Monthly Archives: April 2013

Celebrating One Year

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Awindmill in Kinderdijk in Holland

One year with the blog! Many UNESCO world heritage sites, many more to go. This year have been a little bit untravelled so far. Last year we already have been to Costa Rica (no heritage there, but wonderful nature), visited several Swedish sites, went to Paris and planned summer in Kenya and Uganda. And this year? Work and winter. But we actually went out for a weekend to island Öja and actually went to Amsterdam last weekend.

We have written about last years travels and earlier ones. We’ve written about plans and wishes, the blog appeared on freshly pressed once (Kasubi Tombs). and it has got many followers.

I promise you more reports from Amsterdam and its sites. How about more travelling? We planned Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. And it didn’t work out, the trip was full, we found another one, but it was too expensive and bathroom rebuild that showed up from nowhere. Actually we knew it, but just didn’t want to think about it. Now it shows that we are going to move back to our appartment in June or maybe July. No long trips this summer. Or we’ll see about it. Still hoping.

Otherwise I have no idea about summer vacation plans, maybe taking train around Europe? I’m quite stressed about it I need a plan, an outline, something to hold on to. Do you have any ideas? It doesn’t have to be a world heritage. It can be city, nature, wilderness. Hopefully not too cold (I’m tired of winter this year) and not too much rain. 🙂

 

//Monika

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Ambitious security creates chaos

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Looking for right flight

I’ve been travelling again and thinking about security. Is too much security good or just too much? Is over amitious security just creating chaos and uncertainty? I think so. And the rules are different in different places and that’s strange. Is it safer to fly with one bag then two? Is it better to take out everything slightly electronic? What documents do I need?

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What terminal was it?

In the past two weeks I’ve been flying five times, so far and I needed to show an is once. Only once. Isn’t that strange? I could actually take someone elses boarding card and go somewhere in that person’s name. Nobody will notice at first.

Ok,all my flight the past few weeks were within Europe and Schengen area and maybe that’s the reason, but it is still strange. I think that it should be important to show that you are you and nobody else. It doesn’t seem to matter who is flying, but what he brings and in how many bags. Or?

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People everywhere

My first flight on April 11:th was from Nyköping outside Stockholm to Warsaw in Poland. I had handluggage and since it was a cheap airline, Wizzair and only one bag was allowed I had one bag. Passport and boarding vard in my hand. I had to show my boarding card, but nobody cared about the passport. Otherwise it was easy and quite OK. Wizzair has free seating, so I just grabbed a seat. But what if they would like to know who was seating in the different places? No, wait a second, they just know names on the checked in tickets, nothing more. Safe and secure? Not really.

Then it was time to fly back. One bag is allowed, so I packed everything in one bag, my purse, my phones, my compact camera, everything. It was hard to close the bag, but I don’t give up that easily and I won. And it was time for the security check.

“Do you have a computer or any electronics?”
“Just my phone and a compact camera.”
“Take them out!”

So I had to unpack my bags, took out the camera and the phone and couldnt close the bag.

“Should I take off my shoes?”
“No need.”

My shoes beeped. All my stuffed went away and I had to take off my shoeas, go back and try again. Finally I could collect everything, closed my bag with everything, except for my wallet, passport and the boarding card that I had in a little plastic bag. And what happened there?

“One bag only!”

They must be kidding. I put my phone in my pocket, wallet as well, passport my my hand. It worked and I had to show my passport. The only time so far.

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SChipol in the evening sun

Next trip went to Amsterdam. It was no problems on the way there. My shoeas (same shoes) didn’t beep, I didn’t show my passport and they let me in, no questions asked.

Was it as easy going home? No way. Didn’t have to show any passport. But waiting in the security line was told to take out everything electronic and they said: phones, cameras, computers, chargers, batteries, everything. So I unpacked my bags and took out my big camera, my small camera, my private phone, my work phone, chargers to all the devices and spare batteries for all the cameras. And it all went away in a plastic basket on the band with my jacket, my belt and… the security guy took my passport from my hand and put together with my other things. I asked about the shoes but they saud it was Ok. The shoes beeped, so I had to go back.

Meanwhile my passport, cameras phones and other stuff where out of my sight. The temperature in the area was pretty high, I was swetting, my stuff gone, I’m standing without shoes, trying to hold up my pants (belt was gone with the other stuff) and waiting for my bag. They stopped it. Why? Because of suspect content. After searching they found cheese (you can buy it everywhere and it is leagal!) and a can with hot chocolate. Ok, the powder maybe looked strange on the x-ray.

And the final comment from the security:

“You look stressed, what’s wrong?”
“Wel, my passport is gone”, (my expensive camera as well, I’m dropping my pants, it’s hot and I’m hungry and you treat me like criminal.)

I actually found all my stuff, but I almost lost my boarding card and my silver necklace. With the feeling of something else then security.

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Bye bye, Amsterdam

My final journey was today. I went on a business trip to Östersund. The only document I used was my credit card to check in. I had to take out my computer and put it on the x-ray band. My shoes beeped, but it was enought to put my feet, one at a time in a x-ray machine next to my other stuff, it went fast and without any problems.

Why are some security checks safe and feel secure and others are just chaotic and create stress?

Finally something slightly different. Security in the computer world. I work with IT, so it’s my world. And I still believe that over-ambitios security create very low security. In my last wor, for instance, we had to change passwords every three weeks. My first password was strong, but after three weeks it was easier and simplier, and after three weeks, even simpler and three weeks later I just added a number to the password before. Security? I fon’t think so.

I think that it’s now time to decide what level is ultimate, what is security and what is chaos, and why we take the measures that we take.

//Monika

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Proud Masai Warriors

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Last year in July we visited Kenya and Uganda. We saw several World Heritage sites, like Rift Valley Lake system, Kasubi Tombs in Uganda and Bwindi Impenetrable forest. It was both nature and  culture, gorillas, hippos and Bugandi kings. It was educational and interesting. But meeting Masais, although it’s not a world heritage was interesting, exciting and very nice experience. They are the people who choose to live in symbiosis with nature, in simple huts. They hunt, they have cattle and goats and they just live, like they always used to.

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Masai warriors performing a traditional dance

We were previously told that Masais don’t want to be photographed. The explanation we were given was that some believed that we were stealing their souls. Maybe, maybe not. But it was OK if we previously payed and visited them in their village. Well, whatever the reason and explanation I’m not surprised. I would also be very unconfortable if everyone poited a camera at me, just because I had colourfull, traditional garments. And I would come up with an explanation, that at least some people, would respect. I admit that I took a photo or two in secret, and other people on the tour did as well, but we never put cameras in their faces.

When visiting the Masai village in Masai Mara we were allowed to take as many photos as we liked and ask as many stupid question. Happy hour for happy tourist.

Masais were traditionally dressed as they usually are, they were tall and gracefull and very friendly. They treated us with respect and accepted our cameras, our curiosity and our, sometimes strange, questions.

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A Masai next to a hut

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A Masai kid

The Masai warriors started with showing us a traditional dance. There was a lot of jumping, very high. I still don’t know how they do it, but they reach great highs from standing still, like there was no gravitation. Very fascinating.

There was also a kid running around the village. He abserved the dance and we all could see that he was learning. In a few years he also is going to be jumping, like the others.

After the dance it was time for women in the village to sing for us. They are as colourfull as the men and also short haired, but a little bit shorter. The little boy did not observe them as intensively, but he was running around with a stick. Future warrior.

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Jumping high

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Masai women

After dance and song we were divided in groups of two and went inside the huts. Why? To drink goats blood? No, Masai do that, we were just going to see the huts and talk to the warrior that the hut belonged to.

Our warrior was son of the chief, as several others, since the chief has several wifes and several children, and maybe future chief. He told us that not only humans, but sometimes also goats sleep in the hut. The village is moved every seven years, mostly because of the termites that destroy the houses. The Masais choose to move before the houses are destroyed and find a new place for a village.

We asked some questions and talked about their lifes. Very interesting. Finally we bought some necklaces. They looked like a lion tooth, but we were told that it was a soft rock, carved as tooth.

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Masai kid observes and learns

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One of the warriors and chief’s son

After visiting the hut we went out to the village again. The questions continued. Masais showed as a plant that was used as mosquito repellent and some other plants as well.

Finally the son of the chief showed us some fur. It was lion’s fur. Masais used to go out and hunt a lion to proove their manhood. Nowadays it’s a little bit different. Enough animals die because of the poachers, so Masais work as park rangers. When a lion has to be checked by a veterinary, or chipped, Masais help out and get to cut some of the hair from the fur. The tradition still lives, a little bit altered. Lions stay alive and happy and Masais as well.

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In colourfull garments

The visit in the village was indeed interesting and giving. I would for sure go again and see these friendly people.

People are never world heritage sites. Should they? I think so. Entire cultures should be protected as well. It has today become survival of the one with most money and biggest gun, not the fittest, smartest and most connected to the nature.

I’ve read lately that there are plans in Tanzania to throw out Masais from their land to build a hunting ground for rich, spoiled people who want to kill lions and leopards. (source: Avaaz) I hope it’s wrong, but money talks. I hope that it’s not going to become reality.

//Monika

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What’s a difference between two wooden churches?

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Wooden church in Zakopane

I’ve written about them before, the world heritage site “Wooden churches of Southern Lesser Poland“. I’ve seen them, I’ve admired them and the one on the photograph is not one of the world heritage churches. This one in is the same one. Terrible misstake maybe. I still agree with the grade, but I will have ro show you acurate pictures another time.

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Side view of the same church

Wooden Churches of Southern Lesser Poland and Subcarpathia of the UNESCO inscription are located in Gorlice, Nowy Targ, Bochnia counties, and Brzozów County and are in Binarowa, Blizne, Dębno, Haczów, Lipnica Dolna, and Sękowa. There are in fact many others of the region which fit the description: “The wooden churches of southern Little Poland represent outstanding examples of the different aspects of medieval church-building traditions in Roman Catholic culture. Built using the horizontal log technique, common in eastern and northern Europe since the Middle Ages…”

The wooden church style of the region originated in the late Medieval, the late sixteenth century, and began with Gothic ornament and polychrome detail, but because they were timber construction, the structure, general form, and feeling is entirely different from the gothic architecture.

The one that I have on my photographs is from Zakopane and, even if it fits the description is not a part of the world heritage. Shoult it be? I think so. Why was omitted? I have no idea. Maybe is not as great or maybe is not as old as the others? Maybe because it’s located in a place that every Polish tourist have visited at least once. I don’t know, but my goal the comming summer is to visit at least one and show you how great it is. Deal?

But while I’m writing I can tell you a little about Zakopane. It is a tiny town in Tatra mountains in Southern Poland. Not many people live here, but even more visit this town every year. In winter you can go skiing, in summer hiking. The mountains are high and majestic and I love them. Hiking here is quite easy and the best part is that you can stay in town and only make day-trips.

The culture here is colorfull. People have ships on mountain slopes, are great singers and have even greater temper. The food here is great and drinks even better. But don’t think that you can be better at drinking than the locals.

No grade today, but a recomendation to stop by Zakopane, when you are near.

//Monika

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Blood, Polar Bears and Cravens in the Tower of London

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Time for another world heritage site: Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress that we saw in London in October last year. You don’t know it? It’s more commonly known as the Tower of London. It is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies  by the open space known as Tower Hill. It was founded towards the end of 1066 . The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078, and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite. The castle was used as a prison since at least 1100, although that was not its primary purpose. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence. As a whole, the Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. There were several phases of expansion, mainly under Kings Richard the Lionheart, Henry III, and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries. The general layout established by the late 13th century remains despite later activity on the site.  The Tower has served variously as an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, a public records office, and the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.

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London Bridge, leading to the Tower of Lpndon

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Part of the Tower of London

In October last year Jany and I took our mothers to London. We wanted to listen to Carmina Byrana at Royal Albert Hall, see a few World Heritage Sites and just get away for a while. The idea to take our moms along seemed like a good one at first, but wait they actually never met before, so this could end anyhow. My mom is by the way talkative, she always has an opinion and always wants to convience anyone that she is right. Jany’s mom is calm, doesn’t talk too much and is more quiet. And now the four of us ended up in London.It was pretty OK after all, even if I was nervous and my mom tried to talk everyone down.

On the third day in the afternoon we decided to go to Tower of London. It was Halloween weekend, so we were passred by ghosts, vampires and werewolves, but when we got to the tower there were atually mostly normal people here.

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The building is huge, so this is another part

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We were not alone

We walked around the castle fascinated by its size. We listened to one of the guides at first, but then we decided to go on our own and read, look and listen to guides when we passed them, or they passed us. Maybe not as good, but we were quite late and we tried to be effective. It was still too much information for one visit, so I guess that I have to get back here.

As I wrote before the place is really old. It was cadtle, it was prison, it was treasury. It’s fascinating to see all the different time prints from different eras, different purposes and different kings. Like walking inside a history book. The oldests parts were more simple, the newer more fancy, but all the parts fit together really well and they still look like one whole piece.

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Inside one of towers

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Beautiful glass

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Fancy building in the yard

We walked in the different towers, all the different parts and you could almost feel the ghosts, the soul of the place, the glorious history and the less bright. The power struggle was pretty obvious as well. Not always criminals were thrown into the prison. Sometimes brothers get rid of each other in order to take, or protect their power, their crown and their money. And sometimes the luck turned.

The old kings had they pets from around the world. They had imported lions, elephants and evebn a polar bear that used to swim in a special pool in the castle. How did they got it there ? Poor animal, there was probably not enough snow there, it must have benn too hot, but imagine that impression of power. I gueass the guests were amazed.

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One of cravens

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This is the ledend of cravens

There were also cravens in the Tower. The legend says that as long they are there the kingdom and the crown will live in prosperity and wealth. When they go the disaster will struck and the power will shift. It’s importrant to keep the cravens there. Well, they solved it by cutting the birds wings, so they can’t fly away. It’s cheating in my eyes.

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Royal guard

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A couple of guides

The guides were dressed up in old clothes (I guess) and played often roles, pretending to be from back then. It was quite interesting and yet another story. I think it’s good for the imagination and makes the tour a little more special and theatrical.And it was fun for the kids and tourists to photograph the guides and themeselves with the guides.

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More Tower

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Old and new

We went also into the treasury to look at the royal jewels. No photography inside there, so I only have great memories. Inside the treasury there was automatic band, that we stood on aand rolled by the treasures. The jewwels, crowns, spears were beautiful. Gold, diamonds and other presious stones. Just beautiul, really worth seeing. I think that both mothers were really impressed. We were as well.

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Protecting cannon

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Detail

The Tower of London became world heritage in 1988. Link to the site: Tower of London.

My grade is three gloves. There is almost everything here: history, blood, treasure and beauty, maybe too much people.

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