Tag Archives: France

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 12

Switzerland, Italy, France, Luxemberg, Belgium, Netherlands & France (Aug, 2014)

I am starting this chapter where I left off from Chapter 11, I left Brig, Switzerland after having some breakfast at the Convent where I was staying at and commenced driving up over the Simplon Pass, the road winds it’s way up through the alps and back down the other side into Northern Italy, towards Milan, as it was our 27th wedding anniversary in a couple of days I thought that it might be a bit of a winner if I sidetracked and visited the fashion city to buy some lovely gift for the bride, but reality kicked in and a quick calculation meant that it was going to cost me another day, which I could ill afford as I needed to make Frankfurt by the latest on the 5th, so that I could then make Mont Saint Michel by the 8th of September as that was when the high tides were, so nice thought but just not practical, but hey it is the thought that counts isn’t it ??

So I continued on driving along the northern border of Italy, down along a valley floor, with tiered vineyards on the northern face of the valley wall and basically nothing on the other side, very scenic, the roads however are about 1.5 car widths wide, so careful when passing, it felt like I was driving a cartoon car when you got close to passing an oncoming car it was as if your car just got thinner & higher to get past, I have got to say my mirrors were having a heart attack, the only reason they were still there was that they were at a different height to the other cars I am sure, the buses didn’t seem to give a shit, they just kept going at the same speed, I would shudder when they went past !!.

Anyway continued to drive on into France, and reached the border of Italy/France at Albergo, which is on the eastern side of the famous Mont Blanc, (you know like the pen), well whilst very scenic, I took the opportunity to photograph the eastern side of the alps at this point, then it was time to move on, so set the GPS for Chamonix, pronounced “Chamoneaaaa”, so to get there I had to travel through the Mont Blanc Tunnel, 11klms in all, you have to line up at the toll booth, about ¢45 Euros (@$70 Aussie) that took the best part of an hour, and then when you get to the toll, three booths, paid the money and the boom gate does not go up, why ???, well they let the traffic go one booth at a time 30seconds apart, you have to drive between 60-70klms per hour.  So anyway boom gate up and out of the traps I went like a bloody greyhound, keen to get going after wasting over an hour at the tolls.

Half an hour later I arrived at Chamonix, as you come out of the tunnel, you have to turn either right towards Chamonix, or left towards Geneva, so turned right to Chamonix, well what a lovely place this is, however unbeknown to me, the mountain Hikers or bushwalkers annual show was on, ten thousand walkers, camping staying in the hotels, they were everywhere, so no accommodation for miles, bugger, managed to convince one of the hotels to let me use their internet access to get online to book some accommodation near by, ended up about 30klms away, but it was very nice, way up in the mountains.  By the way the western side of Mont Blanc is spectacular the whole area is just beautiful would love to see it in the winter when there is some snow about.

So the next day I yet again loaded up the car and headed for Geneva, via a small village of Yvoire on a lake (Lac Lëman) between France & Switzerland, the border goes down the middle of it, this village has an old stone castle on the edge of the lake, and the surrounding walls were made up of thin but tall stone shops & houses, about three stories high, which I assume were built a thousand years ago, the streets were made out of cobblestone about 5 meters wide if that, and all of the buildings were built out of stone, with blossoming flowers in every window, very unique place, down at the waters edge is a very nice pub, where I had lunch before moving on.

So now on the road to Geneva, a major city at the southern end of the lake back in Switzerland, spent a bit of time there photographing the city and the fountain on the foreshore of the lake, nothing spectacular for the landscape photographer here so continued on heading for Luxembourg some 500+ klms away, so back into France and up the highway, it was getting dark by this stage and I had not been able to get any internet so that I could book any accommodation, so I decided to continue driving through the night to catch up a day, so drove north to Nancy and then further on to Metz, getting very tired, apparently had another nanna nap and managed to graze the side of the passengers front wheel against the cement curb in a tunnel somewhere, did a bit of damage to it, but was able to continue on after no problems, so arrived in Metz, and decided that I was that close to Luxembourg that this will do for the night, so slept in the car for what was left of the night, about an hour was all, but at least that was something.

When I woke the next morning I had a bit of a look around Metz, interesting city, not much stood out to me so I continued to drive to Luxembourg, checked into my hotel, and spent the rest of the day looking around the city.

It had been raining, so wet roads and much cooler in Belgium, as I travelled along the road I came across a paddock full of tractors, a big tent, cars parked on both sides of the road, and one big boggy patch, thought wonder what is going on here ??, so pulled up, parked the car and walked over.  once I got closer I could see that it was a Tractor Pull competition, for those of you that don’t know what this is, they have a trailer (big one like the ones on the back of semi’s/trucks, which is really like a sled), as there are no front wheels on it, the rear of the sled is loaded up with cement blocks, so the idea is that the tractor has to pull the sled to the other end/finish line, about 110 meters in this case, as the sled is being pulled forward, the cement blocks also move forward on the sled, thus bogging the front of the sled into the ground more and more until the tractor cannot pull it any further, the tractor that pulls it the furtherest becomes the winner. By the time that I arrived the competition was over, and the celebrity drinks were flowing and trophy presentation well underway.

Moving on I drove further through Belgium towards Brussells, at this point I am driving through very flat farming country, with crops of corn, feed crops like lucern or the like & just bare ploughed paddocks, as I said quite flat, the narrow road was regularly lined with avenues of trees with the occasional one or two missing, and out of nowhere you see this huge mound like a some giant ants nest, perfectly shaped cone, green as a leek, and at the top you could see a statue, wow what is this I thought.  As I got closer, there were signs directing tourists on how to get there, it was the famous mark of the “Battle of Waterloo” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Waterloo ) where the Dutch & Prussian armies conquered the French army led by Napoleon in June 1815,  post the battle of waterloo the king decided to have a memorial built to honour where his son the Prince of Orange was fatherly wounded and also to commemorate all of those that had fallen in the conflict.  The mound stands about 43 meters high (@150 feet) and placed at the top of the mound is a lion made from the bronze of melted down canons from the battle, estimated to be around some forty tons of it.  You can climb the stairs to the top, easy enough, and from there you have a 360 degree view of the whole country side, below just near the base of the mound there is a museum that houses artefacts from the battle as well as a 360 degree gallery inside the domed ceiling showing the aftermath of the battle in all directions.  There is also a tavern there, quite a lively place, they had old time rock & roll music playing, all of the oldies were up and dancing, as well as internet so was able to book a hotel in Brussells, so I am going to get a sleep tonight and a shower, great.

From here I continued on to Brussels, arrived there just after lunch, checked into the hotel, had a shower and a change and out to discover what so good about Brussels, as I was staying right in the centre of the old or original part of the city, the streets were very tight, only the width of a car in some cases, they seemed to go in all directions, confusing to those that had just arrived, making sure I remembered which way back to the hotel, down two, right one, down another, you get the idea …  anyway following the crowd, I came into the main city square, WOW, this is some town square, the buildings were huge, all decorated and gilded with gold, which just gleamed, an impressive sight to the poor man I can tell you.  The square was about 100 x 100 meters square, with a huge Cathedral at one end, the square was paved with cobblestones, and people everywhere, so I just continued to stroll about seeing all of the old shops & streets all built in the dark ages I reckon, but clean & very scenic. I ended up having some dinner at one of the cafe’s in the square which I am glad I did stick around because during the evening the square came to life with a light & music show.

Next morning I was out and about before dawn, as I wanted to photograph the town square before anyone arrived, which I did, it was great, hopefully got some nice images there, after I had finished photographing the square and surrounds, it was back to the hotel, grab some breakfast, booked some accommodation for tonight while I had some internet and continue my trip further north towards the city of Amsterdam.

Chapter 13

Belgium, Netherlands, Germany & France (Sep, 2014)

Back on the road again, driving further North up through the countryside of Belgium into the Netherlands, I am driving through broad fields of Maize and harvested fields of Wheat & Alfalfa or lucerne as we call it in Australia, bales & bales of hay as far as the eye can see, what seemed to be thousands & thousands of them.  Further North-East I eventually came to the coast, and as you you drive along the coast you realised that you are below sea level, depending on the tide that can be some five meters plus, Bit hard to believe but when you cross the fiords or bridges, some of them go for miles, you have to go up to get on the bridge and then down at the other end, the levy banks are holding the sea back this is for sure.

Eventually I arrived at Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, as I had already booked my accommodation all I had to do was find it, I was staying in the central old part of the city, mainly so I could walk around and see the sites without having to muck around with the car all of the time, got to my hotel, and as luck would have it, there is a car park straight across the road from where I am staying, as I was only staying a day, the meter allowed me to pay for a day in advance despite the cost of $50 euros a day.  Anyway booked into the hotel, and as always I was given the furtherest room from reception there was, no lifts in the building which apparently is the norm, so I had to man handle all of my luggage two flights of stairs up, the stair should have been called a ladder, as the stairs themselves were about 12cm deep and went up, at I kid you not 60˚+ degrees, I am told that a lot of the houses/hotels are like this in Amsterdam.

So I spent the afternoon walking around the inner city, took a boat ride around the canals, learnt a bit of history, saw the smallest or thinest house ever, it was no more than a normal door & a half wide, that is the whole width of the house, and three stories high don’t know how they got up there but it was true.

The following day I backtracked to go and photograph the mills on the river outside of Amsterdam, there are a row of seven of them right on the banks, a big tourist spot, and worth seeing if your are in the vicinity, once I had had a look around taken some images and a video diary, I  then travelled to the Cambo factory, which is again just out side Amsterdam, Cambo is the manufacturer of my main view camera, the guys there were so helpful, unannounced they welcomed me in, we discussed my Cambo experiences, and they even went to the trouble of giving it a service while I was there, while I was being shown around the inner workings of this amazing place, some great new stuff coming out which will be on display at Photokina in September 2014.

Time to leave the Netherlands and head further north back into Germany, drove on to Hamburg, stayed there for the night, before continuing on to Frankfurt, at Frankfurt I said goodbye to my A3 Audi it was worse for ware as I had travelled some @10,600klms in this trusty little car, had it impounded, two separate small crashes/scraps, many near misses, autobahn floggings >215kph and some road rage moments by the driver, all in all it handled the pounding well, so it was here we separated and it went off to the cleaners/repairers and I headed to the big Central Railway Station. So with ticket in hand I boarded the Bullet train for Paris, @300kph it goes, so covered the distance in just a few hours, It is funny how things work out, the seat that I was allocated, the guy just across the aisle from me was from the Central coast of NSW, he worked for Yalumba Wines, and was travelling on his yearly around Europe trip to see what is going on in the vineyards & winery’s here, so it was great to have a conversation at last with someone that could speak fluent english.

Anyway arrived in Paris, was hoping to catch up with some friends that were also travelling across Europe, we have conversed via Facebook and we were going to catch up but they were on a tour and their itinerary did not allow for us to spent a few hours together, bit of bad luck but we will catch up at home I am sure.  So after I checked into the place where I was staying not far from the Louvre, I decided to go and photograph the Eiffel tower again, got there before dark, decided to get involved with a street con artist, playing the three cups & pea game, fully aware that I was being setup, but I could not resist, I am smarter than this idiot, so wagered $100 euros on the outcome and did it cold, had just enough for a taxi left, so back to photography I thought, so set up the camera and waited for the sunset and subsequent light show that they put on, very hour from dark to about 11pm.  Then back to the hotel leave the gear there in the room and out to find something to eat.  Nice little pub across the road plenty of grog, late dinner it was now after 11:30pm and cigarette smokers by the dozen, everywhere, sickening in actual fact.

Next morning I went down to the Louvre before dawn, wanted to get some more shots of the area, no one around, great!, shot to my hearts content, as well as just around the streets as well, then took the gear back to the room, getting some breakfast on the way, left all of the heavy gear there, grabbed the Fuji and back to the street, ended up in the Louvre, often as a photographer, you do not get to enjoy what it is you are shooting in this case it was the internal part of the Louvre, no que to speak of, so straight in.  Saw all of the greats, Picasso, Monet, Renoir etc, including the Mona Lisa, a quite small painting considering it’s reputation, anyway lots to see, I spent over half a day in there and only saw a small amount of it, the grandeur and opulence of the building and it’s contents is amazing. 

Back to the hotel, got all of my gear and headed out to photograph the Moulin Rouge building and surrounds, so did that for a few hours and called it a day and went back to the hotel, backup charge up etc, goodnight.  Tomorrow I am off to see the Mont Saint Michel, on the Normandy coast of France

Chapter 14

France, Paris, Mont Saint-Michel (Sep, 2014)

Currently still in Paris, have to go and pickup my new hire car for the next six days, got to the hire place, took me a while to find it, eventually got there, signed up, threw all of my gear in and then setup the GPS to go to Mont Saint Michel, some 600klm away, I decided to travel south through the countryside of central France through Le Manns, then onto Mont Saint Michel, so now with the GPS set of I went, onto the freeway and straight into a massive traffic jam, stuck there of almost two hours, getting crankier & crankier, eventually free of the traffic jam which put me behind schedule, but go the autobahns.

Arrived at Le Manns, a city on-route to Mont Saint-Michel, it is where they have the motor races, thought that I would get a shirt that had something to do with the local races there for my daughters boyfriend, but after looking up and down half a dozen streets, could not find anything, so decided to call it quits and move on.  I continued to drive further south I had hoped to get to the southern part of France where the vineyards are, went via Angers, Cholet, but as I had lost time in Paris, was not able to make it, so had to turn away and head west, stayed at the lovely old town of Roche-sur-Yon,  it was very late but their doors were still open, ran by an elderly couple, he did everything, cooked and fixed things, and the lady did the front office, worked well, enjoyed the stay.

Next day loaded up my gear and headed for Mont Saint Michel, I have mentioned it previously, but will repeat, the tides at Mont Saint-Michel vary some 13+ meters, but unlike normal tides they have a period where the tide level does not change at all, and a period where there is a super tide of over 13 meters, when this happens the Mont is isolated by sea water, and thus becomes an island. It is at this time that that everyone wants to be there, and as planned months in advance that moment which last over two days just happens to be over the next two days !!!

Arrived at Mont Saint Michel, whilst you can stay at the Mont, there are many old ancient hotels there, but are normally well booked out in advance or are just way too expensive, so I elected to stay at the local pub, always a great choice if you are a photographer, as they tend to know the local stories, points of interest etc, perfect.  So booked in and got all my gear ready to go, even though I was staying here for the next three days, I was keen to get out and about to check out the different vantage spots etc.   Drove down to the sea’s edge, and there it was just appearing out of nowhere, this amazing place, located about 3klms of the mainland, connected via a thin piece of land and an elevated man made walkway, it is shaped like an upside down cone, with a historic abbey at the top, and it’s steeple making it look more like a pyramid, very medieval and beautiful at the same time, you just want to go out there and photograph it.

Over the following two days I shot the Mont from various angles from sunrise to sunset and into the night, spent a bit of time relaxing, having a beer at the pub and catching up on some post-processing, emails, Facebook etc, I needed the break.  So the first day I spent my time wandering around checking out the best spots, shooting the Mont from wherever I though would be a good angle, studied the lay of the land so that I could take advantage of the best angles when I needed them the most, and the best way to get there as I am always in the dark when walking to where I want to shoot the sunrise from.

Part of the experience is being out on the mud flats, these flats extend as far as the eye can see from the Mont, some 20klms I am told, and on occasions are known to have areas like quicksand, thats right the legend of the area says that you just might disappear out there without a local experienced guide to show you the way around, I however decided to go it alone and traverse the flats myself using my own cunning and special sense of survival, in other words just follow in the footsteps of those that had walked before you, then I got game and just wend wherever I wanted, what quicksand??  At anytime on the lowed there were many hundreds of people walking on the mudflats all most being guided, they walked for kilometres out from the Mont.

Whilst I ventured out easily on the mudflats, you need to be aware that the tide comes in fast, on this occasion the high tide was a 13+m tide, so it rises very quickly, not sure how fast exactly, but if you were out a kilometre or more and the water was at your feet, by the time you got back to safety, I think that you would have to swim the last hundred, so be warned.  After the mudflats, I went into the township on the Mont, absolutely beautiful old buildings, the abbey itself is just amazing, being always maintained and continually restored, I understood that there are thirteen resident monks living there and a continual stream of others making their individual pilgrimage there.  It is a step into the past that is for sure, you just feel that you have gone back one thousand years, hope that it remains the same for the generations to come.

So on the last morning of the high tide I again load up my gear and head out into the dark at about 5:00am, get into the car and drive out to the carpark, which is closed, but I had discovered a way in the previous day, so in I went, got the closest carpark, thew all my gear on my back and like a donkey of I headed out to the Mont to get there for a dawn shoot, thick fog surrounded everything, so much so that if you had not been there before you would not have known which way to go that is for sure.  So off I walked out into the fog, quite cold, with the only guidance being a string of lights on the side of the walkway for the first 1klm, then it was every man for himself.  It is about 3-4klms out to the Mont, so it takes a little time, but like always the load that you start with seem to get heavier & heavier as you go along, whilst I have carried my gear over many kms perhaps thousands of them over time, I just never get used to it, perhaps the gear is getting heavier, or is it I am just getting older & weaker, probably the latter.

Anyway it was good news to finally get out there, still in total darkness, the air was so think that you could hear the early morning tradies talking when they got to the Mont, and others that you could see under a light pole in the distance, thick fog and sunrise are great elements for a landscape photographer, they just add extra mood to your image, I suspect that in the years ahead that the post processors of the day will be able to add the fog & sunrise lighting to the image, they will not however have to get out of bed early, or have to bear the cold, just do it all in the comfort of their home or office, but the difference is that we the dumb shall have the story to tell of the what we did to get the image, this in my opinion is the difference between a great image and a piece of art, the story is an integral part of how the viewer obtains an emotional attachment to your image, therefore it is an important part of my photography.

Well I had all of the elements in a line, the tide was right, I was there at the right time, I had fog, sunrise light was about to happen, right position all good, there were a few others around but not crowding me at all, the cops had stopped the traffic as the water was due to go over the road shortly, all good, I had been shooting for about half an hour, watching the fog bring the Mont in and out of view, across the water 50+ meters from me were another photographer and a couple of guys with a octocopter, their new fangled machine lifted off and up through the fog it went to photograph the Mont from above, I was so jealous of their potential shots, I had visions of the peaks of the Mont appearing out of the fog, with beautiful sidelit sunrise light on it, an image that I could not get where I am that is for sure.

But alas somethings just happen, these guys were from the France Channel Two news team, they were there to photograph the high tide around the Mont, and they had interviewed several people during the morning so far, then out of the blue or fog in my case, they arrive at my tripod, and ask to interview me.  So I spent the next ten minutes talking to these guys, they told me where they were from, and that it would be on the news tonight, yea yea I thought, heard all of that before, but true to their word here it was the full interview on the TV, and the web, not sure that it made good viewing but it was done either way, I was jiggled later by a friend that it would only be me, who would tell the TV crew to go on hold so that I could take a shot, which was true by the way.

So my time at the Mont had come to an end, it was a great experience, loved the Mont and the local area, if you get the chance go and do it, spend a day or so there, it will be worth your time.

Chapter 15

France, Malayasia, Australia (Sep, 2014)

So after three days photographing Mont Saint Michel, I packed up my gear for the final trip back to Paris via the Normady Coast, I was looking forward to getting back to Paris, I booked into a nice hotel just near the airport, this was great as I could easily get to the airport in two days when I was due to fly home.

That evening I again photographed the central parts of Paris, it is such a beautiful city, whilst I was still on the same trip, the seasons had noticeably changed over the time I was there, also the crowds had lightened off significantly which was great.  I managed to get some great images of the Eiffel Tower in the following early morning sunrise, overlooking a perfectly still Seine River giving great reflections of the tower etc.

Before leaving I had to drop the car back to the rental people, dints and all, I thought that this was going to be an issue, but all good, walk away insurance is great!.  Then it was back to the hotel, grab my gear and head off to the Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris, not that many people about so check-in was simple, went for an upgrade and after a bit of translation issues, bargaining etc, managed to get an upgrade for the trip home, you beauty I though, great trip home, enjoyed a bit of 5star at last.

Arrived at the airport in Malaysia, grabbed the train into town, spent a night at a selected hotel, the “Traders Hotel” in Kuala Lumpur just near the Petronas Towers with the full intention of spending some time photographing the towers from an elevated view, but the only place that I could shoot it from there was at the bar on one of the top floors, wrong move, ended up talking to some other tourists, doing beers and sharing stories and the photo shoot never happened, bugger, but I did enjoy the evening.

Later the following day I was back to the airport on my flight back to Australia, after two months away, I was glad to get back home, it was a wonderful trip, I got to see and enjoy some sights that I never thought that I would ever see, absolutely amazing, the different culture’s & architecture, real eye opening stuff and I highly recommend that you the reader take the opportunity to further explore the big wide world we live in, your personal vision & self can only benefit from the experience.

TRIP STATS

  • 57 days of travel
  • 18 Countries (Order of Travel): Australia, Malaysia, France, Iceland, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Germany, Czeh Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, France, Malaysia, Australia.
  • >35 Country Border crossings
  • 658 Gigabytes of data
  • Over 14,500 Images
  • >107 Uploaded Video Diaries
  • 10,661 kilometers in Europe by hire car (excludes Iceland)
  • Unknown Number of Traffic Infringements, Speeding & Parking Fines.
  • 1 Towed Car
  • 2 Dings
  • 9 Currencies.

I hope that you have enjoyed the read and that it may have inspired you to visit some of the place that I have travelled too, all the best

Jaime Dormer (Photographer)