Germany Days 4-5

Day 4

We got up around 7 a.m. this morning and got ready for the day.  The weather was supposed to be better today with no prediction for rain.  There were still a few clouds around when we got up, but as the day went on most of the clouds disappeared and the sun came out.  It was still cool out but at least it wasn’t raining.

After breakfast we took a short hike to Lecht Falls, which was just a short ways outside of town.  Eric got a few pictures and then we made a loop and came back into town.  On our way into town we got a small snack and went back to our room to figure out the plan for the afternoon. 

We finally decided we would attempt to take the bus to the Tegelberg lift, but instead of taking the lift to the top of the mountain, we would see if the summer luge ride was open.  We caught the bus at the train station.  (With the use of the Füssen card provided to us by our bed and breakfast, the buses are free.)  We took the bus to the Castle ticket area, which was the end of the line for the bus we had boarded.  We could have waited around for a while for another bus to come along that would go all the way to Tegelberg, but we decided to walk instead.

We found our way across the parking lot through the throngs of tourists to the road that led to Tegelberg.  We walked along the road for a ways and then a trail cut off toward the mountain.  We took the well maintained trail through the lush green pastures and forest and zigzagged our way over to the lift area.  When we arrived at the lift area, we were in luck, the summer luge was open.

We bought a shared ticket for a total of six rides—so we each got to go down three times.  It was really fun and you could go as fast or slow as you wanted.  Obviously, each ride got progressively faster as we became more comfortable.  Eric’s top speed was approximately 26 mph and mine was about 23 mph.  We had our Strava app running the whole time so we could figure out how fast we went. 

After our fill of bobsledding, we wandered over and waited for the next bus to take us back to Füssen.  The buses to the lift obviously don’t run as often as the ones to the castles, but we only had to wait about 20 minutes for the next one.  The bus ride back to town didn’t take long, but once we reached the outskirts of town we were just creeping along, so we went ahead and got off.  We figured it would be faster to walk. 

We walked into town and got a gelato and then made our way back our room to have another afternoon nap—after all, we are on vacation!  

After our nap we decided to go back to the café where we got the spaghetti the day before.  The spaghetti was so good, we decided we would do that for dinner again.  One order was the perfect size for two people.  We ordered our spaghetti and took it back to our room to eat before packed up our stuff so we could get up early the next morning to head toward Munich.

Day 5

We got up around 6 a.m., got cleaned up, and got the remainder of our stuff packed so we could pay the bill for our stay at the bed and breakfast and then make our way to the train station to catch the 8 a.m. train.  It was a bit dreary again today with light rain and heavy dark clouds.

After we paid our bill and had a quick bite to eat, we grabbed our bags and wheeled them through the deserted cobblestone streets to the train station.  The view from the train platform was beautiful of the snow covered peaks in the background.  The day we arrived there was no snow anywhere and viola, the next day there was snow.  It was actually very pretty. 

Our train arrived and we boarded for the 2-hour trip to Munich.  I think Eric and I both caught a couple Z’s on the train.  There is something about riding on a train that just lulls one to sleep.

We arrived in Munich and decided to take a few hours to explore a little.  After figuring out how to store our luggage in a locker at the train station, we set off to figure out where the starting point was for Rick Steves’ Munich city walk.  We finally figured out how to buy a ticket on the local subway and headed for Marienplatz (Mary’s square). 

For a thousand years, The New Town Hall has been the center of Munich.  The building was built in the late 1800s and survived the bombs of World War II.  Most of the other buildings around it were destroyed and had to be rebuilt after the war.  The New Town hall was built in a Neo-Gothic style and is famous for its glockenspiel.  Every day at 11:00 and 12:00, the tower chimes a tune and the colorful life-size figurines dance and spin for about 10 minutes, telling the story of a noble wedding that took place in 1568. 

After watching the 11:00 glockenspiel show, we sat down at a café table in the square and had a light snack before continuing on with our walking tour.  The next stop was St. Peter’s Church.  We checked out the outside of the church and then decided to hike the 306 wooden steps to the top of the spire on the very narrow one-lane staircase for two-way traffic.  Luckily when we got to the top it wasn’t raining, but it was very crowded because the 12:00 glockenspiel show had just started.  We hung out for a while and took in the sights and snapped a few photos and then headed back down.

When we made it back down to the bottom, we decided to step inside the church.  Sunday mass was going on, but we stood at the back and enjoyed the ornately decorated interior of the church.

The next stop on the walking tour was the Viktualienmarkt (closed on Sunday) with the landmark maypole in the middle.  Too bad the market is closed on Sundays, it would have been a neat place to wander around.  The market sits on some of the most expensive real estate in town, but locals love it, so the city protects the old-time shops.  Apparently, Müchners consider the produce here to be top quality. 

Then we walked past the Ohel Jakob Synagogue and made our way to the Asam Church.  This is a tiny church (30 feet wide) built by the Asam brothers in 1740 and wedged between two houses.  The Asam brothers were architects and originally built the chapel as kind of a showcase church to display what they could build for those looking to have a church designed and built.  It was quite something to see. 

We then made our way back down the Kaufingerstrasse.  For the 1972 Olympics the street was turned into one of Europe’s first pedestrian only zones.  We followed the street for a while and this led us back to Marienplatz.  As we were running short on time and wanted to get back to the train station to catch our train to Nuremberg we decided to cut the city walk short.  There is obviously a lot, lot more to see in Munich, but we just didn’t have that much time. 

We got on the subway and made our way back to the train station to collect our bags and get on the high-speed train to Nuremberg.  We had not reserved a seat on this train, but managed to find a couple unreserved seats.  By the time the train left, though, first-class was packed.  It was only an hour and 10-minute train ride from Munich to Nuremberg.  I enjoyed watching the speed posted on the overhead sign board.  We actually got up to 300 km/hr.  That is obviously the fastest I have traveled in anything on land.  The trains are so smooth and quiet, you don’t even feel like you are going that fast.  

We made it to Nuremberg and then had to figure out how to get from the main train station to our VRBO apartment we had rented within the old walled city.  We finally got our bearings and took the subway and then the tram to the stop just outside the old city wall where our apartment was located.  Eric then had to haul our 50+ plus bag up four flights of stairs (it is an old building with no elevator—which I knew when I rented the apartment).

The owner greeted us at the door and handed over the keys and oriented us to the apartment.  The owner actually lives in the apartment one floor below.  It is an amazing apartment with two bedrooms, one with a king size bed and one with two twin beds, a large living and dining room, a kitchen, and a bathroom.  As it is on the top floor of the building, we have amazing views from three sides.  We look out one side just over the top of the adjacent old city wall—pretty cool. 

As we were quite hungry when we arrived, we decided to go out exploring to see if we could find food.  Most shops and a lot of the restaurants are closed on Sunday, so there weren’t a lot of options.  We managed to find a small place where we could get some fries and I had a roll with sauerkraut.  They are very big on meat such as sausages and brautwurst here, so sometimes it can be tough to find something vegetarian. 

We sat in the small café and ate our food.  Several other customers came in after us, one of which was an American grad student from Michigan who was also here for the European Microwave week.  He was apparently here as a speaker at the show.  He sat with us at our table and we had a nice chat with him. 

After we finished eating, we decided to wander around the old city for a bit since it wasn’t terribly rainy (yet) and was still daylight.  It looks like there will be a lot of shops and streets for me to explore. 

As the sun was finally starting to set, we made our way back to our apartment to settle in for the week.

Germany Days 1-3

Day 1

For once we did not have to be at the airport at 4 a.m. to leave on vacation.  Our flight wasn’t  until 11 a.m., so we actually had time to get up and get some last minute packing taken care of before we had to leave for the airport. 

We used Lyft to get to the airport (only the second time we have used Lyft).  It is pretty handy and much cheaper than a taxi.  Thankfully we were traveling light (baggage wise) this trip as well.  There is a lot less luggage with a non-dive trip.  We only had one checked bag and after getting that checked in, we made our way to security.  Luckily we both had TSA precheck, so the security line didn’t take long at all.  However, they did pull my backpack aside and took the items out, as my nuts apparently looked suspicious.  I had a bag of cashews, which are apparently too dense for them to see through.   After my nuts got the all-clear, we headed to the United Club to hang out until it was time to board our flight.

Obviously, it wasn’t a full flight to LA and we got upgraded to first class.  The flight to LA was smooth and once we arrived there we tested the information Eric had found on how to make it to the International Brady Terminal without leaving the secured area.  It is quite a walk, depending on what terminal you arrive at, but it is possible to get to the International terminal without having to go back through security—a big plus!

We made it to the International terminal and made our way to the Star Alliance lounge.  It is probably one of the nicest lounges we have been to in the U.S.  We had a few snacks there, Eric took care of some work-related business, and then we headed to our gate.  We were flying from LA to Frankfurt on Lufthansa.  Eric had booked us seats in premium economy.  They were very nice seats.  We even managed to board early with Eric’s Star Gold, but by the time we got to our seats the overhead space was already taken.  Luckily we managed to squeeze our stuff into the bin in the row in front of us. 

We took off on time and the flight appeared to be going smoothly until part way through when the crew made an announcement that they had a passenger that was not feeling well and if there was a physician on board to please let one of the crew know.  Apparently there was a physician on board and later on in the flight we were informed that we would be making an emergency landing in Manchester, England so that the passenger could receive urgent medical attention.

The crew hastily prepared for the landing in England.  Immediately after landing, the plane was directed to an area just off the taxi-way and the steps were brought up to the door of the plane.  The emergency crew was already on the ground waiting and quickly boarded the plane.  Just before we had landed, we saw the crew racing around with the first-aid kit, oxygen, and what appeared to be an AED.  The woman in front of us said she had seen them doing chest compressions.  It took the EMTs a bit of time, but they finally removed the passenger, a woman who appeared to be in her 40s-50s.  She was on oxygen and may have been unconscious.  They rushed her off to the hospital—we are hoping she was okay.

It then took a little while longer before we could take off.  They had to receive the new flight plan, refuel the plane, perform their inspections, etc.  We finally took off again and headed for our original destination, Frankfurt, Germany.  It was only about an hour and we were preparing to land in Frankfurt.  Because it was such a short flight, we did not receive what would have been our second meal (breakfast), but I don’t think anyone was too upset.

After deplaning, we made our way through passport control and then collected up our bag.  We stood at the baggage claim area for quite a while before our bag slid onto the carousel.  We were beginning to wonder what had happened to it.  Thankfully it did arrive and it was in one piece—always a bonus. 

After retrieving our bag, we wandered around the airport a bit trying to find an information booth to ask what the best way was to get to our hotel we had booked.  We finally found the information desk and of course the person working the desk had no idea where our hotel was—it is a brand new hotel near the city center area.  We had the address, so he suggested a route via the train that would bring us near the hotel. 

So we made our way to the train.  We lined up at the ticket kiosk to buy our tickets.  When it was our turn, Eric inserted his credit card and of course then it wanted a PIN—which we didn’t have.  Europe uses a chip and PIN credit card system and the U.S. uses a chip and signature card system.  Luckily we had some Euros on us so we used those to get our tickets. 

The train arrived shortly after that and we boarded and rode it for about seven stops where the man at the information desk suggested we get off.  We didn’t think it would be far to walk from there, but it ended up being a bit of a walk—especially when you are dragging a 50-pound bag.  Good thing we had new bags with new wheels that were in good shape. 

We finally made it to the hotel and got checked in around 1-2 in the afternoon.  We had intentions of going out and wandering around a bit, but we were so tired all we could manage to do was go downstairs to the hotel bar and order something to eat.  We then came back upstairs and had a “little nap” before we crawled into bed for good for the night.

Day 2

We got up around 5:30 so we could get cleaned up and head out to look for some breakfast.  We wandered down the street a ways and found a bakery and got something to eat and something to take with us for our train ride to Füssen.  We made it back to the hotel and packed everything up and headed down the street a short bit to buy a tram ticket.  We found out after we made it to the hotel that the tram that runs right in front of the hotel goes all the way to the train station (which if we had known that yesterday would have saved us a long walk)—oh well!  We bought our tram tickets and made our way to the main train terminal in Frankfurt. 

We had purchased rail passes before we left home, which we needed to get validated.  We made it to the train station early just for this purpose.  After our tickets were validated we bought a juice and waited near our track for our train to arrive.  The trains don’t sit around long once they arrive.  They arrive, you have maybe a few minutes, if you are lucky, to get on, and then it leaves.  We had wanted to take a later train that only had one stop/transfer on the way to Füssen, but it was already booked up for reservations.  So we took an earlier train which had about four transfers.  We made to make all our transfers without incident and completed our approximately 5-hour journey and arrived in Füssen around 1:30 in the afternoon. 

The countryside is so beautiful with lush rolling green pastures and a multitude of crops being grown or in the process of being harvested.  Füssen is in the end of the train line and is right on the border with Austria. 

We made our way off the train with everyone else and stopped just outside the front door of the train station to figure out where we needed to go to get to our bed and breakfast.  It ended up being just a short walk from the train station.  The owner was waiting for us and gave a quick orientation and handed over the keys to our room.  The weather today was beautiful and was almost warm compared to Frankfurt (which seemed strange because Füssen is in the alps region with high mountains).  She suggested if we wanted to see the castles we do it today because the storms were supposed to move in later in the day and begin raining. 

We quickly got our stuff put into our backpacks to hike our way to the castles.  It was supposed to be approximately a 1 hour and 20-minute hike to the castles from where we were staying.  It was a beautiful hike, though a bit steep at times.  We made our way through the woods and down a mountainside to a lake.  We hiked around that lake, with views of the castles in the background, and then around another lake with more great views.  We were making our way closer and closer to the castles—as the clouds overhead became thicker and thicker. 

We finally made it to the parking area/tourist shop/visitor center for the castles.  Then it was another steep hike up to Neuschwanstein castle (the castle that the Disney castle is modeled after).  We made it to the castle and then made our way around to the back side where the trail to Mary’s bridge was to be found.  The bridge has probably the best vantage point for castle photos.  It was nearly 6 p.m. by the time we made it to the bridge.  We got some photos and then decided to wait for it to get dark and try and get some night shots. 

A few stragglers came hiking up after sunset but by the time it got dark we were the only ones around.  It was VERY windy and getting colder and colder, but we persevered and braved the bridge in the dark to get a few good night photos of the castle.  It then began to mist so we decided we had better start making our way down the mountain.  We stopped along the way and took a few other photos before it began to really rain. 

Luckily we had our large umbrella with us, so the two of us made the probably 4 mile walk back to our hotel huddled under our umbrella in the dark and the rain.  By the time we got to the bottom of the hill there were obviously no buses running and pretty much no one around.  It was kind of like a ghost town—very different from when we came through earlier.  Luckily we had brought our headlamps so we trudged onward in the rain and finally made it back to our room around 10 pm at night.  It was very quiet walking through town at that hour of the night as well.  We had no trouble passing out and going to sleep after we got back.  I would say we probably walked close to 10 miles yesterday, some of it was very steep.      

Day 3

This morning we slept in until around 7:30 and then got up to go across to the other building to get breakfast which was from 7:30-9:30. It had been raining off and on all night and was probably in the 30s-40s.  After breakfast, we decided to wander around town a bit and take Rick Steve’s self-guided tour of some of the sights in town.  While we were out, we noticed the peaks of the mountains all around town had accumulated quite a bit of snow buildup overnight.  Yesterday there hadn’t been any snow on them whatsoever.  Toward the end of our tour it began to drizzle again, so we decided to get something to eat at a bakery and take it back to our room to eat it.

Our room, by the way is very nice.  It is basically half an old house.  We have a bedroom, a sitting/dining room, and a very large bathroom—not bad for the price.  It also includes breakfast every morning with a very nice spread of freshly baked breads, cereals, fruits, jams, cheeses, yogurt, juices, etc., etc.

This afternoon, after I typed up the blog, we had a nice long nap while it drizzled away outside and likely snowed some more on the mountain tops.  We finally dredged ourselves out of the nice warm bed around 7 p.m. to see if we could go find some food in town.  Most places were closed, but the little shop where we bought slices of pizza for lunch yesterday was still open.  So we went in and ordered one serving of spaghetti Napoli to go. 

We took our pasta back to our room to eat at our little table.  Oh my gosh, was it some good pasta and for only 7 euros was a really good deal for two people.  I had a piece of Mediterranean focaccia I bought at the bakery for lunch left over, so we split that as well.  It made for the perfect dinner.   

We are hoping for a bit of better weather tomorrow so maybe we can get out and do a little more hiking or exploring.  We might try taking the Tegelberg gondola if the weather isn’t too bad. 
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Indonesia Days 12-13

Indonesia Day 12

Today was our next to the last day of diving, so we decided to take full advantage and do three dives, two in the morning and one in the afternoon.  Yesterday a new guest, Peter, arrived at the resort when Hinne left.  Peter flew directly from Denmark so was a bit tired when he arrived yesterday afternoon and was not sure if he was going to feel like diving today.  However, he said he slept very well and was ready to go out and do the first two dives of the morning.

After we all had breakfast together, we left around 8 a.m. for the first two dives of the day.  The first dive was at Fukui.  I am running out of words to describe the dive sites.  They are all so beautiful with lots of colorful coral and tons of fish and turtles.  We had a very relaxing dive gliding along. 

The second dive site was at Likuan 2, which we have done before, but is very nice also.  Of course we saw more turtles than you can count along with tons of fish.  This dive site got a little busy after we jumped in, but I’m sure it can get much busier in high season.  We have just been spoiled having most of the dive sites completely to ourselves. 

After the second dive we made our way back to the resort and got cleaned up in time to have lunch at 1 o’clock.  Peter decided he was going to take the afternoon off, but Eric and I were going to do the afternoon dive at 3 o’clock.  Following a nice relaxing lunch and good conversation with Chi, Spencer, and Peter, we made our way back down to the dive shop to head out for our final dive of the day. 

Our last dive of the day was at Muka Kampung.  It was another very nice wall dive.  At several points during the dive we had some pretty good current, so we were flying down the wall with turtles coming at us from above and below and head-on.  I have so much turtle video by now we could probably make a couple hour documentary on turtles. 

Eric had so many problems with his strobes on this trip he finally packed them up yesterday and called it quits on the photos.  One strobe flooded and then the other one was having so many issues it only worked half the time, so he just decided to take the Go-Pro out today to get some boat shots and some shallow water shots when possible.

Day 13

Today was our last full day in Indonesia.  I woke up this morning feeling like I might be coming down with a bit of a head cold, so I decided to skip the diving and just rest.  After breakfast, Eric and the other guest, Peter, set off to do the two morning dives. 

They made the bit longer journey over to the other island, Manado Tua (the volcano-looking island) to dive two sites on the south side.  Eric said the first dive site had a lot of current and the visibility was not great, but of course they still saw a ton of fish.  The second dive site was a bit more relaxed with a lot less current and better visibility.  At second dive site they saw two sea snakes hunting—which we had been wanting to see. 

After the two morning dives, they made their way back to the resort and we began the process of attempting to get all our dive gear dried out and start packing everything up. 

We will be taking a boat back to Manado, Indonesia tomorrow morning around 9 a.m.  The boat ride can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how rough the ocean is, and then it is about a 30-minute to an hour car ride to the airport, again depending on traffic.  Since it is Easter weekend, we aren’t sure if the traffic will be light or heavy.  Our flight leaves Manado airport for Singapore around 2 p.m.

If everything is running on time, we should arrive in Singapore around 5:30 p.m. and we already have dinner reservations at the Italian restaurant we ate at and really liked, Rosso Vino.  We will then be spending the night in Singapore and fly out the next morning for the 16-hour direct flight from Singapore to San Francisco.     

This vacation has gone by way too fast.

Indonesia Days 9-11

Indonesia Day 9

Fish, fish, and more fish.  Today we did three dives.  Per the usual routine, we woke up around 6 a.m., got ourselves and the camera ready, and headed to the dive shop to analyze our tanks before heading to breakfast at 7 a.m.  We have really enjoyed talking with Hinne, Spencer and Chi at meal times.  Unfortunately, Chi was not able to join us for breakfast this morning as she has been fighting an ear infection which got worse during the night and she was in severe pain.  Hopefully she gets better soon, ear infections are no fun at all.    

After another lovely breakfast and some good conversation, Hinne, Eric and I headed out at 8 a.m. for the first two dives of the day.  This morning’s dives were at another island named Siladen.  The first dive site was Siladen Utara and the second dive site was at the jetty at Siladen.  They were both wall dives, as it the norm here. 

They were both very nice dives with tons of fish.  The visibility was not the best on either dive as there was not really much current.  On the first dive we saw a bunch of blue spotted stingrays and a ginormous trident snail that was eating a blue starfish.  On the second dive we saw a huge school of mackerel along with all the other macro life like orangutan crabs, bubble anemone shrimp, soft coral crabs, black coral crabs, and the list goes on and on.  The numbers and variety of fish here are just unbelievable.  You usually don’t see just one fish of a certain type, it is generally in a huge aggregation.

After the first two dives, we made the approximately 30-minute trip back to the resort.  We arrived back around 12:50, so we raced up the 79 steps to our bungalow and had a quick shower before coming back down the dining area for lunch.  We were scheduled to do a third dive today, so after lunch we headed back to our room to have a quick rest and download all the video off my memory card in my camera before coming back down for the 3 o’clock dive. 

On the second dive I maxed out the memory card in my camera, so was unable to get any video of the ribbon eel at the end of the dive.  Hopefully, we will see another one as that was the first one we have ever seen and now we have no proof!  I’m sure we will see another as they are apparently fairly common around here. 

The third dive was at Likuan 2.  We again saw tons of fish and lots of macro life, some dogtooth tuna, but at the end of the dive we came across a VERY cooperative turtle who was positioned perfectly for me to video.  I got a very long and very close-up video—probably the best turtle footage I have ever gotten.  It was the perfect end to the last dive of the day. 

We made the short five-minute trip back to the resort and up the 79 steps to our bungalow to get cleaned up, download video, and then make our way back down to the dining area for dinner at 7 p.m.

Days 10-11

Lazy days…Yesterday I took the day off from diving.  However, Eric went out with Hinne and did three dives.  They did Likuan I, Alung Banua, and Likuan III.  The first two dive sites were on the morning dive and the last dive site was a night dive.  I believe Hinne said he had only done one other night dive before since he had learned to dive, so he decided to try another one and he really enjoyed it.  There was apparently very little current, which was nice, and of course lots of crabs and shrimp and eels come out to hunt for dinner after the sun goes down. 

Today, Eric, Hinne, and I went out for the two morning dives with our guides, Eric and Winston.  Our first dive was at the adjacent island (Manado Tuo) at a dive site called Negeri.  The coral reefs around the island are very beautiful.  We did a relatively short shallow dive along the top of the reef, which was really beautiful.  We saw a leaf scorpionfish, mackerel, orangutan crabs, about three or four different types of shrimp, and I think this one reef must have about a quarter of the worlds anemonefish.  I swear there was an anemonefish every two to three inches for as far as you could see.  I don’t think I have seen anywhere near that many anemonefish in all my years of diving combined. 

The second dive was at Likuan.  I decided to sit this one out and had a little nap on the boat while Eric and Hinne went diving.  I guess there was quite a current at this site today and they had a fun ride whizzing along the reef.  Apparently, as with most dive sites, they saw turtle after turtle as well.  After the dive we returned to the resort. 

It was full moon yesterday and the low tide this morning was quite impressive.  When the tide is that low, they can only get the boat a short way into the bay and then you have to get out walk quite a distance to get up to the resort.  It is an interesting walk, though, as you get to see all the starfish and hermit crabs wandering around. 

I believe Hinne went out and did a third dive today as he will be leaving tomorrow afternoon to go back to Manado for an early morning flight the next day.  Eric and I took the afternoon off and had a nice long nap.  These naps are getting to be addictive.  I don’t know what I am going to do when I get back to work…   


Indonesia Day 7-8

Indonesia Day 7 and 8

Another two days of diving under our belts.  Yesterday we did three dives, two in the morning and one in the afternoon.  They were all really nice dives with lots of colorful coral and marine life.  We dove Mike’s Point, Mandolin, and Fukui.  There are turtles everywhere here.  We saw a big school of bat fish that were very cooperative and Eric was able to get a couple good photos of them. 

Today we woke up and the ocean in front of the resort was like glass.  The last few days it has been a bit choppier but nowhere near being considered rough.  We did two dives today after breakfast.  There was finally another guest at the resort, so the three of us, Spencer and our guide, Eric, headed out for the first dive at 8 a.m.  The dive site was only a short distance from the resort and it was a nice relaxing dive with not much current.   Our guide, Eric, pointed out lots of macro life, like orangutan crabs, nudibranchs, shrimps, etc.  Most of it was too small for me to see--even with my new bifocal dive mask.

We finished the dive and got back on the boat.  The other guest that was diving was already back on the boat and apparently had had some issues with his ears being slow to clear, etc.  He decided it was wise not to do the second dive, so the boat captain took him and Spencer back to the resort.  We headed out for the second dive which was again a very short distance from the resort.  After our surface interval, we dove in.  This was again another nice, relaxing dive with lots of macro life (along with the turtles).  Eric had been having some issues with one of his camera strobes not working properly on the first dive, so he decided not to take his camera on the second dive. 

I had my camera with me and we decided to put the tripod on it to see if that would help stabilize some of the shots.  The camera is still very new to me and it has obviously been a while since the last dive trip, so I am still getting used to using it and how to get the best shots.  After a lovely dive, we headed back to the resort for lunch and to relax. 

After lunch, we headed to our bungalow and had an afternoon nap.  Then Eric got up and did some work (have to pay for the trip somehow) and then handed the computer over to me to type up the blog. 

Whilst I was typing the blog, Eric decided to try and figure out why his one strobe on his camera was not working properly.  He emptied the batteries out and cleaned out the battery compartment, put new batteries in and then it worked fine.  He then put the old batteries back in and it worked fine again—still a mystery.  Then he went to open the strobe that had been working just fine and discovered that it had flooded.  What a mess.  Now he is in the process of trying to figure out if he can clean it, dry it out, and make it work again…
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Indonesia Day 5-6

Indonesia Day 5-6

We got up around 6 a.m. in order to eat some breakfast and get ourselves ready before making our way to the airport.  We headed down to the reception desk around 7:30 a.m. in order to check out and catch a taxi.  It did not take long to get to the airport and once there, we made our way to the Silk Air check-in counter to check in for our flight to Manado, Indonesia.  Once we were checked in, we headed downstairs to the MRT ticket booth in order to turn in our 3-day Tourist Pass cards and get our $10 per card refund.  The ticket booth opened at 8 a.m., so we only had to wait in a short line for a short time.   

We then made our way back upstairs and through passport control and went to find our departure gate.  The Singapore airport is set up a little differently from most airports.  You actually don’t go through security until you get to your gate.  We found our gate and since we had some time before the gate opened for our flight, we wandered around a bit and got something to drink. 

After some wandering, we decided to head back to our gate, went through security and sat down for a bit before they starting boarding the plane.  It wasn’t even close to a full flight, so we got lucky and had an aisle and a window seat in the exit row with no one between us.  It was about a 4-hour flight to Manado.  We were still booked for a vegetarian Indian meal on the flight, so not long after take-off they served the food.  It was actually a very tasty meal with cauliflower and paneer with just the right amount of spice.  Dessert was even better—chocolate covered vanilla ice cream!!—you won’t get that kind of food in coach on a 4-hour domestic flight in the U.S.!

It was a smooth flight to Manado.  We made our way off the plane and through passport control, which did not take much time at all.  Waiting for our baggage was another story—they obviously aren’t the fastest at unloading the bags from the plane.  After a bit of a wait, we collected up our three checked bags and made our way to the curb where someone was to be waiting for us.  We finally located our driver, who loaded us and our luggage up and drove us about 35 minutes across the city in very busy (Filipino style) traffic to the boat which would take us to the island of Bunaken.

The boat ride was a bit bumpy leaving Manado headed for Bunaken, but gradually smoothed out.  It was about a 45-minute ride.  Once we reached the island, we were greeted by Spencer, one of the resort managers, who escorted us to the resort where they had a welcome drink (my favorite—Mango juice) waiting for us.  After we filled out our dive paperwork and some other paperwork, we made our way to our bungalow on the top of the hill.  It was a bit of a hike, so you don’t want to forget anything and have to go back up the hill too many times.  I’m hoping it will burn a few calories, though.

Once in our room, we got busy unpacking all our dive gear and Eric got the cameras set up for the two morning dives the next day.  By that time, it was about dinner time.  The meal times here are 7 a.m., 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.  We made our way down to the dining area and enjoyed some good conversation a very good meal with the property managers, Spencer and Chi.  At the moment we are the only two guests at the resort.

We finally made our way back up to our room around 10 p.m. and crawled into bed.  We sat our alarm for 6 a.m. the next morning so we could get up in time to go down to the dive shop and analyze our tanks before breakfast. 

The dive boat was scheduled to leave at 8 a.m. for the first two dives of the day.  After a wonderful breakfast with Chi and Spencer, we all boarded the boat for the short 10-minute ride to the first dive spot.  The first site was one of the few spots with a slope.  It made for a good site to do the first dive to get back into the swing of things.  There were tons of fish.  We discovered the currents here are very strange.  One minute it is going one direction and the next minute it is going the other direction—making the dive profiles a bit interesting.  However, the local guides are very good and know exactly which way to go and when.

After our first dive and our one-hour surface interval, we made our way to the second dive site.  This was a site with a wall, which is typical of most of the diving here.  We dropped down onto a beautiful coral garden and then over the edge to the wall.  The coral and fish life here is amazing.  There are tons of every kind of fish imaginable and they are everywhere.  We saw at least 8 or more turtles on this dive, along with a frog fish, scorpion fish, and all the other usual suspects.

We decided to just do two dives today and relax in the afternoon.  Normally, lunch is served at 1 p.m. and then the afternoon dive boat goes out around 2 p.m. for one dive.  After a relaxing lunch, we wandered out onto the pier and saw a small spotted eagle ray along with masses of fish.   We then headed back to our room and had a little afternoon nap—we are on vacation after all!

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