Monthly Archives: May 2013

How Green is Green? Costa Rica vs Bwindi in Uganda

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The daily prompt today is about jealousy and green eyes and the color green. The first part is not really my piece of cake, but I love green. I love the fresh color of spring grass, I love the green trees and I love green jungle with all its creatures, the tiny and the huge ones. The jealous part, well, I’ve been jealous sometimes. It’s mostly about someone else getting something that I want or going somewhere where I want to go. But life is too short to sit and be jealous. Let’s do something about it. Enjoy life, try to live it as best as you can.

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The jungle is green, so are its creatures

This post is about my trip to Costa Rica compared to my trip to Bwindi and Uganda. Green jungle in the both parts of the world. Green monsters (with black eyes living in the both jungles. Tiny creatures and huge creatures. Insects, birds, lizzards and wonderful monkeys and apes. The green world is wonderful.

My previous posts about Costa Rica are here and here, so I will not describe the trip. Let’s go for the green parts and compare to Bwindi. Are all the jungles the same? What is similar and what is not? My post about Bwindi and its gorillas is here.

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Tiny ants carying green leaves for their nest

 

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Green frog under a green leaf

Rain forest in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a green place, no questions about it. There is rain forest, plants grow on top of each other, the humidity is high and rain days many. A neighbour country, Nicaragua has desert, sand, draught. Unfair? Our guide said that it was due to Nicaragua cutting down it’s rain forest. When there is rain forest there is lots of humidity from its plants that drop down. From the water drops the clouds are created, since the air is warm, and clouds raise to the sky and fall down as rain. And so on. When you cut down the forest there is nothing to start the process, there is no homidity to drop from the trees and soon the cut down forest becomes a desert with only sun to make it worse.

Creatures of the forest

Costa Rica kept the forest and its creatures. Most of them are tiny. The biggest we saw was a crocodile. The are several types of monkeys and lizards and birds and turtles.

We saw tiny ants occupied with carying leaves. They are using them in their nests. Pretty cool sight. We saw also small green frogs under the leaves. There are also poisonous frogs, but we didn’t see them and they are not green.

There were many birds in Costa Rica, but only the tiny humingbirds were green. And fast.

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Even the tiny hummingbirds are green

Bwindi impenetrable forest in Uganda

Now let’s go to Uganda, from Latin America to Africa, from tiny creatures to bigger onces, from rain forest to impenetrable forest. And still green, still wonderful and still warm. The jungle here is dense, it’s situated high in the mountains, so the hiking is hard, very hard.

Bwindi in Uganda, or Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, is a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the few places on this planes where there are gorillas. They are not green, but black, their eyes are black as well and these are not monkeys, but apes. And huge. The silverback that we saw weights about 250 kilos. Imagine a creature like that climb trees. And they do, pretty fast.

 

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The jungle in Bwindi is green as well

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The black beast hiding in the jungle

Creatures of the forest

Other creatures of the forest are not as green and tiny as in Costa Rica either. We passed killer ants. The forest rangers told us to RUN when we encountered them. They bite hard, over and over again until they or you die. Not so nice.

There are also chimps, elefants buffaloes and other large animals in Bwindi, but we saw only gorillas. And the ants. And pretty many mosquitoes. I would say that the creatures of Bwindi are more dangerous and deadly that the onces in Costa Rica and not as green.

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Green jungle, black gorilla

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Beauty and a beast in one

What is better

I loved Costa Rica and I loved Bwindi. They are both better, both are worth visiting, both are green. Let’s say: green is better. Green is life, green is hope. Jealousy? Let’s give it another color. Green is too good.

Over and out.

//Monika

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Green-Eyed Monster.

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History of Ages Hidden in Westminster Abbey

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The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, most commonly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large church, taht is mostly Gothic. It was built in 1042 by Edward the Confessor and the current church’s construction was strted in 1245 by Henry III. The Abbey is located in the City of Westminster, London, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronations, Royal weddings and burial site for English, later British monarchs. The abbey is a Royal Peculiar and briefly held the status of a cathedral from 1540 to 1550.

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Moving back in time?

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October was still pretty green in England

While in London, in October last year, we just had to visit the Westminster Abbey.But before getting there we passed a beautiful park, where birds were flying around, ducks and geese swiming in the water and fat squirrels were chasing each other and food from happy tourists. It was a beautiful Autumn day with sunshine and blue sky. So far. We walked passed theBuckngham Palace and to the Westminster Abbey.

We decided to take an audioguide tour of the church, since the last tour with a real guide had left 10 minutes earlier. The Abbey was closing early that day, bad timing. We walked and walked and walked with the audioguides. We listned to a story about the Abbey, the old kings and queens, war and peace, blood and friendship. We listned about old heros and great scientists. The place is huge, but the history hidden here is even greater.

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Waving flag

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Timeless time at the Big Ben

We walked among memorial places, graves with well recognized names from the history books and in the poets corner.

The place it huge. All the parts started to get mixed up. The Kings, Queens, heroes. The great history of the people here, the country and the church. I think it is fair to visit this place several times, in order to be able to remember just some of the information given here.

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Part of the Abbey

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Entrance to the Westminster Abbey

Burials and old graves

  • Henry III rebuilt the Abbey in honour of the Royal Saint Edward the Confessor whose relics were placed in a shrine in the sanctuary.
  • Henry III himself was interred nearby, as were many of the Plantagenet kings of England, their wives and other relatives.
    Until the death of George II in 1760, most Kings and Queens were buried in the Abbey, some notable exceptions being Edward IV, Henry VIII and Charles I .
  • From the Middle Ages, aristocrats were buried inside chapels.
  • Monks and other people associated with the Abbey were buried in the Cloisters and other areas. One of these was Geoffrey Chaucer.
  • Other poets, writers and musicians were buried or memorialised around Chaucer in what became known as Poets’ Corner.
    Abbey musicians such as Henry Purcell were also buried in their place of work.
  • Other national figures burried in the Abbey started with Admiral Robert Blake in 1657.
  • The practice spread to include generals, admirals, politicians, doctors and scientists such as Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.
  • Another was William Wilberforce, the man who abolished slavery in the United Kingdom and the Plantations.
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Another part of the church, the place is huge.

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Yard inside

Very special Place

Having passed so much history, so many famous names that have changed to course of the history and science, in many cases, is quite special. I liked the tour, I enjoyed the place and its dignity. And yet the seriousness, the dignity and the history weights quite heavy. You are not allowed to take pictures inside. Is it because of the dignity of the place? Is it because of the security? Or maybe it’s because of its age and the facts that many tourists would use flash? I have no idea, but I gon’t have any pictures from the inside.

There were very many tourists here. The place was litterarly crowded and it was low season. I wonder how it looks in June? We walked through the whole Abbey, peeking into the monastery and its gardens and listening to birds there.

On the day we visited Abbey there was supposed to be ceremony of some kind with military veterans. The place closed early, the tourists left and the soldiers arrived. The tourist site made place for seriousness, ceremony and quiet, just as it is supposed to be.

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The Westminster Abbey on the outside

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House of the Parliament next to the Westminster Abbey

Links and Globes

The Westminster Abbey have benn a World Heritage site since 1987. Link: Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey and Saint Margret’s Church.

The site contains of Palace, Abbey and Saint Margret’s Church. We visited only the Abbey. I was thinking about grade two globes, because of so many tourists amd a five, because of the history hidden  here. I finally decided for four globes:

GlobeGlobeGlobeGlobe

//Monika

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Is copper better than silver?

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Sometimes I don’t get it. Two mines, two different points of view. Two different guided tours. One is a World Heritage Site, the other is not. I liked the both mines, I visited them with few weeks apart and it seems as the Copper mine in Falun is satisfied with the fact that they have a World Heritage site and don’t need to do more than exist. The Silver mine in Sala makes the visit there much more special. And both had almost the same information, but the guide in Sala made it very more special and interesting. I expected more of Falun, I got more in Sala.

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An old building in the mine village.

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A wagon used in the mine in the old days.

We went to Sala silver mine a rainy day at the end of September 2012. We drove all the way from Stockholm, nice and easy. We arrived a little bit before the pre-booked tour, so we had time for coffee and a visit to a very nice second-hand shop. The rain was pouring down, so the photos of the village are very few, quite dull, grey and wet. The village was very pretty. though with the Autumn colours and stillness of the great times , long passed.

When we went to Falun few weeks later there had already been some snow, the weather was quite chilly, but sunny and nice, so the experience had a chance to be nicer. You can read about visit there in Jany’s post here.

 

 

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A building over one of the shafts.

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Another shaft, the one we used to get into the mine.

And then there was the tour. An enthusiastic young man met us and showed us a map of the mine, we were about to enter. Everyone got to hold a big piece of stone, that conyained some little percentage of silver. Stones just like that one were collected by the miners and sent up to the surface in a little wagons. Not an easy work.

He told us about the mine using colourfull and powerfull words. He mixed facts with stories. When he told us about how the only light was from fires and how hot it was in the mine at that time, we could almost feel the heat, even if it was near 5 C now. At the beginning of the tour he talked about superstitions among miners: when you entered the mine you had to knock three times on the wall, you were not allowed to spit nor swear. If you didn’t obey you would see the mine lady, a ghost of the mine, and you would not get out of there alive. He had us to obey these rules too.

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Map of the mine.

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Our guide in old clothes, especially for the tour.

The mine in our days is cold. Water was dripping everywhere and the wind was blowing from the shafts. We were happy to have rain gear, helmrts to protect our heads and warm clothes. Helmets were given to all the participants of the tour as protection. Sometimes the corridors are low, sometimes a rock can fall down and sometimes the ghosts of the mine can hit you in the head. The protection is a good thing.

We visited Victoria’s chamber. She is Swedish crown princess and there is her signature in the mine. In Falun, in the Copper mine, there is her father’s, the Swedish king’s signature. It’s misspelled, this one is not. You can rent the chamber for a private party, or a wedding, since there also is a chappel down there.

We also visited the honeymoon suite, a cozy room, with absolutely no view what so ever. There is no mobile net here and the only communication with the world outside is an alarm phone that guests can use in case of emergency. Hopefully there is someone on the other side of the line and he is not taking the night off.

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Telling an exciting story of the old days.

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A room with no view.

In the copper mine in Falun our guide was just a guide. It was an older lady, maybe a teacher who have already given up on the kids. She told us facts and more or less only facts. She said that tgey believed that you have to knock on entering the mine, but not why. She said that they used fire as light, that’s it. The most interesting part was about a miner who died, fat Mats, and was found several years and was put on display at town square.  And that they had a misspelled signature of the Swedish king and a christmas tree that lost it’s colour, but not pins. But she said it before all the group was together listening. Not good at all. Pretty boring.

In the both mines we got the same facts, but so differently presented. But Falu copper mine is a world heritage, maybe that’s enough? A mine that don’t think that’s enough is Wieliczka salt mine. The tour is both interesting and engaging and it is a world heritage too. I think Falu mine could do better.

Check also out Jany’s description of the Falun copper mine.

//Monika

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Strong Wind, Windmills and Spring in Kinderdijk

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As I wrote in my previous post we went to Amsterdam to welcome Spring and make our annual visit-a-European-city-in-Spring-weekend. It was some kind of youth festival in town, so all the hostels, cheap bed-and-breakfast places and hotels were taken, but we found a good deal on a five star hotel, Amrath, near the central station, so it was pretty OK. We booked, of course, the cheapest room we could find.

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Windmill and yellow flowers

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Detail on a windmill

 

When we arrived at the hotel we were told that our room was taken, and they were really sorry, but they had to upgrade us to luxury suite. No extra cost. I wasn’t sorry. The room was great with huge bed, huge bathroom, free minibar and remote for the curtains, but we were not planning on staying in the room, anyhow.

The spring was slowly waking up, sunshine was pleasant, but it was still pretty cold and the tulip fields in Keukenhof were still pretty empty, although the park was nice. I’ll write more about it later, in another post.

On the second day we decided to leave Amsterdam and visit Kinderdijk and see the windmills, a UNESCO world heritage site. Staying almost next to the train station made it easy to just leave. Breakfast was not included in the hotelprice, but coffee in the room was. So we drank coffe and ran off, buying a sandwich on the way.

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Nineteen windmills draining the area

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Windmills and canals

We took a train to Utrecht and a bus from there. Bus went thruoght really cute villages. The roads were narrow and we could not understand how two cars could pass each other, but it worked. And there were of course canals everywhere. And the landscape is flat, really flat. I think when the earth was made, someone came up with Norway and all the fjords and mountains and all the mountains were used, so when it was time for Holland there was only flatness available. No wonder they bicycle everywhere, there is no hills, what so ever.

Finally we came to Kinderdijk and saw the windmills from far away. What a great sight! Nineteen beautiful windmills, some of them still working, one for turistic reasons, as a museum. We visited it, of course, and it was really interesting.

Guess what, it was blowing there. The land is, like I said, flat, and nothing stops the wind, so it’s blowing. I think it was a pertty warm and quite sunny day, but I was freezing. The winds were still cold.

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Close-up

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It’s a world heritage site, yes it is

 

Kinderdijk is a village in the Netherlands. It is situated about 15 km outside of Rotterdam, in a polder. To drain the polder, a system of 19 windmills was built around 1740. This group of mills is the largest concentration of old windmills in the Netherlands. The windmills of Kinderdijk are one of the best known Dutch tourist sites. They have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.

Are the Dutch people proud of this site? I think so. But still they don’t make it super-commercial with pop-corn and candy and ballons, and that’s very good. But the UNESCO world heritge sign is hidden in one of the mills and I don’t know about it, I think it should be more visible when you arrive. And I’m still undecided if I think it’s good or bad that the information is there for those who want to find it, and not right in everyones face.

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Nice view

We loved this site, we were walking, looking at the windmills, looking and small yellow flowers. There were some tourists at the site, but I imagine that there are much more summertime. Do I recommend a visit to Kinderdijk? Yes, I do, for sure.

We left Kinderdijk through Rotterdam and it was not pretty as on the way there.

Link: Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout.

My grade is a very five globes:

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