Mountains, Music and Rubber Boots

The clocking is ticking, our incredible adventure is slowly coming to an end. Many people we have met in our travels have asked what will come next. I thought Australia would be hard to beat, but this trip, even though tiring at times, has been remarkable. So what’s next hmm, Africa, Japan, Chile etc., etc.? I know as long as we have the means and opportunity we will travel somewhere and then likely end our trip in Vienna. Before I write about our fun in the mountains of Austria just wanted to mention that I put up two different posts last time on the same day. One was on Berlin (What To Make of Berlin) and the other on Ecuador/Galapagos (The Two Sides Of Traveling), apparently there was some confusion.

img_0893.jpgTirol, Baurengolf and the Alpenklangers

It always takes my breath away when we travel through the Austrian mountains. There is majesty, wisdom and beauty in these old Alps, our Canadian mountains still need to grow as they are youthful, rugged and defiant. We were in Tirol, the heart of the European Alps. Tirol is Austria’s third largest province, most of the region is habitable but through conservation and land use laws around 20% of the region is protected. Another great thing about Tirol is that it borders onto Germany, Italy and Switzerland, and in no time you can travel to another country. We stayed in the town of Brixen am Thale, which is among the Kitzbuhel Alps and all you ski fanatics should know the importance of Kitzbuhel (downhill racing).

So now close your eyes for moment and imagine you are standing in the middle of a beautiful Austrian village in the mountains. Now open them and this is what you see all around you.






One of the reason we came to this particular town is that my cousin was organizing and running a game he created called Baurengolf which translates into “Farmers Golf”.


No, it is not playing golf in a farmer’s field, no balls and golf clubs are required however you do need special footwear — rubber boots (but not for wearing).

The Baurengolf course is set up by using containers and farm equipment (usually old) such as wheelbarrows, wagon wheels, butter churns, water troughs and many other types of farm implements. Around 14 stations are created with a certain task and point value. This is where the rubber boots come into action. At each station you are have to throw the boot into a bucket or through a hoop, or bounce it off something and to ring a cow bell. Another time you toss the boot from a distance to try and land on top of an old barrel and if it lands upright you get a bonus point.img_0036.jpg


With another you throw a boot so it knocks over an upright log with a piece of wood on top extra point if it is just the piece of wood that falls. These are just a few of the stations but it should give you the general idea.


As well there is a separate contest of throwing a boot into a wheel barrel and seeing what is the furthest distant you can do it from…..7m, 9m, 11m, up to 17m. Your are allowed a total of 14 throws but must land one in the barrel by 7 tosses in order to continue on. Hey I managed to land one in from 11m to beat Steve. The following photos are from this year and last year as Steve and I were too busy play and working as referee/score counters, allowing little opportunity to take pictures of all the action.

Theses guys you will see later on provided us with some wonderful music and they won the team competition.


Our entertainment was provided by the Salzburg Alpenklang Musi with Maria. They very traditional Austrian folk music with lots of comedy in between. All I can say is PAPA , MAMA YOU WOULD HAVE LOVED IT!!!!img_0946.jpgimg_0963.jpg

Boy could this guy ring the bellsimg_0972.jpg

After hearing this guy yodel one soon realized that Walt Disney must have spent a fair bit of time in Austria and Germany. Just google Neuschwanstein which is a castle in Germany built for crazy King Lugwig you see immediately that the Disney castle is almost identical. If you have ever watched a Disney cartoon where Goofy is skiing and flying through either he lets out a howl that sounds exactly like what we heard here. So think it is safe to say in the early Disney cartoons there was some European influence.


Like the big conches of the sea, the horns of the mountains entice you to follow the sound to behold the beauty of the Alps. The sound from the horns seem to me to be championing the harmony of nature. All the political leaders from around the world should be blowing these type of horns who knows what could happen then.


Now this wonderful entertainment was not here just for the Bauerngolf but for the Organic Herb Festival. My cousin only sets of the Bauerngolf at events where there is organic farming. On this farm organic herbs were being grown and they had a show garden where you walk around and see all the different plants and herbs used in all their herbal products.



The day was fantastic, who could complain being in the mountains with great food, drink and music, and with a little bit of fun on the side (Baurengolf). You can tell by these winners they had a great time (I’m poking my head through in the back).


Just one last look at Brixen am Thale from way above (Steve had no altitude problems here).


Last stop Vienna.


Published in: on July 29, 2007 at 9:41 pm  Comments (1)  

What To Make Of Berlin

Ha Berlin, what can one say about this city which is still trying to establish its own identity. Steve and I often felt perplexed by Berlin’s constant transformation. How does a country/city deal with her past history and establish a strong positive future identity?????

Lots of reconstruction (more than last year) and many memorials for victims of the Holocaust and for the many who died during the war.



Here are some facts I thought might interest you about Berlin.

Berlin is Germany’s biggest city and the most multi-cultural one (on this I hope Hitler is turning in his grave). It’s the greenest city of Germany with approximately 400,000 trees just on the streets alone, which is good because they love owning dogs:  its about 3:1 ratio trees to dogs.

Berlin has over 2000 bridges, around 170 museums and approximately 11,000 places where you can eat and drink i.e. restaurants, bars, cafes, bodegas etc. What Berlin is most famous for it is known as the city that never sleeps as quite a few eating and drinking establishments are open for 24 hours.

One of the more harder things to find are historical buildings as many had been blown up during the war and some deliberately torn down afterwards. This church is one of the few buildings even though damaged (fire inside from the bomb) left standing as it had a important pre-nazi history.



Throughout the Third Reich walking tour, Derek (my son the tour guide), gave us pictures to view of buildings that no longer exist. Another time we found ourselves standing in the middle of a apartment complex that spanned several blocks where once stood the Reichs Bureau, which held Hitler’s football-field sized office.




The transit system here is great, a day pass gets you anywhere using all various modes of transport, however you almost need a course to fully understand the map.


One of the sites we visited was the Olympic stadium where a certain athlete made Hitler look stupid, I am speaking of Jesse Owens of course. One can only imagine what Hitler must have been thinking when he had no choice but to shake Jesse’s hand.



Hey look Canada did win a medal that year. Out of the 23 or more events women were only allowed to take part in 4. Even in gymnastics they only did the team event, no individual events. Boy ladies, have we come a long way.


One of the most fascinating thing about Berlin is it’s continual transformation. As one walks through and around derelict buildings some surprises can be discovered. Beach bars along the canals, a beach volley site that held 21 courts.




The most surprising of all an old barge sitting in a canal that had been changed into a pool. The Berliners find unique ways to provide fun and relaxation.




Well, I hope you enjoyed the tour and next time we will be in the mountains of Austria.


Published in: on July 24, 2007 at 9:13 pm  Comments (2)  

The Two Sides Of Traveling

Traveling these past few weeks through Quito and Galapagos have left me with many different thoughts. The city of Quito itself is not a city I would be quick to visit again. The smell of diesel fumes were overwhelming at times but they did have a great transit system. Seeing people young and old selling or doing whatever they could for a few dollars was disheartening at times, yet these were very happy people.

Often Steve and I heard how North American companies received lots of support in developing their business and the people of Quito would receive no financial help in developing their own business. Which in one way has created another problem Quito’s people are now flooding into the Island of Santa Cruz in the Galapagos for the earning power tourism has to offer. But Santa Cruz is also in crisis because it cannot support the influx without encouraging more tourism. If this is not managed properly this unique ecosystem will be in danger of suffering great damage.

It feels like a double edged sword when touring the islands. By being there you help out the economy and at the same time you are disturbing a fragile environment. I mean some of the tourists have a total disregard for the wildlife on the islands.


This is not supposed to be a rant but when you are traveling to so many different places it is hard notice things unless I travel with my eyes closed.



I will leave you with some parting images of Santa Cruz and Quito.



Published in: on July 24, 2007 at 7:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Seymour Norte Wow!!

Hello from Berlin. Well we survived our gruelling 26 hrs. of traveling from Quito to here and have gotten over the jet lag okay. Unfortunately Steve was hit be the high altitude again for the one night we stayed over in Quito before flying to Berlin.
Right now weather is very hot so we are working on keeping cool. Enough about Berlin, as promised I am showing the wonderful boat trip we had to Isla Seymour Norte and then to a beach on Santa Cruz where we discovered wonderful things. This is not the first time I am writing this posting, as the internet is on and off here it has caused problems, thus I lost the entire post and some not so very pretty words came out of my mouth.

Here we go to Isla Seymour Norte the view you are seeing is the Island of Baltra.


Following us were the Frigates as fish piece were tossed in the air by our chef who cooked this amazing meal for lunch(more details to come).


Along the way we were able to see some of the satellite islands such as Rabida.


After disembarking from our little dingy boat and our feet firmly planted on rocky ground we came upon img_0364.jpga pair of Swallowed-tailed gulls (like the lovely red feet).img_0358.jpg

Off course the ambassador of the island came to officially greet us.


It was not long before we came upon the Frigates, where several males were trying to catch the eyes of the females by bloating their red throats.


Seems the baby Frigate’s head is a little to heavy to hold up while sleeping.


The one thing everyone has been waiting to see is the Blue Footed Booby. The t-shirts I had seen all over town that read I Love My Booby made alot more sense.


img_0395.jpgThese little baby Booby’s hatched about 3-10 days before I took this picture. You can definitely see in the picture which one hatched first.

The land Iguana may look fierce, however neither the Frigates or the Boobies have to worry as it is a vegetarian (they live in perfect harmony).


This little guy is a lava lizard. The coloured throat means it is a male.


This is our chef who cooked up a lunch that neither Steve and I were expecting. Meal was fried fish, rice, potatoes, salad and fried plantains. The portions given were enough to feed two people, Steve and I enjoyed every single bite.


Our tour guide. Steve try to get him to toss me in the water and he would not listen (just kidding) he was a very nice guide.img_0401.jpg

Back to Santa Cruz island to Las Bachas where there were great things to discover. Like a lagoon that had about six Pink Flamingos scouring for shrimp.


Unlike the Land Iguana this guy can swim, gee I guess that is why he is called a Marine Iguana. That tail really moves they along in the water and they can stay under from 30-45 min.


Our next little surprise was found by our tour guide.


One thing I learned from Australia that when the tide has gone out you should check out the crevices and depressions in the sand because there is always something to find.


The day was an amazing one that I will not soon forget. It is still amazing to me how calm all the birds and animals were when we came near. They had no problem sharing their space if only we has humans could follow their example a little better.

Next time Berlin with some parting looks at Galapagos and Quito.img_0449.jpg


Published in: on July 17, 2007 at 9:56 am  Comments (1)  

Fish Market

library-2416.jpglibrary-2417.jpgOne of our daily adventures was to the local fish market off the coast of Puerto Ayora. Steve was enthralled with the place. I on the other hand was some what grossed out seeing fish heads flying, fish guts being ripped apart by Pelicans and seals being splattered all over with fish bits library-2432.jpgand blood. It took me a few days to be willing to eat seafood. To my disblief it had the opposite effect on Steve, he wanted to eat seafood. The guy can’t handle high altitude but has no problem watching the happenings at the market, go figure.

library-2503.jpglibrary-2435.jpgI must say once I got the stomach to eat seafood the meals we had were fantastic. The shrimp did not taste anything like the watered down farmed shrimp you get back home. There is a definite difference between farmed shrimp and fresh out of the ocean. The fish was out of this world at times you did not even think you were eating fish.

The best place we encountered that served great seafood meals was at a kiosk(small booths lined up one after another). Where at night they close off the street from local traffic in order to set up tables for the evening meals. The most popular meals and great tasting, were the ones where they cooked the shrimp or fish in coconut milk. This recipe comes from the black population, whose arrival was due to the Spaniards and slave labor.

Steve and I also found a place that made yummy caps and lattes it was called Hernans. There we would sit enjoying our lattes and watching the numerous taxis (white trucks) going around and around looking for fares. Seems many from Quito thought they could make good money becoming taxi drivers here on the island.

Steve and I took a wonderful tour which I will write about in our next posting. It will be more pictures than words you will understand the reason.


Next stop Isla Seymore Norte.


Published in: on July 11, 2007 at 2:38 am  Comments (1)  

Checking Out The Medical System

library-2236.jpgBuenas noches it has been 5 days since I last wrote and a few things have happened since then. As both Steve and Judy were having problems with the high altitude (my mixed European blood worked for me) we were happy to head to the islands to get them back to normal.

Throughout the flight Steve seemed to be having problems with his ear I made him chew lots of gum. We landed on the island of Baltra, one of the many Galapagos Islands, around noon. The US govt used to have a base here but now it functions as the airport for the nearby island of Santa Cruz. From the airport took 15 min. bus ride to the Ferry, which was a 10 minute ride to Santa Cruz and then another 30 minute bus ride to our final destination, along the way the landscape changed from lava rock to wet terrain.

library-2247.jpglibrary-2290.jpglibrary-2348.jpglibrary-2448.jpgUpon arriving at our accomodation, the Casa Del Lago in the small town of Puerto Ayora we all had a quick bite to eat. Afterwards Steve headed straight to bed for a nap. Judy and I walked around town while Steve was resting and we hoped he’d feel better. We were able to see some of the local marine life around the port.

Unfortunately the nap did not improve things for Steve and we soon were trying out the medical system here. Elena (the owner of Casa Del Lago) quickly tracked down a doctor (specialist for ears because of divers here) for us. The doctor insisted on making a house call and in about 20 minutes he was in our room checking Steve’s ear. It turns out Steve developed a very nasty ear infection, needless to say antibiotics were required plus pain medication and a shot to get quicker relief from the pain. So Elena, the doctor and myself went to the local pharmacy to pick everything up. The pharmacist threw me for a loop as he looked more like a beach bum. The medication here is dispensed in packets there are no dispensing fees here. To my amazement the whole thing came under 80.00 US which we thought was great but Steve could have done without the shot in the butt.

Steve came around in two days and was able to attend the conference on Underwater volcanoes. While Steve was recovering and attending the conference Judy and I spent our time touring and enjoying mid-afternoons with a glass a wine (I made my own Sangria).library-2369.jpg

We went to the Darwin Center where they are working to bring back the Giant Tortoises. The Tortoises were totally decimated on some of the islands thanks to mankind. Used as food hundreds of years ago by the English pirates. Then in the 19th century one captain left four goats on the island of Santiago where they multiplied to 100,000 eating all the cactus, which is the only food the tortoise eats. Sadly there are some islands that are totally barren of these slow moving creatures. It took them 28 years totally rid the Island of Santiago of these goat. Pigs are also a problem they are working hard to get rid of them. Seems like the islands became a dumping ground of domestic animals with terrible consequences.

Our other outing were to the Lava tunnels where at one point we were almost crawling on our stomaches.

library-2376.jpgThen onto the Chato Tortoise reserve where could see the big beasts lounging around in the their natural environment (a lovely green pond).library-2383.jpg

The Twin Craters formed when lava collapsed into magma chambers.

library-2407.jpgIn case you are wondering Judy and I spent a couple days doing the beach thing.

library-2296.jpglibrary-2454.jpgOne beach was a Tortuga Bay a very long walk but worth it.

Finch Bay where a Pelican took it upon himself to be our personal body guard. The wildlife and marine life here are great. We shared the beach with a sun bathing lion seal and watched a Striated Heron being very patient when comes to fishing.

Until next time.library-2474.jpglibrary-2468.jpglibrary-2464.jpg

Published in: on July 4, 2007 at 9:32 pm  Comments (3)