Days #6, #7, #8, #9: Abel Tasman costal track

The long waited day has come, we finally approaches to the first hiking excursion of the vacation: the Abel Tasman costal track. Situated at north at the Abel Tasman National Park, this track is a mixture of small hills, groves with sea vegetation, beaches along the stunning crystalline clear water of the Tasman Ocean.

Abel Tasman coastal track profile

Fate or coincidence, Abel Tasman was a Dutch seaman and explorer that first discover Tasmania and Fiji. He reach also New Zealand (as usual by mistake) but could not enter in contact with the local population. He and he’s crew was beaten several time by Maori population. The now called Golden bay, was named by him in fact murdered bay because of the skirmish happened once he was there.

The Abel Tasman track is long about 55 km and can be walked by non experience people, the whole are is surrounded by different activities, like kayaking, boat discovering, diving, snorkeling and so on.

While making the plan we had to consider a particular constraint that is quite interesting, about at the middle of the track, there are two crossing that must be done on low tide. Planning it wasn’t easy to imagine, as I’ve never had any idea of what the tide could change the shape of the landscape.

abel-tasman-coast-track-map-july11

Our initial plan was to spend four night in this track, trying to arrive at the end but coming back via water taxi from Totanaui, in particular we planned the four days:

  1. from Marahau to Torrent Bay (near Anchorage hut); approximately 4-5 hours
  2. from Torrent Bay to Bark bay; approximately 2 hours
  3. from Bark Bay to Totanaui; approximately 5-6 hours
  4. walking around Totanaui and back to Marahau via Water Taxi

The second day we walked on secondary tracks around the Bark Bay campsite, visiting waterfall, torrent pools and wonderful inland short distance destination.

Marahau to Torrent Bay

The first day we begin our journey later than usual, done some shopping, gather the ticket for the track booking. The sun was shining in the sky and the temperature was about 25 degrees, the sky was alive with clouds moving around and give us rest from the sun. The sea had low tide and in certain areas, the ground was shallow and not steep so the water was pulling back to several hundred of meters.

The whole track, but in particular the first part of it, was along the coast of beaches, where it was possible to have a refreshing break. We would have liked to stop every 20 minutes to have a bath, but unfortunately we had a schedule to follow and we managed to visit only few of them.

This first piece, in fact was a bit longer than we expected. In fact the backpack was too heavy: most of the weight was due to the food, which was not the light dry food for trekking. At the end of the track despite the quantity of food decreased, we were too sore to notice it.

Near Anchorage Hut, there is a shortcut for low tide periods, that allows you to save about 40 minutes; unfortunately the first evening we arrived too late for it and we had to continue on the normal route.

Torrent bay to Bark Bay

The second day we had only two hours distance to the next campsite, so we decided to leave the backpack and the tent in the site where we slept and we walked around on secondary tracks. In the morning, the tide was low, so we wander around in the sea’s bed looking at the small crabs running out of the soil. It was a strange feeling, between being on a desert and being on the moon.

Afterwards we visit a waterfall and another pool. I didn’t dear to swim the torrent, as it was freezing cold.

At noon, we grabbed our stuff and we continued our journey toward Bark Bay. The weather was still stunning and a light wind was blowing from the sea, refreshing us and spreading around smell.

We arrived at Bark Bay and, after setting up our tent, we had a bath and stayed in the beach to rest and read.

Bark Bay to Totanaui

The third day we had the longest part of the track, we woke up early and we got moving as early as possible. This section of the track was more challenging: on the way there were two passages the delta of a small river that could have been ford only on certain hours of the day. The time window was quite long, about 5-6 hours, but it wasn’t easy to estimate at first.

This last part of the track affected me, my shoulder weren’t able to hold the backpack and most of the track was on the beach, which require more effort because the sand is not as stable as the usual tracks.

We arrived at the campsite, which was empty, around 16 in the afternoon, we’ve had a bath, we’ve eaten and we lay down nearly dead.

Totanaui to Marahau

In Totanaui, due to the bad physical condition, and needs to rest, we’ve dropped our plans of visiting until the ‘separation point’ (which we’ve found out later it was an amazing place) and we’ve returned back to Marahau before time, to save half day as we weren’t able to move anymore.

We caught the water taxi at 11 to be back to Marahau at about 12:30. To be honest I’ve realized that fast boat are not my type :)

During the trip back the guide stopped us near one of the island surrounding the Abel Tasman coast, where we could admire some seal, laying down on the rocks as they were the lazier animals in the world.

The guide also mention how dangerous can be this apparently harmless animal can be, quite some people, coming there by kayak, were attacked by them. And this can be quite dangerous.

Finally we touch land. I was about to feel seasick when my attention was grasped by the curious way of dealing with low tide. A tractor with trailer was placed in the water and the boat landed directly on it. Ingenious. :)

A foreigner in The Netherlands (2) – Biking: Den Haag, Hoek Van Holland, Delft

The Netherlands is a very particular place where to live, in the good and in the bad; one of the amazing possibility is that having a bike make you able to go wherever you want. There are biking paths basically everywhere, even along the highways.

In this post I would like to talk about a very nice excursion of circa 50/60 Km I did last month: Den Haag, Hoek van Holland, Delft, because I think is an amazing trip to do in a sunny day during the weekend.

The journey starts in Den Haag (A/H), more precisely in Scheveningen, and continue following the coast in direction South-East; until the land ends you reach Hoek van Holland (B), a beach city situated at the end of the canal connecting the North sea to Rotterdam’s harbour (considered one of the biggest in the world). In fact it looks like a river but looking the shapes of the shores around it looks artificial.

The way to H. van Holland is composed by different shorts paths and pass toward different landscapes: forest, grass, dune, with few climbs and declines that makes it a bit wilder (do not expect the same ‘definition’ you might have experienced in other countries, but is really beautiful). Quite a lot of people ride on that path with any kind of bikes, from traditional oma-fiets to racing ones, anyway the road is quite big and there is room for everybody.

While arrived in Hoek van Holland, the sun was shining in the sky (a beautiful blue sky), and was the official beginning of the summer/beach season. All bars were opened, in disco-mode since 2 o’clock in the afternoon, tons and tons of people already there in the morning, as much walking from the city, coming to the beach. Was really crowded. There was an open market and was almost impossible to walk through there.

In Holland that’s normal. Whenever the sun show up, people will show up outside as well. Streets, bars, everywhere you can enjoy it will be crowded. Other populations, living in countries with the same weather, wouldn’t do the same. It’s quite impressive.

The trip continues in direction South, following the canal of Rotterdam’s harbour, toward an industrial area,  impressive to see windmils, warehouses and crumbling old buildings, sometimes a huge boat was passing through the canal. The path was surrounded by concrete and cement, not really beautiful and honestly neither good smelling, probably quite polluted compared with the rest of the country.

While traveling in direction South you might find different path possibilities, two of them were to bike until Maasluis or turn before in direction North-East. While the wind was blowing from North-East, and the expectation were quite tiring, the decision was to short the return and turn in direction of De Leer before Maasluis, and then proceed on the way to Delft.

De Leer is a normal dutch city, in my opinion doesn’t have anything particular, just a church that was not really straight anymore (a dutch torre di Pisa).

         

After De Leer there is a biking path, passing in the countryside, between greenhouses, fields, bridges on canals. The area is quite wild (for what can be considered wild in The Netherlands ;)) and peaceful, I wish all the biking path would have been done like that one.

Once arrived in Delft, direction Rijswik and then Den Haag. Google maps said even more than 55 Km, and after that you might notice that your bottom would have a shape complementary to the seat.

Anyway amazing trip!

Groovy & Grails eXchange 2009

The Groovy & Grails eXchange, organized by skillsmatter, was the first international conferences about software development I’ve attended in my career. Before I was more concentrated mostly on Linux and the Fedoraproject (FOSDEM, Linux TAG for instance).

The conference was headed in London from December 9th to 10th. The first day was focuses on Groovy and the second on Grails. I went there with Raffaele and Davide, friends and colleague of mine (we work together in Holland). As the conferences last Wednesday and Thursday, we decided to get Friday off and stay in London during the week end to visit the city (I already been there almost one year ago but London is always lovely).

At the conference there were about 150 people, mostly developers (heavy twitter users), in particular freelancers and really small companies from all over the world.

I really found all the speech really interesting. Guillaume Laforge spoke about the features of Groovy 1.7 and above (we even had a brief introduction about what are they considering to include in the 1.8 release) and Graeme Rocher introduced Grails 1.2.0 and the new plug-in development approach.

Based on my work in Holland, I really appreciated the ‘Groovy code kata’  talk from Dierk Koening and the DSL speech from Verkat Subramaniam. I had a really interesting chat with him about DSLs, in particular about what we should consider more important to balance the DSL we designed and are using in our project (I swear, I’ll post about it). I found Verkat really good to make examples in order to help you to understand better complexed concepts (DSL by examples might be a suggestion for next book ;-)).

You can find some photos about the conference itself here and here.

I’m really satisfied by this conference, I met a lot of people and exchange contact with them to keep in touch and, at the end I won Grails in Action book. :-) I also met also three guys from the NLGUG (Netherland Groovy User Group): Erik, Alex and Sebastien. They were really interested to my work with groovy and they invited me to give a speech, next year, to the Groovy User Group. I already accepted because it’s cool to meet new people on topics I like and I’ll get the opportunity to get more integrated into the local groups.

I met also Alberto Brandolini (ZioBrando for most of the people), who is a trainer for skillsmatter and a expert software architect in Italy. Before, he saw only a name and a photo but fortunately I had the opportunity to spoke with him to exchange some ideas and suggestion.

After the conferences we enjoy London for three days. I can say that I love London, and it’s strange because London is chaotic and I’m not use to it, but it has a fashion and a people integration level that is difficult(may be impossible) to find in any other cities (maybe in New York, but I’ve never been there, yet).

Maybe after my project in Holland will be finished, I’ll move there for a while, who knows. But we’ll see.

From London I can say that English people are really crazy, or they drink like sponges. I really would like to know how many drink they drink: I saw people with t-shirt in the middle of the night with around 0° or below, is it possible to survive? I would like to know how can they drink English beers: for me are too warm and they have a strange bitter after-taste.

Anyway London is fantastic and beautiful.  Period.

I took some photos, you can find here.

Rotterdam: modern art within a city

Rotterdam is nice, but looks like a non-Dutch city. Seems more like a German city. Big, large, modern.

It was completely rebuilt after the second world war. For people used to Dutch cities, like Utrecht or Amsterdam, Rotterdam might be ugly: big and sometimes empty streets, skyscrapers, seems oversized… and living there might be difficult…

But at the end I believe Rotterdam is like modern art: cube house, skyscrapers, towers…

I saw Rotterdam in a sunny Sunday and I can say that probably is not a people city like, for example, Delft or Utrecht but is nice and photographically speaking give you a lot of inspiration.

The harbour is amazing! The weather was perfect…during the sunset the harbour creates a gorgeous combination of shadows and shapes.


This set is an experiment of  RAW development using Bibble, you can find it here. i have a laptop with a screen not really luminous, sometimes I might use too much saturation and contrasts…

Haarlem

A couple of days ago I decided that this blog has to survive.

Today I went to Haarlem, a small city near Amsterdam, where live a lot of people that works in Amsterdam. Haarlem is like a suburb. Beautiful suburb.

I got the train from Den Haag Centraal station and it’s curious the direct train take 15 minutes more than a train with 1 change (the train I got).

I went there only few hours, I had a walk in the city center, I visited the Teylers museum but I couldn’t visit the Frans Hals museum as well because was too late.
One of the symbol of this city is the Molen de Adriaan, really dutch! :D

Really nice city! :)

Here now a couple of photos I took. The light wasn’t nice. Too cloudy, but fortunately in a couple of photos there was a light sunshine.

canals

statues

skyline

moles