Birthday Bike Ride

My birthday was the day after we came back from Florida. Michiel had to work, and I was lazy most of the day. The weather was beautiful though – cold but sunny – so in the end I decided to go for a little bike ride around sunset. I don’t have my own bike in Rotterdam, but it’s very easy and cheap to rent one at the train station. This photo is from the short walk to the train station…

On the way to Rotterdam central station to pick up a rental bike

It took me a while to get out of Rotterdam, I lost my way a bit and ended up in some quite industrial areas. I was almost afraid I’d miss the sunset, but finally it started to get pretty when I reached the small village of Zweth.

Beautiful building housing a restaurant in Zweth

From here, I followed a very narrow walking/cycling path that follows the Berkelse Zweth (a small river). The path is so narrow you have to pay attention, as you could easily end up in the water! I loved the colours and the calm scenes along the river…

Along the narrow path

Behind me the sunset had become very beautiful and very red…

Beautiful sunset!

Passing a house while continuing on the narrow path…

Continuing on the very narrow path

One last look at the sunset from the bridge over the river…

One last look at the pretty sunset

After that I cycled back to Rotterdam quite quickly, as it was getting dark and much colder. I was glad I convinced myself to go for a bike ride and that I got to enjoy this sunset!

Florida

We spent two weeks in Florida in mid December. We started our road trip in Miami Beach on a sunny day…


Miami Beach


 

Miami Beach City Hall

We spent the first day walking along the beach, where I had fun taking photos of as many colourful art deco lifeguard huts as I could – they are so pretty!

The amazing art deco lifeguard huts at Miami Beach

A bird posed for me on the most American one…

Stars & Stripes & Bird

Of course we also admired the art deco buildings along Ocean Drive…

Art Deco hotels along Ocean Drive in Miami Beach

Enjoying a stroll along Ocean Drive

We walked on the beach until sunset. I found a group of Black Skimmers (Amerikaanse Schaarbek) on the beach that let me come very close – such funny creatures!

Black Skimmers (Amerikaanse Schaarbek) on Miami Beach - funny creatures! They let me come very close

At sunset we could see anticrepuscular rays over the sea – like rays of sunshine but on the opposite side of the sunset.

Anticrepuscular rays (opposite the sunset) on Miami Beach

In the evening we went for sushi at a fantastic little place called Sushi Song – highly recommended!

Fantastic sushi at Miami Beach

11th Street Diner is where we had breakfast both days. Great place and even better food!

The Diner in Miami Beach where we had two amazing breakfasts


The Florida Keys and Key West


 
We spent a day in Fort Lauderdale where we had dinner with friends I had met during my trip to Brazil. It was a windy and rainy day so I didn’t take a lot of photos. The next day we drove to Key West, which took about 5 hours. This drive gets more and more fun the closer you get to Key West, as the road basically becomes a bridge.

Driving along the Florida Keys - amazing road

Part of the times the old railroad bridge is visible

We stopped for lunch in Islamorada and explored around there…

A little break along the road to Key West

A white heron

We arrived in Key West in the afternoon, and immediately set out for a walk through the town. I loved the houses and the atmosphere of Key West!

Fantastic houses in Key West

Impressive big trees in some of the gardens…

I love those trees!

Duval Street, the main street in Key West.

Duval Street, the main street in Key West

Everyone gathers on Mallory Square for sunset and street performers. A bit tacky, we preferred to enjoy the sunset from a terrace a bit further from the crowds.

Everyone comes to Mallory Square for sunset...

No complaints about the sunset though, very pretty…

Pretty sunset

Cheers!

Everyone seemed to recommend us to visit Blue Heaven which indeed is a really nice restaurant. We enjoyed a very tasty meal, with live music just in front of us! They had a dessert called Banana Heaven which was just that – amazing!!

Enjoying an amazing dinner at Blue Heaven - with live music!

The next day we drove back along the Florida Keys, stopping a few places to explore. Our first stop was National Key Deer Refuge. We went for a short walk here.

Going for a walk in National Key Deer Refuge

And we spotted one of the tiny & cute Key Deer!

Where we actually met one of the tiny Key Deer

We also stopped in Long Key State Park and walked the Golden Orb Trail, which went over this pretty mangrove boardwalk…

On the mangrove boardwalk in Long Key State Park

We explored Duck Key and took photos of the many tacky mailboxes found on the Florida Keys… hehe!

The tacky mailboxes of Duck Key

We stayed in Key Largo that night, ready to explore the Everglades National Park the next day.


Everglades National Park


 
Our first stop in the Everglades was at Shark Valley. We rented bicycles here and cycled the 24 km tram road loop. This road is only used by cyclists, walkers and the occasional tourist tram.

Cycling at Shark Vally in Everglades National Park

The road is only used by bikes and the occasional tourist tram

The wildlife along the trail is so impressive! Right from the start you find alligators lying right next to the road. Sometimes you almost cycle over their tail, but they hardly even look at you. Besides alligators, there are SO many birds – most of them very big. I loved it!

The wildlife along the way was amazing - and you would almost cycle over the tails of alligators!!

Halfway through you read the Shark Valley Observation Tower, a very cool building!

The Shark Valley Observation Tower

With nice views back at the road.

The view back at the road from the Shark Valley Observation Tower

Unfortunately it was a very rainy day. It was warm, so you would dry up quickly after a shower, but we still got really soaked by a heavy shower at the end of our trip, with not enough cycling left to dry up before getting to the car…

Impressive shower - which unfortunately managed to catch up with us later!

Later in the afternoon we went for a kayak trip with Everglades Area Tours. We started out on a relatively wide and open area…

Kayak tour near Everglades National Park

But soon we were inside the Mangrove Tunnel. Very impressive! You could hardly use your paddles though, we found it easier to move forward by pulling ourselves forwards on the roots above us!

In the amazing mangrove tunnel

Looking at a rare orchid in the mangrove tunnel

We stayed in Everglades City that night, a fascinating but sleepy small town which feels a bit “end of the road”.

City Hall at Everglades City, most sleepy town ever ;)

The real end of the road is in Chocoloskee, a little further down the road. We had a great Cuban breakfast here, and explored the really quiet town… we only saw this crazy pelican!

Pelican showing off


Naples


 
We drove on to Naples that same day, and explored the city beach. Very pretty!

Naples City Beach

Cute sandpipers on Naples City Beach

Mansions on Naples City Beach - must be such a nice place to live!

We spent some time on the pier, eating ice cream and spotting a dolphin.

Panorama view from the pier at Naples

At night we had a relaxed evening on our hotel balcony, with this fantastic sunset view…

Sunset view from our hotel balcony at Naples


Lovers Key State Park


 
The next day we visited Lovers Key State Park, inspired by some photos in a magazine in our hotel room. We went for a very pretty walk in the park…

Cute creature in Lovers Key State Park

Pretty views from our walk in Lovers Key State Park

And afterwards we visited the really beautiful beach. We found lots of seashells here, and I spotted dolphins nearby while swimming. So much fun!

The beach at Lovers Key State Park

Such a pretty beach... I went swimming and saw dolphins nearby!

The Beach at Lovers Key State Park


Lee County Manatee Park


 
On our way to our hotel in Sarasota we stopped at Lee County Manatee Park. It’s a tiny park where you pay $2 to park your car, and then you can walk to a canal where warm water from a power plants attracts the manatees. It didn’t take long before we saw one! At first we only saw their back in the water, but later they came closer and we could see them very well. There seemed to be a mum with a baby, and their pet fish!

Manatees! And a fish

Spanish Moss on a tree at sunset


St Petersburg


 
From Sarasota we continued to St Petersburg over this impressive bridge…

The impressive bridge to St Petersburg

We spent most of our day in the amazing Dalí museum. It was a lot of fun learning about interpreting his paintings with the free audio guide. We were also lucky that there was a Frida Kahlo exhibition that had just opened – I love her work and it was a really good exhibition. Besides all this, the building itself is fantastic!

The Dalí museum

Very pretty building - the Dalí museum in St Petersburg

I loved the architecture of the Dalí museum in St Petersburg

We stayed in a B&B in the city centre and had a stroll through town in the evening. We went to a brewery pub, ate sushi and admired all the crazy Christmas decorations (including an ice rink!) in tropical Florida.

Sunset view in relaxed St Pete

Christmas decorations and even some sort of ice rink in St Pete


New Smyrna Beach


 
We spent two nights in a nice hotel in New Smyrna Beach (back on the east coast of Florida). A fun beach town with lots of nice little shops and restaurant. And great beaches. On our first night here, we went for a walk during a sunset which just turned prettier and prettier…

Sunset on the beach at New Smyrna Beach

Michiel on New Smyrna Beach

You’re actually allowed to drive your car on the beach (for $10, between sunrise and sunset) – the sand is hard enough for that. A bit crazy, but must be fun!

You can actually drive your car on the beach here!

Perhaps more fun with a bike…

Or your bike...

I couldn’t stop taking photos as the colours were so pretty.

Birds at sunset on New Smyrna Beach

Selfie on the beach…

Selfie on New Smyrna Beach - part of our suntan thanks to the iPhone HDR function ;)


Canaveral National Seashore


 
While staying in New Smyrna Beach we also visited Canaveral National Seashore. We first went for a walk through the forest, really nice – except for the mosquitos we met at the end of the trail!

Going for a walk in Canaveral National Seashore

We saw two armadillo’s while in the park, so cool!

We saw an armadillo in Canaveral National Seashore!

Canaveral National Seashore has the longest stretch of undeveloped beach in Florida, nearly 40 km long and very pretty!

Beach views in Canaveral National Seashore

Panorama of Canaveral National Seashore - the longest stretch of undeveloped coastline in Florida, 40 km long

We stayed in the park until sunset, taking lots of photos…

Photographer at work ;)

Of another pretty sunset!

Beautiful sunset colours


Kennedy Space Center


 
On our last day in Florida we visited Kennedy Space Center – a dream come true for this nerd girl who once upon a time wanted to become an astronaut…

Kennedy Space Center

The highlight of our visit was the Atlanta exhibition which shows the actual Atlanta Space Shuttle. So impressive!

A dream come true for this nerd, especially the Atlantis exhibition

The Space Shuttle Atlantis

The next day we flew back from Orlando. We really enjoyed our trip to Florida, and wished we could have stayed longer!

Bygdøy Sunset

Happy 2017! Here’s to lots of love, good health and fun adventures 🙂

I have a lot of photos waiting to be posted, but for now just a series of photos I took today. It was a grey and foggy day, but the clouds were supposed to clear in the afternoon. I took a gamble and cycled to Paradisbukta on Bygdøy in the hope of a nice sunset. I got so much more than I was hoping for – AMAZING colours, and such a beautiful place to watch it from. Enjoy 🙂

Sunset from Bygdøy - this is what it looked like when I arrived

Soon it started to look like this - wow!

I wasn't the only one admiring the sunset

Beautiful colours in all directions

Wow...

I couldn't stop taking photos

And of course in Norway there is always someone having a campfire and grilling sausages!

October in Oslo

Some photos taken in and around Oslo earier this month, when Michiel was visiting me 🙂

The Royal Palace at sunset…

The Royal Palace at sunset

In front of the palace with Michiel :)

On Saturday we went for a walk in Oslomarka, starting from Tryvannshøgda and ending at Holmenkollen. The weather was beautiful, and there were still some autumn colours left…

Autumn in Marka

Michiel in the forest 🙂

Michiel in the sunshine

At Skjennungen…

Skjennungen

We had a nice break at Skjennungstua with some very tasty cinnemon rolls. After that we continued our walk on “blue paths” (blåstien, hiking paths with blue markers, they don’t follow the dirt roads and are of variable quality 😉 ).

The path, or rather, collection of tree roots ;)

The clouds were quite special that day, and I noticed there was some cloud iridescence – rainbow colours in the clouds.

Cloud iridescence! Although not that visible in this photo...

At first I thought it was just an effect of my sunglasses, but it wasn’t! This zoomed in photo shows it more clearly…

Zoomed in it's easier to see the cloud iridescence!

We walked past Frønsvollen (which I first visited with Marie a year ago, see here). It is such a nice place…

Frønsvollen

Especially with the open views. The mast on the left is Tryvann, where we started our walk.

Frønsvollen panorama, with our starting point (the mast at Tryvann) on the left

My car was parked at Holmenkollen, so we continued down the hill. We took a path which wasn’t even signposted, but suddenly this view over Oslo opened up – fantastic!

Surprise: suddenly we had an amazing view over Oslo

For the last part of the walk we followed the roller skiing trail (yes that’s a thing, and really popular too!).

The view from the roller ski track

We walked past the Holmenkollen Chapel at sunset – so pretty…

The Holmenkollen Chapel at sunset

On Sunday we watched the very orange sunset from the roof of the opera house…

A very orange sunset from the opera house

They are building a lot around the Opera, a new library and the new Munch museum – lots of cranes!

Panorama with a lot of cranes, they are building a huge new library and the new Munch museum here

We also went inside the Opera, I love this building 🙂

Panorama inside the Opera - amazing building!

Great weekend! 🙂