Category: Travel

Finnish Winter-Wonderland

My wife and I have been on a 1-week vacation to Sirkka, Finland – which is better known as the winter sport destination “Levi“.

If you ever get the chance to visit Sirkka, especially in the “cold season”, definitely go there!
Even though we’ve got nice winter landscapes here in Austria, the Finnish winter has been a whole new experience.
Sirkka Pano 2
I’ve been dreaming of seeing the Aurora Borealis with my own eyes for a while now, and luckily this dream came true on Feb 11, 2019!
Northern Lights #1
I’ll devote a separate blogpost to my experiences trying to capture this phenomenal natural spectacle, as well as a quick “review” of my new (?perfect?) camera bag that accompanied me along this trip.
ProTip: If you’re up there, way north of the polar circle, try not to stay in sauna all the time – you’ll miss what’s going on above you!

My Search For The Perfect Camera Bag

Once I thought I had the “perfect” camera bag – then my requirements changed, so I got another one, then I got a new one, and a new one – now I need a dedicated closet for these bags 🙁

Is it really that hard? – I am not able to find a bag that satisfies all my needs, these are my requirements:

  • I don’t care if shoulder bag or backpack – even when I’m doing a short hike (< 5 hours) I’ve been comfortable with a messenger bag in the past
  • I need to carry the bag on a plane (carry-on luggage)
  • I need to carry a large DSLR + 1-2 extra lenses, a couple of memory cards (and optionally a tripod)
  • My 14″ laptop should fit in somehwere
  • I need to carry a 0.5+ litre water bottle (hydration pack also possible)
  • The bag needs to be weather resistent

If you think you know the perfect bag for me – please let me know!

a honeymoon on Hawaii

Hey! It’s been a while since I had time to sit down and write something for this blog, and to be honest, I really haven’t got much time now either, but this writing feels more like “taking time for yourself” – and we all should do that from time to time, right? 🙂


So where to start? My wife and I have been to the islands of Hawaii for our honeymoon between October and September, followed by a short trip to San Francisco where I was given the chance to talk at WinOps San Francisco, also known as ChocolateyFest.
If you ever get a chance to visit the Hawaiian islands, definitely take that opportunity! Even though we sadly haven’t been able to see any active lava flows, it’s been an amazing experience.

Oahu
We’ve been to the island of Oahu just for two days. After 27 hours of flight from Austria to Honolulu, the main purpose of this stop was to get over the jetlag and acclimatize. Honolulu definitely has a lot of things to offer, but we weren’t looking for yet another big city, so we went for a hike on Diamond Head and basically relaxed the rest of the time, enjoying our first hawaiian sunset on Waikiki beach.

The Big Island
After this very short time on Oahu, we’ve got on a plane to “The Big Island”, which as the name suggests, is actually the largest of the islands.

When you’re flying in from Oahu, you realize a huge difference in landscape and scale before you touch the ground of the airport. We’ve been at KOA airport, which is built right over a old lava flow (basically a lot of black rock and little to no vegetation), so you get the “lava island” feeling before you even get out of the plane. Once being on the other side of the world, I felt the urge to “treat myself”, so I’ve decided to rent my favorite car: a Ford Mustang convertible :-).

In the following 7 days, we’ve made over a thousand miles. Going from east to west, north to south (all the way down to the southmost point of the USA). Sidenote: if you plan on driving up Mauna Kea, get a 4WD car (and be there a couple of hours before sunset), or you’ll have to wait at least 30 minutes at the visitor center and they won’t let you get up further without 4WD.

To be honest, driving in the USA was pretty stressful sometimes. Not because of the amount of traffic, but rather the allowed maximum speeds. (As an Austrian, I really could not understand why you had to go so *dead slow* on this wide, excellent road network.)
Besides being stressed due to the terrible, terrible speed limits, the big island presented us with amazing views, walks, nice weather and welcoming people.

Kauai
Time flies, and after a week on The Big Island we’ve headed towards the island of Kauai – the oldest and most vegetated island.

Kauai really is a unique place. The stunning Na Pali coast in the west, the incredible Waimea Canyon, wonderful beaches in the north and pretty towns scattered over the south and east there sure is something there to be explored by anyone.

In our week on Kauai, we’ve basically done a “standard visitors program”, which is:

  • a helicopter tour
  • sailing along the Na Pali Coast
  • taking a day off at a beach in the north
  • hiking Waimea Canyon
  • visiting a Luau

In retrospect, we should have spend a couple of extra days on this beautiful island, but I guess that’s just part of it – you always know better in retrospect.

I really enjoyed our time on Hawaii and even though there is no current plan to re-visit the islands, it definitely was an adventurous experience that we’ll remember for long.

Update: some additional images from the trip can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mwallner/sets/72157701782115385

ChocolateyFest
On the way home to Austria, we took a quick detour to San Francisco, where I was given the opportunity to give a talk at ChocolateyFest.

There is separate blogpost dedicated to ChocolateyFest. (see [here])

Kudos
Organizing a trip that includes 9 flights, 4 hotels, 2 cars and a lot of tips and info bits for sightseeing and photography locations can take some time – and this time my wife and I didn’t want to do all of this ourselves like in the past years. 

We’ve booked this trip at a local travel agency called “Springer Reisen”. I highly recommend their service as they do not only have “ready to book” pre-planned trips, but really respect your personal style of travel and budget. [https://www.springerreisen.at/]

For additional research, the website “gohawaii.com” as well as “hawaii.com” really proved to be helpful. [https://www.gohawaii.com/] [https://www.hawaii.com/]

A Quick Trip To Innervillgraten

From Wikipedia: “Innervillgraten is a municipality in the district of Lienz in the Austrian state of Tyrol. The region is one of the most remote regions in Austria.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innervillgraten)

The thing is: it’s not only one of the most remote, it’s also one of the most beautiful and original places Austria has to offer 🙂

find it on Google maps: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Innervillgraten

Innervillgraten’s website: http://www.innervillgraten.at/

A (Winter) Break In Scotland & New Year’s In Stonehaven

Scotland 2017 - Sand And Tide

In December 2017 my girlfriend and I decided to take a short-trip to Scotland. We earned a couple of high eyebrows and weird looks for this plan 🙂

Scotland in winter…
– “you’ll be happy if it’s just raining!”
– “It’ll sure be freezing cold all day!”
– “you won’t get much sun up there!”
– “you’ll stay bored in the hotel.”

Luckily, all of that didn’t turn out to be true 🙂
+ It’s been snowing half of the time.
+ Temperatures were between -2 and +7 °C
+ The sun rose shortly after 9am and went down at approx. 3pm
+ We’ve been out all day.

Cairngorms Winter 2017

We took a plane from Graz to Aberdeen via Amsterdam and then headed west via rental car. Aviemore is a great place to stay if your goal is to discover the wonders of nature in Cairngorms. Beautiful mountain views and glittering lochs are just a couple of minutes drives in every direction. I knew the chances are generally not that good, but nevertheless I hoped to take a glimpse at northern lights during our trip – unfortunately even with a KP 5 on two days it was not possible due to heavy clouds. We’ve been out discovering Cairngorms as well as a couple of other places north and south most every day – stunning castles and good hikes – not only in summer!

New Year’s Eve in Stonehaven (half an hour south of Aberdeen down the road) is amazing. The “fireballs ceremony” is definitely worth seeing.

Swirling Fireballs

Looking back I really enjoyed this trip, if you’ve been thinking about going to Scotland – you don’t have to wait for Summer – this country is definitely worth a visit at any time of the year!

Back From Vacation

I’ve just returned from my 3-weeks vacation to the Azores – so there hasn’t been much going on here in the meantime 🙂
If you ever have the chance – the Azores are just an amazing place to see! We’ve traveled the islands Sao Miguel, Terceira, Pico as well as Faial, and all of them have at least those things in common:

  • beautiful landscape
  • great food
  • welcoming people

Here’s some pictures:

In the next couple of weeks I’ll be focusing on SoftwareAutomation and Invoke-Remote as much as possible, hopefully I’ll have time to put together post on this asap.

my pre-holiday Schdraggel #1

I’ve just been looking on what to do and where to go this summer on the Azores … and it seems that 18 days on the islands won’t be enough to visit all the awesome places on this atlantic archipel! 🙁 

Main Travel Destination 2017

It has changed several times during the last couple of months – but now it’s fixed, alea iacta est, it’s going to be the Azores.

From July 23 to Aug 11, our ‘travel-party’ will visit the islands

  • Sao Miguel
  • Terceira
  •  Faial
  •  Pico
  • Sao Jorge

I’m happy to announce Andy is going to be part of the party this year – so it’s a total of 7 again! (Andy, Carrie, Flurl, Fredl, Joggl, Maxl, Meli)

What are we going to do? – a lot of hiking, photography, wine (and tea!) tasting, chillin – basically whatever we want to do 😀

Looking forward to this experience!

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