Autumn Colours and missed photos


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I decided to take a break from the travel photos for a bit – don’t worry, I’ll have more up soon. 🙂 I had gathered a few photos since I returned from Europe that I’ve just been itching to share.

I’ll start with some that I took during the last leg of the summer. Desi and I took a day trip to Toronto Island, which is always a wonderful place to spend the afternoon. While there, I managed to get a great macro photo of a dragonfly resting on a twig:

On our way back, I had to grab the quintessential Toronto cityline photo:

A week or so later, I was driving home from work and a large storm system was just leaving the area, letting the evening sun poke in at a steep angle. The rain was still falling in the distance, which made for a wonderful double rainbow. I had to stop and take a photo:

Also in September I talked at the Barrie Users Group about Night Photography, and took some of the members out for a little walk around town afterwards. I think everyone enjoyed themselves, and here is a sample of the pictures I took:

There’s a few more in the gallery below:

When I made my trip to Sudbury on October 17th, I had a little time in the afternoon to search out some good autumn colour photos. Sadly, much of the Sudbury area was brown and dead by this point. I was, however, able to find a few gems with my macro lens:

And a few more below:

Grandma & Grandpa’s 50th Anniversary Surprise


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I haven’t gotten to editing the photos just yet, I’ll add them to this post when I can. I wanted to share this video with everyone as soon as I finished it though 🙂

We had so much fun! It is always so wonderful to spent time with family, especially for such wonderful celebrations. This video was made on October 17th, 2009 (for those of you who weren’t there). Enjoy 🙂

[EDIT] As promised, here are some photos from that evening. Sorry I didn’t get shots of everyone, I was enjoying the party more than my camera 🙂

July 29 2009: Paris and the train to London


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We had time on the 29th of July to see a little more of Paris and give the city a second chance. We were on a time limit as we had to catch an expensive train ride under the English Channel later that day, so we chose a few landmarks to visit that we simply had to see – The Eiffel Tower and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Our first stop was the Eiffel Tower:

and a slightly more unusual look at the Tower:

We were excited to get there, and joked that another landmark (almost every one so far in our travels) was under restoration. We proceeded to stand and wait in line for about half an hour, to get to a person that would not let us go up the tower – our bags were too big. The man didn’t speak English, but simply pointed to a bag measurement device not unlike those you find in airports to measure carry-on luggage. As we had left our hostel for the day, we had to carry our backpacks with us. Since there was no storage locker of any kind to speak of, we couldn’t go up. After this, I was pretty fed up with the city and couldn’t wait to leave (I think Desi was starting to feel the same way too).

Oh, there were also armed guards under the Eiffel Tower, just as intimidating as the ones we saw in the train station:

Well, we still had time to see the last landmark on our list. So off we went to the Notre Dame Cathedral to spend the last of our time in Paris:

The inside of the cathedral was even more beautiful than the outside:

We walked around the cathedral, admiring the architecture, art, sculptures and overall atmosphere. There was a service taking place during our visit, and some of the passersby stopped to watch. The outside of “ring” of the church was for free wandering, which was where we spent our time. We found some small candles and bought two of them – one for Desi and I and one for her grandmother. Below is the candle that we lit for us:

We also bought a larger one to take home to my grandma, and then headed back out. It was after we left the cathedral that I took the exterior shots; Desi watched the bags and I ran around the corner quickly to snap a few photos – we were both getting tired at this point because our bags weighed so much and we weren’t used to taking them around all day. I came back and Desi had found a small puppy to play with that put smiles on both our faces. 🙂 As we walked back to the nearest metro station, we found a group of  children feeding and playing with a group Pigeons:

We made our way back to the train station with plenty of time to spare, and checked in to board (a very similar process to boarding a plane). Before we knew it, we were on our way to London traveling underneath the English Channel through the “chunnel”. We arrived in the evening, checked in to our hostel and found a nearby restaurant to wind down our day. I didn’t take many London photos this night, but here is one of that night’s beverage:

We had no energy left to explore at this point in the evening, so we called it a night. Thankfully we weren’t in separated rooms, and had the time to wash our clothes. We also found out around this time that my good friend Kiff had come down with the Swine Flu, so our plans for the following few days definitely had to change as he was under quarantine. Instead of heading north to Bradford, England, we added a couple of extra destinations to our travels and decided to spend another full day in London – which is a story for another day 🙂 Enjoy the rest of the gallery below!

July 28 2009: Adventures in Paris


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This day started with one of our earliest mornings and departures. We woke up at 5:20 am to catch a 7:00 am train eventually leading us to Paris. We were told the night before that a bakery adjacent to our hostel would be providing us breakfast, and wow did they ever. We walked in and said we were from the hostel, and were served all of the ingredients to make some delicious sandwiches and coffee for breakfast. We were asked if we wanted any more, and we said yes – to save for our long train ride for the rest of the day.

Our train connections were tight, and for a while we weren’t sure if we were going to make it to Paris that evening. We had two transfers before getting to Stuttgart, where we would have a connecting train leaving 5 minutes later to Paris. Thankfully, this was a common route and they positioned the two trains next to each other. Success! We were on our way to Paris.

It was four hours from Stuttgart to Paris, and the first thing I noticed in Paris was the graffiti problem. On many of the buildings lining the railway tracks there was graffiti that was completely unattended to. Not what I imaged to find in Paris, but we quickly passed into the train station. As we got off the train, we were presented with armed guards (with semi-automatic weapons) walking up and down the terminals. I saw this as intimidating, which wasn’t helping my first impression of a beautiful city. We pressed on.

We started some of our traditional activities in new cities: finding post cards, train information for the following day, where our hostel is and subway info to get there. To do this, we had to try and talk to the people in the train station to find basic information like “how much does the metro cost?” Desi tried approaching a number of people, all of which were ignorant or arrogant or both, until we finally found someone compassionate enough to tell us it was a Euro and a half. Alright. On our way.

One thing we noticed on the subway was in very poor shape. The plexiglass windows of the subway cars had all been carved in to, sometimes just to destroy them, other times with graffiti tags. It was dirty and overcrowded, not a very enjoyable experience either. We checked in to our hostel, which unfortunately put us in separate rooms based on gender. Apparently, no co-ed rooms at any hostel in Paris. Another frustration before we’ve even seen the beauty of the city.

Okay! All this complaining and no pictures! Our first stop was the Arc de Triomphe. A beautiful landmark that we were told we had to visit:

We spent some time here, and a little too much time walking around it – we couldn’t find which direction that Avenue des Champs-Élysées started, which was actually the direction we started. We met another confused couple that was trying to find the same path, and we exchanged a few nice words. I forget where they were from, but at least the other tourists were friendly! Anyhow, we started walking down the Avenue, and I looked back as were were crossing the street to take this photo:

Continuing our walk, we noticed another thing that didn’t improve our image of Paris. The number of gypsies in the city was unusually high. So many people begging on the streets, asking if we spoke English and then holding up a note with English writing asking for money. It was a little depressing, but we continued on looking for the beauty in the city. It wasn’t long before we found it:

This statue was along the edges of the bridge of Alexander III (Pont Alexandre III) on tall pillars. The statues were gilded, and were glowing so brightly in the evening sun. We had turned right off of Champs-Élysées to get here, and were well rewarded. the walk we were taking through Paris – with no direction except what we wanted to see – was an enjoyable and rewarding adventure. We crossed the bridge and had dinner in a café/restaurant slightly off the beaten path (better prices). We met another couple here with an adorable young daughter that had just learned to walk; she put smiles on our faces and warmed our hearts. After a nice sit down (even though the food and beer was mediocre), we headed back across the bridge on our way to our hostel:

Paris is stunning at night, and visually is a very beautiful city. There was much to be desired in the people and the experience however, so it was a mixed day. Many wonderful photos, and a very memorable day. The journey from Füssen to Paris was about 900km, and was just the start of our day. Desi and I had seen so much in so little time, I’m only fully absorbing it all now. 🙂 See the rest of the photos below:

July 27 2009: Augsburg and Füssen


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Our journey continues! In the morning of the 27th we woke up with enough time to see some things we had missed in Augsburg the day before. Our first stop that morning was to visit the City Hall, where apparently there was a “golden room” worth seeing. And wow, was it definitely worth seeing:

The detail in the statues, walls and ceiling were amazing, and the entire room glowed. Desi and I stood in awe for a few moments taking it all in.

Our next stop was a church (St. Georg), which was actually our first stop but there was a service taking place when we walked by the first time. As our luck would have it, the service had concluded and we were free to enter and take photos. So, in continuing my fisheye cathedral series, here is the next image in that set:

From here we headed to the train station and proceeded to board the train that would take us to Buchloe, transfer to Kaufbeuren, and transfer once more to Füssen. When we arrived in Füssen, the first thing we did was find some postcards to mail and reserve our seats for tomorrow’s departure. We didn’t have a place to stay, so we headed to the visitors center and they provided us a list of every hostel in town with vacancies. We quickly found one and within 30 minutes we were checked in to our room.

It was getting later in the afternoon, and we still hadn’t seen anything yet aside from the beautiful mountains coming into town. We found a taxi to take us to the castles, about 5-10 minutes outside of town. We arrived just in time to buy our tickets – we made it into the last tour of the day for Neuschwanstein Castle, the one we came to Füssen to see. So, we sat and ate a late lunch/early dinner and waited for the bus to take us up to see this:

Even with the construction, the view of the castle was breathtaking. So picturesque, and such a beautiful day. The bus ride up was scary though, with such narrow roads right near the edge of cliffs. On our way back we decided to walk, and it was actually much nicer that way. 🙂

We posed on the bridge where the best scenic view was and a passerby snapped a photo of Desi and I:

After playing with my camera for a while (Desi was very patient with me, as always 😉 ), we started walking closer to the castle where we would have a tour of the inside. I should also mention the beautiful wildflowers in and around the castle; here’s a sample of what we found:

The castle itself was quite big from the outside, as this photo of the courtyard illustrates:

Out time came and in we went, on a guided tour of Neuschwanstein Castle. The castle was only partially completed, so the tour brought us through all of the completed areas of the interior. No photographs were allowed on the inside, so I have no idea how this picture ended up on my memory card:

You were however allowed to take photos outside of the castle windows, which I took advantage of. This is probably one of my favourite scenic photos from this day:

We had a blast, and when we made our way back to town we got our pictures taken by some interesting animated artwork outside the tourist center:

After resting in our hostel for a while, Desi had the great idea to head out and find some desert at a local restaurant. The chocolate mousse and ice cream deserts we had were delicious (sadly no photos), but I did manage to take a photo of a statue in the town before we called it a night:

Such a wonderful day, so much was experienced in so little time that reflecting on it, this one day seems like it was at least three. Definitely our favourite castle. 🙂 We fell asleep fairly quickly as our train in the morning would leave at 7am, but that’s for the next post 🙂 Enjoy the photo gallery below!