On my way back from Africa I spent a day in Berlin. The day was sunny and very cold, but fortunately a hot cup of mulled wine was available at every corner, hahaha. Nicely decorated for Xmas, the city looked beautiful, as always. A few pics below.



I just come back from a month-long trip to West Africa. It was quite an extraordinary experience and a unique lesson on the not necessarily healthy diversity in this world. From the touristy beaches of The Gambia, the glass towers of the financial district of Dakar, to the depressing poverty of Guinea-Bissau, the slavery* of Mauritania, and everything in between. My favourite places of this trip: the city of St Louis in Senegal, the Sahara Desert, and the medieval trading center of Chinguetti, in Mauritania.

*In 1981 Mauritania became the last country in the world to abolish slavery but an estimated 10% to 20% of Mauritania's 3.4 million people are enslaved, in real slavery, according to the United Nations. Shocking!

More pictures in North & West Africa gallery.



My last half-marathon (the fifth one) of the season was in Świdnica, a town half way between Jelenia Góra and Wrocław. The weather was excellent and the route was well prepared and relatively flat (yay!). My time: 01h 58m 15s. Could be worse.



One of our favourite places in Jelenia Góra is the big park very close to us. I won't tell you what it's called because you won't be able to pronounce it anyway, lol. It's amazing, you can walk around it for quite awhile and there are big meadows and lots of wooded areas, bike paths and walking paths, and even exercise equipment. It's also Felix's favourite place. He knows exactly where to turn to get there, and he has a favourite field where we throw sticks for him. He always enjoys finding the sticks and he even carries some of them all the way home! He's so patient when I want to take photos, and I do have a ton of them, but he's just so photogenic. Fall is a particularly beautiful time to go, as there are several types of trees with leaves that change to brilliant colours.



With Andrzej soon heading off to Africa for a month, I decided to take a week for myself and I flew to Calpe, Spain. Calpe is a small city on the Costa Blanca. The views are dominated by the impressive Penyal d'Ifac, a massive limestone outcrop emerging from the sea. There are beautiful beaches in the area, and the city boasts a colourful, historic centre. I had a very relaxing week with gorgeous weather, daily swims and walks, and a fair amount of sangria.



The Mountain Festival in Lądek is the oldest and one of the biggest events devoted to mountains and mountaineering, in Poland. Every year, thousands of mountain enthusiasts descend on this small town in south-west Poland to spend a long weekend watching movies, talking about books, listening to famous climbers and mountaineers, taking part in many workshops, and most importantly having fun and participating in a largest party Lądek has ever seen.

This year, to make the event even more interesting, a climbing competition and a mountain run was organized. The K2 Run was rather demanding, the route hilly and slippery, and most participants were hungover, hahaha. The race ended with my unexpected success, a third place in my age category. Sweet!!!



The Walk Around the Jelenia Góra Valley is an extreme trekking event, involving crossing all the mountain ranges surrounding the Jelenia Góra Valley. The 137 km route goes through the Karkonosze, Rudawy Janowickie, Kaczawskie Mountains and the Jizera Mountains. The allotted time for this trek is 48 hours (non-stop), and the only means of transportation is your own legs. All equipment is carried by the participants on their backs. Sounds good? Let’s do it!!!

Well, it’s harder than you think, believe me, hahaha. After covering the distance of around 100 km in 30 hours I got completely soaked in an insane thunderstorm, blisters under my feet started to break, and I couldn’t get the vision of the cold beer in my fridge out of my head. Well, fuck it, I called it off. Too bad, but there is always the next time, hahaha.



The Biennale Mountain Photography Competition in Jelenia Góra is the biggest and oldest photography event in Poland that’s devoted to mountain photography. Every two years hundreds of photographers from Poland and abroad are taking part in this event, presenting their work, taking part in many photography workshops, and admiring the best pictures in post-competition exhibition. This year my triptych, titled The Rockies, was included in the exhibition. Yay me!!!



I'm not quite sure how this all came about, but I was convinced to go to the Blues nad Bobrem Jazz Festival for a week of singing classes and performances. The seminars and festival are held annually, in the village of Kruszyn, and it attracts people from all over Poland. They have classes for singing, various instruments, and a master class for those who do it all. The instructors are some of the most well-known musicians in the country, and (fortunately for me) the singing instructor spoke English so they were happy to have me involved.

It was a crazy experience, stressful and nerve-wracking and exciting. I met a few really nice people who were willing to speak to me in English and I had a couple of friends from Jelenia Góra who were also participating. I even found a guitarist who was willing to perform with me and I managed to get up on stage a couple of times for the nightly jam sessions. Then, I was asked to perform on the Friday night concert for all the participants, and their friends and family. It was a packed house but I managed to not embarrass myself too much (as far as I know, lol). Kind of a surreal experience, really, but I'm so happy and proud of myself for going and performing in front of other people. After all, I'm not that young to be trying that for the first time!



I enjoyed another wonderful trip home to visit family and friends. I spent a few days on Vancouver Island, where my sister graciously drove me around so I could enjoy some sightseeing, good food, and so I could take lots of photos. Then on to Alberta where I spent time with the rest of my family and some friends. My parents and I even took a road trip to Nakusp, BC, which is absolutely gorgeous and I didn't want to leave! We also did a few photo sessions around southern Alberta, which I love doing.

It's always bittersweet going home, I love spending time with family and friends but it's also very difficult to leave. I do enjoy our life in Europe but I still miss home.



Because I was flying to Canada from Berlin, we decided to make a sightseeing trip out of the drive (Berlin is only 4 hours from Jelenia Góra) and so we spent the day in Potsdam. Potsdam is a beautiful city just on the outskirts of Berlin, about 25km from Berlin's city centre. It's over 1000 years old and has much to offer any tourist with a camera. There are palaces and beautiful parks and plenty of other beautiful buildings. We enjoyed wandering around for the day and, as always, the beer breaks.



Another sightseeing stop I made on my way west was the Czech city of Olomouc. Located on the Morava River, the city is an ecclesiastical metropolis and was a historical capital city of Moravia, before having been sacked by the Swedish army during the Thirty Years' War. Today, it is the administrative centre of the Olomouc Region and the sixth largest city in the Czech Republic. The historic city centre is well preserved and is protected by law as urban monument reservation. The Holy Trinity Column was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 for its quintessential Baroque style and symbolic value (from Wiki).



Driving back home from my Low Tatras trek, I spent a few days sightseeing in north-west Slovakia. Towns like Banska Bystrica, Zilina, and Trencin offer spectacular architecture, interesting history, and an amazing culinary experience (Slovakian beer is as good as Czech beer, hahaha).



I just spent a couple of days hiking in the Low Tatras (my first visit) and managed, amongst other things, to reach the summit of Dumbier, after a very long and exhausting day. The scenery is spectacular and the wildlife not bothered by human presence, hahaha. The Low Tatras is a mountain range in the Western Carpathians, in central Slovakia. It’s located south of my favourite range, the High Tatras, from which it’s separated by the valleys of the Vah and Poprad rivers.  Dumbier  is the highest mountain at 2,042 m. The range is a very popular with hikers in the summer and skiers in the winter.



As I mentioned before, the tiny Sokole Mountains (Sokoliki) near Jelenia Góra, and Rudawy Janowickie, a little bit further east, are very important rock climbing centers in Poland. Generations of mountaineers from all over the country have been coming here to polish their climbing skills and prepare for more challenging goals in the Tatra Mountains, Alps, or even the Himalayas (the famous Wanda Rutkiewicz was a regular).

A few pictures below from my outings in the area during late spring and early summer (with friends from our mountaineering club).



I ran the XXII Half-marathon Jaworski in Jawor, a small town north-east of Jelenia Góra, probably my worst running experience so far, hahaha. The familiar (I participated the previous year), hilly route was not extremely difficult but the day was insanely hot and humid. The fricking asphalt was melting and sticking to the shoes. I had some really difficult moments, as you can see from my time: 02h 05m 00s.



One of my favourite things about living in Jelenia Góra is the fact that we are so close to the Czech and German borders. There are so many beautiful things to see; cities, villages, castles, and beautiful landscapes, this area really has it all. A few trips we've done recently have included; Bogatynia, in Poland, which is famous for its beautiful timbered houses; Frydlant in Czechia, which is a small but beautiful and historic town, with a spectacular castle; and Zittau, in Germany, which is very close to the border tripoint with Poland and Czechia, the city has many beautiful and well-preserved historic buildings.



I decided to fly to Copenhagen for a couple of days, to meet a friend who was travelling around Europe. Denmark brings my travel list to 61 countries, still a long ways to go to catch up to Andrzej!

The city is beautiful and I was lucky to have absolutely spectacular weather. I spent one day wandering around with my friend, which was tons of fun, and then the other day wandering around on my own. There's plenty to catch the eye of photographers, the city is vibrant and colourful with lots of character, and I enjoyed every minute of it.



Another half-marathon done. This time in Mietków, a small village south-west of Wroclaw, near the large, man-made Mietkowski reservoir. The route around the reservoir was very demanding and the strong wind from the lake made it quite challenging. Not the best running conditions, but I managed to finish the race in 01h 54m 56s.



Bautzen is a hill-top town in eastern Saxony, Germany, often regarded as the unofficial but historical capital of Upper Lusatia. The town is also the most important cultural centre of the Sorbian minority, which constitutes about 10 percent of Bautzen's population.

Bautzen has a very compact and well-preserved medieval town centre with numerous churches and towers, and a city wall on the embankment to the river Spree, with one of the oldest preserved waterworks in central Europe (built 1558).

The town, a sister city of Jelenia Góra, is well worth visiting if you find yourself in this part of Europe.



Not bad start to yet another running season. Two half-marathons are behind me. One in Legnica and one in Jelenia Góra. My time in Legnica was 01h 51m 18s. The home one, which I ran for the fourth time, was much more difficult so I was a little bit slower: 01h 53m 45s.



A beautiful winter in Karkonosze. The winter school break is over so the mountains are empty, quiet and covered with a deep layer of powder. It’s the perfect time for some hiking with a camera. Below are a few pics from my latest hikes.

More pictures in Karkonosze gallery.



Tons of snow in the higher mountains, but in Sokoliki, which is located near Jelenia Góra and at a much lower elevation, it’s almost spring. This place is the biggest rock climbing center in the south-west part of Poland, and is accessible for ambitious climbers nearly year round. Below are a few shots from my latest hike there.



Another long weekend in the mountain hut, run by our local mountaineering club. This time we were hosting a group of friends from a similar club in Szczecin. Szczecin is a big city in the north-west corner of Poland, very far from any mountains, so poor guys visit us from time to time for a change of scenery, and to refresh their climbing skills. Of course the weekend started, and ended, with a big party, hahaha.