The Best Capital Cities I’ve Visited

Copenhagen

The starting place of my inter-railing adventure from Denmark to Switzerland, Copenhagen set the tone for what turned out to be a brilliant European journey. As most of my friends will tell you I will cycle or walk whenever its an option, especially in a busy city. Using public transport is a great way to save energy and feel like a local but I prefer being able to take my time, go off the beaten track and take way too many photos. Also its a great money saver if your on a budget!

 

Copenhagen is filled with students, bikes and friendly locals. The city far exceeded by expectations and everyone we met was incredibly helpful.  The only disappointment I had was the famous ‘Little Mermaid’ bronze statue. It was much smaller than I was expecting and it was engulfed by tourists. The city is very walkable and there are plenty of cafes and restaurants to experience Scandinavian cuisine first hand.

As you would expect from a capital city, Copenhagen has great transport links. You can get a train over the famous bridge to Sweden, a boat to Germany or a flight to almost anywhere in Europe.

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Tokyo

Tokyo, another starting point of an adventure. This time my 2016 Japanese adventure. Our 24 day journey started and ended in Tokyo. Overall we spent 6 days in Tokyo, I could’ve happily spent 6 months here. Being so big I knew there was a potential of being overwhelmed, especially while still experiencing jet lag. But from the minute we landed at the airport I felt at home. The sheer size of Tokyo means it has a suburb offering something for everyone. Whether you want to spend your day walking around the beautiful parks or dressing up as your favourite anime character, theres a place to do that (and not be judged!).

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Like every city Tokyo has its flaws. Both me and Juna were disheartened by Akihabara. The district is know for its vibrant electronic stores and arcades. Although I did find the Japanese Harry Potter DVD’s I had been longing for, the shops didn’t hide their adult material and there was lots of it. Adult DVD’s and comics weren’t off limits, they could’ve easily been accessed by children. It made for an uncomfortable trip through the district’s shops. But in the almost month-long time I spent in Japan this was my only negative experience.

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The underground train system is intimidating at first but once you get the hang of it, its an efficient, clean and relatively cheap way of getting around.And the nightlife in Tokyo is as eclectic as you can imagine. You can eat dinner at a robot restaurant, have drinks at a bar that fits only 5 people and then sing the night away at a Karaoke Bar.

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Juna at the Moomin Cafe

I am already planning my return to Tokyo and if you haven’t yet been now is the time! The country is gearing up for hosting the 2020 olympics, you can already feel the excitement and see the venues being constructed.

Budapest

Budapest happens to be the first place I travelled to with just my friends so it will always hold special memories. It was the first time we had held the responsibilities of having a successful trip; not loosing our passports, exchanging currency,  planning enough to keep us occupied without being so tired we walk around with our eyes shut.

Terri outside our ‘Happy Flat’ hostel

Budapest has a range of sights and a good nightlife which entices a lot of young (and older) visitors from around the world. From ruin bars and riding the tram to visiting the spa, you could spend a week just scratching the surface of what Budapest has to offer.

As a big fan of architecture I loved winding through the streets of Budapest and photographing the grand castles and decadent government buildings. The thermal spa is a must visit and if your looking to save your money theres great walks ending with brilliant panoramic views across the city. It was a very happy surprise that Budapest was so cheap, if you play your cards right you can eat dinner out for under £5. I really enjoyed my 4 days in Budapest and created a short film..

Feel free to recommend and comment your favourite Cities!

5 Accessories Under $30 That’ll Up Your Photography Game

Monopod
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Great for mixing up the angles and getting to those hard to reach places.  

Colour Filters 

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A brilliant way to make landscape photography more interesting and a bit of fun to use. You can use in front of the lens of flash, a great technique to try when shooting double exposures.

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Camera 

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I got this second hand Sony camera off ebay for £19.80. The viewfinder is broken but unlike my Sony A7RII I can throw this camera around and experiment without having to worry about breaking it.

Remote Shutter 
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Nowadays these come in different forms. You can get manual/digital shutters and even apps. If you’re shooting self portraits this is a great way to have more control in when and how many images you shoot. And if you’re into moving image, remote shutters provide another option to create stop motion or time lapses without having to keep your finger on the shutter.

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Mirror 

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If you enjoy shooting portraits in or out the studio a mirror can be a useful tool and make the viewer look twice. If your in a creative rut a mirror can provide a great way to start approaching your images differently.

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Barcelona Day Four: Easy Mazes and the Gothic Quarter

Our last day here in Barcelona started slowly as our over-priced cocktails from last night took a grip. After re-hydrating we sloped towards the nearest cafe we could find. Typically we found the best breakfast spot on our last day. It was a tiny, albeit slightly cramped veggie cafe. But it was cheap and delicious.

After consuming some food (5 plates of food to be precise..) we strolled around the nearby gothic quarter; home of the town hall and very impressive gothic cathedral. The area was buzzing with locals, tourists and street sellers.

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When i’m in a new city I like to try out the different modes of transport they have on offer, and Barcelona has trams. So we boarded a tram to our next and last destination of the holiday- a hilltop maze. unfortunately it turns out the tram lines are very limited and we had to get off after two stops to get a bus. We both needed the toilet and luckily we had got off the tram near a new, and very modern shopping mall in the middle of nowhere. There was music playing out speakers around the shopping mall, if you’ve ever played Sims, you can imagine the music playing.

We also realised we hadn’t consumed any water for a very long time so headed into a CarreFour super market- well we tried. The entrance wasn’t very clearly marked (considering Alex speaks both Catalan and Spanish)  so we just headed backwards through the self checkouts so we could get into the supermarket. But one lady on the checkout did not take us ‘breaking in’ to the shop very kindly and proceeded to shout at us then call security..

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So after that slight misunderstanding we boarded the bus; drink-less.  It dropped us at the bottom of a massive hill, on a road, with no pavement and no phone signal. Against our better judgement we started to walk up the giant hill.. And to our surprise the winding path did lead us to a beautiful gardens complete with a maze..

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Although often the main selling point of these gardens is the maze, it was very small thus easy to complete. The real charm of the place is the hidden, secluded paths winding through forests, past waterfalls and beautiful wildlife.

As we reached the exit of the gardens and the entrance of the metro it dawned on us that this was the end of our holiday. So we collected our luggage, stocked up on tapas and spent our euros in duty free. So here we are at Barcelona airport planning our next trip whilst waiting for our delayed flight home..

48 Hours in Vienna: Day One

It has taken more than one attempt to visit Vienna. Ill-timed illness as it were caused me to miss out on Vienna earlier this year but finally, this summer I managed to experience the Austrian capital and all it has to offer..

Day One

As with most holidays it started with our plane being delayed and spending an abnormal amount of time in the airport Starbucks. But eventually we were on our way, the flight was just under two hours from London Gatwick. Due to the delay we arrived at night- but this didn’t stop me being impressed with Vienna from the off.  The airport was clean, the train station was clearly sign posted and getting through passport control took literally two minutes!

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The lift ‘artwork’ in the hotel

After a good night sleep in our comfy yet slightly creepy hotel room we headed out to see Vienna. First up food (obviously). Cafe Central  famed for having customers such as Totsky, Stalin and Freud and serves pastry and hot food all day. Given the grand surroundings I was expecting a very high price tag- but instead I consumed the most beautiful food for an incredibly reasonable price.

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With full stomachs and time ticking on we decided we should probably see a bit of culture. The museum quarter is packed with museums (of course) but also a well though-out central area with chairs for reading, cafes and a water fountain. Each museum takes around half a day to go round so we had to pick one, we went for the Kunsthistorisches Museum which opened in 1891. It turned out to be the most stunning building I’ve ever seen, it’s packed with original artworks by painters such as Michelangelo, Rembrandt and my personal favourite Gustav Klimt. It’s so big I had to make use of all the sofas placed in all the rooms to give my feet a rest.

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After loosing track of time we left and explored more of the city. The city was buzzing and completed by chance we were there during the Vienna Music Film Festival. It’s on for the whole of the summer and takes place in front of the magnificent town hall. Its a big screen showing music-related films with 100 food stalls and around 2000 seats for the audience. And best of all its FREE. It would be unheard off to have an event like this free in somewhere like London.

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So with the sun setting we bought some burger, fries and settled in for a night under the stars watching a live recording of an Alicia Keys concert. Tomorrow we have a full day planned- shopping, the famous Prater fairground, St.Stephens cathedral and returning to the film festival.

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Snapshots of Eastern Europe

After performing so well when I was living in Bangladesh I chose to take my Olympus MJUII 35mm camera on my Eastern European Adventure. I loaded it up with Agfa 35mm colour film and took it everywhere with me..

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If you missed any of my posts from the 4 cities me and Emily visited you can check them out here:

72 hours in Budapest

36 hours in Bratislava 

48 hours in Krakow

72 hours in Prague 

Photography on the Streets of Prague

While inter-railing through Eastern Europe the sun was not on our side. We went a week without seeing it and when it did make an appearance from behind the clouds it was still -4 degrees! This made photography really hard as it made images look flat and dull.

With just a couple of days left a miracle happened.. I woke up to sun shining through the hostel windows. I didn’t take my Sony A7RII on the trip as I knew how cold it was going to be and that I’d have to leave it in the hostel when we went out partying.

So with just my phone I headed out to the main square in Prague. My old iPhone performed really well and I got some shots I’m really happy with. Only problem was it killed my battery within the hour and I was meant to be meeting Emily. Despite a lack of map, google maps and an internal sat-nav we managed to find each other.

So here are my favourite images from my hour in the middle of Prague draining my phone battery:

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Bangladesh Travel Summary

After almost 4 months my time travelling and working as a community worker in Bangladesh has come to an end. I have met friends for life and am already planning my return to the complicated yet beautiful country.

Coming back to the UK has provided some shocks; my first warm shower in over 3 months, not sleeping underneath a mosquito net or using a squat toilet and eating with cutlery!  Although I oddly miss using a squat toilet..

To put my experience into perspective I have put together some facts and figures:

-Flip-Flops Lost: 3 

-Weight Lost: 1 Stone

-Hospital Stays: 1

-Rickshaw Rides: 70

-Homemade Monopoly Boards: 1

-Mice Found in Bedroom: 3

-Power Cuts: 200

-Tea Breaks: 300+

-Average Temperature: 28 Degree’s

I am currently in the process of putting together a video documenting my time and developing 7 rolls of 35mm film, but for now, here are my favourite digital photos I shot during my time in the must-see country:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People of London

People of London

Last night London was the focus of another terrorist attack. Living in London I know the resilience of born and bred Londoners along with people like myself who have moved here from all around the world and call this place home. I took these images yesterday morning on my way to work, they capture the brilliant diversity and spirit of the people of London. Thoughts are with those affected by last nights events.

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Winning the 2017 Analogue Awards

I was very excited to find out this afternoon that I have won the analogue open awards over at the Ginnel photography festival in Suffolk. Readers often ask me whether it’s worth entering photography competitions. (Free) Competitions can be a great thing to aim for and help improve your photography whether you win or not. Always have a look at the judges as even if you don’t win your work will be seen by them and future opportunities can come from them remembering your work.

I was extremely excited to win the analogue awards as it makes all the time and money spent on shooting and developing film even more worthwhile. Below is the image I entered.

Shot on Portra 400 35mm film with a Pentax K1000

 

Once again thanks to all my readers and supporters of this blog.

IG: @Madisonbeachphotos

Seeing the Northern Lights For the First Time

This time last week I was in my Reykjavik hotel room putting on as many thermal layers as my body would allow in preparation for our midnight adventure; northern light hunting. I was a little naive before I touched down in Iceland, I assumed they would be visible most nights in an Icelandic winter.Nope. When we arrived we spoke to numerous people who had been there for over a week and there had be no sighting of these mysterious lights due to cloud.

We arrived on monday with tickets for that evening to be taken out on a coach to the middle of nowhere to witness the lights. It was cancelled and we re-scheduled for tuesday. Needless to say it was cancelled again and again. We were slowly running out of hope until we woke up on thursday, our last full day, and the sun was shining through the clouds.

We were picked up at 9pm and drove an hour South-West from Reykjavik to the edge of the ocean (although it was so dark we had no idea). The city lights were dull in the distance allowing for whats known as black spot to provide the perfect backdrop for the northern lights..

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A dodgy photo of me looking the wrong to prove I was actually there

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Iceland was one of the most photogenic countries I’ve ever visited. I shot hours of footage while travelling and have put it into a short video:

I shot 4 rolls of film which I’m very excited to be picking up today, I’ll be posting the photos on the blog and to my instagram @madisonbeachphotos