Marc's Public Blog - Trips to other locations

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This is a collection of my blog entries related to short or long trips I went on.
I have some master pages for some specific locations/trips:

paris over many years | France over many years | UK over many years | Australia over many years | Canada over many years | Japan over multiple trips | Vegas over many years | Holland over many years | Belgium over many years | Belgium over many years | Mexico over many years | Italy in 2011 | France in 2013 | Indonesia in 2013 | Japan in 2013 | Japan in 2014 | Taiwan in 2014 | Indonesia in 2014 | New Zealand in 2015 | Japan in 2015 | Costa Rica in 2015 | Singapore in 2016 | South Korea in 2016 | Japan in 2016 | Germany in 2016 | Tasmania 2017 | Japan in winter 2017 | Great Britain in 2017 | Australia Flying Safari 2017 | Philippines 2018 | Spain in 2018 | Alaska in 2019 | England in 2021 | UAE in 2021 | Poland in 2023 | Portugal in 2023 | Thailand in 2023 | Japan Snow 2024 |

Table of Content for trips:

More pages: December 2023 June 2023 April 2023 December 2022 December 2021 February 2021 November 2020 October 2020 September 2020 February 2020 January 2020 December 2019 November 2019 October 2019 September 2019 June 2019 May 2019 March 2019 February 2019 January 2019 December 2018 November 2018 October 2018 September 2018 June 2018 May 2018 February 2018 January 2018 December 2017 November 2017 October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 October 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 September 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 October 2012 September 2012 June 2012 April 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 June 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 September 2010 August 2010 May 2010 January 2010 September 2009 August 2009 June 2009 January 2009 December 2008 August 2008 February 2008 January 2008 October 2007 July 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 August 2006 July 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005 April 2005 December 2004 October 2004 July 2004 June 2004 January 2004 January 2003 January 2001 August 1997

2004/07/25 Visiting Montréal
π 2004-07-25 11:05 by Merlin in Canada, Ntrips, Trips

The next two days, I spent to visit Montréal.
So, I was up by 10:30, which considering the previous night, wasn't too bad, and since I didn't have a guide or anything else, I cheated: I took the hotel map, and a tour on one of those double decker busses. I've always felt that tourists in them look silly, and I actually still do, but it was just a very convenient way to get a quick tour and know what places I should go back at. Most of the pictures I took from there were lost too, but that's not a huge deal, they were not the best ones, and many I was able to take again, later.
When my tour was over 2H later, I took the same bus again, and dropped at the bottom of the Hill with the cross, and hiked all the way up. There were boring paths going all the way around, but I went for the straight up "make your own" path through the forest and boulders (good exercise) and somehow managed to end up at the bottom of the said cross (I was climbing blind since it wasn't visible from the forest). The way down was even more dicy due to the grade and very limited grip (i.e. I was somewhat sliding down).

Overall, I'd have to say that Paris doesn't have a whole lot on Montréal: the city has some beautiful areas, and old city corner, very nice churches everywhere (Montréal is very catholic), and overall the city really reminded me about Paris, especially when they have french names like Champ de Mars :)

lots of nice houses, try finding that in Paris

Oh, did I mention churches? :)

believe it or not, they were celebrating the sunset :)

The nicer part however was that they have many festivals, and I thought I was just lucky and hitting the best parts and time of the city, but while a little luck was involved, I was also told "oh this is like this almost all the time".
I finished the afternoon/evening walking through the Juste Pour Rire festival, which had taken over multiple city blocks, and of all thing was able to enjoy a real Mergez with Harissa (Tunisian specialty I hadn't had in ages)

Saturday night, I had dinner with my buddies, watched some fireworks by the river, and we then wasted money in a bad copy of the gold club (no contact dances, sheesh...), which was kind of silly, but San wanted to go there for some reason, so we followed him, and finished the night in his bar and club (many more people that night). For the occasion, I had another table massage (it was probably 30mn, and it's interesting to swap the usual Enya-like music and light candles for club lighting and music :)

Sunday, when I got up noon-ish, I went to visit their Centre de Sciences , and used the rest of the time to visit the city with my rollerblades (that's the one time when they came in handy): Old Montréal, and the Marché Bonsecours before having dinner, trying the local métro, and catching the 20:30 bus back to Ottawa, where I just crashed, exhausted.

I obviously have lots of other pictures of Montréal, which you can all find here
2004/07/12 Ibiza Wrap-Up
π 2004-07-12 18:18 by Merlin in Ntrips, Trips

Current Music: Paul Van Dyk - Politics of Dancing CD 1 - 6 PVD - Vega
Current Mood: Partied out, slowly recovering :)

Man, this was way too much work. I'll be happy to go back to a normal and restful life at work. Vacation requires way too much energy :)
Now that I'm home, the remaining pictures were posted ( Pictures from Saturday and Pictures from Sunday )

Anyway, after 3 weeks in Ibiza (1 last year, plus 2 this time), I think I've finally seen and done what I wanted to do there:
  • seen pretty much the best and most famous techno DJs in the world (never saw Oakey there, but I had seen him twice in San Francisco). I did manage to miss Armin Van Buuren, who would have been a very nice cherry on the cake, but while he was resident at Amnesia, it wasn't before August, so that didn't work out.
    I did however get to see: DJ Tiësto, Paul Van Dyk, Dave Pearse, and Pete Tong, all big name DJs that I had been listening to for years. This of course doesn't include the many other parties I went to with lesser known DJs
  • Crazy stuff ranging from the Manumission party to Fiesta Del Agua
  • Been to a few pseudo-mythical places like Bora Bora at Playa Den Bossa (not that it means all that much to me, but the beach and water were nice)
  • By the same token, I have been to and danced in some of the famous clubs that are in so many of live techno mixes (many come from Ibiza). Basically, I went to all the big clubs in Ibiza, which just wasn't possible in one week last year.
  • Got to see more of Ibiza and some of its secluded beaches, as well as its sister Island: Formentera
  • I managed to further my picture taking hobby, even if it cost me a brand new camera half way through the trip. I actually quite enjoy some of the "difficult" club pictures I was able to take (those can be quite challenging, especially if you're supposed to hide on top of that)
  • Got a tan, sure, great, moving right along...
  • Got my PADI diving level 1 and 2 certifications. While the certification piece was overpriced in my opinion (about $800, or which only $300 or so went to diving and rental costs), well, the point is that I have it and I can go diving up to 40 meters when/wherever I please now :) (I have prior history of having being denied great dives in Australia that had left me a bit bitter). I should add that this was one of the primary goals of my trip, even if some people doubt it :)
  • Did a little bit of water sports (wakeboarding/windsurfing), although not enough :)
  • Had a fun two weeks with a couple of groups of french people.
  • Made good friends with the Spanish people at the Diving club, and my instructor, Upi (Geert-Jan). I was cool to shoot the shit with them, and see that they were quite good at doing it themselves too. It's also nice to see the more relaxed Island / Spanish way of life where an appointment or a time is something sometimes highly subjective :)
  • I even learned a little (just a very little) Spanish
  • And last but not least, I survived the whole two weeks despite harsh conditions for the body (partying + diving) :)

  • Didn't get to see Armin Van Buuren
  • Didn't get to sail more
  • Didn't get a single night to use SS rue des Anglais, which would have been fun (either I was off partying, sleeping before a party, or way too tired/sick to make it)

At this point, I don't really need to go back though. I'm not saying that I won't, but there are many other places I can be going to, and for diving many much better and closer ones.
I may still go there in August at the peak of the season with a confirmed lineup of who's going to be playing in which club, to maybe attend some of the best DJ gathering and mixes of the year, but we'll see...

Oh, as a cool souvenir, I found a picture of a couple of friends an me on the Cafe Del Mar site
2004/07/11 Ibiza Day 15: Sunday @ Space in Ibiza (picts posted)
π 2004-07-11 10:49 by Merlin in Ntrips, Trips

(posted from France soon after landing)

So, getting up at 06:xx to go to Space was way overkill, but this is what Alain wanted to do in order to get there before the opening at 08:00 (it's on the other side of the Island). I had planned to go an hour or so later, but since they woke me up, I just tagged along (not that I managed to sleep that much Sat night). I had mentioned something about the fact that busses on Sundays run on a different schedule, and sure enough, they went to the bus stop just in time to realize that there wasn't a 07:00 bus. So much for that...
We ended up sharing a cab and getting there way too early, but we got to see the crowds showing up and gathering for the opening of Space. I personally had stopped caring a little bit, so I was carrying a water bottle in my pocket (yes, I was happy to see you too, but that wasn't the point :) and my camera on my belt. I almost made it in, but the guy noticed my overgrown pants, had me remove the water, and then realized that I also had a camera "hiding" under my silk shirt.
He had me check it in, so I removed the pouch from my belt while removing the camera from the pouch and proceeded to check the empty pouch in without anyone noticing (with the camera back in my pocket :)
At the beginning, Space was a little empty (people were still arriving), and crawling with security guys (nice "Space Control" shirts), but as time passed and it became obvious that they weren't going to be overflowing with people quite yet, a bunch of them apparently left and it became a little more possible to take pictures without getting caught (if you're thinking by now that I'm getting a little sick pleasure from sneaking my camera in and taking pictures, you might just be right :) but more seriously, I don't see why they should have the right to restrict me from taking pictures, especially if I don't use my flash (i.e. don't blind anyone)).
The music was ok although not great, and I guess by then I was also a bit partied out (who would have thought? :) but the fun part was the one dark room inside (really dark and a bit cold), with the outside room in full daylight outside (somewhat warm, with by fans blowing on you). Interesting contrast to say the least, and it actually gives you a good excuse to show up with sunglasses :)
Oh, for those who didn't know: the party starts sunday morning, but goes all the way to monday morning (and for some it's only an "after" of some other party they went to saturday night: they bus you from the saturday night party to Space on sunday morning so that you can party 36H straight instead of having to face the horrors of real life outside :)

Anyway, we headed back around 11:30, got our stuff and headed for the airport to catch the plane back to France (plane that would then fly over Space and Bora Bora beach). While the plane was delayed, the ride was fun for the parts during which I was awake as one of my UCPA-mates managed to ride in the cockpit and made several stupid sounds and jingles we came up with during the week (through the aircraft's speakers). The safety announcements were also funny as the French version was filled with silly jokes and the captain would say in French "and now for the real version in English, for those who didn't have the chance to understand the french..."

Pictures from Sunday
2004/07/10 Ibiza Day 14: Saturday (Last Dive) (picts posted)
π 2004-07-10 12:37 by Merlin in Ntrips, Trips

I didn't manage to sleep a whole lot (less than 5H), so I ended up getting up and going to the pharmacy to see if I could get one of those decongestants than the PADI book was talking about and that might clear your ear canal (it was also saying that you should not take it before diving since your canal could block half way through the dive and cause a reverse block, which makes ascending a problem since you can't go up because of your ear).
Anyway, my instructor told me that they were going to have a great dive saturday afternoon and that I should try to make it if I felt better. I found the said medecine (decongestant), took one without really knowing what it did or how since the directions were only in Spanish, and sure enough, I felt my ear unblock slightly about an hour later. So, I signed up for the dive, and hoped that it would last long enough so that my ear wouldn't block half way through the dive.
The Dive ended up being very very nice (my best one so far, lots of little passages, caves, weird fish and other things at about 20 meters, and it was also my first dive with a 15 litre bottle (57mn dive time at greater depth). I had planned to take another decongestant just before the dive, just in case the other one wore out, but my instructor advised against it (no drugs before diving, medecinal or other), and reassured me a bit that reverse block is usually not fatal and that with careful ascending, the extra air usually find its way out your ear canal.
I was barely able to equalise, but managed to anyway, which allowed me to do the dive, and follow some very seasoned divers through a great visit which they only do 3-4 times a year.
I made it back to the boat in once piece, exhausted, but happy, and learned from the two technical divers who had done a 60 metre dive in the meantime (very serious stuff with regular air to go down, and a decompression stop on the way up where they breathe a 50% oxygen nitrox mix in a second tank they had strapped across their chest). This is the kind of extreme diving where mistakes or equipment failure can easily result in death, and honestly, from what I'm told, there isn't a whole lot more to see at 60 metres (i.e. isn't not really worth the extra risk). To each their own thrills I guess. I have a lot myself, but that's not one of them.

I then had a fairwell drink with all the people I had spent the last 2 weeks diving with, and headed back to my room for a quick nap (I really was exhausted :) )

Tonight, I'm going to take it easy and go to bed early so that I can go to Sunday @ Space early tomorrow morning before my flight. I still have my cold (I didn't really do a whole lot to nurse it), but I'm not as sick as I was yesterday, so I'm not confined to bed.
My next update will probably be a wrapup uploaded from California. Talk to y'all later.

Pictures from Saturday
2004/07/10 Ibiza Day 13: Friday (Cold, Final PADI Dive, Ibiza by Night & Pacha)
π 2004-07-10 12:03 by Merlin in Ntrips, Trips

So, the point of having gone to bed early thursday night was to feel ok on friday for my double dive (last dive day). Turns out however, that going to the restaurant without having had the chance to change made me cold and probably a little worse. I did however sleep almost 9 hours, and felt ok when I showed up for the dive.
This is where it stopped, though. Once down, I had a hell of a time equalizing my right hear (managed to do it twice, and then became entire unable to do so, causing pain, inability to follow the instructor, and forcing me to ascend back up to a few meters depth). What was a little bit unnerving was that I wasn't sure if I was suffering from a failure to equalize going down, or from a reverse block (ear equalized, but unable to release pressure when you go up, causing the opposite problem of too much pressure in your ear when you go up, and basically forcing you to stay down until you can figure it out)
Somehow, I did manage to do my navigation exercise at 10m, which was the last thing I needed for my advanced open water PADI cert (i.e. level 2). Unfortunately, I then misunderstood my instructor when he showed me a 'find your way back to the boat' note underwater. He meant that as an exercise, and I understood that as "ok, you're obviously done for today, you ought to go back to the boat".
Luckily, this was extra credit, I didn't need that to pass advanced open water, and quite frankly, I'm pretty sure I'd have failed badly: I was kind of out of it, and following without paying attention to where I was, so I'm pretty sure I would have had no idea where the boat was without surfacing.
On the way back, I started feeling worse and worse (i.e. sick), and it became clear that the second dive for the day was not going to happen at all (wouldn't have been able to equalise anyway), so I headed back to my room and went to bed with some more meds.
The scary part is that 5 hours later, I only felt worse than when I went to bed, as in noticeably worse (I was afraid to collapse, felt the world spinning around me, and so forth)... That night though, I had tickets to Pacha, another very famous night club in Ibiza which I had wanted to go to for a long time, and we also had a visit of the citadel and a restaurant planned in Eivissa. At this point we're not even talking about the sane thing to do anymore, I can't remember having been that dizzy from a cold, but the fact that I was feeling worse off than when I went to bed, and that I really wanted to go to my planned outings, and in grand tradition of doing the opposite of what I should sometimes do thanks to other people who are as bad as me (who know who you are :), I ended up deciding "screw it, I'm going anyway".
Somehow, more meds helped me get up and make the evening, and strangely enough, it's only past 01:00, when I got to Pacha that I started feeling a little big better (how's that for a Chewbacca defense -like "this does not make sense").

Visiting the citadel at night was nice. It made taking pictures that much harder, but it was enjoyable to go through it before we went to the restaurant. I could tell you about the History of Ibiza and the different people who have occupied the Island throughout the years, but I'll let you look it up if you're really interested :)

Pacha was cool because another one of my favorite DJs, Pete Tong, was playing there that night, and I had managed to score 15 euro tickets instead of the regular 45 euro price (isn't that insane BTW? 45 euros? Privilege on monday night's door price was 55 euros!!! I managed to get in for 30 euros thanks to a special rebate bracelet that was a year old but that the cashier didn't know about and honored)
Pacha was also the only place where I got busted taking pictures (3 times no less), as I often had to use my flash to get anything half decent. Luckily I got busted by different people, and they had no signs saying no pictures, so technically I was ok. Besides, I kind of stopped caring, so there you go :)

I think I got home around 05:00 or so...

Pictures from Friday
2004/07/08 Ibiza Day 12: Thursday (rest)
π 2004-07-08 12:38 by Merlin in Ntrips, Trips

So, I got back from Fiesta Del Agua around 6-ish, and woke up 10-ish.
I ended up going to the sailing base to try windsurfing again, and actually make it back on my own, regardless of how screwed up and changing the winds could be, but this morning, we had really strong winds, which actually broke a cable that was anchoring one of our boats. Needless to say that going out windsurfing was out of the question, no one was allowed out (except for one hobby cat with an instructor which had left earlier in the day).
Had they had lasers (small and fast boats for one person), I'd have been able to go out and have a complete blast, but they didn't, so I ended up going back to my room and rested until the 14:00 dive pickup.
Today was my one before last dive to get the PADI advanced open water cert. It was about demonstrating advanced buoyancy control ("fly" in mid water in bouda stance while inflating the BCD by mouth instead of using the compressed air from the tank). Tomorrow, I'm doing my last two dives of my vacation, and should "graduate" after the first one.
I still have mixed feelings about PADI though. First, their deep water dive is at 30 meters while they certify you for 40 (how do they know, no one knows whether you'll be hit by nitrogen narcosis at 40 meters unless you go and check), and now I did what they recommended and ask about any advise they give that doesn't make sense to me.
Namely, they have a rule "always do your deepest dive first" or "during one dive, go to the shallowest depth first". My diving instructor confirmed when I asked that there is no demonstrated evidence that it makes a difference. What matters is how long one stays at each given depth, not whether you went to the deepest or shallowest one first. He confirmed that he just has to teach that way because it's what PADI mandates, but that independent tests have shown no basis for that advise, and that overall divers don't follow it.
So much for that...

Tonight, I had planned to go to Rue Des Anglais, but I really don't feel up to it. I still have two big parties before I leave (Pacha tomorrow night), and Sunday @ Space Sunday :), so I think the smart thing to do will be to just go to bed early (I'm still not feeling that hot anyway, I'm sure my cold and cough will get better with more rest). Too bad, no SS for me tonight either, and I guess none for this trip afterall. Oh well (not that I'm very surprised, I kind of knew that I'd be very short on time and this was far from being my primary goal).
I actually ended up meeting some friends on the way back from the internet cafe and had dinner with them in a tasty indian restaurant. Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to change, so I was lightly clothed and got a cold on top of my cold :(

Oh, and guess what: no pictures whatsoever for today (ok, I ended up taking just a few: the strong wind and sea in the morning, and the nice Indian Restaurant I ended up eating at in the evening):
Pictures from Thursday
2004/07/08 Ibiza Day 11: Wednesday (Formentera & Fiesta Del Agua)
π 2004-07-08 11:33 by Merlin in Ntrips, Trips

Wednesday is go explore day (last week we went around the island with scooters). Damn, it's been a week since I injured my knees already... They are healing slowly thanks to the compeed water proof bandaids, but there is still work left to be done (diving every day doesn't really speed up recovery regardless)
Anyway, we didn't go with the rest of the group to Atlantis this week either, since we had all seen it last year , so this time we went to the Island of Formentera (a fairly big Island 25mn from Ibiza). No, I didn't go to Isla de Botafoc :)

Formentera is nice because of its pristine beaches with white sand, clear water, and picture perfect scenery. Weather wasn't perfect because we got a few drops of rain and clouds here and then, but that's just as well: my skin didn't actually need the extra sun (even if it did get some of the UVs anyway).

We had a scary moment when I came up with the bright idea to walk around a lamp house, cliff-side since there was a small path, but the path became more and more dodgy as we were taking it. It was in no way undoable, but most of us had flip flops or open sandals, which offered little traction in both cases. Next to the path was for the most part a cliff drop to your death, so not really an option you wanted to consider. Luckily I have fairly acute acrophobia, which made me be very careful and hang on to things in case in slipped (of course, in theory acrophobia is supposed to tell me "don't even go there" in the first place, but eh, who said I always did the sensible thing).
I made it through ok as I was fairly scared and very careful, but the UCPA guy behind me clearly didn't have acrophobia, was taking it way too easily, and slipped on the angled rock on the picture below. I'm really not sure how he caught himself and didn't fall down the cliff, but somehow got off only with cuts to his ankle due to vegetation. He got very lucky there.

After some more time on the beach and exploring the island, we headed back to Ibiza, and San Antoni, where we stay. I headed to the internet cafe for a couple of hours to catch up and upload pictures, but felt progressively worse while I was there. I bailed on the restaurant plan, went to bed some time after 23:00, only fell asleep around midnight and got woken up by someone from work who thought it would be cute to call my cell instead of sending me Email, thereby waking me up around 02:00. This required a second Sonata but I eventually fell back asleep to be woken up by my watch at 04:00.
The obvious question would be why? Well, wed night was the Fiesta Del Agua party at Es Paradis, where at 05:30, they fill the main stage with water that you dance in. Mind you, I was feeling sick (well, I was somewhat sick) and I was definitely tired, so the sensible and sane thing to do would have been to just stay in bed, but Ibiza isn't exactly about being sane and sensible, and I really wanted to go to at least one aqua party.

So, I managed to get up and drag my butt there with the help of Mr Red Bull (diet :) and got a few pictures from the very nice club before they started the water, and more after they did. The water from the jets felt quite cold to my taste, so I stayed out of it for a little while, and eventually went it since it was the stupid and fun thing to do :)

We headed back a bit past 06:00, and at least I had planned ahead and worn shorts on top of my swimming trunks with very large pockets in which I fit water tight bags, a dry T-shirt, and other stuff for the trip back. When I got out of the water, it was easy to change and get home mostly dry (I didn't need to get more sick than I already was :)
It was a bit dicey walking with flip flops or my sandals as the club was covered with marble like tiles and was extremely slippery with all the water. For that matter, I almost ate it walking down the stairs while going out, and only saved myself because I didn't trust the traction and was firmly holding the rail.
The fun part however was watching just about everyone else who hadn't planned and wondered why they were all cold and wet, or realized that their shoes/wallet/whatever were ruined, or even worse: things like their cell phone. Maybe they were too tired to think, or had had too many drinks...
Either way, it was a very fun party to be at.

It might not show on the picture, but we were soaken wet :)

Pictures from Wednesday
2004/07/07 Ibiza Day 10: Tuesday (Windsurfing & Dive)
π 2004-07-07 13:22 by Merlin in Ntrips, Trips

After a grand 5H of sleep (got home from Manumission around 05:00), I gave up sleeping and went to the beach to try Windsurfing (since you most likely don't know, I'm reasonably good in a laser (small and fast sail boat), but I never really learned to windsurf. I did a little bit when I was a kid (i.e. more than 15 years ago), and did it once last year. Long story short I didn't do too badly, but
it didn't manage to make it back to the beach due to turning and dying winds (pretty much always blowing away from where I was trying to get back, and changing when I was making a zig zag approach). No, my ego wasn't hurt too much when they came to get me in their boat to tow me back :)

The dive went fine, nothing extraordinary to report, and I then proceeded comatose on a beach chair while listening to music at Kanya. First came some folks giving free alcohol to promote some new liqueur (aftershock), and then some other dudes came with surveys on smoking and would give you a pack of smokes in return (that, I found kind of weak, I'm pretty sure it's not allowed in France or the US. For that matter, I'm tired of going back to public places where people smoke...)

The evening was mostly uneventful: we first had a Tapas party (i.e. everyone makes small things to eat and share). I had then planned to go out Rue des Anglais and use a quiet and early night to practise SS, but my voice was shot due to catching whatever Alain got. Luckily it's only a mild cold in my case, I'm not confined to bed or anything like that, but my throat took the worst of it, and my voice is mostly gone, so it's not really ideal for striking up conversations.
The good news is this hasn't messed with my ability to dive, like colds can. I can usually equalise the pressure in my ears (i.e. pop) at will, and I've only had to use the blow with my nose pinched up technique, which beats not being able to equalise and dive at all...
Anyway, I ended up going to a local pole dancing club, with very talented performers (I know someone who should have been there :), and crashed for an early rise the next morning for the Island of Formentera

Pictures from Tuesday
2004/07/07 Ibiza Day 9: Monday (wreck dive & privilege)
π 2004-07-07 12:19 by Merlin in Ntrips, Trips

I think I managed to wake up 11-ish after the tunnel trance party, which was pretty nice, and dragged my butt to the beach for the dive pickup. On the way there, I was finally able to take one picture of guys that didn't look underfed for a change (the complaint I've had so far; sorry, I've done the best I could with what was available :)

After talking with the diving instructor, I decided to pass my advanced open water diving certification this week (aka PADI level 2). No, I don't have grand ideas of becoming a divemaster, but basically level 1 is limited in several ways, including 18 meters when I had already been certified for 40m during my deep dive saturday, but would probably never have been allowed past 18 in some other countries without the advanced cert for insurance reasons.
Since advanced open water is actually a piece of cake to get, I figured WTH (I've already done 3 of the 5 required dives). The only small thingy is that it will cost another 300 euros, for a total of 700 euros for both certs (250 paid by UCPA, and the rest for me to pay).
Once I got myself used to the idea that PADI had a near monopoly on diving certification, and basically can charge that money and that without it, I wouldn't be allowed to dive at most places, I just made peace with the fact that I was going to give them 3-400 euros just for two paper certs (the rest of the money does go to the dive center for the actual rentals and other associated costs).
Unfortunately, the wreck dive turned out to be boring/mostly useless because the visible part was at 25 meters, and UCPA (the organisation I'm in Ibiza with) doesn't allow divers past 20 meters to avoid decompression accidents. Grr, I was pretty pissed and got it straightened out for next time if there is a next time (i.e. the UCPA guy couldn't change the main rules, but agreed to leave it up to the instructor should this situation occur again, and let me dive deeper if it's safe)
As far as the "I felt stupid" category, I asked the divemaster if there was a problem with my equipment, because I noticed that my bottle pressure had dropped by about 20 bars since we had left the shop (I was in the water). He proceeded to point out that gases retract under colder temperatures. Duh! never mind all the thermodynamics I had learned in school... He gave me some slack saying that I didn't have to think about that since I was on vacation, which is true, but still... :)

That evening, some of us went to the Restaurant de Paris before heading for Manumission, the biggest party in Ibiza at Privilege, the biggest club in the world (more than 10,000 people). After managing to smuggle my camera in for the second day in a row (don't ask for details how :), I got a bunch of cool picts from that evening (for some reason they are very strict on not allowing pictures).

Manumission is an interesting party due the live performances that you get to see

The party was a bit like last year's except that it was slightly easier to move around (maybe 20% people less). I headed back around 5-ish, when I was all partied out.
I'll see how many MB I can manage to upload while connected (more than 60MB of new pictures and videos)

Pictures from Monday
2004/07/05 Ibiza Day 8: Sunday ("rest" day)
π 2004-07-05 04:24 by Merlin in Ntrips, Trips

I'm in a backup internet cafe right now, as my regular one told me they were closed even thought the door was opened :) The only problem with the one I'm at is that they have a really slow connection, especially for uploads, so I can't upload all my sunday pictures, it would take a day at the current speed... (and apparently my upload is saturating their DSL router which doesn't seem to have traffic shaping, so I'm filling their upload queue and slowing down the entire internet cafe (people are complaining, although they don't know it's probably me :) )
I went back to my regular internet cafe that evening, and I'm currently uploading the pictures (at much better speed too). Mmmh, I also noticed that I have 60MB worth of pictures for sunday, which with 16KB/s (128kbit/s upload speed) yields more than one hour... I guess I'm going to rack up a nice internet cafe bill :)
Mmmh, yall have the day off today (monday) anyway, no wonder no one is on AIM or viewing blogs/doing Emails.

Anyway, I ended up waking up sunday past 08:00, which meant I got a good 8H of sleep (boy that felt so good). Alain was comatosed from coming back from the Privilege past 06:00, Seb didn't want to get up, and I slept right through it, so we indeed didn't make it to Space.
Alain wasn't feeling too well due to his cold, so we gave up waiting for him and took a bus to Ibiza city (Eivissa is the local name) for a little sight seeing, and checking the camera stores. We confirmed that just about everything is closed on sundays, even in the Island's biggest city, but we saw a church that was way full: Spanish people definitely looked like very devoted Catholics.
Luckily, we found what was probably the only open camera shop in the Island, and they had exactly one Canon S500 for sale. Ideally, I'd have bought another S400 to replace mine, or the slightly updated S410, but I didn't really have the luxury of choice, so I coughed up the 430 euros for the S500. This is probably close to $200 more than I'd have paid for an S400 online in the US and about $100 more than for an S500, but online US prices do me no good when I want a new camera today. Not only, you're better off, because you won't get to hear me further explain how my other camera is dying a little more and being revived a bit through screwdriver CPR every day :) and I won't get the stress of having a somewhat non working camera that I can't use to take proper pictures anymore. All in all, $200 for the piece of mind, and enjoying my vacation is a small price to pay I guess. At the same time, I now get 5Mpix (ok, I was happy with 4, but whatever :) but more importantly, I know get 640x480 videos (much nicer than 320x200).
I guess I confirmed that I can live without a camera on vacation for about as long as I can live without chocolate (well, actually, I can live without chocolate longer than that :), but I didn't learn anything I didn't know about myself already. If you know your addictions, you're at least one step ahead :)

Oh, today was the 4th of July I guess. Well, I didn't notice here, people were more worried about formula 1 and the soccer game tonight (not that I overly care about those two either :)
Seb and I spent that time in bars with nice music at the famous Playa Den Bossa (very nice and long beach with warm water, bars with music on the beach with people dancing). He spent most of his time resting while I walked the whole beach from end to end back and forth (not sure how long it was, but it took more than an hour which was fun to do considering the scenery :)

you can find the rest of the beach pictures in case you need a little distraction from work :) here

On the way back from the beach, I asked to walk the harbor, and then got to walk through the historic and very old part of the city next to the citadel. It was very interesting to walk through it, although it was also sad to see how dirty it was, and seeing some graffiti. Quite a pity really...

you can find the rest of the old city pictures, including some very cute kitties here

After heading back to San Antoni (other side of the island, where we stay), we had dinner with the new recruits for the week, and headed for the Tunnel Trance Force party at Privilege (the biggest club in the world, which can take more than 10,000 people). Their huge party is on mondays though, sunday night was a small one, but it was still a fun evening. The only annoying thing was the almost full body search that they do to stop you from bringing cameras and other things in. It didn't stop me from getting mine in, but it got really close.

(yes, the DJ is on top of a swimming pool. Privilege is a bit crazy that way :)

Pictures from Sunday (the rest of them: harbor, beach, privilege, etc...)
2004/07/03 Ibiza Day 7: Saturday (deep dive/PADI cert/sunset) (updated)
π 2004-07-03 11:09 by Merlin in Ntrips, Trips

After a painful morning trying to sleep (kind of hard due to light and noise, despite ear plugs), I finished up the PADI test in my room and went for today's dive: a specialized deep 31m dive where the point outside of seeing cool stuff was to see if you were affected by nitrogen narcosis, which makes everyone feel inebriated at some depth, but that depth is different for everyone.
This dive was just awesome (of course I did leave my underwater camera in my bedroom since I was not awake when I left): we saw loads of fishes, including some giant meter plus ones, and big octopuses.
When we hit 30m, the instructor had us do basic math to make sure we hadn't lost it, and the other guy I was with (former diver for the british military) and I both passed, so that's the first dive I can put on my advanced cert rooster. I got extra diving time with a few other folks due to our controlled and limited use of air, and took the extra time to enjoy more fishes. On the way up, we did a safety stop at 5m, since we had gone deep, and then headed back.
After putting all the gear away, the instructor went through Alain and my written tests, and we both passed with flying colors, except that I beat Alain's score, which is the only thing I cared about: he needs to be taught a little humility ;-)
But adding to that fact that I got certified for deep dives (up to 30-40m) the same day than I officially got my basic open water certification (18m max) is cool :)

I spent a little time at the beach, some of which I used to see if my digital camera had become fit for a toss from a high building yet, and as a fellow engineer of mine (specialized in digital pictures and printing) taught me: the best subjects you can take are skin tones, so I grudgingly took on his advise and did a few beach pictures :)

(look closer, my friends are in the picture :) )

That night, I was going to take it easy and go to the restaurant with the folks who are finishing their week and leaving tomorrow morning. Boy, I'm so glad I did sign up for two weeks... Alain, Seb (our roommate) and I need to wake up early tomorrow morning and go to Ibiza city for the famous Sunday @ Space party (08:00)
Turns out that the restaurant didn't happen because they were way too late (past 23:00, and I wanted to go to bed early to wake up in time for Space). However, I got a few pictures from the world famous Cafe Del Mar, from where you get to see an awesome sunset among thousands of people with matching music coming from the Cafe. Cafe Del Mar is especially famous thanks to the track from Energy 52 (click for mp3). Oh, I was also referring to great tunes I heard friday, like Hybrid - Finished symphony; you can download about 10 mixes of this awesome tune here

Then, plans got murkier as people changed their minds, flaked, and some went to Privilege, cancelling Space the next morning, so it became a "fuck it" and I just went to bed and got some well needed sleep

Pictures from Saturday
2004/07/03 Ibiza Day 6: Friday (diving and partying part II)
π 2004-07-03 11:02 by Merlin in Ntrips, Trips

Ok, so that was only one dive, going to bed past 07:00, a dive at 10:00 was somewhat out of the question ;) but Alain and I made the 14:00 pickup for the afternoon dive. Alain bailed though as his ears were still plugged from partying without earplugs, and he also developed a small cold, so he didn't want to go.
He ended up studying at the Kanya beach bar, and on my way there, I fulfilled my promise to take more pictures of dudes, for you ladies :)

The dive was interesting because one of the divemasters couldn't make it, so we were mixed up with first timers, so the dive wasn't very far or deep, but I managed to get good underwater pictures. When the first timers exhausted all their air, the advanced people went back for a somewhat nicer dive.
The part I was happy with was that I had 90 bars of pressure left (45%) after 55mn of diving, including some time at 18 meters. This week I've consistently been left with 40 or so bars more than Alain, which according to our instructor, is both due to body composition, but also to general physical shape (i.e. exercise). It's always good to know that all the physical exercise I do isn't all for naught :)

After stopping at the internet cafe, watching some folks play pétanque (cool game the French play too), nibbling a bit, and a 2H "nap", I went to bed so that I could make it through a late party that night. Oh, and for those who were wondering, the superglued band aids came out fine with my swiss army knife, there was no reason to worry :)

I woke up around 00:30 to go to Eden, where Dave Pearse was spinning that night.
Dave isn't as big a name DJ as DJ Tiësto or PVD, but I have some very nice Trance mixes from him, and I was still kicking myself a year later for not having had the stamina to go see him last year (I was dead by friday, which is why I took it a bit easy at the beginning of the week this year). I had to pay 33 euros when the other folks with me ended up getting in for free thanks to the UCPA organizers, but I don't mind that much, it was money well spent.
Well, as much as I liked my night at Amnesia Thursday, Friday night at Eden was close to being Epic. A night like this is really was defines Ibiza for me: nice Techno and Trance, including lots of tracks that I knew, have, and enjoy actually hearing in a club (try that in San Francisco and tell me if you have any luck). Dave was really nice for me because he played known tracks that might not be brand new, but who cares, I'd much rather have that over newish tracks that aren't that good. Among many, a few tracks I could name: Thrillseekers - Synastesia , Faithless , and many more than I can't quite recall the next morning :)
I was struggling to stay awake though and headed back around 04:30 (still had to take and pass the last written test for PADI on saturday morning). It's actually the second night in a row that I felt uncertain balance at some late hour while dancing, even though I was entirely sober as usual (the only things I could think of were diet rockstar wearing out, or not enough food intake)
Sometimes, people ask me why I think Techno is so cool, or assume that one must take drugs to enjoy it, or something. This blog entry summarizes what I would reply fairly well

Oh, and for those who didn't quite stop caring yet :) my digital camera is pretty much dead at this point. It won't take a picture unless I disable the flash altogether. Since I'm going to Ibiza city for the party at Space sunday morning, I might just by a new camera on the way back from there... Sure, I could also see how I could live without a camera, but 1) my blog would be more boring without it and 2) the experiment of seeing whether I could survive without chocolate didn't work too well, so... :)
Anyway, no pictures from Friday night as a result, believe me, these are tough times for me too :)

Pictures from Friday
You know they sell disposable cameras everywhere. Of course you can't post with that, you have to scan it later. Boring. Which leaves me with my dream of a disposable digital camera with integrated bluetooth... :-)
posted by ralfoide : 03 July, 2004 15:47

Which ladies, exactly, are asking for more pics of dudes? Hmm, makes me wonder.... ;-)
posted by goaliegirl : 03 July, 2004 23:22

To answer both questions:
1) I'm not going back to cameras that don't show me the picture(s) I just took. Taking pictures at night or with special settings is just way too convenient and almost impossible to give up. Of course, I don't want to give up the instant gratification of getting pictures on my laptop right away
2) who is asking for pictures of dudes? Wouldn't you like to know? :) / I figured since I catter to people who appreciate the female body, it's only fair that I give a little to those who like the male one too/instead :)
posted by MM : 05 July, 2004 10:51

Since I enjoy both kind, it's nice for you to try, although I must say I haven't exactly been impressed by the male pictures... YMMV :-)
posted by : 05 July, 2004 14:13

2004/07/02 Ibiza Day 5: Thursday (diving and partying)
π 2004-07-02 11:03 by Merlin in Ntrips, Trips

The day started with the last two dives for our PADI training: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. They were not particularly eventful, except for the congratulation handshake I got at the end (underwater) for having passed all the practical tests. Now, we still need to finish up all the theory tests and the end exam, which interestingly enough we're just taking at home (i.e. on the beach when we feel like it :). In other words, they're not being overly harsh on testing protocol :)

In other news, after having smashed my camera LCD yesterday, my camera got even worse today by refusing to completely open the lens, and thereby not taking any pictures. That's only to lose my underwater camera a few hours later (although I have good hopes that the dive center will find it somewhere and give it back to me today -> update: I did)
At the end of the day, I took my trusty glasses screwdriver set, opened up my digital camera, and managed to at least fix the lens jam, just in time to go to Amnesia for the legendary weekly Cream Party.
Seb, Alain and I went to bed around 21:00, woke up a bit past midnight and arrived at Amnesia a bit past 01:00, just before DJ Tiësto started his awesome set for the following 3 hours. After him, Paul Van Dyk did his 3 hour set, which aside from the fact that it was way too loud, was very nice too (for those who don't know them Tiësto and PVD are two of the biggest Techno DJs in the world. Only in Ibiza can you find nights like this).

The place was fairly packed (the main stage is not that big), so you had to fight to keep the space around you (especially as I was on some raised space to take better pictures). It's kind of annoying when people look like they're trying to pass by, and then just park right next to you, impeding on your ability to dance (and by that I mean move your arms, not your feet :) but some girl somehow took offense to the fact that I didn't move away to give her more space when she parked next to me (not that there was anywhere for me to go mind you), so she started dancing against me savagely and trying to push me with her butt (she was very close to the edge, with a big step down). Usually, I might not mind :) but in this case I did (I was with my friends and had no interest in moving away to give her my spot), so I made a point of keeping a firm stance while she was trying to move me and it took a lot of self discipline to avoid giving her a little hip push off the raised spot. Eventually she realized that I did still weigh a little more than her and that she'd be better off trying to dislodge someone else...

I felt very thankful to have brought and worn a good set of ear plugs. Alain's ears are pretty screwed up and he's going to skip diving as a result. Yes, don't point out to me the silliness of having to wear ear plugs at a music event, I know...
Anyway, we headed home past 07:00 and I managed to get 3-4H of sleep (it's kind of hot and noisy past 09-10:00).

As far as pictures are concerned, I was shooting blind the whole night (yes, one could make silly jokes about this statement, but no need :), since I had no visual feedback from the camera anymore (it also made it interesting to mess with settings by memory without seeing the menus), but out of 160 pictures, I still managed to get about a third that I could keep. I also took a few vids, but most of those just have inaudible oversaturated sound (which I knew was going to happen :) You can give this video a try though, and generally browse the
Pictures from Thursday

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