Holland, Antwerp, Cologne, and Copenhagen

I had the opportunity recently to spend some time over in Western Europe on a business trip. Most of my time was spent in an office in Rotterdam, but I’m not one to pass up an opportunity like this, so pretty much every free second I had was spent checking out all the interesting spots I could find within a reasonable train ride. I also took some liberties in booking my flights so that I was able to bracket my work week with some fun weekends, including a 12 hour layover in Copenhagen to start off my trip.

I arrived around 6 AM after my relatively quick flight from Boston. Technically I guess it was an overnight flight, but it left Boston at 5:30 PM so I didn’t get much sleep on the plane. Luckily Copenhagen has some pretty good coffee. So I hopped on the train and headed into the city. I probably got there around 7, and with it being Saturday morning, that meant I pretty much had the entire city to myself for a few hours.

Photography-wise I decided to switch things up just a little bit. I have been shooting Kodak Portra pretty much exclusively for the past 6 or 7 years now. It’s a great film, especially for scanning and printing, but I wanted to try something different. On this trip I decided to shoot Fuji Superia film in both 200 and 800 speeds. I was very pleasantly surprised with the results and think I’ll be sticking with these films for the time being. I’m also planning on trying out some 400 speed Superia, and maybe even a couple rolls of Provia here and there.

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Hong Kong Part III

So you may be wondering to yourself, “Dan, didn’t you just go to Hong Kong last year?” Well, yes, but my trip here last year was more of just a fun weekend stopover to get over my jet lag and get ready for the main focus of my trip, which was Tokyo. That trip really reignited my passion for travel in general, but also more specifically for the city of Hong Kong. Even before I left I knew I’d have to get back here soon. And I did, less than a year later.

This time I not only devoted about a week and a half here, but also came here after spending a week in Taipei, so by the time I arrived I had already gotten over my jet lag and was ready to make the most of my time in this awesome, gigantic city.

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Taipei

Taipei is the first new city I’ve been to in years. My last trip was more of a vacation than anything, as I had just revisited my two favorite cities and even stayed in a couple of the same hotels as I had previously. As fun as that was, I knew for my next trip I was in need of a bit more adventure.

Now Taipei is a city that’s always intrigued me. I never had a really good idea of what it was like. With a place like Tokyo or Hong Kong, there’s a fair bit of popular media I can draw from, with movies like Lost in Translation, Enter the Void, any of Wong Kar-wai’s films, and some fairly prominent photographers making their careers shooting in them. But Taipei was always a mystery to me. I figured this to be a good thing, as it would allow me to go in with a fresh set of eyes.

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Return to Tokyo

Ever since I left this city five years ago I’ve been dying to get back. I’ve never traveled to the same place twice, always figuring that there’s so many new places out there to explore that I’d be doing myself a disservice by revisiting places with so much left out there I haven’t seen. Tokyo changed all that. I’ve tried visiting new places since then, but my mind was always bringing me back here. Even before this very trip I was seconds away from booking a flight to the Balkans, but a last minute impulse forced me to check flights to Tokyo before I clicked that button. And well, here I am.

I was afraid for a long time that if I came back here it’d just feel like I was trying to relive my past trip, and would ultimately leave feeling unsatisfied. I can happily say that was not the case whatsoever. I had such a great time here, and Tokyo is so huge I was even able to spend maybe half my time exploring completely new parts of the city.

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72 Hours in Hong Kong

Four years. It had been four long years since I last left the country. I sort of went into why in my last post, but the short of it is that the travel bug had just inexplicably left me. It didn’t stay gone for too long though, fortunately, and I just got back from a 2 1/2 week trip to Hong Kong and Tokyo. Sort of a re-tracing of a portion of my 2012 trip, mostly to focus on some photography and just spend time hanging out in the two coolest cities I’ve ever been to.

On this trip I brought three cameras with me; two film and one digital. The film cameras I brought were essentially the same ones I brought on my last trip to these two cities. My Fuji GS645S medium format rangefinder with its built-in 60mm f/4 lens was used sparingly (mostly for nighttime tripod photography), and my Minolta XG-M (which I had actually purchased at a used camera market in Hong Kong back in 2012 after the shutter died on my X-570 in Bangkok) with its 50mm f/1.2, which I regrettably didn’t use at all this time in Hong Kong, but was my workhorse in Tokyo. My third camera, the digital, is a Ricoh GR I’ve found myself shooting with more and more, as it’s just so convenient since it fits right in my pants pocket and is with me pretty much wherever I go. Not to mention the fantastic results it produces. Dare I say they’re almost film-like.

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Spain, Holland, Belgium and London

So I took this trip almost 4 years ago. I wasn’t too happy with my pictures so I had been dragging my feet in posting them. At this point it’s no longer all that fresh in my memory, so I’ll do my best but I may miss a few things here and there.

First up is Madrid. I had arrived in Spain late at night after taking the ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar from Tangier, Morocco. I arrived in the port city of Tarifa, where I hopped on the next bus to Algeciras to spend the night. First thing in the morning (actually, knowing me.. probably closer to noon) I hopped on a train to Madrid and started exploring.

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Morocco

This post has been a long time coming. In January of 2013 I flew into Tangier, Morocco. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was I was doing, or even where I was going on this particular trip, I just knew I wanted to be somewhere different.

I arrived in Tangier’s relatively tiny airport though a connecting flight in Madrid. As much as I’ve flown in my life, I can never seem to remember to bring a damn pen with me to fill out customs forms and whatnot. Luckily I sat on a bench in the airport with about a half-dozen other people, all Moroccan, who were all in the same boat, waiting our turn for the lone pen being passed around. I had actually noticed that everyone I had seen getting off my flight appeared to be Moroccan. I knew I was traveling in the off-season as it was January, but I thought there’d at least be another traveler to talk to, maybe explore the medina with.

After making it through and getting outside a little before noon, I decided to put my contacts in. My eyes were super dry after the flight, and I was sitting outside on the ground having a pretty tough time when a nice Morrocan girl came up to me and offered me some eye drops out of her purse. She smiled and nearly ran away after she had given them to me, but I think (I hope) I was able to thank her in broken Arabic before she left.

Once I hopped in a cab outside the airport and told the driver to head to the medina, I was in for a fun ride. The painted lines in the road didn’t seem to have any meaning here, and every time a light turned green, my cab driver bumped the car in front of us to alert him it was time to get moving. I arrived at the entrance to the medina about 15 minutes later, dusted myself off, and from there it was a mad dash to find my guesthouse so I could drop off my backpack and go exploring.

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Japan Part 2 – Tokyo, Kanagawa and Hakone

I arrived in Tokyo via bullet train, or Shinkansen, from Kyoto. I had toyed with the idea of taking a more budget-oriented approach towards getting here but I’m glad I didn’t. Seeing the countryside whizzing by me at 170 miles per hour inside my whisper-quiet cabin was an experience in itself, not to mention all the time I saved over taking the much slower, local trains.

So ¥12,000 and 2 hours later we pulled into Tokyo Station, and I strapped on my backpack and headed out. I felt like a kid again, ready to start his first day at a new school.

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Japan Part 1 – Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto

Arriving in Osaka was a very odd experience for me. I had never been to Japan before in my life, however for some strange reason I was hit with a strong and persistent sense of nostalgia. From the moment I stepped off the plane, for the next 24 hours or so I felt like I was revisiting someplace from my distant past. I’ve come to the conclusion that either Osaka is a great representation of what America was like in the late 80s, or I was Japanese in a former life.

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Hong Kong

I had arrived in Hong Kong right around sunset. Now the airport was pretty far from the city, so by the time I had arrived in Mong Kok it was already dark. I’ll never forget stepping off that bus into the streets of Kowloon for the first time; I can only describe the experience as feeling as if I was on a movie set. The narrow streets walled in by towering concrete buildings, thousands of people lit by a sea of neon lights, cars and buses whizzing by on this calm, 70 degree night. It was one of the most surreal things I had ever experienced. My camera had died a few days earlier in Bangkok, but taking pictures was the last thing on my mind. Over the years I’ve found that in times like this, it’s best to just take everything in and live the experience rather than trying to capture it, as no picture I could have taken would be anything close to how I’d remember it.

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