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It was Friday the 17th of November and Dad had returned home from Amsterdam in the middle of the night and still had to get out of bed at 7a.m. because this day was the huge event Mom had prepared for all autumn, the International Dog Show in Geneva. Milla & Hubbe were going to their first competition, e.g. beauty contest for dogs. Mom's friend Caroline was coming along for moral support after having guided Mom for the past couple of weeks being a professional dog trainer and much more.

I will let Dad tell the story of the day while I went to my long feared maths test in the morning. He also shot the photos while at the show.

The line was half a mile long to get into the premises for the show when we arrived with our car filled up with our dogs and their accessories at 10 a.m. We navigated around dog turds to get to the veterinary inspection that took no more than 3 seconds and laid out our base camp at ring 7 where we were supposed to walk our dogs sometimes during the day. Little did we know it would not be until 7 p.m. Hubbe started barking already while standing in line and continued throughout the day with the exception when being walked around the facilities to meet other dogs.

We were soon surrounded by at least 50 other dogs of the different races that were to compete in our ring, all huge in size thus occupying all available space. I preferred to walk around and shoot photos of dogs and their masters rather than sitting around doing nothing. There were many moments of tenderness while others spent most of their time grooming and grooming and grooming...

For some owners grooming was clearly exhausting...

There is an obvious resemblance between dogs and their masters as the proverb says...

But not always...

We saw some interesting hair-do's and an astounding T-shirt. Sometimes it was difficult knowing what was back and front without asking.

It was late in the afternoon when the grand finale of the big dogs in our ring took place. Many were guided by professional trainers, some weighing less than their dogs.

Finally Milla & Hubbe were called out by the Swiss-German speaking ring secretary. We could see this was serious stuff...

Caroline walked Milla & Hubbe masterly around the ring. They each placed second in their respective class, a great performance for beginners surrounded by dogs from professional breeders only.

It was after 9 p.m. when we arrived back home in Pully. Everybody was exhausted, not least Milla & Hubbe who had spent over twelve hours away from home for 5 min of competition each. Good Job!!

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Amsterdam is the world capital of bicycles. Bikes also constitute the main threat to pedestrians coming from abroad and not being used to these vehicles coming from any direction. Dad took the afternoon flight from Geneva to visit the annual marine trade show METS for two days in preparation for next year's trip with Le Canard Déchaîné and see old friends from the "yachting part" of his life. I stayed home for a big maths test. To connect back to the sea despite being mid November Dad had booked a cabin with Monique who lives with her husband in a typical Dutch barge close to the Amsterdam Central Station. They let a spacious cabin with a kitchenette with all amenities. Outside there was a continuous drizzle typical for this period of the year in Amsterdam, encouraging staying indoors rather than touring the city.

Dad had brought his tilt-shift lens in anticipation of some architectural photographing despite the low probability of good shooting condition. At the place Dam they prepared for the light festival for the coming X-mas celebration.

The canal system in Amsterdam is a more modern version of that in Venice and produces nice perspectives even in a drizzle.

The traditional bars were full of elderly gentlemen celebrating having shared their morning coffee for the past 50 years...

When Dad returned home he had brought me a couple of nice gifts, some bought in a great store even selling socks with a political message.

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It was our last day of this long trip to Berlin via Venice and Indian summer ruled outside. Over 20 degrees already at 10.30 when we left our hotel for our first destination, the "Museum for Gegenwart" in the old railway station connecting Berlin with Hamburg. Looking from the outside we could not really imagine what waited us inside this classic German architectural style building from the 19th century.

Both the quality of the art on display and the interior design of the buildings astonished us. I think the selection of photographs we shot this morning tells you more than a thousand words. It was by far the most beautiful museum of contemporary art that I have visited. And most of the visitors were in their late teens. Encouraging!

We could have spent all day in this museum but had a second stop on our agenda, the Bauhaus Museum and Archive, so we continued on our bikes via the House of World Cultures and the Chancellery both impressively modern in style.

We passed the silent Carillon Bell tower on our way through the Tiergarten and admired the autumn colours around us.

We arrived at the Bauhaus Museum only to find it was not open to the public today. Since we had little time available we spent the time there taking some photographs of the buildings designed over 90 years ago. Dad managed to step in a fresh dog turd while looking for the best shooting angles. He said it would give him good luck for the next five years.

We were back to our hotel just before 3 p.m. and just had the time to take some refreshments in the bodega before jumping into a taxi for the airport and our flight back to Geneva. While in the airplane we discussed our thoughts about the two cities we had visited over the past nine days.

I have been to Venice many times and have developed a "modus vivendi" with this marvellous city. It feels a little bit like coming to a second home and this is very comfortable. This time we did not even set foot in the touristy sections of the city, just spending time with what we had come for, the contemporary art event, La Biennale.

Berlin for me was completely different. It was my first visit to this city, which has something for every taste and interest, even the most extreme ones. It must be the world capital of arts of all categories. We were lucky to have nice weather for all five days we spent there which clearly facilitated getting around and, in particular, taking photographs in good conditions. Going around on a bicycle is probably the best way to see the city and smell it's odors, from freshly baked bread to old hospitals. You see people that are invisible in most other cities, probably because of the great tolerance of the Berliners. I doubt there is any other city with as high a density of hipsters and odd bicycles as Berlin. I will definitely come back!!! And so will I, said Dad. Good-bye to all our followers for now, we'll be back soon.

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This was the title of a contemporary art exhibition shown at the Bethanien Centre. It reflects our day spent entirely in the former East German part of Berlin, starting with a long bicycle ride SE-wards to the East Side Gallery in Friedrichshain. There you find over a kilometre of the old wall, at the time separating the western from the eastern part of Berlin and erected over night on August 13th 1961 to prevent East Germans to flee to the west. After the wall fell in November 1989, this part has been kept in memory of those who were killed by the East German police. Numerous artists have volunteered to decorate the remainders of the wall. Below you will se a small selection of these paintings that we shot today.

We toured the residential areas of Friedrichshain looking for second hand shops before returning to Kreuzberg via the Oberbaumbrücke.

Our goal was the Kunstquartier Bethanien, a place for alternative arts of all kinds. The place is a former hospital abandoned in 1970 and used as an art centre since 1975. It shows what man is capable of doing when not really respecting what has been given to him, with excessive tagging and destruction. Dad said is still smelled hospital inside, probably because of continued use of the same classic hospital cleaning product, K644.

Despite trying hard, we did not really understand why kids want communism like the title of the exhibition said and there was nobody to explain it to us either. We enjoyed a couple of Czechoslovakian children films from the 1950-ies exported to the island of Ceylon to convert their inhabitants to communism. After this, we left on our bikes to document some former East German architecture with our cameras.

Being back to the hotel after 30 kilometres of bike riding was a relief and we rested for a couple of hours before going out for dinner to test "la nouvelle cuisine Allemande" in a restaurant called "Lokal" not far from our hotel. The place was very trendy but the food was a deception, being too complicated, like combining filet of veal with a cold oyster size 0 and 10 other ingredients that Dad had for main course. My home made pasta was however excellent and the German Spätburgunder that accompanied Dad's meal was a good choice.

As usual, I could not prevent Dad from shooting some night photos before mounting on our bikes and head back to our hotel.

Tomorrow is our last day in Berlin heading back to Switzerland in the late afternoon. We had hoped to visit the House of Parliament but the first possibility is on October 26, my birthday. You've got to register in advance and this holds true also for their famous restaurant, something to think about before visiting Berlin the next time. We have a rich program tomorrow so don't miss to follow our next post.

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We woke up to a beautiful day, the best so far. And what a wise decision we had made, renting bicycles for the day. We got under way after a long breakfast heading for the botanical gardens. We cycled the 15 kilometres via the parliament building, the Tiergarten and onwards through residential back streets in what had previously been parts of West Berlin. Most of the out-door plants were about to start their winter sleep so we shot most of our photos in the green houses.

On the return trip, heading for the Potsdamer Platz, where we planned to study modern architecture we stopped many times to shoot buildings constructed during the cold war period (1945-1989). What a difference compared to the recently constructed buildings around Potsdamer Platz.

The Sony Centre on Potsdamer Platz is really spectacular when it comes to modern architecture and a must to visit, among other things, for its Media and Film Museum.

From the Potsdamer Platz we cycled to the Jewish Museum via Check Point Charlie, where American and Soviet spies were exchanged during the Cold War. I was so impressed by the architecture of the museum, that houses an exhibition that can leave no person unaffected. It was my first close encounter with the history and culture of the Jewish people. We spent many hours there and did not leave until sunset.

As we had not eaten since breakfast, we were really in the need for calories to replace those we had lost on cycling 40 kilometres and walking just about 12000 steps according to our iPhones. We made the same choice as my English teacher, landing on his favourite Indian restaurant when taking his classes to Berlin.

Seated at our table outside the restaurant in the mild evening, Dad discovered that we were in the middle of the "grand final" of the Berlin Light Festival, that had been going on all week. I was really too tired but he could not resist taking photographs of some of the buildings in town, on to which images were projected, via which we passed on our way back to the hotel. Please enjoy and compare also what some of the objects looked like during day-time (regular wide angle versus wide angle tilt-shift lens for the truly physics interested).

Once back at the hotel, Dad complained bitterly of having done too much exercise and hit bed after a double espresso and some desert in the bodega. He did not even need his daily glass of red wine to fall asleep as soon as he put his head on the pillow. Follow us on our next exploration of this magnificent city tomorrow.

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It was shortly after 07.30 on Saturday morning when we sat down for breakfast. It was pleasantly mild when we strolled down to the Alexanderplatz an hour later for our first project of the day, make the 203 m up to the observation deck in 40 seconds sharp. It was a success and we admired Berlin from above, east and west, north and south. Dad took a couple of photos with his tilt-shift lens (unfortunately hand held since tripods are not allowed), which made the buildings look even smaller from above.

We continued southwest to the Museum Island and thereafter to the Unter den Linden avenue admiring the classic architecture. Unfortunately several of the most beautiful buildings were under renovation so we did not use all our available pixels except shooting the Berliner Dom. We found our old friends Marx & Engels on a bench across from the Dom and could not resist taking their photograph (without asking).

The Lustgarten in front of the Dom was black with people and so was the area around Brandenburger Tor, so no photos were taken there either. A little further up Unter den Linden, Marx' and Engel's late followers were demonstrating for Russia and Bashar al Assad, well protected by the local police. In contrast to what would have happened in Paris, there was no counter manifestation. There was a typical little agitator in a long beige overcoat, just like in the 1970-ies, Dad told me while teaching me all he knew about politics in East Germany at that time. And that was a lot!

We stopped at the Ampelmann store so I could buy a small gift for my friend Aurore and then rested our sore feet in a nearby café with hot choclate for me and a double espresso for Dad.

Our most westernmost stop was to be the Parliament building with it's modern glass dome by Norman Foster and the adjacent government buildings, where we spent considerable time listening to political agitators and shooting the classic and modern architecture.

After a long stop to get yet some refreshments and rest our feet, that according to the statistics on our iPhones had already made over 17000 steps today, we turned homewards passing by the Boros Collection. This unique place presenting a new exhibition of contemporary art every 3-4 years only is accessible if you have ordered tickets via their Internet site. It's completely sold out for at least two months in advance. Little did we know about this when we asked if we could be admitted on the spot. I must have seduced the young man at the entrance because after 15 minutes he let us come in and join a most interesting tour of their collection which will be on show till 2021. We had a young writer with lots of humour showing us around for an hour and a half, telling his small audience the secrets of the bunker from the 2nd world war in which this museum is housed.

There was now only one last project for the day before hitting my bed. That consisted of making Dad having his first vegan meal ever. We returned to the Vietnamese restaurant which we presented yesterday and were served a really delicious dinner. Dad could not finish all he was served despite liking it, so I ate my whole dish and what remained of his. When we left the restaurant there was a jazz band playing for us in the middle of the street. What a nice end to a day full of interesting activities.

Tomorrow we will rent bikes to get a little faster around town and spare our sore feet that have already walked over 30 kilometres in two days for each of us. If we are lucky, we might even get tickets to the Lorde concert tomorrow evening but I'm not too hopeful since it's sold out since at least three months.

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We landed Thursday evening shortly after 8 on the Schönefeld airport in Berlin after one hour and fifteen minutes in the air from Venice, joined the taxi queue and finally got transported in an enormous van the some 25 kilometres to the section of the city called "die Mitte". Dad had booked a room at the Casa Camper, a well thought out "design" hotel close to the famous TV tower, Germany's highest building. Our room was on the sixth floor with an interesting view of a modern office building across the street.

The hotel has a self service restaurant/bodega open 24/7 which is free of charge for the customers so we did not have to go out for dinner our first night in Berlin.

We had five days to spend in the German capital and our first day was a complete rest from "art overload" in Venice - too much to see and digest in too short a time. Instead we decided to tour the area of Prenzlauer Berg just north of die Mitte, probably the only hill in Berlin. If so, the vertical drop was less than 20 m. This is a nice residential area mixed with interesting little shops, which reminds Dad a lot of Södermalm, the southern part of central Stockholm. After 5 hours of walking to find the best second hand shops in town, we returned to our hotel for a drink before going out for dinner, planning to have a typical Berliner meal.

We went to what was supposed to be a typical Berliner restaurant on a street corner, Sophieneck, named after the church on Sophienstrasse.

The place was OK but a typical tourist trap with lots of groups of foreigners offered basic "German food". I had a Bratwurst with Bratkartoffeln and Dad took the top of the line on the menu, the pig trotter with Sauerkraut and boiled potatoes. It looked "beautiful" when shot with his wide open (f 3.5) tilt-shift lens.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at an art gallery presenting an Irish sculptor and shot some photos of the city.

I even managed to convince Dad to test Vietnamese vegan food for dinner tomorrow. Once back at the hotel we went to the 7th floor for some nice desert and tea before hitting our beds and dreaming about our 40 second ride up the TV tower tomorrow morning.

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It was Sunday afternoon October 8th. I was on vacation for two weeks and we were just about to leave for Venice and its biannual contemporary art exhibition. We travelled lightly with hand luggage only. Dad drove us to his office, parked the car and we jumped into the subway taking us to the railway station only to find out that it was all closed and that no train would be stopping to take us to the airport. A luggage left behind suspected to contain a bomb was the cause we later found out. Luckily, Mom could drive us to Geneva while Hubbe & Milla guarded our house.

So like last year we took the Easyjet evening flight to the Marco Polo airport where we landed less than an hour after our departure. The airport was completely rebuilt and beautifully functional. It was less than half an hour later that we took off on the Alilaguna blue line for our island in the Lagoon where we usually stay when in Venice. The trip from the airport actually took five minutes longer than our flight from Geneva to Venice but who cares...

I woke up early on Monday morning and left for a walk around the island in the rising sun, perfect for shooting some photos of the lush nature in autumn light. I couldn't imagine that I was in a complete silence less than a kilometer from a bustling city waking up to yet another day with its load of tourists.

The Biennale is closed on Mondays so we had decided to travel to the small Island of San Giorgio facing San Marco to do some areal photography from the church campanile. Dad wanted to try his latest toy, a 28 mm tilt-shift lens that he had offered himself as a birthday gift last week. We took the 4.2 vaporetto to San Marco and from there line 2 to San Giorgio, a peaceful heaven with a glass museum in addition to its church.

After a long lunch in the sun we took line 2 to Dorsoduro and walked through its narrow streets to the Dogana on the easternmost tip of the island, now a contemporary art museum owned by French billionaire François Pinault. This year the museum presents Daniel Hirst and his underwater statues that have spent a decade under water being covered with corals and various underwater plants.

After an exhausting Monday we took the 4.1 back to our island and an early dinner but not until doing some experimentation with long exposure times in the setting sun.

Tuesday was going to be the big day at Giardini, one of the two major sites for the Biennale. There, most of the originally participating countries have their pavillions. The ones we liked the most this years were Russia, Austria, South Korea, Japan and France. Below you find some of the photos we shot during our visit that lasted from early morning till mid afternoon.

There are not many cars in Venice. This truck was part of the Austrian pavilion that had the most humorous exhibit.

There were also a couple of exotically looking ladies. We did not know if they belonged to the exhibition or were only visiting, trying to look original...

In the mid afternoon we had sore feet and decided to take the Vaporetto to Giudecca and visit the Icelandic "Troll" café installation. The title photo and the one below are from their most amusing video performance. They also serve the least expensive espresso in town.

We then sank down on the chairs in the 4.1 vaporetto taking us to our island but not until having shot some late afternoon photos of the local area.

Wednesday morning I woke up to fog horns playing a concert over the Venice lagoon. There was thick fog and not surprisingly the captains of the Vaporetto fleet had decided to go on strike. We had our own transportation travelling on board the motor yacht of Vento di Venezia, the sailing club that administers our island and runs our small hotel. I profited to take yet an early morning walk through the mysterious landscape before breakfast

We were driven over the straight to Santa Elena from where we walked through the empty streets to Arsenale, meeting only the occasional cat..

There were even a few good old Moscow communists around, alive and kicking but not for very long as we could imagine

We started off at the Hong Kong building and then went on through a series of exotic exhibits as you can see below. Still nothing came close to the Icelandic video café from the day before.

We were glad to rest our sore feet for a couple of hours in our hotel before returning to the city for dinner and some night photography. We travelled back with this cute boxer lady.

Today is Thursday and our last day in Italy. We spent most of the day before going to the airport on our island writing this chapter of our blog. Tonight we will go north over the Alps. Follow us on our next adventure in one of the European capitals of contemporary arts for another five days of discovery.

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It was Friday evening the 15th of September, the week-end of the Jeûne Federal, a sort of Swiss equivalent to the Ramadan, when we left home for Lauenen a small village not far from the posh city of Gstaad in Berner Oberland. This "religious" week-end is celebrated on the Sunday and the following Monday is a public holiday in our canton. Sunday is also the day you should eat a cake dressed with local plums, so you are not really fasting.

This was the first time in almost two years that Mom and our two Basset Hounds Hubbe & Milla could travel with us. Mom had found a hotel accepting dogs not far from one of her favourite shopping areas.

The closer we got to our departure, the worse the weather prognosis looked; rain and 1-5 degrees (above zero). Dad and I were used to such temperatures after our previous trip to Iceland so we decided not to cancel our reservation and hope for the best. Two hours after leaving Pully we drove up in front of our hotel "Alpenland" and unpacked our two cubic meters of luggage, most of which were for the dogs who had travelled in style in our BMW X5 luggage compartment. The luggage was in our roof box. Needless to say, we had clothes for all circumstances including stylish dinner dresses, rain gear and city clothes for prolonged shopping.

We had also brought our cameras to shoot what we came across in the beautiful surroundings.. I had just received a magnificent birthday gift in advance in the form of a weather sealed Canon 7D Mark II and a new 24 mm pancake lens to complete my photo arsenal.

We woke up to a crisp and beautiful early Saturday morning with patches of fog over the valley in front of our balcony on the third floor. We had been given a 3 room apartment which had been inspected in detail and taken in possession by Hubbe & Milla. After breakfast we packed the dogs in the car and drove up into the bottom of the valley on the photo above where there is a small lake, Lauenensee, surrounded by high mountains. The lake is filled up from rivers fed by a glacier lying on 3000m between Wildhorn and Geltenhorn. We spent the whole day in beautiful sunshine walking the dogs around the lake and then had a late lunch on a terrace above the lake.

The locals have even composed a hymn to sing to the beauty of the place....

There were beautiful blond cows everywhere, even in the sky, transported by helicopter from their summer meadows.

Back at the hotel in the late afternoon we could not avoid noticing they were hosting a wedding party with some 200 guests. They had two professional photographers, none of whom could take photos from above like we.

Sunday started with even bluer skies than Saturday so Dad and I decided to hike up to the Geltenschuss, a double waterfall from the glacier. It is a stiff four kilometer walk on a narrow path with a 400 m vertical drop through the forest before reaching the waterfalls. It took us almost 2 hours to get there since we made numerous stops to shoot the beautiful scenery and experiment with our camera settings.

Mom walked the dogs up to Lauenensee from the hotel and waited for us at the lake restaurant.

We had hardly reached the Geltenschuss when the wind turned, bringing in clouds and then it started to snow. It was time to start the descent. The weather slowly became what had been predicted but not until we had finished lunch and returned to our hotel.

It rained heavily throughout the night and the dogs were up howling at the wind sweeping down the chimney. When we woke up it was clearing up and we had the first snow of the year powdering the mountains in front of us. Dad took the car back up to Lauenensee to get the last photos and say goodbye to his cow friends while Mom and I packed all that had been unpacked. It was a lot!

Note the matching mushrooms!

It was after noon when we hit the road to return to Pully. I was eager to get back in time since I had lots of undone home work for Tuesday and a physics test on Friday. We had one last project consisting of letting Mom loose on the streets of Gstaad. Fortunately, most of the shops in town were closed for lunch so there were only two big shopping bags to stow.

The road leading to Lake Geneva is beautiful and Dad could not resist taking some more photos while under way.

We were back in Pully just before 3 p.m. in time for me to start training my Italian verbs. Hubbe & Milla were exhausted and went to bed directly after dinner. We were all very pleased not having cancelled our reservation at Alpenland.

Our next trip is coming up during my October vacation. It will start with the Contemporary Art Biennale in Venice and then continue to another European city where contemporary art is high on the agenda. Stay tuned!

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Gunnar lives on a magnificent estate on the heights of a small island just north of the channel leading ships to and from Gothenburg into Kattegat. He knows how to live a good life with his wife after all his children are dispersed over the world. We were not to be the only guests coming for dinner this Saturday night. The small harbour was filled with sailing yachts owned by his friends and finally we were no less than 11 sharing a very pleasant evening in good company, barbecuing under pouring rain. It did not really matter, because we were all comfortably seated in Gunnar's party building, "ryggåsstugan", built by the previous owned to seat all the guest invited for his 50th birthday. It was late when we hit our bunks in Gunnar's sailing yacht Vågspel. We did not really want to stay in his house, having slept for weeks in a row in our own boat and accustomed to hearing the sound of little waves hitting the hull of our boat.

On Sunday we had brunch and then mingled on the different yachts of Gunnar's friends chatting along in particular with the members of his racing team, Lasse, Reine and "Pettson". The day passed rapidly under a bright sun and vivid north westerly breeze, ending with Gunnar and Dad cooking cod for dinner as it should be in an old fisherman's house before the sun set in the ocean.

We woke up late today, Monday which is the day for our departure by the ferry from Gothenburg to Kiel. After breakfast we toured Gunnar's estate, visiting the greenhouse to pick some grapes and playing with his youngest daughter's cat Stella, also on vacation on Grötö. Before boarding the road ferry Göta, connecting Öckerö to the main land, Gunnar helped Dad install some navigation software in preparation for next year's cruising and then drove us back to Öckerö.

On the way to the ferry, we passed by the biggest fishing equipment store I have ever seen located in the Björlanda Kile harbour. We bought two complete fishing sets to ensure that we will be well fed during our next odyssey with Le Canard Déchaîné. More on that later but you can always guess where we will be going...

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