Category Archives: photography

Tea with the Pope… ?

After having a late night in Budapest, the plan for our journey to Krakow came to a very hard start. The alarm rang at 6.00 am. Our plan was to visit a thermal bath, something everyone who visits Hungary has to do. Especially if you’re in Budapest as you can find there the Széchenyl Medical Bath which is know to be the largest medical bath in Europe.

But what actually is a thermal bath? 
A thermal bath or spa is a natural bathing resort where natural and mineralised groundwater with a temperature from over 20°C is used. Due to the minerals you find in those hot baths it’s known to have medical and healing qualities. Important to mention is that not like in an ordinary public bath you can stay in the pool for hours. Due to the concentration of the minerals it’s recommended not to stay longer than 15 minutes at a time in the pool. The skin is not only the biggest organ it is also very good in absorbing all sorts of stuff. So if you’re swimming in one of those baths your body is absorbing quite a bit of whats in the water and as with everything: too much is not healthy anymore… 😉

And healing water was exactly what we needed. Just picture two zombie-like humans who had less than 4 hours sleep wandering around. The best place to regenerate and prepare for a journey to an other city in an other country is to get pumped up on minerals and while doing it, floating in a well tempered pool… it is just EPIC 😉

So after revitalising the day officially was allowed to start (yes, you read correctly we allowed the day to start and not the other way around). Our goal for this day was to cross the border between Hungary and Poland to reach Krakow our first destination in this country and we succeeded with a few breaks in between. Even swimming in thermal healing baths and an obnoxious amount of caffeine drinks (we drunk basically everything where power and/or energy was written on) can’t erase the lack of sleep, but hey we made it and that is all that counts, isn’t it?

We arrived quite late in Krakow and after a short nap and some freshing up we decided to find something to eat and what would be dinner if we wouldn’t share it with a new friend yet to be found. So the plan stood and the new friend was found quite quickly and Elvis was his name. As already in previous countries and through or whole journey this will not be the last time that we will meet him as he lives in Riga, one of the capitals still on our list of cities to visit. But now back to where we are right now.

Our first evening was quite short as we were quite tired and after having dinner and a short walk around the city the day already ended in a well deserved portion of sleep…

The next day we had quite some things to do. At first we had to explore Krakow and after that continue our journey to Warsaw the capital of Poland and our next big stop. So with our further ado we started into the day. After walking around the ancient city centre we actually managed it to get a picture with the pope…

Okey maybe not the the real one but a wax sculpture of the one and only holy father Pope Francis. But let’s start at the beginning. While walking around the centre we spotted a wax museum and due to our curiosity we went strait in there and we’ve met some important people Mother Theresa, Pope Francis, Pope Ben, The former polish president, Daniels new pet aka the creepy cat and Robert Lewandowski!!!

And if we would have stayed for a few days longer we actually could have met the pope as he was visiting Krakow because of the World Youth Day which was held in Krakow this year.

The World Youth Days
“WYD is open to all young people who want to take part in a festive encounter with their contemporaries centered on Jesus Christ. This event is an opportunity to experience in first person the universality of the Church; to share with the whole world the hope of many young people who want to commit themselves to Christ and others. World Youth Day is a unique way to deepen your faith and grow closer to Christ, by means of prayer and the sacraments, together with thousands of other young people who share your interests and ambitions.”

                  online-source: http://worldyouthday.com/about-wyd, 16.09.2016/14:45GMT.

But we didn’t just looked around the sunny side of Poland, we also took a walk down Europe’s dark and disturbing past. Our next stop for this day was the enamel factory of Oskar Schindler, commonly known through the movie Schindler’s list played by Liam Neeson.

We highly recommend watching the movie as it is a very good and realistic one portraying a shimmer of light during a very dark part of european  and world history – TRAILER.
The famous theme song played on the violin by Itzhak Perlman – THEME.

How was our experience visiting this museum? That’s is actually a good question and not an easy one to answer. On an objective level it was quite an informative, gigantic and well structured exhibition with some interactive stations like stamping cards and a 3D movie theatre. You walk around the grounds of the factory and get a good insight in the past. On a subjective level it was oddly disturbing and highly upsetting. Especially facing the fact that it is not that fare back in time…

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After visiting this – let’s go with – oppressive place we decided to visit the temporary art museum next which seemed to have an exhibition on the human body and psyche. Quite an interesting place to be and as usual if it comes to some pieces of art, the question what raised “Why is that art again?”. Nevertheless considerable as time well spent 😉

As it has gotten late now we we went back to our dearly beloved Ursula and started our tour to our final destination of the day.

WARSAW we’re coming…

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A bridge for the people…

After a late night in Zagreb and a good night sleep, we continued our journey. Next destination on our list was Budapest. While looking at the road to our next city, we discovered that there is a huge lake on our way. And it’s not just some ordinary lake – we’ve spotted lake Balaton.

Lake Balaton is quite famous lake in Eastern Europe. Not just because it’s an amazingly beautiful place that has an incredible view and extraordinary clean water to swim in. This particular lake is famous for its parties. Every now and then you can find restricted areas around the lake where you have lots of fast food stalls, cocktail bar and restaurant next to one other. You enter a total different world. A world of lightly dressed women, cocktails, music, dance floors, music stages for artists from all over the world and more. These are the places lake Balaton is famous for (at least for europeans).

So we did what every reasonable human being would do and made our halfway break there – in the city of Siófok. And it turned out to be as imagined. But we wouldn’t be critical explores if we wont write about the obvious and because of that even more disturbing things that catches your attention if you look close enough…

As Siófok is a city which is known to be a party community the local businesses have adapted to a specific target-group – the drinking and party-tourist! So you for sure won’t be surprised that everything is more expensive than it has to be. Even the exchange-rates on foreign currency are quite interesting. Sadly there is not much of Hungarian culture to explore as it’s about party, celebrations and tourists which come there to do exactly that.

After getting something to eat and have a short break with our feet in the lake, we continued our journey to Budapest, the capital of Hungary which is known to be one of the most beautiful cities in eastern Europe, so our expectations were high as you can imagine…

Entering Budapest was quite a time consuming story as we first got to the wrong part of the city due to a highly confused Penelope who loved to yell at us “ROUTE RECALCULATION!” (I thinks it’s clear that I mean our Navigation-system 😉 ). And on the other hand we managed to get into a traffic jam once we finally found the correct route. So after approximately 20 moon runs we made it to our hostel which turned out to be a very interesting place.

It seems that the place we were staying is normally a student home. You know, a place where students live during the semester for a reasonable price. Here they might find a profitable solution for the semester break – renting out the empty rooms to tourists. But let’s just say it was quite interesting…

So after arriving and taking a short power nap and a stop at one of the most awesome Burger restaurants there is (this Jack Daniels Burger was a love letter made to your senses) , we decided to take a short car-tour through the city to mark the spots we want to see the next day – and guess what – we fell in love with this stunning city. With one place in particular – a bridge – Szabadság híd (Liberty Bridge).

Sir Isaac Newton said once “We build too many walls and not enough bridges.” and he was right. Especially these days. Some people might say now that he obviously never went to Budapest, as there are lots of bridges which connect Buda and Pest over the Danube. I’m quite sure he meant it in a metaphysical way and exactly this is the reason I chose this quote as well as the headline for this post. If you want to find out why, keep reading, we will get there soon 😉

After walking around the city center at night we went back to our hostel with lots of plans for the next day, which will turn out to be quite extreme…

Well rested we stared the day which will enter the history as “THE DAY WE WALKED ALMOST 30kms”. First stop of the day was Café Ruszwurm, one of the oldest Café house in this city and while we were there we walked around the old town and beyond. So after walking quite a bit we decided to make a short break and look around if we can find some company which we did. At a coffee shop next to the St.-Stephans-Basilika we meet Steffi, one of the funniest people we hung out with. Steffi is from Taiwan and was on her way to Prague, to participate in some project for her studies. We ended up hanging out with her the whole day.

So after recharging our batteries and getting some new company we decided to search for one urban legend – the music fountain. A huge water-fountain which plays music while presenting an incredible show. And after wandering around the calm and peaceful Margit-sziget (Margit-Island) we found it and it was worth every step it took us to get there. But see for yourself on our Instagram 😉

While chilling at this surreal fountain we remembered that our friend from Zagreb, Anastasia is also in Budapest at the moment and so we decided to find her and get something to eat. Preferably something traditional as Sid would say. By this time Sid officially outed himself as the explorer of traditional food along the way. If it is traditional he needs to have it 😉 – Said and done and now we were four…

It took us quite a bit to find a place where we can get awesome traditional kitchen as the restaurant we desired told us that there is no free spot and everything is reserved, even-though the whole thing was empty, but hey their loss, isn’t it…

Instead we found a nice place with the best and friendliest service we’ve ever experienced and the food – people the food was amazing. And we even learned something – if the waiter says that the chilly is hot better listen or you will end up like me. We all tried a little bit and as it didn’t felt that hot, I took a bigger piece (approximately the size of a thumbnail) and i regretted it probably the instant i took the bite – should have listened to Sid but as John Dewey already said “Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.”

Strengthened we started our journey to the liberty bridge with the intention to climb it and – guess what – we succeeded and even met some new people even if it just was a short “hey” five meters above the ground. But before we will come back to the bridge to hear about the awesome social touch and to the explanation of the quote and the headline we continue our journey through the day which will now bring us up on top of the Gellértberg, where we visited the Szabadság-szobor (statue of Liberty). Here i need to ad that we really made our way up there through sweat and blood. Instead of the easygoing concrete road we decided to take the path through the little forest and it turned out to be quite intense. When we finally made it up there (Special congratulations to Anastasia for walking up there in her flip-flops). we’ve lost around half our weight in sweat and Daniel looked like he just had a huge fight. The official story is that he fought of evil invaders who wanted to take over the city and won (unofficially my nose just stared bleeding, but we won’t get lost in detail here 😉 ).

After climbing down that hill we arranged to meet up later that night for some drinks and our paths parted for a few hours.

Later that night we went into one of the famous ruin bars for a beer and they indeed are unique. It appears to be a huge cellar split in several different rooms with bars, live DJs and dance floors, but as we had a second destination we wanted to go, we left after a beer and went to the desired liberty bridge. As we lost Anastasia on the way we were just three but it was still quite awesome. We had lots of wine and nice conversations. The perfect end to a long and adventurous day.

So now we get to the story of the bridge you – dear reader – were waiting for…
Already on our first night we witnessed something extraordinary. The whole bridge was closed for traffic and all over the bridge were people sitting, chatting, drinking and enjoying the night. They were sitting on the sidewalk, on the bridge and on the street. A peaceful get-together of all sorts of people, old an young, local and foreign. A place to connect or to say it even better, a place to build bridges. Bridges that connect people from all over Europe, people from all over the world…

City of open-air events and new friends…

Zagreb, Croatia

After our morning tour we continue our journey to Zagreb. The highway was free the route quite simple and the border open – Mission one accomplished.
Mission two proved itself to be a bit more tricky – finding our hotel for the next two nights.
We booked a place about 7kms outside of the city in a small and quiet suburb which proved itself not only small and quiet but also hard to find. So after passing trough the same section of the highway again and again we finally found (after very helpful guidance from a local) the right house – and guess what – we arrived too early.

But the landlord ( actually his mother owns the house but he and his brothers are in charge of renting it) offered us juice and prepared the room for us way ahead of time… We even met his little sister which obviously loves to greet guests out of the window and then magically disappears, hide and seek Zagreb edition.

After a quick power-nap we went into the city to get a first impression of what is going on there and how Zagreb looks like. But here our next mission to solve started – parking!

You know it’s not that easy to figure out the parking rules of a foreign city if you don’t speak their language. I think everyone of you who went by car into a different country knows this problem (I myself had its just a few weeks ago when I did a trip in Spain).

We somehow even managed that. After a bit of sightseeing and staring at the beautiful churches, we found ourself in front of a big stage right in the middle of the main square where a local folk-group presented traditional Croatian dances to the audience. It was awesome to see how the dancers, which were guided by a live band, told a story with their dance. To be fair, there was also some singing (which was quite good, no doubt) but as we don’t speak croatian we needed to follow the story by watching the performers dance – I would say it worked!

After we saw this nice event we just walked along a street leading away from this square to find ourselves in a park where there also was some kind of live music. But this time nothing traditional. It was more of an outdoor food and drink festival with live music presented by a DJ.

So after one beer at this event we wanted to meet up with likeminded people. And what better way to do this then to use the new hangout-feature couchsurfing has to offer. And this my dear readers is how we met our new British friends, but let us start at the beginning…

So we setup a meeting not far from the park where we met Daisy, a British girl studying in Zagreb. After a few complications concerning the meeting point (who thought that there are so many blue clocks on the main square in Zagreb) we finally met her. She was in company of one of her friends from Latvia who also studies in Zagreb and Anastasia with her friend Conner two British travelers who just came from Ultra festival. So from one second to the other we where 6 people and our goal was another outdoor concert Daisy was interested in going to.

Sadly we reached there quite late so we only could listen to two or three songs but we had some very nice conversations and we figured out that Anastasia and Conner also want to go to Budapest next – which lead us to the plan to meet them there again…

Our very long day ended with a huge slice of pizza at a 24hour restaurant (as this place is usually for the people who come straight from a party, you can imagine how the taste is – but hey, pizza is pizza after all…)

This time we reached our hotel quite fast and without any unnecessary mileage and fell to bed like stones sinking on the ground of an ocean. It was a long day and the adventure just started…

Our second day in Zagreb started at noon when we drove again into the city to meet an other traveler. First destination of today is the “Museum of broken Relationships” where we met Freddie, a funny girl from Sweden who is traveling through eastern Europe at the moment. She was in Croatia to attend a festival. I think Sid likes her. 🙂

So we met her in front of the museum and after that we still needed to find a parking spot, which we did after some time. On our way back to the museum we walked by a tunnel, and as it is with explorers, we wanted to know where this one goes.

Here we meet Dragan (We sadly forgot his name so we decided to give him this one), who explained us lots about Zagreb and its culture. We also learned that the tunnel is part of a system leading around under the city and was used during the war in (Ex-)Yugoslavia. In total I would say he’s a very funny person who likes talking about religion, football and politics. He even likes it so much that, when he starts he doesn’t need to breath while talking…

So after our small break we finally managed to reach the museum. The story of this museum is quite as interesting as the museum itself. It all started as an art project about broken relationships and the “Souvenirs” you keep. As more and more people brought pieces of memory they had from their former relationships, friendships, lovers they lost and so on, a permanent exhibition was created – the museum of broken relationships. It’s a touching walk through the stories and emotions of people, a path through what counts in life. I think there is a quite fitting quote from the Scottish movie “Perfect Sense” with Ewan McGregor and Eva Green in the lead roles.

“But first the shining moments, a shared flinching of the brains temporal lope, a profound appreciation of what it means to be alive. But most of all, a shared urge to reach out to one another, to offer warmth, understanding, acceptance, forgiveness, love…”

But now enough of the sadness and on with our adventure with continues at a food market where we met Umit. A guy from Turkey who was on a business trip in Croatia and is now staying a few more days to see some of the country. He is living in St. Petersburg which leads to the conclusion that we will probably meet him again there but for now were wandered around the streets of Zagreb engaging in interesting conversation.

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Surprisingly we ended up at the same park we ended up the night before. This time there was no DJ but instead a nice female singer who gave hits from the 80s and 90 to the best. Her attempts to motivate the listeners failed for the first few times but in the end she managed to motivate a few bystanders of singing with her, and it wasn’t that bad.

So while we were sitting there and listening to the music we got company of other couchsurfers. A girl and a guy from Sweden and a guy from Bavaria. Everyone with its unique story on how they got here. Eva (Swedish girl) for example is living since some time in China and is studying there, while our Bavarian friend has a quite – let’s say crazy – goal. He started in Bavaria with his bike (we are talking bike as in bicycle and not as in motorbike) and wants to travel till central Asia. His journey brought him this evening to the same park we are sitting in.

And to make the whole bunch of people we are now even more intercultural Sid tried to explain them how to pronounce an Indian word which uses a sound which doesn’t exist in one of the languages now put together, German, Swedish, Turkish and of course English as there need to be a common language to have conversation :).

So now you might think that the adventure of this day has come to an end, but NO, not yet. After saying goodbye to our new friends, which are planing to sleep in the park as they couldn’t find a hostel and dropping off Freddie at her place, we went on the search for our car.

What stared at around 1am continued at 2am and 3am till we finally reached home at 4am, but why did it took us so long you might ask, let me tell you…

It took us one hour to find the car, but this wasn’t actually the problem, paving the parking garage was. We ran out of kuna (the croatian currency) on the way, so we had to find an ATM first, also this wasn’t the problem. After finding one the story starts…
We received to big of a paperbill to pay the machine as it only would take smaller bills, which you can’t get an AMT. So we thought we would just ask someone on the street if he or she could change our bill into smaller ones.

After one and a half hours of asking strange people if they could change a 100 kuna bill into smaller we still haven’t got it. In total the people even thought they couldn’t help up were quite friendly and polite except of one guy, who seriously wanted to start an argument with “you fucking tourists” so the coins he thought he could give us as a present he could keep, because our mission wasn’t to collect change its was to change our bill into smaller bills, which we finally did around 3.15pm. A small store at the main square was still open and we managed to catch two fish with one hook. Daniel got not only the bill changes but he also got a strawberry ice cream he didn’t know he wanted. It just took us almost 3 hours to get home but in the end we did it and we realized that exchanging money isn’t that easy, not even in Europe.

Cycling through the seasons…

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July 2015, Khardung La, Ladakh, India

A nice, sunny and warm morning. The small shops on the main marked of Leh are still closed. The air is fresh, the streets are almost empty. Occasionally you see a few tourists wandering around the idyllic city or some locals cleaning the front-sides of their shops. One by one the shutters of the stores open Continue reading Cycling through the seasons…

How to survive a dog chase at 4000 m altitude!

DPP_0137Last summer, while driving through the mountains in the Himalayas, we made a stop over at Karzok village which lies by the majestic Tso Morari lake roughly at 4500 m altitude. From the beginning, this was the place we all wanted to experience and it truly turned into a highlight of our journey. And I can speak for all of us, we probably had the most amazing time in this village. First up, getting there is not easy! Even if you are in Leh it will take you ~8 hours of driving through gravel filled, river washed mountain roads! Next fact, no one goes there! and surprisingly no one wants to go there! And why is that? It is quite easy to get lost as you won’t find any directions leading you to this lake…somehow we had passed by this lake while on our drive on the Manali-Leh highway…with no fuel we might have had to drive 200 km in a different direction (god knows where!)…but you could see it on google maps that the lake existed across the mountain range…It is remarkable how the government is able to take care of this village because its truly one of the most isolated places in India. Continue reading How to survive a dog chase at 4000 m altitude!

“Time”-Traveling ?

DPPm0_0001Traveling, as we all know, is a quite awesome way to spend time. You start at one point and end at an other one. But the amazing part isn’t crossing the finish line, it’s the journey itself. The time you spend on the road, the things you see, you experience, the people you meet, and way more. So you could say that the time you spend on your way from point A to point B is all that matters. If we look at that a bit closer, we can see that time is the important factor here. Continue reading “Time”-Traveling ?