The Wadden Sea – Weekly Travel Photo & Product Review

The Black Sun – it almost sounds ominous doesn’t it? If you’re a small worm, grasshopper, or fruit tree around south-western Jutland in fall, I suppose it is.  But, for the rest of us, it describes a stunning bird migration which is one of those you’ve-gotta-see-it-to-appreciate-it experiences. While photos like these or video like this may help convey some of the wonder of the Black Sun – the annual migration of more than 14 million starlings – it’s only when you’ve seen the birds in person, heard their chatter, and the incredible whooshing sound of their wings as they move in unison, that you get real insights into why the Black Sun is special.

How does that relate to this week’s photo? It was the main reason that drew me to the historic Danish town of Ribe in southern Jutland.  And, while I was drawn to Ribe to see the Black Sun, I soon fell in love with the city itself, often hailed as Denmark’s oldest, is historic, charming and home to beautiful doors, wonderful architecture, and lovely people.  It also serves as the home-base for an exploration of the Wadden Sea or “Vadehavet” National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site which is immediately in/around/outside of the town.

Best Bag For a Two Week Trip – Ask Alex – Travel Question Wednesdays

Ask Alex - Travel Question Q and A every Wednesday

This post is part of the Ask Alex, Travel Question Wednesdays weekly series. To see previous questions click here.  To submit your own; tweet it to @AlexBerger, ask it in a comment on this post or send it in by e-mail.

A quick introductory note – When I began authoring VirtualWayfarer in July of 2007 I never expected that I’d still be blogging on travel, adventures, study abroad and everything that goes with it nearly five years later.  Over the years I’ve had a lot of questions and luckily my friends, network, and more than a few random strangers have gone well out of their way to answer those questions. While I still find myself asking questions on a regular basis I’ve found that I can also pay it forward as a resource for friends, my readers, and strangers alike.  In an effort to share what I’ve learned from my various adventures I’ve launched Travel Question Wednesdays. I’ll be answering one reader-submitted question every week.  You are all encouraged to submit, and all past questions will be archved and available as a resource for readers of this blog. I’m going to take a very open approach to the topics I’ll cover, so feel free to ask me just about anything , just keep it somewhat travel related.

This week’s travel question is from Galen E. he asks,

Q. “What is the best bag for a two week trip? Why?”

A. – The easiest and shortest answer to this question is to take a small and medium-sized backpack combo.  For a more in-depth break down of different baggage types check out my Lugging Luggage, The Quandary post.  Ultimately, the answer depends on what type of trip you have planned and how valuable mobility will be to you.  With ever increasingly restrictive luggage policies I prefer to fly with only carry-on luggage, especially for shorter trips in the 1-2 week neighborhood.  The added flexibility and convenience of a backpack is hard to beat, and if you’re moving around a fair bit, facing cobblestone streets, or taking public transit between the airport and your hotel/hostel it can be wonderful to have the mobility a backpack offers.  On the other hand, if your trip will consist largely of an all inclusive resort, taxi rides to and from the airport and a bucket of beer on the beach, then what luggage you take is largely irrelevant.  I’ve assembled a number of user generated and personal packing videos on my Ultimate Packing List site which should give you a better frame of reference for how some of my readers typically pack. View the packing videos here.

At the end of the day keep in mind that most year-long, round the world travelers opt for a mid-to-large sized backpack with a small daypack as their preferred form of luggage.  While packing for a two week trip, it’s often easy to pack about the same amount as those traveling for 10-20 times that.  Even the most experienced traveler falls victim to this easy overpacking. Consider what you need, what you want, and what you’re comfortable going without and then choose an appropriate bag for your trip.


Friday’s Weekly Travel Photo – A Canine Adventurer

A Dog Resting Atop Sharkstooth

We’ve been making the pilgrimage to the top of Shark’s Tooth Trail in south western Colorado on a semi-annual basis for as long as I can remember. The hike is a stunning one and starts about halfway up the mountain. The drive to get there is almost as much of an adventure as the hike itself. Winding up and out of Dolores, eventually we split off and leave pavement behind for well maintained gravel. After another few miles we leave the well maintained gravel behind for a 4×4 only rugged, rocky, and pothole (small crater?) filled mountain road that winds up past beaver dams, beautiful high altitude lakes, past giant scree slides and across several small streams.

The hike itself is magical. It wraps its way up the mountain side past old growth trees so large you can’t get you arms around them, past wild strawberry and raspberry plants, then over a series of small snow-melt streams with crystal clear water. The view periodically opens up offering incredible sights of the nearby mountains and creating perfect spots to pause for a breather or light snack. The path also forks past an old abandoned mine and what is left of the old miner’s log cabin. The flowers in Spring and early Summer are always in full bloom and an explosive mixture of colors. Eventually though, both the trees and the flowers give way to odd plants and hardy grasses as you pass above the tree line. From there it’s just another final push before you reach the end of the trail head and the saddle offering a view over the back side of the mountains.

That’s where this photo was shot, as we rested and hid from the wind. One of our Canine hiking companions decided to pause his explorations long enough to join us as we laid back and enjoyed the view at 11,936 feet from the top of Sharkstooth Pass.

Love this photo?  Make sure to check out previous week’s Friday Feature Photos!