Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sydney's Vivid Festival

No other festival in the Southern Hemisphere illuminates a city quite like Vivid Sydney. As the festival of light, music and ideas, Vivid Sydney flicks on the ultimate light switch and ignites the city with spectacular colours. It features the lighting of the Sydney Opera House, which sees Utzon’s iconic sails transformed into a spectacular living canvas. Now in its second year, it’s a harbourside artwork that’s grabbed the world’s attention!

The lighting continues with Macquarie Visions, which sees Macquarie Street and surrounding buildings lit up spectacularly, and the anticipated return of The Rocks Fire Water – a dazzling Bollywood-inspired performance that taps into our history with a cast of tall ships, fire and colourful smoke.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Fiji Islands

Fiji, officially the Republic of the Fiji Islands is an island nation in the South Pacific Ocean about 2000 km north of New Zealand's North Island. Its immediate neighbors are Vanuatu to the west, New Caledonia to the southwest, New Zealand's Kermadec to the southeast, Tonga to the east, Wallis and Futuna to the northeast and Tuvalu to the north. The country comprises an archipelago of more than 332 islands, of which 110 are permanently inhabited, and more than 500 islets, amounting to a total land area of ca. 18,300 km2. The two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, account for 87% of the population of almost 850,000. The former island contains Suva, the capital and biggest city.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

LA - City of Angels

Los Angeles is the second largest city in the United States, the largest city in the state of California and the Western United States, with a population of 3.8 million. The urban area of Los Angeles extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of over 14.8 million, it is the 14th largest urban area in the world, affording it megacity status.

Los Angeles was founded on September 4, 1781, by Spanish governor Felipe de Neve as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles del Río de Porciúncula (The Village of Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels of the river of Porziuncola). It became a part of Mexico in 1821, following its independence from Spain. In 1848, at the end of the Mexican-American War, Los Angeles and the rest of California were purchased as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, thereby becoming part of the United States; Mexico retained the territory of Baja California. Los Angeles was incorporated as a municipality on April 4, 1850, five months before California achieved statehood.

Often known by its initials, L.A., and nicknamed the City of Angels, Los Angeles is a world center of business, international trade, entertainment, culture, media, fashion, science, technology, and education. It is home to renowned institutions covering a broad range of professional and cultural fields, and is one of the most substantial economic engines within the United States.

As the home base of Hollywood, it is known as the "Entertainment Capital of the World", leading the world in the creation of motion pictures, television production, video games, and recorded music. The importance of the entertainment business to the city has led many celebrities to call Los Angeles and its surrounding suburbs home.

Los Angeles enjoys a subtropical climate, with an average of 320 sunshine days and only 35 days with measurable precipitation annually. The summer's season lasts nearly all year round, although during the period from December to April temperatures are alternately - between a fifty several and seventy several degrees Fahrenheit (a dozen or so and twenty-some degrees Celsius) during the day.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Alcatraz - America's most notorious prison

Alcatraz Island is an island located in the San Francisco Bay, 2.4 km offshore from San Francisco, California. Often referred to as The Rock, the small island early-on served as a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison, and federal prison until 1963. Later, in 1972, Alcatraz became a national recreation area and received landmarking designations in 1976 and 1986.

During its 29 years of operation, the penitentiary claimed no prisoners had ever successfully escaped. 36 prisoners were involved in 14 attempts, two men trying twice; 23 were caught, six were shot and killed during their escape, and three were lost at sea and never found. The most violent occurred on May 2, 1946 when a failed escape attempt by six prisoners led to the so-called Battle of Alcatraz.

On June 11, 1962 Frank Morris, John Anglin and Clarence Anglin successfully carried out one of the most intricate escapes ever devised. Behind the prisoners' cells in Cell Block B (where the escapees were interned) was an unguarded 3-foot (0.91 m) wide utility corridor. The prisoners chiseled away the moisture-damaged concrete from around an air vent leading to this corridor, using tools such as a metal spoon soldered with silver from a dime and an electric drill improvised from a stolen vacuum cleaner motor. The noise was disguised by accordions played during music hour, and their progress was concealed by false walls which, in the dark recesses of the cells, fooled the guards.

The escape route then led up through a fan vent; the fan and motor had been removed and replaced with a steel grille, leaving a shaft large enough for a prisoner to climb through. Stealing a carborundum cord from the prison workshop, the prisoners had removed the rivets from the grille and substituted dummy rivets made of soap. The escapees also constructed an inflatable raft from several stolen raincoats for the trip to the mainland. Leaving papier-mâché dummies in their cells with stolen human hair from the Barbershop for hair, they escaped. The prisoners are estimated to have entered San Francisco Bay at 10 p.m. Articles belonging to the prisoners (including plywood paddles and parts of the raincoat raft) were located on nearby Angel Island, and the official report on the escape says the prisoners drowned while trying to reach the mainland in the cold waters of the bay.

Beginning on November 20, 1969, a group of Native Americans from many different tribes (many individual Native Americans relocated to the Bay Area under the Federal Indian Reorganization Act of 1934), occupied the island, and proposed an education center, ecology center and cultural center. According to the occupants, the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868) between the U.S. and the Sioux returned all retired, abandoned or out-of-use federal land to the Native people from whom it was acquired. In fact, the Sioux Treaty of 1868 stated that all abandoned or unused federal land adjacent to the Sioux Reservation could be reclaimed by descendant of the Sioux Nation. For that reason, the group Indians of All Tribes abandoned the Sioux treaty as the basis of their occupation and claimed Alcatraz Island by Right of Discovery.

If you look careful at the picture below you can actually see the word "FREE", which was writen in the American flag by the Indian Occupants.

While on Alcatraz I had the opportunity to meet one of the former inmates. Darwin E Coon was incarcerated in Alcatraz from 1959 till 1963 and he returned to promote his compelling life story which he worte in the book: "Alcatraz - The true end of the line". A very interesting read!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Getting super-sized in San Francisco

San Francisco is a major city in California, the centerpiece of the Bay Area, well-known for its liberal community, hilly terrain, Victorian architecture, scenic beauty, summer fog, and great ethnic and cultural diversity. These are only a few of the aspects of the city that make San Francisco one of the most visited cities in the world. I am enjoying my time here and it seems San Fran is a fine city to visit. It has a population of only 800.000, but is the center of a metropolitan area of millions.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mantas and others

I was actually hoping to see a Mola Mola (Sunfish) but it seems they were all hiding from me in Bali. Netherless I caught up with about 6 or 7 Manta Rays at Manta Point and lotst of other interesting stuff on the dive sites around Bali. It just feels great to be in the water, not for training, not worrying about anyone else just absorbing the nitrogen and the amazing underwater world. Thanks Minni!

Monday, September 28, 2009


Manado is the capital of the North Sulawesi province of Indonesia. It's a bit difficult to get there but Manado and the nearby Bunaken Island and Lembeh Strait are a paradise for scuba divers. Coming here on business I had the chance to stay an extra day and do some diving around the fascinating 600m deep walls of Bunaken Island. Definitely worthwhile with amazing five star dive sites.