Oct. 15th, 2009 08:33 am
valkyrieza: (blue open window)
I am not a garden person,  since even if I take care of the plans inside the house they tend to die. Still, I cannot help but notice how beautiful the spring is this year. It feels like Johannesburg is greener then before with wild splashes of colour from various trees and on carefully maintained lawns outside the smaller business parks.

I don't think I've ever been so excited about spring in a long while. Admittedly, this time of the year has usually been filled with preparing for Unisa exams and when your head is full of Strategic Management lingo, the smell of jacaranda in the air does not really register.

I shall be posting photos of my recent trip to the US soon. As soon as I remember where both my cameras are in the house. I may have put them somewhere so they won't be in the way when I was unpacking.


Sep. 30th, 2009 06:55 pm
valkyrieza: (orange travel bug)
 The caviar is finished, but I have lots of almond tiramisu, hummus and garlic & tomato crostini and pistachio halva. I may be spoiling myself these last couple of days. Carefully, my stomach has been very annoying lately.

Must say, treating yourself to delicacies here is not nearly as bad for your bank, even as [profile] mighty_jo would say, in South African ront.

P.S. Saw Lucas Radebe on NBC news this morning, they couldn't pronounce his surname properly, but I had a patriotic moment looking at all the people waving South African flags and posters announcing the Soccer World Cup in SA next year. Then I switched to PiX11 to watch "2 1/2 Men".

P.P.S. Walking for 6 hours around New York without eating anything is not recommended.
valkyrieza: (orange travel bug)
I had been to the majority of these places, except I visited the Green Lagoon in Akureyri, instead of the one in Icelandic capital.

It is the last few weeks of summer in Iceland. As we fly into Keflavik, Reykjavik's international airport, we can see a giant stretch of black lava - solidified bubbles levelling off into grey-green pools.

Even though it is late, after 10 at night, the sun has not set, and pink clouds are trapped in sandwich layers across the sky. The rich orange sun melts somewhere into the horizon, yet despite this, a sharp wind spikes through our jackets, making us shiver.

Read more... )

Our final stop as we head towards the airport, is at the Blue Lagoon. It's a tourist trap but a delightful one at that. Known as Bláa Lónid by the locals, it is actually a pale blue pool of geothermal seawater from the Svartsengi power plant. It's also one of the most famous spas in Europe. Patrons swear by the curative powers of this organic soup composed largely of dead algae and silica mud. This is an amazing place to while away a few hours in steam rooms, massaging waterfalls and the obligatory mudpacks. When we get back on the plane, despite the vast distances we have covered in only a few days, we feel remarkably rejuvenated. Taken from here.

Another side note: Icelanders are actually very friendly, not stone-faced at all.

valkyrieza: (brown clock on top of a book)
I am unable to go to my friend's wedding in Zanzibar so the traveller in me is all pouting and hungry for some travel.

I am just wondering if going to Stellenbosch or Cape Town will be the better option. Any ideas?
P.S. Random stray phrase from D&D: "Spoon attack!"
valkyrieza: (NCIS Gibbs Ya think??)
Tourists just get dumber

London - "When do you turn off the mist?" "Is this where Ozzy and Sharon actually live?" "Where are all the hobbits?" The bizarre questions asked by visitors to British tourist spots were revealed on Monday.

An unidentified visitor to Osborne House, Queen Victoria's retreat on the Isle of Wight, was presumably disappointed when told that former Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne and his celebrity wife were not at home.

A misty day at Dover Castle in southeastern England prompted the hopeful: "What time do you switch the mist off?" while one visitor to Whitby Abbey wondered: "Why did they build so many ruined castles and abbeys in England?" - AFP

Source here.


Nov. 27th, 2007 11:15 am
valkyrieza: (orange cat)
I have managed to get some of the pictures I took whilst on holiday overseas to my computer. For someone as lazy as I am, this is almost a miracle:)

This was taken in Athens, in the shopping district of Plaka, next to the Acropolis.

It was during a 12-hour stopover between the island of Corfu and going to Chania on the island of Crete, so the picture was taken during the 'siesta' time, which as evidenced even animals take.
valkyrieza: (Firefly - Isn't that special)
Almost the end of the working day and I see that the f-list is a tad slow today. Seems everything is pretty okay with everyone.

I am without any Internet at the flats for 3 days now, their router which has not been the most stable in the past finally keeled over. Of course, they still stubbornly believe it is the service provider not their hardware, but hey, what can we do. Most of my colleagues suffer greatly being great devotees of online gaming and we all use the Net to keep in touch with our loved ones. Sigh, at least this has allowed me to make a significant  dent in my media folders. I have officially finished watching the last episodes of  "Supernatural". Wow, what a nice twist! I did not expect it from the writers, because this is taking a more long-term approach to the storyline. Hopefully, the show has gathered enough support to carry on in the same vein.

Several articles came from one of my news communities to broaden the horizon and slay boredom. I am concerned about the continual abuse of power by the Bush administration. Heck, if even right-wing radicals are getting nervous..., the article found here.

In other pleasant news, I just found out that to get to the French resort Montpellier will take me the whole of two hours and will cost about 30 EUR. Very reasonable considering the fact I am going to another country.

Now if they could only fix the Internet!!!

P.S. Yet another entertainer not liking the Net. Honestly, denouncing it from a pulpit won't get you anywhere.


May. 3rd, 2007 04:05 pm
valkyrieza: (NCIS - ducky pirate)
Time to go home and pack for Prague and Vienna. I think I should officially call Copenhagen airport my third home, I am there at least once a month and already know all the shops.

Prague castle, here I come!
valkyrieza: (scrubs - warning lights img)
Well, my Mom went back to SA on Monday and I realized how much I miss it. It is not too bad when I am on my own, but when Mom visited I almost burst into tears from homesickness.

Since Denmark has at least 4 public holidays in May and two of them are next to each other, I booked my next trip to SA not in July (like I originally planned to come back to) but in May. Cannot wait to see the sun and actually drive a car. I, of course, would love to see all of you if you guys can make it (I know how very hectic everyone's schedule is).

Now, all I have to arrange for are the copies for my Czech visa, grumble, grumble, if one has an EU work permit, some countries still require a visa. At least, there is no fee.  Pictures will be forthcoming after Prague and Vienna since I go there a week before Johannesburg.

Back to head banging to "White stripes".
valkyrieza: (Firefly - Isn't that special)
I was copying some pictures for my mother to take home with her and came across this one. It was one of the last pictures I took before I left Amsterdam a few weeks back.


The cat belonged to a sushi restaurant near which the bike was parked. It sniffed delicately and then retreated back to the restaurant as soon as he saw me, the curious tourist. Thank goodness, he did not charge me for the photo:)
valkyrieza: (scrubs - dancing interns)
I'm going to Amsterdam tonight!

I promise there will be no rumours of wild parties rocking the city of windmills this weekend.
valkyrieza: (Dark Phoenix)
All pictures are behind a cut and are 1024x768 or 1600x1200 in size.

To continue my recount of Iceland sights. We went to the Krafla, the site of sulfur and brimstone among frozen craters, literally.

The steam is perpetual, yet just a few feet away snow covers the land and the ropes that you see on the picture are frozen solid.

You can actually feel the heat and although the camera could not take a more detailed picture, the mud just beneath is boiling at such high temperature that a brick-sized ice piece will dissolve in less then a minute when thrown in.

As you can see on the below image, the bright yellow spot on the snow is not a by-product of some animal's metabolism, but pure sulfur. This area used to be mined for brimstone in the Middle ages, although it is abandoned now and serves as a tourist attraction.

As you can imagine, due to the sulfur the air is not the most pleasant and unfortunately the steam, despite being very impressive is not that good for the camera so I do not have a lot of images of this particular spot.

Next, we stopped off at the hotel so I could check in, the rest of the group only flew in for a day tour and were due back to Reykjavik later that evening.
This is my room.

All the furniture is handmade out of mahogany and the view from outside my window - judge for yourself:

The frozen expanse between the two craters is Lake Myvatn, on the shore of which the hotel stands. During winter the lake is frozen solid and we took a spin on the frozen surface in our minivan. This is more or less where we started with the spin and ended up a few km later after we started spinning. It was FUN!

We drove around a bit more - now that I remember, we went to the lava park after I checked in, but when I was dropped off at the hotel we took a spin at the lake again. And it was still fun although we were tired enough to feel a little dizzy, except for the Australian firefighter of course.

My hotel, a haven to a weary traveller after a long 4x4 ride!

My vacation package included dinner, which introduced me to the local rye bread. The bread is baked by burying the containers which contain the dough (usually the containers are in a large drum from the washing machine) and left in hot earth for 24 hours. The bread did not taste too badly, but I did find it a bit too sweet for eating with a main dish.

Another nice thing about the hotel - I could see the Northern Lights from my window, unfortunately, my camera just does not take anything worth posting at night. They were rather pretty.

This is the view from my hotel room in the morning - a person could get used to this kind of life:)

After breakfast, where I had kiwi fruit and traditional Icelandic herring, I booked a trip to go and try out this cool thing involving snowmobiles.

More pictures in the next post.
valkyrieza: (weir alien)
All pictures are either 1024x768 or 1600x1200 and are hidden behind a cut.

To pick up where my last post about Iceland ended. After stopping to feed the horses we were driven to a lava park. This is a clear example of Icelandic volcanic past. Of course, we were treated to both geological explanation - which I cannot remember well enough to recount here- and the more folksy version. In Icelandic folklore, trolls once were numerous in Iceland. And about a thousand years ago, almost all of them went to visit a troll that lived so far away, that he was very lonely for fellow troll company. Upon arrival, they had an incredible party that lasted all night, but they had so much fun during the party (and alcohol) that they forgot to retreat underground when the sun came up. As per legend, they turned to stone, forever immobolized in their last moments of revelry. That is a far more livelier explanation for the lava park then the actual scientific one:)

The park is enormous, and about 25 years ago, a French gentelamn has gotten lost for more then 20 hours, but if we keep in contact with the guide, the chances of getting lost are almost non-existent.

Personally, the park has not really impressed me that much. Saw some impressive scenery later though.

Then, we were off to the place where the two plates, American and Eurasian meet, with a short excursion towards the cave where the hot baths used to be.

This is not the best picture one can take, but essentially, the caves house hot springs and it was a popular bathing spot for the local populace. Unfortunately, after the volcanic eruption over 20 yers ago in the area, the water is too hot to bathe in.

Here is the split, that divides the plates. Considering the fact that my hotel stands on the American plate, one could say I've been to the continent without going through the pesky customs officials.

Let's just say you do not want to fall down there:)

On the way to see the mud pits, we saw the evidence of how truly hot Iceland is underground. Since most people use geo-thermal water, holes are drilled and generators are placed to make use of the steam power. The perfect example of hot steam rising.

This hole was drilled about 2 years ago, unfortunately, they cannot utilize it. The power of the steam is too much for the current equipment, that is on hand, to use. They are waiting for more powerful equipment, the goverment has to give aproval to buy. Beaurocracy is everywhere:) This is the hole really up close.

Since we were so close, it is amazing how powerful nature really is.
So, more views from the top.

A frozen crater, covered in ice on top, but boiling in the bottom under the ground. The expression of "Hell freezes over" has come to mind more then once:)

And more scenery featuring mud pits, they may look cold, but they are boiling.

Next stop - Krapla and sulphurous boiling mud. It looks better on camera, I swear!

valkyrieza: (gerard butler sunglasses)

Yes, I am a dreadful, lazy person, but I have an excuse, sort of - work has been busy.

So without further ado, my recount of a short trip to Iceland.

NB: All pictures are behind the cut except the first one, which is a link. Almost all of them are 1024x768. I had taken a few with the slightly higher resolution of 1600x1200, but most should be 1024x768.  That is why I did not specify the image size in the info box.

There is only one flight from Copenhagen to Reykjavik on Saturday. The trip is only 3 hours long, but as a side note, I'd like to gush about Air Iceland a bit. I have been traveling fairly extensively recently and unfortunately, work does not allow me to take higher then economy class for European flights. However, everyone knows economy flights, no leg room, no side room and a privledge to sit VERY closely to a total stranger for several hours. To my surprise, there was actually quite a bit more leg room then in any other airline I have flown before and I have flown quite a few now. Perhaps. not enough for a very tall person, but certainly more comfortable.

Anyhow, The airport, Keflavik is about an hour away from the city. The bus ride introduced me to the beautiful frozen landscapes of Iceland. Unfortunately, it was slowly getting dark and one thing my camera does not do well is taking pictures in the dark, even with the night-mode enabled.
view from the hotel
The hotel is near the central street, however opposite the hotel, is an old-style bookshop. You know the ones, full of books crowding the small space, remeniscent of the 70's spy novel for agent-to-agent meetup. It is run by an elderly gentelman, who barely spoke English.

Down the road from the hotel, the view is breathtaking and my camera simply cannot do it justice.

Still down  the road, the view of the harbour.

 The next day, I flew down to Akureyri, the most northern town in Iceland. Whilst on the plane, I managed to snatch a few pics of the ground below.

I did a few more snapshots until we landed here, in the tiny airport on this runway.

We were met by the tour guide, who after announcing his long name (Icelanders still keep to the old tradition of naming and thus do not have surnames, but rather use patronymics), but pronounced that we can call him Rabie. During the short trip around town (with a population of only 18 000 people it is not very big) he amused us with the stories about the police department - 5 guys needed during the shift, 4 to play cards and 1 to make coffee - and of the fire department - 3 guys needed, call the spare guy from the police shift to have 4 hands to play cards -  he finally took us towards the nature of the Northern part of Iceland. I thought Iceland was a very pretty place - I was wrong, it is magnificent!

The first photo stop of the day was the Waterfall of the Gods. Legend has it, that when Iceland has accepted Christianity in the 10th century, one of the elders who was instrumental in the parliament decisions, came home and threw the pagan idol statuettes into this waterfall.

So to this day it is known as Waterfall of the Gods, and due to cold and hot springs underneath, does not fully freeze.

 Our next stop, was at a forest, which had a lake with volcanic structures peaking out. It is a popular spot during summer.

The featured guest is a fellow tour member, an Australian firefighter.

The forest is really pretty in wintertime and we have been assured that in summer it's breathtaking.

Can you imagine this place in summer, in full bloom?

On the way to another photo stop, I got to see some more mountains. I really like the mountains, I can snap pictures of them all day.

On the way to the lava park, we stopped off to feed a few Icelandic horses. They are a very popular breed, a very hardy animal that due to isolation of Iceland, remained bred true as opposed to other European breeds. It is docile and has 5 gaits instead of the usual 4. These were very friendly horses, greedy for the bread we gave them.

I think this is the end for this post due to the heavy pic spam I just bestowed. Next post about Iceland - Lava park trolls!
valkyrieza: (Dark Phoenix)

After a huge amount of work, stress and general meetings it is done. i am finally here, in the pretty city of Copenhagen. Well, the amount of near misses that I had is pretty scary, but what trip does not have something go absolutely wonky? Let's start with the story then.

At first they did not want to let us through, some bright-eyed induhvidual spotted that we are flying on a one way ticket. No amount of convincing and document waiving, that we had work permits for the intending country would do, until he had to go and check with the manager. Yep, after 10 minutes of waiting we finally were allowed to continue with the check in. Then came the next obstacle, the extra luggage, I was fortunate to have complied. My colleague had to fork out a whooping 1.7 thousand rand(âpproxim. 120 British pounds) for the measly 6 kg over. As I later found out, I, the only woman in the party of 5 (no pun intended:) did not have to pay in for extra luggage. After some initial misunderstandings over the external hard drive that was encased in an aluminium casing, which caused the guys at baggage control some worry, we were soon on a plane.

Unfortunately, we were booked to fly SAA (South African airlines) of which I have no fond memories. I was extremely impressed by the new upgraded facilities which allowed an great amount of in-flight entertainment including TV and games options. The attendants were attentive and friendly and the light above did not hurt the eyes. As soon as we were exposed to the evening meal however - yep, the food still sucked despite the beautifully printed menu and a shopping onboard magazine. Sleeping in the SAA economy chairs felt like someone was subjecting me to an S&M session without the orgasm bits thrown in. My neighbour, a pleasant middle-aged German lady was thankfully very polite and quiet, a fact for which I am eternally grateful, despite her tendency to fall asleep with the headphones set on an ungodly volume.

Fortunately, were landed on time at the Frankfurt airport and were finally allowed to stand in line to the passport control. Just for the record, I'd love to marry an EU national and get the EU passport. You get treated far better then those of us with plain old South African pasports, well, at least the blonde 'polizei'  was very cute (I can ocasionally function normally on 2.5 hours of sleep). Later we were subjected to yet another baggage control check where my poor aluminium encased hard drive sparked another speculation that yours truly may not be as sweet and innocent as she looks. Then I experienced that comic moment they have in the movies, where a short, chubby German female customs official, she of the bad perm and nicotine-stained teeth thoroughly frisked me, suspecting perhaps that I'm wearing more then my own clothes. Sorry lady, no nitroglycerine here! It was very hot and stuffy, with almost no fresh air and heavy smells of promotional perfumes permeating the grey-beige decor, with bright yellow Lufthansa banners like small oasis spot in the tile desert. Finally, we were out of the humid enviroment of the Frankfurt airport and on the plane to Copenhagen.

The flight was mercifully short and I even managed to get a short cat nap. The Copenhagen airport looks very unassuming from the outside, inside I was pleasantly surprised at the cleanness and pretty shops. After a short wait for our luggage we exchanged our money for good old Danish crona and caught a taxi to our hotel.

This Scandic is very picturesque and the good weather outside and a shop to satisfy our hunger we were very relieved to have found some rest . Hotel food is very expensive so we settled for McDonalds, which in Europe tastes like real food and is reasonably cheap, although a big Mac for 50 Krona? For the South Africans reading this it may come as a small shock, as we get it in SA for 15 rand. The food fortunately, as I stated is very tasty.

So here I am, ready to start work tomorrow (we have a cab booked to take us to the project office) in the pretty city of Copenhagen for the next 7 months. So far, so good.

Perhaps my account is not nearly as adventurous and entertaining as [profile] bishopza's retellings, but I believe we have to travel to Istanbul for the real excitment:)

Pictures forthcoming as soon as I figure out if I've taken my camera's PC cable with me. Sigh, there is always something.


P.S. I think my experiences pales with this lady's:

1) Just after the August 10th restrictions were
imposed, British Airways refused to allow disabled New Zealand runner
Kate Horan (on her way to the paralympic world championships in the
Netherlands) to carry on her prosthetic leg, as she had long been
allowed to do. Her checked-baggage leg was then lost in the chaos at
Heathrow airport, and the prosthetic's manufacturer scrambled to make
Horan a new one.  (Courtesy: News of the Weird)


valkyrieza: (Default)

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