Monthly Archives: October 2012

Gaudi’s magical world in city of Barcelona

Barcelona, what a beautiful city, what a wonderful town. This is a city of hills, churches, wonderful architechture, Barca and many famous artist. There is a wonderful sandy beach in town as well, making it very special. It has it all. This city even had olympics not so long ago. And this is a city of Gaudi and his wonderful, magical works. And I visited it several times, last time with a very good friend in 2010.


This house was not designed by Gaudi, but is still very nice

In order to see the city we decided to ride one of those hop-on hop-off busses. We were transported to different sites and also localized all the interesting must-see things. We stayed near one of the ends of La Rambla, a main street. It is quite lively and very, very touristic. It didn’t stop us from strolling up and down it, looking at tourists, looking at the street artists and drinking sangria at some place. Touristic. Yes, nice as well.


Beautiful door, almost like in Zanzibar


A peacefull dove flying to the skies

The first day, as we arrived around 11 a.m. we got the bus pass for the next day, and this day we just strolled around town. We visited small streets, cute shops and drank coffe at very Barcelonian places. It felt like it anyways. We also went to the Montjuïc hill and tried to find some of the cats I saw here during my previos visit few years earlier. No cats this time but we got inside the Miro museum and I got to see the very famous mercury fountain. All the nerds generally should be happy by the sight of it and the nerd in me indeed was.

gaudi house

Wonderful balconies, a work of Gaudi in the middle of Barcelona


This roof was designed by Gaudi, maybe the entire house as well

The next day we got up very early and went to the bus. There was no problem finding it and not too many people, so we put the earphones in our ears and listened about the sites that we passed. It was interesting, usefull and very touristic, but what the heck, we didn’t have so much time. We passed many Gaudi sites, beautiful buildings, almost fairy-tale like balconies, roofs and entire houses.


Guess what, Gaudi is very guilty here

Sagrada Familia

The very famous church, La Sagrada Familia, is a beautiful work by Gaudi. When will it be finished?

After some time we came to La Sagrada Familia and decided to get out. At the same time there was a couple behind us in the bus, who were saying: “Look, it’s under restauration, no idea to get out here, we can come back next year, when they are ready”. Oh? Don’t they know that it was never finished and probably will not be in our lifetime and this was Gaudi’s intention? Hahaha. Never mind them, we got out and after standing in a pretty long line we payed and got inside. Inside it was like a fairy tale as well. Cool arches, stairs and mosaics. I loved it.


Inside La Sagrada Familia


Going down the stairs

In La Sagrada we took the elevator up and viewed Barcelona from above. It was pretty nice view. And pretty steep stairs going down. Round and round and round. Finally we got down and got back to the bus. We continued the tour.


Barcelona from top of La Sagrada Familia


“Elefandret” is a five-ton bronze elephant sculpture by the Spanish artist Miquel Barceló.

We saw more works of Gaudi and other artists as well. We got to a monastery far away from the city center and Camp Nou, of course. We had to make a visit there, where Barca plays their home games. Pretty big place, pretty cool.


A Gaudi house in Parc Guell


A leg of a lizzard in Parc Guell, yes, you guessed right, Gaudi


The day was almost over and the bus hopping pass as well. Almost at night fall we got to Parc Guell, another of Gaudi’s corners of Barcelona. There were statues and museums and just a nice park. It felt pretty good, and once again, like in a fairy tale. We were surrounded by colors, happy people and romance. Just like it should be.

in Parc Guell

In Parc Guell


A ginger bread house? Well, a Gaudi house at least


me in parc Guell

Me in Parc Guell

Tired and happy we gave up and the next day we went to another church, on another hill. The name of the hill is Tibidabo. Nothing of Gaudi there, but pretty cool place anyways. We went up and down the hill and the church. One more fantastic view.


A beautiful church on a hill, no Gaudi here.

In the evening we went to Magic Fountain of Montjuïc and watched the light and music show. It was pretty nice and good last night in Barcelona-thing. Tired and happy we went out to have some good food and sangria that night as well.



Beautiful fountain with music and lights

On the last day we planned shopping. We discovered it was a very bad plan. It was national day of Catalonia and all the shops, also the tourist-places were closed. Very closed. We strolled around the town and went to the airport quite early. The airport was not closed and neither were the shops there.
The works of Gaudi became a world’s heritage site in 2005. Link to the siye is here: Works of Gaudi.

And number of globes? Well, Four out of five, I think, almost five.


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Bronze age grafitti left on rocks, a message from an ancient time

Sometimes a visit to a place can be much more than you expect. Sometimes even rain, wind and autumny weather can’t stop you from exploring more, once you find a treasure. So it was this time when weanum to see ancient rock carvings and go home. We didn’t expect to spend more than one hour in this place. We thought that some rock carvings can’t be that interesting. How wrong can you be.


Field in the middle of nowhere, is there anything to see?

world heritage

World Heritage sign at the entrance to the museum


Model of an ancient boat in the museum

The rock carvings of Tanum are over 400 groups of Bronze Age carvings located in an area of about 45 km². They were carved into the rocks between ca. 1700-500 BC at what at that time was the sea shore. The carvings are included in the World Heritage List because of their unique artistic quality, the depiction of aspects of life in the European Bronze Age and the continuity of local rural life they represent.


Information about carvings at Vitlycke


Carvings of boats and people, the red lines are filled in in our times to mark the carvings better


Two men on a boat

The motifs include humans, weapons, boats, fishing nets, the sun, bulls, horses, deer, birds and other scenes of daily life. The site at Litsleby includes a human figure over 2 meters tall carrying a spear. This probably is the largest petroglyph of a person in Europe. The figure has been interpreted as the God of War Odin.


More carvings


A nice boat from ancient times

We decided to spend a weekend at Swedish West Coast. It was mainly Gothenburg, but since the weather wasn’t too good, we decided to take a trip to Tanum, about two hours north. The bus back would go one hour later and that would give us plenty of time to see the carvings and go back. How wrong can you be.


Ancient stick figures

stone pile

Stone piles, ancient graves

We visited the museum shop at first, realizing how profesionally and neat it was organized. Then we walked to the first carvings, following a very well marked and described world heritage trail. We came to the first carvings and were amazed. They were beautiful. Childish, simple, innocent and at the same time very bold and mature. Both male and female figures with very well marked sex. Thr male figures with large thingy, on boats, on land, with women, with animals, with each other. One was chased by a snirkling snake, other with big shields. There were boats, sun symbols, scenes from every day life.


Information sign about Aspeberget’s carvings

more carvings

More beautiful carvings, why where they made?

sun symbol

Carving of sun symbol

The pictues looked almost like ancient time graffitti, painted by someone who had no TV and too much time. But how great window to peak back at ancient times. What a great peaxe of history that is left for us to see. How much will be left of us in 3000 years?


A man with a shield


An ancient man, carved in a rock


A carving of a boat

After seeing the first carvings we climbed up the hill to see huge rock piles – ancient graves. The view from the top was stunning. I wonder how the area looked in ancient times when there was sea here.

unesco flag

Unesco flag outside the museum


Vitlycke museum flag

From this first Vitlycke carvings area we went on to a second one, about 700 meters away. The area is called Aspebergets and had even more beautiful carving of peopplpe, ships, sun symbols. This area is endangered, since the rocks with the carving are beeing destroyed by wind and rain. We’re happy to have seen them.


A UNESCO certificate

Next stop was back at the Vitlycke museum, where we had hot chocolate and walked throught the museum. It was great organized, professionally made, informative and educational without being childish. I’m very impressed by the museum as well.
Our bus was long gone. The next transport was another bus from another town about 2,5 km away and then train. We thought that it was 2 km, but since it was more we almost missed the bus. Or made it just in time. Why have margins?

The rock carvings in Tanum became world heritage in 1994.Link to the site: Tanum.

How about my grade? Five out of five globes, this place makes you happy.



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Gorillas, Masais, Rift Valley and lost waterfalls on the Nile (part 4 of 4)


Welcome back! If you haven’t read previous parts, do so. The first part is: here, the second part is: here, and the third part is: here. We stayed at Lake Buyoni before and after the gorillas, for three days. It was a wonderful place, beautiful, peaceful and just great. We visited Little Angels Orphan School there. Really cute kids and heartwarming engagement by people who take care of them. And a beautiful place for the school.

Since I wrote this post a lot of things have changed. This morning I received terrible news. Our wonderful guide from the tour, Mike, have died of cancer. During the tour he mentioned a few times stomach pain and was going to see a doctor after the tour before he continued on a next one. But he was happy and smiling anyways. Soon after we heard news that Mike was recovering from a surgery. Suddenly, something I never expected happens, why?


Our wonderful guide Mike. Rest In Peace!

Despite his pain and worry Mike showed us a great part of Africa and gave us this unforgettable experience, always smiling. He left this world way too early, way too soon. Why? Mike got to taste Swedish caviar paste. He thought it was awfull and we all laughted. We laughed a lot, talked politics and serious stuff, talked about fun stuff, animals. He really wanted to show us waterfalls on the Nile in Jinja and was really disappointed when we discovered that they were gone. There are many memories from this trip, many happy moments. Mike will be remembered for ever. R.I.P.


Mist in the mountains


A great gorilla watching us


Umpenetrable forest, thick, dense and hard to get through

And finally it was time to see them. The great apes. The gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. I wrote another post about it. This time I will just mention that we did. It was amazing. It was though, hard, muddy and exhausting, but we saw them. Nothing else really matters. Nothing else is really important. A longer post about visit to the gorillas is: here. Nuff said.


Wonderful sunset at Lake Buyoni


Beautiful kid


Another kid

Before we left lake Buyoni we visited a school for orphaned children. They all live in foster homes and the school is taken care of a former student, who was sponsored before. Now he helps to sponsor other kids and does a great job. We visited some classes and were dancing with children. Some of us were trying to teach. Great experience. You can visit their homepage here: Little Angles.


One more kid


Eating a little


Beautiful view from the school

Now it was time to go back. On the way we passed the equator once again. It was time for the picture, lunch and to realize that it was much warmer on the northern hemisphere (summer) than southern (winter). Neh, not really. But it was fun to se how water behaves going down a pipe. Try it!


A boy playing in Jinja


The lost waterfalls on the Nile

We stayed at a noisy camping in Jinja, by the Nile, near its source. The town outside was cute, but the camping was perfect for the party-animals. Earplugs, my friends! We saw vervet monkeys and red tailed monkeys and a dead bat. The camping had lots of activities, one of them being sunset cruise. I really wanted to do it, but since they called it booze-cruise I decided not to. Instead we took a walk to nearby waterfalls and discovered that waterfalls is no more, since water was raised by the electric company. No waterfalls, but it was really pretty anyways and we found a guy who took us on a sunset cruise for less than ¼ of the price with some drinks and a lot of nature. Much better deal. The following night, staying one more night in Jinja, we went with another local guy on a cruise to see utters. We saw utters, lots of birds and one more  sunset. Can’t complain.


Me and a sales woman Fatiya


Small red tailed monkeys in the trees

The last night on the road was in rift valley, quite high in a really pretty campside. Pretty and freezing cold. Maybe it is colder, where the winter is? On the way back to Nairobi we stopped for a picture of the Rift Valley and sadly, the trip was over. Offcially after our last dinner together in Nairobi.

African Fish Eagle

African Fish Eagle on the Nile


On the Nile

We stayed a few more days in Nairobi. Two days too much. We drank lots of coffee and it was good, very good. One day we booked a table at Carnivore, the famous meat-place. Before going there we decided to visit the Karen Blixen museum and do it by a local bus with our Aussie-friends. Imagine six fat whiteys in the back of a bus filled with local people. Strange sight, funny sight. An adventure.

King fisher

King fisher, a small one

We got stuck in the traffic, so we didn’t go into the museum. We just looked at the garden and took a car (museums own taxi) to the Carnivore. And we got meat, lots of meat, all different kinds of meat. Chicken, lamb, pork, beef, ostrich, crocodile and bull’s balls. No game meat, since it’s not allowed in Kenya, but it was great.


Equator in Uganda

banana transport

Banana transport in Uganda

The last day we visited the National Museum in Nairobi. It was interesting, but information overload. The interesting part was way back to the hotel. We walked there by the highway. Going back to the hotel we chose a smaller road, straight on. Straight on, but through a bit uncomfortable (for) us neighbourhood. We were watched, we should have chosen another way, but it was interesting. We survived, we were not robbed and we got home in one piece.

And guess what: I want to go back to Africa! You can leave Africa, but Africa never leaves you.

World heritage site in this post: The Rift Valley Lake Systems, a world heritage since last year, 2011. Link to the site: Kenyan Lake System of the Great Rift Valley.

My grade: Four globes out of five. If the flamigos were there it would be five. Or OK, five for this time, but flamingos should come back.


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Gorillas, Masais, Rift Valley and lost waterfalls on the Nile (Part 3 of 4)

Welcome to the part three. We made it to the Lake Naivasha and saw hippos during the night. In the morning we got into boats and went across the lake to the Crescent Island. For all of you who have seen the movie “Out of Africa” with Meryl Streep: some parts of the movie were filmed here. There are some animals here as well, like giraffes, waterbucks and gnus that were brought here for the movie and stayed. We wandered around the island for a while. Giong back I really was trying to get a good picture of a kingfisher. How hard can it be?


Mist on Naivasha lake


Alittle kingfisher waiting for a catch

spoon stork

A spoon stork flying away. They were not beautiful, but pretty cool


A pelican, some find it pretty, others ugly. I think it’s a pretty cool bird

The following stop was a part of a world heritage site. The Kenya Lake System of the Great Rift Valley became a world heritage last year (2011) and Lake Nakuru that we visited is one of the lakes. This lake is known for the thousands and thousand of flamingos. Guess how many we saw. Very few. Due to the earlier mentioned rains and floodings flamingos temporarly moved somewhere.It was the same last year at Walvis Bay in Namibia and when I visited Ngorongoro in 2007. Do I get to see lots of flamingos in one place? I have to go back to Africa and find out. We saw very many other birds, spooned stork, marabou storks, cormorans and many many more. There were also many baboons, giraffes, rhinos and many other animals as well. This was a pretty good day as well.

vervet monkey

A cute Vervet monkey with blue balls at the entrance to Lake Nakuru National Park


An eagle, what a majestic bird

Lake Naukuru

Beautiful Lake Naukuru

lake naukuru

Some birds at lake Naukuru

From Lake Nakuru we went to Kampala. It was an exciting city. Exciting, but a city. I love nature, cities are just OK. It’s hot, dusty and not so green, but somehow charming anyways. We went to Kasubi Tombs (another post about that), we were served “wet goat” on a roof and took local transport, a motoke,we saw real people in real situation. We saw happiness, poverty, meat, dust, tears and drank great coffee. And we left the city.


Some flamigos at Lake Naukuru, that styed, despite the floodings

spoon stork

The spoon stork with its red eye looks not pretty. Partying all night?


Baboon at Lake Naukuru. Practicing for the gorillas

A nice giraffe watching us

We decided to reorganize in our trip iterinary and go to Queen Elizabeth National Park before Bwindi. We arrived in the park in the afternoon and we saw fire. The grass was burning pretty much everywhere. Scary. We were told that it probably was a controlled fire that got out of control. The smoke was thick and sticky. We camped at far end of the park and there was no fence to protect us from the wilderness. Keep that in mind.


A horny cow on the way to Queen Elisabeth’s National Park

Kasubi Tombs

Kasubi Tombs, that I described in a previous post

tea plantation

Working in a tea plantation

There are few lakes in the park. Lake Albert and Lake George are two with a channel between. We went on a boat on the channel, seeing hippos, bufallos, elephants and crocodiles. And many, many birds of course. And smoke. Later in the evening when we were falling asleep we heard a noise, right next to the tents, next to our ears. Something was chewing bones.  Hyena? Jackal? Serval? Our guide said it was a dog, but we want to believe it was an wild animal.


One of many birds on the channel cruise in the Queen Elisabeth’s National Park

fish eagle

African Fish Eagle, such a beautiful bird

And we moved on, hoping to see them, hoping to see gorillas. Happy, excited, hopefull. The last part, part four will describe the end of our trip. And if you’re curious already today, the Bwindi forest is already descibed in another post.

To be continued…


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Gorillas, Masais, Rift Valley and lost waterfalls on the Nile (part 2 of 4)


The traffic out of Nairobi was bad, but our driver and guide,David, managed to get us out in good mood. After a few hours we arrived in the first camp site and spent the first afternoon in the Masai Mara National Park. We saw lots of animals from the very  the very beginning. We saw zebras, many birds, antelopes and several elephants. The views were beautiful and the elephants paraded in front of us, beside us and behind us in wonderful evening light. It felt wonderful being back.


Elephants in the afternoon sun


Buffalos getting ready for the night


Zebras are pretty cool animals


Two cheetah in the morning sun in Masai Mara National Park

We also saw a half-eaten animal, maybe wildebeest? And not far from the corpse there was a lion with huge belly, resting in the grass. I’m guessing a connection between the two. Before we left the park for the night we stopped by a big herd of buffalo. They were enjoying the evening, getting ready for the night. Very nice afternoon, that just gave us a slight hint of what may come.


Lions that just caught a bufallo. It’s the law of the nature, survival of the fittest, eat or be eaten.

Masai Mara

Masai Mara National Park, we saw many more animals that day, but everything was outshadowed by lion catching bufallo.


Masais dancing


Masais dancing, kid watching and learning

We were back in the park the very next morning. We started with seeing dikdik, a very small antelope, some birds, big and small and zebras. And then our driver and guide just took off. Fast, very fast with no time to say “Buckle up”, but we heard “cheetah”, and understood. Soon we also saw the cheetahs. They were cute, looked like young siblings and we were watching them while they were watching us. It was pretty amazing. Well, the view of other cars were a little disturbing, but soon they left and we were alone with the cheetahs.


Jumping high

rift valley

Magnificent view of the Rift Valley

man with bike

A man with his bike


Masai fabrics, look at those wonderful colors


Lost pillow is found pillow. We saw a school bus loosing a pillow, picked it up, drove along their side and made the exchange. Heartwarming-

After a while David started to go faster again and soon we understood why. Those with binoculars (I was one of them) witnessed a chase, a lion going for a buffalo. And it actually got it. The buffalo fell and lion had it. We came to the scene not long after. Unfortunately together with many other cars, but it’s easy to forget everybody else while watching dramatic scenes, like lions killing a buffalo. The lions were now two and more were coming. The buffalo was now dying, breathing heavily, sometimes giving out a cry. The lions were trying to chew through the poor beasts skin, having a hard time. You could hear it. Finally the buffalo died and you could hear crushing of the bones. Some people were crying, one car got stuck in the mud. Chaos, drama, wilderness.


View of the roadsir isomewhere in Kenya


Everyone wants a picture


Sometimes you just have to wait

After the lions’ feast we saw many other cool animals for sure, but none that I remember in particular. I remember that I wanted to stay longer in the park. The last stop was in Masai Village where we met some Masai warriors and Masai women. They showed us around in the village and danced for us, doing incredible high jumps. I tried to jump as well, but never came even close. Then they told us that they are nomadic people andd move their village every seven years. It’s also about that time it takes dor termites to destroy their houses. They showed us a plants that they use as mosquito repellent and sold some jewelry. Well, you have to adapt to the new times when tourists are coming and customs change. They still have their customs and live like they always used to, but some things change. For example boys to become men used to go out in the bushes and kill a lion. Now days they help rangers with caring for lions. They get to become men anyways. Nice to know.


Passing the equator in Kenya


Nice red flowers


On the way to the next stop, lake Naivasha, we passed a view point with the view of wonderful and spectacular Rift Valley. We also passed the Equator. We were supposed go on a mountain biking safari in the Hells Gate National Park, but many trails were closed due to heavy rain the previous days, so we chose to stay in the camp and relax and enjoy the camping by the lake. The lake was beautiful, foggy and mystical. We were told by the guards that hippos come there at night, so they put up a fence after sunset, so they won’t get into the camp. And in the evening the guards told us when hippos arrived and we saw them for sure. Being so close to nature is pretty amazing.


Warning for hippos, they are nice but can be dangerous


Hippo by night

The following day it was time to jump into boats and take a trip on th lake. Well, more about that soon in the next part.

To be continued…


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