Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Trip to the North


Hope you had a great 2017. Ours was, but quite busy. That's why I fell so far behind with my posts. I still have to finish one from our summer holiday...

But first about my trip to Sweden - I think the theme is more appropriate for the winter. I flew to Stockholm at the end of November for work, but I managed to arrange to stay one day longer to do some sightseeing. It was my first time in Sweden so I was very excited about the trip.

The work part went very well, if it wasn't for me getting a cold already on day one it would have been even better. I was staying in Connect hotel in Kista, which was very near to where I worked. It is a very nice hotel, the most interesting for me were the pretty lights in dining room above the breakfast counters ....

.... and colourful ones above the tables.

The days were already very short, it got dark at 3.30 in the afternoon, so after work I just walk a short distance to my hotel and stayed in, partly also because of my cold, and partly because of the weather - it was mostly snowing or raining.

On my free day on Friday I had a big breakfast and then I put on all my warmest clothes, including fleece cap and gloves and took the train to the town. While the weather wasn't exactly great, it was the best we've had all week. Still, the photos are a bit grey and gloomy. I walked around a lot and saw many pretty sights. Can imagine the places like this look really charming in a bit of sunshine.

This is a police headquarters.

The jays were eating elderflower fruits in the nearby park.

And this is a supreme court.

I'm not sure what this is, it was across the road from the court building.

There are many very pretty buildings in Stockholm ...

... and many boats. This is the most of sun I've seen.

I walked to the City hall, where the Nobel prize banquet takes place. Since I only had a day to see everything, I decided to just look at it from the outside, and I also didn't go into any museums, palaces or churches.

Couldn't resist a photo of these Ericas.

There were so many pretty palaces and buildings that I just had to photograph.

Most of them were in Gamlastan, the old part of the city with narrow streets and lots of history. I was just a bit too late to manage to take a photo of an empty one...

This is the royal palace.

In the afternoon I had company, the son of my cousin is studying there and we spent the afternoon together. We walked through Soedermalm, we saw Sofia kyrka (church) ...

... and one of the most unusual graveyards that I've seen, it was just a part of a public park.

One of the best parts of sightseeing was making a stop in a restaurant called Meatballs for the people. I think you've already guessed what we ate - dear and lamb meatballs, with obligatory lingonberries, pickled cucumbers and potatoes. And some Swedish knackebrod (flatbread). It was delicious.

Stockholm is quite a pricy city, but very pretty and everything is functioning very well. I would love to go back, only in maybe a bit nicer weather with more daylight.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Summer sailing and snorkeling in Dalmatia - part 3

We stayed in Uvala Kasjun on Šolta the whole day and another night. It was really hot, so the only option to cool down was to spend as much time in water as possible, preferably as deep as possible.

The bay was really pretty and I found again so many pretty sights. There were lots of Hydroids, like these Morska peresca or Podded hydroids (Aglaophenia pluma)...

...and these Zadružni trdoživnjaki or Great tooth hydroids (Sertularella).

There were also plenty of these little red beauties around - it is a Rdeči sprehajalček or Red-black triplefin (Tripterygion tripteronotus).

Next day it was time to slowly turn back North. We decided to sail around Šolta and in the early afternoon we med-moored in a narrow arm of Uvala Tatinja. To med-moor means throwing the anchor in relatively deep water near the steep shore and then tie the stern (back) of the boat to some big rock on the shore. It is not easy, someone from the boat has to swim or row to the shore and take the line with them, taking care they don't drop the line while the boat is usually pushed away by the wind, don't step on sea urchins while climbing onto shore and don't loose the dinghy in all the excitement.

I was already snorkelling in this bay before and it was really good. I couldn't wait to get into the water.This time I met several scorpion fish of different kind, probably more than anywhere else. This one is Mala bodika or Small red scorpionfish (Scorpaena notata).

This beautiful orange lace is a cluster of eggs and belongs to a Nudibranch (slug), don't know which, couldn't find any nearby.

Velika babica or Tompot blenny (Parablennius gattorugine) is very common fish, but this one was a bit different with pink pattern on it's fin.

I very rarely see the Rdeča morska vetrnica or Beadlet anemone (Actinia equina) with it's tentacles out.

A Škarpoč or Black scorpionfish (Scorpaena porcus) up close.

This Babica papagajka or Rusty blenny (Prablennius sanguinolentus) was literally posing for me.

Morska pomaranča or Sea lemon (Tethya citrina) really gave me a hard time - it was hidden under a rock in a tricky depth of about 1m - it is difficult to dive down, get under a rock, try to steady oneself for taking a shot while one is pushed upwards by the water. I took a lot of photos, but none of them turned out ok. So next day we postponed our departure so I could go snorkelling again. Luckily I found the right spot and got some better shots this time, without hurting myself or damaging anything. I didn't see the scorpion fish, that was guarding the sea lemon while I was taking photos, I only noticed it later when I was checking the photos on my computer.

I don't find sea lemons too often, so I think it was definitely worth the fuss.

Next day we sailed to Drvenik Veli, where we anchored in Uvala Solinska. The day after we sailed to  Zlatan again, I guess we are the creatures of habit. But this time it was really crowded and loud in Uvala Zaražanj, not as pleasant as before.

Next morning we picked Captain's brother and his family in Tribunj and beside four new crew members we also loaded lots of provisions on the boat. We stopped for a big breakfast and a swim near the small island in front of Tribunj and afterwards sailed North towards Murter.  We stopped in bay on South of island Arta Mala and we decided to stay for the night. A stronger NE wind burja was forecast for the night and we thought we would be well protected there. We swam in the afternoon and afterwards cooked ourselves a big dinner. It was a nice calm evening, but it soon turned. Around midnight, as from nowhere, a strong NE wind started to blow, with gusts around 40 knots. Since we were tucked behind the island, there were no waves, but wind was so strong that it carried the spray all over the bay and boat was salty in minutes, and the gusts of wind made the boat dance around the anchor violently. While some of the crew didn't mind the commotion, some of us were getting up every half an hour to check on the situation. But our reliable anchor did it's job well.

In the morning it was still very windy, but less than in the night. After breakfast we set sails towards South, logical direction since the wind was from NE, and sailed to island Dvainka near Šibenik. We anchored in bay on NE, that was protected by neighbouring island. Over the day wind got weaker and weaker, and the afternoon was sunny and warm. There were many smaller motor boats anchored there, and also couple of sailboats. We enjoyed the afternoon swimming and snorkelling. 

This is this year's newest fashion for sea urchins - trend is urban with new materials like chicken bones...

...or coloured glass. Maybe we'll see trend "back to nature" again next year, and algae and pieces of shells will be fashionable again.

I'm always very happy when I manage to make a good photo of Peščeni cevkar  or Sand tube worm (Myxicola infundibulum), they are so shy and as soon as they notice some movement around them, disappear immediately in the sand.

We liked the bay and decided to stay for the night. Next morning we sailed on an made a stop in Vanjiška uvala on islan Kaprije. It was a warm day, wind almost died and the turquoise water was very inviting.

I found this Peščeni glavač or Slender goby (Gobius geniporus) interesting, I've seen many before but  don't remember any of them having such kaleidoscope eyes.

In late afternoon we had a nice sailing to Uvala Stupica Vela on island Žirje. It was already late when we got there and there was only time for a BBQ and couple of glasses of wine before going to bed.

But next morning there was enough time for some of the crew to dinghy ashore and explore the remains of the fortress on the hill, and I went snorkelling, of course. Water was very clean and there was lots of life in it. I found a Progasta porcelanka or Brown cowry (Luria lurida).

I'm not totally sure which of the Wrasses this is - I'm tipping on Kosirica or Five-spotted wrasse (Symhodus roissali).

There were plenty of  Apnenčasti cevkar or Red spotted horseshoe (Protula tubularia).

One of the prettiest shells - Petrovo uho or Ear shell (Haliotis lamellosa).

In the afternoon we sailed back to island Zmajan, where we made a stop for swimming. We were all surprised to see a small Morska cvetača or Fried egg jellyfish (Cotylorhiza tuberculata) near our boat, it was the first we've seen this year.

In the evening we sailed to town of Tribunj and anchored in front of the small island near the town. We dinghied to town and had dinner in Konoba Bepo, it was just as delicious as the first time we were there. Next morning we had some time to relaxing and swimming and in the middle of the day our niece and nephew and myself drove back to Ljubljana, our holiday was over.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Summer sailing and snorkeling in Dalmatia - part 2

From Lastovo we sailed to Korčula, it was a fast and bumpy sailing with more SE wind than forecast. We made a stop in small bay Uvala Poplat in late afternoon. We were anchored quite near the rocky coast and some other boats, so it was definitely not a place for the night. So after a short deliberation we decided to do a night sailing to Vis. The forecast was almost no wind and a clear night, so we were anticipating a couple of hours of motoring under the moon and stars with a drink in our hands. We sailed off right after the dinner and waited for the wind to die. But it didn't, it even got stronger. So we had fast and again bumpy sailing with no moon and stars and definitely no drinks. Near island of Vis wind even turned to N and sailing got more uncomfortable. Shortly after midnight we were in a bay in front of town Vis. Since last time we were there they placed the buoys almost across all the bay so it took us another hour to find a spot for anchoring. Water was deep, almost 15m, and captain was not very happy with how we were anchored. But space was limited and we were too tired to search for another spot. Finally we got to bed. 

But we didn't sleep for long. At about 5 in the morning it started to rain and the wind picked up. Captain and myself got up, he checked our anchor and the situation outside and I checked the hatches. Everything was fine, except for the big catamaran that was dragging the anchor and was coming directly at us. Captain got quite nervous at the prospect of Heron being straddled by such a big cat, our anchor surely wouldn't hold both ships and behind us were some more boats and the coast. We stayed outside and watched what was going to happen. As the cat was coming closer we saw that the whole crew was on deck, each holding a bumper, and that with a bit of luck they are going to miss us. What we couldn't understand was why they had the engines on, but were just standing around and watching. In couple of minutes they were at our side, crew holding the bumpers between the boats. And that was it. The cat's engines were on, but they were just hanging at our side while the rain was making us all wet. Captain said there was no need for both of us to get wet and he sent me inside, and I thought he will be in in couple of minutes. After half an hour I went out again and the situation was unchanged - cat was at our side, Hungarian crew were holding bumpers between the boats and the cat's engines were on. I got quite angry and Captain and myself started to urge the cat's captain to do something - they would need to lift the anchor and re-anchor the boat. After a lot of persuasion, some with raised vices, they took our advice and moved the boat further away and re-anchor. Happy that we weren't in their "line of fire" any more we finally went to bed.

Next morning crew dinghied to town of Vis for a bit of sightseeing, some shopping and of course some ice cream. Later we moved to Uvala Parja just outside of the bay for a swim and a walk through abandoned military tunnels. In the evening we made a short but fast sail to island of Šolta and anchored in Uvala Tatinja. Šolta is one of my favourite snorkelling places in Adriatic, especially it's West side. There are several bays there, almost fjords, with deep water and steep shores, and there are no hotels or mass tourism, so it's very rich with life.

It was too late already for snorkelling that evening, so it had to wait until after the breakfast the next day.  This is a Sredozemski stožec or Mediterranean cone (Conus mediterraneus), and although ti looks quite harmless it is actually a predator with small poisonous harpoon.

This pretty slug was one of my best discoveries - it is a Kodrasti perjaničar or Giant Doris (Hypselodoris picta).

This one might be a bit less spectacular, but it is also my first - it is a Blenny, named Velikooka babica (Lipophrys trigloides). Though at first glance I thought it was a Goby.

This year was definitely a year of small slug called Pisanček (Thuridilla hopei). I never before saw so many, and as I was going through the photos on my computer at home, I discovered them on many photos where I actually photographed something else and didn't see the slugs at that time.

In the afternoon we sailed towards North, it was time to turn back. We made a stop in Luka Grebaštica for dinner.

Later, after the sunset, we sailed off again, only a couple of miles further and anchored for the night between island Prvič near Šibenik and mainland.

Next day we sailed back to town of Tribunj. After some swimming at small island nearby and later a great lunch at Konoba Bepo we said goodby to our crew. Captain an I sailed back to island Zmajan, this time there were more boats and people on land and it wasn't as idyllic and quiet as the first time we were there.

Next morning I went snorkelling and I met this shiny fish, which looks like Orada or Seabream (Sparus aurata), just without the dark spot on the gills.

And this was another big discovery - I managed to find a Pikasti perjaničar or Dalmatinček or Dotted seaslug (Discodoris atromaculata). It is one of the prettiest slugs and I thing the name Dalmatian (as the dogs) is very suitable. It is eating the sponge it is on and you can see the damage it has already done. The small crown on his upper part in first photo is his gills.

Next morning we sailed further South. We made a stop near Rogoznica, had a breakfast and I went snorkelling. I've seen many of the "usual suspects", I even found a small octopus. One of the most interesting things I saw was green algae named Grmičasti kodij (Codium vermilara).

That afternoon we anchored on island Drvenik Veli in bay Uvala Solinska. It was less crowded than Krknjaši, but also less pretty.

Next morning we sailed further on to island Šolta again, this time to bay Uvala Kasjun on East side. The bay is very pretty, rocky with lots of pine trees on the shores. I was surprised that Heron was the only bigger boat there, all others were smaller motor boats that we knew would not stay for the night.

Right after anchoring I put on my mask and fins and jumped into water. I was very pleasantly surprised! I didn't expect as much life here in a channel facing the big city of Split as on the outer side, but it was just as beautiful.

There were many Hydroids Morski Grmički (Eudendrium), of different forms and shapes.

This Solitary coral is named Kamnita čašica (Caryophyllia).

This Jelenka or Mistery blenny (Parablennius incognitus) was posing for me, displaying it's fins and horns.

The coast was rocky with lots of overhangs and there I found Mrki glavač or  Rock goby (Gobius paganellus).

And one more kind of Blenny that I haven't seen before - it is a Dalmatinska babica or Adriatic blenny (Lipophrys adriaticus).

On the rocky shore I saw many crabs - this is a Marogasta rakovica or Marbled crab (Pachygrapsus marmoratus)

This one is not new to me, but it looked so pretty sitting on an orange sponge - it is a Črnoglava babica or Black-headed blenny (Lipophrys nigriceps)

We had all this beauty to ourselves from evening to next morning. Probably thanks to the fact that there were no hotels or restaurant nearby.

Next morning I went snorkelling even before breakfast - I was so impressed with what I saw the day before. This is a Marmornata morska vetrnica  or Trumpet anemone (Aiptasia mutabilis).

This is a Rdeči sprehajalček or Red-black triplefin (Tripterygion tripteronotus), this time in more dull, non-mating colours, but with parasite.

Under one of the overhangs I found two Brancin or  European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax).

There were also clusters of Jadranska kamena korala or Pillow coral (Cladocora caespitosa), it is the only coral in Mediterranean that is building coral reefs.

These guys are really big, this one looked like it weight 1kg. It is a Kosmelj or Warty crab (Eriphia verrucosa).

Couldn't resist this pretty face - it is again Jelenka or Mistery blenny (Parablennius incognitus).