Category Archives: Northern Europe

As part of my photography I travel to areas of the world that are just amazing, I am always very busy, and often have very limited time to sit down and reminisce, but on ocassions I make the effort to record in words what I have been doing, the troubles I get into and some of the amazing people and sites that I get to meet and see, so I hope that you will enjoy my travels diaries. I encourage you to leave a comment below if you feel so inclined, thanks.

Chapter 1

Australia, Malaysia, (Jul, 2014)

I thought that I would try to document as best as I can my trip, I hope that you will enjoy my travels, we will see.  I encourage you to leave a comment or even advise on potential spots that I should divert too, I await your guidance if you have it.

Just so you know in the lead-up to my two month trip, I spent a bit of time not just researching the trip but also marketing my un-captured images, I put forward to various clients an option to purchase a 40″ Limited Edition image from the images captured on my trip, they get first pick of what image they want at a set price, Each image will have only 11 in the edition, two of which are not for sale (1 x Artist Proof & 1 x Charity/VIP print).  So they will get One of the Nine available images left in the set, I am happy to say that these pre-sales have paid for 50% of my trip and will be a great deal for the purchaser’s. So if anyone is interested in joining them please let me know by personal FB message if you can.  (anyway enough of the marketing, sorry!!)

So to start the ball rolling, I Left home with my darling wife at 6:00am to get to the Gold Coast Airport by 6:30am, all good little traffic, booked into AirAsia “Business Class” Yes, and continued through to the International departure lounge.  Met a bloke who used to fly for Singapore Airlines, lives on the coast and alternatively in Indonesia.  He was telling me that he knew the chief pilot and the other crewies on the flight that was shot down over Ukraine, he actually trained the chief pilot, talk about a small world.

Anyway got onboard and away we went, no dramas all good, AirAsia airlines are mega polite, great service and very comfy thanks very much.  The guy I was sitting next to in my flatbed seat (just thought I would rub that one in again) job was interior designs for a hotel/resort chain, so potential work maybe was the parting comment, you just never know do you.  Took a few images out the window near Darwin on the way over, arrived in Malaysia at the main terminal, it would have to be four times the size of Brisbane International, the last time I was here it was a back water and it was not that long ago.

Anyway got through immigration, no paperwork to complete, just walk unto the counter, give them your passport & boarding pass, quick scan of your two index fingers and all done, see you later, grab your bags and gone.  Australia could learn a lot from this !!!,  now I am waiting for my connection flight to Paris, on Air France, five hours to go, so time to chill as my sone would say.  So went to the mobile counter, got a new sim and 5gb data, you beauty, now on the internet, cost about AU$30 bit of an overkill, but it is better than facing the Telstra bill when I get home.  So now I have logged onto the web, went to my personal fackbook page and was inundated with comments on my pending trip, thanks to all that commented and liked, it is appreciated, I just hope that I can live unto your expectations.

Chapter 2

Malaysia, France (Jul, 2014)

Boarded my flight in KL, heading to Paris, Plane almost full but on time, at 23:10pm, I thought that by having a few beers (well a few more than that), I would sleep like a baby on the flight, but no to to be, thirteen long long hours.   Flew over India then onto to France over the Black Sea, even though it was night, you could see the pending sunrise on the eastern horizon, see photo attached.  As we crossed the Black Sea you could see a large thunderstorm with lots of lightning, as well as the south coast of Ukraine, just hopping that they ignored us as we went past.

Landed in Paris, very foggy morning 6:00am on time, big airport compared to ours, got the bags and welcome to Paris.  As I was tired I thought that I would get a taxi, so found the taxi rank, and a young fella said “You want Taxi?” I answered yes thanks, and loaded up and off we went, he was not a taxi at all just an opportunist to make a buck posing as a taxi, i have seen these guys before, anyway he was polite and the car was very new & clean, so off went the lambs to the slaughter, 120 euros later, (taxi is normally 55)  i arrive at my hotel, first rip-off done.

Too early to checkin so i left my gear and thought that i would go and walk around with my Fuji, so i set off, i walked and walked i reckon that i walked about 25klms, i got back to the hotel at about 10:30pm, getting tired at this point, and my feet were bloody sore to say the least, so uploaded my images, charged batteries had a shower and hit the sack, goodnight.  Woke up, got myself ready, loaded up all the gear and headed out to get some images before the crowds, exit time was 4:00am, the city of love was asleep, or at least in bed.  anyway went to the Louve, but all blocked off so took a few shots and continued on around the city on foot again, shit my feet are sore by now.

Ended up at the Eiffel Tower, shot it from all angles, lined up to go up into the tower, thinking that this will be great, I will get some great images up there, 45mins in the cue I go my ticket, asked where the lift was and they said no no no, you take the stairs!!   328 stairs later, one very buggered photographer arrives at stage one, you beauty i thought, i can get the lift now, not so old man you need to go the level two, so decision time, do i climb another 300+ step of give up and go somewhere else the little voice was saying, but no i decide to climb to stage 2, great people everywhere, long line to the summit lift, but hey i climbed the stairs so just do the wait, beside as i wait i can shoot from the edges, so 45mins later we get to the lift, alas the ticket i bought was for stairs only access, should have got summit ticket, you have got to be kidding, so kicked out of the line, told to go and get correct ticket, when i find the ticket booth, there was a lineup there, bugger this i am out of here, so I gave in and left.

So I headed of in a taxi to the Sacré-Cœur, a big church in Montmartre Village Paris, crowds everywhere, have i mentioned them before, anyway decided to take some street shots, have a beer, met some nice people from Belgium, USA & Canada, drank way too much of a beer called 1664, nice drop though.

By this time it was mid afternoon so i decided to go back to the hotel and get a few hours sleep, and charge batteries, as i was now on my last one. so hit the sack for a quick rest, after having 4 hours sleep in the last 67hours since i left, i was buggered, but was still thinking of the sunset tonight which happens at about 9:30pm, so I should get a 3 hours snooze in before i have to get up, well did not make next thing i know it was 4:00am again, i had managed to sleep through, so got twelve hours sleep long time since i had that much sleep, but i am ready to go again, so get out of my way crowds, here i come. !!!!

Chapter 3

France (Jul, 2014)

Well getting into some sort of rhythm now, out and at them at 6:00am on the road, first stop was straight to the local train station, to purchase an all day 5 zone ticket, about $30 Aussie, but this takes you everywhere, so headed of into town to the Louve.

Not many people about at this time of day, so the streets and surrounds were very quiet, long exposures are great to for making those occasional wondering souls disappear!  Anyway I was at the Louvre, photographing away, and a young bloke turned up with his newly wed clients, well of course I was in the exact spot where he wanted to shot, so once we had a chat, all things sorted out, I got my shots and moved away, reset up to continue shooting, see first photo from the iPhone of the couple I shot, processed while I was waiting in snapseed, he thought it was great, so we exchanged info to provide him with the image, he further asked if he could have one on the images I shot with the Phase, happy to oblige.

I point out that I only provided him with the image, so that I did not step on any ProPhotographer – Client relationship, this is important to remember, as it is his living and his client, beside i am shit at these type of shots, and Wedding are not for me.  Anyway new friendships established, continue !!  Left the Louve, went across the river (Le Seine) and had breakfast at a local cafe, Omelette with Mushrooms, and three pots of tea, or what we french tourists call (Por le Ta) “Pot of Tea”, so for those of you that speak the lingo here, feel free to correct me, but whilst i get some very strange looks from the waiters, who obviously can’t speak french, i slowly get along. !!

So now i am a master of the subway, it’s really is not that hard but it took me a couple of days to get up to speed, (yes i know i am a fast learner, i can hear you thinking), well it is cheaper and faster than the taxi, but am still hitting the pavements pretty hard.  just ask my feet, these cobble stone sidewalks and roads are everywhere. They have a great system here for road rules, you can pretty much park where you like, there are no lines on the road except the centre line, so organised chaos is the order of the day, but it works shit loads better than our system in Australia let me tell you.

Anyway moved on did a bit of street photography, and then caught the train to the the palace Versailles, way out of the city centre but easy to get there on the train, well apparently 200,000 other people were thinking the same thing, have i mentioned the crowds before, well it is what it is, yes I know it is Paris in high season, so don’t worry about the comments, i seem to always be in this situation, anyway move on. Went into the Palace grounds, wow what opulence, it is hard to believe how some countries have been able to do & build such amazing structures, I don’t think that there are any rocks left in the ground in France, they have got to have used them all.

So being out most of the day, I decided to return to me hotel, to upload, recharge and write my daily diary, so after a quick shower, I grabbed the computer and headed down to the restraunt to write these words, and the chef turns up Giuseppe, good old french name, no he is from Italy, and makes a lasagne the way his mama used to make, very nice thanks mate.  So now it is time to finish my diary for the day, it has taken me about four beers to write it, so i hope that it makes sense, if not bugger, nobody probably reads it anyway.

On this note I had better finish this and the beer, and get organised to go and capture some more stunning work, i reckon that will shake a few judges heads, just kidding, cheers for now, tomorrow I leave Parrie, and head to Iceland, so now it gets serious, look out Josh, here I come,

Chapter 4

France, Iceland, (Jul, 2014)

Well a bit of an uneventful day today, but started of with up and out there at 5:30am to get the train into the city to shoot the Louvre & Pyramids for one more time before I leave for Iceland, so grabbed all of the gear and headed out.

Got to the train station went to buy a ticket, but all of the machines were out of order, so looked around for an assistant, once found I asked her what was going on, and how could I get a ticket, her answer was simply go to another station, no we can do it manually etc, just go to another station, oh well not to worry, sounds worse that it was, there was another one down the street about 300meters.

So on my way to the other station, and decided to capture some street stuff in stead, so that is what I did for the next few hours.  Then back to the hotel had some breakfast, packed my backs and headed to the Airport for an 11:00am flight.

Arrived at Terminal 1, people everywhere, stood in the wrong que again, only for about 10mins, then asked an official and he directed me to the right line, so off I went to line up again.  Stood in the que for 3/4 of an hour, and ended up about 3 meters from the front, and noticed that others had already got bag tags on their bags, so I asked the people in front of me about this, and they said you have to self check-in over there and the kiosk will printout your tags, oh no not again! 

Anyway the people looked after my gear while I did just that, but I had extra bags so after waiting in the que there, when I entered the flight booking number in etc, it said that it can’t help me see the check-in staff, waste to time #@$@.  So back to the line, thanked the people for looking after my gear, and got to the counter, and checked-in, however I had to pay 60euros for the extra bags,which I was already aware, so no big shock there, however he could not take cash, so I had to go up a couple of floors to pay the bounty and return back to get my boarding pass, more que’s i was thinking, but luck was on my side, no que in and out in a flash, hooray. After all of that on the plane and away, five hours later I arrive in Iceland. Got on the bus and headed into Reykjavik, the main city here and checked into my hotel.

The weather outside was cold and very overcast, no special light to talk about, so I though that i would go down to the bar to have a beer at the bar instead,  Met some interesting people from all over the place, ended up dining with a group, had a few too many beers, but it is still daylight, what ??, yes it was not that I had drunk myself though to another day, it was because the sun sets here at the moment at 11:00pm and even then it remains twilight till it rises again at 4:00am so longs days ahead.  We are currently at about 64degrees north, and will be heading further north over the next week to about 66degrees, so I have now travelled about 92 degrees of latitude and about 170 degrees of longitude, almost directly opposite Australia.

Anyway I am carying on with crap, so thanks for reading, cheers

Chapter 5

Iceland, (Aug, 2014)

Started the day a bit slow due to Jetlag I am thinking, had absolutely nothing to do with the excess of beers, anyway I am now working on a medical degree as I found a few panidol fixes the problem, so had some breakfast and move on with camera in hand, this time I packed light with the small Fujifilm X-T1. 

Headed down to the city centre, about a half hour walk from where I am staying, but with my meandering took me about three hours, some beautiful streets & buildings, mostly small three story houses, shops & cafe’s of all types of cuisine, all joined together on each side, the main part of the city is like a mall where people walk everywhere and cars give way to the people.

On top of the rise in the centre of the city stands a large church, which was completed in 1986, apparently took 7 years to design & plan, then another 38 years to build, the design inspiration was based on the lava flows of Iceland. It has a lift that goes almost all of the way to the top with just four-five flights of stairs to climb but the view is worth it, cost about 700krona ($7 AU).

Anyway I just wandered about the city photographing the buildings & street etc, I big protest march was on in which held up traffic for the best part of an hour, I could not understand what the issue was but I think it was based around someone being raped and those responsible not being brought to justice, thousands of people in the march, placards and statements on clothing, by now it was 4:00pm, so I headed back to the hotel, walking everywhere, tried to hire a car for the rest of the day, but the company wanted 15,000 krona ($150 AU) just for the afternoon, no discount, remembering that this was 4:00pm, seems a bit stupid but the sun does not set here until 11:20pm and it remains half light past midnight, it just does not get dark here at the moment!.

I nearly got ran over today, I am wandering along reviewing my images and just walked out in front of the traffic, head down looking at the images on my camera, all of a sudden I heard this loud horn and a screeching car came to a stop, thank my lucky stars i can tell you !!!

So I got back to the hotel, had a rest for a few hours and grabbed my gear to go and photograph the house & church on Videy Island from the sea wall at sunset, spent a few hours capturing the last of the day there, 10:00pm and the sun was now behind the clouds, so shoot finished, but got some good images of it I think, we will see, so finished the day by grabbing some dinner just before the cafe up the road closed, uploaded my images and backed up, time now is midnight, and I can still see everything, still light, can’t wait to get a bit of clear weather on the road over the next two weeks.

OK that was my day, so see you later

Chapter 6

Iceland, (Aug, 2014)

Well have now been in Iceland for about 6 days, and been on a photography tour with a dozen other photographers headed up by Joshua Holko and Daniel Bergman, we left Reykjavik and headed up into central Iceland to where the volcanic desert dunes are, this area is a large National Park, and are for the sake of another word New Earth generated from the one of last eruptions some 100+ years ago, but it is interesting to see first hand how mother nature slowly rebuilds the ecology.

You can literally see each stage of the rebuild, firstly the big lava rocks slowly degrade or erode into smaller rocks, then into gravel, and further to a much finer matter that almost resembles a course soil, slowly then life appears firstly as moss & fungus, increasing in size to a very short sort of grass, then to small flowers and bushes, and the steps of the flora just to continue to increase in size and density, and all of a sudden you have life restored, after 100+ of years.

As the days are very long it is not only difficult to remember what day it is but also what the time is, as it is so daylight all of the time, and our guides are relentless at lets get going guys!!  Grab your gear and head of to shoot another amazing landscape, the landscape vista’s here in Iceland are like nothing else that you are likely to see anywhere else in the world, the hue’s colours are just glorious, all great stuff to make a stunning image.   This country may be very isolated from the rest of the world, but there are plenty of people about everywhere, but nowhere near the crowds of say France that I have sadly witnessed recently. Anyway we have been to some great places, the attached photos will show some of these highlights.

On our second day out with the guys on the workshop, we travelled across the lava desert to some amazing volcanic craters and mountains, one of which we were informed that we were to climb, and climb we did, up we all went on this little goat track about a meter wide with 40 degree cliffs on both sides of the track, any wrong move and you would be in trouble, let me tell you, step by step encouraged by the fitter members of the group, the wind was blowing so bloody hard it would almost knock you off track.  At last we reached the top, well what a view, certainly worth the effort, even though it was hard work, but the reward was the view that is for sure.

Spent some time photographing the glacial ice on the beach near Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon, Vatnajokull region, which is located midway along the east coast of Iceland, the sand there is pitch black so the contrasts between the two, that is the Ice & Sand is like comparing black & white.  Anyway whilst I was photographing the ice, I had my new Fujifilm camera right down low on a small heap of racked up sand, elevating the camera about 4” above the incoming waves, well as you would know it, the one in a hundred waves came crashing in and swamped me and the camera, but we managed to grab a dry cloth (my shirt) and a bottle of fresh water, so then washed the camera in clean Icelandic fresh water & dried it off, the expressed comments were “that’s another camera that has met it’s demise here”, “No way that is going to work!!”, well despite all, turned the power on and wollahh!!  everything lit up and away I went, all good, Fujifilm say that the camera is very water resistant, well now I can verify it.  It just seems that me and water always seem to get together during trips ??

My bloggs are are bit further apart, but hopefully this will improve, cheers

Chapter 7

Iceland, (Aug, 2014)

Having survived the start of our workshop with Daniel Bergmann & Joshua Holko, we gradually headed further north up the east coast of Iceland.  We stopped at a small town called Vik, it was one of those typical scenes you would see in the movies, neat & tidy streets with small 2-3 stories shops & houses and a lovely church on flats below the mountains that stood out due to the contrasts of colours White church with a Red roof against green mountains and a blue sky, postcard stuff.

We arrived at our destination where we would spend the next three day, firstly we visited the geothermal areas, where the superheated underground water comes to the surface, no geysers but boiling mud and a strong smell of sulphur, although there were plenty of vents just near the carpark on the flat ground, our trusted guides advised us that the best views of them were way up there, pointing to the top of the mountain, so we had to again climb another peak with all of our gear on our backs, starting to feel like a donkey I am, possibly starting to smell like one too, as whilst it is cool at the bottom, when you get to the top it can be significantly colder and blowing a gale, so you have to dress for the worst.  Once at the top, we had a full 360degree view of the whole area, we would stay here until the sun went down, that would be at about 11:00pm, well it was worth the climb, got some spectacular images of the setting sun over the geothermal area, and surrounding landscape. Well worth the climb! despite the knees telling me otherwise 

From here we travelled further north to the first of the waterfalls that we would visit, Godifoss (“Foss” meaning Waterfall) the waterfalls here in Iceland are extremely large to those that we see in Australia, massive amounts of water pouring over the edges of canyon walls, making each one of these waterfalls a spectacle not too be missed.  Lots of driving and not much sleep, we saw every sunset and every sunrise, most days only one to two hours sleep between shoots, but it was all worth it in the end, stunning vistas all over this country, certainly worth the visit. 

Now back in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, so now I need to get my laundry done, as all of my cloths have been used, smell of dirt and sulphur mud etc, getting your washing done by the hotel is extremely expensive, like @AU$3.50 for a pair of socks, AU$11.00 for Jeans, so I headed down to the local Laundry Cafe, only had three machines, one out of order, three dryers, one out of order, another broke down, so one of the young girls manhandled it out of the enclosure it was in, pulled the top of it did whatever, put it back and away it went.  Four & a half hours later, cloths washed and sort of dry.

Our last day in Iceland means that I say goodbye to some new found friends, what a great bunch of people from all over the world, Norway, America, Canada, Italy, Iceland, Australia, & Germany, I hope that we will continue to stay in touch, as I would like that.  So it is now goodbye Iceland and hello northern Europe.

Chapter 8

Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Poland (Aug, 2014)

Well it has been a week since the last blogg, so I have now renamed them as chapters, I hope that this one is not too long, and interesting enough to read, please share with others & click on a like, just so I know you are reading it, comments are also appreciated.

Arrived in Hamburg Germany on time at 6:15am, thick fog, what we would call “Pea Soup”, but the Pilot had no problems landing in it, all good, exit time, walked through the airport as if it was just a domestic flight, great system they have here in Europe, easy & it works, no paperwork, just get your bags and go!   So once I had grabbed my bags, headed of to the other terminal, a couple on hundred metres  to pickup my car, all good, except they don’t have my car that I booked, so free upgrade to an Audi A3, great!!.

So I set up my Tom Tom GPS to drive to Hirtshals, in the Northern most part of Denmark, to get on the ferry to Kristianstand, Norway, pressed the button “Let’s Go”, and a voice started issuing orders, her name was Karen, so all of a sudden I have a new lady in my life telling what to do.

I arrived at Hirtshals, in plenty of time to catch the next ferry which left at 5:00pm, however it was fully booked, no spots available, I was a bit disappointed as I really needed to get to Norway early enough so that I could find a hotel, as I had not slept for over two days, and the next ferry was at 9:00pm,  plus the 2.5hrs trip would make it about 11:30pm by the time I got there, so “Buckley’s Chance” (for those that are not Australian this means bugger all, none or slim chance) of getting a room at that time I thought, so post inquiry was told to try the other line, there ferry was also fully booked also, so ended up on the 9:00pm ferry.

Once I arrived in Norway, I had to drive through immigration/customs, all was good until they saw my German registered car, and I was pulled aside and told to go to a separate area, the guy there asked me a heap of questions, nothing too much, just took valuable time that I could have spent finding a room, so now free of inquiry off I went, and with not much trouble found a room for the night, getting close to 1:00am by the time I hit the sack.

Next morning a slow start to my day, a sleep-in to 6:30am, a full breakfast, and a casual getaway, Karen re-programmed, were off!!  Headed up the western coastline of Norway aiming for the town Bergen some 450+ klm away.

Did not make it the whole way, stopping and shooting takes it’s toll, so ended up staying at this small motel/camping area for the night.  My next-door roommates were working for a Wind Turbine company, and they were there to service some/all of the 44 turbines just near where we were, it was very interesting talking to them, a typical case of don’t judge a book by it’s cover, two of the three looked like vagrants, dope smokers or hippies, but they knew their stuff, no sooner had we discussed what they did, and one went into his room and grabbed the latest brochure on the new 131/3000 turbine, pretty impressive to the uneducated I can tell you, the prop blades on these big fans are upto 65metres each, that makes a 131meter diameter, it generates 3gigawatts of power per hour, and the pole stands a whopping 120metres high, it even has a lift inside, I did not ask but they said no visitor allowed sadly, besides it was Sunday tomorrow, their day off.

The next morning, I left early for Bergen, further to the North, another ferry, another tunnel, another fiord, very scenic stuff, but very hard to park off the road as there is no side to them, just a cliff or a rock wall, as a matter of fact the roads were so narrow that select an area to stop to let other oncoming traffic past, I still don’t know how I missed a bus, our mirrors would have been completely taken off had they have been at the same level, here I am shitting myself, and the bus driver seem to be quite comfortable with it, I looked at my mirror, and it was all but touching the bus.

Arrived at Bergen, lovely place, picturesque to say the least, lovely harbour, boats & old buildings as well as the city itself, spent a bit of time photographing here and then travelled inland but also slightly further north to Voss, just around the 60 degrees latitude, to get there more tunnels, up to @8klms long, in one of the tunnels, I came across a roundabout, that’s right a really big roundabout, lit up in neon blue lights, had to get a photo of this. as it turned out there would be several of these to come, but first impressions were rememberable.

Called in to the head office of Phase One in Copenhagen, Denmark, took a little bit of the JD charm to get past the girl on the front desk, but it worked and a young bloke “Yeppe” came out from the inner offices and I told him that whilst I was unannounced, could he give me a bit of a tour, “No Problems”, so off we went into the inner workings of the No.1 Medium format company in the world, a personal tour, how good was that, I was introduced to various members of the staff, a few that I had met before in Australia, and got to see the assembly process of the Phase One backs, does not get better than that.  Oh and guess what, Yeppe decided to show me the support room, then grabbed a ruined Phase kit, said this one was water damaged, told me a bit of a story about it, and guess what, it was my previously owned and destroyed IQ260 & 645DF+ camera system that had been water damaged, (drowned in actual fact).

So I left Copenhagen to head south to Gester, this is where I will catch the ferry to Rostock, Germany.  I came to the small town of Koge, beautiful old buildings, cobblestone roads & village square with some retail & coffee shops all around, postcard stuff, but moving on further to the west driving across farming country, wheat fields, hay bales & lots of houses & farm sheds, their often red roofs & white walls promminate against the yellows greens & sky blue of the countryside.

Stayed last night at the Hotel Fjordkroen, the bed & breakfast was well priced at about 670DK, that is about AU$128, but believe it or not, this little B&B Hotel had a five star restaurant, and me arriving just before the last dinner bell, dressed to the nines wearing a pair of RM shorts, King Gee work shirt and a pair of Katmandu rubber sandles, (just thought that I should mention that I was wearing brand clothing too, just in case you though that I would look out of place), anyway had a few beers, a nice meal and it cost me as much as the room, all good however it did take the head waiter a time to find me a place away from the others, not sure why, probably thought that I needed a bit more solitude maybe.

Hit the tar early again (@5:30am) to get on my way to catch the ferry, have to be there by 9:00am, and thought that I would take a few side roads, nothing stunning same same, so only a few shots fired, arrived at the ferry, on time, so I leave Denmark for last time on this trip at least, heading for Germany.  Meeting up with a friend from my old surf club in Berlin tonight, Joshua Griffiths, so beers & bullshit tonight I expect, anyway cheers for now.

Late PS:  As I type this blog, I am in the cafe area of the boat travelling to Germany, the time is now @10am, the couple beside me have gone for early openers, a couple of draft beers to top off breakfast!!.

Chapter 9

Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia & Austria, (Aug, 2014)

It has been so long ago since my last blog update, arrived in Rostock, Germany, started heading for Berlin, but had plenty of time up my sleeve, so I thought that I would take a detour through Poland, so proceeded to drive north along the motorway, all going well at about 175kph, then all of a sudden just in front of me, a car with a trailer clipped another car, out of control all over the place, trailer one way vehicles the other, cars & trailer rolled, bit and pieces everywhere, all over in seconds, hopefully all OK. 

Arrived at the Schrina river, where the motorway stops near/on the border between Poland & Germany, waited an hour for the barge, lots of cars in front of me, but “patients grasshopper, wait your turn” was the order of the day, so after an hour or so, got on the barge and travels continued, note to self (“should of had a sleep while I was waiting”) but they just as likely to drive around you instead of waking you, so no sleep, which turned out to be a small mistake, as I dozed off while scooting down the motorway, only for a second or two mind you, but the result was that I grazed the side rail, only just, resulting in some unsavory marks on the passengers side of the car, just as well the lady at the car hire desk sold me the “All Cover, No Access Insurance” ended up a bargain.

Back into Germany, down the Autobahn to Berlin, so had to give the Audi A3 it’s head (that is an old bush saying to let your horse do his thing, go as fast as he can, normally when your on the way back home), so foot flat to the floor and wound the little black car out to it’s max, 216 kph was the top speed, and I was not the fastest either I will say, don’t know how fast some of them go, but I couldn’t catch them.  So arrived at the hotel I was booked into, in the centre of Berlin, my mate Josh was waiting there, help me get organised which was good, ended up having a few drinks over a meal and doing a short late night shoot, thanks Josh, enjoyed it.  Berlin was very nice, plenty to photograph, some amazing architecture, worth the visit that’s for sure.

Left Berlin and headed for Prague, Czech Republic, nice drive stayed in the centre of Prague, roamed around, whilst the city is full of beautiful buildings, it seemed that all of the major buildings where being renovated, scaffolding and barricades everywhere, not good for photography, so did not enjoy Prague as much as I would have liked too.  Next day I headed north-east from Prague, into Slovarkia, only the south-eastern tip of it before passing though to Austria on my way to Vienna, At this point when you cross the border between Slovakia & Austria all you see is a forest of Wind Turbines, hundreds of them, almost all the way to Vienna.

When I booked into my hotel in Vienna, I parked unknowingly in a disabled car park, it was Sunday evening, and I asked the people at reception about the parking spot and he said that it was “illegal” but should be OK unto 9:00am tomorrow morning (Monday) or I would be in trouble with the parking cops, OK, so it was right for now, I will be gone by nine I am thinking, so checked in and put my gear in the room.  As luck would have it, there just happened to be an old almost medieval pub right next door, how convenient is that!  So in true Australian style, i enter to to sample the local nectar, only to be greeted by this thin wiry man with long greyish hair, quite a pleasant bloke, could speak english with a strong ascent but easy enough to understand, so ordered a beer, and he proceeded to pour it, it took a while to get the grog to flow, as I think I was the first customer for the day, anyway once poured, he invited me to join him outside at one of the tables, so we sat and talked about Vienna, his music, the pub and photography, soon after we were joined by several of his daily friends & drinkers, one of which was a lady by the name of Briget Doll, a movie star in her own right apparently, anyway one beer led to another and before you know it, I was in behind the bar, pouring the beer, helping out, spinning a few yarns and bullshit as you do, little of which I can recall, just as well for video diaries I guess !!, embarrassing after the event, but movie star during the event.

Next morning work up late @9:am, wondered downstairs crook as, looked outside car still there, so when and had some breakfast, back to the room, packed up ready to go, went down to check out, no car, !@#$#@.  My car had apparently been towed, shit, what do I do, so the receptionist rang the cops, car tracked down to the impound yard 20-30k out of town, so two train trip, a taxi, and I was there, ¢251 euros to get it out of hock, so whilst avoidable I am now back in my car.  so loaded up my luggage, and headed off to Salzburg in the western part of Austria.  Instead of straight dow the motorway, I elected to drive through the Southern part of the country, through the Austrian Alps, very scenic and photographic.  It is not unusual to see tractors and all sorts of farming equipment on the road in Europe, even on the motorways, but driving into a town called Gosling, Austria, I am confronted with a line of old tractors driving down the road at full speed, as it turned out there were 60 of these farming tractors, in a convoy, I caught up with one of the guys involved at a fuel station that spoke a bit of english, they were a club of farmers in Hungary, and they do this annual trip on their tractors, some 800klms, long drive on a tractor i expect.

Chapter 10

Austria & Germany, (Aug, 2014)

Well after some 45years post seeing the movie, the Sound of Music, and being in one of the the place’s that I always wanted to see personally, I arrived at Salzburg, Austria.  Keen as mustard to see the key locations of the moviee, so spent visiting and fulfilling my “Sound of Music Pilgrimage”, loved this, big tick on the bucket list at last.  Visited the house of the Von Trapp’s, which is privately owned, it has changed not so much structurally, but with trees, gardens & missing ballastrading etc, but it is almost as it was, on the lake.  The abbey, up on the hill, below the big castle, still stands there, and I will go out on a limb, and say exactly as it was in the movie, could not get into the inner parts of it, but was able to get part way in, as well as some of the other locations in the movie, it was great, loved it.

From Salzburg, I drove north-west toward Munich, and along the way visited the famous building that was gifted to Hitler in the early 1930’s, before the war, which became an iconic building in numerous movies, known as the “Eagles Nest” and you can see why!  It sits on top of a very rugged mountain range, about 6,000+ feet above sea level.  To get there you drive to a carpark about a quarter of the way up, then change onto a bus which takes you to almost the top, from there you need to book your return bus down the mountain, if you go there suggest two hours as a guide, anyway, you then walk down this tunnel about 150mtrs, at the end, you enter a small dome room, where you wait for the lift to the top.  The lift inside at least is lined with mirrors & gleaming polished brass, so much so that it looked like gold, an old pedestal type seat in the corner for the lift driver, as well as sold old style controls and the driver/operator in full uniform, much like you would see in a five star hotel, really sets the mood for the journey, the lift takes you up to the building 124mtrs, where you exit into the actual building itself.  Beautifully built and the basic structure remains the same as it was from the 1930 I believe, however internally it has become a Restaurant & Museum.  You go outside, and can hike further up the mountain some, all but vertical drops on both sides, when I was there, a thick fog had engulfed the area, but after a while it started to clear allowing for some great images, had to pull out the 10stop to get rid of the crowds, so we will see what the result is later I expect.

Hope you have enjoyed reading this blog, and hopefully interesting enough to read onto the next addition coming soon, best regards.