Hank Wedel and band at the Castle Hotel in Blarney on Sunday night. The band played a blinder despite the fact there was next to no room for them. These photos weren’t me walking up to them and sticking a camera in their faces, I had to lean back!
The ride was through wasteland adjoining a rich neighbourhood of Marrakesh where celebrities have their homes. When you hear that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are in town they’re not staying in the Medina, that’s for sure!
The wasteland was surreal. Dusty rubble strewn ground dotted with palm trees and you may see a tractor pulling a water tank for the trees. The houses for the most part are surrounded by tall walls and are gated but from the back of a camel you can look over (and see more palm trees, I guess they like their privacy!)
The camels move at walking pace, and the 3km journey took almost an hour, about twice as long as I’d like it to be but our balloon journey that morning had to be cut short so maybe they were trying to make up for that. No injuries from biting but Chris’s camel did try to take a chunk out of Lenny’s camel a couple of times.
Just a few photos from the short but colourful and noisy St Patrick’s Day Parade in Blarney this year. This parade proved more popular than other years as cars parked as far away as the park I live in. I don’t remember that ever happening before!
Well done to everyone who took part!
People collecting for a little girl called Alicja who needs surgery. More at http://www.alicja.org/
One of the many buildings in Reykjavik, Iceland that are battered by the harsh weather there. You wouldn’t know it by looking at the sky here but it was quite cold when I took the photo. I think it was at the end of a short photowalk around the city centre when our fingers were numb with cold.
A view of some nearby rooftops and a stunning sunset over Marrakesh, Morocco. In black and white I know, but I have a few more shots of the same sky coming! This was shot from Riad O2 in the city where Polldaddy recently stayed.
In the Medina many (most?) of the houses are jam packed in next to each other. We had to take a winding alley way from the main road to the building, going left, right, left, right, left (and maybe 2 more turns?) to get there. Like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.
What’s Marrakesh like? The medina is the old fortified town which is where we were staying. You’ll be woken each morning by the Muslim call to prayers as there are loud speakers dotted around the city. Currently the first one starts around 5:30am so I hope you can get back to sleep afterwards! I wasn’t too fond of heading out in the city. It’s very busy, vehicles of all sorts zoom up and down the streets. Everything from motorbikes to carts pulled by donkeys will pass you by. There are no traffic lights in the medina either and footpaths disappear without warning, if they existed at all.
The food we ate there was excellent, both in the riad and outside. Well, except for the one night we decided to sample what was on offer in the plaza. What a mistake! For the same price you’ll get a top quality meal in a fancy restaurant elsewhere!
The hot air balloon guys were super friendly and I can recommend them, the locals taking care of us in the riad were too but out on the street was another matter. Talk to anyone and they’ll either lead you to a particular area of the souk or demand a tip for “showing” you the way.
If only we could get a bit of their sun here in Ireland right now. Go on clouds, let the sun through!
Oh yes, I may have to change the tagline on this blog. This photo was processed by Adobe Lightroom. It’s not Photoshop but it’s close. I used this preset on this photo but Lightroom is really impressing me. It’s ability to recover blown out detail is amazing, the noise reduction and sharpening tools are easy and effective. The one area it really falls down in is not being able to reassign keys. I fixed that by installing Paddy which let me assign hotkeys to my two main export presets.
I imported over 23k photos into a catalogue and it’s running nice and fast. The next thing to do is write a preset and assign a hotkey to import images from my CF card.
A Berber village in a valley outside Marrakesh in Morocco. Another of the hot air balloon shots from Wednesday. It was so peaceful drifting overhead, we could hear animals calling and see people looking up. There were hardly any motorised vehicles at all. All those buildings, except for the mosque, were made of mud and straw. Look around you, how different is your life from theirs?
To say there are many motorbikes in Marrakesh is an understatement. We arrived at dusk and watched shell shocked as small motorbikes wove back and forth between traffic and around corners with little evident care for safety. As a pedestrian here you must have eyes in the back of your head!
With that sorted out and explained the picture above might not be too surprising and it’s a not an uncommon sight to see 3 people on a motorbike. It looks like three generations here: son leaning forward on the handlebars, mother driving and grandmother sitting on the passenger seat.
Fires bursts into the hot air balloon we flew in yesterday near Marrakech, Morocco. The air in the balloon has to be 85C hotter than the surrounding air to provide enough lift to raise the weight of the basket and passengers so we were always warm!
Yesterday brought the news that 19 tourists died in Egypt when their hot air balloon crashed. It almost made us rethink our activities today because we were planning to go up in a balloon here in Marrakech! The chance that our balloon would crash just because a balloon in Egypt crashed is minuscule. They’re unrelated events but I guess it was a reminder that the activity is not without risk. Many people did cancel their trips yesterday and our pilot thanked us for not doing the same.
It was a wonderful experience, spoiled slightly by the low hanging clouds but floating through the clouds was surreal for a few moments. Then the wind blew us towards Berber villages as we descended. People watched and children ran as we eventually came to ground. The wind had been carrying us towards the mountains and we’d pass above powerlines that snaked across the valley so the pilot took us down about 200 metres from those cables.
A trawler leaves port in Reykjavik, Iceland last year while I was there on a Polldaddy meetup. As you read this now I’m in a much warmer part of the world on another meetup!
Iceland was great to visit. It was cold there of course but we weren’t there in the dead of winter so it was manageable. The weather was completely unpredictable however. In one hour you’d get the four seasons; rain, sun, snow and cutting winds within minutes of each other. Quite remarkable and something I haven’t seen anywhere else in the world (says me, the world weary traveller, not!)