Travel

Le Touquet (with Paris)

I hadn’t shot a Kodak Ektar for a long time — somehow the last one had left a bad impression, though looking at it now I can only vaguely remember why. In any case, a good friend talked positively about it recently so decided to give it another try.

The rendering of City Park is great, and the same for Windows, Sea Resistance, and Les Pirates. The rendering of Bunker HotelMarket Barn, and View is close to how I remembered the film, being either a bit too strong on some colours (reds) or a bit too dark on others (dark greens). The rest look somewhat like a Kodak Portra.

Overall I’m happy with the result and have a more positive opinion on the film now. Perhaps it’s important to not underexpose the film, and to use something else for scenes with dark greens and, to a lesser extend, blues.

Leaving a Film in the Camera

Given its colour tint and demand for light (I tend to shoot it at ISO 50), the Lomo Redscale is not an easy film to find good scenes for. Combined with a long period of me living out of boxes, this roll ended up staying in the camera for around a year. And when it was finally developed it turned out to contain a few other surprises besides that of re-seeing old frames.

The first surprise was to see the frame on which I suspect the roll had been stuck on in the camera for around 9 months. I’m not completely sure it’s the real reason, but it is striking that Left in Camera is the only frame with two very different colour tints.

The second surprise was that the tint appears to have somewhat shifted over the year, with some shots be quite heavier in the red tones than others. Again this may have been some rustiness on my part, but there was a clean pattern.

At any rate, turns out there’s some evidence to the old advice of not keeping a film in the camera for too long.

Japan

I’d been wanting to go to Japan for years, and now seemed as good as ever. Taking the best of two days for travel, it had to be limited to nine full days there, with five spent in Tokyo, two in Kyoto, and two for what lies in-between.

It should come as no surprise that Tokyo was amazing. The cleanliness, the cityscape, and the seeming separatism from the US (compared to large parts of Europe at least). My impression is that it would be hard to move there for good — but coming back to work there for, say, one year is on my list now.

Unfortunately there wasn’t much time left over for Mount Fuji, but we did take the advice of many and stayed a night at a tradition Japanese inn, which is hereby passed on. Got to see the mountain though, and driving past a Fujifilm factory on the way I also finally made that connection (ever wondered why the network gigant is called Cisco?).

In Kyoto the most impressive thing was the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine, with the entire Inari mountain essentially covered in Japanese Torii gates.

And of course everything was documented with Fujifilm, specifically Superia 200 and 400, and shot on a Nikon FM.

La Reunion

Although seemingly unknown to the non-French speaking part of the world, La Reunion island a few hundred kilometers east of Madagascar is an amazing little place, offering everything from sandy beaches, whale watching, parachuting, downhill biking, water rafting, lava tunnels, jungle, forgotten mountain villages — and of course wonderful diving. Only bad part is that the roughly ten hour flight makes it expensive to get there.

We went there for an active vacation and got exactly that: up around seven every morning and sleeping tightly before ten. We had rented a small hillside bungalow on Airbnb for 30 euro a night and a silly little Peugeot that, while never failing us, didn’t seem to be in its right element.

Volcanos play a significant part on the island, separating the rough weather on the west side of the island from the clam and sunny east side. And providing the centre with yet another climate: rain forest.

Rome

A few shots from an extended weekend in Rome. Lovely place, yet apparently even more deserted by the locals and taken over by tourists than Paris, at least at this time of the year.

Perhaps I’ve been loosing the touch a bit lately, or perhaps the light is harsher down south, but surprised by how many of these are overexposed — seeing the limit of the otherwise very forgiving Kodak Portra 160.

Hiking In Sweden

By a series of coincidences I again this year ended up spending part of the summer in Sweden. This time also in a tent, but with an old friend instead and with even less modern day luxury.

From our little trip to Norway and tenting in Sweden last year I’ve been wanting to try a more Bear Grylls kind of trip close to nature, and for some reason my old friend Tim has also had the idea that hiking might be the way forward.

We talked about the south-east of France, Berchtesgaden National Park in Germany, and even the highlands in Scotland. But in the end it was pretty hard to beat the Swedish Allemansrätten; not least because of its liberties and the country’s beautiful nature, but also because our nordic bigger brothers have laid out very promising routes with spots for drinking water and shelters: without a car and unable to find concrete route suggestions in the southern countries we started to wonder if we could find accommodation every night, and decided that it must be the intermediate stage.

So, we ended up settling on Öresundsleden in Skåne. It turned out to be a great choice, both because of the nature it took us through, but also because it seemed to fit our beginners level pretty well: we hiked for a week and managed to just cross the line where a bit of padding on our own shoulders seemed in order.

As the pictures show the route takes you through a lot actually: open landscape, dense forest, and what (by a Dane) could be called mountains. We also went through a lot of small fishing villages and as a result enjoyed splendid fish, often several times a day. Highly recommendable!

By the way, I only brought along an old analogue camera (an Olympus OM-1). For one, I’ve been more into that stuff recently. Secondly, it doesn’t run out of batteries so no worries if there are no outlets around. And thirdly, it’s cheaper to replace if broken or lost.

I shot a total of around 50 frames on two different films — a Fujifilm Superia and half a Kodak Portra — and besides some issues of not being able to focus too well (only took the 35-70mm) they came out pretty decent. Since I just used my little table for setting the exposure, with the errors this implies, both films also seem to be quite forgiving, and hence candidates for a good general purpose colour film.

And Allemansrätten? It worked great; brilliant concept! And only once did we add to the statistic of Danes breaking it; in our case a kind park ranger knocked on the tent at 8am to inform us that we were in a restricted area and had to leave.

Weekend in London (with Buzzcocks + Cock Sparrer + Rancid)

A few weeks back we had arranged a weekend trip to London just to get away from Aarhus a bit. And planning ahead I had found a weekend with the maximal payoff in terms of concerts! Beyond that thought we hadn’t really planned that much, and mostly wanted to “go have a weekend in London” as if we were living there.

Friday

We arrived in the city at about noon and went for lunch at a pub across the street from the hotel. It went a bit outside my tradition of starting each countries with its “national” dish (fish ‘n’ chips in England, currywurst in Germany, baguette in France, and hotdog in Denmark) but pub food is a close second in the UK. And I was actually pleasantly reminded of the surprisingly decent food you can get cheaply at the pubs: it hasn’t changed or been influenced much since my time in Edinburgh, and it came with a pint.

Afterwards we went for Death: A Self-portrait at the Wellcome Collection, but in all honesty the venue was more exciting than the exhibition. Also visited a few years back, and with its free entry, nice cafe, and good museum shop it’s a nice place to hang out. This time I realised that there’s also a second floor but that’ll be for next time to explore.

We had a tea and a crumble at the cafe, and picked up some fish ‘n’ chips on the way back to the hotel. Having not looked exactly where the Buzzcocks concert was going to take place, we were surprised to discover that it was in fact a good deal outside the city and hence had to take not just the metro but also the regional train. When we finally arrived, The Mick Jagger Centre looked more like a primary school than the great venue where we were at last to see the Buzzcocks. They played a great concert though, the guitarist seemingly the one with most punk left in him, and the drummer looking like it was about time to retire. However, we had to cut it short by the last to tracks in order to reach the train station in time: unfortunately these were Ever Fallen In Love and, I believe, What Do I Get? That obviously was a bit of a let down, but given how far we were into the country side it seemed silly to risk the last safe ride back.

Saturday

Headed for Camden Market and got an English breakfast at a pub first thing there. The markets have gotten bigger since I was there in 2008, despite the story that parts of it caught fire. It really is an impressive market, not matched by any in Paris for instance. Had a curry for lunch, and a bit arbitrarily picked up Eleven Kinds of Loneliness by Richard Yates.

We then headed to Tate Modern for their William Klein exhibition. On the way we ran into some kind of Father Christmas event consisting of several hundred people dressed up for the holidays and just basically hanging out. We later saw that they had marched through London, at some point also occupying Trafalgar Square.

Great exhibition by the way, and very easily to see that he’s one of the good ones. Particularly liked how good he is at filling the frame and make the photo stuck you in (later wanted to try the same at Brick Lane, but my attempt earlier in Boston was perhaps more successful).

For the evening we decided to get last minute tickets for a play, and ended up with The 39 Steps at the Criterion Theatre — it was what looked best on the list at the box office, but turned out to be a surprisingly good show! Very good adaptation from the movie with clever use of meta language; highly recommended. The underground theatre itself was very cute, and with an elderly guy in front of us with a very contagious laughter it couldn’t have been must better. We left wishing we could go more often, even if it’s three times or more the price of going to the cinema (the actors seem to perform a more honest job anyway).

Sunday

Starting again with a market, we went to Brick Lane for a late breakfast/lunch. In no rush, we walked up and down the market, bought a few items, and got hungry again looking at all of the different options. Has it become hipster? Yes, but it is a nice place.

Afterwards we just kind of strolled around town a bit until dinner (a lovely noodle place around Leicester Square I think) in preparation for the Cock Sparrer and Rancid concert at The Forum later.

The concerts were great. A bit loud at 110 dB compared to the usual 100 dB, but energetic atmosphere and impressive venue (an old theatre I suspect). My girlfriend remembered listening to Cock Sparrer on cassette tapes in her teenage years, and for me they were a welcomed discovery — am now looking forward to Shock Troops arriving in the mail. Having instead listening a lot to Rancid I was very happy to finally see them alive and they didn’t disappoint. Should have prepared a bit better for the sing-along though.

Finally, we flew with Ryanair but talked about not doing that again. Why their initial price might be lower than the other airlines, their price curve is also a lot steep: as soon as you want a bit more (such as checked-in luggage) the price goes up quickly and you end up paying the same (if not more) than with a decent airline — yet the airports used by Ryanair are still far away, the departures are early in the morning, and they are not that good at managing overcrowding.

Oh by the way, Songkick turned out to be a splendid tool for researching which weekend to go! It gave me a combined list of all planned performances by the artists of my choosing six months ahead — and brilliant integration with Spotify.

Weekend in Norway

A bit more than a month ago we finally travelled to Norway to meet with a couple of friends from back in Paris who moved to Trondheim about a year ago. The plan was to go during summer but we didn’t managed to find the time – perhaps luckily though, as I doubt Nature could have been more beautiful than it was during early autumn.

Because the return flight did not match well with the trains we decided to drive by car to Kastrup Airport. Price-wise it more or less equalled out. As this was the first time to not go by train we left well in advance to account for delays on the motorway. But of course we missed the flight anyway, due to a truck catching fire and blocking the motorway for two hours, at a place where with no chance of taking a different route. The misfortune was shared though, as a lady next to us had already been stuck for several hours waiting for her husband to come and bring her to her own birthday party.

When we finally started moving again we had missed the last flight. My sweet mother came to the rescue and found directions to a cheap hotel near the airport. She had reported a price of 600 DKK a night, yet when we arrived the price was 700 DKK with the explanation that to get the cheaper price we would have to book through Hotels.com. With the prospects of not getting a refund from neither the missed flight nor the hotel in Norway we excused ourself and went outside to use their wifi to make an online reservation. Midnight dinner we enjoyed at McDonald’s among a bunch of teenagers dressed in pyjamas. Let me advertise for Hotels.com a bit here though as they offered excellent service: we called them the next day and they managed to talk the Norwegian hotel into giving us a full refund.

When we arrived at Trondheim airport the next day two things testified that we were now in Norway. Firstly, the beautiful view, even from the landing strip. Secondly, that we received strange looks when we didn’t go to the tax-free shopping. Our friends picked us up at the airport and we drove to a cabin they had rented in the mountains about two hours away. And what a cabin! No electricity, no running water, but plenty of wood, rivers, and astonishing landscape. We took a walk in the surroundings but had to go back and prepare for evening shortly after. What a native feeling when all of a sudden you have to factor sunset into most things you do!

While we managed to make a decent dinner (using the gas stove), it took longer to make a proper fire in the fireplace, to the point where the masculine honour had to suffer a bit and accept advice from the female companions. That this advice came sooner than needed may perhaps be attributed to the fact that a light snow had started to fall outside and no other means of helping us keep warm were present. Personally I was more excited about whether or not the baby the couple had brought would allow me to get my full beauty sleep.

After a good day and a half in the wilderness we had to go back to reality. I use reality here because at this point I had started to get crazy ideas of signing out of civilisation to go live with nature instead. One day soon I will watch Into The Wild again.

Sunday we spent in Trondheim before catching a late plane home. The city seemed cute, and to some extend reminded me of Aalborg with a northern twist.

All in all we had a splendid weekend. One thing in particular struck me: I’m fascinated by the way the Norwegians seem to be in contact with Nature. One thing is that it is apparently common to at least have access to a cabin, if not owning one. Another thing is that they also seem to be able to understand and use nature in a much more integrated way than the average Dane. I wouldn’t be surprised if surviving one year in the mountains on your own is still part of becoming an adult there.

I imagine this also concluded our scandinavian summer. During early summer we managed to see a fair part of Denmark through Margueritruten. During mid-summer we saw the Swedish lowlands, including Stockholm and sailing. Now, during early autumn we’ve seen the Norwegian mountains as well. Which was best? The Danish countryside of course.