Travel

2x Summer holidays

Since moving to Switzerland, I’ve usually spent a week or so at home in Denmark during the summer – visiting family and friends, enjoying the seaside, and eating lots of sild. My girlfriend, originating from Bulgaria, is more or less used to the same thing, just in, well, Bulgaria. Wanting to spend the holidays together, we thus opted for doing a small tour of Europe: 15 days, about 4000km by plane, 2000km by car, 250km by train (and maybe 15km by bike) and 7 different places to sleep, in first Denmark, and then Bulgaria…

We started out enjoying some time in a summerhouse with my family near Ebeltoft, generally just relaxing, and enjoying the salty sea-water that Switzerland still hasn’t caught on to. During the last days we managed to go sightsee a bit in Aarhus, and then visit friends in Odense, before heading off to Bulgaria.

There we started with a crash-course in navigating very wet Bulgarian roads in the dark, before arriving in the Rila mountains, where we spent the first two days. Those were used to visit the very beautiful Rila Monastery, the fascinating Stob Pyramids, and 5 of the 7 breathtaking Rila Lakes. Afterwards we went on to Stara Zagora, for sightseeing, family visits, and a trip to the Shipka Memorial (and the Memorial Church), learning about the history of Bulgaria in the process. The last couple of days were spent relaxing at the beach at the seaside.

All in all, we had a fantastic time – with lots of amazing people, great weather (mostly), beautiful sunsets, views and places, quite a bit of very good food, and some photography also. The only problem was that, as always with holidays, you could always use a feeeeew days more ;)

Easter-getaway to Germany

After a trip to Kuwait and a visit from a good handful of friends from Denmark, April had already provided lots of experiences and good fun – but more was in store! With the extra holidays provided by Easter, my girlfriend and I had also planned to visit some friends living close to the Bodensee in Germany. I had driven past it on a few of the summer-holiday trips south I had been doing with my family many years ago, but had never really had the chance to do more than that – which proved to be a bit of a shame, as the area is absolutely stunning!

We stayed on the northern shore of the lake, and started out with a very nice walk through the many flowering fruit-plantations. The weather was amazing, with sun, warmth and clear blue skies, and a bit of elevation provided for some amazing views across the lake, and into Switzerland. It was even so clear, that we could see the top of Säntis (which we could also see back when we were on one of our winter hikes – just from the other side).

After a quick pit-stop, tasting some of the local wine, we walked back along the shore of the lake, enjoying the sunset. A very cozy evening and morning later, we were on our way back to Zürich – taking the ferry across the lake to Konstanz, just to really get the last part of the holiday enjoyed as much as possible.

Kuwait

I’m still going strong on my quest to visit a new country every year – so when my girlfriend asked me if I wanted to accompany her on a combined work/mini-holiday-trip to Kuwait, I was intrigued. Obviously mostly at getting to spend a week together a bit away from the daily bustle in Zürich, but also about seeing a part of the world that I’d never visited before.

So – off we went! Going in early April, the weather was pleasantly warm – 20-25C, with quite a bit of sun – a welcome change from the still somewhat unpredictable Swiss spring weather. My girlfriend had a concert to play on our second day there, so the first two days were mostly spent relaxing at the pool, and rehearsing. Our contact in Kuwait (who was also playing in the concert) was a great host, and both made sure that everything went smoothly, and that we got to see a few sights afterwards also.

The concert went really well (to the point where they ended up with a big picture of them on the front page of one of the local newspapers!), and with that well over, we could focus a bit more on the sight-seeing part. This included the iconic Kuwait Towers (designed by a fellow Dane), the bustling Arab market, the first performance of a jazz-gospel-opera, and a visit to the impressive Al-Hashemi-II – the worlds largest dhow (a traditional Arab type of ship) – which was placed in a dry-dock right next to the hotel we were staying at, and currently housed a just-as-impressive ballroom.

All in all, Kuwait was definitely an interesting place to experience, even though much of our time was spent relaxing at the pool-side with delicious lemon-mint lemonades ;) (…and obviously also taking pictures!)

Summer at Vesterhavet…

Like most other places in Europe, Denmark has had a crazy summer too – weeks upon weeks of sun, warmth and blue skies. This luckily didn’t change much for the 1½ week I had planned back home during my summer holidays. My parents had rented a summer-house on the Danish west coast, only a few minutes of walking distance from Vesterhavet (the sea, for those not familiar with Danish geography (or language ;) ).

Although we usually get out to see and experience things while on vacation, this time we ended up mostly just hanging out at the house and on the beach. This was due to a combination of most of us apparently just needing some time to do absolutely nothing, the addition of a 10-month old (and absolutely adorable!) baby to the family, and also of it being too hot to really do anything else. The only thing I ended up with pictures of, was thus basically the beach at sunset. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, because as motifs go, sunsets on the beach are quite beautiful! And especially when you’re a Dane spending most of your time in a place without any seaside, beaches or saltwater (not to say that Switzerland isn’t beautiful either – but it just hasn’t really caught up with the idea of seasides yet…).

So while the pictures below may seem a bit alike, I hope they’re still enjoyable to look at :)

If it ain’t broken…

I had been quite busy in the weeks leading up to this year’s summer holiday, and with the weather in Switzerland potentially looking a bit dodgy, I dragged out actually planning what to do in the holiday for quite a while. In the end the holiday began, and I still didn’t have a plan. Not wanting to sit at home spending a week trying to figure out something new and exiting to do, I went for the easy solution, and repeated what had worked so well last year – and booked a hotel for a handful of nights in Lugano.

I’m usually not one for repeating plans like this, but here it made sense. There was still things I wanted to see in Lugano and the area around it, the weather forecast looked good, and I knew that I had some good places where it should be possible to just kick back and relax – which was probably what I needed the most. So off I went, and had a bunch of great days!

Hiking from Monte Tamaro to Monte Lema, checking out the Buskers Festival, spending half a day in Morcote (which I’d only had about an hour in last year), eating great food (tagliatelle with porcini as one of the highlights), and just relaxing at the hotel pool and on the nice little balcony that my room had. And obviously also spending a bit of quality time with my camera, trying not to shoot too many things that I had already done the year before…;)

Kickstarting the holiday season

Even though spring has been preparing its approach for some time now, you can never really be sure when it’ll finally manage to send winter on holiday. Not in Switzerland, and not in Denmark. Thus a bunch of my Danish friends had been contemplating a quick getaway to somewhere that should be guaranteed to be at least a bit warmer than either – and invited me along too! So off to Spain we went, to spend a week in a pretty awesome mansion – relaxing, eating good food, hiking, sightseeing, and everything else you usually do on a holiday.

Being late March / early April, the temperature obviously hadn’t gone to extremes yet, but the 15-20 degrees and, more importantly, almost constant blue skies and sunshine, provided a pleasant change from the “have-some-snow!” approach to spring that weather had taken in Denmark and Switzerland.

In the way-too-short timespan of a week, we managed to see both Valencia and Alicante, go to the picturesque village of Guadalest on the top of a mountain, hike along rocky paths to the top of Penyal d’Ifac, eat lots of icecream, and I even got to make my very first paella (which turned out pretty successful :).

And as usual, I brought along my camera also…

New York revisited

I recently had to do a work trip to Pennsylvania in the US – and as I was planning the trip, realizing that I’d need a rental car in any case to get to the slightly rural setting of Lititz, flying to New York and driving from there quickly materialized as a workable option. Or well, doing that, just flying in two days early and spending the weekend in NYC was the actual option I was thinking of ;)

Cue plane landing in JFK, and me heading toward Manhattan for a quick revisit of “the city so nice they named it twice”. The setting was slightly similar to last time I stopped by – as in that it was still in the darker months of the year, and still bitterly cold. But as the snow had been exchanged with Christmas decorations and throngs of people (it was the weekend after Thanksgiving after all), it still provided a very different experience. All in all I had less than two days, but still managed to see the Frick Collection, have waffles at the Christmas market in Bryant Park, see Central Park without snow, do a nice walk down the High Line, and see lots and lots of Christmas lights (although I’m still a bit confused as to the connection between Christmas and the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs-themed decorations that Saks Fifth Avenue had spent a lot of effort putting up in their windows… ah well…).

I could easily have spent a couple of days (or possibly months ;) more in the city, but even so, still a great weekend!

Blue skies in Lausanne

On my quest for getting as much out of the wonderful autumn as possible, my next stop was in a part of Switzerland that I hadn’t yet visited – to the west, around Lake Geneva. I didn’t go all the way to Geneva though, but instead opted to stop in Lausanne. I had gotten a few tips from one of my co-workers who knows the city very well, so armed with that, I got on the train early in the morning. Having arrived, I did the same thing once more – got on another train (although for a much shorter ride!), to Grandvaux, just outside Lausanne, but within the large World Heritage Site of the Lavaux vineyards. The weather was perfect – slightly chilly (it was October after all), but with blue skies and wonderful autumn sun.

I had a good walk through the vineyards, learning a bit about the history and processes along the way, before ending up in Lutry, and taking the train back to Lausanne. After strolling around the city, I visited the Palais de Rumine which had an exhibition by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. I’m normally not that big a fan of contemporary art, and initially, I didn’t really get the point of most of the pieces exhibited. When I finally got around to have a look in the accompanying booklet though, the added context and explanations turned it into a very interesting experience – especially with my recent trips to Beijing in mind.

Next stop was the Lausanne photography museum, but as I found out when I got there, it was currently closed as they were putting in a new exhibition. Ah well… I took a walk in the nearby park, and came upon the Olympic Museum instead. I wasn’t really prepared to do a full tour, but they had a special exhibition on Sports Photography, which seemed kinda relevant to me ;) And it was really good! Some fantastic and very varied photos, and some really interesting stories behind them also.

After the museum, I took a stroll along the waterfront, found some dinner, enjoyed a spectacular sunset, and then headed back to Zürich after a day well spent!

A different side of Switzerland

Two well-deserved weeks of summer holidays were approaching, and I had been planning to do a multi-day biketrip around the Alps close to Zürich – staying at cozy mountain hotels, eating lots of cheese and all that stuff. However, due to a last-minute problem with my bike, that ended up as a no-go, as it required some repairs that couldn’t be done in time… Hmm…

Luckily though, Switzerland is nicely positioned in the middle of Europe, which means that you can jump on a train, sit there for two hours, and then get out in something that’s pretty close to Italy – in my case, Lugano. Situated south of the Alps, between tree-covered mountains, right next to the Lake Lugano, with language, cuisine and weather that is definitely inspired by the southern neighbor, you can’t really get closer to Italy without actually being in Italy.

I had found a very nice hotel right at the lake, close to the city-center, and was prepared for about 3 days of relaxing, hiking, photography, and eating pizzas – ended up a success on all accounts :) From enjoying just sitting in the city park reading or enjoying the sunset, over hiking in the nearby mountains (followed by well-deserved stints in the hotel pool), to great pizza, pasta, risotto and ice cream.

It was basically just what I needed to throw myself into holiday-mode – and I think it’s not that last time I’ll be doing that!

2047 Apologue

In May, I spent close to two weeks in Beijing for work. Even though the pictures from that trip may suggest otherwise, there was actually work involved also ;) To be precise, we were doing the first rehearsals for the show “2047 Apologue”, which was to be shown at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (or NCPA) for three evenings in June. So – early June, I went back to Beijing for quite a bit less sightseeing, and quite a bit more work. The show was a concept theater, directed by the famous Chinese director Zhang Yimou, that seeked to investigate the future relationship between people and technology, by combining traditional Chinese performing arts, with state-of-the-art stage technology. And at Verity Studios where I work, we can provide good amounts of the latter ;) Our main competence is doing drone-shows – for instance a large fleet of small drones with lights, flying around in complex patterns – more on this later! In any case, since it’s a bit hard to explain everything in pictures only (luckily I got a few!), I thought this trip was worthy of a slightly longer write-up…
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Beijing!

Having to travel for work can be annoying for some, but I usually quite like it – especially when being able to go to places like Beijing, as I just did for the past almost two weeks :) Spanning two weekends, there was luckily a bit of time for relaxing and having a look around also, so I tried to make the best of it. Amongst others, this included visits to Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, a few of Beijings traditional ‘hutongs’, and also the Great Wall of China.

As most people, I had heard about the Great Wall, but seeing it, and realizing how it follows and tracks the landscape across mountain ridge after mountain ridge, was nothing short of breathtaking. Curving along, and going up and down (rather steep in places!), it seems to have just been built in place as they went along, rather than having been subject to lots of planning beforehand. But then again, with thousands of kilometers of wall to build, that was probably the easiest solution. Impressive none the less! Main problem was that it quickly became a bit challenging to figure out ways of not making all the many pictures I shot look just totally the same :)

One of the things that surprised me the most, was the amount of trees scattered all across the city. Usually when hearing about Beijing as the city, it’s about the massive size, immense amounts of people, and air pollution – so seeing basically every single street and avenue lined with trees was a positive surprise – and made for a very different impression than the concrete desert that I had somehow subconsciously expected. The air was still bad though – luckily not so bad to be much of an issue, except for a single day, where a sandstorm in a nearby region covered the city in a yellowish fog (classified ‘Hazardous’, with pollution levels as high as 900 – ‘Unhealthy’ is hit at 150, and can be compared to the about 15-30 we usually get in Zürich). With convenience stores stocking masks for such occasions, we geared up, and luckily survived without more problems than a few irritated throats.

All in all though, it was all part of the experience ;) – and made for a very interesting trip!

When in Rome…

Since 2010 I’ve been trying to visit at least one new country every year – which has been working out pretty well! 2016 was well underway though, and without any obvious trips coming up, I was almost planning on using me having moved to Zürich as an excuse to justify not getting a new country this year. But after having studied my calendar a bit, I decided on not giving up on my principles without a fight – and started planning an extended weekend in Rome in November. It’s not that I’ve never been to Italy before (actually, as can be seen from my other galleries, both my vacations earlier this year have actually been to Italy also ;) ), but – I’ve never been to the Vatican – which is pretty much a no-brainer to visit when in Rome, even without funny ideas about visiting new countries. So off I went, and spent three very nice days enjoying St. Peters Basilica, the Vatican museums, the Pantheon, Forum Romanum and the Coloseum, attending an awesome violin concert of Vivaldis the Four Seasons, eating pizzas and paninis, and a whole lot of other stuff – and much of it in t-shirt and sunglasses, even though it was deep into November…
However, even though I’ve been to quite a few other bigger cities lately, Rome did annoy me a bit more than usual, by kinda requiring a wider lens than my trusty 18-200mm. Big things in narrow spaces are apparently a thing here! (I’m looking at you, Trevi fountain) But all in all – still a great trip, and managed to snap a few shots of the stuff that *did* fit in my cameras field of view :)

Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe!

With the weather in Switzerland being more or less perfect during most of the last couple of weeks, two of my friends, Phil and Justin, and I, decided to head to Jungfraujoch to enjoy the view. Jungfraujoch is a col at almost 3500m above sea-level, situated between the Jungfrau and the Mönch summits, which are both more than 4000m high – so on a clear day, the views are great – and most definitely something that you wont see anything similar to back in Denmark ;)
The train ride from Zürich took quite a while, but with the view being stunning even from the train windows most of the way, it didn’t matter much. Heading through valleys with forests, picturesque villages, pastures and waterfalls running out over cliff faces several hundred meter high, the scenery was absolutely stunning! Arriving at Jungfraujoch, suddenly walking around in snow, knowing that most people were struggling with +30 degree temperatures back in Zürich, was quite an experience too. After having spent most of the day enjoying the views and the fresh mountain air, taking lots of pictures (giving my polarizer a good bit of exercise) and having my first (but not last!) taste of cheese fondue, we headed back towards Zürich – stopping for a bit in Kleine Scheidegg for a quick hike around the hills, and in Bern for dinner. All in all a great day!

Holiday in Cervo

Rather exceptionally, this year my parents, my brother, his wife, and myself, managed to all take a week off at the same time, and choose to spend that together in Cervo in Italy. A very charming town, and fantastic food and weather made for a great week of holidays. Only problem was that it was a week or three too short!

From Drejø to Zürich in a week

As noted in the last post, I’ve just moved to Zürich to start a new job, and pretty much also a new life. Leaving Odense after almost 14 years wasn’t easy, but the last couple of months has had me enjoy as much of it as possible – and I also barely managed to squeeze in a trip to the very small island Drejø with my choir, the last weekend before leaving for Switzerland. A great trip, and some wonderful people – which I also got a couple of pictures of.

Being in Zürich for a week now, I’ve had time to look around already. Thursday was a public holiday, the weather was great, so I decided on heading up to one of the highest points around – the Uetliberg. A 4½ hour walk with almost 500m of height difference wasn’t the most relaxing way to spend the holiday, but the fantastic views and an altogether very nice hike, more than made up for it. And yes, obviously I brought my camera also ;)


Skiing in the Dolomites!

It’s winter! – which can mean that there’s snow in parts of Europe not all too far away from Denmark – so I jumped on a bus with a couple of friends, and headed for Canazei in the Italian Dolomites for a very nice week of skiing. The views are absolutely fabulous (at least when you’re not stuck inside a cloud), but as I deemed carrying around several kilos of camera equipment slightly detrimental to my skiing abilities, I only got around to bringing the camera onto the slopes two of the eight days – and those days didn’t have the clearest weather, but even so, made for some nice shots!

It *was* dark, but I forgot my sunglasses…

The last month has had me traveling quite a bit for work – Ireland, France and the US. On the last trip, we had a six-hour layover in Chicago on our way back, so instead of just sitting around in the airport, my colleague and I headed into the city to have a look around – main thing we discovered: a couple of hours is not nearly enough! – and I should have brought my tripod too, instead of stuffing it in my checked luggage…

Paris in autumn? Oui monsieur!

My work sometimes brings me outside Denmark – and on some of these occasions it’s possible for me to squeeze in a bit of leisure too. This time around I had to do a bit of work in France in the beginning of the week, so I departed from Denmark early, and got to spend the weekend in Paris – including enjoying the lovely autumn colors, seeing the Louvre (or well, part of it – and I thought the Met was huge!…), climbing to the top of the Notre Dame, experiencing a violin concert in the Sainte Chapelle, and eating lots of cheese and taking lots of pictures… All in all – I could think of much worse places to spend a weekend ;)

Moments from the Danish summer 2015

Autumn has arrived in Denmark – the sky is gray, the weather is wet, and it’s dark before 8 in the evening. So – a good time to reminisce a bit on some of the things I did over the past three months, and to try to clear up my Lightroom backlog a bit. (Oh, and in some of the cases I’ve experimented a bit with the post-processing, so some of the pictures may be a bit more funky than usual…)

Summer in Munich

During my well-deserved summer holiday, I had a week without any plans – and instead of spending it sitting inside back home, hoping for the Danish summer weather to show itself from a slightly better side than it had done for the first part of the summer, I semi-spontaneously decided on booking a trip to Munich. I’d been there for five days when I was exhibiting at Automatica back in 2010, but at that time I didn’t really get to see much of the city, apart from the Munich Congress Center and a couple of restaurants. So – I thought I’d give it another shot – and I wasn’t disappointed! Munich proved to be a fantastic city, and I ended up doing some nice walks and bikerides around the old city center, seeing a lot of very interesting castles (the Residenz and the Numphenburg castle) and museums (the Alte and Neue Pinakothek were particularly nice!), eating some fabulous food, getting quite a bit of the Biergarten-vibe – and enjoying weather that was apparently quite a bit better than back in Denmark. And (surprise!) I brought my camera along also…

A weekend in New York

Last week I had to spend a few days in Texas for work – and managed to put in a weekend in New York on my way back. First time I’ve been to the States, and I did have a great time – although my legs were getting a bit tired after spending more than two days sightseeing a fraction of the stuff that NYC has to offer. The High Line, Times Square, Central Park, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Bridge, the Top of The Rock, jazz at Lincoln Center and a quick peek into B&H Photo were just some of the things I managed to squeeze in. And of course – some pictures:

Cornerstone Israel Tour 2014

Apart from photography, one of the other things I do in my spare time is to sing in a gospel choir in Odense – called Cornerstone. We’ve been talking about going on a tour for a few years, but this autumn we finally made it happen. That meant that I got to spend almost 9 days doing concerts, sightseeing and generally just having a great time in Israel with some awesome people – I can’t really think of a better way to spend the autumn holiday :)
And of course I brought along my camera also – first batch of shots are up below – more will follow!

Kilimanjaro

I’ve just come back from a trip to Tanzania, where I, together with 7 others (and a lot of guides and porters), climbed up Kilimanjaro. An absolutely fantastic experience that I’d not want to be without – and at the same time something that I’ve no interest in doing again – at least not within the next couple of years ;)

It was incredibly exhausting – especially the last trek to the summit – and I didn’t get to take quite as many pictures as I’d assumed I would. Mainly because a DSLR is a bit cumbersome to get out whenever there’s an interesting subject, but also because my habit of holding my breath when taking pictures, makes managing with thin air quite tough.

In any case though – I did get around to taking a few hundred shots – gallery is below (6/4 – Updated with the last set of photos).

A slightly shameless plug

There’s a nice company in Denmark doing canvas print of photos called Sumopix – I have a 100x60cm canvas of one my photos (a lotus flower in a small water basin outside a temple overlooking Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan) decorating one of the walls in my living room, and am really happy with it. Interesting thing is, they also let individuals apply for approval as “artists”, and will then let you upload your own photos to their artist database, for others without photos of their own to use. Should someone else decide to order a canvas print of one your photos, you’ll get a nice percentage of the order total.

I got approved some time ago, and currently have five photos uploaded on my Sumopix Artist profile. I haven’t exactly been able to quit my day-job just yet, but to my surprise, I actually sold two prints of the “Winter” photo last year. Pretty nice feeling, and just knowing that someone else actually wants to have your stuff hanging on their wall is kinda more worth than the percentages I got…

I’ve added some scaled-down versions of the images currently on my Sumopix profile, and also included a quick snap of how my own print looks on my living room wall. Be sure to go buy a few prints of my photos if you like them ;)

Egeskov Castle

As summer is upon Denmark (and holiday is upon me), I chose to spend the day at Egeskov Castle. Took the bike, which gave me a nice 2 hour ride in each direction. Weather was great, although a pure blue sky does look rather dull in a photo. I’ve had too many summers with bad weather in Denmark to be able to complain about that though ;)