Photo Essay – Starting in Ladis

Our big summer trip of last year started in Tyrol, in a small Austrian town called Ladis. Lars and I only stayed there for one night, on our way to the Balkans.

We had a fabulous room with a magnificent view on the Alps.

The building you see in the pictures is the restored ruins of 13th-century castle.

Before dinner, Lars and I went for a walk. A short walk that is, since we were both tired after the long drive.

And then we relaxed in a nearby restaurant.

Photo Essay – Bagenkop Beer

When you take hundreds of pictures of the Wild Horses, you get very thirsty. So, when my sister-in-law proposed to have a beer in the harbour of Bagenkop, I became very enthusiastic, to say the least.

Bagenkop is the southernmost town of Langeland, an island in the south of Denmark. Apart from the Wild Horses and the nearby nature parks, this place hasn’t got a lot to offer. But the harbour is really cosy and photogenic.

Insider tip! Looking for a nice beach in the neighbourhood of Bagenkop? Lars and I have been to the beach of Ristinge and it is really magnificent and calm.

By the way, one of the boats attracted my attention, because it was completely invaded by birds. I am not sure if the boat was abandoned or not.

One more last look at the harbour… and we went back to Svendborg.

Coming up very soon on the website: our big summer trip of last year and trips of this year!

4 Weeks in Romania

First of all, we decided to change the design of the website, choosing a cleaner, simpler theme. We are still experiencing a few technical problems, like the disappearance of the “like” button and error messages appearing in some of the posts; also, you need to subscribe again, if you want to keep on receiving emails every time we publish something. And although you cannot “like” our posts anymore, you can always leave s comment or share our post on social media. But, all in all, we are very happy with the new look.

Anyway, here you find a video with some of the highlights of our 4 weeks in Romania (May 2015). Excluded are the places linked to Vlad Tepes, which we featured in a separate video.

An Alternative 60th Birthday in Brussels – Part 2

Thursday, 8 September 2016 was the day that Lars turned 60. And on that sunny day, we went to the Grand Place.

The Belgian capital often organises free events, especially in summer. On the birthday of Lars, we could actually watch the Belgian finals of put shot for men, as part of the Memorial Ivo Van Damme, an annual athletics meeting, that takes place in the beginning of September.

This meeting had a sad start; a group of journalists organised the first meeting in 1977, in memory of the Belgian athlete Ivo Van Damme, who had died at the age of 22 in a car accident. In the meantime, the Memorial has become one of the most important athletics meetings of the world, attracting some of the biggest names.

Animation was in French and Dutch – Brussels is officially a bilingual city. Not only did the animators encourage us to cheer for the athletes, they gave us a lot of practical information about the sport itself, ranging from the weight of the shot to the difference between legal and foul throws. To be honest, we learned a lot that afternoon and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

And the shot putters themselves seemed to be having a good time as well.

Later that afternoon, we could watch the women’s finals of shot put – with performances of the Olympic champion! -, but we had become hungry. It was time for a very early dinner, so we headed towards the nearby Steenstraat.

Introducing The Smalle Steen, a restaurant specialised in some of Belgium’s most popular dishes. This place works with a tapas-inspired theme, allowing you to eat just as much as you want for a more than reasonable price. Most of the plates cost 5 euros and you usually combine 2 or 3 of them for a complete meal. To be honest, we stuck to 2 plates each and had a special beer for dessert.

The red beer is called “kriek”, which means sour cherry. Or as Wikipedia explains it,

Kriek lambic is a style of Belgian beer, made by fermenting lambic with sour Morello cherries.[1] Traditionally “Schaarbeekse krieken” (a rare Belgian Morello variety) from the area around Brussels are used. As the Schaarbeek type cherries have become more difficult to find, some brewers have replaced these (partly or completely) with other varieties of sour cherries, sometimes imported.

Kriek is one of the most popular Belgian beers, especially during summer, because of its refreshing taste. The name of the restaurant, by the way, means ‘narrow stone”, referring to the very narrow size of the building in which it is located.

Anyway, Lars enjoyed his birthday a lot! And it was the perfect conclusion of our summer in Brussels.

An Alternative 60th Birthday in Brussels – Part 1

So far, 2016 sucks big time… Due to health problems, car troubles and financial woes, we haven’t done as much traveling as we would like to or as we are used to. Of course, I know that there are far worse things going on in the world right now; but being denied traveling for people like Lars and myself… well, it sucks. We miss it too much. Luckily, since I didn’t have a lot of blogging opportunities last year – mainly because of my depression, I still have a lot of travels of last year to post about. But… to be honest, we cannot wait to do some new exploring!

But luckily, things are looking up. And if things go well, we should be on the road again in October. And our first long trip is up at the end of the year. And, sick or not, poor or not, there are always special days that we need to celebrate and there are always ways to do so. So, although it was our dream to celebrate the 60th birthday of Lars in Romania, we had to change our original plans. And I somehow managed to let my beloved Lars experience new things… for free!

First up, I organised a visit to a museum. Usually, when Lars and I go to such a place, it will be related to art. This time, I chose a completely different topic. Moreover, it was free. Want to know which museums in Brussels are free on certain days? Then have a look at this website.

I picked the Museum of Natural Sciences, or to be correct, the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. Now, I am going to be completely honest: I was there once, a long time ago. I thought it was a dark and dusty museum and the sulky, moody teenager that I was hated every second of it. But … in order not to be bullied I didn’t tell anyone that I actually thought the dinosaurs looked kind of cool.

Flash-forward to 7 September 2016 and I cannot wait to see all those majestic skeletons… again. I was so eager to give this museum a second chance and to let Lars experience something completely else. This is what we saw in the main hall.

Lars and I were ready to see the big boys in their separate glass cases, but a fire-drill interrupted our plans. All of us had to go outside and about 30 minutes we were back.

We took the elevator one floor down and saw what creatures used to live in our seas and oceans millions of years ago.

Afterwards, we went to the top floor and admired the view.

The museum offers a lot more than dinosaurs. You can visit the Gallery of Mankind, the Gallery of Evolution, BiodiverCITY, 250 Years of Natural Sciences, the Mineral Hall, the Shell Hall and the Insect Hall.

The museum was a lot bigger than I had anticipated. I think you need at least 3 hours to go through all or most of the galleries.

This little fellow didn’t mind a close-up.

But there is more than education and entertainment; a lot of research takes place here as well. Or as the museum itself states it:

The museum is the showcase for the research that our institute has been carrying out for more than 170 years. Today, our research team comprises 165 scientists and dozens of scientific staff, technicians and volunteers. It is a varied team that includes biologists, ecologists, geologists, mineralogists, palaeontologists, anthropologists, oceanographers, engineers and computer experts. This enables us to carry out multidisciplinary research.

Our research falls into three main categories: evolutionbiodiversity, and ecosystems. This research sheds light on a complex and diverse world that is billions of years old. Our researchers don’t spend all their time in the lab, far from it; several hundred international expeditions are organised every year.

Our enormous collections, made up of approximately 37 million specimens, form an inexhaustible research resource. These ‘biodiversity archives’ are used to classify existing species and identify new ones, and to study their ecosystems. This research enables us to amend policies in order to protect and preserve biodiversity. And now, with new techniques such as CT scans, isotope analysis and DNA sequencing, researchers are able to glean new information from old material on a daily basis.

By the way, the fun already starts at the entrance!

On the website of the museum you can find all useful information. Join us for our next post to see what else happened on the 60th birthday of Lars!

Exploring Roman Ruins in Romania

The last place where we stayed in Romania last year before heading back to Belgium, was Sarmizegetusa (county of Hunedoara). Lars and I had chosen the place by accident, not knowing that it actually harbours Roman ruins.

Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa was the capital of Roman Dacia in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, until Goths destroyed the city.

According to Wikipedia, the remains include:

You can visit the ruins at the outskirts of the town. As always, you need to pay a small fee for the entrance. There is a small restaurant there as well.

As you can see on the pictures, these ruins are not as spectacular as the Colosseum in Rome for example, but if you are interested in ancient history, you should really have a look at this place.

You need 1 – 2 hours to see the whole site. It is a lot bigger than you think.

There is another place where you can see parts of these ruins. Locals looted them in order to build their houses and churches. Luckily, nowadays, the ruins are a protected national monument. Anyway, the church of Densus – a handful of kilometres from Sarmizegetusa – is the best example. So, off we went…

It had started raining when we arrived at the church. The churchyard looked quite neglected.

Densus Church is one of the oldest Romanian churches. It dates from the 7th century and in the 13th century, local inhabitants added stones taken from the ruins.

Sarmizegetusa is quite a small town and only has a handful of hotels. Lars and I stayed in Pension Zamolxe – a very nice place – and we can also recommend Pensiunea Sarmis, because of its very good restaurant. You can find all hotels on Booking.

Photo Essay – Back to Rantzausminde

The last 2 days Lars and I have been all over Brussels, celebrating his 60th birthday! I have been taking hundreds of pictures and right now, I am still selecting and editing the best ones. Hence, a bit of silence on this blog.

And then I remembered that earlier this year, Lars and I had spent a beautiful evening in a small place in Denmark called Rantzausminde. It was an idea of his sister and her partner; little did they know that we had already been there in the summer of 2012. Read about it here. This time, we stayed in the harbour, enjoying the views and drinking cold beer.

Romanian Mud Volcanoes

Let’s start with a definition of a mud volcano:

Mud volcano or mud dome refers to formations created by geo-exuded mud or slurries, water and gases. There are several geological processes that may cause the formation of mud volcanoes. Mud volcanoes are not true igneousvolcanoes as they produce no lava. The earth continuously exudes a mud-like substance, which may sometimes be referred to as a “mud volcano”. Mud volcanoes may range in size from merely 1 or 2 meters high and 1 or 2 meters wide, to 700 meters high and 10 kilometers wide.[1] Smaller mud exudations are sometimes referred to as mud-pots. The largest (man made) mud volcano is “Lusi” in Java, Indonesia, which is 10 kilometres (6 mi) in diameter.[2]  (Wikipedia)

Or, in other words, it looks like a small volcano and produces a mud-like substance.

Where in Europe can you find mud volcanoes? In Russia, Ukraine, Italy and Romania. If you are driving around in this last country, head to Berca and follow the signs saying “Vulcanii Noroiosi”. You have to pay a small fee at the entrance.

It is better to stay away from the mud. Lars didn’t and afterwards, his shoes were completely ruined.

As you can see, there is little vegetation near the mud (or muddy) volcanoes. This is due to the salty soil. Although these mud volcanoes are not majestic, they create a spectacular lunar landscape!

You can combine your visit to the mud volcanoes with a trip in the nearby Carpathian mountains. Don’t feel like staying in one of the many surrounding villages? The nearest town is Buzau, where hotels and restaurants are waiting for you. Want to know where Lars and I stayed? In our favourite place, of course! Have a look here; it takes a bit longer to reach the mud volcanoes though…