Wednesday, 31 December 2008
Aaah! It's already late in the night and I still have a lot of travel preparations to do. I also must write some important emails and also my backpack isn't cross-checked. In three hours I have to get up because I have to take the train to Vienna. As you already may guess the reason of this journey is the Sudanese embassy. They have failed to prepared the visas in time and so I have to go there and pick them up. If I fail to get the visas we will have a delay of a week at the begin of our travel - We can't take that!
It's getting now pretty cold in Austria. Actually it's -9°C. At the late afternoon I was driving on my bike home. I can't remember when I else had this pain in my almost frozen fingers - terrible! At our first big stop - Istanbul - It's also not too hot. Just around 1°C. I'm really hoping to enter hot zone very soon.
Today - After travelling to Vienna and back - we want to celebrate new year at the hotel Daniel in Graz. It's organized by our event agency zeiger and will be very special. On two floors - lobby and conference room international and local DJ's will do the best to provide us a good start for 2009. Time to get to bed now and enjoy 3 hours of deep sleep...
Wednesday, 24 December 2008
December is quite a hectic month. It begun with snowboarding, various events and now moving to a new apartment. Today I've rented a van to transport the heavy and bulky furniture between old apartment, storage and new apartment. Even moving is exhausting, it's also exciting because of leaving old things behind and a new life at a different place starts.
In 10 days the big travel to Africa begins. On January 2nd, on a Friday evening, my travel companions and I will be on the Balkan express to Istanbul. Of course that depends if we get the visa for Sudan in time. It was a big headache how to get this particular visa. The best training for the conditions in Africa! I had to go to the Sudanese embassy in Vienna and apply for the visa. The first tricky thing was that the embassy - open from 09-16:00 was in fact only reachable at the early morning. Then I failed to speak to them because of the holy hajj. They were off duty! Finally I've got a friendly officer on the line and asked him to send me a visa application form via email. Unfortunately that failed because:
o) The embassy didn't have an official email address
o) They didn't have an application form
o) The crappy email address was misspelled
o) The processing speed obviously was one email per day
I've decided to search the internet for an ad-hoc application form and found one from the Sudanese embassy in Berlin. At the embassy I told them this is a very good official form and because it’s so nice I will use it. The officer agreed and accepted it. I have rounded up the fee for the visa and made me a friend. Next week I'll call the officer again and ask him to not forget sending me the passports.
Beside of the administrative stuff I have now finally packed my backpack. It's the first time I have a professional one. A few days before departure I'll check my stuff again and hopefully sort out some useless stuff that's just extra weight. The biggest brick will be the camera equipment. But I don't care - I'm sure it's worth it! You'll soon be able to judge...
Tuesday, 2 December 2008
Last Friday I had a nice day in Vienna. I've been there for two tasks: A visit in the Syrian embassy for a visa and a press conference. Syria is the only country on the travel that doesn't issue a visa on entry. The visa fee is 32€ for a single entry. Visas will be a cost driver in general on our tour through Africa. The entry visas at the borders will be in this price range or even higher.
The second reason for the travel was as mentioned the press conference. I will attend the Swatch Snow Mobile event in Saalbach-Hinterglem. To promote the event a special location for the press conference was chosen: A wind tunnel! This wind tunnel is designed to test and develop machines that have to resits harsh conditions like trains. It is even the largest wind tunnel in the world! Different climates can be simulated - From -50°C to +60°C; wind, snow rain - everything is possible there.
The press conference itself was more or less standard. Short statements from the organisation, sponsors and of course some local VIP's. I've shot about 250 photos to cover the whole event and chose later the favourite 10 best. The preparations on site have already begun and I'll be on site on Thursday to continue my job.
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
From the final week of work to the first without: It feels a bit strange not to get up early in the morning - But anyone who knows me is aware that my busiest hours are always at night. Today I've received my new snowboard. It's a Nitro MFM pro and it will serve me well soon in the mountains. I plan to go in December snowboarding to Salzburg. The same set-up as last year: Swatch Snow Mobile 2008 and Rave on Snow. That's a week full of entertainment and start of the winter season in Saalbach-Hinterglem.
Of course it's not only fun at the moment. I'm spending a lot of time to get prepared for the travel. I have to get my equipment together, check travel details, visa and prepare everything for the leave. Now as Africa is calling I'm paying more attention to the news. We have a lot of "hot" countries on our route. Today the IAEA has reported that Syria has started a nuclear program. Syria is one of the countries that make it difficult for travellers to transit the country. There are travel restrictions and a visa has to be issued before the travel. Other African countries have special conditions e.g.: Sudan: 60 Journalists imprisoned last week, no freedom of press; Kenia: post-election troubles; Somalia: Pirates, No government; Zimbabwe: >1000% Inflation....
In central Africa the rain season ends now. During our travel we expect to have decent weather. I just hope there are not too much mosquito's. Especially in Africa so many diseases are transmitted by these bloody beasts.
Now I'm going to pack some of my stuff into labelled boxes. Today I pack my records. They will fit into 4-5 large boxes. I should really rip the records and sell them off - I moving too often to carry them around!
Friday, 7 November 2008
It's getting really busy now! Next Friday will be the final day in the office. That will be a big change after a busy time at a chaotic company. I'm now dealing with tax declarations, insurances and other preparations for the travel time. Before I leave to Africa I'll plan to go snowboarding and starting over again with some decent journalism. I want to pass on my travel adventures and I'm sure I have some exciting reports from some exotic destinations.
The Africa journey is now scheduled for January 2nd 2009. Starting point is Graz central station going down south to Hungary, Bulgaria, Turkey, Syria....
80 days, probably more than less, are calculated for the travel. I still have to check if I need some extra medical preparation. I've heard something about yellow fever and other stuff. I'll try to do it the old fashion way - with a bit rum here and then. I'm also very excited to cross the equator this time in Africa. I already have been very close to the equator, in Ecuador.
At the weekend I'll try to take some pictures of Graz - If the weather is fine. I want to have full control over my camera to deliver the finest travel pictures.
Friday, 24 October 2008
It's amazing! Still months ahead and I have an almost clear picture about my upcoming travels next year. Here is a brief overview:
1) November 14th: Final day in the office
2) Mid November - End of December: Snowboarding and moving out of the apartment
3) January - March: Africa
5) North / South America
I'll plan to travel with my dear friends (Edith and Walter) to Africa. Beginning in Austria over Turkey, Syria, Egypt, East coast, Crossing from east to west and finally arriving in Cape Town. We plan to travel on low budget using mainly trains, buses camels and everything else that brings us to the final destination.
The travel is roughly planned for 80 days. The route from north to south as well. On travel we can adapt the route to the individual needs. Split, meet together, get lost and so on... There is also a nice location for swimming with a view that I want to try out. I'm very curious if it is dangerous or not ;)
Check out the link: Devil's Swimming Pool
Now I'm trying to brush up my skills in digital photography to cover the travel. I'm not sure if I will use Picasa (because I run out of space). There are also some other nice galleries on the web that I want to check out. As soon as I have one I'll start my "Around The World Photo Gallery"
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
This is a image of my new travel companion. Years ago, when I was covering music events, I had the analogue Nikon F90X - Now in the digital age I continue with the D90. In the coming months I will take some nice pictures from all over the world. As already mentioned there is a lot to be prepared. I have a bit more then a month to get everything organised. Today I had a general health check-up and everything was fine. The heart is strong and everything seems to be in good condition too. Just need the results of my blood samples and a maybe a tetanus fresh-up. Next week I have an appointment at the dentist to check my teeth. It's awful to suffer toothache - especially on travel.
I also need to prepare a small first-aid kit. Sometimes I tend to risk a bit too much and this results in minor injuries from time to time. Just like a little bicycle accident yesterday. But no problem - I'm expert in falling down and getting up again :)
Tomorrow I'll be at a concert in Graz. Is a pre-event of "styrian stylez" - A festival of local bands and DJ's. It's the first of its kind in Styria and I'm very curious if it will be as successful as the springfestival. Another fine event is the presentation of the new Absinthe snowboard movie "Ready". After the movie, Texta, a hip hop act from Austria, will be on stage. So there is plenty to do tomorrow.
Saturday, 4 October 2008
Finally - There is a big change! Last week I had with a friend a nice talk about my job and the expectations I have. It turned out, how surprisingly, that I'm not fully satisfied with my job and lack of motivation. At the end of the conversation I've decided to head on and go for a new challenge in my life. After thinking this decision over at the weekend I've today announced that I will quit my job. Having a talent for plan b I will not be bored. In the next days and weeks I'll start planning what to do in future. Most probably that will be a mixture of travelling, adventure, sport, extreme silly things and another plan b.
I definitely look forward to visit all friends I couldn't visit the last few years. Life is short and it's a pity to give only money priority. I'll update this blog now at least on a weekly basis to keep everyone informed about the latest progress - and there will be a lot to do.
First I have to know when I have my final day at work. I'll expect to work until my contract is terminated by law - that could be at the end of October. In-between I have the joy to plan what to do with my stuff and the apartment. Personal planning is not one of my good skills - Usually I'm lazy to think about personal changes but then do them quickly. For now I'll relax and wait for the upcoming adventures.
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
Joke and Will are happily married!!! I was very honoured to attend the marriage of Joke and Will in Jokes home town Kortenberg nearby Brussels. It was a greet weekend in Belgium. I had the opportunity to meet the many interesting friends and family of them. Everything had a special touch and it was great to be there. The family prepared the wedding party a week long. On Friday the final arrangements where done before Joke "kicked" will out. Will had to stay the night before the weekend out and we had a mellow pre-party at a friends house. I had long discussions with the friendly Belgians about one of the most well known specialities of Belgium: Beer!! There are up to 3000 different beers in Belgium! So I had to drink a few that evening to check if Belgium beer is really good - And it is! After a couple of beers I was glad Will took us back home to our sleeping place at Joke's grandmother.
The wedding was held on Saturday morning at the town hall. It was a short but friendly and warm ceremony that only lasted for 15 minutes. After that we had brunch at the wedding party at Jokes parents. At the evening the party was going on and over 170 people decided to come. The evening was a mixture of dancing, eating, drinking, smoking shisha and meeting nice people. It just became a little bit chilly late night but we where happy that the weather was so nice. Blue sky and no rain at all!
Sunday was dedicated to sleep long and then go for a little exercise. The remaining people from the party helped together to clean up the garden and help to get everything stored away. That also was a great experience we've shared!
For Will and Joke this was just the beginning of a stressful but exciting time. They soon move to San Francisco where Will got a job at Freebase. I've already got the info that there is a good caving area nearby. I'm looking forward to meet them in a cosy cave and explore the wonders of nature.
Friday, 12 September 2008
I've posted this picture above from last week, Thursday. It has been taken after swimming for the last time in this season. Temperatures have now dropped to 7°C in the morning and a daytime maximum of 13°C. It's getting now quite uncomfortable going by bicycle to the company and its getting even worse in winter. I already wonder how I will handle this. I'm thinking more and more intensively about a year off and travel around the world. This is a dream I had since the early 90's. The company I'm working for at the moment is quite challenging for me because it's a kind of job I've done in the late 90's. So I'm now thinking about how to prepare a long term travel and how to get it started. When I have made my mind I will announce my plans. The good thing about a long travel is that I can visit my friends all over the world that I have not seen for a long time.
Today I will try to get my friends together to play beach volleyball for the last time. We have to start early because the sunset is at 19:00. We have been playing the whole summer every week on Wednesday for at least 2 hours. It was really a lot of fun and I was lucky to play almost every week.
I'll try to bring now more life to my blog. Over summer I have been too lazy to write when I come home at the evening....
Friday, 6 June 2008
This week was quite refreshing at work. I’ve expected to feel blue after the festival and all the nice people I’ve met but it turned out different – movie time! My company has decided to produce an image film about the company, products and solutions. The product is a box that provides video conferencing and wireless connection to medical devices. In a setup with a call centre and medics online patients can have easy access to medical assistance. My part was to provide technical assistance on the set and I even got a short role. I’ve acted as support expert who takes a call and handles it in a professional way. It was great fun – I love to be in front of a camera – much more then to be in the background.
This experience was a nice fresh-up for next week. On Tuesday I will be on set at a first class private hotel in the city centre of London. An Arabic investor from UAE (United Arabian Emirates) has recently taken over the Cromwell Hospital and is interested to present it as a leading institute. I will present a telehealth solution for UAE-TV and we’ll produce a 15 minute feature that will be nationwide broadcasted. It will be hard work but also great fun – I look forward to it.
Beside the TV feature I also want to take the opportunity to visit some good friends in London – I really hope to meet Chris this time. There are so many stories to hear from his trip to South America. Again the day is too short and its already past 1AM again – Time for my bed...
Thursday, 5 June 2008
Wow - I've missed to write even a single blog entry in May. It's not that it was boring - There was so much going on I've almost lost track. To get started again I just want to focus on the main topics:
The festival is the main event of the year for me. I love music so much and with all the action going on here in little Graz it’s “almost” the best thing that can happen to me. This year we had great headliners at the opening concert on the first day. The location of the concert was on top of the “Schlossberg”. This exclusive location was the perfect place for an exclusive opening. My job, as in the former years, was to host our artists – mostly the headliners of the day. I had a great time with Roni Size and Represent and with a bunch of Brazilians from the Brazilian night. I hope next year I’ll be able to welcome much more of my dear friends ;-) I have already posted the pictures on Picasa – Have a look!
I’ve decided to change my job at the end of April. After reviewing what I have archived and the opportunities to come I’ve accepted a job offer from a friend. I really was sad to quit the “old” job because of my gorgeous colleagues and the interesting and international business.
I work now at Zydacron – A start-up company that produces medical devices for tele health. There is a lot to do in this company because the whole development team has quit and the business has to get started again. I’m working now at the support department and it’s really a challenge for me – I hate this technical focussed jobs! As I love challenges I give it a try and hopefully I can “reorganise” myself quite quick and go for another challenge.
I have already some plans for the next weeks. Today I had my first shot in a commercial about my work at the new company. That will be part of a marketing video of the company.
Next week I’ll be in London at an exclusive hospital to shot a short feature about the tele health product for an Arabian TV station. Later next week I will travel to Norway to a special place where elderly people live in a community – also using the new product.
I also want to be in the near future in Paris for the “Fete de la musique” and in Belgium for caving. I really hope at least something will work out. Now as I have some time for blogging again you’ll can expect to be well informed again.
Monday, 21 April 2008
Finally I'm finished for today or better tonight. I've been busy editing the artists sections of the springfestival homepage. I'm checking every single link on the page and trying to give the page a unified format. That is not as easy as it sounds! The feedback of the artists regarding the info we’ve requested from them is as different as the many different individuals sending them back.
As every year also this year we have a unique design for the festival. The cooperate identity can be found and compared on the homepage with the versions from the previous years. This year we have a black and white cow. She appears not only on the website – she will also show herself on the flyers, booklets and merchandising articles. The theme last year was also very amusing for us – instead of the cow we used our senior security guys. The three of them appeared in their favourite leather jackets they are known for. For the audience it was very surprising to see the guys from the flyers in real life on the door.
Now it’s just one more month to go and there is a lot of preparation work to do – and of course also some promotion events. I’ll report a bit later how they have been – probably as successful as the events in London and Ljubljana earlier this month.
Monday, 31 March 2008
Saturday started quiet and peacefully. After breakfast and saying good-bye to Elli we went sightseeing in London. Around Oxford Street Gerald bought some records and Marcus and I walked around and discovered hidden treasures of the city. At the evening we decided to have a nice, typical English dinner and then, after a good night drink, return to the hotel.
After eating an overpriced steak we walked home through Oxford Street. Suddenly we mentioned a long line of stylish people queuing to enter a posh club: Punk
A few seconds later we had drinks in our hand and shaking to the music with the party crowd. We spent hours there, had a couple of drinks and a very good time.
The disaster begins: After leaving the club we intended to walk home. Unfortunately no one of us was in the mood to pay attention to the direction we were going. The outcome was a nice little walk about over 1,5h until we took a cab to find home. At home we wanted again a snack from Mc Donald’s but it was already closed. So we decided to go to sleep for an hour and then leave the hotel for the airport. After oversleeping a bit and rushing to the reception we had to deal with the payment for almost 45 minutes. The credit card payment was a big problem for the inexperienced stuff. Beside of the payment issue we had to recognize that we forgot about the switch to summer time. Because of this switch we were one hour late! The next decision was to take the Stansted Express instead of the slow bus. We bought the tickets and the train station where we got the hint that we have to go to the Liverpool station to get the train. After a few stops in the tube we got informed by staff at the Liverpool station that the Stansted Express is suspended because of a burning train on the tracks. We got an advice to take a bus instead. The stop was just around the station. At the bus stop there where so many people waiting for the bus that we had to go to Victoria station for another bus company. Taking the tube again we wanted to change the line and learned that the Victoria line is suspended because of maintenance. Again leaving the station we got an advice to take the bus service for the suspended line. Of course again we got lost and didn’t catch the right bus so we took a cab instead. The taxi brought us to Victoria station and I asked the drive how much he would take to Stansted airport. He just laughed and told me that it would be over 100 Pounds and it would not be much faster as the bus. Of course we had again problems at the bus station. The first problem was that the scheduled bus didn’t arrive. The second was that the delayed bus was short of seats because the first bus didn’t appear. Luckily we got on the bus and arrived later at the airport. Too late for our flight! We checked the flight schedule and learned that there was an easy jet connection to Ljubljana. Lucky to get the flight we checked in. Again there were problems: I have been carefully searched at the security and later even crosschecked by a dog. I then learned that it’s not a good idea to say “fuck off” to an officer. Luckily I didn’t get any big problems and a few hours later we landed in Ljubljana. Our journey was of course not over yet. We couldn’t find anyone to pick us up from Slovenia so we had to take the train. For a value price we could organise a 4h ride with the train over Maribor to Graz where our trip finally has successfully ended.
After all, the weekender was a great experience for us. Not cheap but full of adventures and a great time
I'm now back at work in Graz. The sun is shining and I'm lazy today after this excessive weekend. Because so much has happened I will split the report in two parts.
Friday after work I took a taxi to the airport. On the way Markus and Gerald joined me for the trip. Gerald is a DJ and Markus is event manager and graffiti artist. We arrived at the hotel in London at around 8PM. It is conveniently located between King’s Cross and St. Pancras. There we met the rest of the crew who have already been in London for a few days.
The meet and greet took place at the first floor in the AKA. We had a fantastic overview of the main floor. Different to Austria the main floor was full of party people at 9PM! Soon we had lots of artists and friends in the venue. It was great to meet all these nice people again. Later the evening the first floor was opened to the public and we also moved to another location. Rainer Trüby and DJ Marky played in the club “The End” in the basement of AKA. “The End” is a medium sized club with two floors. Of course smoke free and equipped with a loud sound system. The music at this evening was not the best but good enough for a nice party. Around 4 we left the venue and took a taxi to the hotel, or better – to Mc Donald’s beside the hotel. After a heavy good night meal we went to bed and expected the best for the next day.
Thursday, 27 March 2008
London – we’re coming! Springfestival is near and some promotion work has to be done. On Friday I’ll travel after work directly to the airport. With Ryanair we travel to Stansted and from there to London. On Friday evening we have a great show at “The End”. This is one of Londons top clubs and with DJ Marky from Brasil on the turntables it will be a hot and sweaty evening.
Saturday will be reserved for a short nap in the morning and a hangover during the day. Beside of enjoying London we plan to spend our pounds on some nice music and typical British food. On Sunday we have to travel home again. The plane is leaving at the late morning and we’ll be back on the early afternoon. Time enough for a power chill-out and some nice memories of London.
Tuesday, 25 March 2008
Semana Santa is a week in which everything dies all over the country. Schools are out and this time around Wednesday was a Catholic holiday too, making it even shorter in some sectors. Also the government and public services shut down. Venezuelans use this holly week to flock in masses to the beaches in huge crowds. Being unaware of this mass phenomenon I’ve noticed the rapid increase of party crowd at the beach. It was very interesting to observe the behavior of the people. Woman in tiny G-strings and massive booties are having fun and drinking booze on the beach with their super size friends. With some delay it came to my mind that all these people have to go home after the week. Unfortunately on the return flight from Caracas to Europe was also scheduled for Sunday.
Soon we realized that there would be no plane with available seats until Thursday, three days after the end of my vacation, to fly back. The next opinion was the ferry between Isla de Margarita and the mainland. The new master plan was to take the ferry on Saturday night and travel to the airport in Caracas with the airport express. This plan failed because I had to learn at 02:00 AM that the tickets have been sold out for the next few days. After a short and deep sleep back at the friend’s house the next idea was born. Because the ticket for Caracas was not any longer any carrier could be considered for flying home. At the end luck came back and Condor had available seats. So many other tiny nasty things had happen and it is impossible to list them all. I’m just happy to be back in time!
I think I have learned my lesson and the next time I will carefully check the vacation schedule before I consider booking a flight. After all it was a great short vacation and a big adventure. I’m now already thinking about the next travel…
Friday, 14 March 2008
The first big travel this year brings me back to “Isla de Margarita” in Venezuela. I’ve already been here a few years ago on a travel through Venezuela. It was the last stop before returning back to Europe. Now I’m here to visit friends and have a good time. The trip was quite unexpected because my company has asked me to consume my outstanding vacation. Together with Karin, Edith, Amira and Rene I spend some really special moments on the island.
I’m writing now on the laptop of Rene and a big jar of rum helps me to find the right wording. Mentioning rum – there is a great selection of rum available in the stores. It’s a double pleasure to drink premium rum in an exotic environment. This will remind me in the coming months, when I drink a glass of rum at home, on sunshine, nice weather and hanging loose.
On Monday I have started with kite surfing lesions. Isla de Margarita is famous for steady wind, warm sea and a sandy shore. Every second day I go with my friends to a beach called “El Yake”. This beach is world famous for the wind conditions and attracts the wind surfing crowd and kite surfing enthusiasts around the world. It’s fascinating using the force of the wind to surf over the sea. I’m very curious how it will get on Friday when it’s the first time using the board. Until now I was busy learning how to control the kite and drag in the sea.
Unfortunately the first week is almost over. I’ll come back home on Easter Monday and return back to work on Tuesday. After returning back I’ll travel on Friday to London where a springfestival promotion party with DJ Marky (Brazil) will kick the ass of the audience. At the moment I have big problems writing this text. A little kitty insists to lick my hands and wants to sit on the keyboard. After removing the cat I have a minute time to write the next paragraph :)
I think that’s enough for today. I’ll try to update the blog more or less frequently till the end of my journey. Now another cat attack begins and I have to take care of the little kitty.
Monday, 7 January 2008
On Friday I was too lazy to write my review on Friday so today, Monday, is the best day to finish the report. It's already quite difficult for me to write from a vacation four days ago. It seems that it is not 4 days but 4 weeks.
Overall it was a great travel. I've managed to see all the main sites and did some activities. Of course it is difficult to do a "normal" travel at new year. Many shops are closed as well as museums and other points of interest. There are many similarities between Budapest and Vienna so it didn't really feel as a foreign city. Just the language reminded me from time to time where I am. The only negative thing was the weather. It was very cold and the view was limited. But this weather conditions where present in whole south eastern Europe.
On Thursday I left Budapest with the direct train to Graz. Its a journey over 6 hours and it gets boring after 2 hours drive because its dark outside. The positive aspect about the train ride is the cost (19€ one way) and you get in the middle of both cities without driving by yourself.
Tuesday, 1 January 2008
Today is the first day in 2008 and also the first entry of my blog in 2008. This year I will try to update my blog regularier but I think I have improved during the past months.
During the last few days I have done a bit sightseeing and a lot of eating. Budapest is really a place for people who love food. The Hungarians have a lot of traditional dishes you only can get here. Unfortunately they are all a bit fat but that is also a reason for the good taste. Surprisingly there is also a special preparation for "Melange". Here is a fine drink with half coffee half milk, milk foam and honey. It tastes great and much better than the Viennese style.
The weather is not so fine. It's all the time cold and it's snowing more or less constantly. Yesterday at New Year the view was so limited that only rockets could be seen that have been launched very close by. Tomorrow on Wednesday normal life starts again and all shops will have open again. Maybe it's possible to go to a thermal bath again. That's a great tradition in Hungary and there exists a lot of thermal baths in the city. I have updated already the pictures until now in the online photo gallery to give a first impression. The final batch will come on Friday online.