Summer, best time of the year to go outdoors with your model. We had a lot of fun, taking a session in traditional clothes for the topic Fashion found in the tradition and at the countryside of Austria. Photos were taken with Nikon FX D750 camera and Nikon 50mm f1.8 manual objective at f2.8 to 5.6. You can find them via the gallery and on BeNicoMa Stock Photography.
The Nordkette Wetterleuchten Festival is a cosy open air on Seegrube (1905 m) over Innsbruck. You get two days of electronic sounds, served with THE VIEW, down to city and far into the Alps at night. A truly amazing experience!
This year’s Alps Festival Wetterleuchten has been stunning! The weather was stable and actually perfect, with true Wetterleuchten – thunderstorms seen from the distance – over other regions of the Alps.
There have been two tents with great, bassy electronic beats, in the bigger tent mashed up with some classics from time to time. Sound was great and dancing actually lots of fun! Everywhere you go up there, you find the tents of the people who stay there over-night. A mild night with around 18 °C on 1905 m, pretty warm and comfortable.
People are in a good mood, but many decide to take the cable car home before 3 A.M. I sit down at the campfire for a while, get back to dancing and decide to leave with the last cable car at 3 A.M. as well. It takes me another hour to get home, but the walk was worth it. To be continued…
The View over Innsbruck
The big campfire, chill and warm-up while the bass vibrates in ears and body.
Chillout at the campfire
Overlooking the festivities of the Nordkette Wetterleuchten Eletronic Music Festival over Innsbruck, Austria
The whole festival at a glance. You can see some of the tents in the middle, great place to sleep.
A closeup of Innsbruck never hurts. I love the mood up there and it makes this city unique!
The cablecar, which guarantees our enjoyment summer and winter
The tent and party folks again. I will show you the big tent soon as well
Venice is one of the most famous cities of this planet, although it is tiny compared with many metropolitans all over the world which are equally famous. The fame is based on the special character of this city, which is built into the Mediterranean Sea and kind of an open air museum itself…
The capital of romance and love is – with no doubt – Venice in Italy. You will have this feeling of visiting & living in a big open air museum nowhere else and the special character of the water streets is unique as well, at least in Europe and within a city that has an age, historic charme and dimensions like Venice. There are many copies of this city, mostly in the US e.g. with Venice of Los Angeles – and in themeparks all over the worlds.
I don’t want to focus on facts and figures with this entry, for all of that you have the linked Wiki above and probably good traveler guides anyways. What I want to deliver here are some impressions and since I traveled there already two times (and certainly not the last time), insider knowledge for your convenience, how you can make it there and live there, even with a very small budget – in the historic center, on the island of Venezia and not on the mainland.
Your Trip: Plan your trip in advance and don’t haste through this city. Plan at least three to four days, directly on the island. Don’t consider a stay on the mainland, it’s not even cheaper, if you book the hotel about a month in advance.
When to go: Summer is fine of course, but Venice is overrun by tourists and in between July and September is main vacation time in Italy and the city is even more frequented. Summer can be nasty in Venice, since the city sometimes stinks when it is warm and you will not be able to enjoy your stay, when you have to fight for space on all main sights. I prefer to go in late Autumn and Winter. End of October to mid of January is a good time, although it is not really warm. So far the weather was always appreciable. Rain can occur, but you will have sun as well. I have never visited Venice for the Carnival, but if you plan to do that, book about one year in advance!
Getting there: If you arrive by ferry or train, everything is good – you can’t take a motorized vehicle onto the island! If you have a rental car within Italy, make it a one-way and return it in Venezia. If you have an own car or a rental you plan to use after your stay as well, park it on the mainland! The pricing differs drastically and it’s possible that you pay up to 30 EUR a day for public parking if you choose to park directly at the entrance of the historic city. This is very convenient and if you can afford it, you should do it. The options on the mainland are by far cheaper and if you choose the right hub, it costs about 5 – 10 EUR a day! Before you get off your vehicle make sure you have your Vaporetto pass ready to take the bus into the historic city, directly from the parking site. It is by far the most convenient way. You can buy the ticket until 7:00 PM (weekdays) in Mestrein Via Giuseppe Verdi 14, (List of ticket offices) upon your arrival and if you are under 27 the pass costs less – show your ID to prove the age!
Staying in Venice: You certainly have plentiful options via AirBNB but they are not necessarily cheaper than your average B&B which you can find offered at all common websites like Booking or tripadvisor. It’s up to you what you choose. Expect daily costs to be around 20 EUR per person in winter with the option to cook your food at home. I stayed once in Mestre, the first time I visited Venice and I would never do that again! Last time we stayed in the B&B Venice Hazel and I can recommend it for the price, cleanliness and proximity to all main sights.
Getting around in Venice: Many ‘Piazzas’ are touristic, some aren’t. As recommended get the Vaporetto pass – a single ride costs you at least 6 EUR. A Vaporetto is the big water bus, for up to 100 people. It’s not as romantic as the little gondola, but a ride with the gondola costs you 80 – 100 EUR for one hour and for two people. Something you’d do when you want to propose or you have sufficient funds – nothing for the traveler on a budget. The Vaporetto helps you to return to your area of choice – and to get away from there I recommend to walk the city and discover it.
Eating out-house & Groceries: The less tourists you see, the better is the food. The price range is from up to 5 EUR for a coffee (Piazza San Marco) to 0,90 EUR everywhere in the places where the locals go. Same is for Pizza which can cost you 5 EUR in the area of the University – or triple the price in the touristic areas while mostly worse in comparison. Get a feeling for yourself while you discover it. I prefer the food of Tuscany and Blogna by far, when it comes up to Italy but you can find really good food in Venice as well, you just have to have a closer look. For aperitivos I can highly recommend the area close to Ponte di Rialto, around the Rialto market place – which is lively at daytime and where you can buy great ingredients for your home cooking. The other groceries can be bought much cheaper at one of the few Coopsupermarkets.
In Part 2 I will tell you a bit about the sights and options you have in regard to the sightseeing and about the tickets – because sightseeing is expensive as hell if you don’t do it properly, as is going to the toilet. I never do the average sightseeing when I am there, although it would probably be worth it. I choose to just enjoy the city itself as a great museum. On the other hand, there are plentiful options one should discover… With those first infos you will get there and around and you can easily stay a week for not more than 500 – 600 EUR for two persons if you do it right, most of the food included. Stay tuned. I will bring up the next entry for Venice in about two weeks and it will include many more impressions of the city. One last advice: Make sure you don’t act like a touristic bum while you are there, the Venezians hate it and if you see the masses of tourists you know why!
I want to wish a Merry Christmas to everyone reading this blog! The most valuable institution in our life is our family. This is why I dedicate this entry to my family and its history that nothing will be forgotten and the history can be passed on.
I want to wish a Merry Christmas to everyone reading this blog – or in German Frohe Weihnachten! The most valuable institution in our life is our family. This is why I dedicate this entry to my family and its history!
Many conflicts divide our society, the different peoples of the world and the family as an institution suffer from restrictions, which are caused by our economic interests and the pressure, built up by our society… This should not be the case since the family is the only institution in life, that is not exchangeable and if you are peaceful and in harmony with the ones you are related to, everything is so much better.
With this entry I want to remember my grandparents, who both were Chinese, coming a long way during the time of Nazi Germany. This entry is dedicated to all relatives, as a source of history that our ancestors may not be forgotten …
The name of my grandmother, Chao TiLing (that is her maiden name) and later Ma, means as much as “Call me the little brother” since Madga (mother) as we used to call her, was born into the Chinese part of my family solely with sisters. The name implies the wish for a son. She was from Wenzhou in China and was born in 1916.
My grandfather Ting Sheng Ma was merchant and much older than her. He was born in 1898 in the region Chekiang (Zhejiang) in China but I couldn’t get more detailed information about him from my uncle. Here you see some pictures of family members from China but my uncle Teh Ko couldn’t provide more information about them since he doesn’t know better. The pictures are all what is left as a connect to the Chinese background of the family in China and albeit from him, nobody speaks Chinese anymore, which is a pity.
Our last name Ma is written like depicted here and the meaning is “Hemp plant under the firmament“, if you translate it into a western meaning. The name is rare in the meanwhile, since most Ma‘s are derived from the meaning horse. We don’t know much about our family background in China. My grandparents came alone in 1933, when my grandmother was 17 years old. They came with the Transsiberian train, via Russia, to Dingen in Poland as their first home in Europe. I could not find the Polish name for it nowadays but have the names of the other cities where my family lived in those times. They moved several times in between Germany and Poland.
All my uncles were born in Europe. My grandparents moved from their first destination Dingen to Łódź– which was called Litzmannstadt by that time. In Łódź, which belongs to Poland again after the end of WWII, my uncles Teh Ko (1935) and Teh Hsing (1937) were born. Most of the provided information was given to me by Teh Ko, who remembers lots of details, despite his age. Teh Tscheng (1939) – who was just called Ted later, because he moved to Canada to found his own family – was born in Poland as well. The family wanted to return to China in 1939 due to the ongoing and developing war on the countryside in the East. My grandfather was quite successful with trading by that time but the Germans took everything, which made their return impossible. A relatively big Chinese community lived in the Łódź area and many of them returned to China if somehow possible. In 1939/40 the family moved to Berlin. Their first home in Berlin was in Wallner Theaterstrasse 26, in district C2 in 1940. My father Teh Li was born in Charité in 1942.
In the winter of 1942/43 the bombings of Berlin started and Teh Ko remembers that they have been heavy. He remembers that the windows were clotted and covered with paper everywhere to prevent the breaking glass, due to the bombings, from scattering as dangerous slivers. He also remembers, that he was once hit at the leg by a shrapnel while leaving the bunker. In general he reports that they had relatively few problems with the Nazis. The only thing he mentioned was, that my grandfather should get retracted by the Nazis to fight for the Wehrmacht in 1942/43 – In contrast my father and my Canadian cousin Oliver claim, that my grandfather was forced to leave for compulsory labor in a camp but Madga prevented his vitiation by arguing with the Nazis how she should be able to feed and raise four boys without a father, that’s what she said herself. Maybe the truth is somewhere in between… It will be tough to reproduce the true happenings.
Due to the massive bombings families with many children were evacuated to the countryside – as Teh Ko states on a tractor – in the year 1944 and in a measure called “Storch“. They were moved to Dahlhausen in Brandenburg, about 110 km North-East of Berlin, close to Wittstock / Dosse, and lived initially in the house of Pastor Schmidt in the year of 1944. They were looted again, this time of the Russian red army, although the grandfather had buried everything. On the countryside they were shifted several times and in the same year 1944 my youngest uncle Teh Wei was born in Kutno, which was called Schröttersburg by that time and was part of Schlesien, but belongs to Poland again today.
After the war in 1945/46 the family returned to Berlin and lived in the Auguste-Viktoria-Strasse in Berlin-Grunewald. The children received Chinese lessons from their private teacher Gau Guan Shi. My grandfather didn’t return with the family, he traded with slippers in Poznan (Posen) of Poland, where he lived and worked in Loketka 26 to support the family, and while in Berlin, he carried luggage and traded carpets and china porcelain together with Teh Ko. The both were hawking, traded in the streets and in restaurants, my grandmother took care of the children by that time and the family did alright – both, my uncle and my father confirmed that, independently from each other.
In 1947 my grandfather moved to Frankfurt / Main and Teh Ko followed him in 1949, while the rest of the family remained in Berlin. In 1961 Madga opened the first Chinese restaurant in Müllerstrasse, Berlin-Wedding. Another business of hers was a shop for Chinese wares in Hauptstrasse, Berlin-Schöneberg…
To be continued!
If anyone can and wants to contribute to add to the puzzle of family history, please contact me via my contact form. The attached gallery shows different members of the family and the names and relations to me are given as far as I know. The idea and task to create this entry was granted to me by my cousins Oliver Ma from Canada. I met him, his sister Stephani Ma, and my little cousins Savanna and Etienne, his kids for the first time (that I remember) in 2013, during my Eastcoast Roadtrip. An awesome experience and we will see each other again! I wish happy Christmas Holidays to everyone and hope to be able to gather some more info during the time. Take care!
Oliver and a friend, visiting Europe in the 70’s
Teh Li, Teh Hsing, Ted and Teh Wei
Teh Wei and Ted
The whole family
Madga and me
Madga at Christmas with us
Oliver, Madga and Nathalie
The family meeting in the 70’s
Madga and four of the five
Ted, may he rest in peace
Ted with Oliver?
Madga and me
Old times, hard to tell
My dad, Teh Li and me
Teh Ko and Madga
Me… very young
Marriage of my parents
Impressions from China?
Stephanie, Oliver, Savanna, Etienne and me
Oliver, his mum and Ted
Canadian Thanksgiving on 10/13/2013 with Elysee, Olivers wife, mum of the kids
Madga and Nathalie, my older half-sister
Madga in Germany
Oliver visits in the 70’s
Etienne, Oliver and Savanna
Chao Ti Ling, with 16 years in China – We just called her Madga
Vienna is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, the capital of Austria, a cultural metropolis and the definition of coffee house culture. Whenever you are to central Europe make sure to hit it. The summertime is certainly the time of the year to do so!
It was already my third time, that I visited Vienna, one of the most beautiful cities Europe has to offer. The old houses from the times before WWII shine, as the many outstanding sights. To mention some facts here:
It has about 1.8 Million inhabitants and is therefore under the Top 5 (Rank 3 or 4, together with Munich) cities with German as main language, together with Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne.
It is by far the biggest city and capital of Austria and has the most inhabitants of all Austrian states, more than 20%.
The Opernball of Vienna is an world famous event where the global high society and many wannabes mix up.
Vienna has an outstanding Coffee House culture and is famous for the rich and heavy bakery. You have to try a Wiener Melange, when you visit the city!
The Prateris nothing special anymore in regard to the thrill of the offered rides – nowadays modern theme parks got much more to offer – BUT it is classy and the observation wheel is probably the only one, where you can enjoy your candle light dinner, just with the person you love – while cruising some rounds with remarkable views over the city. There are combo tickets for many different attractions and if you have some more time, you save a decent amount of cash if you buy them in advance – like in other big cities as London or New York.
The most important musician of the new time, who is dead already – RIP – is Falco. He has this typical Viennese accent and is one of the most famous artists of all times, singing in German language.
Enough said, you will find the rest in the article I linked up, at least the figures and facts. I want to go into detail in regard to special recommendations for you. First of all you should park your car, if you come by car, and use the public transportation, which is efficient and reliable, often faster and you don’t have the risk to get a ticket. This is all to easy because in many areas there are parking zones, where you can just buy the parking ticket on a Trafic (tobacco store) during daytime.
Try to hit the free of charge Donauinsel Fest (German) in summer time, when you love Rock Music and Electro – it will be from 26th to 28th June in 2015. I attended this event once and it was awesome, totally free of charge and a special feeling to thrive and party along this island between Vienna and New Vienna City (Wiener Neustadt).
As two Coffee House recommendations I want to introduce my favorite Viennese Cafe to you, the Cafe Prückel, which is not as posh as the Sacher or the Cafe Centralin the 1st district. It has this certain charme and the cake and coffee is outstanding. But for the appearance and location in the heart of the city the Cafe Central is moderately priced and beautiful and the cake is delicious as well. That’s why I’d say, if you can just make one and have a very limited time, plus look for THE stereotype, do this one as a sight and enjoy your piece of cake. If you are in Vienna for longer or like to get to see, what it’s all about in the normal life of the Viennese, you should go to my favorited Cafe Prückel.
What else is enjoyable in this city… If you like markets, the Naschmarkt for sure. I love it! You get many different oriental ingredients, fresh fish and meat in very good quality (e.g. when you don’t have the METRO card), specialties of Austria and the normal, crappy souvenir stuff – but you don’t need to buy it, right? Check this market out, the Kebap there is actually really good, which is a predicate if a Berliner says that… 🙂
To finalize this entry I want to give you another source, I use to check regularly before I start into a big city. – Unlike.net – They have plentiful information on places that are a little off the beaten track and therefore I love them! I recommend the nightlife section as well, since I haven’t tried many locations and after the sightseeing and enjoyment I am barely in the mood to party in the nights.
My picks for you would be some outstanding buildings and going places. And as always, when I visit a big city, I totally recommend to walk it, as much as possible to see as much as possible!
There are many more things to see, best you walk all along those areas and get yourself an overview. If you click on the respective sights you can access the locations via Google Maps, a convenient way to safe those locations to your phone and make the map accessible offline – the way I do it when I am somewhere else. Have fun exploring Vienna and if you have a little more time, you can always visit the Donauturm, to have an unforgettable view over the whole city area and countryside that surrounds the city.