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Colourful islands

Posted 1 March 2008 - Athens (GR):


More of Egina, this is the harbour:


( Egina - GR, February 2008)
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Athens Larissa Station

Posted 2 March 2008 - Thessaloniki (GR):


This is what Athens looked like when I left it yesterday to exchange it for Thessaloniki. A long but very nice train ride. Unfortunately, I slept most of it away.


( Athens - GR, March 2008)
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Churches in photos

Posted 4 March 2008 - Sofia (BG):


Churches are usually very difficult to take normal photos of. They always require some special treatment or optical trick to make them come out right. Apart from that, they have usually been photographed by so many people that there`s almost nothing left to record. Anyway, I made an exception today and tried to record the impressive Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia.


( Sofia - BG, March 2008)
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Dutch news

Posted 5 March 2008 - Sofia (BG):


Seeing The Netherlands on international TV is usually a pleasure, but these days it is not. CNN reported about Dutch and Danish flags being burnt in Pakistan today, as a response to the forthcoming release of a provocative film that presents Islam as a backward religion. The Dutch Prime Minister tried to explain why the Dutch government cannot prevent the film from coming out. He seemed to be very happy about his moment of fame, but he is only adding fuel to the flames by coming up with ridiculous warnings and explanations.

A nationalist politician by the name of Geert Wilders is at the source of the unrest. He wants to prove that the Koran is as dangerous as Hitler`s Mein Kampf, which most of the Dutch rightfully judge to be nothing but a provocation that is slowly killing the Dutch ideal of tolerance. Support for the case is on the rise though. Mr Wilders manages to get a lot of attention for his case as he seems to address issues that have not been dealt with for the last decades immigration being the main one. Many people are happy to hear his message, and those who are not open to his ideas are frightened by the consequences of his words.

Somebody is tearing the Dutch society apart, and uses the magic words `Freedom of Expression` as a lame excuse. Somebody is killing one of The Netherlands` best-kown traditions, which is called tolerance. Somebody is also killing the best practice of isolating radical opinions by taking the poison out and integrating the remainder with mainstream politics. Somebody has lit a fire that others are clumsily nourishing by trying to blow it out.

Anyway, my everyday reality is fortunately different from all the trash and I hope the situation will move back to normal before I return home. Today`s photo shows the hot water taps in the centre of Sofia, which people can freely use to get their daily supply of clean drinking water.


( Sofia - BG, March 2008)
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Photographer = terrorist

Posted 6 March 2008 - Sofia (BG):


The Netherlands is not the only country that is going crazy about terrorism. I suspect the UK to soon have more CCTVs than inhabitants, for which I congratulate them with pity.

Being a war photographer has always been dangerous, but the frontline has moved a lot closer to home. Everybody is now a police officer in London, and photography is put on a par with terrorism. Well, in my experience it already was anyway, so what`s new actually..

Photo from Sofia, where the weather keeps changing. Almost 20 degrees on my first day here, only 2 degrees today. The photo is yesterday`s, when the temperature was somewhere in the middle between the two. Coming days prove to be normal again, around 10 degrees.


( Sofia - BG, March 2008)
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News from Plovdiv

Posted 7 March 2008 - Plovdiv (BG):


Hello from Plovdiv, which is probably the least inspiring-souding name of all of this trip. In Dutch at least. But the city is quite alright, I have a nice host and the weather is supposed to get better during the weekend. Apart from that, my brother arranged to come visit me in Austria at the beginning of May, which is exciting news! He will come to Munich by night train, travel along with me to Vienna in about a week`s time, then fly home from there.


( Plovdiv - BG, March 2008)
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Spring in Bulgaria

Posted 8 March 2008 - Plovdiv (BG):


After a few cold days, the sun is back out and today was a very nice day for taking photos!


( Plovdiv - BG, March 2008)
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Authentic train travels

Posted 9 March 2008 - Kazanlak (BG):


Once a train spotter always a train spotter. The good thing about trains in Eastern Europe is that they are actually trains. They have a locomotive, carriages, they make some noise and you can open the windows. Distances are long so traveling is still an adventure and people are still willing to share their journey with fellow travelers. Today, I played chess with a Bulgarian guy and enjoyed the chocolate that a girl in the same compartment offered to share with us. All of that with the Bulgarian landscape sliding by in the meantime.


( Tulovo - BG, March 2008)
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History lessons

Posted 10 March 2008 - Kazanlak (BG):


Unlike most of its Central European neighbours, Bulgaria has not tried to wipe out its communist past. It still has many Soviet-style monuments that are neither properly maintained nor destroyed. They are just there: silent witnesses of changing times.


( Kazanlak - BG, March 2008)
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Nice hotel

Posted 11 March 2008 - Veliko Tarnovo (BG):


I have arrived in Veliko Tarnovo which is one of Bulgaria`s main university cities. This is one of the hotels in town, but it`s not where I am staying.


( Veliko Tarnovo - BG, March 2008)
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Dutch and Flemish in Bulgaria

Posted 12 March 2008 - Veliko Tarnovo (BG):


The university of Veliko Tarnovo has a separate department of Neerlandistiek (Dutch language and culture), which is headed by a fanatic Bulgarian lady. There are at least 20 students who are learning Dutch, most frequently as a part of their studies of German. Most of the department`s contacts are with Flanders. The students therefore speak Belgian rather than Dutch.

Today, the faculty received the Secretary of Political Affairs from the Dutch Embassy. There were some questions back and forth and it was an interesting meeting and I was happy to be allowed to join. Anyway, here`s a photo of some Dutch-speaking Bulgarians:


( Veliko Tarnovo - BG, March 2008)
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Reached the Black Sea

Posted 13 March 2008 - Varna (BG):


Got an offer to write an article for an official printed magazine! It has to deal with corruption in Bulgaria which is not an easy subject to photograph, simply because most of it escapes the eye. But I`m giving my best and will post a reference as soon as anything gets published.

Other thing: I was planning to get to Romania tomorrow, but connections between Romania and Bulgaria are a bit disappointing. There are only two buses a week, even though the distance to Constanta is less than 200 kilometres. The next one is on Saturday so I will take that one and try to find another subject for my Us Europeans article of tomorrow.


( Varna - BG, March 2008)
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Bucharest in transition

Posted 17 March 2008 - Bucharest (RO):


Hello from Romania. I am in Bucharest again, a city that I first visited with Bas in 2002 and afterwards happened to pass for work in 2003, 2004 and 2005. I did not have the impression that much progress had been going on in those years, but 2008 is different. Lots of advertisements, posters, people, everything hectic, really hectic. Still no tourist information whatsoever but I bet that they will also come up with that within a year.


( Bucharest - RO, March 2008)
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Delays explained

Posted 22 March 2008 - Sibiu


Sorry for severely lagging behind on both Us Europeans and Dailyphoto during the last few days. Travelling can`t always be easy, and so it isn`t always easy. Had some dental problems, but it looked like they are on their way to be resolved now.

Bucharest was a nice stopover on the way from the Black Sea to Hungary. It changed lots in the last two years, but it`s still a fascinating city with different building styles and lots of different everything. And very very few tourists.

I am now in Sibiu and will move to Timisoara tomorrow, then to Cluj Napoca, hopefully to Satu Mare and then into another next country Hungary. If anybody has suggestions of which subjects I should cover while there, do let me know!


( Sibiu - RO, March 2008)
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European Crossroads

Posted 24 March 2008 - Timisoara (RO):


I`m still collecting cross roads. This is a nice one from Timisoara, in the West of Romania.


( Timisoara - RO, March 2008)
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Blue Romanian train

Posted 25 March 2008 - Cluj Napoca (RO):


This is a typical Romanian railway station situation with some people standing in front of a Romanian-blue train that is about to depart. Similar to the one I took to get from Timisoara to Cluj Napoca, 6 hours further North. A few more days in Romania, then off to Hungary. I am staying in a youth hostel tonight, planning to go to bed early and catch up with some sleep.


( Timisoara - RO, March 2008)
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Blue-yellow-red

Posted 26 March 2008 - Cluj Napoca (RO):


Here`s a nice and very typical Romanian photograph. It could have been taken anywhere, but I`ll tell you I took it in Cluj-Napoca. It`s got one of still many, many Dacia 1310 cars which were modeled after the Renault 12-type and mass-produced until the fall of communism. Nice detail: the colours in the photo together compile those of the Romanian flag: blue-yellow-red.


( Cluj-Napoca - RO, March 2008)
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(Another) Arrival of Spring

Posted 27 March 2008 - Cluj Napoca (RO):


Another photo from Cluj. Today was a transition day between snow and sun. The coming days should be sunny and warm with temperatures slowly tiptoeing towards 20 degrees.


( Cluj-Napoca - RO, March 2008)
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Paris, t-30

Posted 28 March 2008 - Cluj-Napoca (RO):


Final photo from Cluj: most of the buses in the city have obvious Parisian origins. Good excuse for feeling at home in Cluj.


( Cluj-Napoca - RO, Marc 2008)
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Great day for science

Posted 29 March 2008 - Baia Mare (RO):


Yoohoo, I am finally back up to datum with my Us Europeans reports! That`s quite a relief after almost two weeks of constantly lagging behind and feeling like the days were getting too short. Yesterday was a great day for photography (or: for science as my CouchSurfing host from Bucharest would call it). I freely walked around in the city of Baia Mare, enjoying the arrival of spring. Next worries on the list: getting my tax forms filled out before the 1st of April.


( Baia Mare - RO, March 2008)
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Concrete communism

Posted 30 March 2008 - Baia Mare (RO):


At the playground of Baia Mare:


( Baia Mare - RO, March 2008)
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De: Satu Mare A: Debrecen

Posted 31 March 2008 - Satu Mare (RO):


Satu Mare is my last station before getting to Hungary - if the border is not closed off because of the NATO summit, that is.. I don`t know what I will find there: I have been to Budapest and to Lake Balaton before, but that`s about it. This time, I will at least also see Debrecen and Miskolc. Former classmate Eszter recommended me to also go see Pecs, but I first need to locate that on a map.

Photo: another Romanian crossroad.


( Satu Mare - RO, March 2008)
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