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Still going strong..

Posted 5 May 2008 - Innsbruck (AT):

Hello again, from Innsbruck this time. Everything is going alright in the Alps. Italy was friendly to me again during my third passage and it was great to see my old classmates Lorenzo and Carolina from Clermont again!

Next stages on the agenda: Lots of visitors!! My brother Matthijs is arriving tomorrow morning in Munich and will join me for a week. When he goes home, my mum will come over and also join for a week, then it`s Sanne visiting for a week, followed by some colleagues of work at the end of the month. Busy, busy, but still enjoying this unbelievable and unforgettable trip. I missed out on about all of the Dutch national holidays, but ej, can`t have it all..

( Bassano del Grappa - IT, April 2008)
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Helloh from Dzjurmanie

Posted 6 May 2008 - Munich (DE):

I used a quick jump out of Austria to Germany to collect my brother from the railway station in Munich. We spent most of the day sleeping in the English park, as my brother had not slept on the night train and I had not slept to make sure I could catch the 5 o`clock train from Innsbruck. Plans for the next days: Salzburg, Graz, Vienna.

( Munich - DE, May 2008)
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Posted 13 May 2008 - Linz (AT):

Hello from the Czech Republic, where the weather is HOT! Just like it has been ever since I left Padova in Italy, now two weeks ago. Everything is running smoothly. It was exciting to have my brother travel along with me for a week and share a part of my traveling experience with him. It made me realise once again that the way I travel is quite different from anything that could potentially be similar to it: staying over at people`s places, meeting new people, going to parties without knowing anybody, almost but not entirely missing trains, walking around without feeling like a tourist, taking it easy in order to deal with the ever-changing environment and eating pasta with cabbage and Sauerkraut salad. Apart from that, it was good fun to travel with somebody who has a similar sense of humour and moreover speaks the same language.

This week, it`s my mother`s turn, which is another different experience. It shows that living on 30 euros a day actually requires an effort and leaves for zero extras when not doing any Couchsurfing. It also helps me see things with new eyes again, re-finding out that there is excitement in the simple fact of getting to a new place. Much of that has gone by now. I notice pretty buildings, but care so much more about the people I meet, the landscape and the food, that I forget to look at the buildings and the sites.

What else is new? My article about corruption in Bulgaria should be published in the Perron E magazine sometime now. Visitor numbers to Us Europeans are up: reaching over 700 a day now. And the ambition of compiling a book with European crossroads is still there, as this photo from Linz shows.

( Linz - AT, May 2008)
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Expo in Luxembourg

Posted 15 May 2008 - Cesky Krumlov (CZ)

For the first time in ages, I am not running behind on posting Us Europeans articles, which gives me some time to focus on other things. Finding ways to use the Us Europeans project in different ways once my trip finally comes to an end.

One thing is becoming more and more likely: the 300 portraits will be exhibited at the European Commission in Luxembourg, and hopefully in some other venues afterwards as well. I should soon have a concept of what I want the exhibition to look like and will keep readers of the PhotoLog informed on the progress.

( Cesky Krumlov - CZ, May 2008)
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Cross road in Trutnov

Posted 18 May 2008

It`s been quiet on Dailyphoto for a few days which I will blame on the many visitors I have had during the past weeks. Time to catch up with some photos. This one is from Trutnov, another nice cross-road:

( Trutnov - CZ, May 2008)
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Mountain excursion

Posted 19 May 2008 - Trutnov (CZ):

A nice excursion to the top of the Snezka mountain and also a few meters past the Polish border to eat Bigos and Zupa Zurek. Magnificent views!

( Snezka - CZ, May 2008)
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Industrial city

Posted 20 May 2008 - Usti nad Labem (CZ):

I sometimes cross random untouristy places on the way from one city to another. Passing Usti nad Labem and staying over for the night was one such experience. It`s quite an industrial city, but more so than the city centre of Prague, it made me feel like I was seeing an interesting segment of everyday Czech life. On top of that, I found it more photogenic.

( Usti nad Labem - CZ, May 2008)
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Ugly but interesting

Posted 26 May 2008 - Kutna Hora (CZ):

One of my colleagues advised me to go see the bone chapel in Kutna Hora. I did and it looked interesting. I did not take any photos, because when it comes to photography, I prefer scenes like this one:

( Kutna Hora - CZ, May 2008)
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To be or not to be (3)..

Posted 27 May 2008 - Pardubice (CZ):

.. a tourist. A whole caravan of people has come by during the last three weeks. It has been a great pleasure opening up my travel to so many friends and sharing a bit of my experience with them. I guess my brother Matthijs has seen quite a bit of what I am actually doing during all of this year. We stayed with local people and he could easily join in on the interviews without changing how these would otherwise have run.

With my mother, the experience was a bit more holiday-like: staying in pensions and eating out in small restaurants. We did cross quite some distance: all the way from Vienna to Prague with two stops inbetween. During the last night, we stayed with a New Zealandish guy I had met earlier on my trip in Sicily, which was a nice end of her week in Austria and Czech Republic.

Sanne joined me last Saturday to travel from Prague to Prague in a week`s time. It was almost like a week of holiday, with the exception that I still somehow needed to squeeze in the interviews. We spend lots of time on trains, travelling slowly and seeing landscapes pass by - all very enjoyable.

During the last weekend, five colleagues of work came over for a weekend in Prague. Good to see them again and to hear about how things are going in the office while I`m not there. Sharing a couple of Czech beers obviously added to the experience.

Now, I`m back on my own which felt a bit strange at the beginning but it`s pleasant as well. I can once again follow my own schedule - or rather: catch up with it. And also: feel like I am a participant in the country I am visiting rather than somebody intruding foreign territory. I will spend some more reflections on this `intruding` concept during the next couple of days.

About the photo: didn`t know what to think of it. Then grabbed my camera to record it. That`s how things go when you`re a photographer.

( Kutna Hora - CZ, May 2008)
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Back in Brno

Posted 28 May 2008 - Brno (CZ):

Whenever I leave a city or country after visiting it, I usually think that I won`t return there - or at least: not soon after. In most cases, the opposite turns out to be true. The same for Brno, which I first visited when I had to go to Vienna for a business meeting in 2004. I liked how my first name resembled the name of the city, which was enough of a reason to go and check it out.

I also usually look back on old photos and think that I would do better now. Or at least: wonder if I would notice different things during a new visit to the same place.

Back then in May 2004, Brno was a mostly empty city because it happened to be raining like hell on that day. I was walking around with my analog camera which had mis-read the ISO-value of the film I had loaded: 50, probably the default value, instead of 200. All the photos I took came out with a funny kind of coloured hue over them. Which was even more of a frustration than the defeat of the Dutch football team against Czech Republic (2-3) that coincided with my visit.

And now I find myself again walking around in Brno. Sunny, almost 30 degrees and lots of people in the streets. Not a lot of change in how the city looks and so I, once again, get drawn toward the scene I recorded in the photograph below. Once I get home, I will compare it to the photo I took 4 years ago, but it can`t be much different. Maybe my photography skills are not improving then. Maybe I just see what I already know. But even if such is the case, I do believe that I manage to stretch my conscience with the passing of time. I also believe that I need less effort to take the same quality-level of photos, which-abracadabramathematics consequently means that I should also be able to take better photos if I find the right way of using the redundant energy from the ones that take less energy for the same quality.

Anybody still following my reasoning?

( Brno - CZ, May 2008)
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Another crossroad

Posted 29 May 2008 - Brno (CZ):

Anybody getting bored by these cross roads yet? I keep seeing them as extremely representative for the countries I am visiting.

( Brno - CZ, May 2008)
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Coal mines and steel mills

Posted 30 May 2008 - Ostrava (CZ):

Home to the most prestigious of all industries - coal mining and steel manufacturing - the city of Ostrava used to be the `steel heart` of Czechoslovakia. Whatever is left of that now is an interesting struggle for modernisation. Unemployment is high but people keep having hope for the return of better times.

( Ostrava - CZ, May 2008)
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Same old?

Posted 31 May 2008 - Ostrava (CZ):

The transition from communism to capitalism keeps fascinating me. I can`t make up my mind as to whether I find them either fundamentally different or actually unexpectedly similar. The steel factories in Ostrava used to be state property known as Nova Hut`. They have now been taken over by pan-European steel giant Mittal. Maybe Mittal cares more about the environment than the former Czechoslovakian communist regime. I doubt it though. It smells like more of the same with the label on top as the only difference. Here`s there accommodation building for workers:

( Ostrava - CZ, May 2008)
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