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Showing posts from 2019

Niagara Falls

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Living in one hour drive from this wonder, we've decided this (long) weekend: what the heck, let's go there and have a picnic! We haven't been there for a few years, the weather was cooperating, traffic not too bad. 



We know a little secret: if you don't want to pay $25 for parking, there is a free one here, in 15 min walk from the Horseshoe:


On a long weekend, if you like to take extra sleep and come here around noon, you may need to make 2-3 rounds to find a parking spot. We did 3 circles this time but found it. Nice picnic area, ponds, birds, - it's all there. Have something with you - coffee, fruits, energy bars, whatever. The place is very convenient for both a light lunch and full sized BBQ. There are picnic tables, bathroom, some trails and bridges. Do it all and then walk to the waterfalls (other way around may work too but we, for instance, are usually exhausted after the walk and simply drink, jump in a car and drive home).


Unless you are willing to pay $3.7…

Gästehaus Gerti

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This time we booked only one night at Gästehaus Gerti on our way back to Stuttgart, arrived to Nassereith in the afternoon and actually planned and did have some time to visit a few things around. But the place was so nice and welcoming (reminded me about my stays at grandma's when I was a little kid), the town was so quiet and gorgeous, that we decided not to see any more gorges today and simply have a little rest, walk around and have some fun.

My offline map in Pocket Earth showed that there is a restaurant nearby, right behind a small lake (Nassereithsee), and we decided to go there for an early dinner which we were going to polish later at the balcony with a couple of beers we had left in the trunk.

The walk from the gastehaus to Seebua restaurant takes about 20 minutes, goes through a small downtown with a church, and a short trail around the lake at the end. The lake is very nice, has a couple of artificial swans peacefully swimming in it and apparently lots of real fish; we&…

Krimml Waterfalls

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The Krimml Waterfalls (German: Krimmler Wasserfälle), with a total height of 380 metres (1,247 feet), are the highest waterfall in Austria. The falls are on the Krimmler Ache river and are located near the village of Krimml in the Hoch Tauern National Park in Salzburg state. Krimml Waterfalls is a tiered waterfall. The waterfall begins at the top of the Krimmler Ache valley, and plunges downward in three stages. The upper stage has a drop of 140 metres, the middle of 100 metres, and the lowest a drop of 140 metres. The highest point of the waterfall is 1,470 meters above the sea level. The Krimmler Ache is a glacial stream. After the falls, the river joins the Salzach, which flows to the Inn, then into the River Danube and finally to the Black Sea.
With our magic Sommercard provided by Gastehaus Stotter we got free parking on P4 lot (well, we did not actually because did not read the manual coming with the card carefully and randomly parked at the lot which seemed close enough, but tec…

Grossglockner High Alpine Road

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The road begins with Bruck in the Salzach Valley at toll both at Ferleiten (near Fusch) with numbered hairpin curves up to Hochtor Pass, with a 1.5 km branch-off from Fuscher Törl at 2,428 m to the Edelweißspitze viewpoint. The scenic route crosses the Alpine divide in a tunnel and runs to the south passing another branch-off which leads to the Glocknerhaus mountain hut and the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe visitors' centre at 2,369 m. The popular overlook was named after a visit by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria and his consort Elisabeth in 1856. It offers a panoramic view over the Pasterze Glacier, the Grossglockner massif, the Glocknerwand, and the Johannisberg in the northwest. From here the road runs downhill to the southern toll booth near Heiligenblut. 




This post is just a placeholder now; I definitely plan to write more, but I need to figure out how to deal with my GoPro videos I took a lot from our car first. In the meantime, if you are interested, some photoes are here

Enzingerboden

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Nice place with a lake, funicular (cable car) going up to the glacier, more lakes there; trails, parking lot, restaurants and hotels. Unfortunately we were not able to find a lot of information in Internet about the place and simply stopped by because it was a short detour from our way.


Apparently the only thing which was working in Endingersee when we came was a local waterfall which is in 5 minutes walk from the parking lot. Even all restaurants we could see around were closed.

It was a nice waterfall, all right, but if we knew that the summer season for most of funiculars begins at the end of June (after 20th, as we could figure), we probably would not drive here.
As a matter of fact, we could not take full advantage of our Sommercard which potentially included plenty of funiculars in the area (at lease one going up and one going down each), but most of them were either closed till June 20 or working only on weekends. If you are more lucky than we were, Enzingerboden is worth to visit…

Stubachtal

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Stubachtal is a valley and consists mainly of grasslands. It's rather spacely populated, with 34 inhabitants per square kilometer.

We did not have any specific location in mind, but we wanted to see those grasslands and simply put "Stubachtal" into Google Map, imported location into GPS and it drove to wherever it was going to guide us to.

It brought us to a place where the road goes to the top of a hill with something looking like farm there. We did not want to invade the privacy of people leaving there and did not go to the very top of the road. 
The view from the place where we parked gives a good impression about those grasslands and it also seems to be a complete true about population density.
More pictures of Stubachtal grasslands here.

Kaiserklamm

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About 10 km from Brandenberg there is the Kaiserklamm, or Emperor’s Gorge, a natural phenomenon that was named after the emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. 



As politely suggested by Mr. Garmin, we drove directly to the parking (3 euro for 6 hours)

and then followed the signs.

The signs lead to the bridge which looks nice and for the moment we thought that this is it. We took some pictures from the bridge, walked through it, continued on the trail on another side which I think leads to some famous restaurant in a few miles away (not sure but you can check on Google map), enjoyed the river and met an slow elderly couple on the trail, who appeared to went almost all way till the end of the trail, did not find anything looking like a Kaiser or any other klamm, and asked us where the heck the famous gorge is. We did not want to look like complete idiots and told them that in our opinion the bridge is probably what they are looking for, and it's a nice view at the gorge from it. Apparently…

Tatzelwurm Waterfall

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It was our first attraction we decided to visit on our long drive from Stuttgart to Alps. A little of detour from the main route and we got a chance to appreciate all the silence and beauty of Bavaria.

The address brings you to a nice and cozy gasthaus and restaurant. There is a convenient free parking across the restaurant. Once you reach it simply follow the signs.

By the way, we did not go to that restaurant because were not hungry yet, but I am pretty sure it's good, like everything in Bavaria.

There is a trail going up between hotel and restaurant which forks into two (upper view and lower view), 10-15 minutes each. The lower view from the bridge in my opinion is more impressive, but it takes an hour tops to explore both and take a couple of selfies. Definitely worth to take a break from a long drive and stretch the legs in a short hike.

If interested, you can see a few pictures and videos of Tatzelwurm Waterfall here.

Marino Ballena National Park

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Uvita is a small village with 2 incredibly long and incredibly wide beaches (Playa Hermosa and Playa Uvita) separated by a peninsula looking like whale's tail, but it's a gatekeeper to Marino Ballena National Park. Whale's tale is there for a good reason: this is the place where you can go for a whale and dolphin watching tour.
We did this one with our friends: Whale & Dolphin Tour (Combination Tour). It starts at 8:30 and by noon you are back, $90 per person feels a bit overpriced but they did show us some dolphins, a whale (shared with other boat), jumping tunas, pelicans and even a dead turtle. It was not easy - the boat was screwing back and forth all over the Bahia Ballena for 2 hours looking for wildlife, and just to compensate for all that burned fuel the price doesn't seem unreasonable.
The last part of the tour was amazing - all those rocks with caves you cannot see from the land, you have to be on a boat.
The combination tour also announces snorkeling but d…

Naujaka Waterfalls

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If you drive from Quepos (Puntarenas province) further to the South, there is a left turn right before River Baru. It's a nice route 243. You drive up that road for about 10 km and you'll see the sign Naujaca Waterfalls on the right. Here you pay $8 per person and get a map. The actual (unpaved) road to the waterfalls is a little bit more ahead and goes down to the river. You drive until you see a parking lot, cannot miss it, supposed to park the car here and then hike to the waterfalls. 

We figured out that the road actually goes further through the bridge, and as we had a very compact and maneuverable 4X4, decided to try it. It becomes a dirty trail very fast, but we managed to drive for about 1 km more and finally abandoned the car in shades when big boulders made driving completely impossible.

You can do the same, or you can leave the car on the parking lot and hike that extra kilometer, but anyway close the doors, hide the GPS, don't leave your valuables in the car…

Rainmaker

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Half hour drive from Quepos, half on highway, half on a gravel paved road, it's a nice private place where you still can enjoy a real rain forest and see how the jungles actually look like. If you come early, you can swim naked in a waterfall. It's lifetime experience and best spent $20. During many years of going to Costa Rica for vacation, we tried swimming in many waterfalls (we try to find a new one every time), but Rainmaker's is the best.
Don't come too early though, 8-8:30AM is fine. You need about 2 hours to walk through the entire park, and at the end, once you return to the entrance, you can enjoy a nice typical Costa Rican breakfast, included in the admission fee. After hiking all those trails, air bridges and waterfalls this is exactly what you'll need!

Manuel Antonio National Park

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Several years ago I would suggest to go to the park early in the morning when all wildlife just wakes up and starts looking for breakfast. In 2007, with, or even without a guide, you could easily spot a sloth, at least three species of monkeys, plenty of birds. The guided tour was about $20 and it definitely was worth it. 
Recently the park had a major renovation - now there are nice Broadway looking trails with railings, signs and directions. And guess what? Everything comes with a price: when we've been there in March 2018, we did not see even a white faced capuchin which before always were there in big funny companies. Maybe it was bad luck this time but it's not a news that civilization pushes out the wild life, and now all those capuchins seem to be scared out of the park and you can find a lot of them on the nearby beaches like Playa Espadilla or Playa Playitas. So if you want to see monkeys no need to pay $51 per person for an aggressively promoted guided tour, nowadays …

El Avion

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It's a plane converted into a bar and restaurant built around it. Nice dinner at the gorgeous sunset is very relaxing and memorable end of a long day. We celebrated a couple of birthdays in El Avion and have been there once with friends, another time with a daughter and her husband, couple of times just the two of us, - never had to book. If you come around 4:30-5, you can get a good table, but don't eat too fast or you'll be done before the show! There are other restaurants in Manuel Antonio and Quepos with a sunset view, but El Avion probably has the best. Ceasar, steaks, fried calamari, seafood chowder, sangria, - all good.  

The menu is here.

Doka Estate Coffee Tour

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If you are interested, this is a good blog about Doka Estate Coffee Tour, describing all the steps and stations: https://mytanfeet.com/activities/doka-estate-coffee-tour-costa-rica/. I don't remember much about steps, but from myself may add: wear long pants because there are a lot of fleas on the plantation, those of us who wore shorts were bitten all below the knees. Not a big deal, just itchy.

We took this tour on our way from the South (Quepos and Marino Ballena) to the Arenal area. If you plan to do the same, start as early as possible (6AM or so) because the scenic drive is long and you need extra couple of hours for the coffee tour.

Monteverde

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First time in Monteverde we've been in 2007. We did not have a GPS and used a printed PDF map to find the road. It was our first time in Costa Rica and we bought all inclusive stay in Fiesta hotel in Puntarenas, which was not that expensive back then. We rented a car in the hotel, and the trip to Monteverde, with all stops, looking in the map and taking pictures took a few hours.

Hiking in the cloud forest took most of the day, then Butterfly Garden, sky walk bridges and some other places, and finally on the way back we caught a gorgeous sunset in the mountains. 5 minutes later - lights off. Trip back to the hotel in complete darkness, on a very questionable road paved with boulders, through mountain villages one after another with almost no road signs, was a real adventure, but the memories we made back then still worth it.
Nowadays it's much easier, and the roads are better, there are even signs on those roads, and pretty much every tiny trail which half foot wi…

Sunset over the Pacific in Jaco

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If you are lucky and come to the Jaco coast not too late you'll be able to stop at one of the vista points before or after Jaco and catch a breath taking view of the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.



In 2007 when we have been in the area first time, simply driving around and exploring, Jaco was our turn around point. I remember we stopped at this (or another close to this) lookout and saw a few scarlet macaws flying across the road. The birds are gorgeous. Now macaws are rare in Jaco and if you want to see them in their natural habitat, go much further to the South. Osa Peninsula, Puerto Jimenez and Corcovado National Park is still their domain, but things change very quickly.

If you have stayed overnight in San Jose and are driving next morning, lookouts in Jaco still worth to stop by.

Crocodile Bridge in Tarcoles

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You cannot miss it, - it's about 1 hour drive from the airport. You drive on Costanera Sur watching for "Tarcoles" sign, and once you see the bridge with people walking on both sides and looking down at the river, that is it. Park the car before the bridge, or right after it. Before the bridge there are restaurants and souvenir shops, and you can park for free, but don't waste too much daylight - it's still a long drive.


Tip: don't swim in Tarcoles river after sunset.

Wild Faces of Costa Rica

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These are our pictures of Costa Rican wild life taken at different times in different places.