Iceland – continued

Back in Reykjavik and leaving for Lisbon tomorrow. Another great day weather wise, blue sky all week although the north winds tend to be a bit cool. Saw some amazing natural phenomena listed below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seljalandasfoss waterfall-60 m high and one of a group of 3.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Next one was Skogafloss waterfall – 60 m high and 25m wide. Along side this waterfall is a stairway, 60 metres high and consisting of 384 steel steps and 36 gravel ones at the start all the way to the top, and further waterfalls. Kay and I did climb for the view.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Next along the road was the Myrdalsjokull glacier, a large one but has retreated several hundred metres since 2000.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Myrdalsjokull glacier at the face.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Strokkur Geysir erupting in front of dozens of tourists, up to 70-100 metres every 5 minutes or so. Smell of Sulphur in the air.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gullfoss waterfall. One if not the most spectular and loudest waterfall in Iceland. Amazing amount of water going over the falls. Despite the sunshine very cold wind.

That’s it. Next stop Lisbon. See you then

 

 

Iceland – starter

Arrived  in Reykjavik 2 days ago after a 3 hour flight from London. The following day went to the Blue Lagoon, located near the Airport. A multi hectare pool up to 1.2 mtres deep and at a constant 37 degrees from the natural thermal vent power station next door, not a gram of CO2. crowdatbluelagoon

Crowds at Blue Lagoon

kayaTBLUELAGOON#2

Kay at Blue Lagoon

wallatbluelagoon

Enjoying one at the swim up Bar

That afternoon visited the Tourist area of Reyjkavik

housetheendedcoldwar

Hofoi House. Where Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Regan ended the cold war in 1986.

churchin reykjavik

Hallgrimskirkja. Largest cathedral (76m) in Iceland. 40 years to build and resembles a volcanic formation covered in hexagonal pillars. Statue of Eric Liefur out front.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kay just inside Lava Tube about 20km from Hverageroi south of Reykjavik and nearby where we saw more steam vents and boiling mud pools.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Further inside Lava tube

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Boiling mud pool

Tomorrow we travel further along the south coast. Regards to all.

 

 

London May-June 2019

Hi Folks

Well ere we are in London town along with about 5 million tourists, but that’s expected in June. We left Melbourne on Sunday the 26th at about 5.30 am. It was a long boring flight to Dubai which took about 14 hours. There was a 90 minute stopover in Dubai, ground temp about 40+ degrees. we then flew onto London, a mere 8 hour flight arriving about 6.30 pm on the Sunday. Didn’t get much sleep on the plane so after a light meal we slept for the next 10 hours or so.

The next day we paid for tickets to get on the hop on hop off bus. This took us all around the usual tourist haunts on two different routes. Images to follow.

The next day we finished off the tour with a boat trip down the Thames from Westminster under all the bridges to Greenwich and back again. The weather was good and a bit windy.

Finally we have finished our visit to London and tomorrow we catch a flight to Iceland, which we are looking forward to.

now to put up a few images that might be of interest to a few of you.

Regards and looking forward to hearing from you

Wally & Kay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

London Eye. Opened in feb 2000, 135 high, 70 million, 32 passenger capsules, 25 passengers each, 30 minutes to do 1 rev

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Close up of actual capsule

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Big Ben under renovation. Renovation started in 2017 and expected to finish in 2021. I think they have used every piece of scaffolding in GB to work on it.

glass shard 2

Glass shard. 95 stories and 309.6 metres tall, 56000 sq metres of glass, cost 435 million pounds

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Cutty Sark in Greenwich. Built in 1869, 2100 tones,

Stay tuned for further developments in Iceland

Regards

Wall

 

Berlin

We left Warsaw central Station mid morning and it was raining at the time. The journey took about 5 hours and included many stops in Poland. We crossed into Germany at the river Oder, where a couple of armed police entered the train and walked through the train. We continued onto Berlin and arrived at the new central station about mid afternoon.

Berlins-main-railway-station

The Berlin Central Station was opened in 2006. It has several levels of track and includes a shopping centre.

Kay-in-front-of-our-Berlin-Hotel

Our Hotel in Berlin, a 10 minute walk to the station and a further 15 minute walk to the Brandenburg Gate. A very comfortable room with a kitchen and a balcony.

Model-of-lady-looking-out-window-on-the-street-near-our-hotel

We passed this lady looking out onto the street every time we walked past on our way to and from our hotel.

Richstag

This is the German Parliament house called the Reichstag and houses the lower house of the government called the Bundestag. The upper house called the Bundesrat represents the 16 federal states and meets somewhere else.

 

 

Kay-&-Wally-near-the-top-of-the-Glass-dome-in-the-Reichstag  At-the-top-of-the-glass-dome-above-the-reichstag

This is us at the top of the glass sphere on top of the Reichstag. From here you can look down into the chamber and see the members sitting at their desks when parliament is sitting, which wasn’t the case when we visited.

Sculpture-representing-the-union-of-the-former-4-partitions-of-Berlin-after-WWII.   Bombed-ot-catheral-in-Berlin

One of the main shopping streets in west  Berlin is Kurfurstendamm. It has all the big brand names and the major store KaDeWa, a 6 level superstore loaded with expensive and exclusive goods. The sculpture by Brigitte Matschinsky & Denninghoff Martin Matschinsky consists of 4 tubes reaching upwards but not touching and symbolises the closeness and yet isolation between the then 4 partitions in Berlin. Next is the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedachtnisirche, a church but the builders left the ruins of the old one which was destroyed in the war as a reminder of the destruction caused by wars.

 

A-path-through-the-Tiergarden

Part of the Tiergarten in Berlin. A 270 hectare inner-city park. Similar to New York’s Central Park and London’s Hyde park.

 

 

Part-of-the-pipe-network-that-removes-water-from-under-Berlin-because-of-the-nature-of-the-underlying-soil-structure

Situated around Berlin are series if these pipes. Apparently Berlin is built on a soil substructure that has lots of water and this water is continually pumped out of the sub-soil in building sites. There are also pink pipes that do the same job but by another company, All pipes empty into the many canals in Berlin.

Part-of-the-former-Berlin-wall-in-the-former-region-of-East-Berlin

Part of the Berlin wall in the former East Berlin. The wall was started in 1961 and destroyed in 1992 after reunification. There is still about a km of the original wall left in Berlin. The image is one of the soviet leader Brezhnev kissing the East German leader Erich Honecker.

Pedestrian-and-shopping-area---galeria-in-Berlin

This is one of the many shopping plazas’ and squares in Berlin. This one is the  Alexanderplatz under the Berlin Communication Tower.

Part-of-the-aftermarth-of-a-major-downpour-we-were-lucky-to-be-on-a-bus-during-which-it-occured.

On our second day in Berlin there was a tropical like downpour that lasted several hours and caused some disruptions to the traffic and subways. Kay and I got rather wet that afternoon. The next day the weather was great.

Couple-of-organ-grinders-in-costume-on-street-corner-in-Berlin  BMW-test-vehicle

While in Berlin we passed a section of Kurfurstendamm where there was a gathering of portable organ grinders having a demonstration. The array of organs and costumes was very colourful and noisy. We also saw again the BMW test vehicle we saw on our very first trip to Berlin with Pam and Don at the start of our holiday. Seemed like they hadn’t advanced much on the original design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warsaw

We left Don & Pam in Helsinki and via Riga in Latvia, took a plane to Warsaw. Poland has a history going back to 1025 when a kingdom was founded. It has an area of about 313,000 sq km and a population of around 40 million. W e all know that Germany invaded Poland in 1939, and Russia shortly after when it formed a pact with Germany. After the war the Russians established a satellite state. Lech Walesa, a welder from Gdansk lead a revolution called Solidarity in 1989 and Poland became a democratic republic. The unit of Money is the Zloty, and 1 Australian dollar will buy about 2.6 Zloty.

I had a chance to practice my Polish, but generally the poles English was far better than my butchered Polish, but we got by.

Polina-Palace-Hotel

This is the Poloina Palace Hotel where we spent our time in Warsaw. Close to the centre of town it was very convenient. This picture was taken from just across the road in the 1956 building that Stalin presented to the residents of Warsaw. Its about 230 metres without the antenna, and the viewing platform is 120 m above the ground. Both the Rolling stones and Leonard Cohen have performed in the 3000 seat auditorium.

Starlins-gift-to-warsaw-called-the-palace-of-culture

This is a photo of Kay taking a photo on the viewing platform of the Tower.

Kay-taking-picture-at-top-of-Starlins-gift-to-Warsaw

This is one of the many public squares in the old town in Warsaw, which most are surrounded by old buildings. When I say the “old town”, I have to remind you that during the second world war the poles rose up against the German occupation and held out for a while. After the uprising was put down the Germans levelled the area. Most of Warsaw was rebuilt after the war to the former specifications. A lot of Warsaw’s old town is about 70 years old.

Street-in-the-old-town-looking-towards-the-palace

This is a photo of one of the roads in the old town looking towards the former palace, now a museum.

Part-of-the-square-in-front-of-the-former-Kings-palace-now-a-museum

This is the square in front of the former Royal palace, which is now a Museum.

Houses-around-a-square-in-the-old-town.

This is one of the many public city squares, most of which are surrounded by lovely 4-5 level buildings. Many of the buildings in the old town are shops selling Amber, which is found mainly around the shores of the Baltic ocean.

One-of-the-dozens-of-shops-in-the-old-town-selling-Amber

The river Vistula flows through the city of Warsaw, and is Poland’s longest river at about 1027 km in length and effectively cuts Poland in half. The building in the background is the National Stadium.

The-river-Vistula-and-the-National-Stadium-in-the-background

Below is a photo of Kay half way through a plate of one of the Polish national dishes, in this case pierogi, a dumpling with  an assortment of fillings, both savoury and sweet.

Enjoying-a-snack-of-Polonds-famous-Pierogi

And finally a pictire of yours faithfully enjoying a cold one, in this case a Zywiec after a hard 6 km walk down the old town and onto the river. It was a nice day.

Having-a-stop-in-the-old-town-after-exhaustive-walk

We left Warsaw at its central rail station and travelled first class to the central station in Berlin.

It was pleasing to hear on the TV news that the police finally going to charge the alleged paedophile George Pell, and nice to hear that Tony Abbott is still making life difficult for Malcolm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finland

We left Stockholm and boarded a 45 flight to Helsinki on a turboprop plane. We took a taxi to Helsinki Central after our booked ride failed to turn up. It was Mid-Summer day and there was little traffic along the road into town.

We passed residential apartment blocks that looked straight out of the Soviet Union design book, rather dull and needing a good facelift. Our hotel was built late 19th century and has been redeveloped several times. We found it to be comfortable but in need of some attention to curtains and carpets.

Central Helsinki is very modern by any standard with lots of shopping centres, hotels and eating places.

Finland has a population of about 6 million, Helsinki about 1.4 million. Finland has about 188,000 lakes larger than 500 sq. metres and about 179,000 islands. 10% of Finland is covered by lakes, rivers etc. and 78% covered by forests.

Helsinki-comming-it-to-land

Approaching Helsinki.

Our-Hotel-in-Helsinki

This is our hotel, the Seuvahuone, which is situated opposite the central railway station. It was originally built in the 1820’s and has undergone several facelifts. The rooms were comfortable and clean with all modern facilities, but curtains and carpets could be updated.

Breakfast-room-in-the-Seuvahuone-Hotel-in-Helsinki

This is the breakfast room in the hotel, which was once a ballroom with boxes for the guests. It was very grand and an excellent place to have breakfast.

Part-of-main-street-in-Helsinki

This was a street scene hear our hotel, lovely wide streets with wide footpaths and bicycle lanes provided for the many cyclists.

Street-Scene-in-Helsinki

This was a typical street in Helsinki. Note the cobble stones, the bike path alongside the road, the tram tracks and footpath, and the many trees.

A-popular-street-in-Helsinki

This was the main thoroughfare through central Helsinki, but on a Saturday when most of the city residents were away at their holiday cabins to celebrate mid-summer holidays.

An-island-we-passed-on-a-harbour-cruise

We went on a harbour cruise and passed many islands like the one above which prove to be very popular with the locals.

Don-at-Lenin's-Helsinki-flat

Don and I managed to find the flat where comrade Vladimir Lenin lived until April 1917, just after the Russian revolution, in which he was a major player until his death in Jan 1924.

Wally-at-Lenin's-Helsinki-flat

This is yours truly at the site of comrade Lenin’s flat.

Tram-on-Helsinki-streets

This is one of the many trams that service Helsinki, very comfortable and modern.

Wally-with-Helsinki-Busker

Finally I met this busker near the main city street. I didn’t get his name but dropped 5 Euros in his hat and took this wonderful photo. He sang with passion and sounded a bit like Tom Waits. I had the impression his songs were folk songs of either Finnish or Russian origin. I hope Pam has a recording of him singing and I will add it if possible.

Our Busker playing.

 

 

Next stop Warsaw.

 

 

 

 

Stockholm

We left expensive Copenhagen on the train at about 10.30 am headed for Stockholm. We sped along at about 200 km/hr in some places but made several stops. The travel time was about 5 hours, and the distance is approx. 525 km, which isn’t particularly fast.

Stockholm extends over 14 islands connected by 57 bridges. Its population is about 2 million and has 70 museum.

In midsummer it has 21 hours of sunlight, in midwinter about 6 hours. Being the home of Ikea it has the worlds largest store covering about 5.6 hectares, and is the home of the Nobel prize. It is the home of the H&M stores, and invented Spotify.

The walking street, called Drottninggatan and runs for kms and extends over a bridge and into the old town. We found Stockholm to be very clean, friendly and a bit less expensive than Copenhagen. The Beer and the food was great and the weather was really tourist friendly with sunny days and tops in the 20’s.

On-the-train-to-Stockholm

On the train on our way to Copenhagen First class.

The-hotel-in-Stockholm-we-stayed-at

This was our hotel. The rooms were, I though somewhat small, but ok.

Part-of-the-main-waterfront

One of the many waterfront views around Stockholm.

The-walking-street-in-Stockholm

This part of Drottninggatan, its longest and best known pedestrian street.

Part-of-the-tourist-trail-in-the-old-town

Drottninggatan extended into the old town which was full of eating places and the usual tourist shops selling expensive items.

Young-Asian-lass-keeping-abreast-of-the-latest-fashion-trends

Saw this young Asian lass who was obviously up to date with the fashion trends of the day.

Vasa-Sweden-warship-sunk-after-20-minutes-at-sea

This is the 17th century warship the Vasa, was under sail for about 20 minutes before it capsized and sank in the harbour. Now I’m not a nautical engineer but even I could see that it was very top heavy, especially when the King ordered a second row of Canons to be included. Its in amazing condition for being submerged in the Baltic sea for 300 years.

Kay-in-the-1-metre-wide-street-in-the-old-town

This is Kay in the narrowest street in the old town which at its narrowest  point is about 900 mm wide.

 

Yours-truely-on-the-way-up-to-the-80-metree-free-fall

This is yours truly going up in the 4 man capsule to a height of 80 metres, where it was then tilted forward about 30 degrees before being released. The trip down took a natter of seconds to fall 70 metres before being stopped in the last 10 metres with a g force of about 3g, which was quite a stop. It cost 75 Swedish crowns, about 10 bucks, but well worth it, quite a ride. I have tried to include a video but haven’t had much luck, but will keep trying.

Now onto Finland and its capital Helsinki.

 

Hopefully this is the video of the free fall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flam & Voss.

The Flåm Line is a 20.2-kilometer (12.6 mi) long railway line between Myrdal and Flåm. The line’s elevation difference is 863 meters (2,831 ft); it has ten stations, twenty tunnels and one bridge. The maximum gradient is 5.5 precent (1:18). Because of its steep gradient and picturesque nature, the Flåm Line is now almost exclusively a tourist service and has become the third-most visited tourist attraction in Norway.

At Myrdal we caught a train to Voss and if we wanted to, further onto Bergen.

The-Village-of-Flaam

View of Flam from our cabin on the Magnifica. A small town of about 350 residents.

Inside-a-Flaam-carriage

This is the view inside a carriage on the Flam Railway.

A-couple-of-passengers

A couple of the passengers on the trip.

one-of-the-valleys-passed-on-the-journey

One of the magnificent views on the way up.

Another-waterfall-and-small-homestead-in-thye-Flaam-valley

Another view but we often wondered how the houses were built and how the residents gain access where no visible means are obvious.

Amazing-waterfall-along-the-track

Huge waterfall along the way to the top of the railway line.

Kay-at-Maylla-the-top-of-thye-Flaam-railway

Kay finally made it to Myrdal some 800+ metres above Flam.

At-Maylla-about-to-catch-the-downhill-train-nto-Voss

We then transferred to the train bound for Voss. Downhill all the way through some magnificent scenery and many snow resorts.

Fleischers-Hotel-in-Voss

This is the Fleischer’s Hotel in Voss where we and about a thousand tourists had lunch. Voss has a population of about 15,000.

Part-of-the-main-street-of-Voss

Part of the main street in Voss.

Waterfall-on-road-back-to-Flaam-village-by-bus

Huge waterfall just out of Voss on the bus trip back to Flam.

Magnificent-Valley-of-road-trip-back-to-Flaam

Amazing view of a valley on the return trip to Flam, which included a 12 and 5 km tunnel through solid granite.

Finally-at-the-bottom-of-thyat-magnificent-Valley

Finally at the bottom of the valley in the above image, and almost back to Flam.

 

PS Is there anyone out there who actually gives a toss about Beyoncé’s twins????

Bergen and Geiranger.

We left the German port of Warnemunde on Sunday and travelled the 616 Nautical miles ( 1140 km) to Norway’s 2nd city Bergen approx. pop 280,000. At Bergen after berthing we were taken by bus for a short tour of the town before heading for the funicular railway. When we arrived every other tourist in Bergen was there. It took the best part of an hour to get on board for the 4 minute trip, and a half hour wait to get back down again, but what a view !!!!.  Mount Fløyen, is approx. 320 metres above sea level and these photos do not do the view justice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Harbour view of some of Bergen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kay at the top of Mount Fløyen with some of Bergan and our ship MSC Magnifica visible tied up.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

View of Central Bergen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Going down in the funicular Railway, a very steep descent.

We left Bergen and sailed the 260 km to the Geiranger Fjord. . This reputedly Norway’s finest one and the following photos do not do it justice, the fjord is Magnificent and a wonder to behold. And Slartibartfast is to be congratulated for his efforts in designing these amazing fjords.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is part of the 11 hairpin bends above Geiranger which takes us to the  viewing platform 860m above the Fjord.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We often wondered how do people actually build and live in the numerous houses along the Fjord.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is the view from the viewing point 860 m above the fjord of the ship anchored at the head of the Geiranger fjord.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kay and Pam taking a shower at the viewing station mentioned above.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Don and Pam at viewing platform 860 above the fjord which is 280 metres deep.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kay at the other end of the Geiranger fjord with our ship anchored. The Geiranger Fjord is  a 15-kilometre -long branch off the Sunnylvsfjorden, which is a branch off the Storfjorden fjord. There seems to be a never ending succession of fjords.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On board the MSC Magnifica

Finally my first post from the cruise ship Magnifica. Hope you make a few comments as the next one will be from Copenhagen and concerning the cruise and excursions.

Cabin-12066-looking-towards-our-balcony

Cabin 12066

This is a photo of our cabin on the MSC Magnifica looking from the corridor entrance towards the balcony on the 12th of 14 decks. Above us was the promenade deck and the swimming pools. Centrally heated/cooled, room service and very comfortable.

Departure-from-Copenhagen

Departure from Copenhagen

We departed around 6 pm on Saturday 10th and steamed across the Baltic Sea towards Warnemunde on the German Coast. We were then to take a bus trip to Berlin. The trip across was calm.

Hotel-Admiral

Hotel Admiral

After a gruelling 20 hour flight we arrived in Copenhagen at 6 am and eventually checked into the Admiral Hotel. This was once a warehouse on the waterfront, but the rooms were comfortable. Around 5.30 pm Don and Pam checked in.

IMG_2139

Lifeboat Drill

Just after the MSC Magnifica got under way we were instructed to attend a life boat drill. we were all assigned a section, which was imprinted on the life jacket. We unsaftened the jacket and placed it over our heads and experimented with the various gizmos, the FM radio on mine didn’t work. We then went to our allocated lifeboats, but didn’t go any further.

Wall-full-of-Refugee-Life-Jackets

This was a waterside warehouse in Copenhagen with the windows stuffed with life vests. I suspect it was a statement about the treatment about the refugees.

Kay-&-Wally-at-part-of-the-original-Berlin-Wall

Berlin Wall

Construction started in August 1961 and destruction completed in 1992. it was some 155 km in length and it is reckoned that in this period 5000 people attempted escape and about 200 died in the attempt. Only 3 sections are left standing, the longest is about 80 metres and is in the picture.

Beer-powered-BMW

Beer Powered BMW

Germany is a world leader in Alternative Energy, and one of its car manufacturers, BMW, has developed a novel approach to the problem of preventing pollution. The vehicle in the picture was developed over several years and is undergoing further testing. Don and I reckon that put on a stability control system and seatbelts and it would sell in Australia.

The specifications are quite remarkable:

1 driver and up to 12 passengers/power input operators

pollution 0 gm/km

economy 136 litres of beer/100km

Top speed 8 km/hr

 

Don-Pam-and-Kay-at-the-Brandenburg-Gate

Brandenburg Gate

A very popular tourist spot the Brandenburg Gate was built by Fredrick William II in 1788 in the Neoclassical style. I’m not sure its so popular, its just another monument built by some monarch at enormous expense, but I’m not sure as to why he built it, I guess because he could.

 

Stretched-Trabi-Limo

Trabant or Trabi.

Produced from 1957 to 1990. about 3.,7 million were produced in East Germany. It was slow, noisy, uncomfortable and dirty with its 500 cc two-stroke engine. A good now will cost you about 2000 English pounds, about $AU3500. Saw a couple in the streets and is becoming a collectors item- so get in quick.

 

Checkpoint-Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie

Located near what’s left of the Berlin Wall is the structure that was “Checkpoint Charlie”, between the Soviet and American Sectors. Its now a favourite tourist spot and for the sum of 3 euros you can have your photo taken with a couple of ex-USA serviceman.