We stepped out of the Crazy Holidays bus into the ‘crazy’ Büyük Otogar bus station. Ten plus hours on a bus from Thessaloniki, with only baklava to eat, our heads were swimming in the masses of people.
It was drizzling slightly, and a touch cold, something I had not expected. We grabbed our bags from the bus, and headed towards the sign that said ‘Taksim’. We waited in the drizzling rain with countless others for the transfer bus to arrive. Finally when it did there was a mad rush for the bus. People were pushing, squishing, doing what they could to get onto the bus. It felt a little reminiscent of a time I had in Uganda trying to get in a Matatu in the rain.
Needless to say the bus was full, and Oliver and I continued to stand under the ‘Taksim’ sign. 15 minutes later and the next bus arrived. It was larger, and we got on without problem. “Finally on our way”, I though. Once we started moving we turned on our GPS’ to get a bearing of where we were headed. We were making our way towards the city, however a lot more north of Taksim. Finally the bus stopped, and the driver told everyone to get out. Here we stood roughly equal distance from Taksim as the previous bus station. However this time north of the city.
Again we waited.
After some help from a young university student we caught our next bus. This time the direction was right, and we finally arrived in Taksim Square. Our plan was to stay with our friend Amanda. She told us to go to Taksim and call her. Here we were in Taksim, calling the number she gave me. It didn’t work. Shit. “Try again without the zero”. Nothing.
By this point it was closing in on midnight. Being a Friday the city was full of excitement and people. Yet we had no place to stay, and heavy bags on our backs. We started to wander. With our phones out, GPS’ on, and WIFI scanning we meandered our way south until we found some free WIFI. Sitting on the sidewalk we Googled a bunch of hostels and saved them to our GPS, then got on our feet and started walking. On our way to the first hostel we stopped in at a hotel. The owner told us, “Istanbul is full, no vacancy.” I may have one room though, I will call the person to see if he is still coming.
After a brief phone call in Turkish he tells us the room is free, 90 Euro for the both of us. We decide we would take our chances on the street and find out for ourselves how full Istanbul is.
The first hostel we get to is indeed full. However the guy running the counter calls all the hostels in the area and finds a vacancy at a place called Rapunzel, situated beside the Galata Tower. A short jaunt and we are there. The French girl behind the counter explains the hostel rules, as her lo-fi ambient techno plays on. We stumble our way up the stairs and drop off our bags, the start of our adventure in Istanbul…
After that night the rest of the trip was a lot less hectic. We found a really relaxed place to stay called 68 Hostel, and finally managed to get into contact with Amanda. Istanbul was a real special place. We spent close to 5 full days there, and it felt like we only scratched the surface. We did a lot of walking and exploring. It was nice breaking off the beaten path a few times and going into neighbourhoods tourists normally don’t visit. Istanbul has a real heartbeat and vibe to it. It was like being in New York with a mosque on every corner, and buildings built 200 years BC. I look forward to my next visit to Istanbul, and getting to explore some of the other sites of Turkey.
Here are some photos from our time in Istanbul.
October 20, 2011 1 Comment
We flew to Thessaloniki because it was the closest city to Istanbul that was also the cheapest to fly to from Prague. We stayed longer because of the incredible hospitality. From the moment we arrived at the Little Big House we were treated like honoured guests. Vicky and Harris did everything they could to make us feel welcome, including complimentary Frappés on arrival, and looking up any information we could possible want. We also expected to be in a 4 bed dorm. Technically it was, however each set of bunks was in it’s own room.
After Prague, Thessaloniki was also a nice retreat from the tourists. The city is a university town, and at night really comes alive. With lots of great restaurants and bars. On one of our days in Thessaloniki we did a day trip with some friends we met at the hostel to a nearby beach town. It was interesting being there after the peak season as the town just felt really dead. It did mean we had the entire beach to ourselves.
If you have the chance to make it to Northern Greece I would definitely stay a day or two in Thessaloniki (not to mention at The Little Big House). Here are a few photos from our time in Thessaloniki.
October 16, 2011 No Comments
Prague has always had a special spot in my heart of places I have wanted to visit. Not that I had ever been there, but there was a mysticism about the medieval city. When the chance arose to checkout Prague for a few days over a weekend I jumped at it. Now I have to admit, I am not the biggest fan of crowded/tourist overrun places (hence my not so fondness of Venice), which unfortunately Prague is a little bit of. However with that said I still really enjoyed my time there. Having just finished reading George RR Martin’s a Game of Thrones it put to life a lot of the book. If Prague was a place in the 7 Kingdoms it would most certainly be King’s Landing.
I think in a few months I may try and return to Prague once the snow starts falling, as I have an inkling the city could be quite a romantic place dressed up in white.
Here are some of my favourite shots I took in Prague.
October 9, 2011 1 Comment
Back in 2003 on my way home from Uganda I stopped over in Europe to visit my brother Rob, and do a quick tour through Germany. We had a little road trip from Freiburg where he was studying up to the Netherlands. Before heading north, we took a day to visit my fathers hometown of Rohrdorf. It was interesting to walk around the small village thinking this is where my dad had lived and grown up. He had even drawn us a map from memory, which was almost perfect except for the scale (everything was much smaller than he had remembered).
With my brother back in Germany for a short time before setting off for the US, we decided to meet in my mothers hometown of Gotha and explore her past. We were joined by our cousin Christian who lives in the area, and acted as our tour guide. We visited the town center, explored the castle, then visited the house my mother grew up in. We then drove around Thuringia and explored a bit of surrounding area.
It is in an interesting feeling to look back into your families past and explore the places your parents lived. It puts context to stories they tell you, and gives understanding to who they are. Here are some of my photos from the day.
October 6, 2011 4 Comments
Last time I was in Germany it just happened to coincide with the wedding of my cousin Johanna. Back again in Germany and another major event in the life of my cousin Johanna’s, the baptism of her child (along with the baptism of 3 other children including my other cousin Christoph’s daughter). Johanna had asked me if I would like to shoot photos for them, which I naturally obliged to do. It was a bit hectic and crazy with 4 kids being baptised, not to mention the others there to watch, but was a lot of fun. Here are my favorite shots from the event!
October 6, 2011 No Comments
I will be honest, I don’t normally shoot a lot of black and white photos. Typically my shots are quite the opposite, fully saturated with colour. However when visiting the Reichstag in Berlin, the first thought that came to mind was how well the building lent itself to black and white. The smooth metal, the reflecting windows and mirrors, the spiralling lines, just perfect. Here are some of my favourite shots from my visit to the terrace and the dome.
August 16, 2011 6 Comments
Over the weekend I had a bit of free time, and decided to checkout the Winterfeldt Markt in Schöneberg. The market was vibrant, and bustling with people and activity. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, food stalls, and lots of clothing and trinkets. While leaving the market I ran into Pat and Nicki who were also on their way to the market. Funny how in the city of 4 million people you still manage to randomly run into someone you know (This happened a few weeks ago as well). Here are a few shots from the market.
August 15, 2011 1 Comment
A few weeks ago I travelled out to the Kootenays to visit my parents and spend some time in Fauquier. It was nice to get out of the city and make it back home for a visit. I hadn’t really taken many photos since breaking my leg, so it was a real treat to finally get out with my camera. Most of my shots are from the canoe paddling around the Arrow Lakes.
July 18, 2011 3 Comments
This year Christmas was a little more special than previous years. It was the first time in about 12 years that we had all the brothers home for the holidays. The last time this happened (at least that was documented) was my highschool graduation. It was definitely long overdue, and made for one full house. It was also the first time many in our family got to meet my niece Azure. It was a really fun time having everyone together, and I was happy to be able to get a few photos of the full crew before we went our separate ways.
Here are some photos from Christmas at the Klopp’s house.
January 10, 2011 1 Comment
File this post under the better late than never.
The major reason for me to go on the big road trip from California to Colorado was to attend the wedding of my friends Venassa and Raphael. I had met Venassa back in 2006 in Vegas when following Pearl Jam on their west coast leg of the tour. She had seen us during the Canadian Tour (or our Van) and got into contact with us wanting to join us if we ever did another tour. When the US tour was announced she joined us in Vegas. As things go I also met her now husband Raphael at the same time. He was living in Vegas at the time, and was meeting up with Venassa for one of the first times after the two had been set up by friends who thought they would get along well.
After the tour I kept in touch with Venassa and would see her every so often when visiting Montreal. When she told me she was engaged to Raphael I was extremely ecstatic for them. The chemistry between the two when I first met them was obvious, and it made me happy to hear they finally were able to make it work. When Venassa asked if I could take a few photos of their wedding, I told her I couldn’t be happier to.
As for the wedding, it took place at Keystone Resort a little over an hour East of Denver. It was completely non traditional; on top of a ski hill, Venassa’s cousin doing the ceremony, everyone dressed in ski gear, and most people going for runs after. It was a fun, and touching ceremony, and a fantastic weekend. Shooting the wedding was a bit tough due to all the ski gear everyone had on, and the midday light, not to mention having to hold a camera in the extreme cold. Regardless I think I got a few good shots from the wedding. Here are some of my favourites.
January 10, 2011 No Comments
My last stop of my trip before heading off to Colorado for Venassa & Raphael’s wedding was in Moab, Utah. Moab is a really cool town that sits just outside of both Canyonlands and Arches, and is a Mecca for rock climbers, mountain bikers and other nature and extreme sport lovers. I was initially going to camp in Arches for the 2 days I was there, but after having such a good time in Moab (the brewery in town is fantastic) I decided to simply stay in a hotel.
Over the two days I spent most of my time in Arches. However on one of the mornings I got up early and raced my way up into Canyonlands so that I could get a picture of the Mesa Arch at sunrise. It is probably one of the most photographed arches. While I was racing time to get up to the Arch I noticed another car behind me driving equally fast. When I pulled over at the Mesa Arch trailhead they pulled in right beside me. We all got out of our vehicles, full camera gear in hand, and ran off to the Arch to setup before sunrise. We got there just in time. The group of three photographers were from Portugal. One of the photographers (Fernando) used to be a professional photographer, however now he just shoots for himself. It was a real pleasure to meet this group, and get some pointers from Fernando. He had such a great eye.
After shooting the sunrise I headed up to Arches National Park and went for a hike along the Devils Garden trail. It was a really fun hike that took me over fins and canyons, and to a lot of different arches. It was a bit ridiculous how many arches are in the park. Later that day I did another hike up to the Delicate Arch where I ran into the group from Portugal again. Delicate Arch is the arch that is featured on the Utah licence plate, and probably one of the most famous arches. I hung around taking photos and watched the sun set. It was a bit of a task hiking back down from the arch in the pitch dark. Luckily I had my headlight and was accompanied by a couple other photographers with lights.
I really enjoyed my time in Moab and the parks nearby, and am really glad I decided to change my trip to accommodate them. Would love to go back sometime in the future.
Here are some photos from Canyonlands and Arches.
December 29, 2010 No Comments
Page is not the most exciting city in Arizona, however the sites around the city are simply breathtaking. There were three main sites I had wanted to see near Page before I started this trip. Horseshoe Bend (where the Colorado River does a 180 degree turn), Antelope Canyon, and The Wave. Going through Page twice I was able to do two of the three. Later in my trip I was actually offered to join a group of Portuguese photographers who had won the lottery for entry to shoot The Wave, unfortunately the day they were going was the same day as the wedding I was on my way to. For another day.
Horseshoe bend was really a fantastic place to see, albeit a bit unnerving. You stand on a cliff with a sheer 1,000 foot drop down to the Colorado River. Talk about facing my fear of heights full on. My drive to get a good shot of the bend eventually won over my fear of heights and lead me to inch my way to the edge of the cliff. It was breathtaking. I actually visited the Bend twice. Once on my way up to Zion, and then the second time the morning before entering Antelope Canyon. The latter I had the place all to myself, and was able to have a few silent hours alone along the ridge.
After the morning at the Bend I made my way to Antelope Canyon, where I was able to get a photo pass. Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon carved into the red sandstone. What makes it special is that when the light shines into the canyon it reflects off the canyon walls creating some amazing colours on the rocks. I was the first one into the canyon, and spent close to 3 hours wandering through it taking photos. It was pretty amazing time.
Finally I had to make my way East. I left Antelope Canyon and headed off through Navejo land for Monument Valley. I got to the Valley a few hours before sunset and did the scenic drive. I was initially thinking of camping in the valley, however due to the lack of hiking in the area, I decided to push on forward to give myself more time in Arches and Canyonlands in Utah. So I left Monument Valley as the sun was setting as so many westerns that were shot there had ended.
Here are some photos from Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley.
December 29, 2010 2 Comments
On my way out of Bryce Canyon I didn’t have too much of a plan for the rest of the day. I needed to get to Page, Arizona; but didn’t have to be there by any set time. I knew there were a few state parks a little south of Bryce, so I figured I would just pick one and try it out. I decided to go with something a little different than Canyons, and picked the Coral Pink Sand Dunes.
On my way there I passed by a dinner that I had to stop at. It was located right at Camel Junction (between Bryce and Zion) and had a big sign saying, “Home of the Ho-Made Pies”. Any dinner with a sign like that required a stop. I ended up getting a snack, and then tried a slice of the coconut cream pie. It was pretty great.
Back on the road I got to the sand dunes about an hour and a half before sunset. Once again the only person at the park. Myself and a bunch of pink sand. I wandered around in the dunes, taking some photos and just exploring the sand. It was a pretty wild place, and when the sun began to set the sand turned a majestic red. What a great end to my day.
Here are a few photos from the Coral Pink Sand Dunes in Utah.
December 28, 2010 No Comments
My plan for my second day in Bryce was to wake up early and catch the sunrise over the amphitheatre before heading out on a hike around Fairyland Loop. When I woke in the morning I noticed something was a bit off. It was oddly warm in the car. When I finally opened up my eyes and looked around, I realized my car was completely covered in an couple inches of snow. So much for the clear skies I had seen the night before. This pretty much ruined my chances of shooting a sunrise over the canyon, so I took my time getting myself together in the morning, before heading out to one of the lookouts to inspect the situation.
The snow at this point was already starting to slow, and from what I could tell the trails all looked pretty good. After seeing an ill equipped group from Florida head out down one of the smaller trails, I decided I was good to go for the Fairyland loop. I am so happy I decided to push forward with this hike. The snow was not a problem, and this was one of my favourite hikes of my trip. I didn’t see a single person the entire time, and it was just me and the hoodoos. Midway through the hike the sky began to open up, and the fog and clouds lifted leaving the last half of the hike in the sun. It was a real treat.
After my hike I made a small lunch before checking out the viewpoints one final time, then set off back for Page, Arizona.
Here are some photos from my second day in Bryce Canyon.
December 28, 2010 No Comments
Bryce Canyon was one of my favourite National Parks that I visited on my Southwest trip. I loved the out-worldliness of it, and how different the scenery was from what I am used to. Most of all however, it was a fantastic place to hike and take photographs. My first day in the park I spent hiking some of the smaller trails and taking photos, leaving my big hike for the next morning. After spending a fantastic day in the park I picked up some dinner, a 6 pack of beer and made a camp fire in the deserted camp ground. The stars in Bryce Canyon were simply amazing, and the brightest I have seen in a very long time. Here are some photos from my first day in Bryce.
December 27, 2010 No Comments