A short train ride or couple of miles walk outside Kitzbühel is the Schwartzsee (“black lake”). It’s full of minerals washed down from the mountains that give it the glassy black effect. Normally in the summer you can swim there, but there had been heavy rain for the past few days, and so the water was too cold and I settled for a walk around the shore instead.
The lake was also surrounded by alpine meadows. I learnt the German word for meadowsweet that day (the yellow flower in the foreground)- turns out to be the straightforward Mädesüss. The Mäde part is to do with it being used to flavour mead. (Or Honigwein as they also like to straightforwardly call it in German). Since I spend a lot of time in rural Austria and Germany, I’ve been trying to build up my vocab of wild plant names in German.
Even train stations in the Tyrol are picturesque.
Here’s some photos from my trip to Croatia this summer. It was a real last minute thing, I suddenly had a week free in a packed summer of teaching engagements and still didn’t actually live anywhere yet, so I bought a cheap flight to Croatia and did some sightseeing (before returning to Slovenia ten days later for work). Here’s some pictures of Split. I wrote more about the trip in a zine- available here, so I’ll leave the longer writing in there and just show the photos.
Here’s an illustration of a fishing village in Cornwall. The original artwork was a pen and ink drawing, and the colour was added digitally. It’s available as a print in three different sizes, from £6 to £30.
If you want to colour it in yourself, then the same artwork is also available in colouring book form.
(Yayoi Kusama pumpkin sculpture on the beach)
I won a competition last year for free plane tickets to Japan, and went with my friend Vicky for just under three weeks in March, using a rail pass to explore the main island of Honshu and staying in hostels (and a spell in a hotel in Kyoto that came with the flights). Apart from the free flights we were totally broke, so a lot of the focus of the trip was on free or low cost attractions like scenery and museums and making maximum use of the rail pass rather than restaurants, bars or shopping. You can see more photos from other places in the Japan category of this blog, and also read about the trip in the zine I wrote.
Naoshima is tiny idyllic island in the Seto Inland sea devoted to modern art. The opening of the Benesse modern art museum (owned by the same organisation as Berlitz language schools) revived the island’s fortunes, although it’s still a small and quiet place with only a few villages and a lot of old people.
We visited the museum, but no pictures were allowed inside, so these are all of the rest of the island. I’ve made a post of some of the artists in the collection here.
After Malcesine, Limone sul Garda and Riva del Garda, I present to you Torbole. I went to Torbole just because the boat from Riva del Garda to Malcesine stopped there along the way, and I’d never been there before. It was a weird little place. Like Riva, it used to be in Austria until 1918. Everyone except the staff of the restaurants seemed to be German, and really into intensely staring at you in the street. The light and the way the water looked along the harbour front was beautiful though, and I spent most of the hour before the boat back sitting on a bench soaking it in. I don’t think this is a real place, I think it’s a screen from one of those new-age computer games from the 90s like Myst.
So far I’ve shown you Malcesine and Limone sul Garda. I also took the boat to Riva del Garda at the northern end of the lake (which is also in a different province- Trentino). It was raining all day, so I figured I might as well go to the colder, rainy end of the lake and visit the museum, and save the outdoorsy stuff on the southern end like archaeological sites for a sunny day.
From 1815-1918 Riva was actually in Austria, and although it’s typically Italian in many ways, there’s a definite alpine influence there (and a lot of German and Austrian tourists). I had been there once before, in about 2000. A little while ago I dug up some photos I’d taken on a disposable camera then, and posted them here.
In my last post about Lake Garda, I showed Malcesine, where I was staying. Now I’m heading over to Limone sul Garda on the other side of the lake. I didn’t spend much money while I was in Italy, but a hefty chunk of the (tiny) budget went on ferry tickets. Boats constantly criss-cross the lake to all the towns, and it’s the most scenic way to see the area. If you’re in a hurry, you can take the bus on land, but I was on holiday, so by definition, not in a hurry.
At the end of May I went on a last-minute trip to Italy by myself. I had given up my tenancy in London, because I was fed up of paying a small fortune to a landlord who was unwilling to fix the serious leak in the ceiling that was probably going to bring the plaster down sometime soon, and a relative asked me to house-sit. The house-sitting date then changed, but it turned out to be cheaper for me to visit friends in Yorkshire, and then go on holiday for a week than it was to extend my tenancy, which shows how ridiculous the prices are in London now. As it was a last minute thing, I had to go on my own. I don’t mind travelling solo though, I used to do it regularly for work, and travelling alone is better than going on holiday with someone who doesn’t want to do any of the same things as you. (In my case, wandering aimlessly for hours and hours, taking hundreds of photographs and eating a lot).
I considered going to Crete, because I wanted to see all the Minoan archaeological sites, but it was hard to work out where stay, and which places were Magaluf style budget party towns (not really where I wanted to go). I asked my Greek friend Ellina, but it turns out she’d never been to Crete either.
So in the end I booked a deal to Malcesine on Lake Garda. Malcesine was the first place I visited in Italy when I was 12 or 13. Throughout my teenage years I visited Italy 2-3 times a year after the budget airlines started doing £20 tickets to Pisa and Brescia, and after I graduated I did some teaching work in Northern Italy, and I’ve seen most of the country now bar the furthest three southern regions (Apulia, Basilicata and Calabria) Sardinia and Sicily. Although I had been to some other towns on the lake since (I’ve got some disposable camera photos I took around the turn of the century that I dug up here), I hadn’t been to Malcesine since that first holiday, so I was really interested to see whether it had changed and how much. While I was there I started writing a zine about the trip, and also about Italy in the 90s/early 2000s and now. I haven’t finished it yet though. I wrote in more detail there, so my blog entries will concentrate more on images.
While I was on Lake Garda, my biggest expense was ferry tickets. I took the ferry each day to a different place around the lake. As the scenery is stunning, I took a lot of photos. I’ve whittled them down to around 10 shots or so per place, but I’ll post them gradually, so you don’t get overkill of views of water and the Alps.
About 6 weeks ago I went on a short break to Denmark and Sweden. It shows how busy I’ve been lately that it’s taken me so long to post these. I unexpectedly had some extra holiday days I had to use up quickly before the end of my work contract, and none of my friends were free to travel on the specific weekend I had to use them, so I went by myself. I saw cheap flights to Copenhagen, and booked them on a whim, on the grounds that I’d never been to Denmark before, and it was also easy to visit Sweden from Copenhagen. I also have a danish friend Sanne I used to work with in London, so I arranged to meet up with her while I was there and drink some Mikkeller beer at normal prices (rather than the exorbitant prices they charge in the UK). (Good luck with the PhD viva Sanne!). I liked Denmark a lot, although I’m not sure if I’d want to live there. They seem very set in their ways. In fact it reminded me a lot of Austria, but with sea rather than mountains.
While I was there I spent a lot of time wandering round Copenhagen, visited Malmö and Lund in Sweden, and Helsingør along the coast, and also visited the Louisiana Art Museum and the Roskilde Viking Museum, which were also great. Denmark is not the greatest place to be a vegetarian without a kitchen (they are not so hot on the concepts of bacon or mayo free food or accurate labelling), and I had the worst hotel bed I’ve ever slept in (you can’t expect a lot for £30 a night in Scandinavia, esp if you have a problem with your AirBnB account and have to stick to hotels) and got a big tick bite on my leg, but I had a great time. There are a lot more photos, a few more blog posts, and a zine to come from this trip.
I’ve got lots of photos of Denmark and Sweden to post later, and also some photos of a DIY Space for London fundraiser, but first here is a drawing I did in my lunch break at work a little while ago. I finally got round to colouring it in recently, using colours sampled from cheap Tarot cards. I found two different colour variations, and produced two versions. I’m still not really happy with it though, it’s more of a throw-away doodle. I couldn’t decide which colour variation I liked more, and friends on Facebook were also split, so I’ve put the version which just won the vote first, and the second version after the cut. See which one you like more.