A Weekend with King Crab & Northern Lights in Kirkenes in Norway

Suddenly I discover myself looking again through the window of the boat, self-absorbed. It's amazing how this landscape affects me, after crossing the Arctic Circle days ago. The closest mountains and fjords have a small white layer on their summit. It's been a couple of days since the snow is making an appearance. You can tell that winter is coming. I keep thinking of reaching Kirkenes in one of the most remote cities of peninsular Norway.

Without hardly realizing it, it has been getting dark. It is still early but the sun has just set and the darkness is taking over outside. My stomach roars. I look at the clock and see that it's time for dinner. So while I try to guess what it will be like to eat tonight, I pick up my things and start going down to the fifth floor. There is the restaurant.

It does not matter, everything is absolutely delicious in the ship's restaurant! I order one of the typical foods of Norway that we could try on the boat: reindeer meat. It was exquisite. Sometimes the hours on the boat are enlivened with performances. A military band offered several concerts during my stay at the Trollfjord.

When I arrive I see that it is overflowing with people. Sure, it makes sense. The excursion we have made today to North Cape has made us have lunch earlier than we expected. So at this time we're hungry! I did well to bring some cinnamon cookies for the road. I could eat them while we were going by bus on those lonely and winter roads to the northernmost point of all Europe. I cannot believe I was there! At last one of my biggest dreams has come true.

After dinner and after a while chatting with my travel companions, I go to my cabin. I put on my pajamas and go to bed thinking about what awaits us tomorrow. We will arrive in Kirkenes, already on the border with Russia, on the Barents Sea coast. That will be our final destination. As I have been told, it is a very special place, where Russians and Norwegians mix, making the town a rather curious place. I have read that it is the perfect destination for king crab fishing. I'm sure it must be a real delicacy.

Without even realizing it, at some point, the gentle rocking of the boat makes me fall asleep. Then I begin to dream. I imagine myself in a small cabin in a fjord. Dozens of crabs surround me. Someone is responsible for cooking them in a large pot of boiling water. I enjoy a gigantic gastronomic tribute. Of those that I know will take me to repeat in my life.

A Weekend with King Crab & Northern Lights in Kirkenes in Norway

Suddenly the alarm sounds. I open my eyes and jump out of my bed. I shower and, as I put the last things in my suitcase, I look for the last time at the landscape through the window. How lucky to have woken up with these views during the last week.

I take the opportunity to make the last photographs from the highest deck of the ship. At 9:45 am, according to the schedule, the ship docks at the port.

We are at the mouth of the Pasvikelva River, which acts as a natural border. The port is very much within the fjord, so the Gulf streams do not arrive easily and their waters often freeze. Outside there is -10º, it's still autumn and it's not cold. During the winter they can reach -45º . However, our guide tells us that from -35 º the thermal sensation does not change, it does not matter!

I leave the cabin and go with my suitcase to reception. While under the stairs of the ship I meet those who begin their journey today. I stare at them, envious. The wheel keeps turning and the ship will sail towards Bergen in a few hours.

I move forward little by little, getting further and further away from him. I stop for a second. I look back and see it, imposing docked in the harbor. It dawns as we cross the Varanger fjord where remains of buildings from 9000 BC have been found. We are waiting for the imminent arrival in the city of Kirkenes, the end of our trip and the border with Russia.

The most beautiful cruise in the world has come to an end, but we still have an intense day in Kirkenes. Well wrapped up we said goodbye to what has been our home the last five days. There is a feeling of sadness. The good old moments make an invisible arm pull me inside. The group barely speaks. This time we will leave to not enter again. We liked to hear that metallic voice of the ticket checker when he said: Wellcome.

The first thing we had to do was pick up the new rental car. And there I meet Jan. Even if Jan was not the only person on the pier, I would have identified him anyway. He has a long white beard and a round belly, who lives in Scandinavia. He is not Santa Claus, but is still a legendary figure in the Norwegian region. Jan is the one who saved a tradition already widespread at the time of the Viking kings: the smoking of herrings.

Jan, then offers me a coffee. As I try to swallow the drink too hot and too light, Jan starts telling me the story of the Norwegian herring. He struggles to express himself in English. Sometimes he uses words in German and Norwegian, but the passion for that does not prevent him from being understood.

He tells me how one of his earliest memories is that of the smell of herring that his mother roasted directly on the coals of the kitchen fire. He tells me about big silver fish that were first roasted, then hung above the fireplace to smoke. The herrings were served in salads, or together with boiled potatoes.

We begin by visiting the city, its colored houses surely to brighten the darkness of winter. Kirkenes was invaded by the Nazis during the Second World War and there they established their Navy base with a view to entering Russia. The allies bombed the city until it was completely destroyed. Little more than 10 houses remained standing.

However, the Germans built a large anti-aircraft bunker 8 meters deep and there the inhabitants of the city took refuge during the bombings. They say that only 8 people died as a result of the attacks. It is the Andersgrotta bunker where they showed us a video explaining the tragedy lived by Kirkenes during the World War.

Next to the bunker is the famous sign that the Germans put in that place pointing out the distances to other cities. The border of Storskog, the official border with Russia, is 15 km away . It was in 1926 when borders and border crossings were delimited. And this was a very tense area during the years of the Cold War.

But what really interest us about Kirkenes is the portentous nature that surrounds it. A snowmobile allows us to enter the icy surface of a fjord. Up there a real crab fisherman takes us. In the middle of the fjord, it has its own hatchery: a hole in the ice under which its Arctic "punt" is installed.

From it, she extracts half a dozen of these crustaceans, huge specimens from a Soviet experiment. In 1961 they introduced crabs from the North Pacific into the Barents Sea. The environmental conditions did the rest, until giving rise to these crabs that can reach two meters in length, from end to end of their legs, the only thing (and enough is) that is eaten.

The stop in Kirkenes also provided for crab fishing but was canceled due to the low temperatures. This cold so strong, however, gives us a show even more special than the previous ones. In fact, the snow is so strong that it stops on the branches and completely covers them. The effect is to move in an artificial forest. The banquet takes place in our fisherman's restaurant.

It is an isolated wooden house in the middle of an Arctic forest covered by more than half a meter of snow. No more is needed as the legs of the crabs are sufficient source of protein for the rest of the day. The snowmobile serves us to leave the mountain and return to the road.

My next appointment is the Gabba park, near the ice hotel in Kirkenes. Here we can see some reindeer and some typical Sami shops , but, above all, I expect a hundred husky dogs. They are beautiful, restless and nervous already tied to the harnesses for a race through the ice.

We sledge through the frozen lake next to the snow hotel. They tell me that the layer of ice that separates us from the water is about 25 centimeters thick. Too thin, I fancy, for the weight of a sled. But it is normal.

The barking of the dogs and the sledding of the sled in the ice is the only sound I hear as we glide across the frozen lake. Despite being driven by an experienced Norwegian driver, we turned in one of the turns. Fortunately, the snow is soft. We just have to recover verticality and continue the spectacular ride. The huskies receive their reward in the form of nutritious fish.

Seeing how the ice cracks in each of our footsteps is something that worries a little when we know that below there is a lake of icy water. A quiet snowshoe ride serves to relax the adrenaline of the speed of the sled. Now it is us and the frozen nature, and nothing more. It is the most direct contact. I walk in the middle of a frozen landscape and understand the enormous difficulty of everyday life above the 70th parallel.

Who'd say! Admiring the views and the reflection of the clouds and mountains in the waters of the fjord there is so much peace. How much beauty! It's late, or rather, during all the hours of light on our trip it's been getting dark. The sun stays almost on the horizon during the time it accompanies.

As of November, it will not show up again until January. Then during the summer months you can enjoy, on the contrary, the midnight sun. The icing on the cake is left. Now the northern lights can appear at any time since the king star says goodbye. The clear day, the arctic winter and temperatures around 12 degrees below zero make it possible for the northern light to illuminate the night.

So before nightfall we have to follow the route because we are waiting for a quick boat trip to pick up King Crab pots and prepare lunch. It was a great experience and a beautiful evening from the cabin where we went to prepare the king crab. Walking along the coast of the fjords we were taken to see another German bunker dug in the fjord stone.

While the colors are changing, the afternoon light is reflected in the snow. We see the miraculous rock of the Sami and where they used to go before harvesting the crops. Two silhouettes were very important to them. A woman prostrate to give birth and a finger pointing to the sky.

Then in the cabin our guide explains many curiosities, the origin, and other information about the king crab. The moon came to the small wooden hut. It seemed between trees to say until soon. Already back to the city we expected the best of surprises. The farewell award. The illusion of anyone traveling to the Arctic Circle at this time of year. The northern lights!

The first one appeared in the concourse of the hotel while we waited for the car to go to dinner. Everyone was starved of hunger. We could see how the aurora came out after the snowy mountain spreading its green. I think I've never seen anything so beautiful.

The second aurora surprised us while we dined at the fabulous ice hotel. But I could not photograph it. The third aurora, the one that made us scream with more enthusiasm, because we no longer had her, was the one that came to say goodbye between clouds while we walked towards the hotel after a final beer. This time it looked like a big worm that stretched and shrunk in a capricious way.

Only the lucky ones who have witnessed this spectacle of nature know what I mean when I speak of emotion. For the rest, I promise you that it is something unique, magical and very special. I'm lucky! But tonight we wait for them on top of a hill, with an icy fjord in front of us. From midnight on, the northern lights begin to dye the sky green on us . It is one of those shows for which we must give thanks to nature.

Just 15 kilometers from Kirkenes, Russia begins. Tonight we are approaching the border post. At this time it is closed and we cannot see a soul. A poster in three languages ​​tells us that the Schengen territory ends here and another world begins. It is also the end of the trip.

The Charm of Ice Hole Swimming in Finland

While I was in Porvoo in Finland, some locals found it fun to introduce me to ice hole swimming and sauna culture. For bathing in frozen water I would never have bet a euro on it and yet. The temperature has dropped a bit, it is minus 15. I have to put four layers under the combine, two leggings and two pairs of socks. I also put a hood under the helmet.

We depart early in the morning at 10 am for a 30 km motorcycle ride. We have lunch in the forest, and then again go 20 km. We stop regularly to see if everything is fine. Everyone follows. Beginners follow at 80 km/h, which is not bad, because behind it shakes a lot. It feels like being on corrugated iron.

And we arrive at the chalet. And what a surprise! It is located in the countryside beside a lake and there is nothing nearby. We take a room on the ground floor, and above is the dormitory. There is no water, and no electricity with only small oil lamps. It's very warm. Going down to the lake, there is the the sauna and finally the ice hole for the brave couple.

At first the girls go to the sauna while we guys play cards. Then it's the opposite. By a frozen late afternoon, with just -18 degrees outside, I arrive at the lake. I see some fishing trials at the hole on the lake, with three small poles that are immediately returned to the water. But the supreme discovery is a little further, towards the small bridge. I see a real postcard landscape.

I meet a dynamic woman who practices ice hole swimming every day. According to her, it's invigorating, and protects against germs for the winter! Given the dynamism and envy to initiate me to this unusual practice, I tell myself that it is a unique experience next to which I cannot pass. It's decided, and I'll go swim in this frozen water.

So I'm still wrapped up in my jacket, my hat, my boots and my gloves. It makes me run on the spot to warm me up. A young woman comes out of the locker room and gives a demonstration with a smile. Who can smile at the idea of ​​going for a swim in icy water? The Finns of course! I realize that we must not think but walk steadily, go down the stairs one by one, swim and come out.

I saw, I can go! I hop to the locker room to put on my swimsuit and here I am almost naked in a towel -18 degrees. I keep my hat because when the hair is cold it is the whole body that is cold. The instructor proposes to go before me in the water to initiate me to the end. She's going straight. Its my turn.

I advance on the pontoon, drop the towel thinking the water is hot. But yes of course the water is hot or at least I have the impression. There is 18 degree deviations in the outside temperature and that of the water. I go down the ladder, swim and go back up. I did not push the vice until I plunged my body into the snow as some Finns do.

I think I have far exceeded my limits for this time. Once out of the water and wrapped in the towel that does not protect me from the extreme outside temperature, I go to the locker room to get dressed and it is then that the sensations are the strongest. The drops of water on my hair freeze and I feel like my whole body is blinking or behaving as if I were a big glass of sparkling water.

It is really what I felt and this feeling is incredibly magical and unique. After this dive in the ice it would have been good to have a sauna but there was none on the spot. I will go a few minutes later, once back to my bed and breakfast because any good Finnish has a sauna at home. The must-have is still the traditional sauna called the smoke sauna, the one with the wood fire smell so special.

I will have the opportunity to test one in Helsinki a little later in the week and it's true that it has nothing to do with the one that runs on electricity. Once out of the locker room and covered again for this indigestible outdoor temperature, I feel good. I'm absolutely not cold. I find those who have tried the experience with me.

The instructor is very happy to have introduced us to ice swimming. I am delighted to have exceeded the limits of my reluctance to test this typical Finnish exercise. The fact of having realized surrounded by local made this experience even more exceptional.

For the record, that night there were some chances to see Northern Lights in Porvoo. The instructor and her friends suggested we come back around 11 pm to chase them in a midnight bath. We have declined the invitation having a planned dinner in a family.

We have a nice evening around a fire, where wild salmon have been cooking for two hours. Then, we still make pancakes. And then we have a big surprise. A storyteller shaman comes to visit us and tells us the story of Lapland as I enjoy the lakka liqueur with local berry with some vodka and lots of sprite.

We go near the lake waiting for those famous aurora borealis. They are far away, and the sky is a little overcast. We only see a very small one. All photographers have installed their cameras on a tripod and wait patiently. The atmosphere is really special, at 11 pm by minus 35 degrees on this frozen lake.

The Charm of Ice Hole Swimming in Finland

Shark Cage Diving in Oahu during Honeymoon in Hawaii

Almost before we had the date of the wedding we had already decided where we were going to go on our honeymoon. The chosen destination was a route along the west coast that included Hawaii.

After 5 hours of plane from San Francisco we finally landed in Oahu. The first thing we do is go to pick up our rental car. We did not have any kind of problem when it comes to taking the car.

With the car already in our power, we head to our hotel, a normal hotel with a large room with kitchen that is less than five minutes walk from the famous Waikiki Beach. We leave things in our room, we change and we go to see Waikiki, and what we see we love. It is a beach of fine sand with a turquoise sea, full of beautiful people. We walked it up and down. Then we went through Kalakua looking at stores. Today we went to the hotel soon to recharge the batteries.

Shark Cage Diving in Oahu during Honeymoon in Hawaii

Day 2

We woke up very early. I do not know if by jet lag or by the desire we had to start to see the island, but at 6:30 we were already standing with which it was not strange at 8 o'clock in the morning. We park in Hanauma Bay, our first stop of the day. In spite of how early it was, the parking was already full of car.

It is a beach located in an ancient volcanic crater and has a great wealth of fauna. It is one of the best places on the island to snorkel. To access it we have to pay entry fee. We spent some time snorkeling and relaxing on the beach. In the middle of the morning we decided that it was time to continue discovering the island and with regret we collected the gear to get back on track. Of course, before leaving we put a stamp in case we wanted to return we did not have to pay the entrance again.

We followed the road along the east coast, stopping to take pictures of both the beaches we were encountering and the mountains in the center of the island. As we went along the day was changing. The sun we had in the morning in Hanauma and Waikiki was giving way to the clouds, and on the way back to Waikiki we get a shower.

In the afternoon we went back to the hotel to change and go for a walk in Waikiki. Today we went walking to see the lagoon and have a cocktail and then go to dinner and have finger-licking hamburgers.

Day 3

Today I had booked a shark encounter in Hawaii to see sharks from a cage, which I promised to my partner for our honeymoon in Hawaii.

As we knew it we wake up soon, and since it was at 11, we went to Aloha Stadium, the largest market in Hawaii. Around the stadium are endless concentric circles of stalls and more stalls. We do not waste time looking at stores in Waikiki. Here is everything and much cheaper. It opened at 8 o'clock but at 7:50 we were already in it, that is what has got us up early. We buy souvenirs for family and friends, and also to decorate our living room.

After a good walk seeing many posts, comparing prices, we ate a hamburger around the stadium, where there are restrooms and fountains also. At 10 am we went to the picturesque Haleiwa, from where the boat left. Haleiwa has shops, wooden houses with aspect of the far west. It is very lively too, with people doing barbecues, on the terraces. It is very picturesque without a doubt.

At about 11:10 we go on the boat towards the cage in the middle of the sea. After about 20 minutes we arrived at the cage in the middle of nowhere and went down. After instructions from our captain, I waited watching a shark from above approaching to sniff a yellow buoy from the boat. It is impressive to see the shark swimming near me.

After returning on the boat, my partner at the end did not want to get into the cage. We went to Laniakea beach that said it was famous for the turtles. Indeed, upon arrival we saw a bounded area and people taking pictures of some turtle that was near the shore. We went to the beach itself, parked on a large shoulder, and we got into the water, where my partner swam with a turtle that then went under a rock.

Even so the water was not as crystal clear as in Hanauma bay. So after a while we decided to continue to Waimea Bay Beach Park, whose parking at 2:30 pm was full with what we parked on the side of the road behind other cars.

It is a more familiar beach, I think, with a famous rock from where people throw themselves into the water. There are also other submerged rocks where many fish can be seen. We ate some wraps that we had bought in an store previous day, among other things, and we bathed quietly.

After a while we went out at about 5:15 and we ordered the classic Nutella, banana and strawberries. From here we went back to the apartment around 6:15 pm. After showering, we went to the Christmas shop that we had checked the first day on the Waikiki promenade near the statue of the Great Kahuna.

We buy a pendant for the Christmas tree, custom of each country that we go, in the form of surfboard. We buy something to eat including a typical Hawaiian beer.

We went to the most commercial street, the Waikiki Beach Walk on Lewers Street where we dined very well at another American chain. At 11:15 pm we walk back to the apartment, which being so well located was close to everything in Waikiki.

An Erotic Tour of Khajuraho - Temples, Yoga and Kamasutra

At 7 o'clock in the morning we had in our hands the tiny cardboard that did not look like a train ticket from Orchha to Khajuraho, famous for having Kamasutra carvings all over the walls. We see the vendors in the train station of Orchha and we moved away. In a matter of seconds prying people with all the brazenness of the world as it was already becoming habitual, approached us to know where we were going.

So we left there and went to take a chai while we waited for the train to arrive in the direction of our next destination. We only wait for about 20 minutes until finally the train arrived. After having to literally climb to get to the coach we deduced it was ours and we looked for a place to sit.

Next to a window, where there were two women with their children, we saw a gap to sit down, and there we stayed for the 4 hours that the trip lasted. When we finally found room for all the backpacks and relaxed in the seat we realized that the two families looked at us with curiosity and shyness.

The first of the women, younger and more beautiful, was traveling with her three children to Khajuraho on vacation. Her eldest daughter, told me that she had just started nursing. The other woman, older and heavier was responsible for keeping us fed with peanuts and chestnuts throughout the journey.

When there were only a few minutes to arrive, a young man who was traveling in the same coach approached us and ask us if we were going to go down in Khajuraho. To our affirmative answer he told us not to pay more than 40 rupees to arrive by rickshaw from the station to the city. The boy, who was not more than 20 years old, was owner of a souvenir shop in front of the temples.

After talking for a while he told us we could go with him and pay even less. The section from the station to the tourist area was a little longer than we thought. In a quarter of an hour we reached the center of the city, just opposite the west group of the famous temples, the best preserved. In this area there are many hostels, restaurants and shops, which is why we did not take more than 5 minutes to find the guest house.

We had chosen it because of its proximity to the area with the most movement and because we had read that we could do some yoga class. The guesthouse was very large, more than we were used to seeing. It had two floors and many rooms resembling a youth hostel and at the top there was a restaurant. After taking a look over the top, we went out to eat.

We wanted to go to eat at a cafe from whose terrace we could see the temples. It was not very far, only a few meters away. We went up to the terrace of the restaurant by a spiral staircase that was in a corner of the patio thinking that we would have to fight a lot against the vendors in this city because in the half hour we had been there we had already realized that they were going to hunt and capture the tourists.

The views from the roof were beautiful. From the table on which we had sat we could see in the distance part of the temples that give fame to this city, characteristic for its erotic sculptures. Not in vain Khajuraho is known as the city of kamasutra. We ate without any hurry and enjoy the sun because up there the noise of the streets barely reached our ears. So we extended the time to go down and face reality again.

We decided that the next day we would rent some bicycles to go to see the temples. So that afternoon we dedicate it to walking through the streets of the city. The problem was that every few steps a vendor appeared and we ended up buying everything from earrings, lanterns, chai, incense.

How could it be otherwise with all kinds of objects with motives related to the kamasutra. Every time we left a store they would say they will not entangle us anymore but around the corner there was another vendor inviting us for a chai or asking us to go alone to look. Of course, we entered, we looked, and when we realized we had filled half a backpack.

When we realized it was time to have dinner, without much desire to move to another place we asked for something to have dinner right there. While we waited for the dishes, a couple arrived and sat down at the next table with whom we would end up enjoying New Year's Eve in Varanasi. We talked with them until we finished dinner. And exhausted from so much shopping we went to sleep impatiently to see the famous kamasutra temples of Khajuraho.

Kamasutra images positions

Day 2

The sun began to rise in Khajuraho. We were already having breakfast on the highest terrace of the guesthouse where we had stayed with a yoga teacher to come to give us a class. The first rays did not burn and from up there we could see practically the whole city. Suddenly, while we ate the sandwiches, a man with an impeccable white outfit made a stellar appearance whose smiling gesture tried to emanate serenity.

He passed in front of us, saluted and then went to the side of the terrace where he began to unfold a blanket and to do stretches. When we finished we did the same as him. We took a couple of blankets, put them on the floor and sat on them. The teacher gave a brief introduction about the benefits of practicing yoga and then started with the exercises.

He started with the simplest to do and slowly the complexity increased. Meanwhile, the sun was getting closer and I was beginning to feel the heat. If at first it was nice, it ended up being suffocating after almost two hours of class. And when neither my body (or my face surely) held more then he decided to do the last exercises and finish what was beginning to be a torture.

After starting with morning exercise the bicycle time had arrived. At the entrance of the guesthouse they had some bicycles to rent that were only slightly better than Orchha, but it was what it was. So we took and left in the direction of the old city. The city was not far away, but the road was not exactly safe.

In addition to cows, dogs, rickshaws, chickens and children in the direction of the school, trucks also went by with cyclists who did not know the way. But with great caution and patience we managed to arrive safely. Near the temples a wise boy noticed our presence and came running to guide us. Our denial did not help, and not even the no money.

Ignoring what we said, he got on our side with his bicycle and started talking about the temples. In a moment we arrived at the first temple and we could begin to taste the beauty of place. This group of temples is not as well preserved as the west group. They are also isolated and the visual impact is different.

Even so we spent a lot of time looking at the figures carved on the walls and avoiding those who pretended to be guides. Anyone who told two sentences to explain something considered that he had the right to ask for money in return. After this temple we see another, and then another more of the same.

The boy who accompanied us realized that we did not want to continue seeing more. We decided that the time had come for the second part of the visit, to see the old part of the town. This consisted of a group of small houses and narrow streets in which the only vehicles that passed were bicycles and motorcycles.

The boy took us to one of them, which turned out to be a school where there were children. When they saw us appear they all got up very respectfully and greeted us with a slight bowing of their heads while shouting hello! The classroom was nothing more than a room in the house without even furniture in which the students were sitting on the floor while attending to the teacher explaining the subject on a small blackboard on the wall.

The visit continued through the other classrooms and ended up in the office of the principal who showed us a notebook in which people wrote about the great work of these people in order to maintain a school. What at first seemed like a casual visit ended up being one more way to get money out of us, albeit in a more subtle way. I only hope that this money stays inside the school.

Even so we ended up making another visit to the house of a man who claimed to be the mayor. We entered with the head down and we could not lift it practically during the whole visit, because the roofs inside were very low. The mother of the gentleman, who was in the patio, cooked some chapatis on the ground that the daughter later took out on a tray.

How could it be otherwise? The visit ended at the top of the house where the man happened to have a whole collection of antiques and paintings that he claimed to have made. But all were things that we had already seen somewhere or that were so poorly preserved that it was impossible to buy them. In addition, we had already had enough cajoling in one morning. So we said goodbye politely and left.

When another person invited us to his home we told him we could not, because we already knew how to have that friendly smile. By the time we had been there we already had enough. When we were leaving we saw a group of children playing badminton and how could it be otherwise? I challenged them to a game in the street.

We stayed for a while playing with them and we took some photos, forgetting for a moment the previous anecdotes in which they only wanted was the money. It was midday and I was beginning to notice the fatigue after the eternal yoga session and so much cycling. I needed to regain energy. We decided to eat again at the cafe, because we liked the food and its views, so we were close to the Khajuraho temples to visit them later.

After drinking two drinks in a row to rehydrate, I was able to think clearly and choose the dish on the menu. After two hours of feast and rest we got up renewed. We decided to explore the other group of temples. So with a little more excitement than in the morning we headed to the entrance. We paid for the video camera, passed a security check and entered the precincts of the temples.

At first glance I could see the difference between the others. The abundance of temples and the fact of being surrounded by green areas gave it a charming and attractive appearance. Seduced by the nearest temple we started with the visit. The outer part of each temple was completely crammed with figures carved into the stone and each and every one of them was full of eroticism.

I see semi-nude women posing sensually or couples in sexual postures that to some retrograde mind would seem lascivious. The endless representations entertained us for hours and hours looking at those walls. Hundreds of people walked through the temples seeing what some people did many years ago to educate future lovers.

The walls are an authentic representation of the kamasutra that is still admired after a thousand years after its creation. Elevated on a stone platform that gives them greater majesty, the temples have stairs to climb and enter inside. One by one we visited them all until there came a time when we could no longer distinguish one from the other and we said goodbye to the place. We returned to the guesthouse determined to give us a good shower.

We entered a room where they had the backpacks stored. We took what was necessary and went to the bathroom, which turned out to be a small space of little more than 1 square meter. I had to leave the clothes outside, because inside there was no room for more than me and my bottles of gel and shampoo.

I try not to touch anything of what was in there as I would have left there with more dirt than I had. The small dimension made it impossible, as I could not move an arm without touching the wall. I prayed that no cockroach would come out of a hole and I thought, at least I have hot water.

After our experience with the bathroom we went out to dinner at a restaurant, where we spent our last hours in Khajuraho. At 11 o'clock the night train headed for Varanasi. We returned to the guest house for backpacks and left the with the rickshaw to the station. This time we had allowed ourselves the luxury of not going in sleeper class.

I was still traumatized from the last trip so we had chosen 3 tier with air conditioning. There were sheets on the beds. It was not cold and there was no wind. When we got into sleep, we put up the beds. I tried not to think about the fauna of the train and I closed my eyes. I was happy because we were going to Varanasi, and at last I would see the Ganges.

Dancing Mirrors by Rakhi Sunil Kumar

Dancing Mirrors by Rakhi Sunil Kumar is a modern tale of love. It is set in an era, of ours, where the virtual is confused with reality, but where even those souls, simple, secluded and solitary meet. Here is the story of Naina Handa, who lives in London. Suddenly she discovers a wonderful world that until then was completely unknown to her.

She joins Facebook and her life changes, as she is populated with characters that are a bit real and a little fake, good, bad, enigmatic, shy. And among these, is even a lover, Raj who stays in Shimla. One day she meets Aaryan Oberoi, full of energy and life, upsetting Naina's life. She falls in love with him, and he then tries to convince so that she agrees to marry him. Eventually it turns out that she feels the guilt and starts rekindling her old love.

At this point I will not tell you anything else, I would take away the pleasure of following what happens to the neophyte Naina. The finish is absolutely unpredictable and leaves a kind of sweet melancholy.

The author does not disappoint. Indeed, you would like the book not to end with an intelligent, refined, and a subtle and elegant sense of humor. It is impossible to better describe the unconditional love of a couple and the survival instinct. The authors formidable irony, the freshness of her writing, the tenderness she puts in the characters, makes the book still classify as a pleasant reading. It has a very nice psychological implication.

I lost time reading this sliding, exciting and delicate book. The idea of ​​facebook dependency had attracted me. I cannot let myself go, to appreciate the author's delusions concerning the conclusion. My little practical mind appreciates stories in which the conclusion is consistent with the story.

The book reads willingly and easily. It is a nice story without great suspense, but it makes a lot of thinking. A melancholic book, especially in the relationship that comes with new technologies,and warns against certain risks. The story is light and flows well in a nice book, but perhaps a little obvious.

Written well, with the fluid and compelling style the book is cute but unpretentious. The book is like taking a walk in the woods as it is soothing! It is a delightful fairytale and surreal that bears the unmistakable signature of the author and that made me smile and move.

The protagonists of this modern fairy tale, are very current. I spent a nice afternoon with its protagonists, described in a very realistic way. Personally I think it is a book that should warn of a pathological addiction that already has a name. An engaging story for the originality of the proposed theme, but chapter by chapter the story became increasingly obvious. The ending is unexpected but unreal and far-fetched. The third-person language is simple.

It is a nice story, funny but also very moving. I read in no time as it is really very pleasant. Fast and easy to read, the book is full of ideas to reflect on how easy it is to take refuge in virtual reality rather than face real life that, instead, runs alongside.

Trekking through Barskoon and Tamga in Kyrgyzstan

They say that the mountains of heaven lie in the isolated paradise of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan. Traveling to Kyrgyzstan is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Leave the phone, the computer, the email and breathe, look, touch, look at the details of nature, connect with your horse and with yourself.

We enjoy every moment and live in the present! We travel inside and get to know ourselves better, to learn to enjoy life, from every moment and admire nature in all its splendor. We travel through beautiful landscapes, and exotic culture through the Tian-Shan mountains following the paths of the shepherds and the pristine nature.

The horse route begins at a height of 1700 m and reaches the 4000 m glaciers. Here we experience the fresh and refreshing feeling of summer snow and an incomparable top view of the world. The longest and most exciting trek for us was the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. The Barskoon has far outdone it in terms of adventure! We hiked in a completely undeveloped region. The only people we meet are nomads on the summer pastures.

I took a trip to Barskoon. This is a small village a few kilometers away from the south bank of Issyk-kul lake. Barskoon itself has nothing to offer. Behind it, however, is a valley where there are some beautiful waterfalls to see. Since I had already gained experiences with waterfalls in Jety Oguz, we thought that was a good idea.

It is important to know that in comparison to other valleys that extend southwards into the Tien-Shan mountains, the Barskoon Valley has a reasonably fortified road. This is because the route leads to the controversial Kumtor gold mine through this valley.

Day 1

The Djangart Valley is located in southeastern Kyrgyzstan, on the border with China. We reached the valley with a GAZ-66 off-road vehicle hired from the trekking agency. Our driver drove us from Bishkek towards Tamga on the Issyk Kul lake. The vehicle was very slow and always needed a (repair) service.

The route to the Djangart Valley was unfortunately not passable by vehicle and we had to change gears in the truest sense of the word. With the help of horses for the luggage we walked over the Djangart Pass to our base camp in the Djangart Valley.

Trekking through Barskoon and Tamga in Kyrgyzstan

Day 2

I realize again that camping is nothing for me. I wake up at 7:00 am after feeling that I finally fell asleep at 5:00. Everything hurts, my eyes doesn't open and I'm tired. The weather is not so nice today. The sky is overcast and as soon as I climbed out of the tent, it starts to drift. So drizzle. After a hearty breakfast with porridge, the world looks different again. The rain has stopped and I'm looking forward to today!

We already knew what we had to do. So we had an early breakfast, as we wanted to hike the maximum kilometers with the morning chill. After breakfast, we start our visit to the Barskoon Canyon. At the foot of the mountain we enjoy the beautiful river Barskoon.

We left the guesthouse and went through the road that goes to a gold mine that some Canadians are exploring. The road to Barskoon Pass is really a dream. As we went forward we found a bike lying on the road and its owner hidden in the bush. We all took advantage to get the most weight possible. Finally we reached the road, and started to climb a wide valley and a wide track of land, as it is the access to the mine. Rugged rock formations welcome us, reminiscent of the Uluru in Australia. We stop at the hot springs that are on the road.

Every few meters there is a road guard who is dedicated to watering it and keeping it well cared for as we go up and up. We go up relatively slowly, until we stop to take pictures and talk. Well, not everything is joy, since from time to time we get some huge trailers. The sun shines from a bright blue sky and we try to find shelter in the sparse shadow. It is already 10:30 and the other expedition members have not yet arrived. Just before starting the hardest ramps we take a short break. We're standing at a dusty intersection right in the middle of nowhere. The landscape looks like a wild west movie.

After we have treated ourselves to a hot bath and have cooled our feet in the mountain stream, we walk a bit further along the road. Finally, we sit down for lunch on the banks of the raging mountain stream, which accompanies us all the time. Satisfied, we continue along the road, which is slowly turning into a beautiful path along the river.

The weather offers us a factor in our favor. It starts to rain that allow us to get a little bit cool during the climbs. I will not explain how we climbed because the truth is that everyone did what they could, but always on top of the bike. First we pass through a small port of 3,400 m but immediately the thing continues until our final destination.

We are happy today to follow a normal path again. It leads us gently through coniferous forest up to a large meadow, on which a small tent stands and many horses graze. Our porters have already run, throwing the backpacks and talk to the nomads.

As we open up we are warmly invited to tea. We do not say no, even if we are only twenty minutes away. And there is not only tea but also Oromo. This is a delicious dough with onions and the first milk of the cow. Such invitations follow us several times on our way, and we sometimes have to turn them down with a heavy heart because of time constraints.

The Kyrgyz people are an incredibly hospitable people. They always pick up the best pieces for the guest even if sometimes they do not even know when the next one will pass. This tradition is deeply rooted in their nomadic culture.

Often a shepherd is out and about the whole day, seeking refuge from a storm. And since it can happen to everyone, even strangers are always warmly received and supplied with the best.

As cozy and funny as it is in this little tent, we have to tear ourselves away and move on. The path leads us on in a relaxed, shallow, uphill direction. The sun is fighting through and we are in a good mood. However, we also know that we still have to make a good elevation today .

Before that, however, the path leads us to a broad plain in which the river, which was still raging yesterday, continues to branch off and flows a little more leisurely.

It offers us a breathtaking panorama and we can not get out of amazement and taking pictures. To the right of us rise the mountains and we know that we have to find the way to the passport somewhere. And we also notice that our guide is not quite sure where to take the path into the mountains.

He insures with two nomads who come with their horses over and so begins the rise. And from here the way ends. Again and again we follow individual cattle rides and at the same time keep our eyes on the ideal line.

The group is slowly pulling apart as each one takes his own step and is busy breathing. So we screw ourselves piece by piece towards the pass. After about three quarters of the way uphill, we sit down for lunch. The wind whistles over us and it is quite uncomfortable.

We are strengthened by the rest of the ascent. After each hilltop we think now we are up but there is only one more uphill ahead of us. We keep fighting with our eyes fixed on the ground. Here I discover beautiful wildflowers, numerous grasshoppers and butterflies, which the rough wind does not seem to bother.

And finally I finally reach the ridge of the pass and am speechless for the moment. Opposite us huge mountains, covered by glaciers pile up. Below us is a green valley with a river that loses itself in the distance. We all cheer and enjoy this majestic sight .

The thought of the descent diminishes my joy a little bit. We now have to descend almost 1,000m into the valley before us. The slopes are steep and so we slide and hop more or less down the mountain. Again, everyone tries to find the best way. Every now and then someone slips out and lands on his butt. Luckily nobody is hurting.

At the bottom, I just see a movement in the grass and jump back. For the second time here in Kyrgyzstan I almost step into a Gadyuka Viper . It is probably not fatal for a healthy adult, but it causes the bite to swell very much. Well, I really can not use that here!

After about 10 hours we reach the end of the day but feel happy finally at our campsite. When we arrive our tent is already. We wash ourselves a bit on an ice-cold stream and sit refreshed for dinner.

Day 3

The sun is burning and the landscape does not seem to change at all. This is exhausting as the pass crossing the day before. And in front of us is a long day on which we have to overcome another 1,000 vertical meters.

Before we start our ascent and leave the wide river valley towards the mountains, we have lunch break. We treat ourselves today even twenty minutes nap before it goes on.

After a few hundred meters we are again in front of a river crossing. And that will not be the last for today. Afterwards we have to climb up quite steeply, because unfortunately we cannot just walk through the riverbed into the side valley. So we have to reach the valley over the steep mountain slopes, which fall down to the river. And that is extremely tedious and exhausting.

Before the first mountainside, I am in a good mood, that we can then continue along gentle meadows along the river . When I reach the top and can look over, this hope is abrupt: The mountain slopes fall directly to the river, so we must now always run along the steep slopes .

And often only on extremely narrow cattle rides. Left it goes steeply down to the river. One wrong step and you slide down the mountain. I do not want to imagine that anymore and concentrate on my steps. The group is silent and everyone is just concentrating on themselves.

And then the way is suddenly blocked. Through a huge landslide, which has pushed through the river valley like a dagger. The debris certainly towers up ten to twenty meters in front of us. And there is no way around it! Above the path is too steep and we would have to fight completely through the boulder field.

On the other side, the path is blocked again by a raging, mud-colored glacier river . Again and again we hear how the water crashes rocks with it. Frustrated, we fall to the river bank on the ground. We are exhausted, have been traveling for 8 hours and know that at least 2 more hours are ahead of us.

We saw some cows cross the river. That gives us hope. After another half hour, it is time to put sneakers on and off in the freezing tides. The river is wide and after only a few seconds my feet begin to hurt like hell! Now just do not get hectic, a misstep and I get carried away. On the other hand, I try to get out of the icy sneakers as quickly as possible. Again we did it!

Nevertheless, the mood remains muted. According to our guide, we should cross the pass today and descend to the camp on the other side. How should we do that? Slowly we torture ourselves through the rough terrain. Everyone is clinging to his thoughts and stumbles forward.

Suddenly one of the guys calls something in Kyrgyz from behind. I turn around in shock and see how everyone points to the mountain to our left. I close my eyes but can not see anything. I follow his outstretched arm with his eyes. Now I can recognize her! As tiny points almost at the top of the mountain! Certainly 15 to 20 of these huge and majestic marco polo sheep are slowly moving up there. My mood brightens up a bit.

In front of us, another slope blocks the view of the way ahead. From the right, the landslide slides now in its full sizein our field of vision. What masses came down here!

I do not feel very well when I look to the left of us the mountain massif with its loose rock masses! Again and again we have to cross larger and smaller freshly slipped stone fields. It is unbelievably laborious, the surface is uneven and often drops off to the right towards the river.

When we finally stand on the top of the next slope, I lose all hope that we can make it to the pass. Again another mountain slope is ahead of us, the terrain is impassable. We stop. We discuss what we should do. There is only one way and that means moving forward! But we agree to set up camp at the next suitable location.

When I see the shallow shore on the other side of the river, I draw hope. Here we can make our camp! We are now at 3,500 meters , the night is going to be cold but that does not matter to us all. We are infinitely happy when we sit at 8:00 pm at dinner. We have even managed to light a fire with wet driftwood! It smokes terribly at first, but soon becomes a big, warming fire. We mumble into our tent and soon fell asleep.

Trekking through Barskoon and Tamga in Kyrgyzstan

Day 4

At night, I wake up from the patter of rain. I think, hopefully the tent will be tight. I still cannot sleep properly anymore. The rain continues until the morning. Breakfast is taken in the tent.

It takes about an hour to get to the pass. And from there, in turn, we have a breathtaking but completely different view of the next valley. The sun paints beautiful spots on the grassy landscape in front of us.

The Dunguromo, after whom the pass is named, wraps itself to the right of us in dense clouds. I hope to catch another glimpse of him. But unfortunately that will not work anymore. So we start the descent, which actually starts with a path!

Unfortunately, the comfort does not last long and it is soon again rivers cross , along steep slopes and clamber along various mountain slopes . Again and again violent showers patter down on us and quite honestly: I just do not feel like it anymore!

After about 4 hours and a particularly hard last section on the steep bank of a river, we reach our end point in the Barskoon Valley. Here a road leads up to a gold mine and thus civilization caught up with us again in one fell swoop.

We reach the Barskoon Pass at 3,800 m altitude after a 2,400 m ascent. There is an impressive nature, from which we can see the mountain road from about 4,000 meters. A small footpath leads to a waterfall. At the end of the road we see the waterfall called Tears of the Snow Leopard Waterfall. Only a few take the hike. Here we are almost alone. We find a romantic pitch on the other side of the river under coniferous trees. At the top everyone celebrated as they could, but in the end we all ended up in the same place.

We have a strange feeling. One hour up, we are completely cut off from everything and we are on your own. And suddenly we are standing on this road feeling different and being catapulted into another time. While we wait for our pickup, we eat our lunch. The group is silent, everyone can review the experience once again.

Suddenly everything happens very fast. Our guide from Karakol comes with a car. The luggage is thrown into the trunk. And it means saying goodbye! Quickly we press them a tip in the hand and it goes on the dirt road towards Issyk-Kul lake. On the way are still a few beautiful waterfalls.

We squeezed in the van trying to get rid of the cold and waiting for those who would arrive just after. Then, we continue the hike down to find a place to sleep, since between rain, cold and snow the options were scarce. So we had something to do if we did not want to die frozen. Luckily the guide was with us.

He took us to an abandoned house in ruins a kilometer down the harbor. In the afternoon we return to the Tamga village. He told us that this was the best place to sleep. We clean the place, search for firewood, cut logs with a mini axe, try to open a abandoned container and we had dinner that day.

Our guide saved our lives again by leaving us his little stove that allowed us to make very generous portions of pasta with a Kazy salami, something inedible but we ended up eating it. We found a piece of bacon that we had bought and that momentarily disappeared. We try the traditional Kyrgyz drink, the Kumis, and enjoy the scenery. After a little while next to the bonfire that we created, we all went to sleep in our little house. Although there is no direct danger, but so much mass of rock above us worries me easily. At night it is bitterly cold. The puddles freeze. We have a taste of aleeping along the Pamir Highway.

Day 5

In the morning we travel along the south shore of the Issyk-Kul lake. On the way we visit the Skazka canyons. Here we find objects of surprising shapes and sizes. Then we visit the town of Bokonbaevo, where we meet a hunter with an eagle and his bird of prey. In the afternoon, we wash ourselves in the real Russian bath, the Banya.

The road to Bishkek passes through the north coast of the lake and through the Boom gorge. On the way we visit the Burana Tower. The Burana Tower is an old minaret in the Chuy valley in the northern part of Kyrgyzstan. It is located about 80 km from the capital Bishkek, near the town of Tokmok.

The tower with funerary monuments, embankments, remains of the Castle and three mausoleums is all that remains of the ancient city Balasagun which was founded by Karakhanids at the end of the 9th century. In the evening we have a farewell dinner at one of the traditional Kyrgyz restaurants.