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Lundi 7 septembre 2009 1 07 /09 /Sep /2009 19:50
While leaving Frankfurt, it was our intention to go to Prague and come back to Germany in order to go to Munich. In Munich we may have met Christopher a saxophonist (cousin of my friend Alice). Ones in Prague we decided that it would mean a detou to travel for around 400 km from Prague to Munich and then to come back to the East. So we decided to skip Munich and continued our journey to Austria. While Austria was not included in the 14 countries of our initial project, Olivier and I  were very interested to see Vienna. Needless to say that Vienna is worth the detour.

On Monday 31 of august, we crossed the border to Czech Republic and Austria in a place called “Mitterrtezbach”, then drove around 70 km to arrive in Vienna. This is the home of classical music. With its Philharmonic Orchestra that dates from mid nineteenth century (1845). Birthday of great composers like Haydn, Mozart. And also place where other composer such as Beethoven lived.  After advice from my cousin Anne-Camille, we paid a visit to the “Musik Haus” (Music Museum). In the article Olivier posted a few days ago, he showed the video we have taken of a piano player in the museum.
There are lots of other things to discover in Vienna, but we preferred to take it slow and just enjoy the marvelous weather and the scenery.

By Wednesday 2nd of September we decided to leave the town and hit the road to Slovakia. We only drove 80 km in order to reach the capital of Slovakia, which is Bratislava. So difficult to imagine that during communism these two countries and cities were separated and yet so close to each other. But that time is behind us now.

In Bratislava I was particularly embarrassed by my ignorance. I saw that in some shops they were showing prices in Euros and also Slovakian Krones. I thought that as they are closed to the border with Austria they accept Euroswhile their real currency is the Slovakian Krones. In order not to have unfavorable exchange rate, I decided to go to the bank to change money. The bank clerk tranquilly told me that it was not necessary to change the euros, as in Slovakia they also have euros as their currency. Not taking that as an answer I insisted to understand why two prices are being presented ? He told me that it is done to facilitate things for the elder people. This double pricing is like it is still done in France, with the difference that in France the euro has been introduced 7 years ago. So quiet embarrassed I got out of the bank. Later on we understood that since January first 2009 Slovakia indeed use the Euro as their currency. 

We didn't have a such a warm welcome arriving in Slovakia, as the first person we spoke to was a policeman that charged as 20 euros for entering a street where no cars were allowed (didn't see the sign). The first impression was of a somewhat devastated city and less organized world of what we have seen so far in other European countries.

It is a good thing that we don't stick to our first impression. We visited the old town, which is quiet pitcturesque. We went in search for musicians and met a Jazz Band that agreed with us to record them the next day.

So that next day was Thursday and it was our musical day in Bratislava. While visiting the city we introduced ourselves in a vernissage of two artists. Paintings and sculptures were exposed. At that vernissage we met two Slovaks teenagers playing guitar. They agreed for us to record them. So we have a very nice recording from Michal Gazdik and Ivraj Sufliarsky.

Later in the evening we went to Studio Café, where we knew we could meet Milan Rucek, a percussionist. He was playing with three other musicians. They agreed with us recording them and they gave an absolutely great performance in the café. We got a chance to record a music piece composed and played by Anton Jaro, the bassist player. Please enjoy the musicalperformance captured with our recording equipment. The name of the track is "Xola" composed by Anton Jaro and played by Anton Jaro and his band.



Afterwards we continued our musical journey and went to Jazz bar in order to meet Jozef Brisuda and his band. The DD Jazz Band is composed of three musicians and a singer. We registered a few of their tunes too.

We are very happy and pleased to have met these artists and to have exchanged with them. We gratefully thank them allowing us to record there wonderful tunes.

On Friday (03/09) we left Bratislava with the purpose to visit other parts of the country. We paid a visit to the town called Nitra, where there was a nice church overlooking the city. The day after we went to Banska Brystica. The city in itself was nothin spectacular, but the region was nice. A lot of forests and mountains, as the city is situated in the lower parts of the chain of mountains called Tatras in Slovakia.
Par Olivier & Harriette - Publié dans : English
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Lundi 7 septembre 2009 1 07 /09 /Sep /2009 17:57
While still in France, friends used to ask us, what our plans were in terms of how many days we planned to stay in each country. Before leaving it is was a difficult question to answer. Ones we started traveling we decided on our averages. In terms of kilometers we plan to drive 80 kilometers a day. This obviously is an average, as some days we will not be driving which will be compensated by other days when we will drive a few hundred.

In order to arrive in Germany we drove a lot and more or less every day. Since we arrived in Germany, we are not driving everyday anymore and the distances are not always very far. 



We also decided that we will be staying maximum 1 week in each country. With the exception of Turkey, where we would like to spend at least 3 weeks. In Germany we stayed in total 5 days. In Czech Republic we also stayed 5 days. In Slovakia we stayed a total of four days.

So up until now, our estimates seem to work just fine.

Regarding our budget, we fixed this beforehand in France. We have a budget of 700 euros per person per month.
Par Olivier & Harriette - Publié dans : English
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Lundi 31 août 2009 1 31 /08 /Août /2009 18:51

We have driven a 1.000 kilometers to arrive in Frankfurt. So a little time to rest seemed necessary. After staying five days in Germany, we continued our journey on Tuesday 25th of August in direction of Czech Republic. It wasn't such a long way, in order to get to the border of Germany and Czech Republic we drove 350 kilometers.

 

 

 

We crossed the border at a town called “Cheb”. A nice center with colorful buildings. The town seemed very much prepared to receive German visitors, no wonder situated at the frontier. Everything was written in German, almost everybody could speak German and Czech. Their knowledge of the English language was, comme si comme ça, but we succeeded in managing ourselves.

 

 

 

Nothing at sight regarding musicians. They talked to us about a music festival that was planned in the week-end, but we didn't really wanted to stay too long in the town. So after a wonderful lunch..........hmmmmm.......and equipped by a map of Czech Republic and a dictionary we continued our destination to a town called “Karlovy Vary”.

 

Karlovy Vary is a bigger town, apparently known for its thermal of natural salty warm water. Besides this attraction, the town seemed to be loved by Russian tourists. Everything written in Russian. The atmosphere in the town seemed so touristic and wealthy (bourgeois) that we didn't really felt at home in the town. In some very touristic restaurants, they were playing music for entertainment. Nothing really special and the one gentleman we asked if we can register his tunes, didn't really agree for us to do so.

 

So by Thursday we arrived in “Prague”. Our timing couldn't be better as the town is hosting an International Folkloric Festival, there was music and dance performances. Off course that was our place to be. We registered some nice concerts and shows from different countries; Czech Republic (Prague and Bron), Italy, Cyprus, Congo, etc. Please enjoy one of the dances presented to us.

 

 

That first day in Prague was very beneficial to us. In the evening on th same day, we were sitting next to people who started playing music and singing songs along the Vtlava river. We also registered this evening, even though there was a lot of talking in between, our recordings do give the ambiance that was present during the party. Apparently every Thursday musicians and their friends come together to play music, sing songs and have some drinks.

 

Off course the capital of this country is a wonderful city. Very very nice architecture, lots of Churches. We visited the Cathedral and the Castle that overlooks the city. We also paid a visit to the Kafka Museum. Otherwise our journey in Prague was very much oriented around the festival. After a disturbed evening, we decided to stay in a hostel. A student campus where 5.000 students could stay. The buildings were probably built in the communism period (you could tell by the architecture) inside it looked like a hospital. It was very clean and everything. We thought that all students in Prague probably study very hard in order not to stay too long here.

 

In Prague we also met a friend of Olivier who currently lives there with his family. Olivier and Arnoult didn't see each other the last 6 years. As Arnoult plays the guitar and has a nice voice, he agreed with us to register him playing. We recorded a Russian, a Turkish and a French song, great performance by Arnoult.

 

By Sunday the 30th of August we decided to leave Prague and continue our adventure in the direction of Austria. During our drive we passed a town called “Hladov” where we celebrated our 2.000 kilometers. We stayed the night in a town called “Znojmo” at 15 kilometers from the Czech and Austrian border. In the region of “Znojmo”, the Czechs make wine.

 

 

 

And for those of you who wonder:

Wilkommen means “welcome” in German

Na shledanou means “see you another time” in Czech

Par Olivier & Harriette - Publié dans : English
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Jeudi 27 août 2009 4 27 /08 /Août /2009 14:38

It took us a little time to update our blog. But here we are with the latest news.

So at the meter stand of 122.446 kilometers we started off our trip Wednesday the 19th of August 2009 at 9:45 hours from Barcelonette in the county (departement) Alpes des Hauts Provence in France. Our final destination was Germany. As we are not planning to pay high tolls and also because we drive at an average of 100km/hour, we didn't want to take the highways. So another way to leave the East of France is by going through mountainous areas. So that Wednesday we went up and down the hills.

First we went to Briançon, then we passed the border France/Italy at Col Montgenève, which his at 1.854 meters high. Then we went through the area of Massif du Mont Cenis, so back in France. So in this mountainous area we went up and down the following peaks: Col du Mont Cenis (2.100 metres), Col de l`Iseran (2.800 meters) and Col du Saint Bernard (2.200 meters). All these mountains are on the French territory. I became a professional curve driver, turning right and leftwards every 500 meters. I suggested to Olivier that for every peak we gain 100 kilometers of free ride by the other, but I didn't so much agreed with the deal, until it became his turn to drive through the curves................

 

 

Driving down the Col du Saint Bernard we were back in Italy. After having driven 350 km we decided to spend the night in a small village called Torrent (pre saint Didier) in Italy. We had a wonderful first night in our van. The next morning we woke up in a very sunny Italy with a icy waterfall next to us coming from the mountains.

 

Thursday we decided to go through the tunnel of Mont Blanc, as that helped us gain time, but not necessarily money (a very expensive tunnel, 44 Euros to cross 11 kilometers). Otherwise we would have been driving up and down the hills again. So from Torrent Italy, we went direction Chamonix, so back in France (it is apparently difficult to leave the country). From there we passed the border of France and Switzerland to go the town called Martigny. At the valley of Valais, Olivier remembered that they have good wines. Indeed there where nices vineyards all the way down the slope into the valley. Off course we decided to make a stop and taste their wines. We tasted red and white wines at Caveau Orsat. The grapes in the region are: "Cornalin" and "Humagne Rouge" for red wines and "Petite Ardine" for white ones. After tasting a few wines and buying (only) two bottles, we continued our journey to Montreux at the Leman Lake where we had a nice swim. That night we stayed next to farmlands between Fribourg and Bern Switzerland.

 

On the Friday, Frankfurt still looked a little bit far off, so we decided to take the highway in order to arrive the same day. We crossed the Swiss and German border at Basel. Off course our van could not keep up with the speed of the other cars on the German highways around 150 km/hour for some and even faster for others.  We arrived safely to Frankfurt where we met Perrine and Jerome who gave us a great tour and a very warm welcome in their town and house.

 

Frankfurt reminds me a little of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. There is a big river called the Main separating the town. The centre of the town has been devastated at the II World War. A big skyline of skyscrapers, the Germans are quiet proud of. During our visit we saw a few musicians in the town. Especially, this old man playing the mandolin very nicely. But unfortunately on Friday night we were not completely equipped to record them. We decided to be prepared as of now to always take along the material in order to be ready for recording actions........

 

 

 

At Frankfurt we had the wonderful opportunity to register some beautiful songs, sang by Minh, a Vietnamese friend from Olivier living currently in Germany. Olivier will be putting on his article a film recording we made.

Par Olivier & Harriette - Publié dans : English
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Dimanche 23 août 2009 7 23 /08 /Août /2009 12:43

Sweetheart, honeybun, “stropi di kakalaka” (for the homies from Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba) different translations for the name Olivier and I gave to our van. So Bubule is fully equipped.

A Cuban friend living in Paris, was so nice to completely furnish the van with new curtains and new seats. Colourful curtains with different shades of blue, white, grey and orange. These new colours completely changed the inside of the van. The former curtains dated probably from the eighties, we thought not COOL enough. We are greatly thankful to Nelsa, who did a very professional job. We finished stitching and hanging the curtains in the south of France. 

 




You can enjoy the few pictures we have taken with its new interior design.











 






 Since we left Paris, Bubule coughed twice and we had to take him to the mechanical doctor (garage). First it was the exhaust pipe. We succeeded nicely and for not too expensive to have it changed at Freyus, in the Côte d'Azur in France.


When we left the parents of Olivier house to go to the area of Provence to visit his brother Serge and Sylvie, it was the oil that was leaking in the motor. Although we are in the middle of august, when lots of french are on vacation, we still succeeded in having the joint repaired very fast at Barcelonette, Alpes the Hauts Provence.

 

Probably Bubule was as excited as we are about this trip, so before leaving it wanted to make sure that we could take good care of it.

Par Olivier & Harriette - Publié dans : English
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