Destination Paris!

Posted in Architecture, Landscape, Transportation, Travel at 10:30 am by Warren Williams

After a days rest back in London, Peter and I were off again, continuing our travel and photography addictions with a four day trip to Paris. Despite living on the doorstep to France, it was my first trip there in the two years I’ve been living in London. Catching the 10am Eurostar service to Paris, we arrived shortly after 1pm local time, immediately meeting up with another long term school friend, Jason.

St Pancras Station, London
St Pancras Station, London

St Pancras Station - Man Statue

St Pancras Station, London

St Pancras Station, London
Inside the modern St Pancras Station

Eurostar St Pancras
All aboard!

After meeting Jason at our hotel in the 15th Arrondissement, right next to the Eiffel Tower – we decided to venture over there for a picnic in Champs de Mars, underneath the mighty tower.

Eiffel Tower from the Lower Level
Eiffel Tower from the Lower Level

Binoculars available on Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower Telescope overlooking Trocadero

Stunning view from Eiffel Tower over Trocadero and La Defense
Stunning views over Trocadero and La Defense

South along river from Eiffel Tower
Looking south along the River Seine.

Champs de Mars from Eiffel Tower
Parc du Champs de Mars – a beautiful spot for a picnic

View from almost 300m up Eiffel Tower
Peter & Jason – Great school friends from Avondale College, NZ

Looking straight down Eiffel Tower
A very long arm..

Long casting shadows from Eiffel Tower
Watching the long casting shadows over the Paris architecture is truly remarkable

Eiffel Tower Shadow over Champs de Mars

After spending the next hour on a cruise of the River Seine, (which didn’t produce any good photos), we ventured up to Trocadero for a brilliant view of the Eiffel Tower at sunset and twilight.

Eiffel Tower Sunset
Water Fountains over Eiffel Tower

Stunning Eiffel Tower Sunset
Magical moments seeing the fountains and Eiffel Tower from Trocadero

Red Skies Eiffel Tower Sunset
Twilight ovr Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower Abstract

Dazzling Lights Eiffel Tower
The hourly display of dazzling lights come on after dark – This case being 10pm

Following the great display and afternoon spent around Eiffel Tower, we walked along to the grande Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe Detail

Arc de Triomphe - Trees
A great way to finish off the evening, after pizza at a nearby restaurant, and 30 minute walk back to the 15th Arrondissement

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Calais to Dover Ferry

Posted in People, Transportation, Travel at 5:30 pm by Warren Williams

The very last leg of our tour was catching the ferry from Calais to Dover, and connecting to a coach to take us along the A2 into London. Ironically, we passed my home in South East London/Kent, but had to continue into the city traffic before catching a train home a couple of hours later.

The ferry was smooth sailing, although a fairly strong wind on top deck, stopped many from enjoying the views of the English Channel.

Calais from Ferry
View of Calais from the Ferry – not much on offer

Calais Dover Ferry Sun
Clear days, good great views

P&O Calais Dover Ferry

Warren & Peter Calais Dover Ferry
Warren & Peter, approaching the White Cliffs of Dover

Matt & Erin, White Cliffs Dover
Matt & Erin, two of the many new friends made on the Top Deck tour. Thanks everyone!

Bruges, Belgium

Posted in Architecture, History, Travel at 12:38 pm by Warren Williams

Bruges, located in the northern end of Belgium, is just a short trip from Calais, and a perfect stop off to stock up on those chocolate supplies. It’s a shame we only had an hour to look around, as the architecture, and reminiscing scenes from the hilarious movie In Bruges, starring Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes & Brendan Gleeson.

Bruges Euro Flag

Bruges Canal

Bruges Statue

Bruges Belgium Chocolate
Tasty Chocolate

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The Blur of Amsterdam

Posted in Travel at 2:56 pm by Warren Williams

Our last two nights of this European trip were spent in the city of Amsterdam, Netherlands. I still have strong memories of this place since passing by with family back in 1995. The Red light district, bicycles and cannabis make this city more unique than any other around Western Europe. I didn’t venture out much with my camera, due to certain activities – such as the bicycle tour around the many canals, dodging trams and other kamakaze cyclists.

I Am Amsterdam
Peter and I atop the I Am Amsterdam landmark with Rijksmuseum behind

Thousands of bicycles in Amsterdam

Cannibis Powder
Cannibis in one of the hundreds of local cafes.

Space Cake Amsterdam
Colourful Space Cake

Amsterdam River

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The Great Divide of Berlin

Posted in Architecture, History, People, Travel at 9:23 pm by Warren Williams

During our two night stay in Berlin, we visited many of the historic venues, starting at the Berlin Wall, Reichstag, Hitler’s Bunker and the Holocaust Memorial.

Berlin Wall Photo
Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall being Painted

Tourist taking a photo of Berlin Wall

Vespa Berlin Wall
Vespa randomly parked next to Berlin Wall

Rachelle – One of the many Ozzies in our group

Holocaust Memorial, Berlin, faces
Holocaust Memorial – load more Ozzies!

Holocaust Memorial, black and white

Expansive Holocaust Memorial

Bugatti Veyron in Showroom
1001bhp Bugatti Veyron in one of the many supercar showrooms

Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)
Berliner Dom – Berlin Cathedral

Railway line in Berlin

Statue in Berlin

Water Fountain Berlin
Water Fountain

Peter feasting into a Bratwurst

Reichstag Flag

Reflected Runner in Puddle
With the recent Bratwurst energy, Peter went for a run

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Wet in Prague

Posted in Architecture, History, People, Travel, Wedding at 7:56 pm by Warren Williams

Prague is a wonderful, beautiful city. Despite raining for practically every moment of our 36 hours in the city, a few of us keen sightseers braved the weather to explore the historical sites. Prague was also included to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1992, with its great mix of Gothic and Renaissance styled architecture.

Old Town Square at Night, Prague
Old Town Square at Night. There was plenty of lightning going also amongst the rain, but didn’t have the patience to capture it

Prague intersection at night
Beautiful buildings make up all corners of Prague

Prague Castle across River at Night
Prague Castle and Vltava River at Night

Czech Me Out

The following morning, in Old Market Square, the rain continued to pound the cobbled stones – when I noticed a young newlywed couple having a few photos taken. They’re mood was very upbeat, and was great to see another photographer out there in the elements capturing those moments.

Prague Wedding Photographer

Prague Wedding Photographer

Prague Wedding Photographer

Prague Wedding Photographer

Cobbled Street in Prague
Cobbled Street in Prague, on way to the Castle

St Vitus Cathedral
St Vitus Cathedral, in the Castle grounds – Camera was soaked, hence the smudges

View from Prague Castle

Changing of the Guard, Prague
Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard, Prague

Prague Castle Guard


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Auschwitz Concentration Camp

Posted in History, People, Travel at 10:30 am by Warren Williams

Photos alone can stir the emotions from this sombre day around the Auschwitz concentration camps. The name Auschwitz was the German name given to the hosting town of Oswiecim. Over one million Jews were killed in the gas chambers, with the pesticide Zyklon B. The camps are kept open as a reminder to the world what atrocities were committed, and hopefully never repeated.

Auschwitz Empty Space

Auschwitz Concentration Camp

Walls and fences of Auschwitz

Victims of Auschwitz

Halt Sign Auschwitz

Block 11 Auschwitz

A-11 Auschwitz

Wash Basin in Auschwitz

Torture Wall Auschwitz

Small stones placed by Jews at Auschwitz

Life at Auschwitz

Security Fences at Auschwitz

Auschwitz Security Barbed Wire Fence

Death Sign Auschwitz

Entrance Gate Auschwitz -

Barbed Wire Fence Auschwitz Birkenau

Toilets in Auschwitz Birkenau

Overcrowded Auschwitz Birkenau

Infamous Railway Entrance Auschwitz Birkenau

Peace Auschwitz

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The History of Kraków, Poland

Posted in Architecture, History, Landscape, People, Travel at 9:30 pm by Warren Williams

The city of Kraków was given World Heritage Site status in 1978 by UNESCO, the same year Karol Wojtyla, archbishop of Kraków, was elevated the papacy as Pope John Paul II . Kraków is also famous for it’s overruling in WWII by the Nazi empire, making Kraków the Capital city of the General Government.  The large Jewish population were moved into the Kraków Ghetto, where they were sent to local concentration camps, such as Auschwitz. A German businessman by the name of Oskar Schindler, used his enamelware plant as a way to save many of the local Jews. His story was portrayed in the excellent move, Schindler’s List.

Archbishop of Krakow, Pope John Paul II
Where Pope John Paul II was based

Inside St Mary's Church, Krakow
Climbing the tower in St Mary’s Church, Main Market Square

View from St Mary's Church, overlooking Main Market Square
View from St Mary’s Church tower, overlooking Main Market Square

Snake Handler, in Main Market Square
Snake Handler in Main Market Square

Snake display in Krakow, Main Market Square
Snake Handler

Female Snake Handler, in Main Market Square
Female snake handler in Main Market Square

Jewish Plaque in Cemetery
Jewish plaque in cemetery

Weathered building in alley, Krakow
Weathered building in alley

Singer sewing machine, Krakow
Singer sewing machine, on an outdoors table at a cafe

The infamous stair scene, Schindler's List
The stair scene from Schindler’s List, just past the arch on right

Disused railway near Schindler's Factory
Disused railway near Schindler’s Factory

Krakow Ghetto Building
Worn building in the Krakow Ghetto

Old man walks across the Holocaust Memorial
Walking across the Holocaust Memorial

Holocaust Memorial Krakow, Chairs
Holocaust Memorial – 70 empty iron chairs, representing absence

Michael Jackson and Elvis puppets, Krakow
Lifting the mood, street performer in Main Market Square with puppets of the recently passed Michael Jackson, and Elvis – both kings of music.

Statue at Wowel Cathedral
Statue at Wowel Cathedral

Street Artist Krakow
Street artist at the Castle

View from Krakow Castle over the river
View from the Castle over the Vistula River

The evening was spent back in a lovely restaurant just off Main Market Square, featuring an enclosed courtyard out the back with cheap, large meals. Perfect way to finish off a day.

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Lightning Storm over Kraków, Poland

Posted in Landscape, Nature, Travel at 10:51 pm by Warren Williams

The following morning, we left Budapest, heading northwards across Slovakia and into Poland. The air was thick, as the skies darkened over Kraków, as the heavens above decided to unleash a powerful two hour display of lightning and thunder.

Amazing castle on road through Slovakia
Stunning castle on the road through Slovakia

Bolt lightning over Ikea, Krakow, Poland
Lightning grounding over Ikea, Krakow

Massive bolt lightning
Massive bolt lightning over the fields

Red lightning over Krakow
Lighting up the sky over Krakow

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Hungary for Budapest

Posted in Architecture, History, Landscape, Travel at 10:00 pm by Warren Williams

The hottest day of our tour involved walking the beautiful streets of Budapest with the temperature creeping over 37°C. Budapest was once two cities – Buda and Pest, seperated by the great Danube River which officially combined in 1872.  The Buda side is located on the western banks of the Danube, featuring the hilly terrain and historic castles. Across the river on the expansive Great Plain, lies Pest, where much of the style is on 19th century architecture.

Budapest, overlooking the Danube
Buda side

Romantic couple overlooking Danube Budapest
Overlooking the Danube

Terror Museum, Tank, Budapest
Inside the Terror Museum – some disturbing scenes from WWII victims. Featuring photographs from Jewish victims, historic video footage, and torture devices.

Terror Museum, Budapest
Photography wasn’t permitted in the rest of museum, but was worth visiting for harrowing accounts of concentration camps, suffered by Jewish people from the Hungarian region.

St Stephen's Cathedral (St István Parish Church)
St Stephen’s Cathedral (St István Parish Church) – Is the largest church in Budapest, with building commencing in 1851, but not completed until 1905. This Neo-Renaissance church is often simply known as the Basilica.

Inside of the Basilica, Budapest
Inside the Basilica

Inside the Basilica.

Basilica winding staircase, Budapest
Winding staircase up to the tower

Basilica winding staircase, Budapest
Looking back down the staircase at the Basilica

View from Basilica, over Pest
View from the Basilica, over Pest and the Great Plain

Front view of the Basilica
Front view of the Basilica

Mercedes in Budapest
Mercedes in Budapest 😉

Budapest Parliament Building on Hot Day
Parliament Building on the scorching day

Castle in Budapest
After walking across the Chain Bridge, headed up the hills into Buda.

With the extreme heat and dehydration setting in, Peter, Nic and I ventured into the Labyrinth of Buda Castle, where the temperature is a constant 14°C and 90% humidity all year round. Without a tripod, photos were near on impossible due to the dark conditions. Walking down one of the corridors the sweet aroma of wine became apparent, where we found a wine fountain.

Wine fountain, Labyrinth, Budapest
Wine fountain, Labyrinth (ISO 6400)

Stepping back outside created instant stickiness against the still hot and humid conditions after 6pm local time. Once back at our hostel, a quick freshen up and we were back out again with a few others from the tour group to watch the vibrant sunset from the Chain Bridge spanning the Danube River.

Chain Bridge, Budapest
After climbing the bridge supports

Sunset over Buda

A well deserved meal and drinks were rapidly consumed following this physical, but amazing day around this grand city.

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Bratislava, Slovakia

Posted in Architecture, History, Travel at 9:00 am by Warren Williams

En route to Budapest we ventured through the city of Bratislava in the early morning. At just 60km away from Vienna, they’re the closest capital cities in Europe.  There is a great mixture of architecture, spanning from medieval towers in the Old Town area, to the splendor of 20th century buildings. Bratislava also spans the Danube river, with the castle prominently displayed on the hill – unfortunately closed at the moment for renovations.

Hviezdoslavovo námestie statue
Statue near Hviezdoslavovo Námestie

Michalská Brána Hotel
Michalská Brána Hotel

Baštová Ulica
Bastova Ulica

Michalská brána Hotel

Kapucínsky kostol
Bratislava Church – Kapucínsky kostol, and tram lines leading to the Castle

St Martin's Cathedral, Bratislava
St Martin’s Cathedral

St Martin's Cathedral, Bratislava
St Martin’s Cathedral

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VIP Tours around Vienna

Posted in Landscape, People, Travel at 10:11 pm by Warren Williams

With a full day to kill around Vienna, arranged to meet up with my friend René who was kind enough to show myself and Peter around the various sights and history of the magnificent city.

Donauturm Park

Vibrant Flower

René borrowing my Canon 17-40L lens + Lee filter setup
(And his new 5D II)

View from Donauturm Tower
Overlooking Vienna from up the Donauturm tower

Tour of Austraia 2009
Our trip into the city also coincided with the Tour of Austria, final leg.

Tour of Austraia 2009

Tour of Austraia 2009

In the afternoon, we visited the Schnapps museum for some exciting alcoholic beverage tasting, including gold leafed Schapps, and some stronger Absinthe.

Schnapps Museum, Vienna
Ann about to take a milky Schnapps shot

Grant showing the after taste effects from the hot chili Schnapps!

Following the milky drinks, René and his partner Anja took me along to the Danube River for sunset. The Danube is famous for being the only river to pass through four major cities, and also the second longest in Europe, spanning ten countries!

Long grass alongside the river… and as I figured out, a haven for mosquitos.

Anja, also wasn’t safe from those nasty mosquitos

Danube Vienna Sunset
Twilight over the Danube, with the Donauturm tower

Candid with the 85L in very low light – ISO 3200, F1.8

Danube River, Vienna at Night

A massive thanks to René and Anja for the tour of the city, and following drinks alongside this grand river.


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Schönbrunn Palace

Posted in General, Travel at 7:30 pm by Warren Williams

After the long drive with the coach tour, we had fifteen minutes to explore Schönbrunn Palace on the outskirts of Vienna, before arriving to our hostel for the next two nights. Schönbrunn Palace was built in the late 17th century, and is the former imperial summer residence.

Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace and the immaculate gardens

Glorietta, Schönbrunn Palace
Gloriette, atop the 60m hill overlooking Schönbrunn built in 1775.

Nic, Warren, Ritchie, Grant & Peter all from NZ & Oz

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Onwards through Northern Italy and Austria

Posted in Landscape, Nature, Travel at 12:30 pm by Warren Williams

Travelling northward from Venice the following morning, we quickly headed to the border of Italy and Austria. The high quality roads through the Alps were absolutely amazing, offering unparalleled views.

Italian Alps
Making a quick stop at a service station

Endless Italian Vineyards
From the coach, endless vineyards in northern Italy.

Glacial Riverbeds over Italy
Glacial Riverbeds over Northern Italy

Church on the Hill, Italy
Church on the Hill, dwarfed by the Alps

First view of Austria
First view of Austria

Snail on plant
During lunch stop at another service station, with spectacular views over the valley

Fly on flower

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Venice – The City of Water

Posted in Architecture, History, Landscape, People, Travel at 9:21 pm by Warren Williams

Exploring the wondrous city of Venice, can only be achieved by water and on foot. Venice is unique in many ways, with endless beautiful detailed buildings perched alongside the water. Capturing the sights from the gondola boat ride, through the twisting passages and underneath low bridges was definitely a highlight and impossible to ignore. Later in the afternoon, took in the spectacular views from atop St Mark’s Campanile, witnessing the sprawl of intricate architecture over hidden islands.

Venice from Rialto Bridge
Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge

Narrow passage of Venice
Narrow passageways

Venice Wedding Photographer
Wedding photos in St Mark’s Square

View to San Giorgio Maggiore
View to San Giorgio Maggiore

Gondolier in Venice
Venice Gondalier

Pigeon in St Mark's Square, Venice
Pigeon in St Mark’s Square

Pigeons overun Venice
Too many pigeons for my liking

Venice Gondola Top Deck
Gondola Riding – Niki, Pete, Grant, Richie and Warren

Venice Gondola Bricks
Passing old buildings in the narrow canals

Cindy at the Grand Canal
Arriving into the Grand Canal

Having a laugh in Venice
Cindy, having a good laugh

Gondola, Grand Canal, Venice

Venice Gondola Ride

Gondola, Venice

Gonola Ride, under bridge
Riding under one of the 400 bridges

Slow shutter speed on Gondola, Venice
0.6 seconds on a Gondola

San Giorgio Maggiore
San Giorgio Maggiore

View from atop St Mark's Campanile
St Mark’s Square – Notice the water patches from high tide

Endless views over Venice
Endless views over Venice

More views from the Campanile.

Pigeon passes St Mark's Campanile
Yet another pigeons flies by St Mark’s Campanile

Venice Moorings

Thunderstorm approaches Venice
Terrific thunderstorm approaches Venice

Speed boat in Venice
Speed boat, passing St Mark’s Campanile

Venice Thunderstorm
Heavy thunderstorm clouds over Venice

Painting Santa Maria della Salute from Accademia Bridge
Painting Santa Maria della Salute from Accademia Bridge

Slow waters over Venice
Slow shutter speed over Venice

Slow shutter over Venice

Sunset over Venice buildings
Low sunlight over Venice after the thunderstorm clears

Rich buildings in Venice
Rich coloured buildings are always a spectacle

Constitution Bridge, Venice
Ending back at Constitution Bridge after 24 hours

Ready for an early morning departure, over Northern Italy, and into Vienna, Austria.

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