Kirkjubøargarður (Faroese for Yard of Kirkjubøur, also known as King’s Farm) is one of the oldest still inhabited wooden houses of the world, if not the oldest according to Wikipedia.
The old farmhouse of Kirkjubøur dates back to the 11th century. It was the episcopal residence and seminary of the Diocese of the Faroe Islands, from about 1100. The legend says, that the wood for the block houses came as driftwood from Norway and was accurately bundled and numbered, just for being set up.
The ruins of the Magnus Cathedral (Kirkjubømúrurin), built by Bishop Erlendur around the year 1300 is very impressive. The medieval building was never completed and still remains unfinished and without a roof.
The grass roofs of the traditional houses are very beautiful and something I have not seen anywhere else.
What I am finding even more beautiful is the landscape of rocky outcrops, cliffs and islands jutting out of the sea. It is the stuff of dreams and magic and we can’t wait to experience more of this beautiful place.
My journey to Christchurch to work on a book project is my first time travelling to the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. Although I have been to NZ a few times over the last decade, I have never ventured any further south than the region of Taranaki.
Christchurch, as many readers would know, was devastated by an earthquake in February 2011. It has been a difficult and expensive process to rebuild the city and although a lot of progress has happened, many heritage buildings may never be restored just because of the sheer cost.
Today I spent the day walking around the city centre and also rode the inner city tram which was a really nice way to learn about Christchurch. It is a little pricy at $20NZ, but you can hop on and off all day. The drivers also share a lot of local knowledge so I think it is worth the money.
There are some fabulous places to visit when in Christchurch. I had a great time exploring the Re:START markets. The market stalls are mainly set up in shipping containers and the area was the first to be reopened after the 2011 earthquake. There are some great shops with lots of local products. My favourite shop has to be HAPA – I just love all the handmade jewellery, ornaments, cushions and knick knacks. Unfortunately my budget is very tight this trip so no spending sadly though perhaps this is a blessing in disguise 🙂
The other place I enjoyed visiting is the Canterbury Museum, which is free entry and open 7 days a week. There are some great exhibits, including a replica of the street from the early 1900s. It is also worth noting that the museum is located close to the Botanic Gardens which is a lovely place to walk around.
Street art is in abundance in the city centre, making the cityscape lively and colourful. It is also a nice distraction from the many damaged buildings and empty city blocks.
It will take a long time for Christchurch to rebuild entirely, but what I find inspiring is that the residents of Christchurch are helping to shape the future of the city. For example, many people love the shipping containers at Re:START, so they may become a permanent fixture. Also the community has asked that the city’s skyline have less high-rises in the future, so the only high-rise buildings that will exist into the future are the ones currently standing.
There are some great art and technology projects that have focused on the city:
Soundsky: Artist/designer Trudy Lane and sound artist/musician/developer Halsey Burgund have been the main coordinators of the project to-date with significant input from Michael Reynolds of A Brave New City, and increasing numbers of local artists interested for their audio works to join the environment.
Sensing City: The Sensing City Trust is a non-profit organisation working with Christchurch stakeholders to help them understand how data can inform decisions about city management. The Trust has two active projects – one focussed on the impact of air pollution on respiratory disease, and the other on cyclists generating data to inform cycleway development.
SCAPE Public Art installs free-to-view contemporary public art in Christchurch city. Their vision is for Christchurch people to be excited, engaged and stimulated by the contemporary public art that is well-regarded and known by the national and international art world.
This evening as I write this post a small shake has been recorded south of Christchurch – though only 2.4 magnitude. I did not notice anything 🙂 In any case, I am very much looking forward to working on the ADA book project and learning all about booksprinting!
This year has been monumental in so many ways, a lot of projects developing all over the place which is very exciting.
Tracey has been to NZ, USA, Australia’s Central Desert and Top End, as well as a few trips to Shepparton to work with Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation. The year is not over yet with another journey to work on a book project in NZ next month – ADA Booksprint.
Anyway, we have been a bit slack with keeping up with the blog and promise we will do better!
We have come up with an awesome (perhaps insane) idea that would enable us to travel the world, meet fellow travellers and learn more about this wonderful world we live in. We are tentatively calling this idea Old farts couch surfing the world.
So I have a question for you dear Reader. Would you be prepared to offer us a place to stay on our travels? It could be spare room, a couch or even a tent depending on the climate.
How it would work?
Think of it a bit like Humans of New York, where the story has a connection to place and people. The goal is to document the journey online with a mind to bring out a book when we complete the adventure. As people offer us places to stay we will add them into a map of our journey. People can also add in stories as we develop the project.
The idea builds on the concept of our Cultural Strangers project, where we try to reveal layers of place through documentation, conversation and investigation.We love the concept of the world cafe as it seeks to use collaboration to build knowledge and share experiences for the betterment of us all.
If you think that this idea if fun and would like to get involved please contact us.
This post from our travel writer based in India, Rohit Agarwal, is very useful for travellers needing to get a SIM card in India. We found the process a bit daunting when we were there in November, so these hints are very useful. Thanks Rohit!
All set for a holiday to India! Of course you like to stay in contact with your family and friends back home, so while planning your trip do not forget to pack a handset that does not restrict you to one service provider. Certain makes and models of handsets are restricted to use SIM cards of particular service providers or are locked. This could be a strong barrier to cheap communications during your trip, so it is a good idea to pack an unlocked handset which is either dual, tri band or quad band so it can work in India.
There are certain things to note while you hunt for a prepaid SIM card in India. 1. Documentation
To purchase a prepaid SIM card, you will need to provide the following documents:
2-3 coloured passport size photographs,
A photocopy of your passport, specifically the page containing your personal details,
A copy of your Indian Visa,
Proof of your stay in India – a letter from the Hotel or guest house confirming your stay as a guest, and
A photocopy of the proof of address for your place of residence back home.
On providing the above set of documents you should be able to access a prepaid mobile service in India.
2. Which service provider should you choose?
There are a range of mobile prepaid service providers available in India such as Airtel, Idea, Vodafone, Reliance, BSNL & MTNL. Apart from the ease of availability, also consider good network coverage and data connectivity. Though all the service providers boast of good network coverage, the challenge is to provide uninterrupted 3G and 4G connectivity. The larger carriers here are Airtel, Idea, Vodafone and Reliance. If you travel to rural areas or inland regions, then MTNL or BSNL would be the best option as they have better coverage in these areas.
3. SIM cost and running expenses
Buying a SIM will cost you somewhere between 150 to 250 Indian Rupees, and you may need to pay extra to recharge it. Recharge options are customised for different parameters like local calls, STD calls, ISD packages, data packages, SMS packages, etc. When you choose the recharge option consider convenience and optimal usage that suits your needs. Recharge choices also come with validity options. Packages are available for day, month and even annual use. You should be very cautious while selecting these packages. On average, an international call is charged at approx. Rs. 7 per minute and an international SMS might cost you Rs. 5 per SMS. On the other hand, calls or SMS within India would cost you around 1 rupee per minute or 1 rupee per SMS. Also, many coffee shops, bus stands, museums and hospitals provide free Wi-Fi access.
4. Calling from an Indian prepaid SIM
To make outgoing calls from your Indian prepaid mobile service to any city within India, you need to dial the STD code of the city when dialing a fixed line number. If you intend to make a call to a mobile number within India, you need to dial +91 (country code for India) prefixed to the 10 digit mobile number. Similarly while making an international fixed line call, dial the country code + area code + phone number, and for an international mobile number call dial the country code followed by the mobile number.
Many airports in India have kiosks or desks that provide you with prepaid SIM cards. If you have all the required documents handy, using this facility at airports would be a viable option for all foreign travellers looking for a means to connect back home.
Introduction by Tracey Benson, Editor: Rohit’s article about avoiding touts in India is extremely useful for travellers not just to India but to many parts of the world. The article underlines that just by following some simple guidelines you will be more aware and able to enjoy your journey, with an understanding of how to manage some tricky situations. We welcome Rohit to Geokult Travel and hope that we will be able to share some more of his insights in the future.
Some Tips To Deal With Touts In India
Vacation in a country like India has its own pros and cons. The advantageous aspect of it is, being a spectator to the natural world of beauty and serenity and on the contrary being a prey to the wrongdoings of the touts that target the tourists from outside India. One of the major “tout-abused destinations” in India is Agra – which manifests the Taj Mahal.
A lot of wrong practices being followed by the natives of this country have created a horrifying image for foreign tourists. But these practices are not only phenomena in India, but have been evident at many other tourist destination countries. So, should one stop travelling? No! The better answer is to be alert and aware of these practises and prevent yourself from falling prey. Below are some tips that you should keep in mind while travelling to India:
1. Do not rely on ticketing agents
India is a developed country with equipped cybernetics! One should thus not fall prey to some touts who ensure confirmed reservation tickets for travelling through flights, trains or buses in India. It is always a better option to either book your travel tickets online or manually receive tickets from ticket windows available at every airport, railway station and bus stand in India. Generally, tourists avoid the long waiting queues outside these windows and fall an easy trap to these touts who ensure confirmed tickets at some nominal extra charges. These touts are mostly fake and one can be easily duped during peak tourist seasons.
2. Beware of being guided to a cloak room
Wherever you travel, the Indian railway stations provide with cloak rooms for your luggage to be deposited. These cloak rooms are also available at some major bus stands and places of tourist attractions like monuments, temples, etc. One should thus avoid being guided by a tout to a separate cloak room which seems abandoned or is at a faraway place from the tourist attraction. It is always safe to lock your luggage properly before depositing it at any of the cloak rooms. These public cloak rooms take a minimal amount for luggage deposit and give you tokens or slips in return.
3. Be cautious while appointing a tour guide
As a tourist, we all go inquisitive about the history of a tourist place and would love to know the ins and outs of the place we visit. For this we usually hire tour guides, who enable us with a lot of information about the place. As a foreigner, we need to be alert and aware that there are some fake tourist guides in India, who may mislead you and rob you of your money and luggage. It is always a good practise to hire a tourist guide through the ticket window and also ensure to check and take a mobile-picture of the identity card of the tour guide.
4. Stay away from touts ensuring hotel reservations
If travelling to India during peak tourist season or during festivals and vacation time, you might face the challenge of getting a hotel check in. It is always a better idea to do your hotel bookings prior to your travel during these days and if you miss to do so, please do not (NEVER, EVER!!!) trust the touts who ensure room availability in a hotel, guest house or a lodge nearby. It would be worth to move on a self-hunt (or online-hunt) for room availability rather than being trapped by these vaunts who either charge extravagant or deceive you of your belongings.
Let your travel to the scenic beauty of this country be a memorable one, rather than being frightful. ‘Prevention is better than cure’, remember this and always plan ahead and be alert during your travel and do not be fooled by touts, who could ruin your beautiful journey. Always be aware in visiting major tourist destinations in India like Delhi, Jaipur, Chennai and Goa where one can encounter touts of different varieties – from a child to an old man/woman trying to make some extra bucks by misguiding/misleading information. Always be smart and enjoy your travel while being alert!
Author Bio Rohit is an architect by profession and travel blogger by desire; who loves his country and believes that the tourists coming to visit India should only carry the tender feelings of contentment, eyeing the beauty and serenity of this country and not the overwhelming feeling of fear of being duped by touts. He thus shares, through his articles, some basic tips to make your journey worth recalling.
Day 181: Wayanad Forest and Dare Nature, Wayanad, South India En route to Kochi, we met our friends along the way and they took us to this magical place high up in the mountains – Dare Nature.
Dare Nature is a place for both adventure activities and for relaxation and meditation. We had a magical time enjoying the beautiful surroundings, fantastic food and good company. Here are some of the pictures from our stay.
There was also some challenging activities at night – fire walking and walking on broken glass. These activities were part of a motivational workshop for MBA students and we we also invited to participate. After getting my toes chewed by fishes earlier in the day, I graciously declined. Here are some great pictures of the fire walking and glass walking challenges:
If you are in South India and looking for something very different, we can definitely recommend spending some time at Dare Nature. Thanks Sajee for being such a wonderful host. We had a great time!
DetailsHow to get thereFrom Kozhikode: Kozhikode- Thamarassery – Old Vythiri, from here your take a right turn-travel up- almost 7 kms of which approximately 2 kms – off road. From Bangalore: Bangalore – Mysore – S Bathery – Kalpatta- Old Vythiri, from here your take a right turn-travel up- almost 7 kms of which approximately 2 kms – off road. Contact Dare 5000 Nature Campz & Resorts Vythiri, Wayanad Kerala, South India Pin: 673576 Tel: +91 8606500033 +91 8606500032 +91 9447951192
Today we started our fabulous South Indian Mystery tour, curated by our dear friend and artist Di Ball. Our first destination was Bangalore Palace and we were very lucky that there was a wedding on when we visiting. Mr Wikipedia has this potted history:
Bengaluru Palace, a palace located in Bengaluru, India, was built by Rev. Garrett, who was the first Principal of the Central High School in Bangalore, now known as Central College.
The construction of the palace was started in 1862 and completed in 1944. In 1884, it was bought by the then Maharaja of Mysore HH Chamarajendra Wadiyar X. Now owned by the Mysore royal family, the palace has recently undergone a renovation.
The palace is full of very interesting (albeit questionable) objects and well as having beautiful architectural features. It is not a cheap place to visit by Indian standards – 440 Rupees for foreigners and you have to pay extra to take a camera or smart phone for pictures. It was worth it though to have a glimpse into Royal life in Bangalore.
Catching an autorickshaw for the first time can be quite scary, but is a cost effective alternative to taxis and is great fun if you are prepared for a lot of noise, traffic chaos and the challenge of trying to communicate with local drivers with very limited English. Here are a few tips that may help to make your first autorickshaw journey a pleasant experience:
Make a mud map. Just on a piece of scrap paper make a rough map of the destination, you can hand this over to the driver. It doesn’t matter too much if he doesn’t hand it back or you loose it.
Record the destination address accurately, make sure that you include the suburb or area name. If the driver doesn’t know the area that well they can always pull over and ask for further directions from a local shop keeper when they get there.
Record the phone number of your destination. If possible write down the phone number of the destination so that if the driver gets lost you can ring up and ask for directions.
Record major landmarks. On your mud map record any major landmarks or major cross streets close to your destination if you happen to know of any
Ask a local, who uses autorickshaws on a regular basis, what they would expect to pay to go to your destination. This gives you a rough idea of what to expect as a fair deal.
Agree a price beforehand, or insist that they use the meter. Autorickshaws are equipped with a meter but are not always used. If you have a rough idea of a fair price, or of what you are prepared to pay you can agree on a price before you accept the ride. However an agreed price will usually be more than the metered price, unless you are an exceptional negotiator. If you are after the cheapest option insist that they use the meter.
Track the route. If you have a smart phone it is useful to track your progress to maake sure that you are heading in the right direction.
Do not hand over your phone. Unless you really trust the driver, it is best not to hand over your phone as you may not get it back.
Flag down a driver rather than picking one from the queue, if you choose an autorickshaw from the roadside queue (the equivalent of a taxi rank) it seems that you are charged an extra fee for the time that they spend waiting in the queue.
Keep your stuff secure, hang on tight to your personal belongings as it is easy for a passing motorcyclist or pedestrian to reach in and grap what they want.
Travel photography is a creative adventure. Away from home, you have the opportunity to record the unfamiliar with a fresh eye. This can be as true of a regular family holiday as of rare and special trips to exotic places.
Purely as records of experience, travel photos are often irreplaceable – you cannot go back. This means that to find, take and bring home an accurate record you need to be well prepared. An important section of these notes are such essentially practical matters as what equipment to carry and how to look after it. There are also general tips on travel formalities and on the challenges of different locations. And a final section shows how to put it all together in a slide show or trip album.
But travel photos can be more than by-products of a trip. Holidays and journeys give you the luxury of time – time to observe the beauties or oddities of the world and to compose images that capture the atmosphere and spirit of people and places. By travelling as a photographer and with a photographer’s selective eye, you can come home with a collection of evocative images.
1. Planning a Trip
Anticipation is one of the pleasures of travel. And with some advance knowledge of where you are going, you will waste less time in the wrong places and come back with a more interesting photographic record. Also, you will take better pictures if you have packed the right equipment. So before you leave, do some planning.
The first stage of preparation is to research as thoroughly as possible the places you will visit by going online, using guides, travel books, brochures, magazines and postcards. Such visual material will provide a starting point for your own photographs and websites like Tripadvisor help to inform you about other travellers experiences. You should also find out what kind of weather to expect, if there are strict rules about access to particular sites, and the starting times of any special events to be held during your stay. For example, a nearby town might be celebrating a festival; or a night scene reproduced in a travel book may suggest a good subject for time-exposure pictures. All this research will help you decide what equipment is vital and what you can leave behind.
The need for planning does not stop when you get to a destination. If you’re alone, you can work out a photographic schedule according to the subjects that appeal to you most. But if you’re holidaying with family or friends you’ll have to organise your photographic schedule around your companions’ plans. So try to organise your more ambitious outings for the days when others are indulging in more conventional amusements. For example, if you need to take a long, steep climb for an overall view of a resort, wait until your companions are relaxing on the beach, rather than drag unwilling hikers along with you.
2. Travel Formalities
Camera equipment tends to attract attention from customs authorities, particularly at airports. In some countries, the amount of equipment you are allowed to bring in is surprisingly limited, and if you are flying overseas with more than one camera there may be problems.
Try to check the allowances beforehand with the tourist information services and Smart Traveller. In practise, customs officials have wide discretion over how strictly they enforce the rules. A reasonable, cooperative attitude will often work wonders. Remember that the regulations are generally designed to prevent people selling items at a profit without paying duty. Always stress that your cameras and equipment are personal effects.
A good tip is to list cameras and lenses, with their numbers, so that the list can be registered with customs, both when you leave your own country and upon entering a foreign one. Alternatively, suggest that the details are entered by customs on your passport so that you are obliged to take out the same items you brought in.
3. Local Research
However well you prepare the ground for a trip before leaving home, there is no substitute for on-the-spot research. The more information you can glean from local sources, the more chances you have of finding unusual viewpoints or rich photographic source material. Begin with that published information – guides, maps and postcards from bookshops and kiosks at stations, airports and hotels. Studying postcards is particularly useful: you can put yourself in the photographer’s position, and then consider other possible viewpoints and approaches. next, visit the local tourist office and travel agents. There, you can get free, up-to-date literature and detailed information on subjects that interest you. A list of organised tours, even if they are too expensive or not to your taste, can be helpful when you plan your own excursions.
Finally, remember that your best sources are all around you: the local people. Never hesitate to ask and ask again. A sound policy is to ask several people the same question, because not all the information you receive will be reliable. The staff at your hotel or guesthouse will usually be very helpful, but if possible take the precaution of checking out what they tell you at the photographic site. For example, if you want to get shots when fisherman are retuning with their catch, make your enquiries at the harbour.
The first step at any site is to make a reconnaissance visit. If time and the site permit, walk around the subject to assess every possible angle. Make running notes of the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches, and try to imagine how changing lighting conditions will affect each view. Again, postcards of the subject will provide useful comparisons. Deciding when and how to take the picture will depend on what you want to convey about the subject.
4. Judging a Location
Once you have research a locale and have a clear idea of the subjects you want to photograph, you should consider the best conditions for taking your pictures. Of course if you are recording an event. Timing, and to a certain extent camera position, will be predetermined. But for more stable subjects – scenic views and interesting landmarks and buildings – the time of day and the viewpoint you choose are all-important.
For example, to help you choose the most effective conditions, find out both the time and the direction of sunrise and sunset; these will depend on the season as well as the place. Remember that the angle and quality of early light change very quickly; arriving at the site even ten minutes late may mean missing the best picture. Where the climate is consistent, you can plan your pictures precisely. Otherwise, be prepared to visit a site several times until the conditions are right.
5. Putting it all together
Photographs are meant to be seen, and the lasting pleasure of travel photography comes when the trip is over and you can browse through your images. Selecting, arranging and presenting your pictures are as much parts of the creative process as taking photographs and deserve as much care.
The advance planning, local research and notes you made about pictures along the way will now pay off. Instead of a random heap of images, including some you cannot identify, you will have a unique and vivid record of your whole trip. You might choose to arrange your images consecutively, in order of then places visited; or according to one of more themes planned at the time. And keep an open mind – you may find that an unexpected theme suddenly occurs to you.
It is now more than 10 years since I visited the lovely city of Tallinn and it remains in my mind as one of the most beautiful examples of a medieval walled city. In 2004, I was very fortunate to go there to present a paper at the ISEA2004 Symposium, which was an amazing event in itself – see this summary by Brisbane media artist Keith Armstrong. I also wrote a review of an artwork presented by Trish Adams Wave Writer: Vital Forces (PDF), which was published in Eyeline magazine.
For a long time it was under Danish rule also being the birthplace of the Danish flag:
On the slopes of Toompea hill between the city wall and Lower Town is an open, garden-like area that happens to be the legendary birthplace of the Danish flag.
This relaxing spot is called the Danish King’s Garden because it was supposedly here that King Valdemar II of Denmark and his troops camped before conquering Toompea in 1219.
13th-14th-century Tallinn was part of the Danish Kingdom, marking the beginning of seven centuries of foreign rule in Estonia. The majority of the town’s population was formed of ethnic Germans who called the town Reval – a name which Tallinn was known for many centuries to come.
Mr Wikipedia says:
In 1285 the city, then known as Reval, became the northernmost member of the Hanseatic League – a mercantile and military alliance of German-dominated cities in Northern Europe. The Danes sold Reval along with their other land possessions in northern Estonia to the Teutonic Knights in 1346.
It is a definitely place with some very rich history. I love that the town has undergone many name changes over the years:
In 1154 a town called Qlwn or Qalaven (possible derivations of Kalevan or Kolyvan)was put on the world map of the Almoravid by the Muslim cartographer Muhammad al-Idrisi, who described it as a small town like a large castle among the towns of Astlanda. It has been suggested that the Quwri in Astlanda may have denoted the predecessor town of today’s Tallinn
The origin of the name “Tallinn(a)” is certain to be Estonian, although the original meaning of the name is debated. It is usually thought to be derived from “Taani-linn(a)” (meaning “Danish-castle/town”; Latin: Castrum Danorum). However, it could also have come from “tali-linna” (“winter-castle/town”), or “talu-linna” (“house/farmstead-castle/town”). The element -linna, like German -burg and Slavic -grad originally meant “castle” but is used as a suffix in the formation of town names…The German and Swedish name Reval (Latin: Revalia, earlier Swedish language: Raffle) originated from the 13th century Estonian name of the adjacent Estonian county of Ravala. Other known ancient historical names of Tallinn include variations of Estonian Lindanise (see Battle of Lyndanisse), such as Lyndanisse in Danish, Lindanas in Swedish, and Ledenets in Old East Slavic. Kesoniemi in Finnish and Kolyvan (Колывань) in Old East Slavic are also other historical names.
One of the things I also remember was the great antique and secondhand shops and I found a lot of Soviet memorabilia, which tells a story about another layer of Tallinn’s past. There was also a great market, where I some beautiful souvenirs. Here is a photograph of the Christmas market, which looks just magical. I was there in September, so didn’t see any snow.
You can also access an online 3d app that shows you Tallinn Old Town:
Tallinn Old Town is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The aim of the 3d.tallinn.ee is to allow anyone interested in this Medieval pearl to access the Old Town by using 3D computing technology.