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Diano Marina – Nice – Monaco – San Remo (Part 1) October 2, 2007

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During the last short trip or – as Tim Ferris would call it – mini retirement we visited the famous Côte d’Azur and Riviera of Flowers. The first stop was Diano Marina where we stayed 3 nights at the Piccolo hotel.

Diano Marina

The Gulf of Diana is one of the most important tourist areas in the Riviera of Flowers and Liguria. The name Diano Marina derives from the ancient devotion to the Roman Goddess Diana. The small town has a 3.5 km long sand beach with lots of bars, restaurants, night clubs, shops and hotels. It is located 90 km …

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Beastie Boys in Locarno July 15, 2007

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On the 11th of July we went to the Beastie Boys concert in Locarno, Switzerland. The festival was called Moon & Stars 07 and during one week several different acts took place in the evening. Peter Gabriel, Zuccero, Avril Lavigne, P!nk and Muse were also part of the event at the Piazza Grande in Locarno.

Read more about the Beastie Boys in Locarno

Chinese New Year – Year of the Pig March 8, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Australia, Travel.
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From the 9th of February to the 4th of March was the Chinese New Year Festival in Sydney. There was a big colorful parade in the streets of China Town and thousands of people celebrating the Year of the Pig.

See more pictures in my webalbum !

People born in the Year of the Pig are marked by their warmth and geniality. Their scrupulously clean homes are focused on comfort for themselves, their family and visitors. Funding this lifestyle requires considerable hard work, making the Pig one of the most industrious of the Chinese Zodiac signs.

Pigs are creative and intelligent and are content to accept the world as it is. They use their sharp minds for the benefit of others, but must take care that their good natured generosity is not abused.

Source: cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

The table below shows the different zodiacs and the corresponding years of birth.

Zodiacs Table 
born in 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960, 1948, 1936, 1924, 1912, 1900; 
born in 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961, 1949, 1937, 1925, 1913, 1901; 
born in 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, 1938, 1926, 1914, 1902; 
born in 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939, 1927, 1915, 1903;
born in 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952, 1940, 1928, 1916, 1904;
born in 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965, 1953, 1941, 1929, 1917, 1905; 
born in 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954, 1942, 1930, 1918, 1906; 
born in 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967, 1955, 1943, 1931, 1919, 1907; 
born in 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968, 1956, 1944, 1932, 1920, 1908; 
born in 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969, 1957, 1945, 1933, 1921, 1909;
born in 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958, 1946, 1934, 1922, 1910; 
born in 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959, 1947, 1935, 1923, 1909

Featherdale Wildlife Park March 4, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Australia, Travel.
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Although or may be because the Taronga Zoo is the most popular zoo in Sydney we decided to visit another – smaller-  wildlife park near Blacktown. It is not half the size of Taronga zoo but we heard that it is more interactive and therefore it must be less a “tourist-style” zoo.

I have to say that we were not disappointed at all ! The atmosphere was very relaxed because it was not so crowded with people and on the small leafy pathways some animals like kangaroos, stone owls or kookaburras are walking freely on their own. Have you ever touched a stone owl or kookaburra ?

You can hand feed wallabies or emus or observe the breeding program of koalas. You can pet koalas and take some nice pictures much more easier than in Taronga zoo. By the way I read somewhere that touching koalas in Australia is only in NSW allowed. I don’t know if that is true but luckily we stayed in NSW all 5 weeks 🙂

As always more pictures are in my webalbum !

Meeting the Queens (QM2 & QE2) February 26, 2007

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As I mentioned before the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth 2 have visited the Sydney Harbour a few days ago. I had no idea how big the ship would be until I saw it in real at the Garden island berth (at the naval base). It’s twice the size of the QE2 and rises 62m above waterline.

The truly wealthy can book a two-level cabin for an 80-day round-the world cruise for a staggering 450’000 dollars.

In the evening there was a spectacular party put on for the reunion with fireworks, but unfortunatly we had to leave for our flight to the goldcoast at 11am. The advantage was that I had the chance to take some pictures from a birds eye view while the plane was leaving the Sydney airport.

Check out the amazing pictures in my webalbum

JetCruiser February 19, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Australia, Travel.
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A ride with breathtaking views of the Harbour Bridge and the skyline. It takes you for about 45 minutes on a high speed harbour sightseeing experience. The first part is quite smooth so you can take pictures and enjoy the cruise.

The second part underlines the word “jet” because then you will experience the power of the two Cummins 600 horse power engines. The speed will be up to 35 knots !

Check out more pictures on my site !

The Umbilical Brothers February 18, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Australia, Travel.
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A few days ago I went to a comedy show at the Opera House. It was called “The Umbilical Brothers: The Rehearsal” and was really funny. Read what the Sunday Herald Sun wrote about them:

If you can see only one show during the comedy festival, make it The Rehearsal.

Prepare to succumb to the madness, mayhem, pure anarchy and genius that is the Umbilical Brothers.

Zany David Collins (the one with hair) and Shane Dundas (the other) take you on a laugh-till-your-jaw-aches adventure that has you pleading for more. Only minutes into the show, you know you are in for a real treat – a five star entertainment treat….Cleverly set up as though it is a rehearsal for the real show at the coveted Rod Laver Arena, the audience is treated to what appears to be an Umbilical Brothers brain-storming session. The results are hilarious. At times it is similar to watching a blooper show, the difference being that this one is funny.

This show proves yet again why the Umbilical Brothers are one of the hottest acts on the Australian comedy circuit.

Watch the following small clip from one of their most well-known performances!

Queen Elizabeth 2 & Queen Mary 2 meet in Sydney ! February 15, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Australia, Travel.
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There is an amazing event coming up on Feb. 20th.

queenmary2.com.au The massive 151,400-ton Queen Mary 2 will smash the record as the biggest ship of any type ever to visit Australia when she arrives in Sydney at 6.30am on Tuesday February 20, 2007. She will be led by fireboats shooting fountains of seawater high into the air from their water cannons, and escorted by an entourage of smaller ships, yachts and boats of all types. Larger than 132 Manly ferries and too big to dock at Circular Quay, the A$1 billion Queen Mary 2 will tie dock at Woolloomooloo.

The two great Queens will greet each other for this historic first meeting with a “whistle salute” using their 2,000 pound, 7-foot long signaling horns that can be heard over 10 miles away. The dusk spectacle will be the first time two Cunard Queens have been seen together in Sydney since World War 2 when the original Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth visited the city as troop carriers in 1941.

On 20th February 2007, all eyes will be on Sydney Harbour, as we celebrate the ‘The Royal Rendezvous’ or meeting of the world’s most famous ocean liners – the Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2. At 8.40pm, a spectacular fireworks display will light up the harbour, accompanied by the exciting sound of cannons firing from Fort Denison. This magical display will be seen from all around the Sydney Harbour Foreshore right through to the Sydney Heads. Plan ahead and use the Key Vantage points map to locate the best position to view the wonderful display. Take heed of any advice given by the relevant council regarding parking or public use.

I hope I will get some nice shots !

"Sex and Death: Orchids, Carnivorous Plants and Us" February 15, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Australia, Travel.

Photography (left to right): Phalaenopsis Salu Spot x Dou-dii Rose (Paramount Orchids); Caularthron bicornutum & Paphiopedilum liemianum (Eric Hunt); Dionaea muscipula (Barry Rice)

See more pictures in my webalbum!

This was the title of an exhibition I went in the Botanic Gardens. The following text is from the official website. It describes the exhibition pretty well:

Stunning displays of orchids and carnivorous plants with humorous interpretation tell the story of fundamental evolutionary processes. The seduction of insects by plants, their unwitting co-operation and the cruel deception leading to inevitable death are played out using rare and unusual orchids and sinister carnivorous plants.

Botanic gardens are renowned for their peace and tranquillity yet as Sam Llewellyn wrote in his thriller The Sea Garden: ‘… in gardens, beauty is a by-product. The main business is sex and death … ‘

Soon after he started work at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Executive Director Dr Tim Entwisle educated us about ‘the nightlife of plants: sex and other perversions’ and, thanks to a generous donation from the Friends of The Gardens, the Botanic Gardens Trust is exploring fundamental biological processes once more in this exciting new exhibition.

‘Sex and Death: starring orchids and carnivorous plants’ tells the story of plant sex by exploring the fascinating pollination mechanisms of orchids, one of the largest and most complex families of plants. The concept of death is a great excuse for us to display our extensive nursery collection of bizarre-looking carnivorous plants.

The relationship between orchids and their pollinators (which, surprisingly to some people, includes humans!) is interpreted in three themes: ‘Seduction’, ‘Cooperation’ and ‘Deception’. The existing greenery in the Arc of the Sydney Tropical Centre creates the backdrop when over 2000 orchids from our nursery take centre stage as each of them comes into bloom. They are supported by a cast of hands-on interactives, video footage and colourful informative signage. The fourth theme, ‘Death’, predominately features carnivorous plants surrounded by dark and shadowy imagery.

‘Sex and Death’ is not a typical orchid show with masses of orchid hybrids creating a riot of colour. Instead it’s an entertaining and educational experience showcasing, at any one time, approximately 100 orchids and carnivorous plants including the lesser known and more diminutive varieties. Australian orchids and the Trust’s orchid research also feature strongly. Visitors are encouraged to come again and again to see the different species on display as they come into flower throughout the year.

The exhibition is planned to last for three years, and there will be something for everyone.

There are more pictures in my webalbum !

Sydney WildLifeWorld February 14, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Australia, Travel.
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This is a real Australian adventure without traveling all around Australia. It gives you the chance to see all the different and bizarre animals of Australia in the heart of Darling Harbour. One kilometre of enclosed walkways and two floors of exhibit. The upper level exhibits are open to the elements under a unique mesh roof. See the pictures in my webalbum !

You see animals living in their natural habitats and ecosystems, where you can take a walk on the wild side with the yellow-footed rock wallabies, or meet one of Australia’s cutest national icons, the koala.

Cringe while looking at Australia’s bizarre creepy-crawlies or shudder at the sight of deadly snakes. There’s also a nocturnal house full of possums and quolls as well as an opportunity to experience harsh grasslands and hear native birds call from a forest canopy. It’s all there and all so close.

Very impressive is also the butterfly-house in the beginning where you can observe them as close as never before. Did you know, that butterflies have their taste buds on their feet ?

More pictures in my webalbum !

Ceck out the cool flash website: sydneywildlifeworld.com.au

Sydney Opera House February 12, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Australia, Travel.
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The Opera House is one of the most recognisable buildings of Australia. It is not only a building but one of the world’s greatest performing arts centres. This time I booked a guided tour to get inside and learn some more facts about the breathtaking architecture. The hour long tour gives you a fascinating insider’s view touring the theatres and foyers in the company of an informed and entertaining guide.

Some Facts

233 people entered the competition to design an opera house for Sydney. The winning design you see today was submitted by Jorn Utzon from Denmark. 2003 marked the 30th anniversary of this iconic landmark, and Sydney Opera House has earned acclaim during its first three decades. People from across the globe flock to Sydney Opera House each year, to take photographs, to enjoy performances and to drink in the special atmosphere at one of the most famous places in the world.

The Grand Organ which was designed by Ronald Sharp is located in the concert hall. It consists of more than 10’000 pipes and is a baroque organ in style.

See some more interesting pictures from the inside in my webalbum !

Taronga Zoo February 11, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Australia, Travel.
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A lot of things have changed at Taonga Zoo since I was there two years ago. Taornga Zoo has just had its 90th anniversary, it was amazing to see the pictures of  how it looked back in the early days. It opened  on October 7th, 1916.

Because of the enormous size of the zoo its best to see it over 2 days  to get full benefit of  all  the shows and to see all interesting animals without being too rushed. There are plenty of cafes and benches to relax while observing the animals.

Two shows I would like to recommend are the QBE Free Flight Bird Show and the Sydney Water Seal Show.  In the fist show you will see a variety of birds free-flying against the backdrop of magnificen Sydney Harbour. You can see the commonly Galah but also Australians largest birds of prey, Wedge-tailed Eagle. Angus, the Rufous Owl is the newest member of the bird show. We saw Herbie the Barking Owl who flies just centimeters over your head. In the second show, the Sydney Water Seal Show,  you can watch seals and sea-lions in action like catching fish, climbing, swiming and diving! You also learn some interesting facts about the animals and their marine environment. World’s most trained seals are the californian sea-lions. These male seals were born in 1999 in Stuttgart Zoo, Germany.When fully grown they will weigh around 300 kg.

Two other amazing events you shouldn’t miss are the feeding of the gorillas and the chimpanzee-keeper’s talk. Together with the gorillas, chimpanzees are our closest living relatives. Gorillas are the largest and most powerfull of all primates. The silverback male protects the group and his position by beating his chest and roaring.

Visit my webalbum for more pictures ! 

Life and Wildlife in Sydney February 4, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Australia, Travel.
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I’m not aware of any city where nature and business-life coexists that close as in Sydney. Within 1minute you can be downtown shopping or the next minute in tranquil parks surrounded by bats, lizards and exotic birds. I’ve been to the city center several times by now never the less I still see something new every time I go there.

Right after the photography exhibition we went back to the botanic gardens for another coffee but this time we followed another path through the huge landscaped open area.

Close to the entrance we spotted a kookaburra in a tree. In german this bird is called “Lachender Hans” but the Aboriginals call it Kookaburra or Laughing Jackass. It was half asleep  minding his own business till I came along and abused it as my photo motif. I was able to take some nice shots at about 2 meters distance.

After I got bored with the bird I started to have a look around for some more victims. And there it was, a massive lizard sun baking on a warm rock. This time the animal wasn’t asleep but pretending to be dead (rigor mortis) which made it quite easy for me to get upclose !

Making our way down to the lake we came across a Bollywood production which is a rather rare site. So we stopped for a little while watching them shooting part of what seems to be a small dance video clip.

See more pictures in my webalbum ! 

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2006 February 3, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Australia, Travel.
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I went to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2006 exhibition in the Australian museum. It was an international showcase for the very best photography featuring natural subjects. It is the largest and most prestigious event of its kind.

From vivid, colourful landscapes to intimate portraits of animal behaviour, the exhibition offers an extraordinary insight into the beauty, drama and diversity of the natural world.

Reading the leaflet gave me the impression that it is for professional photographers only – Funny enough when I got there it wasn’t that impressive after all since it turned out anybody could enter this competition and they were only displaying the winners of all those participance, grouped by their age.

As just mentioned above the shown images where shot by photographers of all ages, for example 12-15 or 15-17 years but for me the winner pics of the professionals were more interesting and unfortunately this was the minor part of the exhibition. The good thing was that every picture had it’s own description how and where it was shot and of course all the camera details like model and lens type.

Check out the latest information about the new competition for the year 2007 ! After seeing the skills of my competitors I will most definitely participate this year 🙂 .

Sydney by night February 2, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Australia, Travel.
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At approximately 8:30pm it is getting dark and about that time I started to take some pictures of the harbour, the Sydney Opera House and of course the Harbour Bridge. I wanted views from both sides of the bridge so we went by car to several locations that night.

I used a tripod to eliminate any motion of the camera. The weather was perfect, no winds and almost no clouds. It was a clear warm night to take some nice nightshots.

All pictures were taken in the RAW format and most of the times I used the setting where the camera automatically takes 3 pictures with different exposures. The result is a picture which is underexposed, one which is overexposed and one that is between these two. This is the source material for the DRI (Dynamic Range Increase) method which can be done easily in Photoshop or even better in Photomatix. 

Visit my webalbum to see more pictures !