Final destination

I arrived in İzmir. It is sunny all the time. But not as humid as in İstanbul, so the heat is OK. The plan is to stay here several weeks and then to return.

It is ramadan right now. Drums walk around in the middle of the night to wake you up so that you don’t miss your breakfast before the day sun rises... And after the sun sets, they shoot a canon so that you know when you can start eating againWinking

Zakopane - Poland

Zakopane is a very touristy town at the border to Slovakia. In the winter, it is a ski resort. In the summer, it is great for hiking. I made it to two places:

I just fell in love with Lake Morskie Oko. I felt like shooting a picture every 100 meters, although it was very cloudy and partly rainy that day. I guess it is like that most of the time, because it is mountains with a lot of forests. This lake is located in the Carpathian Mountains. This part of the mountains is called the Tatras and is the highest region and are declared as a national park. That is probably the reason why it is difficult to get to the lake. You are allowed to get as close as 9 km by car or bus. Then you have to park. The last 9km uphill, you have to walk or take a horse carriage or take a taxi. The road is asphalt. I walked all the way up and made some friends. Be prepared for some hefty rain. I thought I had a good rain coat, but this rain proved the opposite and I was soaked. As it was also quite chilly in that hight, I would really recommend to be well prepared for that. Luckily, at the end of the road and 2km bore there is big cafe where you get something warm to eat and drink. That saved me from undercooling.

We made a whole round around the lake, but for the way back we decided to take the horse carriage. That is much faster and sooo relaxed after all that walking and rain. But it was really woth the effort. I would do it anytime again.

Here is my favorite picture I took from the lake. If you would like to have it in higher quality for the screen click here. If you need the best quality I have for printing, click here.

Note that it was a bit tricky for me to find the way here. I had a map from the tourist office saying, follow the road to „Lysa Polana“ which is the border crossing to Slovakia and the parking place is very close to that border, but still on the Polish side. Well „Lysa Polana“ is not the name of a town or a street, so my GPS couldn’t find it. It was easiest to type in the name of the next town in Slovakia (Tatranska Javorina) and just not cross the border. Then you will also see a number of signs labelled „Lysa Polana“.

Auschwitz - Birkenau

More than a million people suffered terribly and died in this place. Many wrote about it. It is well documented and the remains of the place is preserved as a state museum. What can I contribute? As usual, I will not repeat everything you can also find in encyclopedias, books, internet etc. I assume you already know about it and give here just some of the basics and how it affected me. If you intend to come here, don’t bring small children with you.

At the beginning, I didn’t feel like making any pictures at all and I made none from Auschwitz 1. Additionally, I preferred to listen to the guide and to look at things rather than being busy with making pictures. As usual with guided tours, you don’t get the time to make proper pictures. The best you could do is a super quick snapshot and continue. But later on in Auschwitz 2 - Birkenau, I made a few. There you can also walk around on your own. I haven’t visited the third part.

I joined the latest tour of the day, so the number of visitors for our guide was relatively small. Around 15. She told us, that they have up to 60-70 people per guide sometimes.. Even with the small group, I found it a bit challenging to look at the things and to follow her. Additionally, different groups intermingle often. So, my advice is: Forget about taking pictures. You can find them in books anyway. Even at that speed, it took about two hours for Auschwitz 1 only and we missed the bus to Birkenau.

The first part were originally military barracks of the polish army. After the German invasion, they have turned it to a prison. At the beginning, it was used to keep Polish and Soviet prisoners of war. Later came also intellectuals, homosexuals, German criminals, political prisoners and of course Jews, Romas and more. About 90% were Jews.

The Polish population around the camp have been removed to other places. The terror and genocide here was kept as a secret as long as possible. The jewish people who were deported here were told that they come here for work. Some of them even had to buy a ticket to come here! They travelled from all over Europe. Sometimes for many days in a train like this with no windows and totally overcrowded.


But immediately after arrival, the selection process started. About 70% of them, most of the women, children, elder people were regarded as useless for slavery work, so they have been sent straight to take a „shower“. In fact they entered a room to undress and the room next door was the gas chamber. The doors were closed, deadly gas was released and everybody died within 20 minutes. Then the gas chamber was ventilated, and next door, the bodies were burnt. The ashes were used as fertilizer in the nearby farms.

The ones who were selected for work, lived in terrible conditions. The next picture shows the three levels of „beds“ they had to use to sleep. Each level was packed like in those terrible chicken farms.


Those who worked in farms and factories were exhausted or starved between weeks and months. There was no lack of new prisoners... In fact there were so many, that even though the gas chambers and crematoria were killing and burning hundreds and even thousands of people per day, that was still not enough. Therefore, some people were also burned in mass graves.

Some were selected to live a little longer, not to work, but for medical experiments..

Since Auschwitz 1 became too small for all that mass murdering, the prisoners had to build Auschwitz 2 (Birkenau). This place is 20 times bigger. Most of it is destroyed today, because the Nazis wanted to hide the evidence as the war was close to its end. Still, there is sufficient documents, photographs and remains of buildings left to see what happened here.

The picture below shows Birkenau, just to give an understanding of the size.. Of course, I couldn’t capture the whole of it in one picture.


Forgive me, if I don’t mention things that you might think that should be here too or my numbers are not precise. Sure, there is much more to tell about it. But I don’t intend to replace all the books and documentaries. This is a personal blog after all.

I stayed in Krakow and came here by car. That took me a bit more than an hour. The landscape is actually quite beautiful. But for me personally, it was rather a spooky experience. By the time I left my camping place in Krakow, it was a sunshiny day as in the picture book. The closer I got here, the sky got darker and darker and yes, when I arrived there were also a few thunders...
Walking around this place can be a bit tiring. Combined with the physical stress of the bumpy roads, the bad pizza in the evening and the mental stress of digesting the horror here made me vomit in the night.

It is absolutely no fun to see and write about it. But I agree that this must not be forgotten. Why? Because I believe such monsters were not limited to that place and time period, but they keep repeating this kind of thing when they get the opportunity to do so. Just look at the news around the world. This was neither the first, nor the last massacre of the human history. So keep your ears, eyes and mouth open to prevent history from repeating under different names, shapes and colors.

Last, but not least, somehow, knowing these things helps to appreciate all the good things we are able to enjoy. So the last lesson to extract from this story is to recognize, how pathetic most of our little problems are and to appreciate all the good things we do have and to enjoy our lives as good as we can. I think, this is an obligation in the name of all those who didn’t have this opportunity.


First impression?
BIG City: The roads are broad and the intensive traffic tells you very clearly, this is not a neat small town, but a major city.

However, once you start exploring the city, you realize how green it is. There are parks everywhere and they are quite big too. This image should give an idea:

I was exploring the city mostly by bicycle. I have to say that given the size of the city and the bumpy roads, you need a mountain bike. A Dutch style „omafiets“ is not an option. Even then, a 1/2 an hour ride is already tiring. The noise of the traffic doesn’t make it more pleasant either. As it was also exceptionally warm when I was here, I felt like I had my daily dose of sports.

Considering the fact that Poland was a communist country not too long ago, I must say it must have developed very fast. From that point of view, you feel like in western Europe. Look at this fancy roof of a commercial centre and you know what I mean. It feels safe, things work and you can communicate in English better than in Spain or France. Sometimes, German is the preferred foreign language. Only the quality of the roads have still room for improvement...


My camping place is a disappointment though. I got used to this super clean, friendly and modern camping including great WIFI in Krakow. Here it is more expensive and all these things are worse...

Do you remember that I missed the little mermaid in Copenhagen? I found her here in Warsaw! OK, maybe not exactly the same one, but this sister is probably the same size. And if the houses in the background remind you the Netherlands, you are right. This is the centre of the old town and there was a lot of trade with the Dutch long ago, such that they influenced also the architecture.


The picture below shows a unique house. It combines the history of the art of building houses in one building. The big stones at the entrance are original building material from the 13th century. Then you see bricks, which were introduced much later and finally, the modern flat facade.


There are of course several monuments about the 2nd world war. The one below was made to remember the children that were sent into the fighting... I don’t want to go into the details of this as I will also go to Auschwitz in a few days, but of course the horrors of war shall not be forgotten to prevent these things from happening again. These monuments are not there to look nice for pictures, but to make you think and feel..


Last, but not least, the very centre of the modern Warsaw is dominated by the Palace of culture and science. If I remember right it was a „gift“ from Stalin to the city. Whatever the history, the building itself is impressive. I have been to the terrace at the 30th floor. That is a good starting point to explore the city. I had also my first tango evening in that building in a rather small, but very beautiful hall. Come here on a Sunday.


My series of repairs of the caravan had a new episode here. Now the second water tap is broken and this one is quite difficult to replace... Worse than that, the car had a completely destroyed break at one of the four wheels... Apparently, I was driving while that break was active a little all the time...

Beside all the things I explained above, the highlight for me was to meet a relative of mine and his family. We had lost contact for nearly 30 years! We both don’t know exactly how long. This was such a great enrichment and I enjoyed the Turkish & Polish hospitality.

OK, tonight the last tango in Warsaw. Tomorrow, I return to Krakow.

Salt mines close to Krakow (Kopalina Soli, Wieliczka)

It is very old, very big, very interesting. This is not just a mine, but like an underground city. They had many, many chapels, some of them still in tact. Being a salt mine, almost everything is made of salt. E.g. The statues, the crystals of the candelabra, the dwarfs etc, etc. A few of the many salty objects are actually made by salt from different mines, because of the different colors. This mine has no iron in the salt. So when they wanted to have some red, they have used salt from other mines.


The mine is not directly in Krakow, but in Wieliczka (Pronunciation: In German, I would write it like Wilitschka. In Turkish, like Wiliçka). This is a rather small town. It is easy to find the mines once you are there by car. You can also come by Bus from Krakow. There are guided tours inside and only guided tours. Imagine, only a few percent of the whole complex is accessible for the tourists and that takes 3 hours. You can choose between Polish, English and German.

The mine is not active as a mine any more, because they have to dig deeper and deeper, which is more and more expensive. But the amount of tourists coming here is impressive. I read somewhere that it is comparable with the pyramids in Egypt. That might be true. Since I was there on a Monday, the place was flooded by school children. That is quite noisy I must say, so I had sometimes trouble to hear our own guide although there were no children in our group. We were about 13 people, but our guide told us that in worst case she had a group of 70 people.

Well, here comes my recommendation. Do not come here in the high season, but in May like me seems to be OK. You can exit after two hours if you wish, what most people did or continue for one more hour in the museum part within the mine. Our group was reduced to 4 people incl. the guide, so it felt like a private tour. There were no other groups, certainly no more children there and I must say, it is for sure worth to see that part too.

The first surprise I had inside was the quality of the air. It was really, really fresh! Lot’s of oxygen. And they have even patients here who spend some time down there to breathe the good salty air. No joke! The temperature is about 14 to 16 deg. Celsius.

The former director of the mines was an artist. He made many models of various things in the mine. They are very beautiful and made with love to the detail. Here are two pictures. One of them shows how the town looked like as the old wooden houses were still there and the other shows scenes from the mine itself.

DSC00153DSC00154 (1)

The mine is very old as I said at the beginning, but I don’t want to repeat the information that you can also find in official sources. I just show you what I didn’t see in my tiny guide book or internet pages after looking at the first few ones. Here are the dwarfs that I mentioned before. That was a contribution from the times this area belonged to Austria. They are cute, aren’t they?


Here is a salt lake. It is so salty that you can’t be drowned. There was even a part, where the tourists passed a certain part by a ferry within the mines. But even though you cannot get drown, there was an accident with that ferry such that some people died because they couldn’t breath.. SInce then the ferry is suspended.

The mines have a very long tradition of tourism. From Kepler to Goethe, you will find sculptures of many famous people here. In a salt lake similar to the one below you can listen to some famous tunes from Frédéric Chopin (who was of course also here) together with a nice light show.


As a tourist, you are always walking along safe paths. But the miner didn’t have always safe passages and stairs. The picture below shows how dark and dangerous it could be as well:


Still reading? Very good, since here comes the highlight that you can also see on other websites. So I spare you the details about the history, but it is simply wonderful to see. As with many other guided tours, there is simply not enough time to digest this beauty and to take good pictures too. I wish I could spend like half an hour here in Saint Kinga’s chapel, but the guide has to follow a program... I would say it is worthwhile to go down again just to see this hall once more.


Note that everything here, including the floor is made of salt stone. You are not allowed to lick the sculpturesWinking No joke, but that has happened too often so that you hear that more often that you can taste the walls, but please don’t touch the sculptures. By the way, these reliefs? are indeed 3D. about 20cm deep? Very beautiful.

There were many chapels, because the mines are just huge. But the above is the biggest attraction.

In all these centuries, it was not only people working here, but also horses. They stayed here their entire life and got blind. Although they had a lot of workers here, to be able to bring all the heavy stones up, pump the water up all the time and bring lots of wood down, they obviously couldn’t do without horse power. The horses were lifted up once when there was a major fire. It lasted months and they simply had to wait until all the wood burned.


The mining is a dangerous business as we all know. Not only inside the mine, but due to the holes they made under ground, there was also holes created on the surface and some buildings collapsed into it... There is also the flammable or even explosive methane gas that gives the miners a hard time. The picture below shows how they have burned the gas from time to time to avoid explosions later on.


That concludes my contribution to this UNESCO World heritage. A must see!

More caravan pictures in Krakow

Some friends asked for more pictures. Here they are saying more than 1000 words. The camping place is about 5km south east of the city centre. Beautiful, clean and with WIFI!


Photo day in Wroclaw

The old town in the centre is very beautiful. It is full of cafes, restaurants etc. It has a student city flair. The most efficient way to get from A to B is by bicycle. The city obviously made some effort to make the centre bicycle friendly and with success. However, it seems that only very few people make use of it. Maybe because the centre is not that big and it is also easy to get to the centre by tram. Keep your car far away from the centre.

The pictures say more than thousand words, don’t they?

What do caravans and camels have in common?

On the way from Prague to Wroclaw (Breslau) had again a flat tire of the caravan and spent more than an hour to replace it... OK, now I don’t have any old tires anymore. I hope that’s it to that topic.

Several roads were closed and my GPS navigated me through little roads and towns. I didn’t expect that, because I had chosen the option to use easy ways for trucks. Maybe there are no easier roads? Anyway, together with the flat tire, the whole trip took me a whole day although the distance is not that big. The A4 in Poland is in very good condition with very little traffic.

Arriving in Wroclaw, I must say the centre, the old town is quite beautiful and full of life! The only problem is the quality of the roads in the old town. They seem to be just as old as the town and the driving in first gear through it felt like riding a camel... I think it is still OK for a normal car and is also OK for my bicycle, but with a caravan, it is shaking wildlyWinking


I arrived at a caravan camping place almost in the city on an island in the river a bit south of the city. From here, it was easy to get to the centre by bicycle. With this sunny weather, a pleasure. Prague has so many beautiful buildings, charming cafe’s and relaxing parks that it must be a pleasure to live here. The public transport works great and everything is quite clean. Even the first Turkish kebab place I tried was delicious! The only thing that I disliked is the fact that everybody is smoking everywhere. I appreciate it so much that it is forbidden in many countries now, but here the smokers seem to have the majority.

I realized that I am still not ready for any visits in a museum. So I just enjoyed a lot of sightseeing. As you can see, the tulips made their way to Prague too!

SInce I arrived on a Monday and will leave on the Saturday morning, I can’t say much about night life at the weekend. But during the week, most cafes are closing latest at midnight. Even at the very centre. So, it is still not a match to Berlin or Amsterdam from that point of view.

Of course I visited several milongas. I ended up dancing with more tourists than locals. Well, what do you expect in such a touristic cityWinking


An old Caravan is like an old house. Charming, but repairs, repairs and repairs..

Here are some lessons learned after a week of spending quality time with my caravan:
The water pump: It needs to be under water all times. After refilling the canister I found that the pump was working from an electrical point of view, but not pumping any water. The guy next door told me that it has to have a screw that I need to open and fill with water. Well, mine doesn’t have a screw, so I had to put it first in a different water bath where I could turn it upside down under water. Indeed I could see a lot of air bubbles coming out and then it worked fine again. Now I will refill the canister without moving it out of the caravan.

Parking: Last day in Würzburg I had parked it AND disconnected from the car uphill. Bad idea. The handbreak of the caravan barely kept it stable. That was almost OK, but putting it back on the hook of the car... Well I am certainly not strong enough to move it around in that situation. I had to move the car
precisely to the spot to get the two married again..

An old caravan with lots of screws has many loose screws..

It is a good idea to have spare lamps, just like the car. When the cars behind you can’t see you blinking left or right, you might end up in exciting situations...

The water-tap: Well, normally, a water-tap is either blocking the water or allows some water to flow all mechanically right? In a caravan, you don’t have that water pressure. So you need a pump to be switched on and off at the moment you turn the water-tap. So there is also a switch. Exactly that switch was not working anymore. Luckily, I had my multimeter with me and I could find that the problem was indeed with the tap and not with the wiring anywhere else. So it is good to have one of these multimeters with you too. And an other tip: Do not try to repair it. It took me 1,5 days of improvisation. One solution lead to an other problem. Just buy a new one and replace the whole thing...

I hope that is the end of repairs.

One last word about the tires: New tires are really, really good. After I had them replaced, I had not only a better feeling, but also realized that the car was pulling the caravan much easier!

Packing & Cleaning

Today, I realize that I am a true space engineer. My launch gets delayed several times due to unexpected problems and I have almost daily new launch attemptsWinking

Well, after two full days of intensive packing (and all my muscles feel it), I managed to bring a car load of trash away. Today I will have the second car load of trash. And I am sure today will not be the end of it...

So, latest plan is to leave on Thursday. That is aligned with people I want to visit on my way.

Project Status

Car to caravan interface test - check (mechanical & electrical) Caravan training - check Keys - check Driving lesson - check Car inspection - check Paper work - Done Packing - on the critical path

The transfer of the ownership of a caravan was the fun of the day. You need to do it at a post office. Of course the first one you go to tells you they can’t do it. So you need to find one with this capability. Then you need to prove where you live in the Netherlands, if you are a foreigner. Maybe this is a well meant security measure, but given the fact that it was not needed when I bought a car or even a house, it seems a bit exaggerated to me.


Last week, there was a tango festival in Brussels. I was there only for the Saturday, but early enough to pay a visit to the famous Atomium during this lovely sunny day. Of course I have seen pictures of it before, but somehow I was surprised to see how shiny it actually is.


And bigger than I imagined. It symbolizes an iron crystal rather than a single atom as the name might suggestWinking There is a restaurant at the top, but outside my budget limitations Sad But it is definitely worth to go inside and have a view over the city and there is of course an exhibition inside. It is about some history around the 1958 world exhibition and about the cosmos. I was a bit surprised to see this panel with the title „No big bang“. That reminds me a book that I read long time ago with the title „The big bang never happened“. But that book is 20 years old by now. I don’t know if there is an update.


And the tango festival was in a wonderful hall. The building looks so modern and boring from the outside. But as soon as you get inside, it is the complete opposite. Very beautiful. They had a Russian band this time. It was refreshingly different to hear some Russian tunes smuggled into the argentinian tango. 10 points for this place.

Restaurant in a plane

On my way back home, I stopped again in Hannover. This time we went to this restaurant in a plane. I must say, the food was exactly my taste! They had more Greek food and of course Schnitzel. Yummy tomato soup, garlic bread and of course tomato juice! After the Netherlands and Denmark, for a good price too.
The kitchen and the toilets are outside the plane, so that they have more room for the tables. I can’t remember candle lights though. Maybe because of the fire hazard? Winking
Here is the link:

Århus, Denmark

Just visited good friends in this university town. It is the second biggest city of Denmark and half of it belongs to the university. So, you can imagine that it is a big time student city.

I must say, Århus has quite a nice sandy beach. Too bad that it is rather cold so far in the North. I wonder how warm it gets in the summer. In any case, warm enough so that people do swim.

I learned that it is more custom in Denmark that friends visit each other more at their apartments rather than going out to pubs all the time. That is quite inline with my Turkish background, although I am so much used to the German / Dutch way of going out very often.

Århus has an open air museum called the old town. It is not a natural historic city, but a museum. Nobody lives there. They just physically moved beautiful houses from all over Denmark to this spot. You can enter them and see all sorts of professions from the pharmacy to the tailor. As fascinating as this is, they have also a „modern town“. That is around the 80s. You can see a HIFI shop with old tapes and records from Beatles, Abba etc. Very charming.

I have also been to the student house for a tango evening on Sunday. That was more modern music. Technically, I would say they are in the building up phase, but friendly people. I enjoyed my time. That reminds me Darmstadt. By the time I left, there was a very small group. A few years later it was flourishing so much that there was even more tango there than in Cologne.
The posh cafe in the city centre with all classical tango music was the other week. Maybe next time.


Little Mermaid Part II

My apologies to the little Mermaid: Too bad that I didn’t know that she has a sad story...
I later found out that I have most likely also missed the exact spot. I relied too much on Google Maps... So probably she is back from Shanghai and I missed her. See you next time.

A day in Copenhagen

Lessons learned in Copenhagen:
Do not eat a hot dog in an open place.
Why? The wind claims half of it as soon as you hold it in your hands. My personal Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics is therefore:
Small particles like air molecules feed on hot dogs. Proven by observation. The old masters got it all wrongWinking

Food: The Turkish restaurant „Sultan Palace“ is great. I enjoyed an iskender kebab there. Hmm, lecker. Valkendorfsgade 34.

Little Mermaid: Well, I had an appointment with her, but she was not there. Disappointing girl. In the internet I found she went to Shanghai. I think she is overrated anyway. This city has such a richness of various architecture and sculptures etc. that I don’t really understand why she is always Nr. 1 when you google Copenhagen.

Tango: I have visited the tango lounge. OMG, there were only a few people, but several maestros. Great!


Trip to Hannover

Visiting friends in Hannover: We were lucky with the weather and made a trip to the mother nature. This place is called Hohenstein. There is a nice rock on which you can rest and enjoy the view after half an hour of going up a few hundred meters. Pity that we didn’t think of bringing our picnic. We could enjoy the awakening of the nature in springtime and the sun shine. There were very few people around. I guess because it was a Tuesday. If you like mountain biking, this is a nice place to go.

More precise location: Hannover -> Hameln -> Papmühle -> HohensteinDSC00855P1010800

Carnival in Cologne or - Kölle Alaaf!

Coming back from Helsinki, I needed a few days to recover from the cold in Helsinki. But on last Thursday was the first day of the carnival. I had to go, no matter the costWinking
So, I was there, 3 days of drinking Kölsch, singing (partly) along songs in Kölsch-German was great fun. I was dressed as a copilot of a cheap airline. Was funny. But again, when I was back, this time I had a serious cold for 4 days...
I think they should change the rule when carnival is celebrated. 40 days before easter sucks. I suggest 40 days after EasterWinking

Helsinki - Frost Bite Festival

Same day I finished work, I took a flight to Helsinki to a tango festival. It was really nice, but the February is the coldest month there. They call that festival „Frostbite“ for a reason... It is a very modern city. The trams come so often that you don’t freeze in the cold. I am sure it is extra beautiful to be there in the summer. The architecture reminds me Berlin..