Sian Ka’an, Mexico

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During our honeymoon, we went to Mexico for 9 nights. While in Mexico, we decided to do a tour that would take us to and through the Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’an. This biosphere reserve is in the Mexican State of Quiantana Roo, on the peninsula of Yucatán. It was established in 1986 and became part of the Unesco World Heritage Site in 1987. More info on Sian Ka’an can be found here.

Our tour would go by bus from the hotel and then to a spot where 12 of us would pick up 3 Jeeps. We grouped with two people who didn’t want to drive, so I drove there and my wife drove us back.

The Jeep Wrangler rode like a charm. First you follow the road (the Mexican 109 highway) and then you slowly enter the Reserve.

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Here a map, taken with/from Google Earth, where you can see the main road entering and going through a part of the Reserve, towards the southern point, where the village of Punta Allen is located.

The old wooden bridge

A little above the 109 sign, there is a bridge, well an old one which is very much broken, and a new one, suitable for all sorts of traffic. We made a stop there, and saw a lovely bird on the bridge and a bit further away… A crocodile!

White Ibis 
The White Ibis above, the close-up of the crocodile (Caiman) below

Crocodile

As stated on the map, just under the 109 sign, we went into small boats that would take us through part of the reserve to Punta Allen and back after that to the Jeeps.

Our boats

There were many boats on the water of the Reserve. They all have ways of connecting with each other, so when one spots anything, the rest can come as well. This worked out very well since in the end, we saw wild dolphins, a turtle and Spongebob’s friend Patrick. And of course some wonderful birds as well.

First things first. We got into the boats and when ours finally was up and running, we left to see some Mangrove “Islands”, islands that were formed because of the trees’ roots. These islands are very popular for all sorts of bird species, and they also share the islands with other species to breed and live during the winter season.

Coming in

I forgot most of the bird names, sorry, so any corrections are very much welcome! But I will share some pictures I made at one of those mangrove islands. All my pictures can be found online at my Ipernity site. Most of them are geo-tagged on that site as well. Comments/descriptions are still not all available, sorry.

These shots are of a Brown Pelican.

High up in the trees 

After some bird watching we went onward. First towards the “Black Lake”, la Laguna Negra. Due to all the leaves falling into the water, when pictures are made from above, the water has a black color.

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Entrance of the Black Lake


The entrance to the Black Lake. As you can see, it’s only allowed to go a maximum of 10 km/h.

La Laguna Negra

And on our way back, again through the same narrow water road.  

The “captain” of our boat heard something on his radio. We sped forward, we were on course. But to what? We were hoping on dolphins but well… We had to wait and hopefully see…

Hello there!

We were very lucky, as there was a small group of dolphins playing around.

Tail wave 
Playing dolphins

As you can imagine, it was a wonderful sight. Seeing the joy in their play, seeing them follow the boats, going under them, aside from them, giving us nice glimpses into their life. And some good photo opportunities of course.

And then, we went on again. There could be more to see, so our captain went on with the search.

We were very lucky that he spotted a turtle. Turtles have long periods of time spend underwater, so we had to wait for him (her?) to resurface. And that would only be a short time, to get some new air, so we had to keep focused on its movements.

Hello there

The Green Sea Turtle

After all this excitement, it was time to do some snorkeling.

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The water was lovely, I only had a problem with my snorkel. It leaked, so after trying to drink the ocean, my wife gave me her snorkel and brought mine back to to boat to exchange it for a not leaking one. That really helped a lot! Many fishes and coral could be seen. I also made some video’s, which can be found on my Ipernity site.

After the snorkel time, we slowly went to the beach. There we would enjoy our lunch after a walk through Punta Allen. But first, some snapshots were made in/near the gorgeous blue waters of Sian Ka’an.

Love is...well...this!

My love, under a Palm tree

After these nice shots, it was time for food. Lunch was a bit of a let down for me. I am a picky eater so often difficult to please. The things I did like were cold, though better enjoyed hot. So I was happy thinking about our great buffet dinner at the hotel that evening. 

After lunch our walk through Punta Allen began. It was warm, sticky hot and we were glad to be in the shade of the trees from time to time. We saw a small building, which would house the doctor DSCN6894 (2)several times a week. Then we passed a small supermarket. Most was closed, either due to the time (early afternoon, Siesta time) or because it wasn’t open on all days. It’s all relaxed, taking it easy and enjoying life, or so it seems to us busy tourists. We are spoilt with big shops, long opening hours, doctors on call nearby 24/7. Of course we are also “spoilt” with cold beaches, lots of rain, busy demanding jobs…. A palm tree would be very unhappy in our climate, justDSCN6897 as we sometimes are… The walk was nice after the bumpy boat ride, the snorkel time and all. It was a very diverse day and we were enjoying ourselves a lot.

The guide was telling us lots about the town, the habits and the local wildlife. But he missed the croc laying in the water near a boat. Some of us saw it and thought it was a fake one, just for the tourists. Until it moved haha!
DSCN6898 (2)So some of us went a bit closer for a nice snapshot of the sunbathing animal.

The guide told us some more about the salt “growing” on the leaves of the black mangrove trees. Some info, found on this site:

Salt: It is everywhere
Salt in the environment is a stress to mangroves because Sodium (Na+) and Chloride (Cl-), the ions that make up salt, are both toxic to plants. Also, a salty soil makes it harder for the roots of the mangrove to take up water.

If you don’t like the salt, you better get rid of it. The black mangrove can shed salt with small glands on its leaves. Mangroves have several strategies to deal with salt. The black mangrove, for example, can shed salt through its leaves. Others shed salt through the roots or drop leaves that are full of salt, or store salt ions in special parts of their cells.
Although salts cause stress to mangroves and they don’t need salt to live, mangroves are able to grow in salty conditions where other plants cannot.

And then, back into the boats, back to the Jeeps… This day almost came to an end…

DSCN6908 (2)Luckily, this was not our boat

Leaving Sian Ka'an

Leaving Sian Ka’an, entering Tulum

Our tour day was over, we drove to the bus, the bus took us back to our luxury hotel. Our heads and hearts full with great encounters, we enjoyed this day to the max. But a good shower and a nice hot meal with a cold drink on the side, that finished the day perfectly!

I would really recommend this tour, as it shows you some real awesome things that nature has to offer! All natural, as nature intended it.

 

A day at the zoo

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Last Sunday we decided it was about time to visit Burgers’ Zoo again. It is a very nice zoo in Arnhem (Gelderland, the Netherlands).

It was quite busy, as it was a lovely day, fathers day and of course a weekend day. But I did manage to get some nice shots of the zoo’s inhabitants.

I made too many shots to share them all, so if you like what you see below, please visit my Ipernity.com site for more 😉 Feel free to comment 🙂

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Indian ElephantDSCN5340

 

Sri Lanka Leopard

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Western Lowland Gorilla

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Lion

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Zebra

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Giraffe

Interested in more??? Check my Ipernity site!

 

 

Venezia / Venice

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Sunday, October 7th 2012, the Dutch invaded Venezia!

Venice in bird's view
Venice in bird’s view

The day started early. A little earlier for me, as I was up before the sun to be sure to see the sun rise up from the ocean (see previous post). But even with me making pictures and rushing back to get some breakfast… Some people were even later than I was, because I was still in time and they…were 10 minutes late without a reasonable excuse. Many of the people in the bus were all but amused, as our driver Rick (or Rik, dunno for sure, sorry) told us many times that he was working on a tight schedule and we were to keep to it in order to make it work.

So a little stressed we headed out for Venezia, Venice.

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Palazzo Ducale / Doge’s Palace info

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Because the information became too much for my original Venezia/Venice post, I decided to write this separate part and then link it to the Venezia post.

The information I share here with you is mainly taken from Wikipedia.org.

As we did not enter the museum that is housed in the Palace nowadays (there was a huge cue for it!), I can’t share pictures from the interior, only from the exterior. I will only use Wiki information about the exterior then to accompany my pictures. If you’d like more Wiki info, follow the link or Google.

History

In 810, Doge Angelo Partecipazio moved the seat of government from the island of Malamocco to the area of the present-day Rialto, when it was decided a palatium duci, a ducal palace, should be built. However, no traces remains of that 9th century building as the palace was partially destroyed in the 10th century by a fire.
The following reconstruction works were undertaken at the behest of Doge Sebastiano Ziani (1172–1178). A great reformer, he would drastically change the entire layout of the St. Mark’s Square. The new palace was built out of fortresses, one façade to the Piazzeta, the other overlooking the St. Mark’s Basin. Although only few traces remain of that palace, some Byzantine-Venetian architecture characteristics can still be seen at the ground floor, with the wall base in Istrian stone and some herring-bone pattern brick paving.
Political changes in the mid-13th century led to the need to re-think the palace’s structure due to the considerable increase in the number of the Great Council’s members. The new Gothic palace’s constructions started around 1340, focusing mostly on the side of the building facing the lagoon. Only in 1424, did Doge Francesco Foscari decide to extend the rebuilding works to the wing overlooking the Piazzetta, serving as law-courts, and with a ground floor arcade on the outside, open first floor loggias running along the façade, and the internal courtyard side of the wing, completed with the construction of the Porta della Carta (1442).
In 1483, a violent fire broke out in the side of the palace overlooking the canal, where the Doge’s Apartments were. Once again, an important reconstruction became necessary and was commissioned from Antonio Rizzo, who would introduce the new Renaissance language to the building’s architecture. An entire new structure was raised alongside the canal, stretching from the ponte della Canonica to the Ponte della Paglia, with the official rooms of the government decorated with works commissioned from Vittore Carpaccio, Giorgione, Alvise Vivarini and Giovanni Bellini.
Another huge fire in 1547 destroyed some of the rooms on the second floor, but fortunately without undermining the structure as a whole. Refurbishment works were being held at the palace when on 1577 a third fire destroyed the Scrutinio Room and the Great Council Chamber, together with works by Gentile da Fabriano, Pisanello, Alvise Vivarini, Vittore Carpaccio, Giovanni Bellini, Pordenone, and Titian. In the subsequent rebuilding work it was decided to respect the original Gothic style, despite the submission of a neo-classical alternative designs by the influential Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. However, there are some classical features — for example, since the 16th century, the palace has been linked to the prison by the Bridge of Sighs. As well as being the ducal residence, the palace housed political institutions of the Republic of Venice until the Napoleonic occupation of the city in 1797, when its role inevitably changed. Venice was subjected first to French rule, then to Austrian, and finally in 1866 it became part of Italy.
Over this period, the palace was occupied by various administrative offices as well as housing the Biblioteca Marciana and other important cultural institutions within the city. By the end of the 19th century, the structure was showing clear signs of decay, and the Italian government set aside significant funds for its restoration and all public offices were moved elsewhere, with the exception of the State Office for the protection of historical Monuments, which is still housed at the palace’s loggia floor. In 1923, the Italian State, owner of the building, entrusted the management to the Venetian municipality to be run as a museum.

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The Venezian Coat of Arms

Old Prisons

The court and the prisons were originally in the Doge’s Palace. Prison cells were in the wells and in the Piombi (the leads). Cells in the wells which were crowded, stuffy, and infested with insects. Cells in the Piombi, directly under the palace’s conductive lead roof, were very hot in summer and very cold in winter. A famous inmate of the Piombi was Giacomo Casanova, who escaped through the roof, re-entered the palace, and was let out through the Porta della Carta.

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The Bridge of Sighs and the New Prisons

A corridor leads over the Bridge of Sighs, built in 1614 to link the Doge’s Palace to the structure intended to house the New Prisons. Enclosed and covered on all sides, the bridge contains two separate corridors that run next to each other. That which visitors use today linked the Prisons to the chambers of the Magistrato alle Leggi and the Quarantia Criminal; the other linked the prisons to the State Advocacy rooms and the Parlatorio. Both corridors are linked to the service staircase that leads from the ground floor cells of the Pozzi to the roof cells of the Piombi. The famous name of the bridge dates from the Romantic period and was supposed to refer to the sighs of prisoners who, passing from the courtroom to the cell in which they would serve their sentence, took a last look at freedom as they glimpsed the lagoon and San Giorgio through the small windows. In the mid-16th century it was decided to build a new structure on the other side of the canal to the side of the palace which would house prisons and the chambers of the magistrates known as the Notte al Criminal. Ultimately linked to the palace by the Bridge of Sighs, the building was intended to improve the conditions for prisoners with larger and more light-filled and airy cells. However, certain sections of the new prisons fall short of this aim, particularly those laid out with passageways on all sides and those cells which give onto the inner courtyard of the building. In keeping with previous traditions, each cell was lined with overlapping planks of larch that were nailed in place.

Sun in Rimini

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After crossing Germany and Austria we arrived at our first hotel in Rimini, Hotel Tamanco. We would stay here for two nights.

Hotel was located near the beach
Hotel was located near the beach

Mum and I dropped off our baggage in our room and headed towards the beach. Rimini was “out of season”, meaning there wasn’t much to do. The boulevards, the shops and bars, even the beach were all deserted except for the people who live there. Many hotels only open March-September for the busy tourist season.

Nevertheless, the beach was lovely and clean. The wind coming from the sea really did us some good, after many hours sitting in the bus.

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Mum, the shoreline hotels and the sun

We walked to the water and it felt very nice. But, no swimming, as we had little time. We wanted to check out the (deserted) boulevard before dinner a well.

We went to bed early that night as we were both very tired. The next morning I wanted to get up early. Sunrise would be around 7:15 and as Rimini’s beach is on the eastern shoreline of Italy… It could be a lovely view.

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And so it was! I got there early and tried some different shots before the real beautiful shots could be made.

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Slowly the sky started turning red. It was a beautiful sight and really worth the early rising and the waiting.

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And there she was, the morning sun!

After these shorts I hurried back to the hotel as I needed to eat before we would depart for Venice/Venezia!

To see all pics I made during this trip, check out my Flickr!

Europakapelle & Europabrücke

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Hello again!

I know it’s been a while but Internet in Italy isn’t all that we’re used to in the Netherlands. So now I am home again, uploading the pictures I took with my digital camera and I wanted to share some more of the Europabrücke and it’s chapel. I found some info on the Wikipedia site but the German version has a lot more info, so I am sharing it with you here as well.

Europabrücke

The information below is from the English Wikipedia site.

Europabrücke, or Europe’s bridge, is a 777-metre (2,549 ft) long bridge spanning the 657-metre (2,156 ft) Wipp valley just south of Innsbruck, Tirol, Austria. The A13 Brenner Autobahn (and European route E45) passes over this bridge, above the Sill River, forming part of the main route from western Austria to Italy via South Tyrol across the Alps. It is also part of the main route between southeastern Germany and northern Italy.
The longest span between pillars is 198 metres (650 ft). Built between 1959 and 1963, it was once Europe’s highest bridge, standing 190 metres (620 ft) high above the ground. The Italia Viaduct took over this title in 1974.

There is a rest stop at the end of the bridge. There you can climb a steep way towards the chapel which gives you a wonderful view of the bridge and it’s surroundings.

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The Europakapelle commemorates the fatalities during the construction of the Brenner Motorway. Due to its impressive artistic design the chapel offers a place for relaxation and for contemplation.

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We were lucky that the weather was sunny and bright. We had a lovely view on the chapel, the bridge and it’s surroundings.

For more pictures of this wonderful trip to and through Italy check out my Flickr!

Busy day in Venezia

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Hello everyone,

Thanks for checking in again. We’re on our way back to the hotel again, another 240 kilometers to go. Today we visited the beautiful but busy water city Venice. As I made many pictures, I would like to add a decent blog about it later. Maybe during the trip, maybe after it. All pictures are on my camera so I’ll need my laptop to add them into the blog post.

Now I am going to relax as it was a busy day.

Thanks for checking in, I am checking out again.

Ta-ta!

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