Category Archives: Travel

What are your travel plans?

For the first time in years it is January and I have no idea, where I will spend my vacation. Maybe it is time to start planning? Do you already know, where you plan to go? I hope it will be a dream location and a dream vacation!

when planning vacation there is of course always the question whether I would like to revisit a place I have been already or venture into a new place. For a photographer, it is at least an easy thing to decide where we would like to be once again. After all, we have our vast photo library and it is of course well organized. So is yours, isn’t it? (If not, why not spend a few rainy days doing that?)

Maybe a short trip to Provence, France? It is a lovely place, very mediterranean, sunny, friendly people, good food and as you can see in the photo, also very nice to take pictures. Or maybe a bit further south, to the Isle of Corsica? It has been a while since I’ve been there.

There won’t be a big motorbike tour with my buddies this year, as I simply don’t have the time to go with them on the tour they will be doing. Island… It is for sure a place on my travel list, but I just can’t afford to take three weeks in a row this year. Too bad. But there will be other occasions.

So it will be Europe, that much is sure. And as the weather is quite miserable lately, it will most likely be a place in the sun 🙂

But enough about my plans. What are yours? Anybody having inspiring ideas, maybe coupled with some photos?

Madonna del Sasso

In 2012, I visited Locarno for the first time and then wanted to hike up to the church which is high above the town. It is called Madonna del Sasso and is part of the “Camina di Santiago”, the pilgrim way to Santiago in Spain. Unfortunately, it was closed for renovation back then and covered in scaffolds. Here’s the wikipedia article about it:

The Madonna del Sasso is a sanctuary and pilgrimage church in Orselina, above the city of Locarno in Switzerland. It is the principal sight and goal of pilgrimage in the city.
The founding of the sanctuary goes back to a vision of the Virgin Mary that the Franciscan brother Bartolomeo d’Ivrea experienced in the night of 14/15 August 1480. The interior is highly decorated, and a platform gives a magnificent view of the city.
The sanctuary is linked to Locarno city centre by the Locarno–Madonna del Sasso funicular.

So, when I decided to to on an extended photowalk last week, it was a no brainer what I wanted to visit in Locarno. it was a nice walk from the hotel. Speaking of hotel, I can really recommend touring Switzerland in November, the hotel rate was way down, I got two nights in the four star hotel Belvedere in a nice room with a lovely view for 310 Swiss Franks.

Locarno is always worth a visit, and being just a three hour drive from where I live, I guess, I’ll be back in Spring, I think it will look lovely in April or May. And I’ll have to go back anyways, as the church seems only to be open when mass is celebrated and of course I was there at the wrong time 🙂

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Madonna del Sasso, a beautiful view high over Lago Maggiore. I’m quite happy with the way the lens flare worked in this picture 🙂
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Entrance to the church. I don’t know why, but for some reason the view reminded me of architecture I would expect to find in Spain or Mexico

Du pain, du vin…

I don’t know what it is about french bread that is so special. But only very few breads beat the taste of a fresh Baguette. Add some cheese, a bit of parma ham and I’m a very happy camper. So, when you visit France, take your time to visit a local bakery. Step inside, inhale deeply and I bet the smell will put a smile on your face.

Should you not feel like getting some fresh bread, just have a look at the other counter and you will find some creamy sweet delights that will melt on your tongue. And if these don’t put a smile on your face, you’re probably dead 🙂

I guess by now you can imagine the joy I felt when I discovered this little marvel here. And it was right next to a lovely cheese shop and the butcher wasn’t far away either. Life got even better when I saw the sandwiches they had prepared. They were just perfect, so I skipped the trip to the little cheese shop and the butcher. Which maybe was a mistake…

Hmmm… maybe i’ll have to go back 🙂

Tales of a little car

The bike opened it’s sleepy eyes when the garage door opened late in the evening. It blinked, the headlights of the car were terribly bright. The bike was just ending it’s hibernation cycle and as you can probably well imagine, it wasn’t pleased by being awaken by big bright lights shining at it’s face. It took a long look at the car that was about to roll into the garage. It was a small red convertible and it had a bit smile on it’s face as it looked at the big bike.

“I’ve done it”, the little red car said proudly.

“You’ve done what?” the big bike asked, still a bit grumpy for being pulled so rudely from it’s hibernation sleep.

“I’ve been on a big tour. You know like the one’s you’ve been with him. It was so cool!

“Oh you were? Where have you been? I’m sorry that I didn’t see you leave, I was sleeping.” The big bike remembering its tours it had been with the man, yawned once more, but the news that its little friend had been on a tour chased the sleep from his system. It always loved to hear about foreign places.

The little care admiring the view. It had never ever been so far away!
The little care admiring the view. It had never ever been so far away!

“We were all the way to the South you know? The sun was shining and it was already getting warm, so I had the roof down all day and it was really beautiful, with palm trees and colorful houses and there was a lake, a lake so big you couldn’t see the shore on the other side!”

The big bike chuckled. “It’s called the sea you know. And yes, it is really huge. Just don’t go into it, the waster is salty and before you know you’re all rusty. So the South you say. You were in Italy?”

The car shook its head. “No, when he talked on the phone about where he was, he called the place Provence. He said he’s in France now.”

The bike nodded slowly. “Ah, I’ve heard from this place. I’ve never been there, but some of my ancestors have bee there with him. It’s a nice place, isn’t it. They told of small bendy roads and how much fun they had. How was it?”

The little car’s headlights shone with excitement. “Oh it was so much fun! Those roads are really cool, going up and down, left and right like crazy. We even played a bit with a bike and he really let me go like wheeeee! but then we ran into traffic and he let the bike pass.” The little care was all excited as it remembered how it was chased by the bike and how much fun it had been to zip around the corners as fast as it could.

The big bike listened and smiled, remembering the times when it had been chasing cars. “So you liked it? The pesky little french cars didn’t scare you?”

The little red car grinned. “Naw, you know, I’m a mean little car myself. And you know, I even speak a little bit french now, beep beep!”

They both laughed and the little car kept talking of the journey, it told of the pretty villages, how it saw the first trees start to blossom and how nice it was to feel the warm Spring air in it’s face.

“You know, it’s a shame you were not with us, you would have loved it.”, the little red car said, it’s voice finally getting sleepy.

“Maybe another time, when it is a little bit warmer and I don’t have to drive back through snow like you had to on the way home. You know how much I hate snow.”

The little car smiled, remembering how glad it was it still had snow tires mounted as it felt asleep, dreaming of the big journey it had just done.

The big bike watched it with a smile and then inhaled deeply. Yes. The air smelled like Spring. It stretched it’s legs and yawned. Yes, Spring was around the corner but it sure could not hurt to get a bit more sleep. Just a few more days and then  Winter would finally be over.

Pont du Gard, I finally managed to visit it!
Pont du Gard, I finally managed to visit it!
In Summer, there will be a yellow corn field here, i'm sure
In Summer, there will be a yellow corn field here, i’m sure
Lonely tree
Lonely tree by the sea
Lonely seagull
Lonely seagull… can you spot it? 🙂

I didn’t take notes – Do you recognize the place?

As (almost) every year since I got more serious with my hobby, I was collecting photos for my yearbook during the Christmas break.  I took a second look at my Photos from the Cornwall trip, wondering why I had only a small handful of photos out of over 700 I liked. So I had another go a the shots and this is one of my second round.

It’s just unfortunate i don’t know where I took the shot. According to the date I took the shot, it is somewhere between Keverne and Padstowe.

Which reminds me I really should take notes when I stop somewhere to take photos. I mean, it’s not as if it would be terribly difficult today, considering we have are never without our cell phones to take GPS tagged photos.

On the other hand, looking at the photo brought back memories of a nice morning when the weather started to change from a constant threat of rain to lovely spring weather. I almost smelled the sea, remembered the curiosity I felt when i looked at the boats at low tide in the harbour. it was a lovely day, the day I really started to slow down and enjoy the trip.

So, who needs to know where this was anyway?

Traveling Kyrgyzstan with Muztoo

There is more than one way to travel in a country you don’t know, where you don’t speak the language and can’t even read writings on the walls. You can go on your own and read books, surf the net and spend months preparing it. It’s the way of the real adventurer, the way deserts and the highest mountains have been conquered (well, except consulting Google) and it is probably the most satisfying way to travel, specially if you can spend months traveling.

if you don’t have that much time for preparation or if you don’t feel that adventurous, you can use a local company to organize the travel and hire a guide to show you around. Of course you’re taking a bit a gamble here if you don’t know the company. It might be a total let down or worth every penny.

We decided to make use of a guide and I’m happy to tell that by using Muztoo, we had a great journey. Although there were still some risks, one could get seriously ill or fall off the bike and get hurt seriously, we quickly realized we were in good hands. Let’s call it an adventure with safety net. Sounds decadent, I know, but trust me, if it is the first time you do such a thing and you have to be back home in time, it is probably the wise thing to do.

Muztoo is a Swiss company that is in Kyrgyzstan for many years now, organizing trekking, bike and jeep tours. They handled our trip flawlessly and with Peter we had the best guide one can imagine. They know the country like the back of their hand and are known well beyond the borders of Kyrgyzstan for being the go to company in Kyrgyzstan if you have trouble with your bike or just want to service it on your trip east. And they are incredibly helpful and skilled. For example, when a biker damaged the cooler on his BMW in Mongolia, he was sent to Osh which is a few hundred miles away and told to hook up with Muztoo. He arrived a day before we left and Muztoo got in touch with us, asking if we could organize the spare part and bring it with us and one day later he was in their shop fixing his bike.

So if you ever consider a trip to Kyrgyzstan, I can really recommend Muztoo

let me illustrate what makes a good tour guide 🙂

Meet Peter Scheich, the best guide you can imagine
Meet Peter Scheich, the best guide you can imagine
He knows how to fix a flat tire while being on the road. Having a spare wheel on the jeep of course helps big time too :)
He knows how to fix a flat tire while being on the road. Having a spare wheel on the jeep of course helps big time too 🙂
Dinner
He knows a family that will welcome you with great hospitality, even if you arrive well after night fall.
He knows the one place in the desert where a tree grows that lets you have lunch in the shade
He knows the one place in the desert where a tree grows that lets you have lunch in the shade
He arrives at the right time at a gorgeous spot to make a couple feel like being on their second honeymoon
He arrives at the right time at a gorgeous spot to make a couple feel like being on their second honeymoon
He takes care of little details. Like fresh coffee. Every day. :)
He takes care of little details. Like fresh coffee. Every day. 🙂
He knows how to treat pain. Although I admit it is spooky to have him press a few points on the arm and have the pain in the shoulder vanish...
He knows how to treat pain. Although I admit it is spooky to have him press a few points on the arm and have the pain in the shoulder vanish…

Landscape of Kyrgyzstan

I won’t write much about it. I’m not a poet and therefore, I decided to let the pictures speak. (as always, click on the picture to get it full screen)

Enjoy 🙂

Last Pass. It's with a sad heart we look back at the last mountain pass of the tour we just crossed.
Last Pass.
It’s with a sad heart we look back at the last mountain pass of the tour we just crossed.
Oasis
Oasis
Clouds over Son Kul this lake is probably my favorite spot of the tour.  (Sorry but you can't see the lake in this shot :)
Clouds over Son Kul
this lake is probably my favorite spot of the tour. (Sorry but you can’t see the lake in this shot 🙂
Scars Kyrgyzstan is a place rich of natural resources. And as always, men started to dig up earth and hunt for treasures
Scars
Kyrgyzstan is a place rich of natural resources. And as always, men started to dig up earth and hunt for treasures
Unknown River
Unknown River
Moon over Yssik Kul
Moon over Yssik Kul
Tall mountains We're at 3000m above sea level here on our way to the Tosor Pass.  I don't know how high the mountains are, but definitely higher than 4000m
Tall mountains
We’re at 3000m above sea level here on our way to the Tosor Pass. I don’t know how high the mountains are, but definitely higher than 4000m
Beat me... I again forgot to ask how this place is named...
Beat me… I again forgot to ask how this place is named…