than planned. Also the maps are not 100% correct and some trails or even roads are not existing on the maps. The good thing is that you usually end up near a road anyway and can hitch hike to your goal instead, which is also the bad thing here that the roads are everywhere. So don’t expect to be alone after a full day of trekking to a top, instead you will find a big car park and a lot of tourists, with the street sellers that come along with tourism in an area.

I post some pictures below from a borrowed camera as my own camera is in repair at the moment. Also you will find the map I used to trace where I have been these days, although it may not be totally correct or easy to see.

Gran Canaria mapa

Canary trekking

Gran Canaria canary trekking

Gran Canaria trekking

Gui gui beach trekking

GuiGui beach trek

Hippie juice :) with view (+ pepsi)

Doghouse with a view

Almond tree picture

Pot plant, Gran Canaria, Spain

Trapped plants, Gran Canaria, Spain

Rainbow gathering @ Guigui in Gran Canaria, Spain

Roque Nublo, Gran Canaria Spain

Roque Nublo stone

Senderismo Canarias

Senderismo en Gran Canaria

Senderismo Gran Canaria Spain

Tasartico Gran Canaria trekking

Tejeda & Culata, Gran Canaria (Spain)

Travel Grand Canary

Trekking Gran Canaria

How the water is reshaping our planet

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

The earth is all about the ocean and the mountains. About 75% of the planet’s surface is covered by water and the other 25% are the mountain “tops” that we are currently living on. The water also continuously reshapes our planet, with both quick drastic changes like landslides and changes that takes millions of years.

Erosion is probably the most common tool our planet has to reshape its surface, and also the slowest. The erosion can be done with some different techniques:

* Moving water from rain/rivers or on the shoreline moves or grinds land which ends up as pebbles, sand, silt and clay at new locations

* When water transforms to ice it forces land to crack which reshapes and moves it. Also land moves together with ice in what is called glacial erosion.

The results of the erosions are beautiful coasts and landscapes, incredible land formations and never ending caves, many of them beyond our dreams.


Lisbon weather (Portugal)

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Weather Lisbon, Portugal (sunset)The weather here in Lisbon is really interesting. Because of a lot of wind (which you don’t feel on the ground) the weather changes quickly during the days. This means that the day usually start with sunshine, blue sky and around 16 degrees, but at any moment during the day heavy rain will probably start. Then the rain and sun switches place all along the day, sometimes every 5 minutes. Also the rain can be ice-rain instead, but not so commonly.

When I arrived here was biting cold winter, but now two weeks later the weather is great. What I have heard though is that December and January should be the coldest months here.

I was lucky enough to get perfect weather for New Years Ewe, celebrating it with some friends at the Praça do Comércio together with thousands of other people. The free concert was not so impressive but the opposite can be said about the firework show.

Here are some weather statistics for Lisbon:

Summer Winter
Degrees 22-28 C 14-19 C
Days of rain 2-8 11-15
Rainfall 5-40 mm 65-114 mm

One of the results of the wet weather here combined with badly isolated houses is that mold are very common in Portugal in the apartments. Some people try to make it better by reducing the moisture level with machines, but this just helps a little bit and most people just let it be. Long term exposure on high levels can result in mold allergy, which you will recognize by coughing, headaches, irritated eyes, problems breathing, tiredness and sneezing.

Gibraltar pictures

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Here below are some pictures from my last weekend in Gibraltar. Gibraltar is a British overseas territory and the only place in Europe where you can find wild monkeys, the Gibraltar Barbary Macaques, which live on The Rock of Gibraltar. About 230 monkeys live here free, and the higher up in the mountain you find them, the higher up they are in the monkey life hierarchy, and also more aggressive.

Rock of gibraltar, with Gibraltar airport landing strip

Gibraltar industries, Gibraltar port

Bird and cargo ship, Gibraltar view

Funny bird photo picture

Gibraltar strait

Gibraltar coast line with mountains, tilted camera

Baby monkey eating

Cute monkey (baby)

Cargo ships (docked), Gibraltar

Strait of Gibraltar (beautiful weather)

Monkey on rock - Gibraltar view

Picture of monkey

Barbary Macaques monkeys Gibraltar

Gibraltar airport luxery boats

Big waves on coast, Gibraltar

Car tires (hill), Gibraltar

Identical cars on parking lot, Gibraltar

Funny monkey inside city with Christmas decoration

Monkey temple in mountains

Gibraltar weather clouds

Milano in autumn colors

Friday, November 19th, 2010

On my way to Tarifa I stayed for a week in Milano to revisit this beautiful city and some old friends. The timing was perfect to see how beautiful Milano is in the autumn.

Brown yellow leaves

Milano big leaves on street

Milan street leaves

Green grass pathway Milano

Milano bicycle path

Red brown yellow leaves

Red yellow leaves

Yellow red leaves

Red yellow brown tree

Pyrenees / Alps between Italy, Spain & France

Simon’s Town’s penguins, South Africa

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

On the way to Cape Point or Cape of Good Hope you will most probably pass Simon’s Town (or in Afrikaans “Simonstad”) with it’s small population of less than 3 000 people. This is one of the few places where you can see African penguins free out in the wild. To find them, take a short walk out of town and down to Boulders Beach. Here you can choose to pay around 3 euros to enter the beach, or to go outside the main area where you will also see a few penguins. Some hundred meters away along a path you can also choose to pay to be able to swim with the penguins.

Penguins molt their old feathers and during this period they are less protected against the water. This means that the penguins eat and build fat before the moulting period to be able to be without food while mounting.

Train ride Fish Hoek & Simons Town

Penguins on sea rock with grass in front

Penguins on Boulders Beach Simons Town

Sleeping sun tanning penguin in sand/beach

Penguin moulting, loosing feathers

Bird on Boulders Beach, South Africa

Penguin looking through a fence

Penguins under vehicles warning

Silly signs, train station in South Africa

Table Mountain

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

One of the most famous landmarks in Cape Town is Table Mountain. This mountain is located within walking distance from the center and can be seen everywhere in the city. The mountain peak is at 1084 meters over the ocean but the trekking trails start on a rather high altitude. The trek takes about 1-2 hours for the easy path and about 3½ hour for the more advanced path which starts a bit further away from the center. For the more lazy visitors there is also a cable car going up the mountain in 5 minutes while rotating, price about 9 euro each way.

As you can guess by the name of the mountain there is a big 3 kilometer plateau on top of the mountain. When arriving at the top with the cable car or the trail you can walk about 45 minutes to the east to get to the peak, where there is usually no other people as most of them hang around the cable car station, which even has a restaurant and accepts VISA-card.

Also on the top you can find a lot of trekking trails, both shorter and longer. Although you can find simple maps on most of the crossings on the trail it is recommended you buy a more detailed map if you plan to do advanced trekking. Be aware of the fast changing weather and be prepared with a good backpack and a lot of water!

If you are interested in plants or just like beautiful schenery this is a given destination if you are in Cape Town. Besides the really nice views of the town, beaches, mountains, ocean and Robben Island there is also an estimated 2 200 species of plants growing on Table Mountain.

Cloudy mountain gorge

Heavy fog from Table Mountain top

Cape Town beach seen from Table Mountain

Brown dry flower zoomed in

Unknown beautiful macro flower in swamp

Dead beautiful flower ball

Interesting rock shapes on Table Mountain

Misty field on mountain top

Pouring water from mountain top

Purple trumpet ball flower

Red green flower town background

Red yellow mountain flower macro

Robben Island Cape Town

Rock with town view

Sandstone rocks Cape Town Table Mountain

Running water from mountain top spring

Table Mountain peak Maclears Beacon 1086 meters

Tree reflections in mountain lake

Water basins on mountain rock

White bells flower on mountain

White flower grass

White yellow dry flower on mountain top

Water dam Cape Town

View over Lions Head Cape Town

Yellow brown flower bouquet mountain

Yellow flower living on mountain rock

Yellow flowers with mountain view

Yellow green flower on mountain

Rain water from mountain top

4 tree shadows

Lizard looking out from mountain top

Dramatic mountain clouds South Africa

Humpback whales outside Cape Town

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

2 hours drive from Cape Town I found the perfect whale spotting place, where they come just next to the coast if you are there when it’s season.

Humpback whale outside Cape Town

Humpback Whale near coast of Cape Town

Humpback Whale in South Africa

40 hours in Ponta Do Ouro

Friday, October 29th, 2010

For the trip to Ponta D’Ouro from Maputo you should take the ferry to Catembe (20 cent) which takes about 10 minutes, and from Catembe the minibus (4 euro). Be aware that it can take time to fill the minibus, and although they tell you the trip is about 2,5-3,5 hours it will probably take longer. The road is really bad, mostly dirt road or sand, and if you decide to drive yourself you will need a 4 wheel drive and a good map. For me, because of missed mini buses, problem with driver, flat tire and police bribes the trip took about 8-9 hours from Maputo.

Arriving just when the sunlight is gone, the driver takes me the whole way to a scuba place I found on the Internet in advance. There I am lucky enough to be able to book a scuba dive for the next morning (because of low season) and also get a recommendation for a nearby hostel with really nice owner and workers. The first evening I spend in their company and also checks out a restaurant for an incredible sea food pasta.

The next morning I wake up 6:30 for my scuba dive. The dive is good, just me and another guy that joins a scuba diving club traveling here from South Africa. When trying to return to land from the furious sea with huge waves, one of the motors don’t start and on top of this the radio is dead. After a while we gets rescued by a boat passing by and they drop us off near the shore.

In the afternoon I take a walk away from the normal beach along the coast and a rocky almost hidden path (towards South Africa). After a while I arrive at a beautiful misty beach with sand dunes, where I am totally alone and without earlier foot prints. I soon realize the mist is not mist at all, but instead sand blowing in the air which I also feel on my skin when the wind picks up in speed now and then.

I take a long walk, running up and down the sand dunes and playing around, finding a water snake plus hatched turtle eggs. To have a big chance of seeing turtles I should have been here some weeks later though when the turtles lay their eggs.

Back in town I walk around the small huts in the alley behind the local outdoor market. After a while I decide for a restaurant with excellent food, and end up spending the evening there talking to people mostly from Maputo and Tanzania.

The next morning I go up at 7 to do some wave surfing for the first time in my life. The board I rented for 10 euro the last evening, to be able to surf before the surf shop opens in the morning. The waves are perfect, which not my technique is of course. But a good start and now I want more! One of the reasons why I move to Spain in November is actually to learn how to surf.

When I have no more strength to fight the strong current I end my surfing for this time, moving on to the minibus where I write this blog entry while waiting for the minibus to fill up. Little do I know it will take 5 hours for the bus to get filled and start the journey.

Boat Maputo to Zitundo, Mozambique

Zitundo boats

Zitundo stranded boat

Mozambique packed/crowded minibus taxi

Minibus 4-wheel  drive punctured

Fruit stands under tree shadow

Ponta do Ouro sand road

Cliff passage Ponta do Ouro

Crab on cliffs (Mozambique)

Deserted empty beach - Ponta d'ouro

Strong waves & current in Mozambique

Blowing sand storm - Mozambique

Sand dune - Ponta do Ouro

Ponta do Ouro turtle beach

Unknown object on beach

Water snake on beach

Water snake shallow water

Water snake in wave

Desert flower beach

Footsteps in sand beach

Ponta do Ouro market

Simple Mozambique houses/sheds

Ponta do Ouro backstreet

Walking chicken with her children

Mozambique boy with car toy

Woman carrying on head

American mine sweepers in Mozambique

Surfing board room

Point D’Ouro facts:

When I write this the town have got only one ATM-machine, although so far it only takes some specific cards so bring cash to be sure to have money.

Minibuses leave from/to Maputo at least two times every day and costs 4 euro. Be prepared for one of the most uncomfortable bus trip in your life, or one of the best, depending on how good seat you get and what your idea of fun is. Also bring food and water because there is no place on the way to buy this.

What else to do in Point D’Ouro:

Swim with dolphins (90% hit rate, book in advance)

Kruger park pictures (2nd part)

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Here are the rest of my pictures from Kruger Park, as promised:

Kudu staring at me

Leopard up in tree - Kruger Park

Male antelopes in Kruger Park

Male antelopes eating

Digged fence to Marloth Park

Digged fence to Marloth Park

Kudu in Marloth Park

Baboon walking on trail

Olifant luiperd sign, street names in Marloth Park

Street names in Marloth Park

Ostridge in Kruger Park

Plant twirling around tree - Marloth Park

Kigelia, or "Sausage tree" (Kruger Park)

Kigelia, or "Sausage tree"

Warthog staring from close distance

South African Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera plant

South African cotton plant

Spiders living together in community nest

The only spiders in the world living in a community

Storks and hippos

Stork walking searching for fish

Tall giraffe next to tree

Termite stack with butterflies

Termite stack with butterflies inside

Tree inside termite stack

Tree inside termite stack = fast food

Tree with animal track

Unknown bird in Kruger Park

Unknown flying insect - Kruger Park

Green grass because of water leak

Green grass because of water leak

Wildebeests & zebras on savanna

Zebras and wildebeests - Kruger Park

Zebras and wildebeests together on savanna

Kruger park pictures (+ bonus)

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Here below are some of the pictures I took at the Kruger park this weekend. Even better then the “park” was the area where I was living, Marloth Park. There I could walk around freely and having animals all around me, as near as 2-3 meters sometimes. Examples of what I found was baboon, impala, wildebeest, giraffe, hippo, elephant, kudu, ostrich, warthog, stork, zebra and impala (a lot). In the nights we took a dip in the pool and then barbecued to the sound of roaring lions.

South African border "Jeppes Reef" border control

Alien looking Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera cactus from inside, with torns

Animal skeleton up in tree

Baboon sitting with impala antelopes

Baby bushbuck impala klipspringer animal

Birds in foreground with hippos in water

Blue wildebeast kruger park

Buffalo and birds drinking from water hole - Kruger Park

Curious giraffe looking at me in Marloth Park

Fishes in dried out lake, Kruger Park

Fresh animal poo shit track

Giraffe eating leaves from tree

Giraffe head with tree frame

Wild giraffe looking at the camera

Giraffe profile

Hippo (hidden) with eyes in water

Hippo group in water

Hippos in water under tree

Impala antelope looking at a giraffe

Impalas in the Kruger Park

Kruger Park bird with bended nose

Dried out lake (ground) in Kruger Park

Kruger Park elephant

Kruger Park - hippos on land

Kudu - Marloth Park

Kudu eating grass from ground

Kudu profile (Marloth Park)

This is the end of part 1 of the pictures, I will try to post
the next (and final) part tomorrow!

Scuba diving & whale sharks in Tofo, Mozambique

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Last weekend I was in tofo, a 8-9 hour bus ride from Maputo. Me and some friends stayed at Fatimas hostel, a nice place with sleeping halls for about 8 euro per night. It is next to the beach, has an okay restaurant/pub and is only 200 meters from Tofo Scuba which was my main focus for this weekend. Tofo Scuba is a scuba diving center which also offers other water sports as surfing, kite surfing and more. For me, I had booked 3 scuba dives for Saturday and Sunday. The scuba diving here is famous mainly for the mantas/stingray cleaning stations, bus the thing that really made my trip worth it was actually not a scuba dive but took place between the dives.

September to November is the whale shark season in Mozambique, with an almost unbelievable big chance to see one of these wonderful animals! So between my two dives on Sunday, I had 1½ hour of surface-time (“decompression stop”) before being able to scuba dive again. We used the time to go around with one of Tofo Scuba’s crazy fast motorboats to look for a whale shark. After only about 20 minutes we found the first one! On with the mask, snorkel and fins as fast as possible to jump in the water with it! It was an incredible feeling to free dive just 1-2 meters next to the whale shark. It was not afraid at all but instead hold us company for about 5 minutes.

After this we found several more whale sharks, which we could sometimes swim next to for 15+ minutes at a time. The biggest one was about 6 meters long, and was gracefully swimming with what seems like no effort at all, thanks to it’s big tale.

The whale shark can become up to 12 meters long, 1 meter wide and have a lifespan of about 60 years. They are a filter feeding shark, which means they eat only plankton.

Whale shark in Tofo, Mozambique