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Irkutsk – the Paris of Siberia

The city celebrated its 350th birthday a few years ago, hard to imagine. It is not a hectic, cosmopolitan place but definitely a thriving city with beautiful architecture. Famous are the 19th old wooden houses of Irkutsk with beautifully painted window panes. Some of them are nicely renovated, whereas others look neglected.

 

Irkutsk 19th century architecture

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Moscow – Off-sights

Moscow’s metro stations are still a sight on their own. My last  to Moscow was in 1983, even back then I marveled at the beautifully decorated stations. My absolute favorite became one that is dominated by a dog chiseled in black marble. To touch its nose brings good luck. I could not believe how many Muscovites rushed by, quickly brushing over the nose that has changed color already into a dirty white. Some things even outlast Communism.

Moskau luck charm (1 von 1)

Good luck charm in Moscow’s metro station

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Shushi – sad reminder of the war

It was the very name that first drew my attention, finally a name I could easily remember. Once there, it became ingrained in my memories forever. Large parts of Sushi are still in ruins, 23 years after the war with Azerbijan that cost the lives of thousands of Azari and Aremnians soldiers and civilians. The reminders of this war are much more evident in Shushi than Stepanakert, only 15 minutes drive away.

Sushi apartment block destroyed in the war 1991- 1994

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Stepanakert – the charming capital

If I did this trip again, I would spend more time in Stepanakert, I found this a lovely town to stroll around, lots of restaurants, impressive government buildings and two excellent tiny museums reminding of the war. Generally, a very inviting city. The news that one week after I had left, fighting broke out again was extremely shocking. I remembered the people sitting in street-side cafés, children buying ice-cream on the way home from school, couples on benches in the many parks. All in all, living a life as we all do and I wondered what happened to them.

Approaching Stepanakert

Approaching Stepanakert

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Gandzasar Monastery meets kitschy Vank

By the time I visited Gandzasar I had had my dose of monasteries and had chosen my clear favorites: Khor Virap with majestic Mount Ararat as a backdrop and fairyland-like Noravank wrapped in a blanket of snow. Gandzasar became the perfect number three. Why? It was so quiet there, I hardly wanted to leave. You could hear nothing, absolutely nothing, but a few birds. At the end of March I was the only tourist, summers are busy I was told. Besides it is a popular wedding destination for Russians.

Gandazhar Monastery 10th century

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The Golden Temple In Amritsar

A Photo Essay

Harmandir Sahib (Punjabi: ਹਰਿਮੰਦਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ) or Darbar Sahib, also referred to as the "Golden Temple", a prominent Sikh Gurdwara or Sikh temple, at night, Amritsar, Punjab, India

Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib, also referred to as the “Golden Temple”, Amritsar, Punjab

At each of my two visits to the Golden Temple, my expectations were very high and as we all know, such are usually not met. But Amritsar proved this theory wrong, both times! Continue Reading →

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5 Highlights In Delhi

Humayun's Tomb, Delhi, India

Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi, India

Often overlooked as only an entry and / or exit hub, Delhi has a lot to offer and is worth at least a few days to cover some of the major highlights of this city. Of course, with only a few days at hand, you will only be able to focus on the “Tourist Hotspots”… Continue Reading →

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Fortresses Of The Thar Desert: Jaisalmer & Bikaner

Fortress of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India

Fortress of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India

After passing through some lush-green and fertile areas of Rajasthan, it was a shock to enter the Thar Desert west of Jodhpur. An endless plain of dust, dotted with small trees and bushes, and random greenish fields scattered through parts of this desert. None of the romantic images one might have of mighty, windswept sand dunes, but a lonely, dry, dusty, sun-torched landscape that merges somewhere with the horizon. Continue Reading →

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China – A Selection Of 54 Pictures

In Chengyang, a Dong Village near Sanjiang, Guilin region, China

In Chengyang, a Dong Village near Sanjiang, Guilin region, China

We traveled the 30 days our visa permitted throughout China’s southwestern provinces in Mai 2008: Guangxi (Guilin, Yangshuo), Sichuan (Chengdu, Leshan, Emei Shan), Yunnan (Lijiang, Dali, Kunming, Yuanyang) & Xishuangbanna (Jingling). This was definitely not enough! Nevertheless, we now know it can be easily done without a common language. This introduction to China also was an immense eye opener and some of the negative concepts we had of this country we corrected or simply vanished! Continue Reading →

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