Birdwatching – seen in the Nordics

Finally I have found some time to upload the gathered birds that I have seen in the Nordics – Denmark, Norway, Finland and around Sweden, of course. bm

Birdwatching – Ducks and geese

My mother has become addicted to birdwatching, and this addiction somewhat has passed on me too. Recent interest has motivated us to look through the photos taken in the past, and we realized that without even knowing it, we have captured quite a number of interesting and even rare birds. Here is the first post devoted to ducks and geese (and alike). More to come later.

Spanish winter

Some time in October or November, when it was already dark, wet and cold, I decided to book a flight to Barcelona and enjoy the sunny Spanish winter at least for 10 days. The end of the year was incredibly busy and since accumulated number of working over hours at the end of 2012 accounted 200, I thought that 10 days of rest are well deserved. The end of the year I spent in Riga, and the weather was… not very Christmasy. It was around 0 till +3, mostly wet, mostly rainy but with occasional snow that instantly turned into dirt. So, no white Christmas, no fun at all. Additionally, all through the holidays I couldn’t avoid at least part time work that I was happy to finish before the year ends, leaving all old ties behind. This made the desire to escape even stronger.

I have been to Barcelona several times (one of my favorite cities), and even in December-January once, but this time, in the middle of January, it was warmer and stranger than I expected. Strange because of the contrasts. Sunny warm days, around +13 degrees on average, people walking in light jackets, and some even without. Everyone wearing sun glasses (I bought a new pair too)… (Relatively) green grass, blossoming trees and simultaneously naked trees with dry leaves left from the last year as a reminder that there was an autumn before the winter came.

I travelled with my mother, who always craves for warmth and sun in the winter and kindly supported the whole idea. After long and painful search for a place to stay, we chose a beautiful B&B that was situated just 3 km from the seaside outside of the city with clear air and wonderful surroundings. It turned out to be better than a 5-star hotels we could stay at. Every morning we stayed on veranda facing the sea, to get the morning sunshine. We looked at the mimosa tree in the garden to see whether it burst into flowers. It did a little bit more and more, every day. The goal this time was not to see more of the unique city of Barcelona, but to enjoy the calm peaceful time off from routine and cold in the middle of winter. Unfortunately, the lazy mood made me push the plan of making a photo session to the next day, until it was too late…. One day I caught a flu and was chained to bed… Thanks to the enormous care and kindness of our B&B hosts we survived until the departure (which until the end we were mentally ready to postpone). I spare the details here, as the memory is very fresh and I don’t really want to return there. To make the story short: magically, after 48h the fever was gone. And although I am still recovering, at least my head is clear and I am able to post something about my unusual winter trip to Spain before returning to the duties of working life.

Winter in Scandinavia

Sun and sea

In the awful rainy, windy and overall unpleasant weather, which got me sick today, being almost unable to speak in front of the students, I choose to dwell on the pleasant memories of my trip to Turkey during Euromicro 2012 this fall. It was my first trip to Turkey, and I did not know what to expect. It turned out to be very interesting and diverse with several surprises. Turkey appeared to me as a colorful place, with pleasant talkative people, excellent food, and kind calm animals walking freely everywhere around. Thanks to the Turkish friends who attended the same conference I tasted lots of dishes that were new to me, such as mussels stuffed with rice, kumru, ayran and extremely interesting ice cream made of the gum tree. The weather in early September was sunny and warm, and I even got tanned.

But most importantly, for the first time in my entire life I tried wind-surfing. Against expectations it wasn’t that very difficult to hold on and manage the sail. I can say that it was the love from first sight! And I am not even sure what I loved the most – being in the sun or salty water, wearing the surfing suit or the actual sailing 🙂 Anyhow, now I am exploring the opportunities of wind-surfing in Sweden. Fortunately, just 20 km away from Karlskrona there is a surfing school. Unfortunately, the season is very short – May to August, and it will probably take some time until I will be able to try it again here.

Who wants to join?

Brazil: the other hemisphere

A couple of weeks ago, for the first time in my life, I have travelled to the other hemisphere – to Brazil. August – the last month of the winter. At the end of the Swedish summer.

When preparing for the trip I asked several friends who have been to that part of the other hemisphere what to expect, visited a doctor – got a couple of shots and a package of drugs against stuff that one may get in that part of the other hemisphere. I was checking the weather forecast for at least a month, and asked the friends who live in that part of the other hemisphere about the clothes I might need. One said that I should be prepared for anything between 10-25C, while the other insisted that I should take the summer clothes. I did follow both advice.

It was everything between 10-27C. I took my swimming suit with me, so I was even prepared to swim. I did. In the last month of the winter, in the other hemisphere, in an outdoor swimming pool. What can’t Brazilians, Scandinavians can 🙂

Brazil was full of contrast – rich and extremely poor – to the point that I have seen nowhere in Europe. Completely different. And diverse. With chaotic life in regions of private houses on the hills, parks that I would probably call jungle-like gardens, and seemingly dead life in skyscrapers areas, which I “monitored” from the hotel window. Every morning I woke up, and they were still there. I don’t know why, but this monumental view just froze me. Dusty, quite polluted, and yet, once you get out to the historic center in the middle of the night, you instantly feel the beat of music, loud laughs and lively optimism pouring from everywhere. In the other part of the hemisphere.

Lisbon, as I saw it

Some cities look good on postcards, with tidy streets and well-preserved architectural heritage. You can walk and feel impressed with how beautiful and wonderful everything looks. Such city for me is, e.g. Madrid. But more *beautiful* to me are cities with an atmosphere. They may be shabby, with lots of old and forgotten places, cracked grey walls covered with the dust of time, large or small, sunny or wet… This summer I discovered Lisbon — one of the most *beautiful* cities I have ever seen!

I have never been to Lisbon before, and this is a short photo report of what and how I saw it.

Summer in Latvia

One week away from work, but my mind is already summarizing all the things I have managed during the summer. Many wonder what have been up to while on the vacation, and carefully ask whether I have been working… as usual. No, I have not… Here is a short report 🙂

I escaped Sweden in the end of June after more than stressful travel period. This time I decided to stay longer in Riga, and do as little work as possible. Yes, yes, it was a plan, and trust me, I have been working on it ever since. My plan was to do as much of things that I cannot do in Karlskrona as I could. And I have been working on it quite well too. For those living in Karlskrona this post might be an interesting insight into opportunities that Latvia and Riga, in particular, has to offer during the summer. Note that Riga is just a night-long ferry away from Stockholm, and is an affordable weekend destination. It has lots to offer and here I share some highlights from the festivals and places I have attended.

Additionally I highly recommend to check out www.liveriga.com

1. Only a few workaholic days. Deadlines. What can I do? But otherwise lots and lots of rest!
2. Sun and balticra.in – Thunder storms. Beautiful
3. Seaside and afternoons on the couch.
4. Late nights, late mornings.
5. Lunch with old and long unseen friends. One by one. Their life changed. They never do. And I like it.
6. Phone calls, long emails, short messages and tweets. I tweeted too! Yes I did!
7. Mushrooms, spiders and mosquitos on Wednesdays.
8. Jazz, bohemic gardens and a glass of white wine on Thursday evenings.
9. Festivals, loads of music and joy on Fridays. And Saturdays.
10. Although no trips to Helsinki this summer, a traditional escape from the heat to the Western Coast with my dearest mother – a trip to Ventspils 🙂