A weekend in Kraków

4 05 2016

This was a perfect way for me to add one more geocaching country to my list and for my partner to a visit a city that she had read about and found interesting. I visited both Krakow and the salt mine in Wieliczka about ten years ago but that was on business and before there were more than a couple of caches available and none of them close to where I was staying. This time I was able to plan a visit for sightseeing and geocaching. It was great to see in advance that there are a number of interesting earthcaches as that is a cache type I enjoy finding.

Kraków or Cracow? I suppose as the post is in English I should use Cracow but it feels more correct to use the Polish spelling of Kraków so that’s what you will get.

We were staying in a hotel just a few hundred meters to the west of the old town that was conveniently located on the bus route from the airport. Once we had checked in we started our sightseeing and the first stop was actually to find a geocache!:-) Just a few hundred meters from our hotel was a bookshop/cafe called Massolit and that was the name of the cache as well. It was a great place with a huge selection of new and used books mostly in English covering a whole spectrum of topics. The cache was a “treasure chest” in plain sight and the staff were helpful in pointing out the right equipment needed to retrieve it. This was the only cache found on the Thursday, the rest of the time was spent sightseeing in the old town.

One of several rooms in the Massolit book cafe. Can you see the cache? (hint: top left)

One of the several rooms in the Massolit book cafe. Can you see the cache? (hint: top left)

Juliusza Słowackiego theatre

Juliusza Słowackiego theatre

The morning of the next day we were picked up at the hotel and were driven the sixteen or so kilometers south west from Krakow to Wieliczka where we visited the salt mine. The first task was to learn about the mine in order to be able to log the earthcache Wieliczka Salt Mine before descending the 384 wooden steps to the first level of the mine. The mine hasn’t produced salt for over twenty years as it is no longer profitable for that but makes it’s money from tourists. We learnt that there are about 500 workers to maintain the mines (mostly prevention of flooding) and about 500 tour guides!

Posing for the Wieliczka Salt Mine earthcache

Posing for the Wieliczka Salt Mine earthcache

Wooden supports and rock salt chandelier in the salt mine

Wooden supports and rock salt chandelier in the salt mine

Upon our return to Krakow we wandered down through the old town past Wawel castle hoping to look for the earthcache Cavernum Draconis MCLXXXX A.D. but the gate was locked so we had to make do with the fire breathing dragon.

Wawel castle

Wawel castle

A fire breathing dragon

A fire breathing dragon

There was a market and fair in the area and a small easily found cache Dzok.

The statue of Dzok

The statue of Dzok

The signed log book for "Dzok"

The signed log book for “Dzok”

From here we wandered on towards the Jewish quarter where we found a fun cache at a newsstand on Plac Novy. Here we saw several small stands selling the Polish equivalent of pizza but didn’t stop to try one as we were heading for Stara Zajezdnia and a meal and a beer. At Stara Synagoga we met a couple of local geocachers who were struggling to get a bearing to the cache with their smart phone. My GPS pointed right at the cache so after signing the log I called the cachers over and handed them the cache and showed them where it was hidden. They would never have found it on their own.

Wall art at the Jewish Museum

Wall art at the Jewish Museum

One of my other interests is craft beer so we stopped at a couple of the better known pubs or microbreweries in Krakow. The beers below are just a couple of samples from the House of Beer – I love that name.

A typical Polish craft amber beer

A typical Polish craft amber beer

A typical Polish craft stout

A typical Polish craft stout

The microbrewery Stara Zajezdnia was interesting in that it was housed in the old tram depot in the Jewish quarter.

Stara Zajezdnia was an old tram depot

Stara Zajezdnia was an old tram depot

The microbrewery Stara Zajezdnia

The microbrewery Stara Zajezdnia

After a good meal and a great tasting special honey flavoured dark beer we started our walk back to the hotel passing Ammonoidea – Basilica Corporis Christi. on the way. It’s great to see so many large fossils in the limestone of various buildings and realise that the rock is up to 200 million years old.

Evening sun on the roof of Basilica Corporis Christ

Evening sun on the roof of Basilica Corporis Christ

We found a couple more traditional caches in the old town at Palac Pana Prezydenta / Mayor’s Palace and Latarnie umarlych -7- Planty.on our way back to the hotel.

St. Mary's Basilica on the main market square

St. Mary’s Basilica on the main market square

The towers of St. Mary's Basilica. The left one is 81 m

The towers of St. Mary’s Basilica. The left one is 81 m

Street musician in the main market square!

Street musician in the main market square!

No strings?

No strings?

Saturday started with a cooked breakfast then a walk across the old town to the university botanical gardens. On our way there we went into the University to find Jurassic Krakow – 1 – Alma Mater which was an interesting and informative earthcache and we were on time to see the clock strike eleven and the meter high kings and other royals make their procession from one door to another

Ammonites at the university

Ammonites at the university

Medieval clock

Medieval clock

Figures of the clock at Jagiellonian University

Figures of the clock at Jagiellonian University

At the botanical gardens we quickly found that it’s still a little early in the year for everything to be in full bloom but it’s a large place and has a lot to see. Of course, there are many areas in the garden where more work would be useful. Some of the greenhouses are suffering from what may have been lack of maintenance but there are many exotic plants so a visit is recommended.

Multicoloured heucherella in the botanical gardens

Multicoloured heucherella in the botanical gardens

After arriving back in the old town we needed refreshments and visited a great little micro brewery supplied pub in a hidden courtyard called Viva La Pinta where we were able to taste a couple of the local tap beers.

Chalkboard list of beers at Viva la Pinta

Chalkboard list of beers at Viva la Pinta

The rest of the day was spent on more sightseeing including a final two earthcaches. Kolor granatu and QUEEN JADWIGA’S FOOT.

Fountain on Plac Szczepański

Fountain on Plac Szczepański

All in all we had a pleasant weekend of sightseeing that also netted five earthcaches and six traditional caches plus a few halfhearted attempts to find other caches. They weren’t really DNF’s but more like CBB’s – can’t be bothered.





CITO weekend

20 04 2016

Saturday morning offered cachers in the Gävle – Sandviken area the possibility to do a good deed in the form of a CITO.

The place of choice was Svartviksstugan on the shores of Lake Ojaren. There has been a public cottage there for as long as I have lived in Sweden and that is more than forty years now. It has always been free from vandalism until two years ago when it was burned to the ground by unknown arsonists.

Remains of the old cottage at Svartvik

Remains of the old cottage at Svartvik

It was rebuilt and opened to the public at the beginning of March 2016. Before the end of the month someone had broken in and stole all the new electric radiators. It is still open to the public but the road there has a new barrier across at night.

A group of more than twenty geocachers, family members and friends turned up at 10 am for CITO – Svartviksstugan and after the cleanup which included some pretty extreme rubbish the CO LFCFredda hosted a traditional Swedish “fika”.

CITO activities

CITO activities

After CITO fika

After CITO fika

Ironhawk67 and I noted that there were two nearby caches that we hadn’t logged so off we went to find Flora #6 – Rhododendron and Flora #5 – Juniperus that were placed along Gästrikleden towards Högbo.

A short walk out along Gästrikeleden

A short walk out along Gästrikeleden

Upon returning to Svartviksstugan we saw that there were still many cachers chatting away and enjoying the sunny weather. After leaving Svartviksstugan but before reaching the main road I had to stop again for a Number two.:-)

Number two!

Number two!

I noted when I was logging my finds that I had received a new souvenir. Cool!

CITO weekend 2016 souvenir

CITO weekend 2016 souvenir





Evening caching in Hallstahammar

4 04 2016

I had to visit Hallstahammar for work which involved an overnight stay for a change. Usually, I just make a day trip as it’s only a three hour trip from home. I created a PQ for the route between Fagersta and Hallstahammar, loaded it into GSAK and then sorted by favourite points. At the top of the list was Vandraren just off the main road south of Surahammar. It was just a short detour off my usual route so I spent the extra ten minutes to good cause. The cache was good but I’m not sure it was worth so many favourite points. However, that is subjective.

After working I checked into my hotel and then decided to go for a pre-dinner walk around the lake that is part of Strömholms canal. My first stop was at Hallsta Fornborg where I found the log book and pencil lying on the ground but no container. I pocketed them as I didn’t want to leave them there as they were in good condition indicating that the cache was probably muggled at the weekend. I then continued on to Skantzen – Kanalmuseum where exactly the same thing had happened. To find the caches the person(s) who trashed them must have access to geocaching.com to get the coords. Poor style. That’s being diplomatic. Again I took the log book with me and will mail it to the CO.

Brick building at Hallsta fornborg

Brick building at Hallsta fornborg

Lonely log book

Lonely log book

Continuing around the lake I found a nicely made cache at Skantzen Träbron followed by a film canister micro at Åsby, another cache owned by the CO with the two muggled caches. I was half expecting that to be gone as well, perhaps as part of a vendetta against the CO. I don’t think that’s the case though.

It was now getting quite cold and the walk gave me a good appetite so I went back to the hotel for dinner having only done half the multi Pliggholmen. I couldn’t count so broke off after the first WP. After dinner I recalculated and saw where I made my mistake. Now I know where I will be going after breakfast.

Noisy neighbours

Noisy neighbours

All I need now is these two birds to stop honking so I can get some sleep. They are right outside my hotel room window.





Uppsala Wherigos

29 03 2016

For some time my cache Upptåget#13 – Uppsala has needed maintenance. The film canister’s lid had cracked and the log strip was wet. My son-in-law works in Uppsala and commutes there by train every weekday so I asked him to help with the replacement. For whatever reason this didn’t get done so I had to drive down to fix this myself. It’s one of the duties of a CO even if the cache isn’t close to home.

I planned to do this on Easter Monday and decided to see if any of my geocaching friends would like to come with me. Madchicken and Ironhawk67 were able to so they turned up on my doorstep at 8 am and we set off towards Uppsala. As we were approaching Tierp someone commented that there was a cache near the exit and we realised that none of us had logged it. Of course we had to stop and find Yari’s Arvidsbo. What we didn’t know at the time was that we would also end the day with one of his caches, but more of that later.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of caches in and around Uppsala and I noted from my last PQ from there that there were about 40 Wherigo’s and many of them had a fair number of Favourite Points. As I have only found six Wherigos in over twelve years of geocaching I thought that it could be a good theme for the day. The others were also interested in hunting for Wherigos so all were happy.

We reached Uppsala around 9:15. Parking outside the main centre of Uppsala isn’t too difficult once you find the right neighbourhood and today as this was a public holiday we had no problem at all. Even better was the fact that we were within close walking distance of six Wherigos and a couple more other caches. SMHI had promised that the temperature should hit around 13C during the day but when we started on the first Wherigo aptly named The FTF Hunt it was only a couple of degrees above zero and windy which made it feel much colder. Apart from my head, walking around to the various spots in the WIG kept me warm. It didn’t take too long before we were able to sign the log. From here we went on to Vem vill bli miljonär with the aim of continuing on to my cache so I could replace the container.

However, when we found the coordinates to Vem vill bli miljonär we were more or less back where we started the day and so ended up doing the really creative Orienteering, Sherlock Holmes and OS i Sotje 2014 Wherigos before we thought about heading for the station. Before that I just want to give Mr. Finder and Team_Ese a big thank you for the creative Wherigos!

Part of our Wherigo trail

Part of our Wherigo trail

As you can see from my GPS track we covered the area quite well and I am sure that some of the local inhabitants who were out in their gardens wondered why we walked past them so many times. By now it was nearing noon so we zoomed off to Uppsala station so I could replace my broken cache. Both Madchicken and Ironhawk67 were happy to sign the new logbook as they hadn’t found the cache earlier. We then headed east to a pizzeria that Madchicken found on his smart phone map. It was a good choice as it turned out, despite me not remembering it’s name.

We continued on with our quest for Wherigos doing Del 1. Uppsalas okända hjälte and XMAS2015U – 22 – Pettson & Findus firar jul interspersed with a couple of trads before mutually agreeing that we were saturated with Wherigos and needed to do something else. Ironhawk67 had a few field mysts on his wish list so we headed off to Hågadalen which is a lovely nature reserve to the west of Uppsala.

I have heard of pink elephants but this...

I have heard of pink elephants but this…

The first cache on the list was XMAS2014U – 02 Ljuv musik. Finding the first WP was straightforward but Madchicken wasn’t too happy when he read that this was the first of 24 waypoints – it was after all a Christmas cache. He looked a lot happier when we reached the next WP. The first must have been placed on April 1.:-)

A Christmas tree find

A Christmas tree find

We wandered around the area picking up a few more caches including the tricky Hågadalen #16: Grinden, and a myst that we had all solved earlier and saved for such a day, Sudoko with a view. At Hågadalen #12: Mitt på fältet we met and chatted with a couple of geocachers from Berlin who were finding their first caches in Sweden.

Hågadalens nature reserve

Hågadalens nature reserve

Naturally we had to end the day in Uppsala by finding a final Wherigo, which was Star wars. Our journey north included a couple of short stops, one in Tierp and one at Dragon Gate, but the highlight of the day was in Gävle where we visited Hello which was a fantastically well crafted mystery with a very interesting twist. This was the Yari cache that I mentioned at the beginning of the post. So far only six people have found the cache. All I can say is “make the effort”!





A country of superlatives

21 03 2016

You probably don’t know much about the United Arab Emirates (UAE)? Neither did I before this trip. It’s a young country, formed in 1971 by the federation of seven emirates – Abu Dhabi (which serves as the capital), Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. Of the population of over 9 million nearly 8 million are expatriates, mostly Indians and other Asians who are there building the country’s infrastructure and working in service sectors.

We found this destination when were looking for a holiday on Tenerrife where most of the decent accommodation was expensive. For less money we could spend a week in Dubai in a climate warmer than the Canary Islands and tick off a new geocaching country at the same time!

Arrival in Dubai was at 00:50 local time so by the time we reached the hotel it was closer to 02:30. We had to wait for other passengers who didn’t get their luggage right away or got stuck in the long immigration queues. After a good nights sleep and a leisurely breakfast we started walking from our hotel in the Jumeirah area to the nearest cache. We chose it both for the price and because it was quieter than the down town hotels with their 24/7 traffic outside.

National Day Street should have been an easy find but I couldn’t see the cache anywhere so we walked on to Jumeirah Mosque where we found Eat Pray Love, which although it was at the right spot didn’t match the cache description at all. From here we took a taxi to the Dubai Mall, which is probably the worlds largest mall and after spending a few Dirhams on coffee went over to Burj Khalifa, the worlds tallest building. The whole country is built on superlatives. At Burj Khalifa, I was able to log an earthcache Build Your House on the Rock.

Jumeirah mosque with geocache in foreground

Jumeirah mosque with geocache in foreground

Some of many high rise buildings in Dubai - note the sand everywhere

Some of many high rise buildings in Dubai – note the sand everywhere

Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa

ds8300 at Burj Kahlifa - the worlds tallest building at 818 meters

ds8300 at Burj Kahlifa – the worlds tallest building at 818 meters

Another superlative is the worlds only “seven star” hotel where the room rate starts at 61,000 AED/night – roughly 150,000 SEK/night or 16,600 USD/night. We heard that a cocktail costs 27,321 AED – roughly 61,100 SEK or 7,400 USD. There are 27 floors to the hotel and it’s height is 321 meters hence the pricing of the drink.

Hotel Al Arab - "seven stars"

Hotel Al Arab – “seven stars”

As I don’t like to stay in just one place we took a tour to the eastern coast of the UAE passing through the town of Masafi and the Hajar Mountains on the way. The trip passed through the emirates of Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. As we were on a tour bus we couldn’t steer where we went but on the route along the coast between Dibba Al Fujairah and Fujairah we stopped at Al Badiyah to look at the country’s oldest mosque and luckily there was a cache nearby that I could grab in the ten minutes that we stopped there. Historical Bidiyah Mosque was a traditional cache with a regular size container, which is nice in a world of micros.

Friday market Masafi

Friday market Masafi

Friday market near Masafi - pots and pans

Friday market near Masafi – pots and pans

Hajar Mountains eastern UAE

Hajar Mountains eastern UAE

Al Bidayah watch tower above the oldest mosque in the country

Al Bidayah watch tower above the oldest mosque in the country

Cache found at Al Bidayah on the east coast

Cache found at Al Bidayah on the east coast

Portuguese Fort at Fujairah

Portuguese Fort at Fujairah

Later in the week we revisited National Day Street and found the nano that was hidden at GZ. I should have seen it on our first visit. From there we walked the few hundred meters to a new man made island called Pearl Jumeirah where there is Emirate Flag Pole Series : Dubai but I didn’t find the cache, just a couple of workmen’s helmets and reflective vest plus a load of rubbish. The cache is probably still there but I am not a fan of rummaging around in trash.

The older part of Dubai is centered around the creek so we walked up there from our hotel, a round trip walk of around 8 km. After having visited Dubai museum we took the ferry across Dubai Creek for one Dirham and explored the north side before returning to the south bank where we walked up to Dubai Promenade, which was another nano, but at accurate coords.

Other trips around the city took us to some of the high rise centres of which there are several and on to the metro system to reach an even more exclusive mall where we definitely didn’t buy anything – nor did we go skiing on the indoor ski slope!

Mall of the Emirates

Mall of the Emirates

One of many expensive shops

One of many expensive shops

Ski slope at the Mall of the Emirates

Ski slope at the Mall of the Emirates

Typical attire for the locals

Typical attire for the locals

Clementines - 65 SEK/kg or around 3,33 USD/lb

Clementines – 65 SEK/kg or around 3,33 USD/lb

On our last day we took a trip to Abu Dhabi, the sixth of the emirates that we visited during our stay but apart from the usual tourist sights of the world’s third largest mosque – the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, covering 21 hectares and having room for 40,000 worshippers, the Emirates Palace Hotel where just about everything is gold, (it should be as it cost 3 billion USD to build! ) and Ferrari World, we didn’t have any opportunities to look for caches.

Sheik Zayad Mosque - Abu Dhabi - the world's third largest

Sheik Zayad Mosque – Abu Dhabi – the world’s third largest

Sheikh Zayad Mosque - Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayad Mosque – Abu Dhabi

Emirates Palace Hotel - another seven star hotel

Emirates Palace Hotel – another seven star hotel

Hotel Emirates Palace lobby

Hotel Emirates Palace lobby

Fountain at Emirates Palace Hotel

Fountain at Emirates Palace Hotel

Abu Dhabi high rises

Abu Dhabi high rises

Reflections in Abu Dhabi building

Reflections in Abu Dhabi building

We saw wild camels and this one

We saw wild camels and this one

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta - I prefer red though

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta – I prefer red though

So, after a week in the UAE I had logged five cache finds and seen a lot of amazing sights. Would I go back again? Doubtful, but it was still worth the experience.





A new adventure

9 03 2016

My year usually starts with a trip to New Zealand but this year I stayed at home and lived through the winter. The combination of snow and short days is rather depressing. After a lot of searching for holiday destinations pure chance (and a good deal on the price) made me decide on a visit to a new country. Do you know what this flag represents?

UnitedArabEmiratesFlagMed

The journey starts on Sunday and I hope that I will both find caches and get some great photos.





Leap year weekend

27 02 2016

I haven’t been out hunting for “Tupperware in the woods” more than a couple of times this year for a whole number of reasons but today in the sunshine we made a detour from our planned route to look for Gränsen. This is a cache that I should have found in December but the sneaky little cache container hid from me then. All I found that time was a fine chantarelle – quite amazing for December. This time there was a thin layer of snow on the ground but no geotrail to the cache. Despite it’s crafty camo I spotted it straight away as we arrived at GZ. Actually, it was the camo I spotted but I was glad to be able to log a find and get another new souvenir.

Leap Day Weekend 2016

Leap Day Weekend 2016








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