Vienna Street Photography

During the summer I got explore the stunning city of Vienna. The streets were filled with well-dressed men and women against the backdrop of beautiful buildings. Here are my favourite street shots I took during my time there:

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Lisbon Travel Diary: Thunderstorms & Rainbows

A fully packed day here in Lisbon started with a trip to one of the biggest shopping malls in Europe. I don’t normally factor in time for shopping when I’m travelling or visiting a new city but with us both needing new shoes (and an umbrella) it was a much needed first stop of the day.

After spending way too long in the maze-like shopping mall we dropped our new shoes of at the hotel and went exploring. We chose to explore the Alfama neighbourhood, home of the castle and many cathedrals.

Despite the erratic weather we had a great time winding in and out the lanes and keeping warm in the pastry shops. The area is also famed for its graffiti. Whether you like it or not it, the graffiti here adds colour to the streets and the majority is very creative (with a few exceptions of course). The only downside of the area is the entry fee to the castle- you can’t even see the grounds or view without paying a relatively expensive admission fee.

Next up-food. Both a travel magazine and our hotel receptionist recommended the Time Out market. A short walk from the main square along the river you arrive at the grand entrance of the market. Once you go through the doors you are faced with what feels like a hundred potential food options, with kiosks lining the four walls of the indoor market.

Long, communal tables fill the middle of the modern market. It was so busy it was hard to find a seat, but everyone was very friendly and happily partook in a Tetris-like game in order to fit everyone in.

Most food was fish or meat based- you’d be hard pressed to find many vegetarian options. I opted for a very tasty beef burger and was able to watch the filming of a Korean food program, it was extremely humorous watching the presenters and full crew trying to manoeuvre their way through the crowds against a time limit.

After filling up and soaking in the atmosphere we headed back through the streets of the capital back to the hotel. Lisbon is a beautiful, very walkable city but there are a lot of hills so if you visit, get ready to have aching legs at the end of the day.

Once again Lisbon has lived up to expectations and recommendations- despite having to dodge the rain for most of the day. Tomorrow we are taking part in a walking tour then will be exploring different neighbourhoods and eating even more food!

Lisbon Travel Diary: Touching Down

One lost boarding pass, a dropped phone and a two hour delay later we were out of Gatwick and finally on a plane flying to Lisbon.

We landed at 2.30pm and after a brief walk found ourselves on the metro. The station was incredibly grand and decorated with black and white murals.

It’s a relatively short journey from the airport to the centre of town (30 mins) and we soon arrived at the metro stop nearest our hotel. As we clambered up the stairs with our cases out the station we came to a stunning view; statue’s and a beautiful square in one direction and the sun shining on a winding river the other.

After taking too many photos we checked into our hotel. We’re not normally ones to complain but the room we were given in this highly-recommend hotel was very dark, claustrophobic and had an odd bathroom-you could see through from the bed..

But the staff were extremely helpful and moved us into another room which has both natural light and a bathroom with an actual door. So after quickly unpacking into our new room we went to explore.

We didn’t have much time left before the sun set so we just wandered around the local area, got some dinner and headed for an early night after having to get up at an inhumane hour for a delayed flight.

My first impressions of Lisbon are as good as they could be; pastry shops everywhere, trams and a beautiful riverside walk. I am really looking forward to getting to know this city and it’s history more in the next few days.

36 Hours in Bratislava

Entering into Bratislava, Slovakia, myself and Emily had no idea what to expect from such a new country (25 years since it became independent).

As we walked through the train station, our first impressions weren’t brilliant. It was run down, busy and unclear which way was the exit into town. Thankfully as we left the station and found our hostel, just a 10 minute walk away, we were greeted by beautiful buildings and friendly locals enjoying the last of the sun.

By the time we checked in and sorted out our bags we didn’t have long before the sunset so we decided on a walk along the Danube (and a McDonald’s pit stop) to get a feel for the place.

Immediately we could tell, despite being the capital city, it is very small. When I googled ‘what to do in Bratislava’ the vast majority of activities suggested were day-trips to the surrounding countries..

But we were determined to see the best of Bratislava in the 36 Hours we were there so while using the free McDonald’s wi-fi we booked ourselves onto a free walking tour the next day.

Day One

Our first and last full day started with us dragging ourselves out of bed. Despite going to bed relatively early with the best of intentions, our fellow hostel roommates made consistent noise until 4am so the sound of the alarm was not a happy one. Still we managed to get to the meeting place of the walking tour with 5 minutes to spare.

The tour was led by Martina, a 25-year old Slovakian who has lived in Bratislava her whole life. Her energy and enthusiasm for her city was infectious and breathed life into the old buildings. The tour was 2.5 hours long but the time flew by. It was incredibly informative about Slovakia’s varied past and how it became what it is today. We also stopped at lots of photogenic spots..

The final stop felt like an odd one- a small square opposite a university building. But as Martina began to explain why we were there, the significance hit me. In 1968 the Soviet Union sent armed troops and tanks into Bratislava to end their liberal policies.

They targeted this square where shocked citizens of Bratislava came out to confront the troops. At that time word-of-mouth about the Soviet’s movements travelled slowly but one photograph travelled the world. A young photographer had gone into the square, shot images, developed them and snuck them out the country to gather the worlds media attention. Within days the photograph was splashed across the front pages of newspapers all over the world including the Nee York Times. For his own safety, Ladislav Bielik, the young newly-married photographer didn’t disclose his identity. It was only after his early death in 1989 did his family find the negatives to confirm it was he who took the photographs.

As a photography graduate and fan of street and documentary photography I have known about this image for years; it was extremely humbling to stand in the spot Bielik captured the image:

©Ladislav Bielik

Bratislava is filled with history and is currently dealing with a political crisis but its buildings are beautiful, the locals love their city and it’s a great transport hub to other countries. I would strongly recommend stopping off for a day or two if you’re travelling around Eastern Europe.

With weary legs we headed to a restaurant recommended by our tour guide. I tried the national dish of cheesy gnocchi with bacon along with Slovakia’s very popular (and healthier) version of coca-cola, Kofola.

Tomorrow we are spending most of the day on a bus travelling to Poland including stopping off in a tiny village in the Czech Republic, it’s sure to be another adventure..

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bangladesh Travel Diary: Living with a Tribe

I’m currently based in Bangladesh as part of a team of community workers. Follow me over on Instagram (@madisonbeachphotos) and here on this blog to keep updated with the ups and downs of living in such a beautiful yet challenging country..

For the last 3 months I have been living and working with members of the Garo tribe. Mainly residing in Northern Bangladesh and following the Christian faith the Garo are an extremely welcoming and friendly tribe living in the 21st century. Over the last few months I have got to know members of the tribe and this week I was lucky enough to be invited to visit the Garo Cultural Academy of Bangladesh.

The Garo cultural academy:

A scale model of a Garo traditional tree-house which would house an entire family:

The tribe’s roots date back to 400BC and although they are extremely proud of their past and traditions such as the mothers name being passed on and the man living in the wife’s home, they have adapted to fit-in with modern Bangladesh wearing modern clothes, using new technology and getting jobs outside of agriculture. The tribe also get special privileges from the government to honour their past, they have different property laws and although alcohol is illegal in Bangladesh for everyone, the Garo community are allowed to both make and drink alcohol. Having got friendly with the tribe these special privileges have been extended to us..the vodka is 65% alcohol and the rice wine goes off after a day as it’s so strong and fresh- it had led to some interesting nights of bonding with my team mates!

Four members of my team are Garo and have treated us to Garo food (not for the faint hearted-very spicy) and traditional dances in full Garo outfits (a lot of feathers and colour). The community is incredibly strong and everyone looks out for one another. I am very privileged to have experienced their culture first hand and been invited to their homes to meet their Families. No matter what we are doing; going for walks, leading workshops or drinking tea at the market my diverse team made up of Muslim’s, Hindu’s and Christian’s along with the Garo rival members are always having fun, planning adventures and taking way too many group photos…

Bangladesh Travel Diary: Finding Paradise

I’m currently based in Bangladesh as part of a team of community workers. Follow me over on Instagram (@madisonbeachphotos) and here on this blog to keep updated with the ups and downs of living in such a beautiful yet challenging country..

Growing up I never thought paradise could be found at school; as much I value education hugely I spent most of my days at school waiting for the bell to ring to signal it was the end of the day.

But here in Bangladesh I had the privilege of being invited to visit a prestigious boarding school on the edge of the Indian border. Usually outsiders are never allowed in- your child has to go to the school for you to be allowed a visitors pass. But one of my Bangladeshi team members parents run the school and invited us to visit.

It was an hour long rickshaw journey and short boat trip to reach the walled gardens of the school. Students take turns and great pride in guarding the entrance. We were let in by a boy no older than 12.

We then had a guided tour around the grounds. It was a beauty I have never seen before, I felt like I was on a film set of a children’s film. Students in uniform were enjoying the sun and playing games around the campus. They have 700 students who live and study on sight surrounded by palm tree’s and rivers. They also have their own snack shop, clinic and guests houses.

We were the invited in for snacks at the headmasters living quarters. It reminded me of holiday homes in Spain. It is the most luxury I have seen since coming to Bangladesh two months ago, but the headmaster was nothing but welcoming and humble.

Near the school we had heard there are beautiful, cinematic clay hills. So on the way back we took a detour- and boy was it worth it.

The hills go on for miles creating another film set-like landscape. Group photos were a plenty as we tried not to fall in. I have never seen colours like it; pink clay, orange dust and teal water.

As we stood at the top of the hills, to the South we could look across Bangladesh’s green fields and forests while to the north we could see hundreds of mountains stretching into India. A day I won’t ever forget.