Town hall and Rynek market square, Opole, Silesia, Poland

Opole – Poland

Town hall and Rynek market square, Opole, Silesia, Poland

Photo: Town Hall and Rynek Market square, Opole, Upper Silesia, Poland.  May 2014

My first, and brief visit to Opole was in May 2013 when I visited the Polish state archives looking for a bit of my family history.  I had know the town by name, but knew little more about the place.  On the day I visited the streets were full of young students celebrating something or another, so I didn’t have the chance to take too many photos – I was mostly in the archives looking at old microfilms anyhow – but upon this first impression, I knew Opole was a place that I would like to have a chance to spend a bit more time in.

Fast forward to May of this year when I somewhat unexpectedly found myself in Poland again (for a wedding).  I wanted to do a bit more exploring of the Silesian countryside where part of my family comes from, so instead of making the usual day trip from Chorzow (my somewhat industrial home base in Poland), I decided it would be a bit nicer to spend a few nights in Opole, two to be exact.

Typically in my European travels I’m a backpacker through and through.  And while the hostel representation in eastern Europe has greatly expanded since my first travels in 2006/2007, there are still some cities that are completely off the charts for travelers.  Opole is one of those places.  It seems that for backpackers, Poland only consists of Krakow, and perhaps Warsw, Gdansk or Wrocław.  But beyond that, much Poland remains an empty zone for hostels, as the backpacker route continues on to Prague – also skipping one of my favorite cities in the Czech Republic, Olomouc.

Luckily, hotels in Poland, if you book through Polish websites, are not too hard on the budget.  We found something reasonable and just outside the city center for our two nights in in Opole.

Opole itself is a wonderful town!  While the city center is quite small and compact, it is evident that it has received a fair amount of EU funding for some revitalization, no doubt due to the strong German roots of the city and its historical importance as the capital of Upper Silesia.

For me as a photographer I found the streets wonderfully void of people standing in the way of my photos during dusk, while at the same time, the restaurants we chose for dinner filled up with a lively crowd of university students each night, which I’m sure picks up even more on the weekends (I was there mid week).  My timing was even good enough to coincide with a visit from the Polish president – who’s entourage passed me by as I was walking down one of the streets.

I’m pretty sure I’ll return again one of these days, as a base for a bit more exploration of the SIlesian countryside.  Though I think I will also have to make a visit to Wrocław a priority as well.

Town hall tower rises above old town, Opole, Silesia, Poland

Photo: Town Hall tower rises above the city center, Opole, Upper Silesia, Poland.  May 2014

Historic buildings along Rynek market square, Opole, Silesia, Poland

Photo: Colorful buildings line Rynek market square, Opole, Upper Silesia, Poland.  May 2014

Town hall and Rynek market square, Opole, Silesia, Poland

Photo: Town Hall building, Opole, Upper Silesia, Poland.  May 2014

Historic buildings along Rynek market square, Opole, Silesia, Poland

Photo: City center at night, Opole, Upper Silesia, Poland.  May 2014


Gamla Stan - old town at night, Stockholm, Sweden

Photo: Evening in the Old Town – Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden.  Oct 2011

I’m in one of my favorite cities in Europe, Stockholm, for the weekend.  On Tuesday, I’ll be heading back to California.

I mentioned a week or so ago that I changed up my travel plans.  Originally I had planned on returning to Wales today and then flying back to California at the end of March.  At which point I would remain somewhat indefinitely depending on the condition of my bank account and if I could find some work.  But, I’ve had the opportunity to switch things up a bit which will put me back in Europe at the end of April to meet with some fellow photographers up on the Lofoten Islands.  Then in all likely hood, I’ll end up in Poland for a few weeks in May to meet some friends and maybe do some hiking in the Tatra mountains.  After that, I’ll be back home in California again in June.

It would have been easier if I flew out of Oslo, but I don’t really like the city too much and feel more comfortable in Stockholm for a few days.  Also, I had wanted to spend a few days here last Autumn but never managed to make it.  So, for now, I’ll enjoy a few days in Stockholm before 24 hours of airports and airplanes…

Cafe lined Stortorget at night, Gamla Stan - Old Town, Stockholm, Sweden

Photo: Evening at Stortorget, Gamla Stan – Old Town, Stockholm, Sweden.  Oct 2011

Streets of San Felipe

San Felipe Baja California Mexico

Here’s some random photos from around San Felipe during race week.  No particular order…

San Felipe Baja California Mexico


San Felipe Baja California Mexico


San Felipe Baja California Mexico


San Felipe Baja California Mexico


San Felipe Baja California Mexico


San Felipe Baja California Mexico


San Felipe Baja California Mexico


San Felipe Baja California Mexico

Olomouc – Czech Republic

Olomouc town hall

Photo: Olomouc town hall and main square at dusk

Olomouc is my favourite city in the Czech Republic and one of my favourites in Europe overall.  It’s located in Moravia, in the eastern part of the country and easily reached by train (3 hours) or bus from Prague.  Olomouc is a lively student town with no shortage of cobblestone roads, narrow alleys, historic monuments and churches, atmospheric teahouses for rainy afternoons, and a large variety of pubs to keep you out until all too late – there are 25,000 students among a city population of 100,000, meaning there’s always some place to go.  And where else can you go have a drink in an old Soviet TU-104 airplane that sits in a parking lot near the supermarket. The restaurants are tasty and cheap with a good selection to choose from, and there’s no shortage of cafes either. Even a budget traveler can eat like a king with little need to worry about those tourist traps found elsewhere.  Olomouc is basically a mini Prague, minus the kitsch and hoards of tourists.  The main square even has one of those astronomical clock things on the side of the town hall.

I’m not really sure why Olomouc hasn’t become more of a travel destination than it is, especially for backpackers.  For example, there’s only one hostel here (Poet’s Corner – A super cool place and one of my favourite hostels) compared to how many dozens in Prague or even in Cesky Krumlov.  Olomouc is pretty much halfway between Krakow and Prague.  Though maybe that’s where the problem lies; people just pass by on their way from one hotspot to the next.   But maybe that is also good, as it keeps Olomouc a ‘real’ city and not some circus attraction that the other cities have unfortunately become.  And for me, it’s a good thing.  I look forward to my next visit.


Olomouc trinity column

Photo: Holy Trinity column – UNESCO historic monument


Street tram, Olomouc, Czech Republic

Photo: Street tram and cobblestone roads


Olomouc view

Photo: View of the main square from the tower at St. Moritz church


Rooftop view from St. Maurice chuch, Olomouc, Czech Republic

Photo: Church towers fill the horizon, view from the tower at St. Moritz church


Olomouc st mary of snow church

Photo: Interior of St. Mary of the Snow church


Olomouc pub

Photo: Enjoying the unique setting of a Soviet TU-104 airplane and bad 80’s dance music.

Pottenstein Germany Light Festival January 6th

Pottenstein light festival germany

Photo: Fires of the Ewige Anbetung light festival above Pottenstein, Franconia, Germany. Jan 6, 2009

As the light of a cold January day fades into night a thousand fires are lit, illuminating the hillsides surrounding the town of Pottenstein.  The fires are part of the Catholic celebration of the Ewige Anbetung (Eternal Adoration)  which occurs in Pottenstein on the 6th of January every year.  The light and fire festival attracts thousands of visitors who line the hillsides and fill the streets, braving the cold and watching a display that can only described as spectacular.  To see the Lichterfest in person would be a memorable moment of any winter holiday in Germany.

Pottenstein light festival ewige anbetung

Photo: Burg Pottenstein and fires of Ewige Anbetung Lichterfest, Pottenstein, Franconia, Germany.  Jan 6, 2009

Thursday, January 6th 2011
The festival begins around 5pm as the sky gets dark.  Be sure to arrive early to find parking.  The fires will burn for a couple hours into the night.

Pottenstein is located in wonderful countryside of the Franconian Switzerland (Fränkische Schweiz) region of Upper Franconia (Oberfranken), Northern Bavaria.  By car, Pottenstein is approximately 1 hour north of Nuremberg or 30 minutes south of Bayreuth; 10 km west from the A9 autobahn.  Postcode 91278.

Pottenstein, Franconia, Bavaria, Germany

There are also several other light festivals of the Ewige Anbetung celebrated elsewhere in the Fränkische Schweiz region in the weeks preceding the festival in Pottenstein.  CLICK HERE for more information and dates (in German)

Pottenstein light festival ewige anbetung

Pottenstein light festival ewige anbetung

Pottenstein light festival ewige anbetung

Pottenstein light festival ewige anbetung

Nidaros Cathedral

Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim, Norway

Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim, Norway.

I had 1.5 days to wander around Trondheim at the end of my Norway trip back in August.  Luckily I had some nice sunny weather as I wandered around the streets.

Nidaros Cathedral river reflection, Trondheim, Norway

Portofino and Camogli, Italy

I was over in Italy working on a project for a couple weeks back in May.  For the most part I was based in Bologna, where unseasonably bad weather brought rain and gloom nearly every day.  Luckily I was working inside most the time, so it wasn’t too bad, but it meant that any free time I had wasn’t very conductive for photography.

I did have some free time and ended up on the Italian Riviera for a few days, where the weather was a bit more cooperative.

Scenic harbor and waterfront, Portofino, Liguria, Italy

Scenic little harbor in the town of Portofino, at the end of the road on a tiny peninsula.  The town is a little north of the more popular Cinque Terre region, so it is much less crowded while still pretty nice.

Fishing net hangs to dry in harbour, Camogli, Liguria, Italy

Coastal walkway and buildings, Camogli, Liguria, Italy

Camogli, another nice little town.

Camogli, Ligura, Italy

Harbor and hillside houses in Camogli.

Detail of old door, Camogli, Liguria, Italy

Italy – Images by Cody Duncan


Sightseeing boats along waterfront, Stockholm, Sweden

I feared Stockholm, as I did all ‘big’ cities back then.  It was the summer of 2001 and my buddy Joe and I were on a 2 1/2 month trip though Scandinavia.  We had good plan, yes we did.  Arrive at Arlanda airport, put our backpacks on and walk out into the forest, heading north for several weeks.  Visit a couple rune stones, drink from rivers and lakes, make a nice little camp fire each night and visit a town or village once every week or so to resupply on food.
Cobble stone street of old town - gamla stan, Stockholm, Sweden

Ha!  Our backpacks were so heavy that we could hardly even walk.  After wandering around for 45 or so minutes we discovered that one simply couldn’t ‘walk into the forest’ from the airport, or at least not without more bushwhacking than we had a desire for after some 30+ hours of no sleep.  So the decision came, Stockholm or Uppsala.  “Well, Uppsala is fairly small.  We can go there then walk out into the forest and find a place to crash for the night, better than being stuck in some giant city with no idea where to go.” So we thought to ourselves.  45 minutes later we were getting off the bus somewhere in the middle of Uppsala around 10:00 at night.  Hmm, Lost again.  Luckily, my asking a woman on the street for directions in my 5 words of Swedish led to her letting us stay at her place for the night.

“We’ll probably go to Mora next.” I said.
“What?  No, you don’t want to go to Mora!”  Camilla replied.
“Why not?” I asked.
“Well, there is nothing there.  It is just a boring town, nothing to see.”  She replied.  “Why don’t you go to Jämtland.  There are nice mountains and lots of hiking. Quite popular among Swedes.”

Storkyrkan in the old town, Stockholm, Sweden

So the summer started.  We headed generally north through Sweden and into Norway. We ended up in some real shitholes of towns as well as some cool places. Mostly we traveled by pure dumb luck of two 20 year olds, not having a guidebook or anything for help.

By the end of July we ended up in Göteborg, a city down on the south west coast of Sweden.  By this time we felt like veteran travelers.  We knew that you had to get on the correct ‘wagon’ when taking the train, otherwise if you just sat in a seat with your number on it, someone else might show up looking to sit there at the next stop.  We could hop on the city trams like a local and navigate the streets with only minor episodes of getting lost.  We could catch ferries out to cool little islands, being the only non Swedes around.  My Swedish had improved to 10 words and I actually knew how to say ‘Hemköp‘ correctly.  Life under the long summer days was good.  So the decision was finally made, Stockholm.

Historic ship AF Chapman at Skeppsholmen, Stockholm, Sweden

Now, to cut a long story shot, I loved Stockholm and ended up spending nearly two weeks there all in all.  Normally, and even to this day, I’m not much of a fan of cities.  But Stockholm, well, It is such a cool place that I can’t help but like it.  I spent endless days just wandering among the narrow streets of Gamla Stan or out on the wilds of Djurgarden.   Afternoons sitting in Cafe’s or eating ice cream with new friends on warm summer evenings.  I guess it’s good that I put of Stockholm until the end of the trip, otherwise I may have just been lazy and sat there for 2 months…

I finally returned again in October 2009, the streets still familiar in my mind like I was just there the month before.  The crisp autumn days and colors turned the city into a near magical place.  As much as I liked the summer, I now think autumn is the time to visit.

Wooden park bench with autumn leaves

Stockholm – Gamla Stan

Stockholm, Sweden travel photography: Gamla stan (old town) cobble stone streets at night

Gamla Stan (old town), Stockholm.  Cobble stone streets, narrow winding alleyways, brightly colored buildings, tourists, and street cafes; the old town of Stockholm fits the ideal of a classic European city and is a wonderful place to wander around, day or night.

Parliament Building – Victoria, British Columbia

Travel stock photography: Parliament Building and fountain, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Parliament Building, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada