Author: Sebastian Holmer

Sunset at Reynisfjara / Dyrhólaey

The Landscapes of Iceland - Winter Edition (II)

Iceland won’t lives up to your dreams you have before the trip. It is often not the frozen winterish wonderly landscape you might expect – it is the all changing landscape that constantly redresses itself. Every time it changes, it does so with a huge cocktail of snow and ice and storm and sun and clouds and pink and blue and yellow and black and white.

Iceland in Winter: Different to your expectations

Although it’s hard to pinpoint what to expect exactly from a volcano in the far Northern Hemisphere, I was surprised of the different moods it finally presented. Snowstorms, ice and frozen waterfalls on Snæfellsnes. A smiling Kirkjufell hiding under the snow. Massive greyness accompanied by vastly illuminated cloudscapes during sunset in Southern Iceland (Þórsmörk, Reynisfjara and Dyrhólaey). Hardly any ice at Jökulsárlón and the glaciers and Diamond Beach due to massive rain and higher temperatures. Silent fields of pure emptiness. And in between: overwhelming beauty. Colors and impressions you will never forget.
Iceland does not live to the sterotype of a northern country in winter. It’s different, it’s surprising and it is worth every single step you make. Every mile you drive on oh those roads, those endless roads.


Sunset in Þórsmörk

The Landscapes of Iceland - Winter Edition (I)

On the one hand, winter obviously changes the look of Iceland. An island of color temporarily hides under a blanket and turns into a monochromatic dream of colors and tones. But on the other, it also changes the country’s acoustic appearance – and therefore creates an opera of light and change.

Iceland in Winter: snow, rough storms and Aurora Borealis

The desaturated country becomes a silent desert of snow and loneliness. The only sound that reaches for your ears is the roaring of the waves – and the scissoring blow of the storm that just appeared out of nowhere. But within a minute, the view and color and light and mood changed instantly. At Dyrhólaey and Reynisfjara, nature reinvented itself about a dozen times. From light to darkness, from eternal warmth to cutting coldness. The elements shapes the landscape and creates stunning vistas. The landscape around Þórsmörk is the perfect example. Volcanic rock and ice create strong contrasts – a bit like you might think about the moon Europa. Especially around Snæfellsnes (Arnastapi & Gatklettur) the effects become omnipresent. You cannot run away from its beauty – not even while trying to hide behind the waterfall Kvernufoss (Seljalandsfoss’ less visited brother). In the end, the Northern Lights will get you anyway. Hopefully.
Thank god you can take a rest and breath from the visual bombardement in the capital Reykjavik – especially at the amazing Hallgrimskirkja or the sculpture Sólfar by Jón Gunnar Árnason. Just for a moment though. You know you want to return. As soon as possible.


Sunset at Kandy Lake, Kandy

The Landscapes of Sri Lanka (II)

Within a mile, the landscapes and views of Sri Lanka change constantly. So does the smell, so does the sound. The waves of mountains, endless oceans and beaches. Buzzing cities of life and chaos.

A new Sri Lanka around every single corner. What’s next?

The sunrise at Ella Rock, the famous mountain around the city of Ella. The strange rock formation at Sigiriya Rock and Pidurangala Rock, located in central Sri Lanka. The roaring city of Kandy, the combination of spiritual life and hard commerce. The silent beaches in the South around Tangalle. The railway system.
Keep on walking, keep on discovering a country of life and beauty – who knows what’s around the next corner. Things might change.


Women working in a tea factory, Nuwara Eliya

The Life of Sri Lanka - exploring and documenting some daily moment

Travelling and exploring Sri Lanka will let you getting to know lovely people who love their country and daily life. They also want you to love their country – and be an active part of their daily life.

The Laugh and Life of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka offers stunning views and amazing landscapes. Also, it offers one of the most warm hearted and generous people I have yet talked to. You really can feel the love for their country, the proud in their life. They often want you to be part of it – interacting, experiencing. Living Sri Lankan life as much as it’s possible for a tourist. In general: Confusing, overwhelming and stunning. Harsh, loud and peaceful. Tons of impressions which might take some time to fully understand. It might surprise how much it really needs to calm down and enjoy life.
Like I said before: Don’t rush and take your time. This life isn’t fast anyway.


Sunset at Lake Gregory, Nuwara Eliya

The Landscapes of Sri Lanka (I)

The country of Sri Lanka offers a charming combination of a stunning tropical landscape presented by lovely people. A more and more popular destination, but still a silent gem in the south of India.

Sri Lanka. Be ready to be amazed and confused at the same time.

In recent years, Sri Lanka has become more and more popular as a travel destination. After the end of the civil war in 2009, the country can finally be visited without any unnecessary worries. Thankfully, as it offers so much impressions that you’ll easily be overwhelmed. Eight UNESCO World Heritage sites are waiting for you to be discovered, mostly in the cultural north. The ancient city of Anuradhapura. The stunning landscape around Sigiriya Rock and its temple (hint: best viewed from the adjacent Pidurangala Rock). The Old Palace of King Parakramabahu in Polonnaruwa. The impressive Buddha Caves around Dambulla. The list of beautiful cultural heritage is sheer endless.
Continue to visit the colonial history in the South and the Highlands. Visiting British-ish cities like Kandy, Ella, Nuwara Eliya. Discover the buzzing and hectic sound of multi-cultural melting pots. Be prepared to be overwhelmed by the different smells and sounds. Endless beaches around the south coast – villages like Tangalle of Weligama Bay.
And finally: Take your time. Use public transport. Don’t rush, life isn’t fast anyway.


Sunset at Passo di Giau

The Landscapes of the Dolomites (I)

Exploring the Dolomites / Dolomiti, an Italian part of the majestic Alps, is a unique experience and offers countless possibilities to worship mother nature.

The Dolomites, an UNESCO world heritage site

The landscape can be visited during the entire year. This tour leads us to awesome lakes and mountain passes during the beginning of winter. Autumn colors are still visible, but the harsh contrast between the snow whites and the mountains’ blacks, the colored fog during sunset – all those monochromatic tones change the way you perceive the mountains significantly. I always reminds me of those stunning views in Norway.
The winding roads of Passo (di) Giau lead us to the summit around the mountains Monte Nuvolau and Monte Averau. Sunset is the best time to enjoy the colors.  The surrounding municipalities of Selva di Cadore and Cortina d’Ampezzo are worth visiting as well.
Also, don’t miss the stunning lakes of Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee, an instagram famous) and Lago di Dobbiaco (Toblacher See). Another highlight is the remote valley of the comune di Villnoess (Villnöß / Valle di Funes) near Bozen/Bozano. Especially the views around St. Magdalena / Santa Maddalena Alda  are worth freezing like a maniac.

Part 2 (ongoing) will be published soon.


Sunset at Ponte Sant'Angelo & Basilica St. Peter, Rome

The Eternal City of Rome, Italy

Rome’s history of thousands of years is simply overwhelming. The city’s cultural heritage and visual explosion keeps you buzy for weeks – and exhausted after a couple of days.

Exploring Rome by foot

To get at least a rough idea about Rome’s development throughout the centuries, you should just start walking. The countless piazzas and tiny roads will lead you to endless masterpieces of art history. Also, you’ll get the best idea about what la dolce vita means: perfect food in tiny restaurants, wonderful wine and coffee all day long. You won’t miss anything anyways – all ways will lead to you somewhere. Sometimes.
As always, beauty comes with another side of the coin: endless masses of people. Enjoying the sights in silence and in gorgeous autumnal light, you might want to get up a bit early. Experiencing a completely empty Ponte Sant’Angelo around sunrise is irreplaceable. So is Bernini’s and Borromini’s Piazza Navona with its churches and fountains. Or Vatican City’s Basilica San Pietro. Or the center of the city: Michelangelo’s Campidoglio. Enjoying sunrise over the ancient ruins of Forum Romanum and the famous Colloseum gives an idea about what’s special about the city. It always will be the caput mundi – and it’s well deserved.


The City Hall of London during sunset

The Light of London, England

London is a truly impressive destination when it comes to photography (and honestly: anything else as well). The iconic buildings and a spectacular skyline around the river Thames makes it one of the most photogenic cities of Europe.

Chase the sunrise, hang on until sunset.

As always, next to the motive itself it is important to find the right time of the day. To be more precise: finding perfect lighting conditions. Lighting, its softness and the shadows it draws constantly changes – therefore, shooting during sunrise or sunset is extremely important to add a special touch to the images. London’s mostly even topography makes it pretty easy to capture excellent images during both golden and blue hour.
The iconic Millenium Bridge with the view towards Sir Christopher Wren’s St. Paul’s Cathedral can be prefectly shot during sunrise. So is anything shot viewing to the East: the (insert random sponsor name) London Eye seen from Westminster Bridge. The City of London with its skyscrapers and Southwalk (incl. the spectacular The Shard) seen from Southwalk Bridge.
Get some sleep and energy though, as sunset offers impressive views towards the West. Wait for those magical minutes where the sky is still illuminated enough by the set sun and the city lights already switched on. Sir Norman Foster’s City Hall. The famous British Parliament in the Palace of Westminster by Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin.
Those few moments makes it worth the effort.


Faroe Islands, Sunset at Gásadalur

The Landscapes of Faroe Islands (II)

The Faroe Islands’ mountainous islands will keep you waiting. And wandering.

Don’t mind returning. Don’t mind waiting. Be patient.

You will probably visit the spots more often; you simply have to. The waterfall of Gásadalur, one of the most beautiful views of the island. The remote village of Saksun with its natural lagoon and old farm houses. Gjógv and its famous natural harbor. The village and fjord of Tjørnuvík. Kvívík, one of the oldest settlements of the islands. The lighthouse of Kallur on the island of Kalsoy – famous due to its appearance as the cover of National Geographic. The extraordinary landscapes of high mountains, sharp cliffs and the rough sea will keep you going. Constantly, through the mist. Waiting for the light to win its endless fight at least for a second.


Faroe Islands, The Falling Lake (Leitisvatn)

The Landscapes of Faroe Islands (I)

The Faroe Islands is sometimes regarded as Europe’s best secret. Hiding in the mist of the North Atlantic Sea, somewhere between Iceland and Scotland.

The Islands of Silence and Weather.

A country of 18 islands, diving away from the waves of the rough sea. Mountains shaped by volcanoes, framing calm and endless fjords and green valleys. Moorlands, mostly – it’s hard to find a single tree. Usually, those landscapes hide themselves in obscure fog banks, keeping their secrets for themselves. Every now and then though, the sun breaks through the clouds, illuminating a ridiculous beautiful landscape. Lakes hurling themselves into the ocean (Sørvágsvatn, one of the most iconic places of the islands). The Waterfall of Gásadalur, a place so remote it was hard to reach before they’ve built a tunnel. The island of Mykines, the home of the famous puffins. Or Tindhólmur, the fantastic islet west of Vágar. Sometimes, you only get the chance to explore its endlessness only for a few moments. Then, the countryside grants a few minutes of ohhh and awe. But mostly, it will only reveal a small amout of itself.

The constantly changing weather seems to be the most dictating element of your trip. In summer, you might experience 21 hours of grayness. Wind cutting your face, water apparently coming from everywhere. All the time it seems to be slightly wet, even while the sun is shining. It’s a confusing experience – especially combined with the smell and sound. The overwhelming silence. The smell of nature, ocean and animals.

The islands’ tentacles will catch you. Adamantly. Thankfully.