Pompeii

11 06 2018

A visit to central Italy wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Pompeii so on Wednesday we duly set off on the journey there. Firstly we took the Metro to the main Termini railway station in Rome then an Intercity train to Naples.

Intercity to Neaples

It took about 2 hours, so twice the time the high speed train takes but at about 65% of the price. Between Naples and Pompeii we took a local train. It all looked very easy when I read about it on the Man in Seat 61 site and basically is was. The Circumversuviana trains are small EMU’s that are completely graffiti covered and very basic. There were 21 stops on the 35 minute trip and I stood all the way in sweltering heat on a packed train. It was great to get off and have a cold beer before entering the ruins at Pompeii.

It was suggested that we pay €12 for a guide on top of the €15 entrance fee but we were happy to wander around on our own looking at the ruins and building our own impression of what it looked like 2000 years ago.

The first view of Pompeii

Pompeii square

Dog preserved in ashes

The visit was primarily of general interest but of course I had to find a couple of caches while we were there. It was no surprise that there was an earthcache on the site Mt.Vesuvius- Pompeii Ruins

Pompeii earthcache

but I was reaslly pleased to find a regular size traditional hidden by the theatre. What’s on stage today at the Theater of Pompeii?

Cache found at theatre in Pompeii

The local train back to Naples wasn’t quite as full as on the journey out and it didn’t stop at all stations so we were quickly back in Naples. We then had a dilemma. Should we spend some time there, including dinner, then take a train back to Rome or take the train back to Rome in time for dinner there. As mentioned there are different classes of trains running between Rome and Naples. High speed – 1 hour and €46, Intercity – 2 hours and €27 or local – 3 hours and €14. Because of the time of day and availability of trains in the coming few hours we decided to splash out and take the high speed train so we would have time for dinner in Rome. The onboard screen indicated we were travelling at speeds up to 280 kph. Not quite at the Shinkansen speeds but OK.

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Rome

11 06 2018

My business travel dried up in 2011 as a result of a change in my work assignment and as a result I have not collected many frequent flier miles since then and those I have were about to expire. As a result I booked a couple of tickets to Rome as my partner has never been there but it was on her wish list. A quick check tells me I have visited Italy nearly forty times on business but never on holiday so I was also pleased to be able to do some sightseeing in the capital city.

I would have been happier to have been able to go there a little earlier in the year before the tourists arrive but we had used that time slot (end of April) to visit England with friends. Not only were we in tourist season but it was an unseasonably hot period both at home and in Rome. We had temperatures between 27 and 31 C every day and the evenings were around 18-24 C. Fantastic!

I was also looking forward to the trip as my goal was to find at least one cache in Italy and one in the Vatican State, both of which were new geocaching countries for me. I didn’t really know what urban caching in Italy would be like so my first precedent was to look for earthcaches as there were quite a few in the city.

We were staying in the north of the city about twenty minutes walk from the Vatican but as our first full day in Rome was a Sunday we decided it was not a good day to visit the Vatican. We turned east instead and walked through the Borghese park then south to the Spanish steps and back over the river by San Angelos castle. That is where my first find was made. GC6ZE8T Ricixxx-Ponte Umberto I. As expected for an urban cache it was a micro, but none the less it was hidden out of sight from muggles but in an obvious place for a geocacher. Nice.

Castell San’Angelo

We made our way to the Vatican State on Monday and this is where I was pleasantly surprised to see that there would be an event there in the afternoon as a complement to the two earthcaches in St. Peters Square. As you can see from the logs (GC7PC5Y The innocent have nothing to fear!) we were three cachers there, Freddo the organiser, Papa_Francis_I and myself.

The earthcaches were typical for Rome and focus was on granite and travertine. Many of the buildings are built from the light cream coloured travertine. The two earthcaches were GC487RN AGT 40: VATICAN OBELISK and GC71Q8V Travertino di Piazza San Pietro.

St Peter’s Obelisk earthcache

A cache just outside St. Peter’s square was well constructed, so a muggle wouldn’t suspect anything, yet was in Italy not the Vatican State. Well, at least I got three smilies from my visit to one of the religious capitols of the world!

Bolt cache just outside St. Peter’s square

The day was rounded off with a further two earthcaches.

GC71RGF Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi and GC65JY4 Ricixxx- Obelisco Flaminio

Quatrro Fiumi earthcache

During the week I found one more earthcache, this time not at a granite obelisk but at a marble column! GC71WT8 Colonna di Marco Aurelio

Marco Aurelia column earthcache

A further three traditional urban caches were found. The picture below shows one of them.

Urban rock microcache

Even though the main reason for the week in Italy was vacation I was pleased to find a few caches.

Forum Romana

Colosseum

Since getting back to Sweden my geocaching activity has reverted to zero with the exception of some cache maintenance.





Southwest England

6 06 2018

Why no posts for a while? Blame it on Apple. I haven’t fathomed out how to convert the new photo format in IOS 11 that I have been using until now! I have changed the settings so photos are saved in jpg format for future use.

A week’s holiday in the south of England at the end of April with three muggles! Would geocaching be at all possible?

The answer to that is ”not really.” I am not complaining about the company, we had a great time and I managed to sneak in a number of virtuals that they didn’t even realise were geocaches. Hunting and finding two trads was tolerated but only just.

So where were the virtuals? We arrived at Gatwick just after lunch on Wednesday afternoon where we picked up a rental car. The car class said Citroen C4 so I was wondering if we and our luggage would fit in. Luckily we were upgraded to a Mercedes C200 which was a great improvement. We stopped for a late lunch in Herford where I made sure we visited the cathedral where we examined Luminous Motion even sending a text message to change the colour of the sculpture. It worked!

Luminous Motion virtual

From there we continued on to where we were staying in Salisbury but saved the next virtuals until the day after. Here I have to write what we all know as geocachers. ”I wouldn’t have found this place unless I had been geocaching”. We had Stonehenge on the agenda but I found a virtual at Woodhenge so drove my friends there first and said it was to build up the excitement of seeing Stonehenge.

ds8300 at Woodhenge virtual

They were not that impressed by Woodhenge (as I rightly guessed) but they really appreciated Stonehenge which of course as well as being a mega tourist attraction in it’s own right has a virtaul there too! Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Naturally a visit to Salisbury Cathedral to see the Magna Carter was on the agenda so we also posed in front of Salisbury Cathedral Revisited (Wilts), my friends not being any the wiser!

ds8300 at Salisbury virtual

A couple of main attractions on our agenda were The Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan but unfortunately they didn’t give me any opportunities to hunt for caches.

Eden Project domes

Eden Project sculpture

Rhododenrons at Heligan

A couple of days later we were in Marazion with the intention of visiting St Michaels Mount. I just couldn’t resist grabbing Fordh Sen Myghal 93 which was conveniently placed right next to the path we were on.

Causeway to St. Michaels Mount

We also visited the northern coast of Cornwall including St. Ives and Tintagel.

St. Ives

Tintagel’s rugged coastline

Several other places were visited bu no more caches came across my path until we reached Bath. I wasn’t too unhappy though as I was able to play Ingress everywhere we went and found a handful of Munzees as well. In Bath I had to rest on a park bench and a micro just happened to appear in my hand Royal Crescent (Bath, NE Somerset). That made a nice addition to the virtual The First King of England (Bath).

ds8300 at Bath virtual


Georgian crescent in Bath

Lessons learned? Geocaching and muggle friends may mor may not be compatible. In this case it was dubious. Never mind, a new trip is looming up and if all goes well it will give me two new countries where I have found caches, bring the total up to 48. Then as soon as that is done I have to start planning for getting to fifty countries with found caches!





Geraldine Mountain Bike Trail (G.M.T.B trail)

25 01 2018

Walking 15-16 km in the heat was Ok but I was still kicking myself for not having my helmet with me so I could bike the trail. For the next trail close to Geraldine (starting with Hangmans Row) on the extended G.M.T.B. trail I was geared up correctly. Nice eh?

Ready for action!

I looked for somewhere to stay in Geraldine but most places were quite expensive so I decided that the airbnb place in Methven at 250 SEK/night would be ideal. It was a drive of about 40 minutes from where I was staying so no big hassle. The place I stayed at in Methven was great. The family I stayed with were really hospitable and a cooked breakfast in the mornings was the dot over the “i”!

I stopped in Mayfield to put petrol in the car and just had to take a photo of the local “antique” shop. It was an unbelievable sight.

Mayfield antiques.

Once at the Orari River Bridge, I pulled the bike out of the car boot and set off. Again the majority of the containers were micros. In this case the CO had taken two PET bottle necks and caps and glued them together. The solution was not ideal and a fair number of logbooks were wet on a scale from damp to mush. I logged the condition of the logbook on each cache so that the CO could do some maintenance where needed. My favourite cache along the trail was a “Small” and the clue “91” had me wondering until I found the cache location then it became obvious.

The cache is there somewhere.

Now I know what the hint “91” meant.

Before I set off I had looked at Google Maps, thinking that I could start at the top of the trail and bike south. It wasn’t quite the case. Despite Google wanting me to believe it there is no bridge across the Orari River at Orari Gorge.

Orari Gorge according to Google.

Orari Gorge according ESRI..

Orari Gorge in real life.

After doing the northern end of the trail I visited Geraldine for some food and some Ingressing before returning to Methven via Hinds, Tinwall and Ashburton where I also had Ingress on the agenda. Why no geocaching you may ask? Well, I have found most of the caches of interest in those places. Today, as everywhere, the caches are mostly micros in boring places. I had intended to do the geotrail in Ashburton but decided against it. The only cache I stopped for was at the 44 degrees South sign.

44 degrees South at Hinds.

I had a pleasant evening in Methven and on Sunday (21/1) I started off my geocaching day with Buildings of The Past#9 The Pipe Shed. There is an interesting story attached to this cache that made it worthwhile hunting for it.

Pipe shed in Methven

Once again at Orari Bridge I started off along the western bank of the river on the south leg of the G.M.T.B trail at G.M.B.T #16 – stockbank. All was progressing well until I got as far as G.M.B.T # 30 – Out of the woods where the trail was closed by the farmer who owned the land due to harvesting. Luckily there was a loop on the trail so I could grab a further handful of caches on my way back to the car at Orari Bridge.

The G.M.T.B series of caches.

There was a further series of cache on the eastern side of the river but as I anticipated that it would be just more of the same I decided not to bother and decided to drive down to Timaru on the coast. Again, it’s a place where I have found a number of caches so Ingress was in focus this time.





Rangiora area

21 01 2018

On the Saturday after the wet event in Christchurch I picked up the “cheap and cheerful” rental car from the off-site airport location. Two weeks, unlimited mileage cost me NZ$ 445 or around 2600 SEK which is a pretty fair deal compared with larger well known rental car company offerings. The car was a Japanese import with all the stickers still in Japanese, and 250000+ km on the odometer. It was an automatic and the blinkers and wiper stalks were reversed compared to a European car. After wiping the windscreen a couple of times I go the hang of where the blinkers were.

I had looked at the possibility of renting a bike so that I could get round the powertrails I had scoped out before starting my vacation, but was horrified

to find that it was more expensive than renting the car! My second alternative was to buy a secondhand bike but one of my friends here, John W, said “no problems, borrow mine as I never use it”. Problem solved.

I booked a room in Rangiora for a couple of nights on airbnb not really knowing what to expect. I then threw the bike and my bag in the boot of the car and shot off to Rangiora. Drving on the left is second nature as I learnt to drive in England and I never experience it as a problem. The room I found on airbnb was in a new detached house and even gave me the run of the rest of the house. Breakfast was provided and I sat in the living room in the evenings and chatted with the host Kevin and his lodger James. As it turned out, we were all radio amateurs so lots to talk about.

When I left Christchurch I was running late but got started chatting to my friends’ neighbours and then when I rushed off I forgot my bike helmet. Use of a helmet is mandatory in New Zealand so I had to do the power trail on foot! Grr!

Rangiora geocaching trail

It was upstream along the Ashley River and the round trip was some 15-16 km. Most of the caches were in good condition but FFT – Do you have a weak stomach? was in need of maintenance. I had to sign the container!

Logging the sheep!

I finished off the trail when I got to Karen’s Rockery, an old traditional cache with a proper regular container and logbook.

Karen’s Rockery, the last cache on the trail.

At one point on my walk back to Rangiora I saw some local farmers harvesting some grain, don’t ask me if it was barley or oats, but it wasn’t wheat at least, and they were forming the sheaves by hand! I stopped and talked with one of the farmers and he said that they were one of the few farms where they still did it this way. I didn’t ask why so that I didn’t upset him.

Taking in the harvest the old fashioned way

Hand formed sheaves

It was a hot day so getting back to Rangiora and a cold beer at the local RSA club was really appreciated.

On the next day, I spent the morning on Ingress in Rangiora then in Kaiapoi which is a small town some 20km north of Christchurch on the Waimakariri River. It was known many years ago for it’s woollen mills. I have found quite a few caches in the town and now in the rebuild period after the 2011 earthquake that
devasted the township there are not so many new ones to hunt. In the afternoon I got back into geocaching and did another power trail of sorts but this time in the car. It was one called Lolly Scramble. I did part of it some years ago but for whatever reasons the pocket query didn’t completely download so I missed half of them. I expected my new PQ to fill in the gaps.

Lolly Scramble – still not complete!

There are some gaps where caches have been archived but even so there are a number of caches at the western end of the trail that my latest PQ didn’t pick up. Grr! I am not going back again. I finished off the drive westwards in the little town of Oxford where I did an Ingress Mission just to make a change from geocaching. I have found about half the caches in the township on previous visits.





New Zealand in the rain

18 01 2018

I arrived at 05:00 on Tuesday morning (9th Jan) after a flight route that took me from Stockholm to Dubai then Melbourne and finally Christchurch. It was one of the shorter routes that I have taken. Over the years I have had long stops in Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Beijing, Tokyo and of course, Sydney and Auckland. I think that this month´s stay is the fifteenth.

Tuesday was spent with getting a few practicalities sorted out, such as a local SIM card for my phone and toiletries including sun blocker. I have experience of leaky containers in my luggage before and try to avoid fluids as far as possible.

I was raring to go on Wednesday but was met with four days of continuous rain. Grrr! It did, however, give me chance to do some planning and booking of accommodation through ‘airbnb’. The concept sounds fine, but I had no idea what the reality would be like. I had my handheld comm radio with me and spent some time studying the manual, something I never seemed to be able to find time for earlier. As I am staying with good friends who live close to the flight path into Christchurch airport I have been listening to the traffic communications.

I finally got to do some geocaching on Saturday, in the rain of course, and that was an event with a nearby cache followed by a part of a mystery trail for mysts that I had solved over the past couple of years.

The event was Come and Visit Australia in November, 2018 hosted by GeocachingVictoria. Even in pouring rain at least 13 geocachers with families were there. Luckily I logged the cache Sure to Rise – Again! (Canterbury) at the event site as the one I found there in 2005 (Sure Thing (Canterbury)) was archived in 2009, replaced by another one in 2010, which also got archived and finally replaced by this third cache in 2012. Let’s see how long this one lasts.

The event was great in that I was able to connect a few more faces to geocaching nicknames as well as meeting people I know. I was also the fortunate winner of a geocoin promoting the mega event in Australia in November.It will follow me around until then. Let’s see where it gets. Geocoin The Alexandra Event 2017 Geocoin.

A wet event. That’s me holding up the geocoin I won.

As the rain eased off in the afternoon I decided to do some of the “Ahhh! Fresh Breath series” on the Old West Road, west of Christchurch. In total I have solved a couple of hundred mystery caches in the area before I came. Now all I have to do is find them.

The weather forecast for the coming few days is sun, sun, sun but as I write this att 21:00 on 18/1 it is pouring down again.





2017 in retrospect.

11 01 2018

It’s time to recap on my previous year of geocaching. I have been caching at about the same level for the past four years so there is no big difference there. The main change has been the virtually complete lack of activity in the latter quarter of the year. Even though I attended FAD and a few related caches in Uppsala at the beginning of November (where I had a great time) I still didn’t even manage to find a dozen caches in the quarter. Let’s see if 2018 will be a more active year.

The graphs below show my finds performance per month, by type, by difficulty/terrain and by country.

Finds by month.

My best month this year was April and virtually all of those caches were found on a trip to the Isle of Man where my brother (half of Zelger) came with me for the pleasant trek across the island.

Finds by type.


Of note here is that I attended my first mega event after over fourteen years of active geocaching. It was, as already mentioned, Fumble After Dark (FAD) which is a darkness oriented event (of course – considering the short number of hours of daylight we get in November). Another item of note is that 20% of my finds were mystery caches! Over the whole time I have been caching mystery caches have accounted for just 8% of the total.

Finds by difficulty/terrain.

As expected there is a skew to the top left sector of the table and disappointingly no D5’s or T5’s.

Finds by country.

Even though the majority of the finds were in Sweden I did find caches in two new caching countries, namely the Isle of Man and Albania. Tenerife counts as Spain where I have previously found caches.

So that was 2017. What will 2018 bring? Well as I am now in New Zealand I can say that January will probably be the month I have most finds and as I have already solved over 100 mystery caches the percentage for January will no doubt be even higher than the figure for 2017.








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