This year we were visiting the Gujo Odori which is one of the three most important bon dance festivals in Japan and has has been celebrated for 400 years. The festival lasts for a month and dance classes are held several times during the day. The dance itself consists of 10 dances and songs and the festival was established to bring the people of the town together. To the performance itself, there is a small group of singers and musicians on a little stage in the middle of the street who are surrounded by dancers. The name of the song which is performed is displayed in a latern. We also spotted some tourists in the dancing crowd.
The FlightOn April 29th it was again time to fly to Slovenia for the annual European Packrafting Meetup and to visit a view other places in Slovenia. On that day, I arrived already earlier at the airport to take pictures from the visitor terrace which is located on top of the Scandic Hotel. I recently bought a Sony 100-400mm lens for my A7III camera to take pictures at the Packrafting Meetup but also on the Nightless Night Photo workshop which I am going to attend in Inari in Finnish Lapland at the end of June. After taking some good shots from landing planes at the airport it was time to get into the plane. I had to rearrange my bags a bit since I had one kilogram too much in my Ortlieb BigZip which can store 140L. My Finnair flight AY1201 left Helsinki at 16.40. On the Finnair plane, I always order blueberry juice and black tea as a complimentary drink. However, it took some time to get those drinks as the plane was fully booked. I have made a reservation for a rental car with Avantcar in advance. I paid around 180 EUR for one week inclusive full insurance and a second person being able to drive the car. Once I met Konstantin at the airport, we picked up our rental car and drove 2 hours to our destination, Camp Liza in Bovec, where we checked in and pitched our tent at the area which was already reserved for us.
Bovec - Camp LizaOur tent at Camp Liza in Bovec. Caj talking with Seon in Camp Liza where we pitched our tents during the European Packrafting Meetup. In Camp Liza we purchased wood for 5 EUR to make a fire and to boil water and grill sausages. There were also many spots at the campsite where we could dry our gear. This year we were however not that lucky with the weather during the meetup and after 3 rainy days, we decided to take an apartment in Bovec which was located just next to the local grocery store (Mercator). The rooms were very clean and we were able to dry our camping and packrafting gear during the night in the apartment since we tried to avoid not exceed the weight limit. The price of the apartment which we found on booking.com was also reasonable and we paid around 35 EUR per person.
Rescue 3 Europe - Whitewater Rescue Technician CourseMy new safety gear which I bought for the Rescue 3 Europe Whitewater Rescue Technician Course - Astral GreenJacket, Astral Dyneema Water Rescue Throw rope with bag and Astral web toe, NRS Co-Pilot knife and Fox 40 whistle. Seon from Packrafting Europe explaining safety gear during the Rescue 3 Europe Whitewater Rescue Technician Course. Our instructor taught showed us how to make knots.
European Packrafting MeetupThis year we had plenty of workshops during the meetup ranging from Whitewater Technics, rope throwing, Eddy turns or First Aid basics. The workshops were held by volunteers and I think they are quite useful to improve or refresh your packrafting skills. We had a couple of presentations during the meetup. Gabriel from Outventurous was talking about his trip to Greenland and Konstantin Gridnevskiy from HikeVentures was talking about the Grand Canyon Packrafting trip. I found both presentations really nice as Gabriel had plenty of pictures and videos to show (even some shot with a drone), while Konstantin gave more a lecture style presentation as he is also a lecturer at a University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Besides the presentations, there were also a few other events. There was a raffle where many of us won small prices such as T-Shirts or vouchers. The raffle was part of the BBQ party which took place on the last evening of the meetup. Moreover, there was a video evening where we watched videos about river conservation. From Camp Liza in Bovec, we hiked up to the upper Soča river where we inflated our packrafts.
KoberidOne of the meetup days was very rainy and the zipper of my dry suit broke so I decided to look for alternative activities which are not water based. I took the car and drove to Kobarid to visit a museum about the First World War as I am also interested in History. What I have learned was that the whole Soca Valley was basically a battlefield. On one side there were the Italians and on the other side, the Austrian-Hungarian Empire allied with the Germans. The Italians lost the battle at the end since the Germans bombed the whole valley with gas and then moved into the area with their infantry. The battle was won after only 3 days. Below you can see one of the remaining trenches from the First World War.
PiranAfter the European Packrafting Meetup, we decided to drive to the Adriatic Sea. Konstantin who has spent already one month during a summer school in Piran was our guide. When I was younger, I always spent my summer holidays at the Mediterranean Sea (mainly Italy and France) since it was only a one day to drive with the car from my home town at the Bodensee. After hours of driving, we were always excited to see the Mediterranean Sea opening up in front of us. And it was the same when we got closer to Piran - suddenly there was the Adriatic Sea. Once we parked the car we walked into the city center, taking pictures and decided to have lunch in one of the many small restaurants. I ordered Spaghetti with Gorgonzola and a mixed salad while Konstantin had a fish soup and Squids. After lunch, we walked along the coast and took pictures and videos of the raging sea. Far away we were also able to see the Julian Alps covered with snow and Container Ships traveling to Kopper - which is probably the most important harbor in the area. Piran reminded me a bit about Venice - the tower with the clock and the lion with the book were probably signs that Piran was influenced by Venice. Konstantin told me that the book of the lion indicates if the building with the lion was built during the war (closed book) or during peacetime (open book). We also visited two churches and concluded the day with ice cream before we jumped into the car to drive back to Ljubljana. On the way back we were also able to see the salt plants in the sea which was also quite impressive.
The 46,45 meter-high bell tower with 146 steps.
LjubljanaOnce we reached Ljubljana with our car we dropped off Tom and looked for our own apartment where we left our bags before we explored the city. The most impressive places to visit was the bridge with the dragon (there is a legend that a dragon lives under the castle) and the castle where we had a great view over the city and towards the Julian Alps.
Ljubljana CastleThe castle has been greatly renovated after the Second World War and is now a highlight for tourists and locals with a coffee place, restaurant, museum, and a souvenir shop. If you are too lazy to walk the hill up to the castle you can also take the cable car which costs around 2.20 EUR one way. At the castle we found a model which explained different parts and sections of the castle. From the castle, we had a fabulous view over Ljubljana and towards the Julian Alps. Once we walked down the hill from the castle back to the city we decided to have Falafel in an Arabic Restaurant. The meal was very delicious and not too pricey (around 7.50 EUR). Ljubljana reminded me a bit of Turku in Finland since it also has a river which flows through the city. There were many old buildings, shops, and restaurants too.
Vintgar GorgeAfter I dropped Konstantin at the airport in Ljubljana I decided to visit the Vintgar Gorge which was just a 35 min drive by car from the airport. The entry fee to the Vintgar Gorge was 9 EUR and I also had to pay 5 EUR to park my car. However, I would say that the visit was worth the price. The Vintgar Gorge was found in 1891 and was opened to the public in 1893 and tourists can walk over a trail which has been constructed. The highlight is the 16m high waterfall Sum which is also one of the highest waterfalls in Slovenia. The Vintgar Gorge can be entered from two sides.
Flight back to FinlandAfter my trip to the Vintgar Gorge, I returned my rental car, checked in and met a few other Finnish guys who have also been at the European Packrafting Meetup. Then it was time to get on the plane where I connected my Logitech Keys To Go Keyboard to my iPhone and wrote this article during the flight. It is now 9 pm in the evening and there is still light when I look out of the window of the plane. Konstantin has probably already arrived in the Netherlands and sits in the train to Leeuwarden - his home town. In 45 min I will arrive in Helsinki. One more adventure completed and more to come ...
I am a Sony A7III user and had used two lenses in the past. The Sony 24mm f1.4 and the Sony 70-200mm f4. I really enjoyed shooting with both lenses but realised that I would like to get more out of my camera or to expand my creativity.[caption id="attachment_2181" align="alignnone" width="1270"] Sony 100-400mm[/caption]
I decided that I had to sell one lens and replace it with a new one. Since I really liked my Sony 24mm f1.4, as I also use this lens for astrophotography and video (here you can check my YouTube channel) I decided to replace my Sony 70-200mm f4 with the Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS to get more reach.
Initially, I was playing with the thought to get the 70-200mm f2.8 but realised that I take most of my pictures outside and that there are more creative opportunities for me if I would get the Sony 100-400mm instead.
A new lens like the Sony 100-400mm also required me to buy a new camera bag shich should have a small footprint as well in order to be able to take it to more extended trips or into my packraft.
The second option would have been the Think Tank Photo Digital Holster 30 V2.0.
However, I decided to go with the Lowepro Toploader Pro 75 AW II as I read somewhere that it might be difficult to get the Sony 100-400mm lens in and out. Moreover, there was not a dedicated system to attach another lens case on it.
As part of my Master's Degree Programme in Governance of Digitalization at the Åbo Akademi in Turku (Finland), I am required to write a Master Thesis. Since I have previously studied Tourism Management, I was interested to see how digitalization affects Tourism and decided to write my Master Thesis about the needs or smart tourists towards a smart destination. As a base of this study, I have used an article from the Service Industries Journal: "Towards a conceptualization of smart tourists and their role within the smart destination scenario" by Barbara Neuhofer, Francisco Femenina-Serra and Josep Ivars Baidal. By identifying the needs of smart tourists towards smart destinations, new services can be created which are based on these needs. You can participate in this survey by clicking the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PKVDSVP If you are interested to read about the survey results you can bookmark this blog post. The results will be published here in May or latest in June.
Recently, I have visited the second highest place in southern Finland called Kammiovuori which has a height of 221 meters.
In this blog post I would like to share how I created a Cinemagraph as in the example below out of a video footage from my Sony A7III with a Sony 24mm f1.4 lens in Final Cut Pro. Personally, I really like this effect and it's really easy to do it yourself. There is also no need to buy any third party apps etc.
A while ago I was looking for a camping chair which is lightweight and packs small to take it on my packrafting or photography trips. On the packrafting meetup in Sweden I met one guy who had a Helinox camping chair with him and after some test sitting I became interested to get one for myself and here is a short review about the Helinox Chair Zero which I received from Helinox (through k-g-k.com) for free for testing. Helinox is a company from South Korea.
Maria Vanonen tells us about her company Vai-Kø which sells Beanies at the GoExpo Winter in Helsinki 2018.
Janne Pietilä explains during the GoExpo Winter Helsinki 2018 what you can do in Pyhä during winter time.