Showing posts with label Macro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Macro. Show all posts

Monday 28 October 2013

Things to Do in Paris with Your Family

Paris is well known as a city of romance, where many couples choose to visit for long walks along the Seine, candlelit meals and musing the wonders of the many works of art in the numerous galleries. But did you know that there are also a lot of things to do in Paris even when you have children in tow?

As a capital city it is only to be expected that Paris will be busy and bustling, filled with people and interlaced with traffic. You will therefore need to keep a tight hold of your children’s hands if they are small - don’t try that if you have teenagers, they won’t like it. But thankfully there are many open spaces in the city if you know where to look and a few decent attractions that are specifically aimed at children of all ages. So find some suitable accommodation (the further away from the centre, the cheaper the hotels, and the Metro system will get you to where you need to be quickly enough) and book some coach tickets to head off to Paris for a family holiday!

Why coach tickets, you ask? Well because it is probably the cheapest way of travelling from London to Paris; there are rest stops and if you travel with iDBUS, you will have lots of leg room and elbow room, free on board Wi-Fi and plug sockets (don’t forget your plug adaptor!) – making the journey comfortable and even fun.

So, here are a few ideas of things to do in Paris that are suitable for the whole family:

  1. The Batobus: this is a waterbus that runs along the Seine all the way along the city, allowing you to hop on and off at the various attractions or just to sit and take in the view. It is a great way to get from A to B in a way that does not involve busy roads or maps and most children are happy to be on board.
  2. Jardins: there are several major ‘jardins’ in Paris. Jardin de Tuileries is very close to the Louvre; the Jardin de Luxembourg is in central Paris, Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter and is a great place to run around and sail toy boats.
  3. Disneyland Paris: a bus or train ride away from Charles de Gaulle airport (to which your iDBUS could take you) this is the ultimate in children’s entertainment. Staying in a themed Disney hotel is fun but expensive, so to save on cost stay on the northern outskirts of Paris and take the train or bus to the park.
  4. The Musée Rodin includes a large outdoor area displaying some of the most famous sculptures created by the eponymous artist, enabling you to combine fresh air and culture with a bit of space for a quick game of tig.
  5. The catacombs beneath Paris are spooky, eerie and full of skulls: if that sounds like something your child would love then make sure you don’t miss this offbeat attraction. You should keep in mind that this attraction might not be suitable for everyone.

Always plan ahead for dry weather and wet weather alike and always have a few different options up your sleeve for in case there are long queues or unexpected problems. I am sure you will have a much more relaxed trip in the end, if you plan ahead. Well worth it, if you ask me!


Monday 24 October 2011

From Summer to Winter in a Flash

This year summer just did not want to end here in Slovenia. I liked this fact very much and tried to take it in as much as possible.
I was still swimming in the Adriatic Sea at the beginning of October and had a great warm weekend on Slovenian coast. The initial plan was to visit Skocjan Caves - an UNESCO heritage site, but since weather was simply too perfect to spend the day underground, M. and I unanimously decided to head for the charming Slovenian coast town of Piran. We figured any of the gloomy winter days will be just fine for exploring the caves.
In the end we had a great day enjoying the warm sun and fresh local sea food.

Both of the places mentioned Piran and Skocjan Caves are well worth visiting and deserve a separate post each.

We were glad we decided the way we did. Even more so after a few days, when temperatures dropped for 15 degrees in one afternoon. Another few days later snow covered most mountains higher than 1.000 meters above sea level.

Now every morning temperatures drop below zero degrees Celsius and winter is definitely knocking on the doors, or as my favourite author keeps saying - Winter is coming. Well actually at the end of last week, it looked as if it has arrived already - there was snow everywhere.

The interesting thing is, even nature looks like it didn't realise this yet. Leaves are still green on most of trees. Last week's snow was breaking trees all over the place because leaves didn't even turn to autumn colours, let alone started to fall off.
If we weren't picking apples just the other day, I would think autumn is an imaginary time of year that happens only in fairytales.


Wednesday 13 July 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Caught in the Act


Wednesday 27 October 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Caterpillar close-up


Monday 22 March 2010

Winter just won't go away

This year winter obviously decided to hang around for a bit longer. Well at least here in Slovenia.
Most of the hills are still covered in deep snow. Fortunately for the last week or so the weather has been reasonably warm at lower altitudes.

Two weeks ago or so we had the first sunny and quite warm day. Unfortunately that didn't last long. After that day cold northern winds started to blow and for the next week it was really cold and windy around here. In some places wind speed was even over 200 kilometers per hour (that is over 125 mph)! All sorts of things were flying around and many roads were occasionally closed due to overturned trucks. Here you can see how a fellow Slovenian blogger documented the situation.

I hope now we are done with that and spring is finally coming. I have spotted some snowdrops in front of the house trying to break free from the snow. I am sure this is a good sign.

It seems now we are looking at some warmer days at last. However if you are planning a trip to Slovenia and want to see some snow, it is still the right time to do it.
If you prefer a bit warmer weather, you might want to wait a while longer. I suppose in a month most of the snow will be gone even in higher areas. However, high in the Alps it is quite common for the snow to last until the beginning of summer.


Wednesday 17 February 2010

Wordless Wednesday: A pine branch in winter


Monday 13 July 2009

Agadir - The No.1 seaside destination for wealthy Morrocans (Day 17)

We liked our room at Hotel Tiznine so much that we decided to take it easy for a couple of days and just relax. Agadir would not be my first choice, but M. really needed some time to get rid of the cold she caught in the desert and to just relax for a few days. Her cough really didn't sound encouraging at all.

As a consequence of all this, our first day in Agadir started quite late. We slept like dead until 10 in the morning and even then we didn't get up straight away.

When we finally got out of the hotel it was time to find a patisserie. We found a promising one on our way to the beach. That once again reminded us why it would be really stupid to break our habit of such breakfasts while in Morocco.
We tried some new local sweet delights and were not sorry we did it. Everything we tried was really delicious.

Among other things I also tried Pastilla - a typical Moroccan pie filled with chicken, honey, nuts and lots of spices. It combines sweet and salty flavours with a ton of cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top. Due to a quite unusual combination of flavours M. didn't like it all that much. I thought it was quite delicious.
Over breakfast we decided to stay in Agadir for two more days. We were both hoping M. would get better until we move on.

We spent most of the remaining day on the beach. While I was exploring the beach, M. was relaxing in one of the available deck chairs. The sky was cloudy (a strange mist came rolling in from the ocean and didn't go away till the evening) for the most of the day so there was no fear of getting sunburned.

It is quite obvious that Agadir is often chosen as a vacation destination by wealthy Moroccans. Many of them work abroad, often in Spain or France. When they return for a vacation with their families, they usually have many Euros to spend.
If you know these things it is not such a surprise when you see some brand new fast food restaurants by the beach. Western style! Pizza Hut and McDonald's neon sings can be seen from almost anywhere on the beach.

Despite all that, one can still see some people in more traditional outfits. All in all it's a funny mix.

While walking around the beach I talked to some locals. As I learned at some point of each conversation, every one of them tried to sell me something. This is just one of the reasons I don't like touristy places - it is usualy quite hard to make genuine contact with locals at such places. They just see you as a big fat bag of money (usually with a big hole, from which an endless supply of money is dropping).

It took me almost a half an hour to explain to a guy that 40 Euros for a few minute spin on a water scooter is way over my budget.

We finished our day at the beach with a walk to the fish stalls by the port. We knew the procedure from the day before. This time we opted for some shrimps and a red snapper. Everything came with a spicy sauce of some kind but we liked it anyway.

On the way back to our hotel, we stopped for a fresh orange juice and mint tea. We weren't tired, but when we got to our room, we fell asleep easily.


Tuesday 23 June 2009

A room full of cockroaches (Day 15)

We woke up in Hotel El Kennaria in Marrakech. We didn't sleep too good, but it didn't bother us much, since the plan was to move to another hotel. After a few morning photos of the street bellow from our room's window, we were glad to leave this hotel behind. We checked into the nearby Hotel Mimosa, which was recommended to us by a couple we know back home. This was the single hotel recommendation we got before the trip and accordingly our expectations were high.

The staff at the Hotel Mimosa were extra friendly and we also liked our modest room and also the insides of the hotel. On top of that, everything looked very clean.

After we dropped our backpacks by the bed, we went straight out to get a breakfast and a glass of fresh orange juice. We discovered a really nice café and pastry shop in a street just off the Djemaa el Fna square.
Delicious pastries were flushed down with freshly squeezed juice. This was the one thing we just couldn't get enough of during our three weeks in Morocco.

Once again we were running out of local currency and it was time to find a working ATM machine to withdraw some Dirhams.
We only had Maestro/Cirrus cards that (as we found out) didn't work with all local banks and ATMs. We finally found La Banque Centrale Populaire ATM that was ready to cooperate.
I expected one of many banks with western bank logos on their ATMs would work with our Maestro/Cirrus cards, but no luck. I guess it would help to have a Visa card for backup when going to Morocco. However if you have problems withdrawing money from various ATMs, be sure to look around for La Banque Centrale Populaire logo. It worked for us.

After a visit of a quite interesting nearby palace we decided to take an inside look at a Hammam (a traditional public bath). Not a fancy - touristy one, but a real one. The kind Moroccans go to.

Since this was our first time visit, we didn't know what to expect. A young receptionist from the small hotel we were staying in, tried to prepare us for the visit (you can check out a few tips on public hammam etiquette here). He found this situation at least funny, if not hilarious and was giggling all the time.
He directed us to a corner shop where we got the necessary hammam items we were missing: black soap (savon noir) and two scrubbing mitts. After a short negotiation this added up to 25 dirhams. We already had shampoo and towels.
The receptionist tried to tell us that the price for entering the hammam could not be more then 15 dirhams, we didn't manage to get in for less then 60 dirhams (and we tried - hard).
We entered through two separate doors - one for men and the other for women. I went in dressed only in my underwear. It became hotter and hotter as I went deeper into the hammam and didn't stop until I reached the last room which was really hot. I grabbed a bucket, filled it with hot water and began the routine. There were a couple of locals who pointed me to a thing or two, but unfortunately conversation wise, that was it. None of them spoke any English, not even the guy from the reception who came in after a while and gave me a scrubbing massage of some kind.

It really was a very interesting (sauna like) experience, lasting way over an hour and also included a quick scrub, so I guess even if it was overpaid, the price wasn't all that bad.
M. had a similar experience but got tired of it a bit earlier then I did. So we met at the entrance, where she was occupied talking to a local couple. They seemed disappointed when I showed up - this meant an end to their conversation with a freshly scrubbed and of soap smelling blonde.

We were too exhausted for any further activity. The hammam experience also made us quite hungry, so we went to grab some food from one of the stalls on Djemaa el Fna. It was quite amusing watching two locals repair a light at the food stall next to ours. It was like watching an episode of MacGyver on TV, with a good deal of suicidal tendencies feel to it. The whole time through my meal I was waiting for someone to get electrocuted. Fortunately the Moroccan MacGyver saved the day and there was light again.

After a cup of tea, we went to sleep. Well... that was what we wanted to do.
As we got into our room and switched the light on, everything started moving. There were dozens of cockroaches running around, trying to get away from the light. After squashing a few, I gave up and decided to go to sleep despite the annoyance.
M. just couldn't believe it, but to me it seemed obvious that I couldn't win a battle against the far greater numbers of annoying little creatures.

I zipped myself into my sleeping bag and soon fell to sleep. M. followed after a while but didn't dare to close her eyes for another couple of hours.
That night we slept with the light on - at the only place in Morocco that was recommended to us back home. The only one with cockroaches too!


Monday 19 January 2009

Up and down Jebel el Kelaa (Day 6)

Once again we woke up early in the cosy Ouarzazate Hotel with the intention of going hiking. But this time we weren't ready to give up so easily.

We got up, ate a quick breakfast we bought the day before. I put on my backpack and off we went. Well, almost...
When we tried to leave our hotel, the door was locked and the receptionist was nowhere to be found. We didn't want to give up the hike before it really begun, but there was nothing else we could do but wait.

So we went back to our room. The receptionist didn't take too long to return and we were out of the hotel in a minute.

Jebel el Kelaa was recommended to us both by Lonely Planet guide and a Swiss couple we met on the day before.
We found the northern gate out of the Chefchaouen Medina and followed a path uphill through the old graveyard. Sun was still hiding behind one of the mountains to the east, but it wasn't dark anymore.

It was easy to follow markings on rocks. Unfortunately we couldn't decipher the text accompanying them. The hike was quite pleasant. The winding track was not too steep, but it went on forever. We also had quite a slow pace and have stopped quite often to take photos.
During one of those stops we admired a group of falcons playing in midair, shooting past us while we were sitting on an edge of a cliff. They were too fast for me to take a decent photo. This reminded me that I must replace my Olympus C-5060 camera with a decent DSLR soon.

I also stopped a couple of times to disturb some dung beetles. There were quite a few of them, rolling little balls of dung around. M. is always complaining when I start bugging bugs. It was no different this time but in spite of that it was worth the effort. I got a few really nice macro shots.

Almost all the way to the top there were remains of marijuana harvest on both sides of the track. As a local explained they harvest it at the end of August and in the next months it is time to turn it into hashish.

It took us approximately four hours to get to the top.

Actually we are still not sure if it actually was the top. At 1600 meters there were a couple options to continue. We took the most obvious one and made it to the top.

There we enjoyed a meal of local bread and a few peaces of soft cheese we brought with us. As we learned buying them, those soft cheese pieces, wrapped in aluminum foil were not sold in prepacked boxes, but piece by piece. Surprisingly also cigarettes (by cigarette not box) and chocolate (by square not tablet) are sold in a similar manner in the Medina streets.
After enjoying the snack and a beautiful view we went back down. It took us two and a half hours to get back to the town. First we freshened up with a fresh orange-banana juice and then relaxed until diner.

We were pleasantly tired therefor a paella we ordered seemed even more delicious.
Another fresh orange juice followed (these fruit juices simply rule - they cost one third of the price we're used to back home and are even more delicious). As usually the day ended with a pot of mint tea.


Friday 22 August 2008

Camping on the island of Lošinj

One of the benefits of living in Slovenia is that one really has lots of beautiful destinations in the driving range of only a few hours. From Ljubljana you can reach Venice, Hungarian plains, a random Alpine valley or a nearby Adriatic island in under 3 hours. However that is something I hardly ever take advantage of.

This time it was different. We (that's M. and me) decided to visit the Croatian island of Lošinj. We did something similar in the last September so we knew what to expect. I mentioned that trip in this post.

Last week we decided to do a short four day trip. It was well worth the effort. We chose to camp in Camping Čikat, which is probably the most expensive camping on the island but in our opinion you definitely get what you pay for.
Since August is the busiest time of year, we were expecting to find some not so clean toilet and shower facilities. To our surprise almost around the clock there was somebody taking care of cleanliness and everything was as clean as it could be in the given conditions.

I really enjoyed snorkeling in crystal clear water full of fish and watching cormorants do their daily fishing. Apart from that, the island of Lošinj is also famous for its pleasant climate. The scents of pine trees and Adriatic sea are always present in the air. It's an aroma therapy hard to beat!

This time I am posting some photos that don't really capture what we were up to in these four days. I hope you like them anyway.


Monday 23 June 2008

Rain drops in the garden

You don't need to travel to a far away country to take photos like these. A stroll around your garden or a nearby park will do just fine.

You will have the best chance of taking nice photos if you catch the morning dew, before it vanishes back into the air. Usually also the light is just right at that time of day.

If you are not one of those early birds and have never seen the morning dew before, you might also wait for some rain.
That is just what I did. I waited inside until it stopped raining and then went photo-hunting in the garden. Sun came out from behind a cloud just at the right time.

If you live in a place where you could get really old waiting for rain, you can also use some water to create your own rain. All you have to do is sprinkle it on a leaf and create a perfect composition. I know some photographers do it with spiderwebs and get stunning results. I have to try that someday.

When you find a proper motive, you just need a photo camera with a macro mode (usually marked with a flower) and some patience. I believe anyone can do it.

For the best result I suggest that you take some extra photos. Usually it is hard to see if everything is the way you wanted from your camera display. I suggest you pick out the really sharp photos later on your computer.


Wednesday 27 February 2008

Elan S10

For as long as I can remember I have been using Elan skis. I guess it's because Elan is a Slovenian trademark and they are also making really good skis.
They are working on innovations all the time for others to copy afterwards. They say Elan was the first company to introduce carve approach. Now everybody is doing it.

Skis of my choice for the last couple of seasons have been Elan S10 Fusion.
Even though it wasn't cheap I am very satisfied with the purchase. With them I can easily enjoy throughout a whole day of skiing without getting my legs too tired.

Despite of that I think next time I'll choose just a bit stiffer model. Stiffer skis make you work harder but at the same time offer better grip on hard and icy surfaces.


Thursday 7 February 2008

Traditional Venetian masks

Venetian masks come in many variations, shapes and colors. A visitor to Venice can buy one from a bunch of shops and stalls.

For someone who is not an expert, it is quite difficult to distinguish good, quality ones from many cheap reproductions. Masks are made from different materials and by using various techniques. Some (the expensive ones obviously) are hand-crafted using a traditional papier mache technique and traditionally decorated. Most of others are made out of gypsum base, which is then painted and decorated.

Some come with a certificate of authenticity and others don't. If you care about those things, be careful where you buy.

On the other hand if you are only interested in what a mask looks like, you will be able to get one for a much more reasonable price. If you just want to hang it on a wall and do not intend to actually wear it, I guess all those things I mentioned above don't really matter.

I leave the decision which kind (if any) to buy totally in your hands.

On the photos you can see the details of some of the most popular Venetian mask designs. Pretty neat, aren't they?

If you liked this post you should probably click on the Venice link under labels to check out more of the similar content.


Friday 1 February 2008

Lamp post detail from Venice

A few posts back I mentioned how difficult it is to take a bad photo in Venice. Here is a proof of that.

Even a detail of a lamp post on St Mark's Square can make a nice motive.


Thursday 8 November 2007

Egyptian locusts

I have already mentioned the locust harassment that occurred close to a desert well (check the previous post for details). The Bedouins told us that some little animals are always gathering around the nearby plant called the apple of Sodom.

I took many photos. These two turned out the best and I decided to post them. As you can see there were two different kinds of locusts posing for me.

I have never seen this kind before. However I think there could be some strange correlation with the fact that this was my first time to Egypt.


Monday 23 April 2007

Blossoming pears

One of the reasons why I like spring is blossoming flowers and trees. When I go visit my parents I can really relax in a green atmosphere.

Last weekend I took a moment for a photo of this nice pear flower on the lawn behind my parents' house.


Friday 20 April 2007

Hellebore carpet

When hiking to Porezen, a nicer part of our trip included walking on a hellebore carpet.

There were really lots of these flowers peeking out of the ground between patches of unmelted snow. Here is a closeup on one of them.


Friday 30 March 2007

The cinnabar ore

This post is in a way connected to the Mining wind band Idrija or more accurately to the Idrija mercury mine (located in the western part of Slovenia). I was writing about that a few posts back.

Do you want to know how mercury is extracted from ore?
Well... I'm gonna tell you anyway. ;)

The cinnabar (aka cinnabarite) ore is burned in specially designed owens, so that mercury evaporates from it. Mercury is then cooled down and gathered.

Almost everyone knows what mercury looks like, but not many have seen the cinnabar ore from which it is extracted.
Here is my macro photo of it. The red color is where mercury is concentrated at.


Sunday 25 February 2007

Beech mast in winter

This is how a beech mast looks on an idyllic winter day.

Photo was taken during a short break by a cross-country skiing track (Vojsko, Slovenia). In spite of the intentional macro blur, a skier can be seen in the background.

Buy a DVD video titled: Slovenia and Croatia


Friday 9 February 2007

Bugz life #1

I have always loved macro photography. In addition to that I have been always fascinated with bugs and all kinds of insects. I don't have any fears concerning spiders and similar little creatures.
If you put 1 and 1 together, it adds up to loads of bugs-related digital photos in my archive.

That is one of the reasons for the #1 in the title. A strange gut feeling is telling me that this is not the last time I'm posting photos like these.

During winter there are not many of them around. That is why I am posting some of my older ones.

I don't want to sound like I am missing mosquitoes on a humid summer evening. Heck no! On that subject I just say: Thanks God, it's winter. I hate those bloodsucking bitches!
In spite of that, I once tried to take a macro photo of a mosquito sucking blood from my arm. I didn't get anything but a few itchy spots. I guess I would have to create some kind of artificial environment to do it and I never got that far. Maybe next summer...

Let's cut to the chase. If arachnophobia is one of your problems, maybe you should look the other way. Don't say I didn't warn you.
I don't have a clue what are the names of these creatures. I can just tell you where the pictures were taken. The first one is from the reagion of Kornati (Croatia), the second was taken on a trip to Corsica (France), the last two were taken in Ljubljana (Slovenia).

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