Fotoeins Fotografie

revisioning place and home

Posts from the ‘Travel Planning’ category

Danube, Donau, Christian Stemper, Wien Tourismus

My Vienna: 30 days of spring from the 6

Danube morning: photo by Christian Stemper, courtesy of Wien Tourismus (no.50401).

With this entry’s appearance, I’m on the other side of the world, 8500 kilometres away.

I dashed in and out of Vienna a handful of times between 2001 and 2003 when I lived in Heidelberg; but I have no visual records of that period in time. I’ve returned to Austria’s capital city for the first time since 2018. I wondered then how a stay in the Mariahilf, the city’s 6th district, would go.

That time is now, because I’m spending a month in the 6.

To minimize weight, I’m experimenting:
•   32-L backpack as the 1 and only piece of (carry-on) luggage, and
•   “no bricks no heavy glass”, but a compact mirrorless Fuji X70 camera.

The apartment location and neighbourhood are ideal. I’m within easy reach of the city’s U-Bahn, surrounded by the U3, U4, and U6 metro lines. I’ve already located a drugstore and several grocery stores, all inside a trivial 0.5 km (0.3 mi) walk. I’ve also been told I’ll have many Viennese coffees and several meals in the area.

There’s a lot to pursue, see, and do; and there’s no time to waste.

( Click here for more )

Berlin: a quick 8000-km jaunt home during the pandemic

Above/featured: S-Bahn station Messe Nord/ICC – 27 Nov 2021 (X70).

I’m going home to Berlin, for the 1st time in 4 years.

To travel at all, and to go international, is a big privilege; I’m grateful for the window of opportunity.

After a long gruelling emotional 2020 year taking care of an elderly parent at home with cancer and accompanying them safely to their final days, I’m desperate to get outta Vancouver for a break. But another 9 months pass before the largest roadblock to travel is dissolved. At the end of October 2021, the Canadian government releases a digital vaccination certificate suitable for domestic and international travel. Within a week, I have a set itinerary using credits from a cancelled trip.

The following describes plans and unconventional sights for Berlin, Germany over 11 days in the 2nd-half of November 2021. As case counts change and situations evolve at both ends, travellers must remain vigilant with extra preparation and adapt to changing policies, protocols, and requirements by different countries for visitors, ensuring safe and smooth travel, out and back. I go over all guidelines supplied by Germany’s Federal Foreign Office and the city state of Berlin.

I’m not going to lug my DSLR camera and extra glass for this quick trip. Instead, I’ll only use my 340-gram (12-ounce) compact fixed-lens camera. In all respects, it’s a big weight off my shoulders.


( Click here for more )

My Heidelberg: 38 Highlights from Home

Above/featured: From Philosophenweg: across the Neckar, over the Altstadt, and up to Königstuhl – 21 May 2016 (HL).

Heidelberg is “eine adoptierte Heimatstadt” (an adopted hometown). Some have called this place “scenic, natural, and spectacular”; some call it “boring, provincial, and extortionate”. I could be referring to Vancouver, but that’s a subject for another time.

I’ve long struggled with questions of place: what defines “home”? Can those definitions and qualities change with time? Do people have choice(s) and do they apply their choices in their search? Can people find meaning with “home”? Must “home” be restricted to only one place, or can different needs be met from different places?

Images can provide access to memories of having lived in a new country, experiencing the shock of the new, and settling into the mundane. I remember advice someone once gave me which became constant companion and reminder: that I was inhabiting a place at the same latitude as my birthplace, 8000 km in distance and 9 time zones apart on the other side of the planet, a place that’s seen its compact share of activity with flair and impact.

Most recall is naturally connected to sight. Occasionally, it’s a rush of the senses: the quick breeze on the skin, the ankle-spraining undulations of the cobblestone, how fog clings like a cold clammy cloak, the sing-song of birds among tall trees in the forest on the hill, the smell of grilled sausages in town by day, and the satisfying late-night noms of a spicy Dürüm Döner with a cool Ayran. And other times, human history leaps out and buries its claws, when the unthinkable must be acknowledged and understood in a synapsis of memory and senses.

In the autumn of 2001, I moved to Germany and Heidelberg: both sight unseen and without having learned any of the language. I stayed in town for a little under two years. What’s astonishing is I have no pictorial record of my time in Heidelberg, Germany, and Europe: I had no camera before the dawn of the smart-phone.

I have some great memories, even if time is casting long shadows. What I lost (no, gave away) was some part of me that actually has little to do with the “Schlager” hit song “Ich hab mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren“. It might be a piece of the heart, a part of the soul, or simply a scrap of good sense; but what it is precisely still remains undefined and shapeless. Finding solid answers about what I’ve surrendered might take years. And so, for the sake of clarity, I’ve returned many times since leaving town in 2003. A sharper focus comes through the post-departure blur whenever I step off the train in town.

I couldn’t have possibly known the experience of moving to and living in Heidelberg would be life-changing. Time so far has been kind, because it didn’t take long for me to adopt Heidelberg as “home”.

( Click here for images and much more )

Ehrwald Bahnhof, Kulmalukko, Wikipedia

Over $500 savings with Eurail AT-DE pass (spring 2018)

Above/featured: Ehrwald station in Austria. 2014 photo by Kulmalukko (CC BY-SA 4.0).

I’m tuned to keeping alive a long-standing streak.

I’m in Germany for the 18th consecutive year this May. But, back “home” bookends the bulk of my time in Austria with key visits to Innsbruck, Salzburg, and Vienna.

I’ve purchased a 2nd-class Eurail Austria-Germany Pass (adult) with 10 (+ bonus 1) non-consecutive days of travel inside an interval of two months. With my preference for open-ended travel over advanced purchase of individual point-to-point tickets, I will save over 500 dollars. Here I describe:

  1. how flexibility with a rail pass provides significant money savings, and
  2. how I validate and activate the rail pass upon arrival in Europe.

( Click here for more )

%d bloggers like this: