sunrise

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.


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, 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.


Sunrise at the Bavarian Caribbean: Eibsee, Germany

At the base of the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain and close to Garmisch-Partenkirchen lies the world famous Eibsee with its eight smaller islands.

Eibsee. The Caribbean in the Alps.

The crystal clear water makes it stunning to look at. The background with the overwhelming Wettersteingebirge in the South and the beautiful but smaller Ammergauer Alps in the North creates an amazing natural habitat and a pretty popular destination among the people.

One of the hardest moments to do in landscape photography is getting up early to capture the best light possible. The light around sunrise demands getting up in the middle of the night. But that’s also one of the most important things – and when it is achieved, it also becomes the most satisfying thing. Even regardless the outcome. Experiencing the mood and light situations at those spots makes it worth the fight at night, the driving through darkness and the strange feeling wandering around in utter silence at dawn. I’d suggest to do it.


Sunrise over Bled, Slovenia

The Landscapes of Slovenia (I) - Bled and the Julian Alps

Recently, the streets led us to Slovenia and the landscape around Bled and the Julian Alps. A country I have never really thought about. How foolish of me.

In the heart of Europe: Start feeling Slovenia.

Indeed you can feel Slovenia. After a couple of days and endless hikes, you finally do understand why the country’s marketing department chose that slogan. Countless ways to discover such a beautiful country. Especially the famous sights around Lake Bled with its church on the island Blejski otok. Every single step offers stunning sceneries. Leave the more crowded area and discover stunning waterfalls in valleys like Vintgar Gorge or Tolmin Gorge. Drive winding roads towards the overwhelming Lake Bohinj. Curse the clouds to allow a peak and the stunningly pittoresque chappel of St.Primoz near Jamník. Explore the mountains around the summit of Mount Triglav in the National Park. Drive Vršič Pass. Fall in love.
Slovenia, I do get it now. I will return.

While we are here: Lago di Fusine.

On your way to Slovenia, be sure to visit the Italian part of the Julian Alps. Some miles before the border, there are two beautiful lakes hiding in front of the majestic mountains of Mt. Mangart. It perfectly prepares yourself about what lies behind the summit. (Or in the Carribean. Depens on where to go.)

To see a more detailed route of the trip around Slovenia, feel free to visit my trips description over at polarsteps.com


Sunrise at Stokksnes, Iceland

The Golden Hour at Vestrahorn and Stokksnes, Iceland

Stokksnes is a headland north of Höfn í Hornafirði, mostly famous for its amazing beach in front of the mountains of Klifatindur.

The Golden Hour paints Stokksnes in pink and blue.

Getting up at around 2.30am during summer is a tough task. But those few moments during the Golden Hour blows away the tiredness. The clouds around the well-known Vestrahorn, the most popular mountain of Klifatindur, are painted in pink and blue. The grains of sand seem to adopt the color tone.
The large vistas, together with the stunning contrast of a black sandy beach, the green plants and the rough moutains, make it the most popular photographic spot in south-east Iceland.

 

Getting to and away from the landscape around  is a truly remarkable experience as well. The road along is worth the hike to the old and (hopefully) abandoned NATO radio station. Hiking towards Vestrahorn along the coastal line will lead you to an early (and reconstructed) Viking settlement.

 

You can (legally) stay the short night at the Viking Cafe, as its parking lot is a camping ground as well.

 


Sunrise at Kirkjufell, Snæfellsnes, Iceland

The Light and Change of Kirkjufell, Iceland

Kirkjufell is located on the Northern coast of Snæfellsnes and is considered Iceland’s most popular and most photographed mountain.

Kirkjufell – the church mountain. Iceland’s Sugarloaf.

There is a simple reason for this popularity: First, glaciers shaped the 463m Kirkjufell, creating an almost iconic shape. Besides its astonishing visual look, the area around the tiny village of Grundarfjörður is also famous for the several cascades of the waterfall Kirkjufellsfoss. Plenty of tiny waterfalls create a landscape worth being shown in any fantasy movie. The river winds itself towards the fjord, guiding us towards the summit.

 

Be patient.

Light changes anything. The mountain recieves a totally different aura during the several times of the day. Sit down and breath during those few hours between twilight and dawn. Wait for the mountain to change during Golden Hour and during Blue Hour.