Pictures by Walter

A View With Every Picture


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Canadian Adventure – Jasper Wildlife

Downtown Jasper

Here we are in Jasper – Jasper, an alpine town in Canada’s Alberta province, is the commercial centre of Jasper National Park. Amid the snow-capped Canadian Rockies, the park has glacier-fed lakes, forests and rivers. The Jasper SkyTram climbs to the summit of Whistlers Mountain, with views of downtown. The Jasper Yellowhead Museum and Archives presents exhibits on the fur trade, railway and early exploration of the park – ready for a day’s exploration and adventure.  We set out from our hotel – Chateau Jasper to walk into town.  It was not too bad a day weather wise.  Our first stop was to find the railway station to familiarise ourselves with the procedure to board the Rocky Mountaineer train.  Alas it was closed – we had not realised that the station only opens on the days that the Rocky Mountaineer departs/Arrives.  The line is usually freight only.  Mind you we took the opportunity to get a photo in front of the old steam locomotive on static display at the station – I would have loved to be on a train hauled by that engine.  As we had the morning to explore we wandered around the town, bought some gifts and Susan enjoyed a fresh made Banana Split, I forget what I had (no evidence exists 🙂 ).  After a nice morning we headed back to the hotel to meet our scheduled tour and exploration of the environs of Jasper and see the wildlife as well as the views.

Jasper is surrounded by mountainous peaks, everywhere we looked a mountain was there, after a while we blanked them out. Hard to believe but true.  It was a case of not being overwhelmed – however that cannot be said for scenery we saw on the coach trip.  On thing we learned right off is the meaning of “Bear Jam”.  Usually it is traffic jam or delays caused by accidents, on this tour is was delays caused by Bears, Elks, Long Horned Sheep and Mountain Goats – all came under the cry of Bear Jam.  When and wherever a bear was spotted near the roadside or along the treeline the traffic slowed and came to a standstill. Windows rolled down and cameras produced.  As that great bear “Yogi” once stated “Everybody loves a bear BoBo” or was that picnic baskets?

The mountains looked high from Jasper but they really took on a different aspect as we traveled alongside/up and down them. It was not that long before the cry was uttered “bear on right hand side” and sure enough there was a black bear merrily walking through the trees.  He was travelling relatively fast, nonchalant with not a care in the world, Sauntering along -was he heading to food, a date with a she bear only he knew, we just grabbed the opportunity to grab the odd picture or dozen.  I certainly took some odd ones. We and the rest of the bear jam, watched the bear amble along for some time. Eventually our driver guide decided it was time to find some Osprey nests.  Along the way we passed through part of the rainforest devastated by fire in 2008 and still struggling to recover. As someone who lives in Scotland I found it hard to accept what my eyes were telling my brain.  Complete destruction – having been involved in fighting a few house fires I am well aware of that raging beast – but not to the scale that was obvious here.  Thankfully there were signs of recovery, but, as our guide said, “It will take a wee while yet”.   The devastation was only outdone by the pleasing sight of a lake set in the mountains.  Alas the nest did not appear to be occupied.  However, this did not deter our driver./guide as we continued our tour for another hour, spotting Elk, Black Bear, Long Horned Sheep and Mountain Goats (all of which had the proverbial <name of animal> Jam.  Only in Canada can one have wildlife so close to a road and drivers stop), before returning to our hotel for the evening.

Elk
Click to see full gallery of images)

 


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Cultural Cities of Northern Europe – Sailing Days

As I watched Tallinn fading into the horizon I realised we had a whole 36 hours of cruising before we reached our next port of call, Kiel, Germany.  I did mention in a previous blog I hated the feeling of being confined to a ship for more than 12 hours when all one has to see is the endless horizon and the empty sea (weather permitting). However, that was a simplistic statement.  We are not confined to our cabins, there is plenty of entertainment, bars, decks to stroll round and observation room to site a gaze at the “Oh so open sea”.  You are assigned a Dining Room and table  for your evening meal at other times you are free to go A’la Carte, eat at the buffet, grill.  There is entertainment twice a night in the main lounge.  Whilst the early sitting is at evening meal tye late sitting have the opportunity to enjoy the evening show. The same show is presented to the well fed and sated early sitters.  The Black Watch entertainers/dancers were far to energetic, especially on a rolling , yawning ship.

Monday 26th September “Golden age of Rock

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The talented team also performed a tribute entitled “Legends” in which the they paid tribute to “Freddy Mercury – Queen”, “Elton John”,  “Cher”, “Grease”, “Elvis”, “Abba”, “Cabaret”,  “The Rat Pack” and .

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“Queen & Freddy Mercury”

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“Elton John”

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“Gypsy, Tramps & Thieves – Cher”

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“Grease”

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“Elvis”

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“Abba”

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“Carbaret”

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“Rat Pack”

Gallery

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Gallery of 55 Images of “Legends” show

 


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Cultural Cities of Northern Europe – Tallinn

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Historic Centre (Old Town) of Tallinn The origins of Tallinn date back to the 13th century, when a castle was built there by the crusading knights of the Teutonic Order. It developed as a major centre of the Hanseatic League, and its wealth is demonstrated by the opulence of the public buildings (the churches in particular) and the domestic architecture of the merchants’ houses, which have survived to a remarkable degree despite the ravages of fire and war in the intervening centuries. (Extract from UNESCO) (Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0)

Early Saturday morning saw us docked near the Estonian city of Tallinn. Tallinn is a contrast of modern and medieval – the outer part is modern verging on ultra modern but the heart of the city is sited on a hill, the medieval town.  Our ship was dock well outside the city and we had to bus into the modern part to be dropped off at the foot of the hill for a long walk up through one of the medieval gates into the small cramped streets. The old square is surrounded with medieval buildings with some fine attachments. I’m sure that the talk given by the tour guide was interesting and informative, however, we where on top of a hill, exposed to the wind which added a windchill factor of Freezing.  We stood there for 5 minutes before setting of on our own for bit of a wander around the centre before going for a sample of mid morning tea and folk dance display.

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Susan and I enjoyed our little meander around this old town.  Looking at how the old buildings were being used for modern business without destroying the outer facade of the building. We spotted  dragons, a Scottish Pub, some intriguing statues, carved doorways as well as a few Irish pubs

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After about an hour we made our way back to the meeting point in time for the “Cultural Treat”.  The folk dance was interesting unfortunately it was very vigorous and too fast for me to capture via my camera, as I had not taken my fast lens.  (Oh well lesson learnt there). 30 minutes later we were heading back to our coach for the return trip to the ship.  Like all shore excursions there does not appear to be enough time to explore places in detail.  It takes so long to get between places and so little time at the destination.  What did stick in my mind is that Tallinn is a town of two parts the ancient surround by the modern. This can be summed up with the opening image and the closing image taken as we departed the docks.
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Click on this image to see Flickr Gallery of 37 images from Tallinn


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Cultural Cities of Northern Europe – St Petersburg

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The Admiralty building is the former headquarters of the Admiralty Board and the Imperial Russian Navy in St. Petersburg, Russia and the current headquarters of the Russian Navy. The edifice was re-built in the nineteenth century to support the Tsar’s maritime ambitions

The morning of Friday 29th September 2017 saw us docking at St Petersburg – I was up very early and watched the ship manoeuvring up stream to the docks near the city centre.  We had been briefed, via a ship’s newsletter, as to how we approached Russian Immigration.  I thought UK Immigration staff were poker face but the Russians had them beat for deadpan face.  I will admit to slight trepidation as I entered the room, passed my visa and passport across, after a few minutes of being scrutinised and my passport checked, an entry visa was stamped into my passport.  (After 46 years and going through four passports my fifth was the one that had a visa stamp stamped onto it).  Anyway I digress, having passed through immigration we made our way to our tour bus – Everyday St Petersburg – and it was everyday St Petersburg.  We did see some of the historical/touristic sites but only externally.  We explored the city centre, enjoyed a trip on the Moscow Metro, walks along “Nevsky Prospekt” bought a few gifts.  As far as the cruise went St Petersburg was the highlight and the Metro trip was the bonus.  Unlike the last two cities with quick tours St Petersburg was 8.5 hours and we enjoyed every  minute of it.

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The Church of the Savior on Blood commemorates the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated personal collection

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Saint Isaac’s Cathedral or Isaakievskiy Sobor in Saint Petersburg, Russia, is the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in the city. It is the largest orthodox basilica and the fourth largest cathedral in the world.

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One of the many mosaics on the St Petersburg Metro

 

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St Petersburg Metro Station. The cleanliness and upkeep of all the staions and art work are of a very high standard

 

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Puskin’s Statue at Metro station named after him

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Click on Image for St Petersburg Gallery of 51 Images

We left St Petersburg early evening and watched the lights of the city fade as we sailed down river to the Baltic See and an overnight cruise to our next port of call Tallinn in Estonia


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Cultural Cities of Northern Europe-Helsinki

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Helsinki sits on a peninsula in the Gulf of Finland. Its central avenue, Mannerheimintie, is flanked by institutions including the National Museum, tracing Finnish history from the Stone Age to the present. Also on Mannerheimintie are the imposing Parliament House and Kiasma, a contemporary art museum. Ornate red-brick Uspenski Cathedral overlooks a harbor

Cultural Cities of Northern Europe (September-October 2017)

We departed Copenhagen later Wednesday  heading for our next port of call  – Helsinki.   We arrived in the early hours of Thursday and would have six hours to explore the city before setting sail for St. Petersburg.  We elected to have the city tour and set off to see the touristic sites and monuments.

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Helsinki Central Station is the main station for commuter rail and long-distance trains departing from Helsinki, Finland. The station is used by approximately 400,000 people per day, of which about 200,000 are passengers

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Alexis Kivi, born Alexis Stenvall, (10 October 1834 – 31 December 1872) was a Finnish author who wrote the first significant novel in the Finnish language, Seven Brothers (Finnish title: Seitsemän veljestä). Although Kivi was among the very earliest authors of prose and lyrics in Finnish language, he is still considered one of the greatest.He also died alone in a mental hospital

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our tour took us to the Sibelius Monument and Bust.

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The Sibelius Monument by Eila Hiltunen is dedicated to the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. The monument is located at the Sibelius Park in the district of Töölö in Helsinki, the capital city of Finland (Wikipedia)

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Marja Leena Suvela – Keraamikko Ceramicist , Helsinki

On returning to the ship we spent some time in the Finish market at the dock – of course we bought some souvenirs, one stall in particular interested us.  Susan was delight that the objects were made by the stall holder  Marja Leena Suvela – Keraamikko Ceramicist , Helsinki

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Click for Gallery of 41 images of our visit to Helsink

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Cultural Cities of Northern Europe – Copenhagen

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(1) Gefion Fountain by Anders Bundgaard

On Monday 24th September 2017 Susan and I set of on our first sea cruise.  I say our as Susan has made three previous sea cruises, this was my first.  We had book on the Fred Olsen “Cultural Cities of Northern Europe” cruise.  This ten day Baltic Sea cruise took us to Copenhagen (Denmark), Helsinki (Finland), St Petersburg (Russia), Tallinn (Estonia) and Kiel (Germany) the back to Rosyth, Scotland via the Kiel Canal and North Sea.  We set sail at 5 pm Sunday evening and cruised the North Sea To Copenhagen (Denmark) and docked Early Tuesday morning.   After breakfast we boarded our City Tour (with Canal Cruise) to explore Copenhagen city and harbour. We were taken to the usual tourist sites such as:

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Little Mermaid: At Langelinje Pier you will find one of Copenhagen’s most famous tourist attractions: The sculpture of The Little Mermaid. On 23 August 2013 she turned 100 years old. She has been beheaded several times, dubbed with red paint – in all for a statute she has had an eventful 114 years

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St. Alban’s Church, ( the English Church), is an Anglican church in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was built from 1885 to 1887 for the growing English congregation in the city. Designed by Arthur Blomfield as a traditional English parish church in the Gothic Revival style.

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On 6 September 1982, a Danish frigate, the HDMS Peder Skram, accidentally fired a Harpoon missile during maneuvers in the Kattegat.[1] The missile traveled 34 kilometers at low level, severing several power lines before striking some trees after which it exploded. The fireball and subsequent shock wave destroyed four unoccupied summer cottages and damaged a further 130 buildings in the immediate vicinity. No human injury was reported.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Copenhagen Opera House is the national opera house of Denmark, and among the most modern opera houses in the world. It is also one of the most expensive opera houses ever built with construction costs well over US$500 million

 

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Copenhagen Gallery – Click on image to view 46 images


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20170806 – Steam to Tweedmouth

Fife Circle to Tweedmouth and Back

Outbound

SRPS (Scottish Railway Preservation Society) Railtours Fife Coast and Border’s Railway steam special. Hauled by Sir William Stanier’s iconic Black Five 45407 The Lancashire Fusilier.

We set off at 08:50 from Linlithgow on time. Our train of 10 passenger coaches + 1 service coach was headed / hauled by Ex LMS Stainier Black Five 44507 “The Lancashire Fusilier” and tailed by a type 37 diesel.  The day promised to be interesting and hopefully the weather would be mild with no rain.

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(1) Our train arrives

(1) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f6.3, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 50 mm,  Shutter 1/100th sec ISO 100

On this trip we would cross the river Forth four times. Twice outbound and twice return.  We would travel round the Fife Circle picking up passengers  at  Dunfermline Town (Photo Stop), Kirkcaldy, Dalgety Bay

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(2) Crossing the River Forth for 1st of four crossings.[/caption]

(2) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f7.5, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 20 mm,  Shutter 1/125th sec ISO 100

There was a planned photo-stop at Dumfermline Station whilst we awaited our path on the circle. Most photographers stayed on the same platform. As we would be here for some time I opted for a different less crowed photography point i.e. The other platform.

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(3) Dunfermline Photo Stop

(3) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f5.6, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 50 mm,  Shutter 1/80th sec ISO 100 

From Dumfermline made our way around the Fife stopping for passenger at Kirkcaldy and Dalgety Bay before making our way to Edinburgh Waverley to pick up our final passengers.  Then it was full steam ahead to Tweedmouth and the Borders Railway

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(4) Gathering Speed towards Edinburgh[/caption]

(4) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f6.3, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 110 mm,  Shutter 1/160th sec ISO 100

We arrived at Tweedmouth on time and made our way to lunch at Abbotsford.

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(5) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f6.3, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 50 mm,  Shutter 1/100th sec ISO 100

 Return

We depart at 15:15 from Tweedmouth, this time we were hauled by the Type 37 Diesel as far as Newcraighall triangle where “The Lancashire Fusilier” one again hauled the train in Edinburgh Waverley.
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(6) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f5.6, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 200 mm,  Shutter 1/250th sec ISO 1000

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Unfortunately due to a signal check we lost our right of way and had to wait for a suitable space in traffic.

(7) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f5.6, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 200 mm,  Shutter 1/200th sec ISO 1250

We reversed our Outbound route Stopping at Dalgety Bay, Kirkcaldy, Dumfermline and a 45 minute water stop at Winchburgh Junction.

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(8) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f5.6, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 200 mm,  Shutter 1/250th sec ISO 1000

Despite losing time on the return journey prior to Edinburgh we had made up time and arrived back at Linlithgow as scheduled. Throughout the journey the volunteer SRPS staff had provide a very professional service to the passengers.

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Gallery – click on image