You might have noticed that I am blogging less often as I used to. It’s not that I have nothing to say or write about. And it’s definitely not that I don’t want to keep blogging. I do. Life is simply keeping me very busy these days.
But here are the good news: I keep on photographing. That’s why I recently updated most of my photo galleries on this site and you are welcome to have a look at what I’ve been up to in 2016 and at the beginning of this year.
You have to imagine the Parc de Maisons-Laffitte like an oasis in the concrete jungle of the Paris suburbs; an oasis to not simply stroll, picnic or play in — it’s an oasis to live in. Therefore, its preservation must be ensured.
A municipal association is deciding about each single construction project that could change the look of the park. You want a larger garage? Get the association to approve. You want to build a house? Get the association to approve (tough one!). You want to open a shop or restaurant? Deal with the immediate rejection. There are no commercial buildings in the Parc de Maisons-Laffitte, despite of its size: 7km². The park makes up for 60% of the surface of Maisons-Laffitte, while 40% of the city’s inhabitants live there.
Those 60% of Maisons-Laffite are a haven for castle lovers and horses (they have priority at all times and even better walkways than pedestrians do). The park is wild, lush, full of trees and birds (I have seen parakeets here) and undergoes an ever changing floral look. Maisons-Laffitte Parc is a great place to be for nature lovers, who seek a remote spot for living while being only a 20 minutes train ride away from Paris.
It’s been confirmed: The Paris flood had reached its peak last weekend and is now receding. Phew! The city of lights and love is (for now) no longer facing a new “flood of the century” like in 1910.
Over the past days, the hashtag #CrueParis (crue = French for flood) has been trending on Twitter. With the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay closed, the Seine suddenly became the biggest tourist attraction despite of the lack of the popular boat shuttles.
I had a closer look myself between Pont Neuf and Pont de la Concorde:
Pont Royal — no boat fits through
Waiting in line — these house boats can’t move up or down the Seine, nor can their owners easily reach the pavement
This house boat owner made the best out of the chaos
“We are working here for Paris Plage” (the artificial beach created each year)
While the Seine did not burst its banks in the centre of Paris, it did in the capital’s suburbs. These photos have been taken in Maisons-Laffitte, a 30 minutes train ride from Paris’ centre to the North West:
The racecourse of Maisons-Laffitte — before and after the flood
The street beside the racecourse has been flooded
One unlucky car owner got an unwanted car wash — not for free
It’s Paris. You don’t come here for the weather.
True that! Visiting Paris is always a delight.
I took this photo on the rooftop of the Galeries Lafayette on a rainy day. Most people come here for that typical snapshot of the opera, but I found those heavy clouds in the distance more intriguing, making the Eiffel Tower appear like a small antenna trying to protect the city at my feet from thunderbolts…
Canon EOS 60D, 17mm, ISO 500, F11, 1/200 sec., no flash, no filter.
Before blogging about the first signs of spring I would like to share some winter photos with you that I took in Germany last year. They depict a weather phenomenon, which is both beautiful and dangerous at once.
Frozen ski lift on the Fichtelberg, the highest peak of the German Erzgebirge
In December, Saxony’s low mountain range (Erzgebirge, East Germany) was wrapped into thick fog layers lasting for weeks. The high air humidity coming along with the fog covered the region’s trees with hoar frost, which built up to a 30 to 40 cm thick ice crust. Needless to say that trees snapped off like matches under the heavy weight.
To avoid accidents, local public services decided to impose a ban to enter the forest above 800 metres. Streets were blocked for days and ski lifts had to shut down when some tree branches threatened to fall on the ropes.
Once streets reopened, we wanted to have a closer look at this newly created winter wonderland and went on a day trip to the highest point of the German Erzgebirge, the Fichtelberg (1,215 m), which looked as stunning as I had never seen it before. Me and my camera(s) got all excited; I could have easily spent the day looking at the most bizarre ice formations, but the cold…the severe cold…
People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, “Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner.” I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds. ~ Carl R. Rogers
Photo details (please click on the image for best quality):
Canon EOS 60D, 70mm, ISO 100, F32, 30 sec., no filter, no flash.
Location: Darwin, Australia.
How could I ever squeeze the words “freezing”, “dry”, “red”, “traditional”, “heat”, “crocodile”, “billabong”, “blue” and “bushfire” into one photo essay description without writing a novel? You’re right, I can’t. So let me just briefly discuss some weather phenomenons of the Northern Territory, which create a huge natural variety and diversity on the 1,800 kilometres between Australia’s tropical North and the continent’s arid centre.
During our first week in the Red Centre — around Alice Springs — we didn’t see a single cloud. Unfortunately, that clear blue sky over the desert didn’t offer much protection when temperatures dropped from comfortable 20°C over the day to uncomfortable 0°C at night. Camping fun!
That said, taking the plane to Darwin to spend our second week in the Northern Territory’s tropical North sounded like the greatest thing since sliced bread. Due to the wet season, when tropical cyclones and monsoons reign the northern top end, the Darwin region gets 9 times more rain each year than the central desert. While it didn’t rain during our stay (July = dry season), we got to see some clouds up north; and we were finally back to comfortable camping temperatures at night.
Let’s have a look at how these weather differences influence(d) the land, nature and animals of the Northern Territory.
Typical morning routine: A hot beverage to forget the freezing night temperatures
Uluru — Ayers Rock — is the reason why thousands of tourists travel thousands of kilometres through the Australian desert each year
Some shapes, like this wave, are inexplicable (if you don’t believe in the Aboriginies’ mythology)
The moon over Uluru, which isn’t all that smooth on the surface and actually reminds me of New Zealand Kauri
Each evening, Uluru does its magic when it’s turning redder and redder
Every morning the same procedure…
Sunrise over The Olgas (Kata Tjuta)
These large domed rock formations are not far from Uluru but lesser known
The Kata Tjuta Rim Walk leads through beautiful landscapes, though it’s often unsheltered and tough in hot summer temperatures
Kings Canyon, another red National Park in the NT
To be honest, I preferred the walks and views over Kings Canyon to Ayers Rock and The Olgas
Enjoying the sunrise on the Kings Canyon Rim Walk
Ghost Gum, a rare evergreen eucalyptus tree growing in rocky and arid regions of the NT
Harsh desert conditions are tough on plants, which often appear spiky
That’s the soil such plants can grow on in the West McDonnell Ranges (Trephina Gorge) near Alice Springs
A species found in the East McDonnell Ranges
Ormiston Gorge reflections (sorry for the mind play :) )
Perfect reflections like this one are only visible in the early morning or late evening hours when the wind settles down
Ellerlie Creek Dolomite Walk — a kangaroo’s paradise
Nature is the best artist!
Waterhole at Ellerlie Creek (10°C)
Taking the plane from Alice Springs to Darwin; flying over the beautifully meandering Adelaide River
Must do from Darwin: Visiting the Kakadu National Park
Marveling at the sunset over these wide plains with heaps of billabongs
It isn’t recommended to go close to billabongs since crocodiles live in there
So we focused on the tiny animal world…
…and flowers growing on arid soil
The NT is and always has been home to many Aboroginies
Their culture and dreamtime stories are well documented and explained in the National Parks as well as museums nearby
Kakadu NP: yellow flowers
Kakadu NP: Yellow Water
When joining a Yellow Water Cruise, locals will guide you really close to these inhabitants of the billabongs
Crocodile blending in. That’s why they’re so dangerous and unpredictable
Lotus flowers on the Yello Water billabongs
Bushfire between Kakadu NP and Litchfield NP
Litchfield is known for its amazing termite mound landscapes. Besides the cathedral mounds that you can also see in Kakadu NP, Litchfield is home to magnetic termites, building their mounds in a Nort-South direction to avoid that their homes heat up too much
This cathedral termite mound is over 3 metres tall
Litchfield’s waterholes serve as natural pools, which are frequented by locals as well as tourists
After walking around this natural pool in the midday sun, nothing could stop us from jumping straight in
Last sunset over Darwin before heading East to Queensland (photo essay to come)
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