Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Berlin - Day 1 - November 2014

Time I got the blog going again.  Finally updating my travel photos again from November 2014. Slack I know but I've been busy. I never did keep a diary of my travels on this trip, so my memories are just going to be from the photos.

After Amersfoort in the Netherlands and saying bye to Jay and Gordon, I flew out the next morning to Berlin. I got a front seat in the plane (first class on a budget airline), and after landing, walked to the train station to catch the train. After much hemming and hawing I finally managed to get the ticket machine to work and get a ticket, but had no idea if I had the right one.  Fortunately a nice young man helped me, and then helped me find my station as we had to change once or twice, and had great difficulty trying to find the right platforms. Really laughable at the end. The young man was from Slick Steve and the Gangsters - which I found his poster plastered right outside my backpackers!

I booked into Wombats, Berlin, in a six bed dorm, but the only bed available was a top bunk, which wasn't really suitable for me with my balance. No one was prepared to change, so I had to upgrade to a private room, which ended up being really nice.  Dumped my luggage and then headed across the road to eat at a thai place for lunch as I was starving.

Once sated, I headed out to explore, caught the train down to Alexanderplatz, then down another two stations to look around.  The architecture was amazing...

Remnants of the Berlin Wall were around, many decorated with art...

I enjoyed looking at the German Treats, but I didn't try as I was full of Thai food!

I'm always a sucker for merry go rounds - especially with the lights on.  I wished I had had my tripod!

This was the weekend of the 30th anniversary of the wall coming down, so there was a lot of history on show...

More wall art...

Okay this is a red elephant, but I have no idea what it meant.  But took a photo anyway!

Found a garden of gold statues...

Then made my way to the Memorial of Murdered Jews of Europe..

This memorial is for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold. It consists of a 19,000 m2 (4.7-acre) site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or "stelae", arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. The stelae are 2.38 m (7 ft 10 in) long, 0.95 m (3 ft 1 in) wide and vary in height from 0.2 to 4.8 m (7.9 in to 15 ft 9.0 in). They are organized in rows, 54 of them going north–south, and 87 heading east–west at right angles but set slightly askew. An attached underground "Place of Information" holds the names of all known Jewish Holocaust victims, obtained from the Israeli Museum Yad Vashem.
Building began on April 1, 2003, and was finished on December 15, 2004. It was inaugurated on May 10, 2005, sixty years after the end of  WWII, and opened to the public two days later. It is located one block south of the Brandenburg Gate, in the Friedrichstadt neighborhood. The cost of construction was approximately 25 million

It was starting to get pretty dark so as I was still jetlagged decided to head back to the Hostel.  Caught the train back to Alexanderplatz, and then walked back through the shopping areas.  Wanted to buy a few things, but couldn't because lack of space in luggage!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Fire at Northbank - Onamalutu.

I awoke this morning to the smell of smoke. I picked up my iPad to find messages to ask if I were okay and wondered what the fuss was. The fuss was bigger than I thought. Just 2km away from a fire was raging out of control at Northbank. Clouds of smoke billowed into the sky, some white, some black, and some pink.

We've had no rain for weeks, the driest summer in 40 years in this region.

I decided to stay at home and monitor the situation, but then RW from the Camera Club wanted to take photos, so I picked him up from the Renwick Takeaways and down to Northbank we went. These are some of the photos I got from the day.

Using my Sigma 120-400mm I took this from the road. A short while later one of the vineyard tractors towing a water truck dampened down this flare up.
Helicopters carring monsoon buckets were flying right over us, and the big zoom lens meant I couldn't get everthing in!

Another one of the flare up getting out of control.

Where there's smoke, there's fire.

This little patch of fire quickly got out of control and raced up the hill. Everything is tinder dry as we've had no rain for weeks.

We were taking photos at the section where the road was closed, but further up the road the fire was much worse and raging out of control.

We were wearing hi-vis vests, so when some officials came up talked to the road block people, we cheekily asked if we could get a ride up to the action. I didn't expect the answer to be yes, but it was!

This is where all the helicopters were starting up from, getting their monsoon buckets, and swapping around crew.

And off he goes to join the others.

We were only allowed to stay in that area for a very short while, and then we were taken back to the road block. This was taken out the window while we were heading back, which is the reason it's not quite as in focus as the others.

However, the driver stopped to let us take this one.

After that, we headed back into my car and drove to the otherside of the river we hoped to get images of the helicopters picking up the water from the river.

Monsoon bucket dropping into the water. I should have had my wide angle lens on. In fact I changed it in the hope another one would come in close, but they started filling up from another water hole rather than this one. Probably because there were simply too many people on the bank, and there had already been one helicopter crash this morning filling up the monsoon buckets. Apparently a gust of wind got the helicopter and it lost control.

I did put my wide angle lens on for a short while, and here you can see the extent of the fire and the smoke filled sky.

We bumped into two other Camera Club members, and they told us of a place further down the stopbank, so we headed down there and walked down to the river. This was with my 400mm Lens, so we were not close to the whirly birds at all, and we didn't venture closer as we didn't want to interfere with their work.

The last image I took - two helicopters flying off with full monsoon bucket, and a third one in the distance on it's way back.

As of the time writing this, the fire is still raging out of control although the wind has died down so hopefuly we'll see the last of it soon.