Thursday, August 23, 2007

The smart fox

The fox in our not-so-wild nature, but where animals like to go to food-hunting in the afternoons. All kind of animals... even lynx... Erik just saw one today! But no good photo yet.
Photgraphed by Erik, Harju county, Estonia, August 2007.

The Boar family

In the end of July, Erik met the wild boars' family. They like to come to eat to the field of oats and Erik was lucky to see the family with more than 20 family members. And they were REALLY close to Erik... about 7-8 metres!
Photographed by Erik, Harju county, Estonia, July 2007.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The High Tatras (Poland and Slovakia)

Our holiday trip in July and August of 2007 took us to the High Tatra mountains which peaks are divided between Poland and Slovakia. Some of the popular peaks belong to Poland, some to Slovakia. On the first day, we climbed to the highest in Polish side - RYSY (2499 m) within one day. It was an interesting, exhausting, demanding experience followed by powerful emotions (with sounds of guitar) on the top of everything. It was worth all this work! The trip took alltogether 10,5 hours - started in the morning and finished when it was totally dark. Alltogether, we walked and climbed 30 km-s on that day.
We also visited two clear-blue mountain lakes - Morskie Oko (Eye of the Sea) and Czarny Staw (Blacklake), which were amazing and had beautiful views over to surrounding mountains.
In Slovakian side, we took a cable car to go to the top of Lomnicky (2634 m), which is the second highest peak in the High Tatras, but not accessible by foot. We hiked in Skalnate Pleso (1751 m) enjoying the beautiful views down to the mountain villages; and in the Dill Valley to get to see the highest waterfall cascade (80 metres) called Kmetov Waterfall.

Photo: The peak of Rysy - 2499 m - which had an idyllic view and romantic scenery when we reached the top - a nun enjoying the guitar music and singing by two guys... Like you are in the corner of Heaven... :). Polish Tatras, July 2007

Photos: Morskie Oko (Eye of the Sea) lake, largest in Tatra Mountains, in elevation of 1395 m. Back you can see the mountains, one of them has the peak called Rysy. Morskie Oko lake is known of its clear blue water, where you can easily notice the fish called trout. Polish Tatras, July 2007.

Photos: Morskie Oko lake and us photographed from the level of the other mountain lake - Black Lake (1583 above sea level). Polish Tatras, July 2007.

Photos: Both lakes (Morskie Oko and Czarny Staw), photographed from above, during the climbing to Rysy. Polish Tatras, July 2007.

Photos: The small cable car took us from the middle station Skalnate to the Lomnicky Peak, which is 2634 metres high. The day wasn't clear up there, so we mostly saw just clouds... and a little bit more when it cleared up. It was cold up there - 1 degree... You can see I'm freezing:) And Erik had shorts on... But we survived it! Slovakian Tatras, August 2007.

Photos: Hike around Skalnate Pleso. We hiked around the nice mountain lake, looking down to the small mountain village called Tatrancka Lomnica. It was quite cold up there, and the only warm thing I had with me, was a hat :). It felt homely as we found a lot of blackberries! Like from our own forests... and the tasted just the same! Slovakian Tatras, August 2007.

Photos: The hike in Dill Valley to see the highest waterfall cascade in High Tatras - Kmetov Waterfall. It was beautiful! And the weather was so good... sun was shining all the time! The hiking track was quite long, so we didn't see many people, it was relaxing, peaceful... on the way, we ate blueberries again, photographed butterflies... Slovakian Tatras, August 2007.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Climbing to RYSY in Poland

Climbing to Rysy was a very interesting experience for us. We do not have any skills on rock-climbing, but we really wanted to try something different we're used to in Estonia (a flat country!). Rysy sounded challening - the highest peak on Polish Tatras - although, "if it's your first trip to High Tatras, don't start it with Rysy...". Well. I guess we thought why not to start with Rysy? As it was the first hike what we did there.
Rysy is 2499 metres high. It is a very steep uphill, but does not require technical climbing - so it meant we can do it, if we're strong enough to fight with the rocks.

We started from a huge parking lot - 9 km's to walk uphill on a paved road with many other people. Not that those other people go to Rysy... No, they just want to go to a beautiful mountain lake Morskie Oko, where they make a small hike and go back. Some don't even want to walk that much - they take a horse carriage (on the photo).

Here we are almost reached the Morskie Oko lake, only a few kilometres to go. Beyond, you can see the High Tatra mountains... One of them is Rysy summit.

When we reached the Morskie Oko lake (see on the photo above; elevation: 1395 m), we just enjoyed the lovely view and had our lunch. It was about 1 or 2 p.m by that time. Only then, realizing that the day is beautiful and shiny, Erik got an idea we should really conquer Rysy. I was sceptical - it was already too late... if the weather gets bad, do we have enough time to come down? Usually, people start very early in the morning... But well, I guess our curiousness was so high, that we couldn't stop us at least trying...

So we first hiked to the other lake, in higher level (1583 metres) - Blacklake. There, we could still see quite many people. But not as many as near Morskie Oko...

This photo is taken beside the Blacklake, but beyond, what you can see on photo, is Morskie Oko lake from 188 metres higher point than the lake itself lies.

And now we start the "real" climbing... It's easy from time to time, but most of the time it's exhausting...

Many breathing space have to be taken to get the energy to go further...

As we get higher, the view gets more and more breathtaking - it's such a powerful feeling to be so high up, and see the view over everything... Climbing to Rysy offers one of the widest and richest summit panoramas in Tatras; and we were lucky with the weather - it was stable and shiny. We took many breaks to enjoy the view!
The higher we got, the more we felt that we are "in clouds". And finally we really were!
Unfortunately in almost the top, we lost our way... We didn't see the marking anymore, and were too impatient to look for it, so we just climbed further... Until we realized, we're totally lost and cannot go down or up anymore. It was a bit scary, as it was very steep. But finally, we saw some people coming down... We needed to reach them to find the marking again. And we did:) Then, nothing stopped us to climb till the end...

The very top is so steep, that you need to use several ropes to get higher and higher... And then, it's not much until ....

...the Rysy summit has been conquered:)

We are on the top, having our "own" band to play music for us.... Wow, what a feeling! We just stare the tops of the other peaks, listen to the guitar playing and feel the happiest feeling one can imagine! It's 5.30 p.m.

Going down isn't easy either. It's not physically demanding anymore, but the legs hurt a lot! And you need to be careful not to slip...
But after some hours, we're back near Blacklake again. NO people besides us... and some other climbers who started together with us. What a difference compared with daytime! From there, 30 minutes to Morskie Oko lake, and some 2 hours to reach other car again... It starts to rain... quite heavily. We're lucky we descended just in right time. When we reached the car, we're wet, exhausted and it's totally dark... We have walked+climbed about 30 kilometres - 15 uphill, 15 downhill.
Good-bye Poland, and welcome Slovakia! It's only 5 km-s to the border.

Vilnius and Trakai

Our trip to High Tatras started with the long journey through Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. In Lithuania, we swerved to see the capital of Lithuania - Vilnius - and the "must" tourist attraction - Trakai Castle. It is said, that the Old Town in Vilnius is one of the largest in Central and Eastern Europe. Maybe it's true. For me, Vilnius charmes itself with many and many churches, most of them being small and cute. When we visited Vilnius in the end of July, there were a lot of construction working going on - to be ready for the European Culture Capital in 2009.
Cathedral Basilica - the main catholic church in Vilnius was established in 13th century, on the site of the former pagan sanctuary. Its belfry is 57 meter high and is built on the remains of the defensive tower of the Lower Castle.

This is my favourite building in Lithuania - a lovely tea shop (I love tea:)) with teapots mured right to the walls! I admire this shop every time I go to Vilnius...
The Church of St Anne - the most impressive building in Vilnius. Maybe it's true. But we didn't see anyone admiring it... Just us :). It's a Gothic style church, built at the end of the 15th century. Napoleon liked the St Anne's Church so much, that he wanted to carry it over to Paris... Wow. But he didn't.

Vilnius University - founded back in 1579. By the way, Lithuanian language belongs to Baltic group of the Indo-European language family (nothing in common with Estonian!). The photo is taken in front of the door of Vilnius University Library (founded in 1570) in Old Town.

And finally - Trakai Castle. We were there early in the morning, no other tourists yet, just two of us:) Trakai - the small town built on narrow peninsula dividing lakes Galve, Totoriskiai and Luka - was once a political and administrative centre of Lithuania. The Trakai Castle was built in 15th of century and is the only castle island in Eastern Europe.