22-26 January 13 present and former colleagues from NNE spent at Saalbach-Hinterglem, Austria, for some days of skiing. The trip was planned for taking place last year but cancelled due to a virus. We were all looking forward to the trip but there was some uncertainty and anxiety up to the days before departure. The Danes needed a negative PCR-test (max 42 hours old). It was enough with a third booster shoot for the Swede but needed proof, train ticket, that I just arrived from Malmö the same day.
We travelled with Northlander and stayed at Skinetworks Hotel Pinzgauerhof in Hinterglem. Perfectly located close to the lift Reiterkogelbahn, ski rent Heil’s and after ski Goaßstall.
Friday and Saturday before arrival it was snowing. Sunday it was a little bit cloudy, Monday-Wednesday it was Kaiserwetter!!
14-21 of October, Mickey and I visited the small beach resort Agia Marina, Crete, not far from Chania. We travelled with TUI and stayed at Atlantica Caldera Village, room no. 212 with a great view from the balcony, overlooking the village, sea and the island Agioi Theodoroi, a nature reserve inhabited by the Kri-Kri goat.
Here follow some stories and pictures of what we did during our stay, enjoy.
Beach walk Agia Marina – Palatinas, 8 km.
Hill walk Agia Marina – Cave Nerospilia, 8 km. (the cave was closed)
Beach walk Agia Marina – Chania, 11 km.
Chania is the capital of the Chania regional unit. It lies along the north west coast and consists of the city itself and several nearby villages.
On the way we had a break at Iguana Beach and passed Abandoned Graffiti House,
In Chania we walked along the Venetian Port, where we had lunch. We took the bus back to Agia Marina.
Bus day to Elafonisi:
Monday we went on a bus trip to the beach Elafonisi. The trip went via the gorge Topolia and a stop at Cave Agia Sofia (Wisdom of God) before we reached Elefonisi.
Here we spent a couple of hours walking around, swimming and relax on the beach. Elafonisi is an island when the tide is high and famous for it’s pink “sand”, that actually is seashells. Since many tourists have taken the sand with them home, there isn’t much left. The authorities have strengthen the rules and set high penalty for removing the sand.
Many thanks to our guide Joanna, who told many good stories about the culture of Crete and the scenery we passed through.
Beach walk at Elafonisi, 2 km.
Wednesday we rented a VW Up from a local travel agency, Beyond Travel, on the main street in Agia Marina.
The journey: Agia Mariana – Gorge of Imbros – Hora Sfakion – Frangokastello – Giorgioupoli – Kourna Lake – Agia Marina.
The gorge of Imbros is the second most popular gorge, after Samaria. for walkers on Crete. The gorge of Imbros was the main route through which Allied Forces evacuated Crete in late May 1941 after losing the Battle of Crete. Close to 20.000 troops (mainly New Zealanders, Australians and Brits) headed from the North of the island through the gorge of Imbros to Komitades and Hora Sfakion where they were due to be picked up by ships and taken to Egypt. About 13.000 made it onto ships. The rest were made prisoners by the Germans or escaped to the hills. There is a monument in Hora Sfakion commemorating these events.
Hora Sfakion is a small village with a main harbour front of tavernas, two minimarkets, a butcher, and a bakery. There is a quiet local beach immediately west of the village, and several pebbly beaches nearby. Hóra Sfakíon has a variety of tourist accommodations: rooms, studios, and apartments. The local economy is based on tourism, fishing, olive-oil production, and sheep and goat herding.
28 May – 1 June, 1941, British and Australian forces was evacuated from this bay after passing the the gorge of Imbros.
Frangokastello is a castle and scattered settlement on the south coast of Crete. The castle was built by the Venetians in 1371–1374 as a garrison to impose order on the rebellious Sfakia region, to deter pirates, and to protect Venetian nobles and their properties.
Returning to the north coast, Mickey found an alternative way on Google Maps. A small winding road with around 25 hairpin turns. I admit I was little nervous driving up this road. Very steep, narrow, no crash barrier, parts of the road broken and fallen off on one side, stones and rocks fallen on to the road on the other. Glad we didn’t meet any cars…
Due to the narrow road and suffering from a little bit anxiety, I “forgot” to take photos of the beautiful scenery. Found this picture on Google Maps.
Credit: Wolfgang Johannes
Formerly a small fishing village, Georgioupolis is more of tourist town now. The town square is surrounded by outdoor seating. The 9 km beach is the main attraction of the area with the church of Agios Nikolaos on the islet with the same name. Here you also find a small harbor at Turtle River, where you can rent different kind of boats to go up the river or out on the sea.
Nearby Kourna Lake is a popular excursion.
Kourna Lake is the only natural freshwater lake on Crete. It covers an area of 579 acres and maximum depth reaches 22 meters. The lake is a protected area as an important wetland with many species like moorhens, ducks, eels, snakes and a rare two-color turtle and occasionally herons.
A day spent at Gorgona Beach Club with sun, backgammon and bodysurfing in the quite big waves. Thanks to Director Alex and staff, for friendly and good service (and for use of your backgammon).
Restaurants Agia Marina:
These are the restaurants we tried. Dessert and raki served was the custom when paying the bill. “Raki is like Ouzo, but worse” – statement from a waitress.
Botonis – Grilled pork chops. The wood fired “globe grill” was standing in the restaurant
Neraida – Mixed grill, more than enough for two (got doggie bag for lunch next day)
Nostos – Ingo: Moussaka, Mickey: chicken gyros
Olivi – Both had very nice beef steaks with great “potato salad” (potato mixed with garlic, lemon and parsley)
16 – 20 December 2019 I had the pleasure of joining the Munk family, Birgitte, Morten and Andreas, on a ski trip to Davos, Switzerland. We stayed at the very nice Sunstar Hotel close to Davos Platz.
SAS flight to Zürich – train from the airport to Davos with change at Zürich HB and Landquart. Approx. 2,5 hours.
Tip: Save some money on the return ticket by using the ski pass to Kloster and buy the train ticket starting from here. Disadvantage – you need to change train one more time in Kloster.
During the week it was only Parsenn and Jakobshorn that was open and quite a few lifts and pistes at these areas was closed. Don’t know if the reason was early in the season, lack of people, lack of snow (I think there was ok with the white stuff) or due to strong winds sometimes – maybe a combo… anyways, we got some really nice runs during the stay, both on and off the piste.
Conversation day one, after arriving at the top of Jakobshorn:
Ingo – “Note that I haven’ been skiing at all this year, I have an injured knee, still in rehab mode, I have rented skis I haven’t tried yet. Let’s take it easy the first couple of runs, on the piste.”
Morten – “No problem, we do that.”
After approx 300 m down a transport run…
Morten (stops looking over the edge, off piste) – “This looks nice, let’s try!”
Ingo – “What!!”
Morten – “Looks fine, let’s try. No problem, we take it easy…”
Ingo – “Ok, let’s try it but it’s against my will ;-)”
…and off we go. It was fun, went well but I admit, I was “a bit” nervous…
Flight CPH – Madrid with a friend of Norwegian. Limited service on board. Good we bought a Joe and the Juice spicy tuna sandwich to go as “on-flight-meal”.
Metro #10 from airport, change to #8 to Tribunal.
Checked in at Rentalis Gran Via Fuencarral, an Airbnb flat (didn’t know booking.com have airbnb). Small, nice and clean with fantastic location. It was a challenge finding the entrance since the notification from Booking.com didn’t have a street number. Called the host, José, that guided and greeted us. José liked Madrid very much and he wanted the guests to do the same :-). He explained and marked all the sights in Madrid on a map.
It was raining so limited walkabout. Dinner at the local Delisko.
Monday – walkabout theme “Getting High”, 16 km
Sunny and chilly. 4-8 degrees in the early morning! Mickey comment, “like being at a ski resort – clear blue sky, sun and cold”.
The host José marked some viewpoints on the map.
Started with Mimosa (Cava + orange juice) brunch at Brunch club – great brunch salad, Mickey Slamon wrap
First viewpoint – El Cortes Ingles – view to Schweppes building
Second viewpoint Endifico Espana – 360 Rooftop bar where Stephani served us rosado, birthday version :-).
Passing Templo de Debod on the way to third viewpoint, Teleferico de Madrid
Walked through Parque del Teleferico and passing Lago Casa de Campo on the way to Palacio Real and Catedral de la Almudena for viewpoint #four. Arrived too late, It closed at 14:30.
Dinner at restaurant La Cabana Argentina Mickey’s birthday gift to me 🙂
Mickey invited to cocktail bar – 1862 Dry Bar
March 15-22 I spent in Sestriere, Italy, together with Patrik, Jesper, Casper, Bo and Martin – Team Holst. Thanks to Casper that arranged the trip through Slopetrotter.
We flew Air Berlin to Torino and SAS home from Milano. 1,5 hours transfer from Torino to Sestriere and 3 hours the other way. A “memorable” moment on Air Berlin was the free “sandwich”…
Sestriere is located at 2035 m. above sea level, 17 km from the French border. It is a part of the ski area Via Lattea (milky way) that has around 145 skiable pistes, that adds up to approx. 400 km.
Landmarks in town are the two round hotel towers that was built in the 1930’s by the FIAT family for the employees at the car factory in Torino to spend their winter holidays. It is still a popular winter resort and the population goes from the 800 inhabitants to approx 20.000 during the winter holidays. In 2006 Sestriere was a part of the winter Olympics.
We had 6 days with sun, blue sky and warm weather. First couple of hours during the day the piste was hard, “wash boardish”. The next couple of hours it was nice and soft, sometimes a bit of spring snow. Some slopes turned a bit too slushy in the afternoon.
Easyjet from Kastrup to Gatwick. Hold luggage only, no check in. One hold luggage really means ONE, no camera or “man purse” on the side. I had booked the tickets with Ingo Johansson and that what it said on the boarding pass. It says Ingvar Johansson in the passport, not smart. It cost normally DKK 720 to change it but the assistant was very nice and changed free of charge, thanks a lot for that!
Took the regular train, Southern, from Gatwick to Victoria Station (when we finally found the right platform and train). Takes little longer than the Express but is half price. Buy a train ticket that include day pass on the tube. Approx £15/pers. Continued with the underground from Victoria to Oxford Circus and then it was only a few minutes walk to the flat at Dufours Place (had problems finding that too, tip: get a proper map from the start ;-).
Booked the flat via airbnb.com. It had two bedroom, two toilets, a large living room area incl. kitchen and a balcony. Prime location:
1 min. walk to Carnaby Street
2 min. walk to Oxford Street
5 min. walk to Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square and China Town
10 min. walk to Trafalgar Square and The National Gallery
15 min. walk to Buckingham Palace
20 min. walk to Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye
The resort doesn’t have a “normal” beach. It has a couple of jetties sticking out over the coral reef and end at the reef wall. A stair leads down to a fantastic underwater world.
The “beach” area is built up in levels with beach beds and umbrellas. It’s a rustique, marine like style that I found suited the area well.High heels and other walking obsticales could be a challenge with many stairs, sand and cobble stone.
I was surprised that even since the hotel was from ’97 the reef was ok “healthy” with lots of colorful fish and coral. A life guard on each jetty was also efficient to whistle when people didn’t behave and went outside marked area etc.
The pool area was big with a “lazy river”, a 300 m long “river” that was “running” in a circle around the pool area.
We took the hotel shuttle bus to Naama Bay one afternoon and walked around the main street and board walk.Very loud and busy with the different bars competing who could play the worst music as loud as possible. The Egyptian sales men are VERY eager and like glue to you. Learned that you shouldn’t even say “no thank you” insted totally ignore them…Had dinner at restaurant Dannaneer, that was recommended by the guide. Nice and cheap steaks.
Tuesday was Jeep safari. Offroad through the dessert with an exciting driver that preffered the off offroad.First stop was a Bedouin graveyard where the guide, Rasmus, told some stories. For instance how marriage works: From when the daughter is 13 years old, the father puts a green flag on the door. Interested men visit the home. The daughter make and serve tea to the man. If the tea is sweet he is approved, if the tea is bitter and strong it’s a “no go”…
Second stop was Dahab where we should pick up snorkeling gear to the ones that didn’t had any.These houses the government built for the Bedouins some 4 years ago. Many of the Bedouins prefer to live their own life in tents and home made sheds like they always had. Half of the houses are empty and the area is not finished and looks like some sort of ghost town.
Third stop was a camel ride to the Blue Hole.One of the myths about camels is that the camel stores water in its hump. The truth is the hump is a fatty deposit that provides energy when food is scarce.The camel stores water in its blood stream. It’s capable of losing forty percent of its body’s weight before becoming distressed and is able to go five to seven days before having to drink. The amount it drinks can add up to 80 l. in about 10 minutes.The camel’s mouth is tough and rubbery so that thorns and branches won’t damage it. The thirty-four sharp teeth allow it to bite off tough bites of almost anything, and when forage is short a camel can subsist on meats, skin and bones. Camels have three stomachs. They don’t chew their food but eat by swallowing their food whole and allowing it to be partially digested by the stomachs before being chewed as a cud later.
The Blue Hole is a very special place. I thought it was out in the sea but no, it’s just a couple of meters off the beach. A coral reef formed as a circle with a 120 meter hole in the middle.In the middle there is a rope across where free divers train and try to get as deep as possible. Some succed some doesn’t. On the cliff wall there are signs with the names of the ones that didn’t come up again and is still lying on the bottom of the hole. It’s has the nickname “Diver’s Cemetery”.We passed the signs and walked around the cliff on the image. There we started the snorkel tour. Ended with circle the Blue Hole and on the right side there is a underwater plateau that was beautiful.
Last stop on this adventures day was The 3 Pools just out side Dahab. also here the reef was just of the beach. One of our favorites was the “tower corals”. Highrise coral reef sticking up from the bottom. Lots of activity and fantastic colors.
Thursday we went on a snorkel/diving boat trip with Colona Divers. Leaving early in the morning to Sharks Bay were we entered the boat that should take us out to 3 different reefs in the Tiran straight.This image is from Gordon reef where this russian ship collided with the reef some 11 years ago coz the captain had too much vodka.We also visited Jackson reef and Raz Gamilla. At the last one we had a drift snorkel tour that was a fantastic experience. We jumped from the boat at one end of the reef while the boat still was drifting. The current took us floating along the reef for an hour and all we had to do was to “steer” so we didn’t hit the reef. We saw Barracuda, free swimming Moray eel (apparently very unusual), giant Puffer fish and lots of other fish.