Ducks in Love – Weekly Travel Photo

Young Girl, Ducks in Flight

Situated five minutes walk from the Forum Metro station in Copenhagen there is a gorgeous little oasis.  The small park and botanical garden sits alongside the University of Copenhagen’s campus and is home to a wonderful assortment of green space, vibrant flowers, and even a small pond complete with a sprawling willow at the end of a short causeway. In late June I found myself relaxing in the park, enjoying a sunny day, and the brilliant allure of a rare summer day in Copenhagen.  Families, lovers, and friends could all be found wandering, relaxing, and reclining throughout the park. As I worked my way from Tulip bed to Tulip bed documenting the rich colors and creative patterns crafted by the gardeners a slight commotion caught my attention.

Over the giggle of a small girl who was playfully running circles on the green, the flap of duck wings, and a honk of vexation re-centered my focus on two male Mallard ducks battling for the attentions of a female. While seemingly open to one of the duck’s attentions, she was anything but willing to entertain the proximity of the other.  The result was a game of chase that led the three ducks around the pond, out of the water, into the air, and back again.  As the offending male followed in hot pursuit, flying immediately in front of the little girl, I snapped my camera up to my face and fired off a few photos.  This was the end result.

Make sure to head over to flickr to see the rest of the album.

Would you like to see previous Friday Photos? View past travel pictures here. This photo was taken on a Canon T3i (600D) Camera.

The Inspiration Initiative – My Sources of Inspiration

Mount Fitz Roy Boots

The Inspiration Initiative: #InspireTravel

Recently EasyJet Holidays reached out to me and asked if I would help them launch a new project they’re calling the Inspiration Initiative.  I loved the idea and in turn I’ve put together the following inspiration initiative post. Join in and help to inspire travel by sharing your own holiday and travel inspirations.  You can find out more here.

Who

In 1994 my Mom and Dad rented out our house, uprooted my younger brother and I, and loaded the family into an airplane bound for Europe. We spent the next 11 months exploring Europe by foot, plane, train, and automobile. All the while they taught me about history, culture, tolerance and curiosity while also providing for my academic basics. What’s more, after returning to the states and spending a year to re-adjust they did it again, this time in a 32 foot fifth-wheel trailer as part of a ’round-the-US year-long trip.

I knew what they were doing was amazing at the time but, it has only been as I’ve transitioned into adult hood that I’ve truly realized and come to appreciate the amount of planning, preparation, and inspired drive that went into these trips. As I’ve transitioned from a child to a man in my own right, they’ve smoothly gone from parent and guide to mentor and friend. They have not only inspired me, they have also laid the groundwork and foundations which drive me to seek out inspiration; which push me to identify and associate with people who challenge, inform, and empower me.

What

Star Trek: The Next Generation. As a child growing up in the 80s and early 90s the voyages of the USS Enterprise captivated me. The intro narrative, “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before” fostered an intense desire in me to explore the world (and beyond). It drove me to look to the far horizon, to dream of visiting the stars, and to embrace a passion and belief in a better future. It not only inspired me to travel and to appreciate new cultures and the arts, it instilled in me the passion of a futurist – a dreamer with a strong desire to also be an enactor working to bring science fiction to life. To this day I still consider Captain Picard to be one of the more influential and inspirational role models in my life.

When

Despite being born in Colorado and raised in Arizona, a large part of my childhood was spent on the Mexican beaches of Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point). Some of my first brushes with adventure were as a diaper-wearing toddler bravely making my way across what at the time seemed to be giant sand dunes, all under the watchful eye of my parents. As the years passed I traded in my diaper for a swimsuit, bucket, and net while roaming further afield. With these in hand I spent hours upon end exploring the beach’s tide pools and further nurturing my sense of curiosity as I sought out new life, ecosystems and discoveries one tide pool at a time. I can’t name a specific year, as we’d spend at least one month out of each year camped on the beach, but it was a formative part of my childhood. To this day there’s something about the smell of fresh ocean air which captivates and invigorates me.

Where

Preikestolen Norway – located along Norway’s southwestern fjords. This wonderful natural formation is unusual, beautiful, and awe-inspiring.  With a semi-strenuous 3.8km hike along a rustic, boulder-littered path you’ll have to work a bit to reach Preikestolen or the “Preacher’s Pulpit” as it is also commonly known.  The small uphill hike is well worth it.  In addition to being beautiful, the final destination is heart-stopping and sure to take your breath away.  The pulpit’s rock formation is a large square roughly 25 meters x 25 meters which protrudes from the cliff face over the picturesque Lysefjorden fjord below. The sheer face of the cliff drops off nearly 2,000 feet (604 meters) to the fjord and offers an incredible panoramic view of the Norwegian countryside and surrounding mountain range.  If the weather is cooperating, it’s also possible to sit at one of the corners or along the outward edge of the pulpit where tradition suggests either dangling your legs over the side into empty air or crawling forward on your belly to glance over the edge into the void.  As someone with a fear of heights, it was a rich experience pushing my comfort zone while soaking up the sheer majesty of the location.  It served to further re-enforce my passion for travel, adventure, and exploration while showcasing the wonder and magnificent beauty that the world holds for those willing to seek it out.  You can see my post from Preikestolen here, and a video from over the edge here.

Inspiration Initiative Nominees;

Travel Yourself
Pommie Travels
My Travel Thirst
Wild About Travel
The Planet D

I wish you all safe travels and inspiring adventures. 

Click here for more information on the EasyJet Holidays Inspiration Initiative

A Burgeoning Love for Bergen and Norway’s West Coast

Overlooking the City - Bergen, Norway

The ancient seaside city of Bergen is one of Norway’s best known destinations.  Situated in the heart of Norway’s spectacular fjord country the city offers a rich history, pristine location, spectacular seafood, and perfect starting point for those interested in a breathtaking voyage down one of the region’s nearby fjords.  The city which dates back to approximately 1050 AD is Norway’s 2nd largest city with about 260,000 citizens and a total regional population of around 380,000. The city is readily reachable by air from most or Northern Europe, train through a rail line that connects it to Oslo, and bus/ferry which connects it to Trondheim in the north and Stavanger in the South.

Summer in Norway - Flowers in Bloom - Bergen, Norway

My experience with the city started as nearly all introductions do.  Curiosity, enthusiasm, and a bit of anxiousness over the unknown.  As I disembarked from the Tide.no ferry from Stavanger into a gentle mist of light rain I immediately noted a general approximation of my location in the small map in my Lonely Planet guide book before setting off through the city’s densely crowded harbor area.

The Old Harbor - Bergen, Norway

I’d booked several nights in the Dorm.no hostel after an extensive search for budget accommodation in the area.  Unfortunately, despite its popularity as a destination Norway has a fairly poor hostel network which is heavily dominated by Hosteling International (HI) hostels. Regular readers of the site may recall that while I’ve had positive experiences with HI Hostels in the US, I have a very low opinion of them in Europe and tend to view them as out of date, dirty, and poorly serviced.  As a result I’d opted for the privately run Dorm.no despite a limited number of reviews on the Hostelworld.com profile and extremely mixed reviews. Luckily, what I found was completely different than what the reviews had portrayed.  The hostel was clean, fantastically located, comparatively affordable and modern with ample bathrooms/showers, clean rooms, a kitchen and decent common area.  My only real complaint was that they enforced a lockout which is a huge pet peeve.

Pink Boat in the Old Harbor - Bergen, Norway

Relieved that my accommodation not only met but beat my expectations I set out to explore.  The city of Bergen is every bit as active as it is picturesque – at least during the summer months.  Nestled between two large hills the city has a number of large open squares, a park with a large fountain and statuary and a beautiful old harbor lined by old warehouses and a fish market.

Fish Market - Bergen, Norway

My obsession with the ocean goes back to well before I could walk.  A cornerstone of my childhood was the month+ every year my family and I spent on the Sea of Cortez outside of Puerto Penasco in Mexico.  As a result I’ve always harbored a love for the ocean and seafood.  As one might imagine outdoor fish markets are one of my favorite destinations.

Fish Market - Bergen, Norway

Overflowing with fresh fish, live crabs, lobster and shrimp all accompanied by a wealth of pre-cooked and smoked seafood the Bergen fish market is a mecca for tourists and locals alike. While the prices may be somewhat higher than seafood prices in the super markets, the experience is quite an adventure.  The seafood is fresh and a great mixture between northern fish, deep water species like Monkfish and of course all of the usuals from arctic shrimp to dungeness crab.

Fish Market - Bergen, Norway

A lazy stroll through the tightly packed tents is an absolute delight.  The area is all open air which cuts down on the smell, and the combination of fresh seafood and ready-to-eat dishes encourages the vendors to maintain clean cooking conditions.

Knife Balancing in the Fish Market - Bergen, Norway

As if the wide assortment of browns, oranges and reds wasn’t sufficient to keep the curious passerby entertained the workers are also eager to put on a bit of a show. While most were not overly dangerous, I stumbled on one individual who had a pension for balancing a razor sharp fillet knife on the bridge of his nose.  Not half bad right?

The Old Harbor - Bergen, Norway

Located a quick hop and a skip from the fish market is the old warehouse row. A must for anyone visiting the region, the old shops have been restored and painted beautiful to create a picturesque waterfront.  Add to that, they’re one of Norway’s most famous UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Warehouse Row in the Old Harbor - Bergen, Norway

The buildings which have served a wide variety of uses over the years predominantly date back to the 1700s when most of the water front was re-built after a large portion of the city burned to the ground.  Given the close construction, wooden materials, and forms of heating available throughout the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries it’s no surprise that Bergen has a long history of catastrophic fires.  In many ways I found it absolutely amazing that the city still exists after reading excerpts from its history.

Warehouse Row in the Old Harbor - Bergen, Norway

Though snugly interconnected in front most of the warehouses have small alleyways that cut between them.  These alleys are lined by leaning ancient wooden walls that show the cuts, scars, and old nails from hundreds of years of constant use and near constant re-purposing.  Many also show the signs of ancient wooden doorways or windows that have since been boarded over.  The roof-line is also a cluster of enclosed windows, doorways, and loft entry points which hang over the street and would have helped workers lift large bundles up and into the buildings.  Many are also connected by 2nd and 3rd story walkways as well which give the whole thing a disorganized, charming appearance, even if it is slightly claustrophobic.

Warehouse Row in the Old Harbor - Bergen, Norway

As I explored the buildings immediately behind the warehouses I paused briefly to snap the above image.  It’s hands down one of my favorite shots from the trip.  The young lad pictured was exploring the area and decided to march off determinedly, leaving his parents behind as he explored the area.  I couldn’t have asked for a better contrast between young and old.

That’s it for now.  Stay tuned for more from my time in Bergen including live music, squares, cathedrals, and even a trip into the bowls of an ancient coastal fortress.