english only Archive - Patrick Bucher
  • “Diva weather, Bummelzug, Nutella & Tzatziki”

    Hello there,

    this time I (Petra) will do some writing and hope you’ll like it. I would like to share with you our experience on our Austrian Vacation in a very nice region in Carinthia and one of its beautiful Lakes – Klopeinersee / Lake Klopein / Klopinjsko jezero.

    Here some facts… Lake Klopein:

      • is 1800 Meters long
      • is 800 Meters wide
      • has the deepest depth of 48 Meters
      • can reach up to 29 Degrees in summer, which makes it one of the warmest lakes in the Alpic region!

    We booked this vacation already months before and it was so-to-say our little honeymoon 😊

    We stayed from Thursday, June 28th until Tuesday July 3rd in a Guesthouse Sonnblick (affiliate link) near St. Kanzian at Klopeinersee. It is a family-running-hotel and they are very friendly! We booked this place also because of its very good reviews on booking.com (affiliate link), but also because the price was VERY acceptable (5 nights for 2 adults, breakfast, comfortable room with balcony, beach entrance, private parking and the „Active Card Suedkaernten“, which offers good discounts on a lot of activities, for 420€ altogether!)!

    Our room was comfortable, enough space for our 6 days there (pics below), very clean and a balcony, with a view to the main street/beach/lake. The location was very silent as well, since the party area and main promenade is approximately 15 walking minutes away (it’s a very nice way to walk, lots of people, street musicians and different restaurants and shops all way long).
    The pillows however were not that comfortable (at least for us they were just too soft and “fluffy”).

        

    Breakfast was lovely, nevertheless it was very small and the offerings were daily the same. But we never left the table hungry (specially not me and I am 7-months pregnant!?)!

    On the first day we arrived, the weather was quite acting like a diva and it was also not as warm as expected (I think it was slightly below 20 degrees), but we did not lose hope so we checked in, unpacked our stuff and wanted to go for a walk “around the lake”… Typically for Carinthia (Austria?), ~80% of the lake – at least at the area we stayed – is private, and the entrance to the different beaches is only for guests of the specific hotel.

    Here we had to make a comparism to the Lake Bled in Slovenia, since it has pretty much the same “surface” – flat way and 6km around the lake, BUT there, at least 80% of its shore is public and that really means to “walk around the lake” 😊

    So we left the idea to have a nice walk around the Klopeinersee, since you anyway can’t really enter it and therefore we only went to the main lake promenade, which is located between Seelach and St. Kanzian. We were really amazed how clean, how peaceful and really nice the surrounding was. Seelach has lots of restaurants and pubs to offer, and since we visited quite a lot of them, all of them offered really good food and the staff was very friendly!

    On that day we had a good lunch at Restaurant Mohoritsch – Burger and traditional Kärtner Käsenudeln – both were delicious!

    After lunch we headed back towards our Hotel, since Patrick wanted to check the beach at the hotel and to have a swim, no matter what! I was already cold just only thinking about it, but he made it 😊 Water was really warm, warmer than the outside temperature, but still I rather stayed dry outside, while Patrick did his swim.

    In the evening we walked to the Promenade again, since there was the Football World cup, and we wanted to see some matches while having few drinks, so we went to the Pub “enJOY” right in the city-center and as the name says, we really enjoyed it! We had a lot of fun watching the game and were entertained by the waitress with funny (=mysterious) trousers, way-to-drunk-but-still-standing-guests and young school groups dancing in the disco and having the time of their lives 😊 There was also live band playing in the middle of all the restaurants/promenade, which was also a very nice experience! It was a lovely evening!

    On our second day it was raining and even colder, so we decide to leave the hotel after breakfast and go to the Spa in Villach – exact name is Kärntentherme Warmbad-Villach. Beautifully designed Spa, huge place and VERY warm inside (REALLY warm!). We spend the whole day there and also managed to catch some sun outside in the afternoon, when the sun finally came out. We stayed there from 11am till 7pm, had also lunch, few drinks and ice cream and we spent around 85€. I think the price was OK, since the location is really nice, less people and a lot of things to do – Yes, they also have few water slides which even measure your speed and time AND also the “daily best slide time”, which unfortunately Patrick was not able to beat BUT WAS VERY CLOSE and still convinced that it was manipulated 😊 😊 😊 !!!

    In the evening we walked to St. Kanzian and had a delicious Pizza at “First Italian Pizzeria in Carinthia” –  Caputo 😊

    On Day 3 – Saturday – we decided to use the less-nice-morning-weather and take a ride with one of the “Bummelzug” (see photo below – it is this funny little sightseeing train, mostly meant for kids but fun for adults too 😊). Around St. Kanzian there are apparently two companies that operate those trains, and they are having different time plans and different rides to offer. We wanted to do the 3-lakes-tour; the 3h tour around 3 lakes but on that day, only 1h lake tour around one lake AND a special Wild-animals-park was included. Price: 6€/adult, 4€/Child 2y+

    Fact: When you think about Wild-animals-park you have in mind everything else than what we saw there ☹ First of all, the promised “Lake-tour” was everything else but the Lake-tour since we nearly did not see anything of the lake itself (because of the fact described already above) and also we had different expectations while arriving to the famous “Wild-animals-park”. Where there were only deers and ducks to see in a family-running-farm where you could buy a 1€ corn pack to feed the animals in order to have them come to you … They also had a small restaurant, where you can get something to eat and drink.

    The train-ride was for sure not worth 6€ for an adult, maybe 4€ and 2€ for children, but not more! But we learned our lesson and we went to the beach after while the weather again showed its power (=sun) 😊

    Deer
    Duck at the „Wildpark“
    Lake view, on the other side of our hotel. One of the only areas where you can access the lake for free.

    In the evening we went to a fish restaurant at Tainach, not far from our hotel, called “Sicher”. We got a voucher from our good friends as a wedding present – “degustationsmenü – food tasting” so we went there with less to zero expectations. Positively surprised by the location and very friendly staff (husband and wife apparently), we were sat outside on a romantic spot in the garden, and started to enjoy our 4-course-menu (+ a starter as a greeting from the kitchen and self-made desert as last surprise, where we thought we can’t eat anymore 😊) … Our “food tasting experience” lasted for 3 hours with us being completely amazed by the food and the deserts we were offered there.  Here some pics (not all, since you have to visit to get this experience!)

     

     

    On Sunday (Day 4 of our vacation) the weather was ok-ish in the morning, so we decided to first visit the Waterfall near Klopeinersee (Called Wildensteiner Wasserfall). It took us around 20mins drive to get there and for a photographer (and his/her companion) fully worth it – here some pics!

    Wildensteiner Wasserfall
    Wildensteiner Wasserfall – behind the scenes 😉

    After the waterfall visit we drove back to our hotel and head to the beach.

    Here some facts about the beach: To enter the beach property, you need to have a card since this is a private beach – of course (we got our card in our hotel) 😊 This area owns a small restaurant, Toilet, changing rooms and you could also borrow laying beds. There is a huge grass spot for all the guests and also two piers that lead into the crystal clear and green water (which is also drinkable!!!). In the restaurant they offer snacks (from 12h-16h) and drinks and the beach is opened till 19h – you can stay longer though. 😊 The restaurant owns a big terrace so there is enough space for all the guests to sit and relax with the beer (or in my case with an ice coffee) 😊

                                       

    On that day we also rent a Pedalo-Boat with a slide (!!!), for 7€/hour which is affordable! We also wanted to rent a SUP (=stand up paddle), but since it was quite windy, we decided not to do so. The prices vary from 7€-10€ per hour for SUP or Pedalo-boat, it depends where you borrow it.

     

    Day 5 started very promising, so we had a big breakfast again (you can never have enough Nutella!) and left for a hike towards to the observation tower – Kitzelberg, 1:30mins walking from our place. The way up was doable, a bit exhausting if you’re 7 months pregnant but the view is fully worth it (take water with you!)! See some pics below!

    Kitzelberg – view point

    After 3 hours and 10km we arrived back to the city center, had a pizza at this Italian place again and then returned to the hotel and afterwards to the beach. The fact that this was our last day there, made us a bit sad as we wanted to squeeze the most out of the day!

    In the evening, after swimming, we decided to walk one last time along the promenade to have a dinner somewhere on the way. This time we decided for a Greek restaurant – Kreta Taverne, which was a great decision! The place was completely full, waiters apologizing that it might take longer than expected since there were a lot of people in the restaurant and they are not McDonalds 😊 Which was fully fine for us. We were sat outside, ordered water and beer and had a nice time together, while being entertained by one particular waiter, which was in a very good mood and you could easily see that he really liked his job (pretty sure he was Greek!).

    While waiting for our food, he brought us Ouzo so that our waiting time would pass quickly! He even took pictures with us and congratulated us for our baby-on-the-way and then after 40mins our food arrived (the time really passed quickly). The waiting really paid off! Greeks know how to prepare food, since ours was very nice – I had calamari with potatoes and tzatziki, Patrick had a lamb souvlaki with potatoes and (off course) tzatziki sauce! We also had a desert – typical, 3 yogurt balls with honey & nuts!

     

    The next morning, our last day, we just had breakfast, packed our stuff, said goodbye to the owners and sadly left Klopeinersee. This vacation was a bit different then we are used to, also because of the fact that the weather was playing a bit with us, so we had to be creative. But it showed up as a very positive thing at the end, since we managed to see/do/visit a lot of nice spots and places and brought lots of nice pictures and lovely memories with us, which we will share with our baby very soon as well.

    I hope you enjoyed the reading and happy to hear any feedback 😊

    Cheers,
    Petra

  • Bled during winter


    S
    omeone may remember the post about the weekend vacation in Summer 2017 at this lovely place. One of my comments was about the romantic atmosphere, and that someone might use the chance for a proposal. Honestly – I did. And even better, she said yes! 😉

    This time it was a surprise for my birthday, and only a week ahead Petra told me where she wanted to get me so I could get prepared. I was very excited since I saw a couple of pictures of this winter-wonderland via Instagram before and couldn’t wait to get there. Since the idea was also, or mostly, about taking pictures, we planned accordingly for hiking and photography.

    My photography equipment consisted of:
    Sony A7RII (affiliate link)
    Sony Zeiss 55/1.8 (affiliate link)
    Sony G 90/2.8 Macro (affiliate link)
    Sony Zeiss 35/2.8 (affiliate link)
    Konika Minolta 17-35/2.8-4 (affiliate link)
    Osawa 135/2.8 M42
    50/1.4 M42
    M42 tilt adapter

    Backpack:
    Lowepro Vertex 300 AW (affiliate link)

    Camera Clip:
    Peak Design CP-C (affiliate link)

     

    DAY1 – around the lake

     

    Prepared for cold temperatures we arrived in the Park Hotel Bled (book via this affiliate link!). The hotel is placed next to some nice restaurants, bars, the Casino and right at the wonderful lake. Parking was included and the reception lady was very friendly and spoke the local language, Slovenian, and German in addition. I didn’t try with English but I am sure she could speak this as well.
    We got, I admit, the room with the best view on the top floor of the hotel.

     

    View to the Hotel Park in Bled, Slovenia, from the opposite side of the lake

     

    View from the Room
    View from the balcony left, to the famous island with the church.
    View from the balcony right, to the castle on the hill.

     

    The Friday we arrived, it was very cloudy, but luckily the fog was high enough so the view was clear and fine for some pictures. We thought about hiking up to Tito’s summer residence, however it should come differently. The walk was very nice though it was cold, and i shot a couple of pictures. Once arrived to the place where we thought we can walk up, it was closed unfortunately, so it was not possible to go there. So we decided to just walk around the lake, and around the next corner a guy was sitting and enjoying his cigarette. Passing by, we realized he had some nice paintings to sell, for 4€ only, so we asked for the one which we liked most. The guy wrote our names at the back of  the painting and gave his signature, and when Petra mentioned it was just my birthday this day, he suddenly said we should stand still and he started painting us on the backside. It was so much fun, everybody, especially him, was laughing a lot 🙂 The result was really nice and it will be a good memory of this trip! Afterwards we continued the walk around this beautiful place.

     

    The drawer Bobby, Bled, Slovenia

     

    Bled, Island, M42 Lens, Tilt

    Day2

    The second day started – as usual – with a big breakfast. We got a hint from Petra’s father that the skiing location at Vogel should be amazing, and since it was just around 20 Minutes away we went there. The single ride with the cable car was 15 € up and back down – per person. Not cheap. Once up we quite quickly realized it was a mistake. Fog. But that much fog that you could only see 2 Meters. By far not perfect for taking landscape pictures 😀
    After waiting for an hour or so we went back down, back to the parking area next to the lake Bohinj. By looking at the pictures I took, I think the fog up there had to happen so I was able to take these shots!

    Church at the lake Bohinj, M42 lens, shift

     

    Silent lake Bohinj

     

    The evening we enjoyed at the hotel pool and in a bar later.

    Day3

    When the sun is up on the sky.. Finally! After checkout we went for an excursion, to the locked down area of Tito’s summer residence. We made our way through, up the hill and were lucky with this weather, giving THIS view. We were the only ones, at least since the last snow, who walked up there as some old footsteps were covered with fresh snow.

    The way up to Tito
    Resistance – the only flower on our way
    The residence, closed during Winter, but open from April – September
    This fantastic view..

     

    Of course we did the whole round around the lake afterwards which took us again a couple of hours – but it was 100% worth it. We have been there now twice, and honestly, we are looking forward for our next weekend there. Maybe in the colorful Autumn, one day…….

     

    Hope you enjoyed reading this!

     

    Below some random pictures of Bled we took during our stay.

    Patrick

     

  • This article is a usability review about the Peak Design Camera Clip, v2.0 (CP-2), which is a handy accessory to carry your camera on the strap or holder of your backpack.

    (Click here to buy from Amazon.com or here for to purchase from amazon.de or amazon.at (affiliate links))

    (affiliate Link to amazon.com)

    I have been travelling through Russia for 25 days in a row, and visiting 5 big cities throughout the way of the transsiberian railway, and one small village at the lake Baikal. Beside enjoying and getting my mind free for a quite long time, taking photos was a main objective. I am currently working with a Sony Alpha 7R (A7R) (affiliate link to amazon.com) and a wide variety of lenses.
    During previous travels and sightseeing tours I have always experienced it quite annoying on how or where to carry my camera. Is it around the neck and just ready to shoot, there is usually nothing interesting to take a picture of and it gets painful to the point where I get headache. Is it in my backpack I miss a lot of fantastic shots because I wasn’t confessed at this moment that it is worth to take the camera out.
    After a while I began to research diverse ways of carrying my camera, like neck holders with a good padding, some sort of side straps as well as hand straps, but I didn’t get necessarily comfortable with it. Though the better neck holder worked longer before getting pain, the camera was still bouncing in front of me. The hand straps were ok but you had it the whole time mounted to your hand, so this can get annoying and you have to be careful not to hit any objects in your way, and the site straps can be annoying as well since it bounces on your hips, but more importantly it is always difficult to work with while wearing a backpack.
    I finally found a solution which supports me in all aspects and fulfills my requirements. The Capture Pro Camera Clip from PeakDesign. (Click here to buy from Amazon.com or here for to purchase from amazon.de or amazon.at (affiliate links))

    The clip:

    The Camera Clip Capture pro, mounted on the backpack without the plate. (plate is on the camera at this time)

    The Camera Clip is mounted directly on the shoulder belt of your rucksack just at the height of your chest. It is mounted with 2 screws which, when tightened properly, can easily carry your camera with even a heavy lens, without problem. It has a similar lock system as a tripod head, and the plate screwed on the camera even fits in most of the Manfrotto Tripods, however this needs to be checked individually.
    Since it is right in front of your chest, it isn’t blocking any of your (arms) movement, and protects the camera against any obstacles on the side while walking in a city or hiking through a forest. Since it is in front of your backpack, it also supports the weight balance, meaning you have less weight on your back but your cameras weight in front of you.

    The Camera, mounted on the camera clip:

    The Camera mounted with the Camera Clip on the backpack

    The camera clip itself, mounted on the shoulder belt of the backpack:

    Camera Capture Clip from Peak Design mounted on the left side strap of the backpack

    Once used to it, it feels very solid and robust. The camera gets clipped in with the plate and you can hear a “click”, however to be on the safe side I usually also put the neck holder around my neck, just hanging loose. Also in cases you do not clip it to your camera holder, you can still have it bouncing in front of you for a few minutes and have the finger at the trigger.
    Overall it is a perfect fit for me and meets my requirements: easy to sue, not disturbing any movements and ready to shoot within a second.
    It is a total recommendation!

    This product was bought by myself and neither the clip nor this review is supported or sponsored by the producer, PeakDesign.
    This blog as well as the products used, if not stated differently, is privately paid and is supported through advertisements or amazon purchases via this blog only.
    If you like the article and are interested in getting such a product for you I would be happy if you purchase it via an amazon link of this site. With that you help me to keeping this blog online and updated!

    (Click here to buy from Amazon.com or here for to purchase from amazon.de or amazon.at (affiliate links))

  • BLED: Beautiful, Lovely, Expensive, Diverse

    My girlfriend and I just spent a long weekend in Bled, Slovenia. As I was travelling with my brother only for nearly a whole month and just returned, this was really all about a “couple vacation”, just to spend quality time together.

    A few months ago, while planning my Russia trip, I was also aware that leaving my girlfriend behind might be quite hard and challenging, and to be sure we are ok I thought about a vacation just after my trip. By coincident I found an attractive voucher for a Luxury Hotel in Bled, with a direct view to the lake, and by reading through the voucher’s description I was sure Yep, this is it.

    I bought it and arranged the stay for the first weekend in June, 3 Nights/4 Days.

    The drive was quite ok, with only small delays in Bled directly, and once arrived we were both amazed by the first impressions. A beautiful landscape, a lovely lake with an island in the middle and a church on it.

    We checked in at the Hotel, Hotel Triglav Bled (book now via this link and safe up to 15€!Booking (affiliate link)), and got greeted and supported by a very friendly receptionist lady. Her English was perfect, and I think she could also speak German but we didn’t try. She explained us the regular stuff, like Breakfast times, checkout, hotel specials etc., and we were asked if we want some tourist information. She really took time and once I said I love photography, she showed me the best spots on the map and also provided us a lot of other valuable information.

    Once in the room, quite small but itself perfect, in a very good condition and a 100% clean! I think you could dare to eat from the floor. Tough we have just been in the first floor; the view was amazing but just a bit hindered by a tree right in front of our balcony.

    First we just planned a walk around our area, but in the end, we walked around the whole lake, passing by a lot of fishermen, the official beach area but also other places, where people were swimming (it seems to be allowed everywhere). The water was a mixture between colorless and blue with a slight green – like the sea! Easy to see the ground on depths more than even 4 meters, fishes and all around everything very clean.
    At the half of the way around the lake we decided for a drink, and by coincident we ended up in the summer residence of Tito, the first president of Yugoslavia; a building half-built into the mountain, with a direct view to the church in the middle of the lake. Basically it is a big room, with a very nice terrace. Also outside of the building there is a viewpoint with a lot of tables of the restaurant.

    Tito’s summer residence, outside:

    Tito’s summer residence, inside:

    The view from the restaurant from Tito’s residence:

     

    We then continued our tour, grabbed some fast-food, visited the “Casino Bled”, which is quite small but can still be fun and finished the day around midnight.

    Day 2: Hiking to wonderful viewpoints and a visit to a middle-age festival

    We had breakfast around 9am, and to be honest, by the first sight, I got a little disappointed. But as it turned out later, it is small but top quality! The sausages were delicious, the bread, vegetables and fruits fresh and the coffee was also very good. The eggs, however you want them to be prepared, will be made completely fresh for you, like omelet, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, cooked eggs or pancakes. Delicious.

    Viewpoint 1: Ojstrica

    The heat burned down already at around 11 when we began our tour. We first visited the Velika ojstrica, and the hike up was a bit challenging actually. At some parts, we even used our hands to hold ourselves at the rocky way up (just to mention, we got told that the road is supposed to be very easy.. well, we thought we are sporty but this was definitely not easy 😊 )

     

    Once up there, heart bit at 200 bps and quite dizzy, it just felt so good. A handful of other tourists were up, enjoying the view and taking pictures.

    I think we spent 45 minutes up there, just enjoying and taking pictures before we continued our hike.

     

    Viewpoint 2: Velika Osojnica

    We were quite high on the first viewpoint; however, the second one was much higher. The hike was mainly in the forest this time, with only a few rocks on the way, but the signs and marks could have been done better. Due to the lack of the signs we might came off track for some time, however we successfully found the spot with an awesome view! It was easy to see that we were at the double height compared to the previous point, and also there we spent quite some time and took lots of photos. We have been the only ones up there and didn’t see any other tourists, nor on the way. Sad for them, because they missed something beautiful. 😊

     

    Viewpoint 3: Mala Osojnica

    Velika means big or large, “Mala” means small or tiny. As you could guess by the name, the “mala Osojnica” viewpoint was at a lower point, so we walked the way half back down and got on the way to our last viewpoint during this hike. It was a quite easy trail then, and this seems like the most touristic viewpoint since there have been some pictures and other information to explain something about Bled and its history just there. We were very lucky and had enough time to take great pictures, just before a bus full of Croatian tourists came across and hiked another way up to this location.

    In the evening, we visited the “Bled castle” where a middle age party took place. A lot of activities, mostly for children, but also a couple of shows, so we enjoyed some fire-knights, fighting with swords on fire, had a few beers and half of a grilled chicken before we walked back home. On the way, we checked out a quite fancy bar, and so we had the cheapest beer, 4.5€ for a 0.3l bottle. Not cheap at all.

    Day 3: Waterfall “slap savica” and swimming

    The next day meant another hike, so just after breakfast we drove with our car to the national park “Triglav”. The streets shortly before the arrival were quite tiny, so a couple of times we had to stop and let coming cars pass us, but it was ok. The parking fee was 3€, the entrance also 3€ per person, but it was worth it! It was a very easy hike (this time really!), everything prepared with concrete stairs, so it is very easy for untrained people as well. The way is nothing special, quite far away from the water but very nice anyway, with a rocky forest surrounding you. Also the view is very nice at some parts of the way. Arrived at the waterfall, dozens of people taking pictures, selfies or were dreaming by the beautiful sight and the impressive sound this waterfall provides.

     

     

    Later, we went for a swim in the lake Bohinj but since it was quite cloudy and windy we soon started our way back to Bled. Luckily, because the weather in Bled was just so much better, and so we went to the public beach for a swim, diving 5 meters or even more, you can still see the ground completely clear! Water there is simply amazing, and no doubt, you can drink it without any problems.

    In the evening, we went to a restaurant nearby, had some good but pricy dishes and enjoyed after a short rain the warm temperature outside.

    Day 4: Finally, a very romantic boat tour

    On our previous trips last year, Budapest and Barcelona, we rented a rowing boat, and so finally on the last day just before going back home, it stopped raining just after breakfast when we made us on the way down to the boat rental. The parking is as expensive as renting a boat: 10€.

    It was a very romantic atmosphere and someone could use this moment at this scenery for a romantic proposal. Foggy mountains, birds tweeting all around, crystal clear water and the sound from the bells of the church from the middle of the lake. Beautiful.

    We had a walk on the island, took a few pictures and finally made us on the “row” back.

    It was a wonderful weekend and it is totally recommendable!

    #P

  • English

    Since I also work with people in and from different countries and got a lot of friends from Slovenia, I’ve decided to write some of the posts in English, to keep them up to date. So, friends, colleagues, this is for you! 😊 Anyway feel free to read in German about how our trip started (after a few beers there was this idea), arranging the flight tickets and on a test hike with some new equipment and sample pictures.

     

     

    3 weeks

    are between today and the begin of a 25 days adventure, starting on May 1st. We are still quite unprepared finding the stuff to take with us, however we finally have the trip itself finalized, meaning we know which train takes us when from where to where. Also, we have received our Visas meanwhile!

    Moscow

    We are starting from Vienna on May 1stin the evening, flying over to Moscow and will spend 2 days there. Beside meeting some of my (Patrick) Russian friends, we will probably do a usual sightseeing trip, visiting the Red square and the Kremling, and will depart on Wednesday night from the Iaroslavskaia Station towards Yekaterinburg. This will be our first ride with this train, the trans-Siberian railway, right away for nearly 26 hours to begin with.

    Yekaterinburg

    Yekaterinburg has some history of religion to show, and as we arrive on the 5th at 3:30 am local time, we will not book a hotel in advance. I assume it will still be quite cold, and for sure a couple of hours dark until the first ray of sunlight will light up the city, but having good company with my brother and for sure some liters of vodka with us I have no doubts it will still be fun. True to say I have some hope that the café’s or bakeries open early.. 🙂

    Novosibirsk

    2 days of sightseeing and adventurous searching for a place to sleep later, the trip will continue into the deeper regions of Siberia, with roughly 22 hours of travel to the city called Novosibirsk. Novosibirsk was built in 1893 and is very known for its culture of theatres and music. Novosibirsk and the region can be cold, and by saying cold, remember your coldest day, let’s say in Austria, and multiply it with 2. Now you are close to the average winter temperature in this area of Siberia. -40° Celsius are not seldom here.

    Irkutsk, Baikal lake, Ulan-Ude

    1.5 days later we are just ahead of our longest train-travel as of now. More than 31 hours will be between us in Novosibirsk and our next destination: Irkutsk. Irkutsk is near the Baikal lake, and is, with the region, my personal highlight of the trip. To mention, our next train leaves from Ulan-Ude which is a few hundred kilometers away, just on the other side of the Lake Baikal, but we did not plan any travel in advance since we will do this, hopefully successfully, onsite.

    I have a lot of expectations from the Baikal region, hoping for adventure hiking trips up the hills, swimming in the 3° cold water in the lake which is hosting 20% of fresh water – worldwide, maybe some fishing and dancing with the wild bears and wolves. (OK, maybe no dance, but a selfie would be nice 😀 )
    This area seems to be quite „touristic“ for this region, and a lot of day trips or even longer ones can be booked with some agencies. The income and living costs in this region is said to be quite low, but the prices for such organized tours are even higher than somewhere else. A day tour could cost easily more than a 100€, which is basically just a car drive, then a guided hiking tour and a return to the hotel. Beside being pricy it also sounds boring, right?

    Since this trip should be THE trip, we are searching for the unknowns, for that what we did not see or read anywhere yet, and nothing that would make it a wellness vacation. Without big plans, our aim, or in other words, our need, is to get from Irkutsk to the other side of the Lake Baikal, to Ulan-Ude, within roughly 10 days. It may be a very very long walk, or a train tour, maybe a flight or a taxi, or eventually a bit from everything. Whatever it will be, we will (try to) find the best but most exciting way to do so right there.

    Vladivostok

    Now I’ve got a little math exercise for you, and the times here are in Moscow time (as all of the trains run according to Moscow time, to avoid too much confusion with the 7 time zones the train is crossing) to keep it simple. So, don’t worry about any time zones now.

    Departure, Ulan Ude:
    21.05.2017, 09:44

    Arrival, Vladivostok:
    23.05.2017, 23:55

    The question is, how many hours will we spend in the train for this one transportation, from Ulan-Ude to Vladivostok, our final destination?
    Vladivostok will round up our trip and we hope to see, beside the historical sights, some military infrastructure. Vladivostok has one of the strategic best and biggest military harbors in Russia, close to North Korea and Japan and not too far to the wider, „eastern“ world. Usually war ships but also submarines should be there, but let’s see what we can really explore.

    Vienna

    After roughly 2 days we will be leaving Vladivostok via Moscow back to Vienna, with 2 flights and 15 hours travel time all together.
    I think in short, this is the high-level plan. Thumbs up! 🙂

    Don’t forget about the math exercise! 🙂

    #P