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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Switzerland, A Beautiful Countryside

 

Waking up late after celebrating the New Year, we set out on a day drive to see some of Switzerland’s amazing landscape. Our first destination is the city of Lucerne located in the North Central area of the country.

 

CAN JAN15 013On a gorgeous and clear winter day, surrounded by the awesome Swiss Alps we need to go no further to enjoy and experience the beauty of Switzerland.

 

 

 

A walk around town and then across the 14th century wooden Chapel Bridge is more than impressive.

 

 

CAN JAN15 03114th Century Chapel Bridge

 

 

Eventually we move on to experience more of the countryside with majestic mountains and snow covered landscape.

 

 

CAN JAN15 047At one point we pause a moment to listen to the peaceful sounds of tolling church bells echoing in a mountain valley.

A nice touch to enjoying a beautiful countryside before heading back to Zurich.

 

 

 

 

Switzerland, Awesome Fireworks

 

Our journey to Zurich in 2012 was in keeping up with our tradition to ring in the New Year some where we have never visited. With thousands of others we gather on the banks of Lake Zurich to ring in 2013.

 

CH Dec 2012 037As the midnight hour approaches we begin our personal countdown … 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 but then nothing happens.

 

 

 

 

Small cheers are made among friends then an announcement indiscernible to us is made over a public address system. About twenty minutes later an impressive firework show explodes into the night sky and the celebration of the New Year really begins.

 

 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Iceland, Thanks For The Memories

 

On The MoonThere are few places on the planet that you can visit that would give you an out of this world experience, Iceland is definitely one of them.

Thanks, Iceland for the adventure and lifetime memories.

 

 

 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

China, Experiencing Beijing

 

With hot temperatures and sometimes poor air quality, visiting Beijing during the summer months can sometimes be miserable.

 

CAN PEK 016However, during our visit we were fortunate to have nice weather as we head from our hostel to see and experience this awesome city.

 

 

 

Our adventure starts on a busy Beijing Metro with our first stop at the famous Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City.

 

 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Iceland, A Rose By Any Other Name

 

Cool SignThere is a myth about how Iceland and neighboring Greenland got their name from early day explorers.

It was believed by some that Floki Vilgeroarson named the country in order to discourage the Vikings from visiting. As we depart Reykjavik I see more “Green” than “Ice”.

 

I am glad we did not fall for the old legendary trick to avoid “Ice” land and go to “Green” land instead. However, Greenland is on my “Bucket List” and hopefully I will return to Iceland in order to visit it.

 

 

China, 5 Crazy Chinese

 

PEK D2 010A short Beijing Metro ride and we surface in search of our destination to experience some more of for us amazing Beijing.

 

 

 

 

As we walk the streets the traffic is hectic but not much worst than any other large city. I'm thinking to myself the drivers here are not all that bad or as crazy as some might think.

However, about an hour or so later my mind has changed a bit. At least five of them are “very bad” and insanely crazy and we love it.

 

 

Friday, February 7, 2014

China, Descending The Great Wall

 

CANAUG2 152Our hike down is just as cool as it was going up although thankfully a lot less strenuous.

 

 

 

 

We do pass a few annoying “show-offs” racing up the same portion of the wall that made us almost breathless. Luckily for those “whippersnappers” I did not have my walking cane.

 

 

CAN PEK 097

 

 

Even though we had seen the same landscape before it is still amazing from a slightly different perspective.

In reflecting on our upward journey, we realize the wall is not as wide as we thought it would be but in some portions it was a lot steeper and more difficult to navigate than we expected.

 

CAN PEK 086In the end, we are definitely glad we made the journey.

 

 

 

 

From the wall we make a stop for a late lunch then interestingly because of traffic congestion on the outskirts of the city we are given the option to ride the Metro back to our hostel.

Packed in like overweight sardines, riding the Metro at this time of the day was a challenging and fun finish to our day visiting one of China's most prominent landmarks.

 

 

Iceland, A Tale Of A Whale

 

Besides Iceland's awesome beauty on land we spend an afternoon in hopes of seeing some of its marine attraction.

 

CANAUG31 001Although there are many whale watching companies to choose from in Reykjavik Harbor, I am glad we chose Elding for our adventure at sea.

 

 

 

Before our tour begins we get an opportunity to visit their whale center where I learned some more cool things about whales.

 

SAMAUG30 034Sadly, many whales here are being hunted to support a segment of the tourist industry that is interested in eating whale meat.

While it maybe a unique thing to do it may come at a very high price to these majesty ocean giants.

 

 

As our tour gets on the way we are given some very cool and very bright survival suits. This time of the year falling overboard does not seem to such a life threatening situation but better safe than sorry. 

 

SAMAUG30 037Kudos to Elding and the crew for being safety conscious.

 

 

 

 

 

Leaving Reykjavik Harbor we get a nice view of city skyline and we are made aware of a boat anchored just outside of it.

Apparently this particular yacht is owed by one of the founders of Microsoft and is doing some exploration for a sunken ship from World War II that is believe to be off the west coast of Iceland.

 

 

Iceland LighthouseCool Lighthouse

 

Our outing does not give us the full experience that we were expecting because we never spotted any whales.

 

CANAUG31 014However, we did see some dolphins, a cool lighthouse that you can walk out to at low tide, a rainbow and a beautiful Icelandic sunset.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iceland SunsetIcelandic Sunset

 

 

 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

China, A Breathe Taking Experience

 

From Beijing we arrange through our hostel an easy and affordable day trip to visit the only man made structure on earth visible from outer space.

 

Great Wall 011We are picked up early and join a group of others for about a three hour drive to the Jinshanling area of “The Great Wall”.

 

 

 

 

A brief introduction of the area and we are given a few options on how to go about exploring this over 700 year old part of China history.

 

 

Great Wall 050The Great Wall

 

It is a beautiful day as we board a cable car for a destination that we never reach but we have a sometimes breathless experience trying to get there. Nonetheless, our journey turns out to be amazingly awesome.

 

 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Latvia, Slappin Annie

 

 

2013-11-16 00.14.47For me, few things are cooler than a rocking female musician.

Visit RockABilly House on a Friday or Saturday night while you are in Riga and you might agree with me.

 

 

 

Slappin Anne and the crew has a whole lot of shaking going on.

 

 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Latvia, The Dome Cathedral

 

 

2013-11-15 16.13.52Anchored at the largest square in Riga is the simple but impressive Riga Cathedral.

This amazing building got its start in the early 1200's.

 

 

 

Having been rebuilt several times over the years this cathedral has an impressive mix of architectural styles that make the price of admission worthwhile.

 

2013-11-15 15.56.29However, I am told more amazing is being in “The Dome” for one of the many concerts or recital held here.

 

 

 

 

The pipe organ here is just as impressive as the building itself. I imagine hearing it being played would certainly be an enjoyable experience.

 

 

CAN RGA Day 1 028Virgin Mary Beautiful Stained Glass

 

Just outside of Riga Cathedral there are many outdoor restaurants and cafes where you can relax and bask in this beautiful part of the city.

 

 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Iceland, A Horse Of A Different Color

 

CANAUG29 053Among the unusual things to Iceland is its horses.

There is only one breed of them allowed in the country.

 

 

 

A not too far of a journey out of Reykjavik and I am straddling “coast kicker” for another experience unique to Iceland. On Icelandic horses we cross a cool landscape that remains from a volcanic eruption about 9000 years ago.

 

 

CANHESTAR 005A 9000 Year Old Volcanic Field

 

Scattered across this geological wonderland are isolated areas of wild berries. After our ride I end up with a handful of them.

 

 

 

BlueberriesWild Icelandic Berries