Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Final Preparations

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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

Time For A Rest

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

Press Conference Swatch Snow Mobile 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.