Chile – Day 4 – Valparaiso & Vin Del Mar

Today we decided to sleep in a bit until 8am. We ended up having a buffet breakfast down in the lobby of the hotel since it was only $9 and included coffee. After breakfast we got ready and started walking along the waterfront to Vin Del Mar. The waterfront was very relaxing and was a mix of a modern reconstructed boardwalk and old decaying train depot buildings with abandoned trains along the side. We noticed a ton of homeless dogs and with a quick Google search we determined that there are an estimated 2.5 million stray dogs in Chile and the canine population is growing faster than the human population. A sobering statistics is that with 17 million Chilean’s; the canine population is slated to surpass the human population in as soon as 6-10 years. Something needs to be done about this.

Half way to Vina Del Mar we came to Portales, where there was a small beach with some food booths setup. We were not quite yet hungry so we decided that we would come back here later on. At this point in time it would have been nice to walk along the waterfront more but I had drank way too much water and needed to find a bathroom.

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We boarded the train to Vina Del Mar and found a Starbucks to go to the bathroom and we ordered some Frappuccino’s. Catherine had Java Chip Frappuccino and I had a half sweet Cookies & Cream Frappuccino. I was starting to run low on money so we stopped in at the bank and picked up some more money before continuing our walk along the waterfront. The beach in Vin Del Mar was very beautiful and packed full of people, including some people fishing from the boardwalk. After walking along the beach we explored the city of Vina del Mar. We saw a flower clock that had real moving hands, a magician that appeared to be floating, a castle, and an old Palace.

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After exploring Vina Del Mar we took the train back to Portales, where we both got delicious freshly made empanadas for only $4 each, which is about double the going rate they were in Santiago, but this is more of a touristy area. I had pulled beef, chorizo, mushrooms and cheese; while Catherine had chicken, mushrooms and cheese. After eating our food we took the train back to the hotel, where we relaxed for a few hours before venturing out back into the cerro’s of Valparaiso.

We head back out at 6:00pm to explore the cerro of Artilleria. This was definitely one of the more dodgy areas of town and has a rating of “orange” on the scale of neighbor safety. The scale includes the colours from Red, Orange, Yellow and Green; with red being the least safe to green being the safest. I’m glad we visited it though because it was quite the unique community with beautiful views of the port and entire city, as well as some unique art. While we were up in the community we met this family that was visiting from Montreal. The dad was originally from Valparaiso and moved away when he was only 12 years old. This was his first time visiting since he moved away. He told us that practically nothing has changed since he was a child, but they were trying to do a better job of preserving some buildings and the funiculars.

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Vermilion Lakes

Last weekend I went to Vermilion Lakes with my friend Hadrian to photograph Mount Rundle at sunrise. Hadrian met me at my house at 5:30am and we drove together in my car. We arrived at Vermilion Lakes shortly after 7:00am and setup our equipment. Our initial thoughts were that it was going to be a spectacular sunrise due to the clear sky with moderate higher clouds. We definitely were in for quite the treat this morning.

The key to getting great shots of Mount Rundle from Vermilion Lakes is to situate your gear really low to the water. Hadrian uses something called a Platty Pod, which is a massive aluminum plate that has a shoe mount that you can screw into your camera. This is as low as it gets essentially. I had to improvise with some rocks and ice chunks since I don’t own a Platty Pod. I also took some photographs on the tripod with it at it’s lowest settings, but the shots were not quite as dramatic as I was hoping for, hence moving to the rocks and ice chunks.

After watching the spectacular sunrise we drove to Lake Louise, where we didn’t get very far due to an unfortunate slip and fall, so we returned to Calgary.

Be sure to check back in just over a weeks time when C and I depart on our trip to Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil. This is a trip you won’t want to miss!

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Santorini

I just spent a few days on the beautiful Greek island of Santorini. Santorini’s history dates back to roughly 5000 BC.

Accommodation was at Villa Danezis. This luxury villa was rather affordable at $70 CDN per night and is managed by the owners who live on site. The villa has ten beautiful appointed rooms with nice art work, a sizeable outdoor pool, a beautiful patio area, and morning coffee with delicious home made muffins.

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During my stay I rented a car as it was a lot easier than trying to take the local transit, despite it being a more expensive choice. When I was on the island I did the famous Fira to Oia hike in reverse, which took about 3 hours to complete and is rated moderate. The hike takes you through both the ancient districts, and along the mountainous terrain between the two districts, with many beautiful old churches painted in blue and white. All of the “towns” on the islands are now just referred to as districts of Thera (Thira), since 2011 when the government decided to do so.

I explored Oia and Fira in detail, visited the old Akrotiri Lighthouse on the south side, and the ancient towns of Akrotiri and Ancient Thera.

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The ancient town of Akrotiri date’s back to as early as 5000 BC, when it was a small fishing and farming village. By about 3000 BC the community had developed and expanded significantly. Akrotiri continued to prosper over the years with the introduction of paves streets, an extensive drainage system, and high quality pottery and craftsmanship. This all came to an end in 1627 when the volcanic eruption of Thera buried the entire community in volcanic ash. The community wasn’t found again until 1867 when some locals found some old artifacts in a quarry. Extensive modern excavations of the site occurred in 1967 by Professor Spyridon Marinatos. Excavations are still ongoing to this day.

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The ancient town of Ancient Thera date’s back to 9th century BC until 726 AD when it was buried after a small eruption of the volcano of Santorini covered it in pumice stone. The ancient city was re-discovered in 1895 by Friedrich Hiller von Gaertringen and excavations started to occur between 1961 and 1982, and 1990 and 1994.

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I also ate some of the most amazing food I’ve had in my life. The meat and vegetables are so fresh and the Greek meals are delicious; whether it was traditional Greek coffee, Greek salad, fresh sea food, or vegetarian dishes. Yes you read that correctly, vegetarian dishes! Santorini has vegetarian only restaurants and they serve incredible food; my personal favorite being Tranquilo where I had Greek salad and goat cheese filled hot peppers.

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Another fantastic restaurant that you must visit is To Briki. I had traditional Greek coffee served with old wine grapes soaked in honey, deep fried Greek cheese, and amazing smoked salmon and avocado bruschetta.

Check back shortly for my next blog post where I explore the beautiful city of Zurich!

Lindsay & Michael’s Maternity Photo’s

My friend Lindsay and her boyfriend Michael are expecting their first born any week now. I had the wonderful opportunity to photograph them together in Big Hill Springs Provincial Park a few weeks ago. I was a bit sidetracked with Natasha and Tracey’s wedding so I hadn’t had the opportunity to post these photos yet. I met Lindsay and Michael about 7-8 years ago when I was working at Golder Associates as a Civil Designer. These two are absolutely hilarious together! I’m rooting for a girl, but I guess we will find out in a few weeks as its it’ll be a surprise for all of us!

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Natasha & Tracey’s Wedding

Last weekend I had the wonderful experience of photographing Natasha & Tracey’s wedding at the Al Azhar Shriner in Calgary, Alberta. My day started out at the Al Azhar Shriner at 10am with me taking photos of the venue before heading to the Sheraton Four Points hotel at 11am.

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Makeup and hair were done by Amy Bower and Becky Froland from Illuminate Makeup. Illuminate Makeup is independently owned and operated by Amy Bower. Amy has 13 years of makeup experience and she’s had the opportunity to work with local television networks such as City TV, Shaw, CTV, The Calgary Sun, and The National Post. Becky has over 15 years of experience with hair styling and attended Delmar College in 2004.

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After makeup and hair were finished I took photos of the girls getting ready before heading back to the Al Azhar Shriner to setup my video gear and prepare for the ceremony.

The Ceremony took place outside and started at 4:00pm. Following the 20 minute ceremony the girls signed their legal papers and we spent the next hour taking photos of the girls, bridesmaids, and family in a few locations (outside on the lawn at the Al Azhar Shriner, the road leading up to the Al Azhar Shriner, and in Bakers Park.

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Upon arriving back at the Al Azhar Shriner at 5:30pm MC Mitch introduced the bridal party with an absolutely humorous made-up story about each of the women and men. Dinner, a delicious buffet of fresh salads, buns, chicken, beef roast, mashed potatoes, etc. was served from 6:00pm to 7:30pm. Throughout dinner toasts were done with shots of Newfoundland Screech, a drink similar to moonshine.

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Cupcakes and a small top tier cake were served prior to the girls first dance to “She Keeps Me Warm” by Mary Lambert. Mother & Father/Daughter dancing followed with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.

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I left at around 10:00pm but I was told that there was a built your own nachos event that occurred shortly after and the dancing went into the night. It was such an honor for me to have shot this wonderful wedding and to see my friend Natasha marry the beautiful Tracey!

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Stay tuned for my next blog post, a maternity shot that I did the week prior for Lindsay & Michael, who are expecting their first born in a mere few weeks!

June 26th 2016 – Deer Ridge Hike

Today I went on a beautiful medium length hike with my friend Carissa. We started off early morning so that I could get back to my second job for the afternoon. When I picked her up with purchased some Phil & Sabastian’s coffee, which was absolutely delicious, and made the short car ride out to Deer Ridge much more enjoyable. This hike was the first time I’ve really been able to use my new Canon 1DX Camera. We saw some beautiful dogs, some birds, some squirrels, beautiful views, and also got lost for about an hour because we didn’t follow the directions. I absolutely love this camera, and it takes some of the most incredible photo’s ever. I barely have to do any photo editing because what I see is what I get. The colours are so accurate, and the metering is fantastic. Canon really did a great job with this camera.

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June 4th 2016 – Bourgeau Hike

Today I went for a hike to Bourgeau Lake with a colleague of mine from work. The trail wasn’t very busy, but it was a little muddy towards the top. The trail is switchback after switchback, getting more difficult the closer you get to the lake. The last 300 metres of the 725 metre elevation gain occurs in the last 1.75 km of the trail.

When we got to the lake we relaxed and had our lunch, and were watching Pika’s try to steal food from my backpack, and the backpacks from other hikers. After lunch we climbed up a bit further to see a slightly better view of the lake. I was absolutely blown away by the sheer beauty of the glacial fed lake. The colours were so vibrant!

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If you like the content that I produce and want to donate money towards my travel, or buy me a cup of coffee please feel free to contribute towards it. I really appreciate it.

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