Tag Archives: tourist

Travel ☼ France ☼ Provence

19.Aug.11 – Fontaine de Vaucluse · artist (market)
19.Aug.14 – Callas · residence (street)
19.Aug.10 – Avignon · girl (street)

At the beginning of August, my boys and I traveled to Provence, France. I wanted them to experience this historical part of Europe. I had visited Valbonne in 2008 on a team-building business trip, and ever since then, I wanted to return to this region and spend some quality time to absorb the French culture and history. Our plan was at least one destination every day. Here was our itinerary:

19.Aug.6 – Nice · customers (street market)

19.Aug.12 – Gordes · nougat (street)

We launched our adventure from Nice, renting a car at the airport, and made our way to an Airbnb in the city center. The plan was to stay at a different apartment every three days so that we could cover as much as Provence as our time allowed. After Nice we drove to Marseille, then Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, and finally Bargemon. Each location offered a unique perspective on Provence and the French Riviera.

19.Aug.4 – Nice · restaurant (street)
19.Aug.12 – Gordes · girl (street)
19.Aug.6 – Valbonne · coon (street)
19.Aug.7 – Marseille · L’Ombrière de Norman Foster (dock)
19.Aug.11 – L’Isle sur la Sorgue · grandmother (street)

On our way to Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, we stopped at Avignon where we met artist, Mustafa Mramezani. Since my youth I wanted an artist to capture my caricature. What was intriguing to all three of us was to see which features he would choose to exaggerate. I was gifted by the opportunity to do this with my boys ❤ Here is Mustafa’s creation:

19.Aug.10 – Avignon · Matias, Gabriel & Lucas Dusil (caricature sketch by Mostafa Mramezani)
19.Aug.12 – Gordes · Bollard chess pawn (street)
19.Aug.12 – Gordes · panorama

In hindsight, I enjoyed central Provence more than the coast. Both have their strengths, but the breathtaking ambiance of Biot, Gordes, Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie were much more impressive and I recommend all of them as must-see destinations.

19.Aug.5 – Monaco · panorama

In particular, Monaco and Cannes weren’t as spectacular as anticipated. The showcase of expensive yachts, cars, and premium brands has never impressed me, but to-each-his-own. For traveler’s and photographers interested in an immersive cultural experience, I would recommend flying to Marseille as a base, since this is more central to the most captivating villages of Southern France.

19.Aug.15 – Comps on Artuby · Jean Paul (Av de Chamay)

19.Aug.6 – Biot · door knocker (market)
19.Aug.13 – Bargemon · residence (street)

• Travel

In case you missed my other travel posts, you can hyperlink to them here:

☼ Nepal ☼ Kathmandu
☼ Bhutan ☼ Thimphu & Paro
☼ Nepal ☼ Himalayas
☼ Morocco ☼ Marrakesh
☼ China ☼ Hong Kong
☼ France ☼ Provence


All photographs were shot with the Canon 5D Mark IV, using either a Canon 35mm EF F/1.4L USM Lens or a Canon 85mm EF F/1.4L USM Lens.


All photos above can be ordered as prints. Pricing and details can be found here.

Travel ☼ Morocco ☼ Marrakesh

18.Jun.6 – Marrakesh · Medina (spices)

Marrakesh was one of the best trips of my life, and a destination I will certainly revisit. The city is striking for many reasons – beautiful colors, the souk markets, and stunning restaurants.

18.Jun.9 – Marrakesh · Madina (souq)

The main issue I had was with the vendors. Around every corner was someone wanting to give you a guided tour, sell you overpriced goods, or establish a rapport in order to execute their scam to unsuspecting virgin tourist. Throughout my travels, I am hypersensitive to scams. In all the sixty-plus countries I have visited, Morocco was at an expert level.

Looking at a map was like having a fish-hook in your mouth. A local would walk in front of you for a while, pretending like they are taking you somewhere. Then demand money when you reach your destination.

18.Jun.8 – Telouet · panorama (highway)

Looking at a map on the edge of the souk will immediately prompt a “the souk is closed” from multiple loiterers along the streets. ” But I can take you on a tour of the tannery. They come down from the mountains just once a month and are closing in a few hours, so we don’t have much time”. Meaning that they want you to avoid the souk at all costs so that you don’t get an idea of the local pricing. Even when you say, “no thanks”, there is a chain of others waiting down the road to convince you otherwise – as if they are communicating by mobile to hook you on a second or third try. If successful they will take you to their private store to sell you the same item at ten to twenty times the cost.

Along the way, you’ll hear how the Berber‘s are the honorable vendors, and to not trust the Arab vendors. They go to great lengths to tell you that the Arabs have no integrity. My experience was quite the opposite. Romans used “barbarian” as a term to reference tribal non-Romans, of which the Berber’s were one of them.

18.Jun.6 – Marrakesh · Medina (cafe)

My impression is that the Berber’s don’t consider this a scam. If they convince a foreigner to pay for an item at Western prices, that’s business.

18.Jun.6 – Marrakesh · Medina (Jemaa el Fna)

Needless to say, nearly every vendor who spoke to me throughout my two-week stay had lied in one capacity or another. Typical inquiries began as, “Do you know where this place is located” with me pointing at the map, and the vendor saying, “That place is no longer there (or that it’s closed), but I can take you to a better place”, And they try to coax you to their store. I became allergic to the outright lies, and it served to prevent any dialog with the local culture. It’s quite sad because this mistrust does not help fuel tourism. But somehow it’s all worked out for thousands of years.

18.Jun.8 – Telouet · panorama (castle)

Regardless, if you managed to navigate past all these challenges, the souk, restaurants, and city ambiance is over-the-top. Often a narrow street lined with orange clay and sandy streets had an oasis of trees, fountains, and tranquility behind them.

• Travel

In case you missed my other travel posts, you can hyperlink to them here:

☼ Nepal ☼ Kathmandu
☼ Bhutan ☼ Thimphu & Paro
☼ Nepal ☼ Himalayas
☼ Morocco ☼ Marrakesh
☼ China ☼ Hong Kong
☼ France ☼ Provence


All photos above can be ordered as prints. Pricing and details can be found here.

Travel ☼ China ☼ Hong Kong

18.Dec.29 – Hong Kong · crematorium (Man Mo Temple)

Here are photos from my Christmas adventure to Hong Kong. I had been there several times on business but never managed to properly explore the city. On this trip, I soaked up the culture and magistery of the city.

18.Dec.26 – Hong Kong · panorama (Peak)

Visiting various temples throughout the city was a humbling experience – an oasis of peace amongst the highrises of the busy city.

18.Dec.27 – Hong Kong · incense (Wong Tai Sin Temple)
18.Dec.29 – Hong Kong · worship man (Man Mo Temple)
18.Dec.28 – Hong Kong · worship (Po Lin Monastery)

On a Saturday morning, walking through the city, I came across this group of students in the middle of their stretching routine. I only managed to get this one photo before I was asked to not take any more.

18.Dec.29 – Hong Kong · exercise (Polytechnic University)

I wasn’t going to leave Hong Kong without visiting one of my childhood heroes, Bruce Lee. His statue was on Hong Kong’s Promenade, at the Avenue of Stars. Unfortunately, during my visit, his statue was covered and the area was being renovated – Bummer. But on my way there I came across a wedding party and caught this great photo.

18.Dec.27 – Hong Kong · street (wedding)

That morning, I set out with my camera for a solo walk through the industrial supplies region of Canton Street. This was my favorite shoot of my entire vacation.  Each storefront showcased a unique character and specialty. I even managed to pick up a few things at a fraction of the cost in Europe.

18.Dec.27 – Hong Kong · industrial district (Canton Street)

 

18.Dec.27 – Hong Kong · mill (Nan Lian Garden)

One of the cool aspects of Hong Kong is watching the locals relax after work. In many areas of the city, you see cardboard boxes laid out onto the sidewalks, with people eating, drinking and socializing. I caught this girl amusing herself while waiting for her parents.

18.Dec.26 – Hong Kong · street (baby box)
18.Dec.25 – Hong Kong · panorama (promenade)
18.Dec.27 – Hong Kong · ram (Wong Tai Sin Temple)
18.Dec.29 – Hong Kong · prayer flags (Man Mo Temple)
18.Dec.28 – Hong Kong · dragon pillar (Po Lin Monastery)

Capping off the trip was dinner at the Jumbo Restaurant, considered the “World’s largest floating restaurant”.  Several Jackie Chan movies were filmed there. The restaurant is on the expensive side but I would definitely recommend at least one a visit to experience its grandiose atmosphere.

18.Dec.29 – Hong Kong · dragons (Jumbo Restuarant)
18.Dec.29 – Hong Kong · boat (Jumbo Restuarant)
18.Dec.27 – Hong Kong · incense (Wong Tai Sin Temple)

• Travel

In case you missed my other travel posts, you can hyperlink to them here:

☼ Nepal ☼ Kathmandu
☼ Bhutan ☼ Thimphu & Paro
☼ Nepal ☼ Himalayas
☼ Morocco ☼ Marrakesh
☼ China ☼ Hong Kong
☼ France ☼ Provence


All photographs were shot with the Canon 5D Mark IV, using either a Canon 35mm EF F/1.4L USM Lens or a Canon 85mm EF F/1.4L USM Lens.


All photos above can be ordered as prints. Pricing and details can be found here.

Travel ☼ Nepal ☼ Himalayas

19.Apr.17 – Ramechhap · girl (airport)

When visiting Nepal, a trek through the  Himalayan or Annapurna mountains is a must. The sixteen-day Everest Basecamp trek was not feasible within my timescales, so a more humble trek to Namche Bazaar seemed like a good compromise.

19.Apr.19 – Monjo · farmhouse (Basecamp Trek)

My trip was immediately compromised when Summit Air’s plane crashed two days before my departure. During take-off at Lukla airport, their plane veered off the runway onto a helipad, killing the pilot and two people standing on the helipad. This was actually the plane I was scheduled to take two days later from Kathmandu. So I was rerouted to Ramechhap instead, requiring a very bumpy five-hour bus ride through the night.

19.Apr.20 – Ghat · worship (Basecamp Trek)

Lukla’s reputation as the most dangerous airport in the world is not to be taken lightly. The runway is only 460m long, allowing only small fixed-wing short-takeoff-and-landing (STOL) aircraft to land. At one end is a mountain face and a cliff face on the other. To make it just a little more difficult, the runway is on a 12° incline.

19.Apr.17 – Ramechhap · merchant man (airport)
19.Apr.20 – Ghat · village (Basecamp Trek)

With 25kg on my back, I set off for Phakding, my first stop. It’s supposed to be an easy trek, being mostly downhill, but my body wasn’t used to carrying such a payload. Having past 50 also doesn’t make it easier.

19.Apr.17 – Ghat · farmers (Basecamp Trek)

The second day was even more brutal. From Phakding to Namche Bazaar is a 900m net climb. But with the up and down trail, the total was probably double. The last three hours was a nonstop climb right up to Namche.

19.Apr.22 – Chitwan · children playing (Tharu village)

After returning from my four-day round trip from Lukla to Namche Bazaar, I was off to Chitwan for the tail end of my Himalayan adventure. I was fortunate to talk to the Tharu villagers, watch them play football, work the fields, and take care of their elephants.

19.Apr.22 – Chitwan · old man (Tharu village)
19.Apr.23 – Chitwan · boy (Tharu village)
19.Apr.23 – Chitwan · farmer (Tharu village)
19.Apr.19 – Monjo · hiking boots (Basecamp Trek)

• Travel

In case you missed my other travel posts, you can hyperlink to them here:

☼ Nepal ☼ Kathmandu
☼ Bhutan ☼ Thimphu & Paro
☼ Nepal ☼ Himalayas
☼ Morocco ☼ Marrakesh
☼ China ☼ Hong Kong
☼ France ☼ Provence


All photographs were shot with the Canon 5D Mark IV, using either a Canon 35mm EF F/1.4L USM Lens or a Canon 85mm EF F/1.4L USM Lens.


All photos above can be ordered as prints. Pricing and details can be found here.

Travel ☼ Bhutan ☼ Thimphu & Paro

19.Apr.14 – Thimphu · pilgrims (Dodey Drak Monastery)

As part of my three week trip to the Himalayas, I also spent four nights in Bhutan. This Shangri-La of Central-Asia is very different from Nepal on several fronts. Firstly, it costs 190 US$ to 280 US$ per day per person to enter the country (except for Indian citizens who are granted “freedom of movement”). These fees must be paid upfront, as a prerequisite to getting your entry visa. For this fee, you get a driver, guide (Sherpa), accommodations, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This serves to maintain Bhutan as a prestigious destination, compared to the more liberal approach of Nepal. Not everyone will be happy to be tethered to a guide for their entire journey, but you have the advantage of getting instant answers to all your questions.


19.Apr.15 – Paro · Prayer flag (Tiger’s Nest)

My trip was organized by Firefox Tours, who were great in educating me about the region, best times to travel, and sites to visit. They prepared a detailed itinerary before arriving, and allowed flexible changes with my guide, Nima Wangchuk Sherpa, as needed.


19.Apr.15 – Paro · rock balancing (Tiger’s Nest)

Nima had decades of experience, stories, and cultural insights to share with me.  He even led several exhibitions along the Snowman Trek, which is considered to be the most difficult in the world. While I struggled up several trekking paths during my stay, I don’t think I saw Nima sweat once. Ask for him by name if you want a humble and knowledgeable guide.


19.Apr.13 – Thimphu · model (Dodey Drak Monastery)

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need an “official” invitation to visit Bhutan. Availability is based on flight limitations and the traveler’s willingness to pay the daily rate. This approach has restricted visitation to only 70 thousand in 2018, compared to over a million to Nepal each year.

19.Apr.15 – Paro · panorama (Tiger’s Nest)

Bhutan is a beautiful and spiritual country. The Tiger’s Nest (locally called Paro Taktsang) is a must-see destination. Fore-warning that it requires a 90-minute to two-hour hike to get there. For the lazy, out-of-shape, or aging, you can ride a donkey for half the journey. Consider the trek a pilgrimage of sorts – it’s worth the effort.

19.Apr.13 – Thimphu · monks (Dodey Drak Monastery)

By far the highlight of my trip was spending an evening at the Dodey Drak Monastery. This was a magical place. You feel its tranquility and harmony the moment you arrive. There are no roads to get there, so calculate a two-hour uphill trek through the mountains of Thimphu.

19.Apr.14 – Thimphu · monks (Dodey Drak Monastery)

This particular monetary housed 180 student monks. They wake every morning at 04:30 to begin prayers at 05:00. Breakfast isn’t until 07:00. Throughout the day they learn the philosophy and rituals of Buddha. In the afternoon they debate religion and philosophy.

19.Apr.13 – Thimphu · boy (Memorial Chorten)
19.Apr.12 – Thimphu · boy (street)

During my visit to the Dodey Drak Monastery, I was lucky enough to witness annual prayers that began the following morning, called Zhabdrung Kuchoe. This ceremony commemorates the anniversary of Bhutan’s great founder, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. He came to Bhutan in 1616 and is honored for the unification of their country.

19.Apr.14 – Thimphu · pilgrim girl (Dodey Drak Monastery)

Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take pictures inside the temples, but I managed to get lots of photos of pilgrims arriving from Thimphu when leaving.

19.Apr.14 – Thimphu · panorama (Dodey Drak Monastery)

 


All photographs were shot with the Canon 5D Mark IV, using either a Canon 35mm EF F/1.4L USM Lens or a Canon 85mm EF F/1.4L USM Lens.


All photos above can be ordered as prints. Pricing and details can be found here.

Travel ☼ Nepal ☼ Kathmandu

19.Apr.11 – Kathmandu · merchant boy (Jagatsundar Marg)

Welcome to the first installment of my travel series. I have finally prepared a selection of photos from my April 2019 trip to Nepal.  A total of 2200 photos were taken with only 400 surviving after six days of editing. Here are the best of the best. Enjoy!

19.Apr.11 – Kathmandu · merchant (Siddhidas Marg)

Nepal was a 25-year dream vacation. It began in 1995 when I was returning to Prague from a business trip, and two girls sitting beside me were raving about their magical trip to Kathmandu. They told me about their Basecamp trek (I’ll post those photos shortly), the breathtaking nature and the magical culture of the region.  I was hooked, but it took me this long to finally cross Nepal off my bucket list.

19.Apr.11 – Kathmandu · market (Siddhidas Marg)

I stayed at the Hotel Jampa in the heart of Kathmandu a market district called Thamel. Many hiking and outdoor shops were a walk away, and you can even enjoy Western-style coffee shops. The center is quite dusty though, so a facemask is often recommended to protect your respiratory system.

19.Apr.25 – Bhaktapur · students (Durbar Square)

Don’t repeat my mistake and buy all our trekking gear in Europe. With some negotiating skills, you can get everything you need in Thamel at one third what you’d pay in the West.  Arrive with only the bare essentials, but don’t be too anxious.

19.Apr.25 – Bhaktapur · Hindu worshipper (Durbar Square)

You need to leave a few stores with salespeople chasing after you decreasing their price, to get an idea of how low they’re willing to go. Lowering your enthusiasm tends to get you to their lowest selling price. In stores, I found a three times increase in some times, and street vendors will start at ten times higher or more. Patience and good negotiation skills will go a long way.

19.Apr.25 – Bhaktapur · worship (Durbar Square)
19.Apr.25 – Bhaktapur · pigeon (Durbar Square)
19.Apr.25 – Bhaktapur · homeless (Durbar Square)
19.Apr.11 – Kathmandu · monkeys (Swayambhunath Stupa)
19.Apr.11 – Kathmandu · bride & groom (Durbar Square)
19.Apr.11 – Kathmandu · merchants (market)
19.Apr.11 – Kathmandu · homeless (Swayambhunath Stupa)

• Travel

In case you missed my other travel posts, you can hyperlink to them here:

☼ Nepal ☼ Kathmandu
☼ Bhutan ☼ Thimphu & Paro
☼ Nepal ☼ Himalayas
☼ Morocco ☼ Marrakesh
☼ China ☼ Hong Kong
☼ France ☼ Provence


All photographs were shot with the Canon 5D Mark IV, using either a Canon 35mm EF F/1.4L USM Lens or a Canon 85mm EF F/1.4L USM Lens.


All photos above can be ordered as prints. Pricing and details can be found here.