Memoirs of a Glacier

I learned a lot about glaciers and how life in Iceland is very directly shaped and influenced on a regular basis by the earth and weather patterns that surround people there. And I will be the first to say that I do not remember everything I heard or saw on this trip, but some elements do stand out from our day trip to [actual name of national park] and the Ice Caves tour.

Glaciers are big. I mean really, really big. So much so that you cannot fathom the size of it as you stand at the edge of one it becomes more awe inspiring to know that this huge “sheet” of ice holds within it not just frozen water, but parts of mountains, trees, likely animal remains, volcanish ash (maybe exclusive to Icelandic glaciers), and other parts of the earth that couldn’t get out of its way.

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Glaciers are affecting the world around it while it appears to sit there like a big, frozen glacier-shaped log.  As they move and/or melt, what remains after are what many area of the world now live on. They have flattened out vast spaces in their melted wake. But they also hold down the earth under it, even pulling nearby hills and small mountains physically down with its incredible weight. (Don’t try finding a scale. Glaciers don’t like to talk about their weight.) So as it melts and loses even small fractions of its mass, Iceland itself is actually rising from the relief of the cold burden at a rate of up to 1.5cm/year. Insane!

Glaciers affect weather patterns around the world acting as a stingy bank who would prefer not to let us withdraw from its deposits. And yet here we are marketing glacier water as a great drinking source. I suddenly feel just the smallest tinge to yell “save the glaciers, save the world.”

Glaciers are really pretty from far away and up close.

Iceland - the edge of the glacier
The edge of the glacier!

 

Ice Caves
The ice caves at the edge of the glacier. So. Beautiful.

 

I thought there may be some good life lesson to be found here. Perhaps there is a lesson about some big things do change us, but in very small ways and steps that aren’t immediately apparent if we stand back and take stock of who we were and who we are now. Maybe there’s a glacier in your life now that you want to rid yourself of because you feel like it’s holding you down, but in reality it’s providing a stable environment we don’t appreciate until it’s gone and things go haywire.

Or maybe this post will just be about glaciers and how cool they are. [See what I did there? That’s some solid wordplay. Because glaciers are cool. And solid. OK, I’m stopping now.]

Photography: Finding the Light in the Darkness

I recently acquired a new DSLR, the Nikon D7000. It’s a beautiful piece of camera hardware that has features I only hope to fully grasp in the coming months – and likely years. Since it’s higher up in the ladder of NIkon’s DSLR range, it has better compatibility to do more with less light. Things like a bigger ISO range, less image noise, a better image processor, and so on.

So this winter I took it out to try my hand at some night photography and capture Christmas decorations and the quiet stillness of a winter evening. One thing that cannot be properly captured here is the cold air that bites at my fingers while I setup a shot. Below are just a few examples of what I’ve been able to capture so far with the D7000 and a 35mm/1.8 prime lens, except where noted below.

Continue reading “Photography: Finding the Light in the Darkness”

Karlstejn Castle

Today I left the city of Prague to city a town called Karlstejn that has one Karlstejn Castle. Charles IV once lived here (he was once also the Holy Roman Emporer.) It was a 40 minute train ride outside of Prague. Have I mentioned how much I love trains? They go everywhere and are so affordable here. Anyway, I can only share photos from the outside, as this was another location where photos indoors were not allowed. However, they have done a great job keeping the castle frozen in time as much as possible, with some relics and paintings dating back to the 14th century.

Enjoy the photos. As with any of them, full resolution versions available upon request.

The John Lennon Wall in Prague

Per the Wikipedia article,

The Lennon Wall is a wall in PragueCzech Republic. Once a normal wall, since the 1980s it has been filled with John Lennon-inspired graffiti and pieces of lyrics from Beatles songs.

During my meanderings around Prague yesterday afternoon, I finally found it, though by accident. Most of the original Lennon art is gone and covered up by other things with a fair amount of Beatles related graffiti.

Prague: Feels Like Home

Yesterday I came back to what feels like my home away from home: Prague. After spending 2 weeks here to start my sabbatical, I’m back at Sir Toby’s where I first stayed when I arrived – even back in the same room! There’s a certain comfort in starting and ending this trip in the same place. I suppose it gives it a sense of completeness, like closing the loop on the experience this has been.

The above photo is of the Charles Bridge that I took during my first week. I took it from I believe the south tower of St. Vitus Cathedral. It’s incredible to see how many people cross that bridge when they come to it. 🙂

I only have 5 more full days here before I return to reality on Friday. Though there isn’t much I want to do, I plan to make the most of the time by seeing one or two more sights and spending my free time reading and journaling/blogging. One of the main purposes of this sabbatical was for rest and I have no qualms about the fact that I didn’t see everything. Even if I had, would it matter much in the end? And while I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being away, I do have some excitement building in me for getting back to what is familiar.

The photo below, also taken during the first week in Prague, was taken just outside this hostel as I was heading out for the day. For anyone from or connection to Chicago, this will bring a smile to you. I think I now know where Chicagoans got the idea.

In Love With Lucerne

Days like today make everything about this trip so worth it. I opted to take a 1/2 day excursion on “The Golden Round Trip” to Pilatus. It consisted of a boat ride across Lake Lucerne, a cogwheel railway ride up to Pilatus Kulm, the noted high spot of central Switzerland and high point of this outing. Afterwards, you descend back down via cableway cars. The views were breathtaking to say the least and while the pictures give you a nice view, obviously there’s nothing like being there. I have photos of the city of Lucerne itself, but I will save those for other blog posts. These are all of today’s outing and maybe, I believe, are postcard ready. 🙂

 

That’s me!

 

A Brief Look at Zurich

My Internet time is somewhat limited, so I’m only posting a couple photos of Zurich by night. Tomorrow, at some point, I will head off to Lucerne where I’ll stay for 3 nights. I seem to be feeling a bit better finally. Maybe it just took some new scenery and sunny skies (thanks for all the rain, Munich!) to clear me up. For now, enjoy the few pics below.


The Signs of Fall in Prague

I’ve wandered through parks and continue to just watch the locals do their thing. I like getting the perspective of the “other side” of life here, the part that isn’t all about the activity in the city center and main attractions. Enjoy the walk through the pictures. Each one will be followed by its name as if found in an art gallery.

Dogs playing in the park.

Mother with child and puppy.

Golden framing.

For want of a balloon.

Catching some rays before nightfall.

I see you.

Untitled.

(I love sunsets.)