Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ilulissat 2014

This summer was 4th, and possibly my last in Ilulissat, or Greenland as a whole. It did not turn out as great as last year´s expedition. I´ve been lucky to get to visit the place so many times, and it would probably be a good time to say farewell. Though who knows where the next missions will take me...

Norsaq, the big Airbus of Air Greenland

View from our apartment´s terrace in Ilulissat

Town streets on a "busy" day, in front of the sports hall

Harbor in Ilulissat

Midnight behind Arctic Circle - though it was no longer period of midnight sun, there was still quite much light.

Igloo accommodation of Hotel Arctic ****
I quite obviously had to deal with crazy people, who could not wait to take a dip in ice cold water the very first evening 

And a naked photo with icebergs in the background.
Geophysics is a pleasurable work, provided the weather is sunny like this day. 
Setting up the line takes some half-hour, and the measurements itself a couple of hours when the operators can lay down and enjoy the sun...
... or foraging for hidden treasures the arctic nature has to offer...

Julie, Ben and Kevin

Happy geophysicist

Who told us we should not play with electricity in water...?

Drilling in permafrost - the only job the students got excited for...

Enjoying the Greenlandic buffet

Flight back home - over the wild peaks of East Greenlandic coast

Tour of Morocco, part 3 ~ Essaouira

Return journey from Fez to Marrakesh is a long trip of nine hours in a train. Therefore a stopover in Marrakesh for a night and half-day was necessary, in order to continue the next day to Essaouira.

Essaouira is a city of Atlantic coast, with pleasant maritime climate and temperatures around 25 C whole year around. Despite remaining strictly muslim,  the atmosphere is noticeably more laid-back, as could be expected in any coastal city.

The time spent in Essaouira consisted of walks in the streets, breathing the atmosphere and sea breeze, eating tasty seafood and shopping for last souvenirs...

Essaouira, city on the Atlantic coast of Morocco.

City fortifications strongly reminded me of Saint-Malo
Blue boats in the fishing port

Fishermen repairing their nets.

Maintenance of fishing boats.

This is my favorite souvenir, probably from the whole trip... Very much like the simple motifs and color scheme.

And this could probably be the inspiration for the above drawing...? ;)

Essaouira was the last stop on my tour of Morocco. It was well worth it, to see this country of contrasts...
I still have some photos from the High Atlas transect to publish, to complete the picture of my Moroccan adventure...

Tour of Morocco, part 2 ~ Fez

For the tour of the northern cities of Morocco, I did not dare to rent a car, as I was too afraid of getting into too much troubles, with suspicious contract terms and insurance. The train turned out to be an extremely convenient way of traveling the country. The schedules are available on website of Moroccan railways (, and are very clear to understand. As I experienced, the trains were pretty much on time, but as I heard this is not a rule and care should be taken when planning important connections (like journey to the airport and so).

Fez, once the capital of Morocco, is the third largest city of the country. The city has two medinas, the larger one Fez-el-Bali being listed as UNESCO World Heritage.
Due to quite a exhausting schedule of the ten days in which I did the tour of Moroccan northern cities, the program in Fez was kept no fuzz - I was content to simply walk down the streets of medina and respire the atmosphere. However,  I did not want to miss one of the main sights of Fez - the tanneries. This is also a serious tourist trap, if you´re not careful enough and allow yourself to be taken away by the first so-called guide that offers you a tour of tanneries. Mostly, they want to show you the actual place, but then drag you into their shop and spend considerable amount of money. I heard they can get quite insistent and aggressive if they consider you haven´t spent an appropriate amount on their leather goods. So it is important to negotiate the price for view beforehand (in fact 10 dirhams/person is largely enough, as these people have no connection to the actual workers in tanneries), and firmly state that you´re not interested in any shopping afterwards.

An experience worth of mentioning - in Fez, I actually met the only "honest" taxi driver. For my way from medina back to the train station, he did not hesitate to start the taxameter by himself. The hourney costed some 17 dirhams, comparing to the fixed price of 30-50 dirhams they insist on when driving you from the station to medina....

Panorama of Fez in sunlight of late afternoon.
Bab Bou Jloud

Public fountain

Typical ceramics of Fez. I wanted to return to this shop the next day, and learned the hard way that most of the businesses are closed in Morocco on Friday.... :((

Medersa in Fez

The famous tanneries of Fez. 

As the smell of pigeon excrement, used to clean the leather is nauseating for unused foreigner, the guide will provide you with a branch of mint to breath on, in order to ease the bad smell

In a school.

Souks of Fez

As cars not allowed to enter medina, donkeys are the main mean of transport

View over the rooftops of Fez
Visiting a museum-house in Fez
The accommodation in Fez is worth of mention by itself. Splendid Ryad Alya is the best place I´ve stayed in during my whole journey through the country. The staff is kind and helpful (but be aware that the services they offer are, as everything for tourist, overpriced and provided via their own "connections"...). What I could warmly recommend is to have your meals in the riad itself - it spares you making your way through crowds in the streets and you truly get to experience traditional family-food dining experience... The cost of the dinner is quite higher than in restaurant (ca 25 euros for three course menu), but everything is prepared very thoroughly and tasting great!

Riad´s courtyard during the daytime...

... and during the evening, with table set up for the three course traditional dinner.

Details of stucco decorations. 

Soft lightning in the evening enhances the beauty of the palace.

Tour of Morocco, part 1 ~ Casablanca

Casablanca is considered the most modern city of Morocco, and it is definitely the largest one; in whole Maghreb, actually. It is not the place advised to spend the most time in if you´re a tourist. But it was definitely very refreshing to arrive there after a week driving through mountains and desserts of Morocco. Seeing conveniences of civilization, such as tram lines, large squares with restaurants and coffee shops, drinking avocado juice on terraces simply watching the street fuzz was something I was craving for.

The one sight worth of mentioning was unarguably the mosque Hassan II, the largest mosque in Africa. It has room to accommodate 25,000 worshipers in the mosque itself, and another 80,000 in the yards around. It is a truly magnificent piece of architecture, though built for an exorbitant cost, considering the economy of the country.