Ghana, Togo and Benin in Western Africa
From the end of December 2016 to the beginning of January 2017 I visited the neighbouring countries of Togo, Benin, Togo and Ghana in Western Africa. The only times I´ve been to Western Africa before was in 2013 to Cabo Verde, and very long ago to Mali (when it still was a safe country to visit).
Touring Western Africa is always some kind of adventure. It´s not the place to go if you are looking for a relaxing holiday. Although there are 5 stars hotels at the beach where you could do just that. At the end of the tour I stayed in such aplace in Ghana´s capital Accra because my flight was delayed.
It´s a kind of adventure for a tourist because there is not so much touristic infrastructure. The concept of tourism isn´t really something of importance there. One example are the Royal Palaces of Abomey, you´ll realize that, when you are there. However, or because of that, you´ll get a deeper feeling for the countries and their people – as much as it is possible to experience in a too short time.
In Ghana the major stations were Accra, Cape Coast, Kumasi and Tamale. In Togo it were Lomé, Sokode and Kara, in Benin Ouidah and Abomey.
There is much to learn about the history of the slave trade, it´s deeply impressive and depressing.
Fascinating is everything around voodoo, the temples and ceremonies associated with it. But I had not enough time to get anything more than a superficial glimpse into that culture.
And when you travel there, don´t forget to try the local food, especially when you are travelling with an organized tour.
Usually when I add a new series of photos I´ll take another one out so that the website will not look too crowded. Still, there are a few photo series which have been there from the beginning. Yemen is one of those.
The pictures I took are from 2008. Yemen today is different – what would I see when visiting the places of which I took pictures again today. I don´t know.
When reading or listening to the news in Germany, I rarely encounter anything about the ongoing war there. Why not? And when Yemen is in the news then there is little in-depth information. Who are the fighting parties, what are they fighting for? Who are the acting persons or groups who are really responsible for the war? Why are we (our politicians) not helping the people of Yemen? To me most of the news on the war seem to be very biased. Is that so? If yes, why is that so? Please check for yourself, try to dig deeper, try to find out the answers.
Antarctica from Ushuaia
In 2010 I took the route from Soutern Argentina to Antarctica. The cruise started and ended in Ushuaia. For me it was the second time to visit Ushuaia. The first time was in 1994 during a tour through Patagonia. (And that was more or less the first holiday with that I really began to travel.) Of course, when saying Antartica it means just the tip of that “continent”. Almost all tours don´t go much deeper and not really close to the South Pole.
It might be interesting to compare the pictures of the South with those from the North. One year before, 2009, I visited Greenland. And in 2004 I took an icebreaker to Franz-Josef-Land. This one is quite close to the North Pole and gives the best comparison to Antarctica. (By the way, the North Pole is easier to reach than the South Pole, it´s just pretty expensive.)
What are the differences between the South and the North? Here are the touristic ones: The animals are different, of course. There are many more tourists in Antartica than in the Artic. Therefore, in Antarctica you´ll meet other ships and people, that´ll happen very rarely in the far North. And the ice is different. For example, you´ll see many more icebergs in the South. And at least for that tour that I did you don´t need an icebreaker, but for the far north it´s necessary.
When travelling, the weather always is a big topic. As you can see, the weather was pretty nice most of the time. Only on Deception Island is was very windy, it snowed and the skies were grey. And exactly there you could swin in the ocean, what I didn´t do, of course(?). Otherwise it was perfect, and the local summer isn´t that cold.
It´s far away, from Europe, but you have to go there at least once!
1993 in Myanmar
This is another old series from a long time ago visit in 1993 (https://www.google.de/maps/place/Myanmar). The pictures were taken as slides, as I usually did before the digital age. Myanmar is one of the most colorful coutries I´ve seen so far, certainly with the most gold around. And the density of pagodas is simply amazing.
At that time, in the early 90s, only few tourists were in the country, hotels were also very few, electricity was limited and frequently breaking down. Fridges existed, but without electricity they were merely containers, that was the time when I learned to enjoy drinking warm beer. Travelling was done by train, hired car with driver (very good!), and airplane. If you wanted to use the fast way to your next destination, for booking you had to go to the airport one day before your flight, earlier bookings were not possible.
If you travelled to Myanmar recently you may recognize some of the places where I took the pictures here. Does it still look the same, how much has changed?
You can also compare the pictures to the series Vietnam and Cambodia, where I also went in 1993. How do you think about the changes there?
Persian Gulf States: Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and UAE
After being to Dubai Airport many times it was about time to see the city. At the end of 2015 I combined some of the Persian Gulf States (or: states of the Arabian Gulf) in this trip, including Kuwait City, Bahrain´s capital Manama, Doha in Qatar, and Dubai and Abu Dhabi of the United Arabian Emirates. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_states_of_the_Persian_Gulf#/media/File:Arab_Gulf_States_english.png)
December is a good time when you want to walk around, it´s not hot, in Dubai it was sometimes even kind of slightly cold. And walking around is perfectly possible, also in Dubai contrary to what some guidebooks are telling. And a nice challenge in Abu Dhabi to find out the correct names of the streets. A highlight of Christmas Eve was the view from the top of Burj Khalifa. But that´s just one of the obvious highlights around.
Franz Josef Land: Getting close to the North Pole
It´s been over a year since my last entry here. Franz Josef Land is also an old series, still taken on slides, from a trip in July 2004.
The tour started and ended in Kirkenes in Norway, from there we boarded the Russian icebreaker. Nowadays most tours leave from Murmansk. Tours going to the North Pole usually will also stop there shortly.
Franz Josef Land belongs to Russia, but you need no visa to go there. At the time of this tour the islands were reopened for tourism only a few years ago. When ist got busier, between 2011 and 2016 around 5500 people visited the archipelago.
The icebreaker is necessary to reach Franz Josef Land. In July 2004 there was so much ice that zodiacs could not be used to land on the island, we always had to go by helicopter, usually twice a day. But with global warming and the melting of the artic ice, I wonder how much it has changed in the meantime, if you still can see the icescapes show on the pictures here. Sometime in the future probably an icebreaker isn´t needed anymore and ship like those around Antarctica will do it.
It´s an amazing experience to travel on an icebreaker. The always changing scenery of ice and fog, the sound of moving through the ice in the otherwise silence of the remoteness, this is something you won´t hear and see somewhere else. And of course the sun not only doesn´t set at all, the light is only very slightly different at “night” and “day”. Just look at the picture of the two polar bears.
If you want to read about the discovery of Franz Josef Land try the novel “Die Schrecken des Eises und der Finsternis” by Christoph Ransmayr.
You can find its location here: Franz-Josef-Land.
Central America: Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica
This is a selection of pictures from two trips to Central America: In 2003 to Mexico, at that time I still worked with slides. Then in 2014/15 to the countries of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. I also visited Honduras, pictures from there you might find in one of the other photo series from other portfolio categories than “around the world”.
You can see here photos from cities and locations: In Mexico: Puebla, Mexico City, Palenque, Uxmal. In Guatemala: Guatemala City, Antigua, Tikal. In Nicaragua: Leon, Granada, Masaya volcano area, Telica volcano area, Deer Island (which is also named Isla del Venado), San Jorge, Ometepe. In Costa Rica: San Jose and Manuel Antonio National Park.
Greenland in Summer
In the summer of 2009 I went to Greenland. After my trip to Franz Josef Land it was the second time for me to reach the arctic region.
And these are the very first pictures I took with a digital camera, a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, I got the camera just in time for this trip. And already on the second day it got a few scratches when I had to escape on a rock to escape the attack of a musk ox.
It was a summer camping trip. Greenland is a perfect country for camping, at least in summer. And it´s a place to really catch the sun. You just need to somewhat like mosquitoes, otherwise the fun will be reduced. The colors you can see are amazing. All the photos here show the original colors. I visited Kangerlussuaq, Sisimiut, Illulissat and places around the Disco Bay, easily accessible locations.
Vietnam and Cambodia in 1993
In 1993 I visited the southern part of Vietnam and some of Cambodia. My trip took me to Saigon (Sai Gon, Ho Chi Minh City), the tunnels from the war in Cu Chi, and south from there: Can Tho, Soc Trang, Vung Tau, including a wonderful boat trip on the river Mekong. Food at the seaside was amazing. After that I have not been there. Everywhere, Saigon then and Ho Chi Minh City now must be very different places. At that time it was a little adventure to go there without an organized tour.
Then in Cambodia the capital Phnom Penh and Siem Reap with Angkor. There were very few tourists in Angkor at that time, most foreigners we saw were from the United Nations peacekeeping troops. Have you been there recently? I guess you had a very different impression. However, Angkor is simply sensationell.