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With a couple a friends – another hikers – we decided to have a nice tour early June. It was one of those first really hot days where the temperature reached a high 32 C shortly after having had some low 15 C and snow around 1500m-2000m the previous days . After a serious study of where to go and which trail to choose, we moved to La Videmanette, aiming that summit or the nearby Rubli if feeling comfortable enough with the conditions. Beautiful weather and still quite a lot of snow patches..and those changes of temperature working not only on the hikers but on the rocks too ; every 5 minutes the sound of them falling down the sharp faces of the Rubli, which lead us to stopping 400m (distance) below the summit of both mountains.

I recommend you the hike – 2 main trails are equally long and demanding – as the reward is definitely worth any effort !

3h45 up and down

http://www.gstaad.ch/fr/montagnes/hiver/rougemont/la-videmanette.html

http://www.hikr.org/dir/Le_Rubli_4377/

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Couple of weeks ago, I loaded my backpack and left for a two days hike in Valais. My destination : Leukerbad.

I have a special connection with that place, being the first one where I ever spent – as a child – some “mountain” vacations. Reaching that location is quite impressive ; from Leuk, the bus takes you in a short 20min up to the last village of the valley. No possible escape apart from climbing up the great walls that surround the thermal city. Did I say thermal ? Yes  ! and this is another great reason for booking a couple of days in this wonderful resort.

Last time I stopped by was on February this year, after crossing a bit of the Alps in a wonderful snowshoes tour from Kandersteg. This time, no more snow down in the village, but it was still early in the warm season – so a lot of residual snow patches were visible and some of the cable cars not fully operational. Finding the village still sleepy and on its preparation for the high touristic season to come is a great luck : thermal facilities, hotels and restaurants are empty and the locals pretty accessible and chatty. On top special offers – like a 18 chf card/day that allows entrance to any of the thermal baths – give you a good compensation in case the weather forbids the hikes or if you aren’t keen on hiking gives you a great alternative.

A great stay in a wonderful hotel (and the most amazing and helpful staff), the pleasure of some not very frequented hikes, the blossoming nature, delicious food and nice warm baths for recovery made out of these 2 days the most enjoyable improvised vacations I could have.

So why don’t you try it too ?

 

links :

Hotel

http://www.leukerbad-hotel-alex.ch/fr/

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g198859-d632695-Reviews-Wellness_Hotel_Alex-Leukerbad_Valais_Swiss_Alps.html

Hikes

http://www.leukerbad.ch/en/index.php

Thermal Facilities

http://www.leukerbad.ch/leisurefacilities/index.php

Restaurant

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g198859-d5982391-Reviews-Lounge_1411_alt-Leukerbad_Valais_Swiss_Alps.html

 

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May and June are known for being the best months of the year. Why would you ask me ? Well because they do excel in growing bank holidays !

And when talking about excellence in growing, it gave us the idea to go for a 4 days trip nearby on the other side of the Jura : Burgundy and its landscapes, wines and other delicacies at 2 hours from our home.

Packing the car with just what was needed, all passenger on-board and there we are on our way to the lovely little village of Cuisery, located a 45km South-West of Beaune. Actually as we were 5 people travelling together, it became a better solution to find a house to rent rather than a Hotel for all the group, as prices are quite high in the region. It is as well a choice to spend a more reasonable amount of money in a rental, so when it is about visiting, tasting, drinking and eating, you can feel free and allow yourself some well deserved treats.

A good thing about staying away from the most touristic place is to get a feel of locals every days, by going to the same bakeries or  supermarkets. Cuisery is a village having its roots back to the XIII century. It used to be an important stronghold but after two large fires, lost of its strategic interest. Nevertheless in recent history , it got the visit of the Général de Gaulle, and is now officially Cuisery, the town of books. A lot of animations are based around books all year long.

http://www.cuisery.fr/

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Nearby stands the city of Tournus, famous for its abbey Saint-Philibert  from the XI century, as well as its Hotel-DIeu (hospital) from the XVII century. What strikes you in this little 6000 people town, is the beauty of the center, the peaceful river shore – we are next to the Saone – and the smiles of its population. We arrived on a bank holiday and late in the day. Too late for some restaurants to feed us – if you arrive after 3 pm it is just after the end of the service – but not for them to indicate us where some tasteful snacks were available. On a great advice we moved towards the abbey and found a local little snack bar /  groceries store where our hunger could be satisfied : La Maison de Marion. And what a great place ! The owner prepares you a limited choice of dishes, but uses all herbs, oils, jams and other products from the store.  The products are from a well known old fashioned style groceries branded “Le Comptoir de Mathilde”. The products are originally from south of France but in such a sunny day, I must say that Burgundy was a lot of south.

http://www.tournus.fr/

http://www.lecomptoirdemathilde.com/

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Of course we couldn’t help buying some products. Was it because of this delicious mustard and olive oil we had with our croque-monsieurs ? Or maybe the lavender and apricots jam in that minute maid pancake ? Well we all left the place with a little bag, a couple of jars and a little orange jam on top as a gift from the owner. Time to visit a bit the city and go back to our car. The city is definitely worth a tour. On top it won’t take you a lot of time unless…unless your gaze is stopped by an amazing store called La Banque. A wine and liquor store where the owner shows not only his taste and generosity by the displays but also by opening more than 10 bottles of rum if you are a lover and connoisseur.

http://www.labanquedesgrandscrus.com/

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In the evening, our tour and again hunger lead us – and by chance – to what has been so far the greatest restaurant experience of the year. In Tournus you really have a large choice of Restaurants and of Michelin stars since a couple of years : 4 restaurants have at least one star. For us, it had been the Meulien. What can I say ? Service, smiles, quality of the place, of the food, of the wines, decoration and even price make out it what you could expect from a top restaurant. The owners are both chef and in charge of the dining room. Three hours of pure and fine pleasure.

http://www.meulien.com/#actualites

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Did I tell you about another advantage of renting a house ? It is about the home made breakfast and the home made cooking. Of course you need to like it, which in my case is beyond the passion. So over 3 days we had the pleasure of having special menus for the breakfast, with all type of cheese, meat and foie gras. Yes foie gras for breakfast ! After all we said it is vacations !

And for one evening, as being in the Burgundy, we couldn’t escape from tasting the local Charolaise meat, tender and tasty. Was it a diet day ? Mmmh sort of as we ate only salads with…

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The region is obviously not only famous for the cows, but of course for the wine. In our case we were in Beaune in less than 50 minutes , and in 1h20 in Dijon. Knowing that the vineyards start in Chalon and finish around Dijon, it takes only one hour to cross it. But to try and taste, I would say it takes years. Having much less time we decided to visit five spots :

  • Beaune and its Hospices, as well as the greatest cellars of Burgundy at Patriarche
  • Meursault and its castle for the white wines
  • Pommard and its castle for the red wines
  • Nuits-Saint-Georges and its stores for one producer
  • Vosne-Romanée and its famous crop for the pilgrimage picture

Beaune – Meursault – Pommard

On average you can count 18€ to 21€ for the visits, where you will try from 5 to 14 wines. Every house has its own concept, from non guided tours and self wine pouring to private small group guided tours; a little advice is to go early morning and as a group to be held with more care. In both Beaune and Pommard we stopped for a quick diner. If the first was in a very nice bar, where you can buy glasses of wines, the perfect thing to try many ones (what we did as a group), the second was another Michelin star at the Chateau de Pommard. Actually the Restaurant doesn’t belong to the Chateau but they closely collaborate, so that when our diner was over the Maitre d’Hotel went to the front desk to make sure our guide was ready. Another great moment of french cuisine in a marvellous location.

http://www.tripadvisor.fr/Restaurant_Review-g187109-d1747393-Reviews-Le_Bistrot_Bourguignon-Beaune_Cote_d_Or_Burgundy.html

http://www.meursault.com/

http://www.chateaudepommard.com/fr/

http://www.christophe-queant.fr/restaurant-chateau-pommard.php

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Nuits-Saint_georges

We stopped in the village to have a walk and to discover the little stores of the center. We stopped by the Aegerter shop where the manager welcomed us with a great smile and a lot of interesting stories. We could try one of the Aegerter’s wines – very nice and subtle Fixin – and is it really a surprise that we left with some bottles ? Again you feel more than welcomed to the store and the quality if the wines speaks for itself, which isn’t always the case as some vinemakers or producers are sadly only interested in making profit. We had the bad luck to enter some vinemaker’s yard where oversized road signs brought us. Two extra large luxury SUV’s and a luxury Porsche were parked in the yard, but no customer in his small boutique : “I don’t make free tasting and don’t want now” was all of his language when seeing us. Good we didn’t try the wines as they probably are as bitter as the man who makes them.

http://www.aegerter.fr/boutiques/boutique-de-nuits-saint-georges/

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Vosne-Romanée

Time to reach the final place of our trip, and to take a picture of what is the most expensive wine crop in the world. You can park the car in the center of the village and then walk a 400m uphill towards the lonely but famous cross of the Romanée-Conti. 1500 years of history of the most desired plot in the history of wine in France. Every bottle costs a minimum 11.000 $ but the pictures are for free ! If you are a wine addicted it is a must be visited once, if not the landscape will convince you.

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So what to say ? Well over a long weekend it is definitely a nice destination with a lot of things to do. If you are a wine and food lover don’t hesitate and do it once…or twice …or as many times as you like. It is true you need some good savings to stay in the area as all seems up-priced. You will hear a lot of how much the hail made the winemakers suffer and how much the little production makes the prices high. But the secret lies in that : take the time to try from the bottom of the production to the top finest once. The plots are so close from each other and the new generation of winemakers is so deeply involved into raising up the standards and acquiring new knowledge that there is no need to target only the top wines to have a great pleasure. Our visits were focused on some iconic plots which was the best to give a hint of Burgundy to our South American guests.  But again tasting some Grands Crus helps you in knowing the geography of the different “clos” and once back home you can always study and then  find the “producer next-crop” and its half price wines. On the food side there is so many offers that you can change every day your diet and budget. We decided to rent a house and to cook as well to have the opportunity to cook with the great local ingredients.

Overall a great experience and a lot of fun ! So what are you waiting for ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capture d’écran 2014-05-16 à 16.45.00

 

 

Quick, short and efficient one today : in the freelance movie making world, very often all happens at the same time or nothing at all for a long time. Well this time the abundance of projects is a blessing, and specially one that wasn’t really on my radar.

Swiss International Airlines opened a position for what is being called “The Swiss Explorer”, or quoting the company : ” a modern Marco Polo that will test Swiss Airlines services, all their destinations tips and explore new ones”…how to not give a try to work 6 months as a Swiss employee, travelling around the globe as an internal consultant ?

I took me a couple of days to think it over and much less to prepare my application file. On top of the usual documents, a video was required : 10 candidates are selected for the 1st round, 3 are granted a wildcard …based on the rating of their videos. And the rating = the greatest number of votes !

So let’s go on this journey all together and reach that top 3 !!

Vote and share !

http://theswissexplorer.com/#!/fr/stories/watch/5377bcf8a3d19

 

sincerely yours,

fyling jasiu rise 1

 

 

I have no clue how this started but all I know is that I am stuck in it now, and it will end soon I presume…or should I say I hope…

Working on a movie takes a lot : time, efforts, researches, contacts, transactions, focus, thoughts, imagination and the more preparation you have, the best it is when comes the time to press the rec button. However even if fully prepared you can’t buy the success.

Some time ago I heard a speleologist on the radio in a very interesting interview that started with : ” what I like about my job, our should I call it condition, is that I must know when to give up. And I give up far more often than reaching my goal “. Quite surprising statement …

With time passing and slowly getting older, I must admit that my first sport passions that were basketball and beach volleyball are replaced by a long time forgotten passion : hiking, trekking and every possible mountain activity.  So less running after a ball but more climbing up the hills and hoping to reach some summits.

After coming back from shootings, I am sometimes quite tired, and the last times I arrived home, I had a quick meal and then while loading and “backuping” the data ( I miss the tapes !!), I went on some internet surfing and looked on for nice summit images. It lead me to , of course, from one mountain to another to virtually reach the top of the world : the Everest. But after the traditional National Geographic on how it was created, you enter what is as well a sort of dead zone : the mountaineering reality shows.

And there is a scale of emptiness to sort them out. As well as you are having less oxygen the higher you get, the brain of tv spectators suffers from hypoxia the deeper you go into the concepts.

I used to work for a leading sportswear and great outdoors company some years ago. It was a childhood’s dream to work ifor it – being emotionally attached to the brand – and If by then I wouldn’t have suffered from a severe health issue, I am sure my path back to a sort of  mountaineering would have matured faster. A key word by then was – in 2009 – that sportswear items are taking over the flat grounds and every day’s life.

DIscovery channel followed from 2006 to 2009 (if not mistaken) climbers that were attempting the top of the Everest. Those alpinists pay approximately 70.000 USD and a guide’s organisation takes care of all. They are assessed by the leader if they can make it or not. Nobody votes via phones, you just follow those guys in their adventure.A standard documentary ? Not really….more a reality documentary show with dramatic music and stereotyped characters. But no overwhelming camera system.

Having watched that , I moved onto another continent to see about the highest point in America  : the Aconcagua. And what has been my surprise when I saw a tv program called : “el conquistador del Aconcagua”. To make it short and simple, it is a survival reality show where a couple of chosen ones will attempt a final push to the summit….after going through tests, nominations and eliminations….
None of the candidates has experience in mountaineering and only a couple seem to have a genuine interest into such activities…

I thought I was already out of breath, but I realized that my own personal climb would lead me to some extreme conditions : “Los Trepadores” or a chilean big brother stuffed with top models, pop singers and young overbreasted brainless people. Here it is simple : over 4 months they ll train them and some that would survive the boot camp might try to reach the summit. Their guide, a chilean experienced mountaineer that climbed the Everest in the 80s told them the most beautiful sentence ever : ” When climbing a mountain, you embrace a total freedom that you don’t have in any other sport ; no referees, no audience. Only one rule : it is all about you and the mountain ”

For now those people are parked in a base camp, far far away from their target  in low altitude, with jacuzzi, free food and drinks, outdoor showers to film girls in bikinis…well just another big brother….

Often guides say that the mountain doesn’t belong to anyone – and it is good to see more people sharing the passion of going up there. Everyone has a different reason for doing it and all became far more accessible than it used to be in the past….

6962 m above sea level…for almost everyone ?

by the way, “Trepadores” dictionary definition is :” people who use any possible way to climb up to a new range….translation in english is “go-getter” or “place-seeker”….

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After being back from a 3 weeks trip, most of my time has been spent on catching back all the pending matters for my work and on sorting out the pictures that were taken.  I took 1500 pictures ! A ridiculous amount but so much in line with the use of a digital camera…

I was equipped with my – apparently already old – Olympus E-pl1 , a micro 4/3 camera, on which I used only one lens, a 14mm lumix that opens at f 2.5. It was the perfect couple for that trip ; I am pretty much of an old school person and not a fan of multiple coverage lens. No I was taught that a photographer – or cinematographer – has to find the right shooting angle and having a single steady lens is the best way to do it. It forces you to find the right distance towards what you are shooting and therefore really putting a bit of you as well in the image.

So in theory this should bring the amount of picture down, as you have to make the effort to move and every time your use the shutter it should be pretty well thought. My major discovery has been that not only I stopped making portrait oriented pictures but rather landscape’s ones (even of people) since a couple of years – and when I really want to portrait someone I used the 6×6 frame- , but also that this gigantic amount of pictures is due to…my natural (it became natural) inclination to tell stories as if it would be a movie. In other words, I probably shot 10 different topics…..1500 times !

I am stuck in the story telling process. When sorting the pictures, my mind told me : mmhh interesting how you follow your topic, do some cuts, some reverse angle, ellipsis and then back to the subject and you understand the evolution of it.

I measured as well on how, like in sports – and apparently due to age – my interest is into a bit longer moments rather than immediate perfect frozen picture. Is it possible to make what I would call an ” endurance snapshot” rather than an immediate “explosive image” with still images ?

It brought me back to the “winobranie” adventure (movie about polish wine – http://www.vimeo.com under palmtreeprod user), where in order to match the local dynamism – the movie talks about wine making in a highly chaotic way – just like the environment where all the story was happening. If shooting it nowadays, I would spend more time and shoot it differently…..? Well to be honest if shooting it now…well I wouldn’t be able to shoot it.

Before my trip I was cleaning my cupboards and I discovered some old cups and mugs that I don’t use anymore. I found one that I used to drink my cocoa in it when I was 4-5 years old. I kept it just like it was and decided to take a picture of it. Actually when taking the picture I felt more like recording a moment in time. When a piece of industrial porcelain became a story to tell, when being materialistic made a new sense.

It contains the stories of every morning breakfast of the child I was…

Funnily enough I took only one shot of it…as probably I knew that 1500 pictures would never be able to tell all of it.

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