All posts tagged: travel pics

The Penyal d’Ifach

In the province of Valencia on the Costa Blanca is the touristic town of Calp, visited not only for its long stretch of beaches but also for the iconic Penyal d’Ifach, a massive limestone outcrop emerging from the sea and linked to the shore by rocks. It is often compared to its southern counterpart, the Rock of Gibraltar, and is 332 metres high. You can hike up the Penyal d’Ifach thanks to a tunnel carved into the rock, though the steep cliff face and narrow pathway proves intimidating to some, as are the aggressive birds during nesting season.  I chose instead to capture the rock from below, where it rises from the Mediterranean Sea, sheltering and protecting the town below.

The Jagged Mountain of Montserrat

50 kilometres west of Barcelona lies the Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey, nestled high up on the Montserrat mountain. The mountain cuts into the skyline like a handsaw.  In Catalan, Montserrat literally means “serrated mountain.” Funicular trains and hiking trails take you all around the imposing mountain,  once said according to Arthurian legend to be the site of the Holy Grail.  But for me, it is more of a holy grail of a view.

Eruption at Holuhraun

My life has felt like a volcano about to burst these past few weeks, which is why I’ve abstained from blogging or posting pictures.  I return now after the ash has settled – the eruption at the Holuhraun lava field has ended, and so have at least some of my stressors. Before I got into the swing of Iceland Airwaves, I decided to book a sightseeing flight from Reykjavik that would fly over the south coast all the way to Vatnajökull National Park, which is Europe’s largest glacier and also the home of the Holuhraun lava fields, where the eruption of 2014 was occurring. By the time I visited in November, the lava wasn’t shooting up as high into the sky as some pictures had led me to believe it would, but the hardened lava stretched to an area of 70 square kilometres, making it Iceland’s largest lava flow since 1783.  Having never seen an active volcano in my life, I jumped at the chance to fly above it in a tiny plane with just …

Rock Isle Lake, Banff, Alberta

After enduring a particularly gruelling day hike the day before with tough winds and pelting rain, we decided to spend day two of our Banff hiking trip in Sunshine Meadows, known during the winter time as the Sunshine Ski Resort. You take a shuttle bus up what is the ski-out in winter (and a particularly painful ski-out, since it’s quite flat and boring), and arrive at a landing of inoperative chairlifts, swinging softly in the gentle autumn breeze.  There’s not a cloud in the sky today, the sun is shining, and the larches are proudly wearing their new colours. We decided to hike up Rock Isle Trail and take the loop to Laryx lake.  As we walked, we could see Mount Assiniboine far off in the distance.  After a gentle uphill hike away from the unnatural ski equipment, we reached Rock Isle Lake, which is now one of my favourite lake spots in the Rockies. We cracked open a bottle of wine and sat on a perch overlooking the water.  The group of us alternated …

Strokkur Erupts in Iceland

Every ten minutes or so, this geyser erupts up to 30 feet in the air.  The very term “geyser” comes from the Icelandic word “Geysir”, which is the name of the inactive geothermal explosion near the site of Strokkur. First you watch a film bubbling over the earth, almost like a rippling contact lens lost in a teary eye.  Bubbles start to form as the earth starts to boil, until, finally, it reaches its limit and shoots into the air.  The water splatters the crowd who have encircled it, some who have stood too close get drenched, but with nothing but a little rope reminding visitors not to stand on the geyser, who would know where is safe to stand? Watching Strokkur erupt is part of Iceland’s most famous tour, The Golden Circle, and it is also one of the first natural sites in Iceland that is starting to charge admission.  In all fairness, watching Strokkur erupt again and again really is a show. A performance of nature boiling over, perhaps to remind us it …

Jökulsárlón Lagoon, Iceland

After about the fourth time I saw a double rainbow in Iceland, it became less and less notable to repeat “Double rainbow, what does it mean?” to my new French and German friends on our tour of the south coast .  But the rainbow never loses its magic or power, and neither do the miles and miles of cracking ice, resting on a frigid lagoon nestled between glaciers, mountains, and ocean waves. The rain at Jökulsárlón let up for maybe a moment.  I was soaked through my MEC pants and my teeth chattered.  I nervously watched a British teenager jump onto one of the icebergs for the sake of a photo opportunity.  Gingerly, I touched the tip of my toe to a nearby chunk of ice while Janine snapped a photo.  In warm weather, you can see seals here, but alas, not in April. In the dead of winter and the heat of summer, this remains the backdrop photo on my iPad.  And even as Alberta tries to welcome the spring equinox (with snow, no less) …

Desert Oasis in Huacachina, Peru

“I guess you could say I’m dreaming of summer.” A travel writing professor spoke to us about the idea of a “pseudo-place”, the place that exists only for the tourist, that would have no place in reality if it weren’t for the visitors; a place that operates solely on expected visitation. He named Las Vegas as an example, or Disneyworld – the place itself is based only on the income of tourism.  He postulated that even Banff, Alberta is a place that only breathes because of its guests. Huacachina, Peru could be seen as such a place.  A random oasis in the middle of the Peruvian desert, probably once served as a place of trade or refuge.  Now, it’s a place for the people of Ica to escape for the weekend, and for thrill-seeking tourists to sand board through the dunes and drink copious amounts of alcohol. Still, it was a quiet reprieve from the busyness of my Peruvian adventure, walking around the lake and avoiding the calls of tour operators to join them on their …

Bourgeau Lake Trail, Alberta

After a thousand metre elevation gain on the Bourgeau Lake trail, which consists of an upwards walk through dense forests before a wet and/or gravelly scramble, you reach Harvey Pass and the small Harvey Lake.  If conditions permit, you can make the ascent to the top of Mount Bourgeau to unbelievable views. Or just go a bit further from Harvey Pass, and if you’re lucky and it’s autumn, get an incredible view of the larches in their full fall colours. By all accounts, there’s nothing particularly impressive about Harvey Lake, it is just another beautiful lake among many in the Canadian Rockies.  But there was just something about the light that day, and the quietness of the trail (we were a group of eight but we only saw four others), and the stillness of that beautiful lake hidden amongst mountains that just really struck me.  I didn’t make it to the summit due to the rain and wind, but I still saw this view, among others, that suited me just fine.

Mount Esja, Reykjavik

I took this photo while I was sprinting between venues at Iceland Airwaves in 2014, from KEX Hostel to Slippbarinn,  and an inebriated sprint at that.  Following the coastal boardwalk takes you on a direct line from KEX to the Marina Hotel, and even though my mind was focused on getting to the venue in time to see Low Roar, I’m so thankful to have kept my gaze wandering to the ocean as often as was safely possible.  For the view of Mount Esja from the shores of Reykjavik is one view I could never tire of. My heart is longing for Iceland again.  Maybe because I’m in the midst of planning a trip to somewhere other than Iceland, maybe it’s because I’ve been dutifully checking for any lineup announcements for Airwaves to see if a bucket-list artist will be performing and will force me to book the trip.  Either way, I haven’t forgotten you.

Sunset Over the Peruvian Sand

““I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams…” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry The buggy drove us through the Peruvian desert like a roller coaster ride, cascading in and out of the dunes.  I tried to video the ride with my camera but my body kept shaking from the impacts of the bumps.  We’d be driven to the top of a dune and get out of the buggy to ride face-first belly-down the steep slope.  There were grains of sand in every one of my orifices that day, but I couldn’t kick the adrenaline of both the buggy ride and the toboggan-like descent from the top. We were given a moment of quiet pause to observe the sun setting over the dunes and the little oasis of Huacachina, often used as a getaway spot for residents of the neighbouring town of Ica.  Though the dunes echo daily with the shrieks of excited adrenaline-seekers, this is a place where it …