(A Very Belated) Monday Monthly Mentions – May 2022: Algarve in April, African Photography Showcase, Where are the Good Scanners? and Best Cameras for Travel

Advanced apologies for missing Monday Monthly Mentions from a couple weeks ago. I came back from my holiday a few days prior, I was still in ‘holiday mode’ and I didn’t have time to draft up an entry. Also there were a few technical difficulties, which now have been resolved.

Before I start today’s post, I wanted to share some sad news of Sharon Harris’ passing. Although she died in October, I only found out about this last month through my Facebook feed. I managed to get in contact with her family member, which did confirm the news. I hadn’t been on social media much, pretty much dipping in and out every once in a while.

I originally met Sharon in Zurich 2020. Weirdly enough we were on the same flight, only seats apart and stayed at the same hostel – even in the same room, opposite bunk beds.

Sharon was a journalist for the Glamorgan Star and lived in Cardiff. Like me, she was an avid traveller, except she travelled around the world many times, visiting many countries and continents. We spoke about places we had visited and experiences, even Eastenders at one point. We did keep in touch afterwards, although we would never see each other again in person.

As mentioned, I hadn’t been on social media much and finding out about Sharon’s death was an absolute shock.

May Sharon Harris Rest In Peace. My thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues

  • April Algarve: A few weeks after my trip to Malta, I went away to the Algarve in the south of Portugal. I began my journey from Faro and ending in Lagos (in Portugal), then flying out from Faro. I went away for over a week, exploring different towns and places each day. The weather was mostly nice, hot and warm despite it raining heavily probably twice.
Written in the sand: I wrote my name in the sand at the beach in Sagres

As usual, I took my film cameras with me. However a huge faux pas, I didn’t even realise until I went back to my hostel that there was no film loaded in the Olympus XA2. I spent the whole day in Sagres shooting without any film, but not all was lost. I took some photos on both my Olympus Mju 1 and phone. A sigh of relief, although I was initially devastated.

  • Analogue in Algarve: On the subject of film, I went to a small photography museum in Tavira, Casa Fotografia Andrade. A photographic studio run by the Andrade family for generations to the present day. Worth a visit, learning the early stages and history of photography in Portugal. Only a five Euro fee to enter and stay as long as you like. I did buy a photobook from the museum shop as a souvenir, with photographs that were seen on display.
A Photographic Souvenir from the museum
  • Wonderful Winehouse: I went to the ‘Amy: Beyond the Stage’ exhibition at the Design Museum at last!! It was closing the same week, and thankfully I did manage to buy a ticket right in time.  A lovely and moving tribute to Amy Winehouse, who was gone too soon. The exhibition was an eye opener; from a young talented girl from North London to a global superstar, who battled her demons in the public eye. It was great to see Amy’s legacy still living on through the exhibition, as well as a foundation set up in her name, supporting and helping young people from addictions and providing programmes.
  • Showcasing, Emerging and Growing: Doyle Wham is an art gallery in Shoreditch that displays and celebrates works by African photographers. Founded by a Royal College of Art graduate and a museums/heritage scholar, their aim was to showcase the African artistic scene and narrative. There’s an upcoming exhibition at the gallery from South African photographer Trevor Shuurman, ‘Life Through The Lens’, opens from 13th May to 2nd July
  • Food Photography for Thought: Karen Thomas is a London based food photographer, who has worked with a variety of well known brands such as McDonald’s, Costa and Marks & Spencers. She began learning photography from her father, also a photographer. Then experimented in the darkroom while at secondary school. After graduating from university, Thomas would be freelancing and photographing cars. Let’s say food was her passion and the rest is history…
  • Dude, where’s my film scanner? Or at least the good ones? An interesting question that is asked in Amateur Photographer. I want to know the answer too. I have an Epson V550, originally bought from Argos in 2017. I am yet to set it up on my new laptop, which will be a mission to do as I am uncertain it’ll be compatible with Windows 11 (originally installed on my Macbook Pro). The scanner is very good and reliable, still working and looks near enough in mint condition
  • Camera Can Travel: Lastly, going digital? Check. Travelling? Check. Digital Camera World has listed cameras perfect to pack for holidays, brands ranging from Olympus to Nikon

Take care and stay safe

Monday Monthly Mentions – April 2022: Malta in March, Blog Absence, New Cinestill Film, Another Film Price Hike, Over 3000 Undeveloped Rolls and Home Printing

Malta Memories: Taking a photo of the Maltese flag and also flag of the Maltese Cross was a hard task, especially when it’s windy
  • Hello there, it has been a while since my last blog update. My absence/hiatus was longer than expected due to a few technical difficulties (with old Macbook) and time commitments – just to cut a long story short. It has been over two months since I bought my new laptop, so far I’m enjoying it although I have to install new editing software and the Epson scanner. I’m hoping to post regularly again here soon.
  • Malta in March: I finally did it! After two years of delays and cancellations, I made it to Malta last month. I spent just a week on the small island, where the weather started off nice, then it got windy and rainy days later. Sadly my trip to the neighbouring island of Gozo was disappointing due to the non-stop rain and wind. So my plans of exploring the island before flying home were doomed from the get-go. Thankfully prior to the bad weather, I did manage to go to Mdina, Rabat, Valletta and Sliema (where I was staying). I would definitely revisit in the near future, possibly next summer when it gets warmer.
  • Speaking of Malta: The country’s landscapes captured by Inigo Taylor are beautifully captured in monochrome, with the fine detail of the plants, fauna, clouds and surroundings. It gives it a timeless classic feel to each shot. He is based in Malta, as well as doing editorial work he is also a wedding photographer. I recommend checking out his website.
  • New Cinestill around the Corner: Cinestill is launching a new colour film in both 35mm and 120, called 400Dynamic. It is a daylight balanced film with a speed of 400, providing saturated colours added with ‘rich, warm skin tones’. The speed can be pushed from its box speed from 200 up to 3200, which is good news for all manual setting camera lovers. I will certainly be buying and trying.
  • Kodak Comeback: On the subject of new film, Kodak Gold in 120 made its comeback, with it now being widely available to buy at most photographic retailers. This five pack will not break the bank as it has been described as being ‘cheaper’ than Ektar and Portra at a quarter of the price. The medium format Gold still achieves the same results as the 35mm, which is all good news.
  • Not really news, as predicted – in my head: Fujifilm is increasing the film prices from this month up to 60%. Yes, another huge price hike, are we really surprised? Not really…
  • Printing at Home: ‘Is it worth it?’ That’s the question. Dave Kai Piper explains the benefits of digital home printing, giving a detailed lowdown on how this method can improve creativity and workflow. Plus providing useful information on printers and inks used to produce great quality prints.
  • Over 3000 undeveloped rolls of Rock and Roll Historic Moments: Photographer Charles Daniels had been shooting rock stars since the 1960s, famous names such as Jimi Hendrix, Rod Stewart and the Rolling Stones – and that is only to name a few, trust me there is more!! Over the years, Daniels has amassed 3200 rolls of undeveloped film. Luckily, there are plans on having them processed all thanks to donations through GoFundme. The article is very interesting, explaining Daniels’ background and career, certainly worth a read!!

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: My Birthday on Top of The Mountain – Olympus XA2 with Kodak Ektar (Expired)

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting an expired Kodak Ektar on an Olympus XA2.

Today is my birthday and to celebrate, this post is a Throwback of my trip to Mount Rigi in Switzerland. Last year, I posted about my experience going to the mountain, providing photos from my phone. Today’s entry will be photos from my film camera.

The Hills (and a lot more) of Mount Rigi as I head down

Last September I went on a 12 day solo trip to Switzerland, starting from Zurich through to Lucerne and ending in Geneva. I did spend the day in Lugano, sadly it wasn’t enough time to explore the city.

I did bring my Olympus XA2, which I had only for a few weeks at this point. Also I brought along ten rolls of Kodak Ektar – all expired in August 2019, originally purchased a year before from AllPhotosLtd. This gave me the chance to test drive the camera properly while away, since I was confident using it and knowing my way around the settings and functions.

For my day trip I only took one roll with me, I did manage to shoot most of the exposures during my time high up in the mountain. Although, I did take a quick stop at Weggis to take a few photos of Lake Lucerne before going back to take the next boat enroute to Vitznau.

From Vitznau, I took the funicular all the way up to Rigi Kulm. I was even using my camera for my journey up, capturing the views despite feeling so anxious of panicking. Thankfully the ride wasn’t too long and I arrived at the highest peak before I knew it!

Of course, being at the top had its advantages from a photographer’s perspective; endless mountains that go for miles, plus surrounding scenery. The Olympus XA2 had the landscape mode that enabled it to shoot wide angle shots, which was a huge plus as well as on how lightweight the camera was to carry.

You’re never short of a lake in Switzerland; on the left hand side there is Lake Zug

The film itself was Kodak Ektar that had expired a year prior. The quality from expired colour film can differ depending on what condition it has been kept in, in some cases there could be little or no colour shift.

The Lookouters: Ektar works its colourful magic here

After processing the expired Ektar, I was happy with the results. In fact, I was satisfied with them overall. Despite the film’s expiry, the colour quality was still the same as if it was in date – the saturation was there, as well as the bold and smooth tones. Both the greens and blues stood out the most in every shot.

A Picture Perfect Postcard from Rigi
Not only Funiculars have Fun: There are trains that go up and down the Rigi as well

The scans from Mount Rigi are certainly worth printing out in the near future. They have so much potential, as much as I have repeated my desire to go back to the darkroom and start printing in colour again.

XXXXX’s as Fences (or barriers): Over on the other side is Lake Zug

I believe these shots can go above and beyond, perhaps produce a zine or a photobook.

I am so pleased with the overall outcome. Probably my best work I had scanned of 2020. There is no need for any improvements or further tweaks or changes, they are simply the chef’s kiss over and over!!

The Little House on Mount Rigi: One of the most liked uploads on my Instagram. At the time of writing, there are currently over 130 likes

Take care and stay safe

Story Time Sunday: Sagrada Familia Finally

For today’s Story Time Sunday, I will be sharing my trip to the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain.

For a long time I had wanted to visit the Sagrada Familia, since I was a teenager doing textiles for GCSE and learning about the famous basilica in Catalonia. I was absolutely fascinated by its design and architecture.

It took nearly ten years for that to come into reality, which happened in April 2016 (while travelling around Spain) when I finally achieved my dream to finally go inside!!

So what is the Sagrada Familia? What’s the history behind it, and most importantly who was the man with the plan?

Antoni Gaudí was a Catalan architect, known for his modern architectural style of work – most are located in Barcelona. He was well known for his individuality and creativity twists, also for his use of ceramics, stained glass and carpentry.

Seven of Gaudí’s famous buildings were selected as UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, some including Park Güell, Casa Mila and Sagrada Familia.

Construction of Sagrada Familia began in 1882, which is still unfinished as of 2021, plus during my two visits to Barcelona in 2011 and 2016 with cranes still visible. It is expected to be completed by 2026, delayed yet again due to the ongoing pandemic. It will also mark one hundred years since Gaudí’s death in 1926, aged 73 after being hit by a streetcar in Barcelona. He is buried in the crypt inside Sagrada Familia.

I don’t exactly remember what day I went, but I had gone past it a few times during my four day stay and prior to going inside. I even photographed the outside a couple days before my visit.

To access the Sagrada Familia, I had to purchase the tickets from the tourist information centre (or tourist office). I had to choose a time slot when I wanted to go in. This was probably done to regulate on how many people could go inside at a time. I did come a little earlier than scheduled on the actual day, so to pass some time I had a hot chocolate at the Costa Coffee directly opposite. I was actually shocked to see a Costa in Spain!!

Anyway, once I got inside I was so amazed; it was absolutely beautiful and breathtaking, it felt so surreal due to the modern touches and detail. Gaudí allegedly said: “My client is not in a hurry,” possibly referring to God, also remarking on the long construction process. No wonder and not surprisingly, Gaudí probably had his focus on this project for so long. He had wanted the outcome to come out the way he had envisioned, but sadly only a small percentage was from completion when he died.

I spent some time walking through the basilica, carrying my heavy Canon DSLR and admiring my surroundings slowly – from the colourful stained glass windows to the perfectly carved ceiling. I couldn’t simply leave Barcelona without stopping by Sagrada Familia – that would be impossible, but I finally did it after all these years.

The Shot that has a thousand stories, probably one that I am most proud of

I would like to return again soon, since it was worth the four days, but this time I will be taking my film camera and some colour film!!

I would highly recommend anyone, who is planning on visiting Barcelona, to make sure you go to Sagrada Familia. It’s something to add onto the travel itinerary and worth the experience.

Take care and stay safe

Monday Monthly Mentions – March 2021: Slide Film, Small Museums, Seaside Towns and a Broken Camera

I had four 120 slide film rolls processed at AG Photo Lab; here is one of the negs on my lightbox at home
  • Finally got my slide film negatives developed!! I had them processed at AG Photo Lab, a photographic processing and printing company based in Birmingham. The turnover time was a week, which was worth the wait and anticipation. I haven’t scanned the negatives yet, most likely later on in the week. Afterwards I will be sharing the results on a Tried and Tested Thursday post later on this month.
  • One of my cameras is broken – not completely broken but it might be fixable. My Canonet 28’s rewind crank came off, possibly to the pressure when winding the film. It was the second time shooting with the camera despite purchasing it a few years ago off eBay. I am considering whether I should get it repaired or not…
  • In camera related news: I finally used my Canon Z135 for the first time in a year!! I managed to replace the batteries a few weeks back. It was a little long overdue though.
  • There is the smallest museum in Switzerland, it is in Basel and is a window display in a 600 year old house. Surprisingly, I never knew of this until I found this link a couple weeks ago – despite having been to Basel twice-ish.
  • There are more museums to see in Switzerland, this time in Lausanne. My regret while in Lausanne months ago, I didn’t go to see the Collection de l’Art Brut, a museum dedicated to Outsider Art.
  • An interesting article from Refinery29 on relocating or moving to places without or little connections. There have been times when I wanted to leave London and move elsewhere, preferably to another country. My main worries are making new friends and settling in, although there is the financial side and of course finding employment. The women in the article discuss their experiences on moving away from their hometowns and how it has impacted them.
  • Last month was a frozen February, all ponds and lakes were completely frozen – thanks to the temperature being below minus 2. I went to Lloyd Park in Walthamstow and the pond was just pure ice, however the weather wasn’t as chilly as previous days.
Frozen Pond in Lloyd Park in Walthamstow last month

Take care and stay safe

Story Time Sunday: Valentine’s In Valencia

Story Time Sunday is a new feature on my blog, where I will be sharing a few personal anecdotes or interesting tangents from my life over the years. Most of them aren’t exactly photography related, although I will be sharing some photos and images in some posts.

My Story Times will be posted on the last Sunday of every month. I will try my best to make them short and sweet; something lighthearted and fun before the start of the new month.

Today’s Story Time Sunday is a throwback from February 2015, when I spent Valentine’s weekend in Valencia, Spain. I just wanted a break from university for a few days. Spoiler alert: this wasn’t a romantic getaway!!

Flags United: Valencian Community flag (left) and the Spanish flag (right)

My friend Zulaykha, who I have known since secondary school, was residing near the city at the time, where she was living with a host family. She was an assistant for a programme called CAPS, a language school helping Spanish children speak English, while taking a gap year from university.

We arranged to meet up during the weekend to go exploring around Valencia. We went to the famous huge indoor market, Mercado Central (translated as ‘Central Market’), where there were numerous stalls selling fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, dried foods and nuts – to name a good few.

For lunch we went to a small cafe, this is where I had the city’s most famous dish, paella. Mine consisted of rice, lobster (I believe), beans and a few vegetables. I was impressed, not to mention glad that I went out of my comfort zone by trying the local cuisine.

My paella dish was delicious. Whenever I go to Spain I would have a big pan of the stuff!!

Soon after we went to the Museum of Fine Arts, close to the city centre. We probably spent over an hour or so there, exploring a few rooms of various artists from over the centuries, including Spanish painter such as Francisco Goya, plus Valencia’s renowned artist Joaquin Sorolla.

My time with Zulaykha ended in the early evening. It was nice to meet up with her after all these months. Where she was staying was an hour away by train, so we said our goodbyes at the main station before I headed back to my hostel. I wouldn’t see her again until later on in the year back in London.

Now by myself, I spent the last couple of days exploring the city (again), the beach and hopping on the tour bus. I would also take photos of the wooden doors, something that really fascinated me, especially with the craft, patterns and design.

I decided to spend my final day at the City of Arts and Sciences (better known in Spanish as ‘Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias’). Thanks to the tourist pass I had, I went inside for free. I started off at the Museu de les Ciences Principe Felipe, where it housed many scientific artifacts and displays such as the human body, biology, physics and climate change.

Afterwards I went to L’Oceangrafic, literally opposite the science museum. It’s similar to an aquarium, but actually it is an oceanarium. I saw plenty of sea creatures and mammals, as well as many exotic fish and exotic birds.

L’Agora: opened in 2009, opposite Museo de las Ciencias Príncipe Felipe and next to the Assut de l’Or Bridge
L’Oceanogràfic: bigger inside than out

My time at the museums ended, so I went to the nearby beach, which I had already been through there a few times by then. I went to a bar there to have tapas – and it wasn’t the best; mine was lukewarm and not as appetising. The nuts I had at the side were a bit of a saving grace, at least it was nice.

I flew back to London on Monday morning, on the same day my dad had returned back to Jamaica some hours earlier. 

It had been almost four years since going to Spain at that time. It was nice to go again and go to another city along the coast.

Took a snap of this man, who was reading a Valencia guide book while near the beach!!

I did enjoy my time in Valencia. It was worth the weekend break; I think I covered what I had to do in a short amount of time with no itinerary at all. If I could, I would certainly return again, possibly work my way around the region heading towards Barcelona. Most likely stay for a week or two…

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Celebrating My Birthday in Switzerland!!

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday is going to be a little different, as I will be discussing celebrating my birthday recently abroad at the very last minute. Slightly related to photography in a way, as I brought along a film camera and ten expired rolls of Kodak Ektar (yet to be processed). Although I did use my Samsung phone as my digital camera. It was my holiday abroad of 2020. I was initially meant to go to Malta earlier in the year, however was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Mount Rigi, also known as ‘Queen of The Mountains’

Before I continue, I must mention that it’s my dad’s birthday today! It was my brother’s last week on the 24th September. So all of our birthdays are quite close apart by a week.

For my birthday I went on a 12 day solo trip to Switzerland; starting from Zurich, Lugano, for the day; Lucerne (where I spent my actual birthday) and finally ending in Geneva. It had been three years since I was in Switzerland, and the last time I was there it was pouring heavily in Lucerne!

I turned 29 on the 16th September while I was in Lucerne, I was already there for two days. My plan was to spend the big day in Mount Rigi, then treat myself to a nice meal in the evening.

Luckily my hostel sold tickets for the boat plus funicular ride to Mount Rigi at a discounted price. Certainly worth the money and definitely the experience. I do believe I can use the ticket again until 2023, so might be worth keeping just in case I would like to revisit Lucerne in the near future!

My birthday adventure started nice and early from the boat stop, directly opposite the main train station. For Mount Rigi, I had to get off at Vitznau to take the funicular all the way to Rigi Kulm. Before I did that, I made a quick stop at Weggis to take a few snaps on both my phone and film camera. The last time I was there, the weather was absolutely miserable and there was nothing much to do while it was wet, apart from taking a few shots on my film camera.

Lake Lucerne from Weggis

Walked around for a bit until the next boat arrived for Vitznau, which it did and it was packed! Thankfully everyone was wearing their face masks however social distancing was a hit and miss while on board.

Finally arrived at Vitznau! I have to admit, I was a little nervous before I went on the funicular train despite being on one a few days prior in Zurich, enroute to Uetliberg, not as high as Mount Rigi but still had stunning views from the top.

There were a few stops before reaching Rigi Kulm, which took less than an hour to get to. The funicular wasn’t too fast when going up. From the train window, there were views of other surrounding mountains from afar, not forgetting Lake Lucerne. I was no longer nervous, I was probably excited and anticipating heading up to the top.

The last stop was Rigi Kulm, the highest peak. When I stepped out the funicular, I was absolutely speechless and amazed. I did make it in one piece! I immediately went to the actual high point and took photos, including a few selfies. The views were stunning – the mountains from afar as well as the surrounding lakes Zug and Lauerz, even Lake Ageri from a distance as well.

I made the most of my time in Mount Rigi, even attempting to hike down all the way back to Vitznau. I had initially followed the ‘flower trail’, however I decided to do a detour. I had no hiking experience nor any suitable equipment but I did somehow make it as far to the station stop, Romiti-Felsentor, where I waited for the funicular heading towards Vitznau. From there I took the boat back to Lucerne. It had been an incredibly long day, but I did have a good time and was worth it!

Later that evening, I went to a vegan Thai restaurant called Cha Cha Thai, where I had a tofu green curry. It was so delicious! The flavours kicked in, both the coconut and peppers. I regret not having the coconut tiramisu for dessert, as I could imagine it would have been nice!! I did buy two sugary Berliners from Coop at the train station as an evening sweet treat afterwards.

I left Lucerne on Friday 18th, heading to Geneva where I would be staying until the following Monday, then back home to London.

I was so happy that I was able to celebrate my birthday abroad! It was something I wanted to do for a while, with Switzerland being the perfect place for it. I would certainly go on another solo trip for my birthday again, possibly back to Switzerland or somewhere else like the USA, Spain, Italy or Portugal. With what has been happening for the last few months, the future is uncertain but I do have hope that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. There will be a solution in the works.

Take care and stay safe

Solo Travel 2015: A Weekend in Milan

My third stop in Milan was short. Literally very short, just a weekend stint. It gave me the chance to relax and recharge before heading to my final destination to Venice on Monday.

The only way I could shoot Duomo was tilt my head up to avoid getting people in my photo

I have to be honest, Milan didn’t impress me much. I found it somehow overrated and underwhelming, although there were a few nice parts, the city itself didn’t ‘wow’ me.

I spent most of my time wandering around Piazza del Duomo where the Milan Cathedral and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II are both located. Even that got boring quickly, however I had my camera to take candid shots of random passersby.

90 percent of people here were taking selfies

Milan does live up to its reputation as being the ‘fashion capital of the world’, with its famous fashion week hosted there twice a year, plus a variety of famous designer brands based in the city, such as Armani, Missoni, Valentino and Versace.

Almost everyone and anyone at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy’s oldest shopping centres, were fashion forward. It was like a never ending catwalk in the centre of Milan; almost everyone was dressed to impress. The Galleria has endless designer shops, restaurants, boutiques and even a luxurious hotel (since has closed).

The roof of the Galleria is absolutely amazing. I have to admit, I did really admire the Italian style architecture
A bar right outside the Galleria

The Piazza was the centre of the selfie obsessed tourists, many taking shots of themselves in front of the Cathedral. There were even some people selling selfie sticks left, right and centre for a couple of Euros. It was hard to get through crowds of people who possibly wanted a quick snap or a few! I went through a nearby park for some peace and quiet, which I can’t remember the name of but I know it is a reasonable walking distance. I think it is near a castle or a fort; it escapes me what it was.

Throughout my trip, I was in touch with Ivan, whom I met on the train from Zurich. He told me about Expo Milan (or Expo 2015), a world fair that was happening in the city with its theme based around ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy For Life’. I did see it advertised around Milan. The event began from May and ended in October 2015. Sadly, I didn’t go as my time was limited. I think Ivan went and asked if I wanted to come along.

Originally shot in colour. I had cropped it focusing on the four religious sisters, who were passing through the Piazza

Milan ended on an indifferent note. I don’t know if I would go back again in the future or not. I met a few people who shared similar experiences; not being overly impressed or found it boring. Had I explored more, maybe my opinion might have changed. Who knows…

The final stop of my solo trip was Venice, a two hour train ride heading towards Trieste close to the Slovenian border.

My trip would slowly come to a close the same week. I would return back to London life after spending ten days abroad discovering and exploring parts unknown. It would soon be back to normality on home turf.

Take care and stay safe

Solo Travel 2015: Zurich to Milan – A Country Crossing

Saturday morning arrived, I departed from Switzerland to Italy. My first Italian stop was Milan, only for a couple of days until I went to my last stop in Venice.

I arrived at the main station early and because of my Interrail pass, I could take any train at any time. I decided to take the 11am one going straight to Milan, which was a four hour journey.

As I was looking for a seat in the second class carriage, while dragging my suitcase and heavy backpack, I bumped into (not literally) an Italian man who was also looking for a seat. We were like, ‘we’ll settle here’. We sat opposite each other throughout the whole journey, just talking about travelling, Switzerland, Italy and the fact his name is Ivan (unusual for an Italian name) and his surname is Ferrari. He stated he didn’t own the namesake car, however he knew someone with the same surname who did.

He told me that he spent some time in Zurich and was heading back home. I believed he stopped at Como S. Giovanni station, although he lived somewhere in the Ferrara Province along the coast. Thankfully our interesting conservations didn’t stop there, we have been in touch through Facebook Messenger ever since.

A big lake that I don’t know the name of, however it is far away from Zurich

During the train journey, I was admiring the lovely scenic views; the mountains, the lakes and beautiful landscapes. I took out my camera to shoot some shots, trying to avoid getting reflections or lens flare in my photos. This was the starting point of capturing scenic journeys on transport, train or bus (odd occasion on the plane), especially if they go through interesting places. Not only did I admire the Swiss scenery, but also the architecture heading towards the Ticino region – the Italian speaking part of Switzerland, where the buildings were Italian style mainly Neoclassical and Villa inspired.

I arrived at Milan Centrale a little after 3pm. My hostel was literally around the corner and was easy to find. I was ready to relax and unwind during my short time in the city.

This was my first time ever crossing the border to another country, as well as doing an open jaw flight. It wouldn’t be the last time I would be doing city stops or leaving from another place, or going through different countries. It was an enjoyable experience many times over.

I am quite proud of myself that I managed to accomplish this on my own, looking back in retrospect. I never thought I would ever do this in my lifetime.

Take care and stay safe

Solo Travel 2015: Friday Night in Zurich

It was my last night in Zurich before I departed for Milan the next morning. I went out and about in the evening in the city centre near the main station.

Lake Zurich from the port

I remember that night being so peaceful, close to being quiet. I wanted to capture Zurich’s nightlife on camera as well as experience it first hand. I shot mainly candids of people walking about and shop fronts, almost in the same vein as the street photography I did back in London with the Canon DSLR.

The evening sky went from a dark pastel gradient to pitch black within a short space of time. Thankfully I wasn’t out for too long as I had to get my stuff packed and get up early the following day.

I enjoyed my brief stay in the city. I think I did quite a lot during the three days I was there, apart from exploring Old Town and going to Lake Zurich, although I did see some part of it from the port.

I loved going through Zurich’s main station, where it had a cool water feature with illuminating lights. The station was probably Switzerland’s answer to London’s Kings Cross or Euston Station. It was very spacious with many platforms; trains going to other places in the country, also across borders to Italy, Germany, France and Austria.

The good news is that I’m travelling to Switzerland next month, where I will be spending my birthday mostly in the mountains. I will be starting from Zurich, then through to Lucerne and ending in Geneva. I only booked everything ‘last minute’ just Sunday gone (at the time of writing and typing this).

A rickshaw whizzing through the city centre

It has been three years since I was last in Switzerland, and Zurich was the last place I had been to (via Germany).

I’m beyond excited. I am counting down the days.

Take care and stay safe