My last photo journey in 2013 took me into the Sihltal, the valley where the Sihl flows through towards Zürich city. While the highlight of this tour is the Sihlsprung — a large boulder that during a rick slide fell into the Sihltal at a point where the river is quite narrow — the light had settled on a unfriendly grey when I arrived at that particular place. I did get to see a rather nice dawn, though, and while walking along the river further upstream from the Sihlsprung, the sun made a brief but very welcome second appearance…

Guess it has been awhile. Moving this blog to my own provider is essentially one step in taking control of the “content” I have “out there”. I also changed the name because, well, the old one seemed a bit silly. Not sure if this move will create a surge of new posts any time soon, but I will try posting from time to time about the little trips I sometimes make to take photos. Maybe it’ll amount to a renewal of this place, and probably it won’t… Let’s see, shall we?

Nazar Değmesin!, originally uploaded by demirole.

Just a short note: We went to Turkey for two weeks in August and I finally managed to upload my pictures. We spent four days in Cappadocia, visiting historical sites, hiking through striking valleys, and riding up in hot air balloons! It is a very nice place to visit…

La Tour Eiffel, originally uploaded by zutalegh.

Ah, Paris! How did I manage to resist your charm for so long? Dispraise you by visiting all these other cities, all these other places? Can you ever forgive me?

Within the context of living up to our self declared status of being the very center of Europe, we took another 3 hour and something train journey to… Paris. Lovely Paris. With that charming bouquet in your Metro at summer time! Where dog poo might obscure your gentle cobble stones! Where a waiter might hit you because you ordered your meat medium instead of rare!

Four days long we walked the little streets and crossed large squares. We climbed up the Eiffel Tower (well, only the first bit) and the Dome at Sacre Coeur. We crossed the Tuileries and the Jardin des Plantes. We had café in tiny little, well, cafés. And we made the big mistake of trying to see the Palace at Versailles with about a million other tourists. But that was all forgotten once we arrived back in… Paris!

akropoli, originally uploaded by zutalegh.

Be honest: What was the first image that came to mind? Masses rioting in the streets of Athens, setting alight anything in their path? Well, then your first impression set you on the wrong path! When I was in Athens in June, burning only had one possible meaning: a boiling thermometer! While on arrival the scale was resting lazily around a cozy 33 centigrade, it quickly climbed up to a less pleasing 38! Lucky us, the heat lessened a bit towards the end of our stay to a Solomonian 35…

So, what do you do when the air outside feels like sticking your head into an oven? The choices weren’t quite that obvious since I was there on a conference, so at least part of the day I spent in an air-conditioned lecture hall sous terrain. The rest of the time, however, we embraced the heat and enjoyed the many many historical sites that Athens has to offer.

Of course we climbed up to the Acropolis and enjoyed the fantastic view of the city. We also visited several other historical sites like the temple of Zeus, Hadrian’s library, the Roman and the Ancient Agora. Panathinaiko Stadium was especially nice since it did not offer the least bit of shade on probably the hottest day of our stay.

But don’t get me wrong! Athens is a fantastic city and I really enjoyed our stay there! More than the historical sites and the interesting conference it was the food that made the stay exceptionally entertaining! Regardless where we ate and what we ordered, it was very good to unbelievably decent prices.

Certainly, the current political situation did not go unnoticed: the metro did strike for three days, on one day no public transportation was available at all. The city seemed not very crowded, though I don’t think that June to August is really visiting season for Athens, it is just too hot. We traveled to one of the closer islands, Hydra, which wasn’t awfully busy, either, but I had already that the bookings have been down quite drastically from last years numbers. It is a pity, since all I have seen just made we want to go back and stay a bit longer!

In summary, a great one week get away, half work, half pleasure, in a truly fascinating city! Hit the link here and here for some pictures.

marseille_vieux_port, originally uploaded by zutalegh.

Or Marseille, as it is known today. Unlike Asterix and Obelix, however, Bouillabaisse wasn’t the reason for our visit to the 3rd largest city in France. Nor was it the wish to watch Olympique, which is struggling to secure a spot for next year’s Euro League. Nope, we were visiting friends, taking advantage of the very nice TGV connection from Geneva (only 3.5h, no changing). Of course, this winter causing chaos and craziness throughout Europe’s train network, our journey ended up being about twice as long as expected… Oh well, what can you do besides stay at home?
I have never been to the Mediterranean in winter, and even though temperatures were slightly warmer than home, the mix of sea smell and atmosphere with wintery chill was curious… What made the chill turn into a full-blown freeze was the Mistral, which brings icy cold air from the North throughout the whole year. I had actually thought that the Mistral is more of a hot summer wind, but boy, was I mistaken (that hot summer wind is called Sirocco and is less frequent). Especially on higher ground the chill factor was harsh. On our way up to the Notre Dame de la Garde, a basilica that overlooks the whole city from about 150m altitude, a local laughed at us for being so foolish. I admit that it was very painful holding my camera without gloves up there, but the view was magnificient.
Marseille’s old town and harbor are charming and I had a great time there, Mistral or not. We even had some fish stew, and though I do not know if it qualified as a authentic Bouillabaisse, it was very delicious (as was the Profiterol afterwards… :)). Check out my pics on flickr!

… might strike one not as that funny, but delivered with a proper British accent, it sounds hilarious! I was in London two weekends ago and it is the Piccadilly line that is for the place with that, let’s say, unfortunate name…
I like London, but it always astonishes me how long it takes to get in, out, or through it. Additionally, winters seem to get harsher recently, and that creates chaos in the UK’s already stretched public transport system. But I was lucky and made it there and back again with only manageable delays. In comparison, Eurostar travelers went through hell and then some.
This brings me to my point: traveling around Xmas/Year’s end is always close to a nightmare. First, there are a lot of people with the same idea. Second, the weather is bad and interferes greatly not only with getting in time to your destination, but also with the safety of one’s journey. Third, home is a really, really nice place when it is cold and dark outside.
The first time in years, I am at home for Xmas. Sure, we did go to London the weekend before, and we visited friends in Zürich during the holidays. But Xmas eve I was sitting in my couch with a stomach full of Lasagne. And I must say, I enjoyed that profoundly!
However, whatever point I was trying to make is actually going to be moot since we are soon going to New York for 10 days or so… Considering the rubbish weather and the new security measures that are in effect since yesterday, that trip is going to be a treat!
Hmmm, it seems I do not have a point after all. I very much would like to spend next year Xmas/New Year’s at home and avoid the whole travel craziness. But I somehow have a feeling that it won’t happen…

The Milan Cathedral is not only an impressive building, it is also completely out of this world. Shimmering white it looks like an alien apparition waiting to return to its home at the end of space and time…

Milan is about three hours and 10 minutes from Lausanne by train. Ideal for a weekend getaway you say? You betcha! So we packed our little rucksacks and off we went on a little journey. Now, obviously there were some catch 22 along the way: since summer there is a new train on Geneva-Milan connection and since that train has a car less then the old one, the booking system would need an update to avoid reservations for a non-existing car… Guess what happened? Wasn’t that tragic, though, there was still enough room for everybody. And even the annoying guy across the aisle discussing genocide and abortion with his neighbor, who happened to be a bishop from South Africa, could be drowned out by the mp3 player…

Now, I certainly associate endless museums and monuments with any Italian city. Sure, no place is like Rome, I guess, but I was expecting still quite a lot of ancient stones and the like. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that Milan isn’t like that at all. Sure, there are several very interesting art galleries and museums, Leonardo’s last supper (requires booking tickets quite a bit in advance, though), the Castello Sforzesco, and, of course, the Milan Cathedral (and many many other historical places). But ultimately I didn’t really feel like missing out when we decided to take it easy and just enjoy a few warm sunny days walking about.

Of course, walking means getting tired and that usually leads to sitting down and enjoying some little snacks and treats here and there. It was on our way to Santa Maria delle Gracie that we stumbled over chocolat, a cafe that serves one of the best ice creams I have ever had! While there flavor selection is huge, the three times we visited I stuck to trying out there five or six chocolate flavors… Oh boy, that gelateria alone is a good reason just to jump into the train and go for a ride…

While we are talking about food: I enjoyed all my lunches and dinners, ranging from a sandwich or a pizza to the steak in wine sauce. And the desserts, unbelievable! It is good that we stayed only for a weekend, I don’t think that my clothes would have fit me after a week. Even when you just go out for some drinks you will get served something to eat along with it. And I am not only saying some peanuts or crisps, oh no, we are talking about tapas like stuff!

So, all in all we had a wonderful weekend in Milan. And it is so close, why wouldn’t we wanna go back soon? But then there are so many other places just a train ride away….

Or how do you actually call the years from 00 to 09? Nineties, Eighties, those are all simple and easy ways to refer to a decade, but what shall we call the first ten years of the 21st century?

So, anyway, here we are, another year has passed. Was an interesting year, but personally I prefer the odd years. Somehow the are more fun as the even ones… Intersting, huh? Think about it…

The last few weeks of ’08 were filled with a somwhat crazy travel schedule. It included a five day trip to India (turned out to be six since I was made to miss a flight), a bit of England here and there and good ol’ Hamburg.

India was a very interesting and intriguing experience. I was there for a workshop, so it was a business trip, but I had a very good time down there. I even made in into the news , can you guess where they refer to me? Now I feel like I have reached the peak of my career and I should retire before my star starts fading again…

So much or this brief hello, I will be back soon to write a bit more about my India visit.

View from my bedroom this morning…

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