Monday, March 31, 2008

Safety in Sevilla, water shoes in Poland

This week I plan to begin my short trip to Spain. It means I'll finally reach Sevilla among others. Browsing the internet I came across very interesting link about safety in this old city. You may also consider this link interesting, so I decided to mention it here:

Sevilla Safety

And getting back to my US phototrip I still have a lot to arrange. One of such thing are water shoes. Till yesterday I was sure it's not possible to find such shoes in Poland, but it appeared that's not true anymore! You can find two models in Intersport chain - they've Salomon Techamphibian and Merrell Gauley. Of course my first choice was Teva, but we don't have a serious Teva dealer in Poland. It seems that I'll have to stick to Merrell. Salomon Techamphibian doesn't look well and my first impression was neutral. Or the other choice is to wait and buy water shoes in US - the only problem is time. We'll arrive late evening and the next day we've to get to Page - over 500km. It means time for shopping is very limited.
And what's all the buzz about water shoes? The problem is with two expeditions - one to Subway part of Zion NP and the other to Beaver Falls (see picture on the left) in Havasupai - never been in the first one, but lack of proper shoes was the main problem in the last one during my recent visit. Trail from the Hilltop parking to the campground is rather dry and you can use plain hiking boots until you want to take few pictures of famous Navajo Falls. The only way to get close to the waterfall is to wade through the water, put your tripod on the bottom of it and start taking pictures. You've to stand on very stony bottom all the time and if you're barefoot, it can be a bit tricky. I know it's much better to have some shoes that'll allow you to feel more comfortable. Of course you can't just use your hiking boots. You need something more specialized. One of the answer are water shoes.
The other trail, where water shoes are the must, is the path from the campground to wonderful Beaver Falls. To get there you have to cross creek many times and take your shoes off and putting on all the time. This is very time consuming and annoying process, so I definitely don't want to get through it again! With water shoes you just go and take pictures. Moreover you are on the not so easy trail, so you must have water shoes and hiking boots in one. I hope that with Vibram sole I'll feel safe and stable on the trail and in the water.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Backpacks, Jerez and Sevilla...

As promised I visited shop this week. I spent there over an hour watching different bags and backpacks, then I went out even more confused. It appeared that Orion AW is good in pictures, but complete disaster when you see it live.
I checked Off Trail 2 very carefully and it seems to be final solution for trip to Havasu Falls and maybe some other trips, but I still think it's not a perfect solution for day hikes, like one to Wave or Subway. My decision is getting closer to Tamrac Adventure 10, but it's unreachable in Poland. Maybe Tamrac Adventure 9 will do, although it's a bit smaller and I still don't know how to attach tripod to it. Maybe S-113 will help?
I should harry up with choosing my new backpack, because wanted to put it to the test during the trip to Spain.
And talking about Spain, I must brag about my hotel reservation in Jerez de la Frontera - I had luck to find quite a nice looking place with parking and breakfast included in price. The hotel is called Guadalete and is close to the city center and Bodegas - places where sherry is produced. Now I want to find some good place for Flamenco show and a good hotel for last night near Sevilla. Hotel Don Paco looks nice, but price is a bit too high - over 100 EUR including parking! If I don't find anything better, I'll reserve it. At least it's not far from the city center - as reported by it's in the walking distance:

View Larger Map

Monday, March 24, 2008

Bags, backpacks and toploaders

Imagine that you're preparing for a hike to the mountains and have to take tent, sleeping bag, foam pad or mat, clothes, food, water, drugs, etc. It means all of this stuff will finally be on your back. Now let's assume you are an amateur photographer and photography is the main reason to hike. You have to take a tripod+head, camera body, two or three lenses (10-22/3.5-4.5, 17-55/2.8 and 70-200/4L), filters, spare batteries, memory cards etc.
Of course you can't put it in the main backpack, because it's not designed for fragile equipment and it's not very handy to take off your backpack every time you want to take picture. You also can't take your regular photo backpack, because you have only one back!
What's the solution to the problem? I still don't know. Maybe you have any hints?
As for now I have two ideas. I had three, but one of them didn't work on my recent trip to Havasu Falls (see picture on the left). Aforesaid idea was simple - put your photo backpack into main backpack. Unfortunately it wastes a lot of your space and is even less comfortable to use your camera - it takes at least 5 minutes to take it out and next 5 minutes to pack it back. Waste of time and space. It didn't work.
So I have two ideas left. First is to buy one of LowePro TopLoader bags with special harness and put it on your chest. I have to go to the shop and check how it works. Of course it allows you to put only camera body and main lens on the chest and the rest of stuff must land on your back in special pouches. Advantage of such solution is easiness of using your camera - you can use it without taking your backpack off - until tripod usage is not considered. It might be my final solution for upcoming Phototrip.
The last idea is to buy LowePro Orion AW backpack - it's very smart piece of equipment that allows you to use it as a regular backpack or a beltpack. On the way to Havasu Falls I'd have used it as a beltback - unfortunately it can appear that I'll have a conflict with the belt from main backpack.
I don't have final answer to this trivially looking question, but this week I plan to visit shop and see all the stuff with my own eyes.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


My trip to Andalusia is coming very quickly. And it's only two weeks ahead of the "Phototrip". I had to make some arrangements in Spain. We'll land in Malaga late evening, so I've made a decision to stay there for first night. Browsing the internet intensively I've found quite a nice looking hotel - Hotel Villa Guadalupe. It's reachable only by car, but I hope panorama of the city is worth staying there. Advertised price on seemed to be really good - only 71 EUR for such a nice place? Of course it appeared later that you've to pay for breakfast separately. It's quite expensive - 6 or 8.5 EUR depends on what kind of breakfast you want.
I though over my plans for the farther trip. We'll not head to Gibraltar, but instead decided to see Ronda and pueblos blancos around. As far as I heard from my friends and read over the Internet, this city is definitely worth seeing - I hope to put here some pictures of it in the very near future. Because I want to have few hours to visit Ronda I've chosen "Hotel El Horcajo" for the second night. It's located about 20 km away from Ronda, but it's on the way to Jerez de la Frontera which is considered to be our next stop. Moreover this hotels costs only 60 EUR and price includes breakfast. It's really cheap and hope it's worth the money.

This picture of "Hotel El Horcajo" is very appealing:

Friday, March 21, 2008

Trip to Andalusia

As I mentioned few days ago I'm on my way to go to Andalusia very soon! I've just "bought" my tickets for miles and it's even sooner. We (I'll go there with my wife) will have 3 full days for visiting such a nice places as Marbella, Ronda, Gibraltar, Sevilla and maybe Cadiz. It's too much for such a short trip, but I treat it as a kind of reconnaissance. It means I plan to get back there in the future for a bit longer and maybe take my children with us.
Besides, there'll be a good opportunity to check some of the photo equipment before "Phototrip". Moreover Canon has just announced a photo competition called CANON, THE ASSIGNMENT and I've registered. It means I should have a good (or even better :) picture before 1st of May to upload and have a chance to win. It's not easy task, but I'll do my best!
It's also first time I should be able to report my daily activities from the trip - good try before "Phototrip". Hope I'll have Internet access en Espana. You'll see more pictures then, because now this blog seems to be a bit boring...

Below is the map of planned trip:

View Larger Map

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Weekend in Andalusia?

Maybe I'll spend a weekend in Andalusia soon. It appeared that in one of the airline loyalty program, I've enough miles to go with my wife to one of the European cities. Moreover if not used, they'll expire in June.
Because I learn spanish and was in Spain only once, my dream is to visit this country as many times as possible. Internet search showed that for my miles I can go to Madrid, Malaga or Barcelona - Unfortunately can't go to Sevilla. To spend even less miles for a ticket I should buy it two weeks before departure, so if I'm lucky enough, I'll have my tickets till the end of the week.
Since I've decided to go there and have never been there before, I'd to buy some guide. You can find at least 5 Spain guides in polish, but all of them are very general and have only few pages describing Andalusia. Luckily we have a chain of American Bookstores in Poland and they've good choice of guides. Furthermore they've had a new arrival of books recently. I've found Eyewitness Travel Guide: Sevilla & Andalusia from DK Publishing.
Yesterday I browsed the book and it seems to describe all the interesting places. When I'm back from the trip, I'll be able to give you final recommendation on the book. Keep your fingers crossed for my trip! See you soon...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Some more details

Today I decided to show you something more. I mean more about our planned trip (less than 40 days left to departure!!!). So here's the map of our planned route. As you can see, after departing Page we'll head to Toroweap - probably the most deserted point in the Grand Canyon Area, but as I heard, still accessible by car. We plan to spend at least one night there sleeping in a tent. Later we have plans for more common places like Zion NP, Bryce NP, Canyonlands NP, Arches NP - but we plan to visit some less known nooks of these famous locations. I can only say, that we also have permits for Subway in Zion NP. It seems to be very interesting place, although requiring some effort to get in.
Later we dream of seeing Monument Valley, Grand Canyon South Rim and famous Havasu Falls. In the last mentioned we have ambitious plans to get to Beaver Falls and also use alternative route to take some pictures of Mooney Falls from the top of upper canyon rim - it's the route that forks near cemetery - only that is mysterious enough to try this less known part of Havasupai reservation.
Hope you enjoy reading my scribbles? If not, then don't worry - as I promised in first blog entry, I'm doing it more for me myself than for others to read. I'm just practicing my english before the trip :) Hasta luego seniores i senioras...

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Unsuccessful workshop

Today we woke up before 4 AM and went to the suburbs of Warsaw to take some pictures. Unfortunately it appeared that weather forecast, as usual, was incorrect and we haven't seen any sun :(
We went to the Bug and Narew rivers to find some photo spots and maybe birds, but had no luck. The only picture I managed to get and I'm brave enough to show you is something like this:

Of course we've taken many of such crappy pictures and get back home. I hope we'll have more luck in States...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

it's closer and closer

I mean our trip is closer - less than 50 days left to departure Warsaw Airport. We fly to Phoenix thru Paris and Atlanta. There we'll take a car and go north to Page. And there we have something that most can only dream of - we have a permit to get to Paria Canyon - the famous Wave formation.
As you may guess this is not the place for everyone - you need to win the lottery to get there - only 10 people a day are permitted based on the advance lottery and 10 people based on on-site lottery on the day of entry. Fortunately one of us was lucky enough to win and we have a permit! If you also need one, please try BLM.
After the day in Wave we plan to visit Antelope Canyon Lower and Upper, Horseshoe Band and Page area in general. This is really interesting part of Arizona.
And please don't forget why we go there - to take some amazing pictures. I hope we will have the weather and everything to have a really good pics.
I'll be back soon to write what we gonna do after departing Page - it's also something not for everyone!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Few more secrets revealed

You might not be interested, but I've just decided that it's time to tell you more about our planned "Photo Trip 2008".
Most important thing is our destination. It's the place we both were in a few times. But as we hope, this time will be exceptional. All our efforts we would like to spend solely on photography. Of course it will also require a lot of hiking, because we want to visit less known places that are not accessible by car.
The area I'm writing about lies in the West of the States, so it's not very close to Poland. But what I can say is, that if you go there once, you will be probably returning till the end of your life - at least I have such a feeling. And what's worst, all the people I know and were there, have similar opinion. So it must be something in it.
It has passed almost a year since we've started planning this journey. Everything begun in March 2007 when we were at the Biebrza River for a small weekend phototrip. It was really nice experience and opportunity to share memories of previous USA trips. We thought "Why don't we go to States just for pure photography trip?". Answer was simple - money! It costs a lot and we are not millionaires. Fortunately USD/PLN exchange rate started to change and getting beneficial for us. In September or October we made a final decision - we will go there at the turn of April and May 2008. So it's only about 50 days left to the beggining of our trip. And I still have time to share more details with you... if you're interested of course :)

Below one of pictures from our trip to Biebrza river:

Saturday, March 1, 2008

First entry...

Hello everyone!
At last I've decided to start my own blog. I think it's a good idea to set up some rules at the beginning.
So I'll write my blog in English or Spanish. No, not because I'm native English or Spanish speaker! I'm native polish speaker and that's why I have to continously improve my ability to communicate in these languages. Besides if this blog will be in english, more people will have a chance to read this, but of course speaking honestly - blogs are usually for the author, not for the readers :)
Now, let's explain why I decided to start blogging. Main reason is that me and my very good friend are preparing our first "Photo Trip". It's very important event for both of us and we spent a lot of time in the preparation process. I came up with the idea, that it would be nice to share our experience with others. The easiest way to share is to have a blog. Of course I don't want to stick to this very narrow topic - I will also write about my professional experience - it is IT business and other gadgets and stuff.
I want to keep my entries short, so that's all for today. Or no! I would like to ask you one favour - please, please, please fix all my grammar or vocab mistakes! This is the only way I can fix my ability to use foreign languages. Please! Thank you!