For some reason, I can find it difficult to find inspiration when trying to ‘force’ doing photography – for instance during photowalks and similar, especially in places I know well. When Johannes, one a of my friends and co-photographers from my local church, arranged one here in Zürich though, I kinda had to tag along. And it actually went pretty well! I got a good handful of interesting, different shots from places I thought I knew well, and had lots of fun during it all.
If you have even been skiing in the alps, you’ll also have noticed some of the billboards and commercials around the various resorts, that do their best to get skiers to come back during the summer, with pictures of fantastic scenery with lots of mountain flowers and nice green grass – a slight contrast to the snow skiers are usually looking for. Living in Denmark most of my life, and usually going to places with a beach during summer, I’d never actually seen a skiing resort up close that wasn’t covered in snow.
That changed last weekend though, when I, late Friday evening, finally found out where to go hiking the next day (in Switzerland, such a choice can be quite overwhelming for newcomers!). I set out Saturday morning, taking the train to Unterterzen, and then a set of ski lifts up to Maschgenkamm, about 2000m above sea level. Sure, taking the lift up could be seen as cheating by some, but it meant that I could concentrate on enjoying a great hike around the area, instead of having to spend all my energy on going up and down ;)
Being more or less surrounded by mountains, the views were not as impressive as for instance Rigi, but being able to walk for basically hours without seeing cities larger than a couple of houses, definitely has its charm too! On top of this, the air was fresh, the weather was nice, and the main noise was caused by the bells from the large number of cows wandering around on the hillsides (and often on the hiking trails too…).
All in all, a pretty good hike! – and nice to see finally get to try a ski lift during summer also :)
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!
Back in May, my parents came to visit me in Zürich. The weather was fantastic, so apart from enjoying it in Zürich itself, we also decided on finding somewhere to go do something that is widely available in Switzerland, but pretty impossible to do in Denmark – hiking up a mountain! The nearby Rigi massif looked interesting, surrounded by a number of lakes, and according to my dad who’d been up there shortly on a work trip many years ago, the views should be quite good too. So we drove to Weggis at the shore of the Vierwaldstättersee, and at the foot of Rigi, applied a couple of liters of sunscreen and off we went. It started out nicely, going through forests, the very impressive Felsentor (basically a small portal through a couple of very big rocks), and fields with cows (it was Switzerland after all…). We were aiming for lunch at Rigi Kaltbad around halfway up, and after the last part (which was tough – steep paths, rolling gravel, and a blazing sun), we agreed that the rösti and bratwurst was well-deserved. I nearly didn’t make it further, slightly tempted to just stay at one of the very nice looking Spa resorts in Kaltbad, but in the end we did take the last part too up to the peak – Rigi Kulm. The views had been great during most of the hike, but at the top, they were absolutely fantastic. I had of course opted for lugging along my camera, so I was able to capture a bit of the views – even though it only partly can capture the feeling of being on top of the world (ignoring the much higher alps in the horizon of course ;). Slightly exhausted, we took the train and cablecar down – and especially the cablecar was almost worth a trip on its own – again great views, and lots of whooooaaa moments when going over the sides of the mountain :) All in all, a great day!
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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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!
With the whole week around Easter off work, I figured it was time to get out and discover a bit of Switzerland. The weather was looking to be really nice (~20 degrees and sunny!), so a hike sounded like something that would fit the bill. It’s a bit daunting to start out with that in Switzerland though, as the amount of places you can go is overwhelming – and selecting where to head out can be a bit of a challenge. Looking around some maps, I spotted a limestone cave open to visitors near the Thunersee, close to Interlaken though – and as I’ve always had a thing for limestone caves, that seemed like a good idea, especially as there was a nice hiking trail passing by it.
So, armed with my camera I headed off to the train station (very…) early Monday morning. Everything went smoothly though, and soon I was hiking down towards the Thunersee. The route was clearly marked with numerous signposts, so finding the way around was easy (in any case, just following along the shore of the lake would probably have worked too ;). Passing through deltas, forest, by lake shores, up mountains, through small charming villages – and all in wonderful sunshine – I made it to the Beatuscaves. Situated halfway up a mountainside overlooking the Thunersee, and with numerous waterfalls coming out from inside the caves, the location was pretty amazing by itself. And the caves were really nice too – running almost a kilometer into the mountain, and with lots of waterstreams thundering through it at places, it was quite a bit different from other limestone caves I’ve visited.
The rest of the hike to Merligen went well too, got on the bus, and ended up spending the evening in Bern – wandered around the old town centre, and found a nice place to have dinner before heading back to the train station to make my way back towards Zürich. All in all, a pretty okay way to spend a day!
Even though Zürich hasn’t really had much winter (as in, snow, ice and temperatures below 0) since January, some of the higher-located places (as in, the mountains) still have plenty of snow. And you don’t even have to go far – about 50km from Zürich, the area around Mutteristock apparently got a nice new cover of snow during the week – so together with two of my colleagues, I went snowshoeing. Starting in 900m above sea level, heading up to about 2200m and down again, over about 14km in total, it was quite a hike. We expected to maybe have to wear the snowshoes about half the time, but as soon as we went from the parking lot onto the trail and started sinking in pretty deep, we realized that we should probably just put them on right away. As we got further up, the snow proved to be completely untouched in most places – and basically a good 40-50cm of the finest powder! All in all, it made for a pretty great hike – although my legs complained a bit during and afterwards ;)
When you leave your home country, there are always some things you miss – and in my case (and probably also in the case of most other Danes), one of those things is rugbrød – or rye bread in English. Typically made with sourdough and whole-grain rye flour, it’s quite different from the whiter wheat-based breads that are more prevalent in the rest of the world. And, when you’ve been eating rugbrød more or less every day for your whole life, it’s *very* hard to get by without!
Even though I actually managed to find real sourdough rugbrød in shops here in Switzerland (you’ll have to look carefully though!), it just wasn’t the same – and hearing that it apparently wasn’t too difficult to make it yourself, I set out on a quest to find a recipe that could be made with ingredients easily found in Switzerland, and that was also easy and quick enough so that it could fit into my everyday schedule. And – spoiler alert – I succeeded! And as many of my friends (both Danish and other nationalities) really liked it and wanted the recipe, I thought I’d just do a writeup of it here – even though it’s a bit of a departure from my usual content (I got to take a couple of pictures though ;).
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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 :)