Friday, 22 September 2017

A glimpse of Peru

Leaving Europe for a while to explore the unknown which lurks in the depths of south america - the land of the Incas!
Well, all my friends/readers probably have noticed that I am more of an "Europe traveler" and that is very true! On the other hand, I am also aware that there are many more beautiful and cultural places out there in this world.
South America is part of the "new world" - a term associated to this continent, since it was "discovered" by Europeans about 500 years ago. I found this term to be unfair. What about the first men to ever settle this huge landmass? History of the Americas can be perhaps as old as Europe's. The Incas were a civilization that inhabited the so called "sacred valley" much earlier than European navigators reached the new continent. I then thought of adding one more country to my list of visited countries and came in person to Peru to check it out by myself. I came to see Machu Picchu - the famous Inca town situated somewhere 2000 meters above sea-level in a place where a country named Peru is located now.
I know that Peru is more than just the sacred town of Machu Picchu, but for this trip I decided to complete skip Lima and Arequipa and focus on Cuzco and Machu Picchu. I believe that the country side can show more identity of a country than its capital city.

Getting to Cuzco

Cuzco has the nearest airport to Machu Picchu site. From Europe, I would recommend the KLM flight from Amsterdam to Lima - a direct flight to Peru. Even though we took a different route to save money, that one would be the most comfortable option. KLM uses either a Boeing 787-9 (Dreamliner) or a larger B777-300, which is OK for such a long-haul flight. Then after take an Avianca flight from Lima to Cuzco.  That is a Star Alliance member (popular frequent flyer program in Europe), so you can earn points when flying with them too.

In Cuzco

Cuzco is a cozy Andean town, very underdeveloped though, but not dangerous. People are very friendly and prices are very low for goods, services, especially taxis. One thing to have in mind is that Cuzco is situated somewhere at 3400m above sea-level. Get ready for some altitude sickness symptoms like headaches, tiredness, vomiting. For reference, even though I was the oldest traveler (34yo) in our small group of 6 people, I was among the 2 who didn't vomit. So, take some pills and upon arrival try the local Coca tea (yes, coca leaf tea) which is believed to mitigate high altitude symptoms your body may face on the first couple days. So I recommend two days buffer time in Cuzco before taking the trip to Machu Picchu hills, even thought M.P. itself is situated in a lower altitude - I think about 2500m above sea-level.
There are a whole sort of bars, restaurants and night clubs in Cuzco. Try to get a hotel near "Plaza de Armas" where most of the nightlife is going on. A beer would cost from 10 to 15 soles in a bar and a meal in a good restaurant from 35 to 50 soles. If you get out of touristy area and try to live like a local, you could eat for half of that. A taxi to airport (in 2017) costs around 10 soles. A airport pick-up (implying that the taxi driver arrives earlier and prepares a banner with your names to wait for you at the arrival area and etc, might cost twice as much. We paid 20 soles for airport pickup per car).

Reaching Machu Picchu area via Ollantaytambo

There are some different ways to reach Machu Picchu, including the famous "Inca trail" path through the jungle that takes few days, so one can feel like a real "conquistador". Keep in mind that you have to book this tour with some local operator and these sell out fast.
The easier option is to ride a van to Ollantaytambo town, then getting a train to Aguascalientes, which is the base village for Machu Picchu hills. The government of Peru has imposed a daily limit of visitors since the infrastructure is not so good. There are limited trains and limited housing in small Aguascalientes village. So, one has to book Machu Picchu national park tickets in a official site run by the government of Peru, the ticket is a non-transferable, and associated to specific names and nationalities filled out when buying the tickets. They check documents when entering the national park of Machu Picchu. The official website is: - Keep in mind that the website is a bit obsolete and still uses Flash technology. You might have browser compatibility issues. Before buying directly with this website, check if you can buy a whole excursion package which would include vans from Cuzco to Ollantaytambo, train from there to Aguascalientes, hostel for one night prior to the ascent and tickets to national park itself. I took that option for about 250 USD.

Aguascalientes (Base town to Machu Picchu)

Get your mosquito repellent ready 'cause these beasts bite deep and draw blood. Some people might have allergic reactions to mosquito bites. Bring sunscreen as well. The sun is severe even in winter. I chose September for this trip, and arrived in Machu Picchu national park before 7am. It is the best time to arrive there, before the first streams for light pop out from behind the hills. By 9am the sun is already annoying!! Even being above 2000m altitude, Peru is fairly close to the equator line and it will get hot no matter what. It might be a bit chilly during early morning hours but if you wear too many layers you will regret later.
The little village has many restaurants and is full of tourists. There is also one SPA with hot water which would reason the name of the town - Aguascalients ("hot water" in Spanish). Relax the day before the ascent drinking one "Cusquena" beer. Really good taste.

Machu Picchu

Definitely a reward after so much traveling through small towns, narrow roads and waiting times between connections. A photo (or a selfie) here is the most memorable souvenir from this trip. Some people would also say that a photo with an alpaca or llama would be necessary too, but that I skipped.
This sacred town was a self-sufficient society, with schools for men and for women separately, plantations areas and livestock. Their religion included sacrifice of children. They also had stone calendars, primitive way to see what time of the year just based on how the sun casts a shadow on some of their stones setup. Their steep ways and paths could protect them from external tribes or threats of any sort. No one knows where they migrated. Some historians still believe that there should be another hidden refuge of the Incas which is not yet found. A mystery to be solved.

Some more photos (click to enlarge): 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Iceland pt.3

One can't just get enough of Iceland, right? Right! So, choose the airline of your choice and go! I've flown IcelandAir in my two previous trips but this time I experimented "WOW air", a low-cost airlines with some purple-coloured fleet, haha cool! Let's put some colour in this gray scenery then.
I admit I was apprehensive about the weather. It could be windy as hell but it was just fine. I heard that people don't use umbrellas in Iceland due to its infamous windy weather. For a late-April weekend the weather however was good. It was observed a "peak" temperature of +6C(+42F) with clear sky. If you believe in global warming, go 'all-in' here, because businesses are booming. :)


This time I wanted to explore more of the city centre of Reykjavik, because in my previous trips I was just too drunk at all times during my stays in that town that I only have flashes of my city-walking in Laugavegur street which is the nightlife hot spot. I finally visited the Hallgrimskirkja, which is on the highest neighborhood in the centre, with a nice view to the old town if you pay 900 ISK to take the elevator to go the top of the tower. Do expect some queuing. This is a Lutheran church built of solid concrete to endure the winds of the Nordics and hosts one of the biggest pipe organs (music instrument) in Europe. Nearby this church, one can try a traditional Icelandic food at Loki cafe. I recommend the lamb soup.


 This impressive event hall is sumptuous and can host different sort of events, event music festivals. From outside some special dynamic lighting effects on its glassy facade resemble the northern lights. Well, it is free to enter there if no event is happening but do try to plan your trip during one of the festivals that take place in here, so you will have the maximum experience. For instance, the SONAR REYKJAVIK event generally takes place in Harpa.

Northern lights

Well, it is not the best photo of the northern lights, I know, but this one was taken by me at least! So, I don't need to still from Google Images. :P
To see the aurora, go on dark month (November - February). The brighter the days are getting the lest intense will be your aurora experience. I have observed massive auroras in Lapland, but this time was my first aurora in Iceland. There is one place which is relatively dark for a capital city where one gets a better view of it without leaving Reykjavik. It is by the

Reynisfjara shores

Also known as 'the black sand beach' - in the touristy English colloquial. I know it is near the village of Vik, which requires few hours driving away from Reykjavik towards the south and east but it is still considered a "Reykjavik attraction" because it is perfectly feasible to visit it and go back to your hotel in Reykjavik in a one-day trip.
I am mentioning it here because it is among the new attraction (new to me) of Iceland which I hadn't visit in my previous two trips. It is a volcanic beach with sneaky waves (people-eating unpredictable waves). Big warning signs tell you to keep always one eye on the waves and never turn your back to the sea because once in a while a nasty wave will come for you. Apart from that, enjoy this awesome scenery and take some amazing photos.

Here are some more photos (click to enlarge):

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Lofoten - A beautiful archipelago in the Norwegian Lapland

Wow, one more breathtaking place in the true north of Europe to chill, hike and take some amazing photos.
As an enthusiast of the north, or better yet, the "true north" (!) meaning that it has to be somewhere inside the arctic circle (> 66°33' N) for it to be cool. For reference, Stockholm is around 59°N and Reykjavik (The northernmost capital of the world) is 64°N.
Being here feels good. Less population density, and a certain sense of freedom. One can hire a wooden cabin in a recreational area and breathe the freshest air one can get in this decaying planet. Air will soon become a important asset just as water is, even though many people don't perceive it.

When reading about the first tourist of Lapland, I discovered the history of Francesco Negri, an Italian Catholic priest who, during 1663-1666, travelled in Scandinavia. In 1670, he published an account of his travels to Lapland entitled Viaggio settentrionale. Back in the days, a journey to these marvelous lands were a real endeavour to accomplish. Our generation should be happy to belong to the age of the fast flying jet planes. Maybe, I can be the first Arctic explorer with a teddy bear! Is there any record about one? ;)

How to get there?

We booked an excursion at Timetravels which provided us a bus departing from Oulu (Finland), but having Luleå (Sweden) as a pick-up/drop-off along the way for those joining from Sweden. Even though I currently live in Sweden, it was easier/faster/cheaper to reach Oulu by plane, then going to the Swedish town of Luleå by any means of transportation. Well, it is not the most comfortable way to go to Lofoten archipelago, it is more like a budget option. If you are travelling with a smaller group and/or as a couple on a romantic getaway, try to fly to Tromsø (Norway) and rent a car to drive to the archipelago, or if you are OK with driving longer, there are much cheaper flights to the town of Trondheim, but then add few more hours of driving.

When to visit?

Even if you like winter and snow, don't be a fool. Winter in Lapland might be as cold as -35C (-31F) and it will be a perpetual darkness. I went in late April/early May and the weather was amazing. Note in this photo I took with the teddy bear: I wear no beanie, no gloves, nor scarf and I am happy! Of course, if you are aiming to see the Northern Lights, you have to go from October to February, but that's another story.

Where to stay?

We stayed at Svolvær, the main island of the archipelago. It is possible to find housing via even. So, shouldn't be a problem. Just be aware that there is not so much infrastructure and it is an isolated area (away from bigger towns), so get your housing fixed before hand.

What to do?

Hiking. Photographing. Drinking. Sauna. Chilling... hmm.. a Viking museum! Yeah, we found one on the way. Here is the address:

Here are some of the climbing paths near Svolvær:

Not much to describe further. Just enjoy some of my photos below.

Some photos (click to enlarge):

Random landscape on the way

Sense of freedom near the top of hill

This is an average village up north in the Lofoten archipelago

... and that's an average lager there ;)

Not like Copacabana, but they do have beaches...

Friday, 25 November 2016

Finnish Lapland

I always liked to go beyond boundaries! The more far north, the better! This time I wondered why not crossing the arctic circle in the north of Finland and maybe see the aurora borealis (a.k.a. the northern lights)?

Some tour operators like Timetravels, can take you up there for reasonable prices, but be ready to ride about 18h by bus from Helsinki to northern Lapland (in my case was to Saariselkä village). This operator mostly organizes student trips but it is open for everyone. If you are not student, you pay about 20 euros more than the student price, so no big deal.

There are several activities to do in Lapland apart from just getting drunk while contemplating the aurora, for example: taking a dog sledge, going to a sauna near a frozen lake and/or sea to experience the Finnish old-school sauna traditions.

In Rovaniemi, it is possible to visit Santa Claus' village and greet the "officially" most recognized Santa Claus in the world then purchase a photo and a short video with him for additional 40 euros (optional). Rovaniemi is in the south of Lapland, and is on the way to Saariselkä. The excursion stops there for a couple of hours and it is where one can take a nice photo crossing the Arctic circle as the one depicted above (it is inside Santa's village). It is also possible to send Christimas letters with especial fancy Lapland stamps to your family and friends.

There are some reindeer farms there also. However, I didn't like the "reindeer safari" tour proposed in the Timetravels excursion (it is a 3rd-party tour, so no blaming on the Timetravels here) since it was a bit too expensive (90 eur) and the reindeer are being calmly conducted by their farmers through a dark forest for a while, with some light carriage attached to it. I thought we would actually ride on proper carriages like the ones we see Santa flying on, where the reindeer go wild. So it was very lame in my opinion, not enough thrill for its price. Take the dog sledge tour instead, it is cheaper and it is more fun.

That's me with a reindeer

The Aurora

Well, this is what I was looking forward to see for a long time. The magnetosphere of our planet reacts on the solar wind generating this cool effect in the skies. In order for it to be visible on the skies, one has to go to high latitudes (preferably above 60°N, assuming you are on the northern hemisphere).  It also has to be a very dark night, preferably during a new moon.
In order, to photographic it, one has to set long exposure times in the camera, to capture more light than usual and a tripod is recommended because the camera has to sit still for few seconds. 
If you are planning to go there just for to see the aurora, keep in mind that it is not always visible. A recommended minimum length of a trip should be 7 days, and the dark months are the best - November to February. One more thing: the auroras look much better on the photos than in real life. So, seek for a dark village for a better effect.

More photos (click to enlarge):

Monday, 31 October 2016

Pope Francis visits Lund

Lund is a town of prestige which I like a lot. Apart from having the best university in Sweden, it has also one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the country: Lunds Domkyrkan - chosen by the Pope for a visit earlier this month and that made the Sweden's King Carl Gustav and Queen Silvia to come to Lund as well.
I had the opportunity to quickly escape from work to see them and even broadcast it live from my phone to Facebook. That was the first time I did a live broadcast because I thought that was a major event to show live. Well, it was not the first time I saw a Pope with my own eyes. John Paul II did visit my hometown in Brazil in the late 80's so I had the chance to see him and I remember it. Heh, not much more to say apart from what you can see in this stored copy of my live broadcast video. Ciao!

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Rammstein went to Wrocław (So did I)

That was the best concert I have ever attended. Well, I should call it a SHOW instead because when Rammstein plays it is no joke! This footage above was taken by me when they were playing their most popular song 'Du Hast'. A surprise pyrotechnic effect blew my mind! Till Lindemann shoots a 5-barrel gun with fireworks followed by fire explosions and two fireworks resembling missiles hitting the stage as a counter strike. Very well planned.

In their setlist there was a new song (and unreleased song) in the opening act, entitled "RAM 4" which has the names of several of their songs as lyrics. As if they were trying to summarize Rammstein in one song. Also very well planned.

I noticed the band avoided so explicit acts and songs like "Pussy" or "Bück dich" (among others) which would have a very explicit lyrics with sexual content and even live acts on the stage depicting artificial penises and masochist behaviors.

Among their classics songs, the ones they did play were: Amerika, Du Hast, Du riechst so gut, Mein Herz brennt, Links 2-3-4, Ich will and Engel which was played as last song with a beautiful and theatrical act in which Till Lindemann flies with some metal angel wings.

If you ever get the opportunity to see Rammstein live, don't miss it! 

Monday, 27 June 2016

Exploring Iceland

After my first (and too short) trip to Iceland in April of 2015, I was sure I was going to come back there at some point and it just happened one year later.
For those in love with ecotourism, this island is a must-see and has a lot to show, including endless amount of waterfalls, geysers, volcanoes, glaciers, hot springs, hot rivers but unfortunately, no so many trees or forests due to its mostly rocky soil formation which makes it hard for trees to grow.
Having said that, I proceed with my report on this amazing 10-day trip to the paradise island, which is called "Island" in their Icelandic language as well as in most of Scandinavian languages. The etymology is simple to comprehend: "IS" means "ICE" and therefore: "ISLAND".
The trip started for me on a Friday evening (June 17th), departing from Copenhagen, flying Icelandair.


Believe it or not, I only took two photographs in Reykjavik and this is one of them. I know what you may be thinking now and it is correct. The night life is intense and people around there were drinking as if there is no tomorrow.
I did have some beers while attending a rock concert of a Norwegian band which I met in the shuttle bus from Keflavik airport to the center. They gave me also a copy of their debut album. The name of the band is Hollow Illusion. Among the cool bar/clubs to go there, I can recommend: Kaffibarinn, pub "Dubliners" and the Whisky bar named "Dillon". There are many more. Just let the night absorb you. Try to find out which bars offer "happy hour" prices for beers, so you can save a considerable amount of money. Beers will cost you normally a minimum of 1000 ISK. Some bars, during 'happy hours' might charge as low as 600 ISK for a beer.

Golden Circle

Our Polish team composed mostly of people from Warsaw, but having a Latino-Breslauer among them, continued the trip on two 4x4 Nissan Terrano (eventually renamed by us to "Nissan Terrakota"), towards the "Golden Circle" which is a ring road leading to the mainstream attractions near Reykjavik. 

Geyser Strokkur, Kerið crater and Gullfoss waterfalls are among the attractions of the Golden Circle:

Gullfoss waterfalls

Kerið volcanic crater lake

The Golden Circle attractions are for those staying in Reykjavik without enough to time to explore the whole island. We definitely needed more.

Hitting the road

We drove on the road #1 which is the main road going around the island and doesn't require 4x4 cars. We passed the Eyjafjallajökull volcano on the way but don't expect much of it as an attraction because despite its fame after 2010's major eruption, it is not a volcano with a classic cone shape, so you can't see much.

Eyjafjallajökull volcano today

Eyjafjallajökull volcano photo during 2010's eruption


Carry on, with so many waterfalls on the way that I decided to show photos only of the most impressive ones, like Haífoss:





With Rammstein playing in our CD player, the trip continues to explore the Skaftafell region, where the glacier Skaftafellsjökull is located. It is the second largest glacier in Europe after Austfonna glacier on Svalbard in Norway.

The farther one goes away from Reykjavik area, the less infrastructure and hotels one gets. We used a camping area as base to rest and visit the glacier on the following day. Fortunately, we didn't need to use tents. We had cool cottage houses. Exactly these ones below:

Our housing

The morning comes. That's the expedition day! I couldn't hide my euphoria. That was going to be the most special day of the trip for me! I always wanted to walk on a glacier. So here we go!

Before the ascent, we took a photo of our group:

Piotr, Karolina, Mateusz, Magda, Ewa, Kamil, Kasia, Nano

This is me walking on Iceland's largest glacier

An ice chunk from a glacier looks like crystal
Nice photo collage by Ewa Kalata, from our hiking day

Photo taken during our hike

A photo of out team

Walking tours on the glacier can be arranged in the Skaftafell's visitor's center. The staff doing the tours is really friendly. I recommend.

Near the glacier, there is also a lake formed with the melting water from the glacier itself. The name of it is: Jökulsárlón

It really felt like a proper summer trip, far from harmful UV ray lights and mosquitoes! ;)



Just beside the Skaftafel's visitor center, there is a hiking trail leading to the Svartifoss - the black waterfall. Well, I thought the water would be black (I've seen some waterfalls with very dark, organic water in Brazil) but that is not the case. The name comes from its black rock formation, which makes it a very unusual landscape. See below:



Few more impressive waterfalls we found on the way:


This one has easy access by the main road, so no need for 4x4 cars. It is called Skógafoss:




This one below is called Seljalandsfoss and it's cool because one can walk behind it, has also easy access:




Nano @ Seljalandsfoss


The strongest waterfall in Iceland, the Dettifoss:



Glymur, the second highest waterfall in Iceland, this attraction includes hiking through dangerous paths and high cliffs. Not recommended for children and for people afraid of height. 

Map of the hiking track to go to Glymur falls

Glymur waterfall

View opposed to the Glymur fall, from the point I was

Highlands / Laugarfell

One nice part of the trip was when we went to Laugarfell, in the Icelandic highlands. It was a short incursion towards the center of the island, escaping the main road #1, and going to a quite isolated area near the volcano Askja.
Apparently, there is only one hostel, called Laugarfell itself. At this point I am not sure if it is the name of the location or the name of the hostel, because it is pretty much the only house around.
The hostel (or shelter) is run by a family and can be booked here. There are two hot springs for the guests, with different temperatures. One of them is really hot, probably better for winter but quite ok for a cold summer night too.
The area is probably the best site to watch the stars or the northern lights because it is very isolated and there is no light pollution at all, but since we were there during summer, it doesn't get fully dark anyways, so it is possible to see only one star - the one in our solar system.
During the day, there is a nice activity to do there which is a 7-km hiking trail with really nice views like this one beside.
I really plan to go back there some day, during winter, so I can see the northern lights which I failed to spot last year.

More photos from Laugarfell:


This is the second biggest town in Iceland, with around 20.000 inhabitants. It has its own airport but I heard that flying from Reykjavik to Akureyri is very expensive. Most people would just take a 4-hour bus trip or would take the car. In Akureyri it would be impossible to be an incognito. People would know who you are if you live there for awhile. There only few pubs/bars and people are so friendly that might make you feel like moving there.
This is among the few photos I took while staying in there but the house we rented was on the other side of the bay, so it doesn't show much of the town. Check the wiki page of the town for more information and photos of the city centre here: Akureyri.

Akureyri is a good base town in case you would like to take the whale-watching boat rides departing from Husavik. It is a short drive and there are allegedly more whales on that part of the island than in the Reykjavik area. Not sure if it's true though. We purchased the boat trip from the company named 'North Sailing' ( They have schooners, which can be an alternative to inflatable boats, but the journey takes longer (approx. 4h) and is less bumpy. (The first photo on this post also shows the boat we took).

The whale-watching departing from Husavik also passes by the puffin island, which is where they reproduce. The Puffin is a traditional Icelandic bird, present in many postcards around there.

Here are some photos (click to enlarge):

Approaching the "Puffin Island"

Humpback whale
Humpback whale

Puffin bird

Well, I think this was the longest post I have ever written in my blog, even though I really tried to keep it as short as I could.

If you can't get enough of Iceland, check out my earlier post about it, from last year:

I hope you enjoyed my photos and I wish you a good trip to Iceland! :)