France. Photos from our trip to France and The Provence

We spent a few days in the south of France – the weather was in our favor, and we could make several  leisurely walks, drink coffee and have some excellent food. Especially beautiful is that time of day when the sun starts to go down (and the tourists are at dinner) to wander the small streets of the old villages.

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Venasque – one of the many beautiful villages in the Vaucluse valley

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Crossing the Rhone by ferry

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Buddy’s new girlfriend

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A Jules Verne inspired merry-go-round

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Sunset on our last evening

Originally posted 2017-06-13 04:58:59.

Images and Photos – check out my Pinterest channel for some beautiful pics

If you are a Pinterest user, and if you regularly browse imagery (for relaxation or work, or both ;), I invite you to follow me on Pinterest! Here are my categories and boards:

  1. I am very interested in Orientalist Art. These are paintings that provide a western-world view of what the orient should look like, and they have thus very little to do with the reality of the Orient, past or present. Having said that, this artform does remind me of the books that I used to read as a small boy, and has a great personal sentimental value for me. I collect related imagery here: https://www.pinterest.com/clemenssuter/clemens-orientalist-pics/
  2. If you are interested in my paintings, you can find all my original work at this link below. Perhaps, if you are the owner of one of my paintings, you may find a photo in that location, feel free to leave a comment! https://www.pinterest.com/clemenssuter/clemens-orignal-paintings/
  3. During my travels across the globe, I occasionally take a shot of a graffiti. I collect these pictures on the board below. I am on the look-out for graffiti that is either mind-blowing, simply beautiful, or… a bit absurd.   https://www.pinterest.com/clemenssuter/clemens-photos-of-graffiti/  
  4. All the images from my blogposts are automatically collected in this board: https://www.pinterest.com/clemenssuter/pics-from-clemens-blogposts-wwwclemenssutercom  This is all original work by me; I do not use stills from other sources  – I hope :-( warn me should you be the owner of one of these pictures, mistakes happen.
  5. I also collect some of my travel pics on this board https://www.pinterest.com/clemenssuter/clemens-travel/ and some pics of our dog Buddy here: https://www.pinterest.com/clemenssuter/our-dog-buddy/ 

Find my books here at amazon.com.

Find more of my art-related blogposts: https://clemenssuter.com/tag/art/ 

 

 

 

Originally posted 2019-09-07 20:20:00.

Top Tip. iPhone as an eReader. Read Great Pandemic Adventure eBooks.

All over the globe – get my books on your iPhone or iPad ! Here’s the direct link to my pandemic adventure novels on iTunes.

I have an iPhone myself, and it is a great machine, isn’t it? I like iTunes mostly as a music player. I like its ability to view my music as albums, artists and songs, the searching capabilities are great stuff. The way albums open into color-matched track listings is attractive. And I use the playlist extensively, e.g. I have playlists like “play all music that I love and didn’t skip in the last three years”. These are Smart Playlists, with a breathtaking number of options available for user-created Playlists: it is incredibly powerful – and with thousands of songs, it is a fantastic way to listen to music  that you haven’t listened to for a long time. Things like that make the iPhone a great smartphone. I also like the UI of Now Playing. It is easy to add entire albums or individual tracks, and reorder them. iTunes by itself doesn’t offer the greatest user experience, but well – Ok.

iTunes is undervalued as an eBook store.

I do notice that more & more of my fans are reading my eBooks on their iPhone, and the sales of my books on iTunes are booming, but the functionality of iTunes as a bookstore is meager – when compared to the functionality as a music store. Still the biggest advantage is that if you read eBooks on your iPhone, you need just a single device to enjoy both music and reading – at the same time. I read all my newspapers and books on my iPhone, to tell the truth.

Here’s a great review of TWO JOURNEYS in iTunes.

My books on iTunes.

iTunes Review on Apple Books

Reader comment on iTunes concerning Clemens P. Suter’s TWO JOURNEYS

As eBook or Paperback

Whether you have an iPhone or an iPad; you can get a copy of my books with a few mouse clicks.

Acclaim for TWO JOURNEYS

 “Move over, Cormac McCarthy, another survivor is traveling the Armageddon road. Clemens P. Suter’s apocalyptic thriller grabs you in the first couple of pages and never lets go. The reader feels real empathy for the main character’s plight as he begins a seemingly impossible 9,000-mile trip to learn his family’s fate. The cause of the calamity is mysterious but clues are uncovered along the way causing tension to build until we reach the shattering climax. Two Journeys is not to be missed.” – G. Dedrick Robinson, author of Blood Scourge

More about my books here: www.clemenssuter.com/books

iToons

Clemens P. Suter books on iTunes, iPhone

A snapshot of Fields of Fire can be found here.

Originally posted 2019-09-04 10:32:10.

Life can be over in the blink of an eye. An adventurous trip from Aswan to Abu Simbel, Egypt.

We met in the lobby of the Aswan hotel at three in the morning. Outside it was dark, and not much cooler than during the day. “Hurry up, hurry up,” shouted the hotel manager. I think he had gotten out of bed especially for us, and wanted to go back to sleep. My wife (at that time my girlfriend) and I, together with three French tourists, piled into a taxi. The taxi driver gave gas, and off we went: to the temple of Abu Simbel. This was a five-hour drive through an unwelcoming, hot desert; and that was the reason why we had to leave so early. We would arrive at Abu Simbel at around seven, visit the famous UNESCO-protected Egyptian temple for two hours, and arrive back at the hotel before the hottest time of the day.

And Aswan was hot. We visited Egypt in late winter/early spring and had both brought a flu along, which quickly developed into bronchitis. In Luxor, famous for its many temples, we had to organize a home visit by an MD, who gave us a large array of drugs to get us walking again. I experienced the temples of Karnak and Luxor through a fever- and codeine-induced haze. We had arrived in Aswan by train from Luxor a few days before and had spent the afternoons in the Old Cataract Hotel, drinking tea and eating sandwiches, convalescing, and escaping from the oppressive heat.

Nevertheless, now we were reasonably fit and ready for adventure. The taxi driver drove like a madman, overtaking other taxis and tourist buses along the way. We had a short stop halfway, just after the sun had come up, which afterwards hung like a burning metal plate above an endless and completely flat desert. I found some dung and saw a few flies, and was surprised that anything could live in this place. Another taxi hiccupped towards us, and over the next half hour several taxi drivers tried to repair its accelerator, but if I recall correctly, they didn’t manage to fix it. I don’t think those tourists ever arrived in Abu Simbel.

We did arrive at the temple, which is both an impressive architectural feat by the pharaoh as well as modern man, since the temple was moved five hundred meters so that it wouldn’t be covered by the  waters rising in the gigantic Aswan reservoir. I can’t remember the temple well, except that its back is covered by an ugly dome of modern concrete, and the presence of a large airfield for the richer tourists. We were poor students at the time, traveling with backpacks and staying at three dollar hotels in obscure sidestreets, cheap because they usually were located close to neighborhood mosques. This was Ramadan time, so we didn’t need to set an alarm; the recorded singing of the muazzin and 500 Watt loudspeakers took care of that.

After visiting the temple, we arrived back at the taxi, the driver already impatiently pacing about. We waited and waited for the three other tourists. “Let’s sit in the front,” suggested my wife, “that will be bit cooler.” Finally, the three arrived and climbed into the back. The taxidriver cursed and cursed, but as they didn’t speak English, I don’t think they realized what was happening. He didn’t pay them much respect anyway, as the women wore skimpy dresses, showing a lot of leg and chest, which doesn’t resonate well in Muslim countries. Off we went, burning rubber! This time we had a few more stops as the heat began to take its toll on all of us. First, we paused for tea at a military post (at that time there was considerable tension with Sudan), where we had a chance to chat with the drivers.

A hundred miles north, we passed by an overturned taxi. It looked as if it had careened off the highway, hit the soft desert sand, and had gone topsy-turvy. There were many tracks and footsteps in the sand, but no humans. “Probably helicopter, bring to hospital,” shouted the driver over the hot wind, shaking his head. “Only for good driver. Desert danger!”

The three Frenchmen in the back had conked out from the heat; these taxis didn’t have any air conditioning, and we survived by the hot air that blew in through the the windows.
We arrived at a burnt-out ruin, and the driver let the taxi roll next to a few other parked cars. Tea time apparently. He got out, men hurried towards him. They spoke, and our driver started shouting and cursing. No tea this time, he immediately got back into the cab and we set off again. We continued to race north. “What happened?” I shouted at the driver, the wind blowing away my words.

“Accident. Father.”

“Whose father? How?” I thought I had misunderstood him.

“That taxi.” He pointed toward the back with his thumb.

“Is he in the hospital?” I shouted, afraid to press the point.

The taxi driver put his right thumb underneath his left ear and pretended to slit his throat. “Dead.”

“What’s he saying?” asked my wife. I repeated the conversation to her. “Jesus.” We didn’t know what to say, and stayed silent for a while, stealing occasional glances at the driver, who looked straight ahead, seemingly unperturbed, which made the entire affair even more unbelievable. As far as we could understand from the driver, the tourists had indeed been transported to Aswan by helicopter.

The issue is that a trip to and from Abu Simbel followed an extremely straight and tedious highway. There’s nothing to see but tarmac and flat sand. To make ends meet all taxi drivers held multiple jobs; they would drive a taxi in the morning, work in a garage during the day, and sell clothing in the Souk until ten in the evening. Due to exhaustion, accidents were bound to happen.

At the next military checkpoint, my wife and I swapped places. The soldiers already knew what had happened, and shook hands with our driver. He didn’t react much. Up to that point, the driver had occasionally already started to nod off, struggling to keep his eyes open. My wife began to ask him questions to keep him awake. I was struggling with sleep myself. The three tourists, deep asleep in the back, looked like pale meat overdone in a microwave.

Finally, the driver managed to pull open his eyes and sit up straight: Aswan came into sight. Taxis stood parked on the street, the drivers waving at our cab excitedly. News had spread fast. “I am sorry,” we said to the taxi driver, as we gave him a generous tip. He shrugged, and hurried across the street to his colleagues.

“What ‘ees ‘appening?” asked one of the French tourists.

“His father died in the accident in the desert. The overturned car we passed?”

“What? What ‘appended?” Obviously, they hadn’t seen or noticed anything. We didn’t hang around to explain, why spoil their vacation?
My wife and I returned to the Old Cataract Hotel for bitters tea, which no sugar in the world could cure.

More stories here.

Originally posted 2021-05-30 22:51:00.

Famous castaways, jettisoned and marooned – stories from people that were left alone

The adventure novel TWO JOURNEYS tells the story of a man who is the sole survivor of a post-apocalyptic event.

How is it possible to survive as the last man on earth? In adventure literature, Robinson Crusoe is probably the most famous imaginary character in such a situation. But real-life people have been separated from humanity for extended periods of time – if not the remainder of their life. These include the likes of Thorgisl, Grettir Ásmundarson, Fernão Lopez, Juan de Cartagena and Pedro Sánchez Reina, Gonzalo de Vigo, Marguerite de La Rocque, Jan Pelgrom and Wouter Loos (the first westerners to set foot in Australia), Miskito Will, Alexander Selkirk, Philip Ashton, Pedro Serrano, Ada Blackjack, Jesus Vidana, Salvador Ordoñez, Lucio Rendo, Leendert Hasenbosch, Chunosuke Matsuyama and Charles Barnard – and there are many more names of people that were forced to live in isolation over extended time periods. Some lived isolated for a few months, others for years… What unites these involuntarily castaways is their tremendous drive to return to humanity.

Some also select to be alone for extended periods of time, such as Gerald Kingsland and Lucy Irvine or Tom Neale (the latter spent 16 lonely years in solitude on the Cook Islands – by his own choice).

Survival is possible, and depending on the character of the castaway, might even be seen as enjoyable … one of the reasons why I selected this theme for my novel Two Journeys: how does an individual thrown from modern society, deal with the prospect of being alone…perhaps for the rest of his or her life?

In my novels Two Journeys and Fields of Fire, this shocking situation is caused by a global epidemic. Humanity has gone a long time without a major pandemic. But recent outbreaks of viruses such as SARS, corona or influenza (e.g. H2N2 or the Asian Flu H3N2; or bird flu) have occurred again and again in the past years. Is humanity prepared? In my books, I show a different path than what some so-called “preppers” or the “prepper movement” appears to advocate. If catastrophe strikes, keeping to the higher ground morally shows that we are human.

Learn more about the adventure books by Clemens P. Suter here.

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Originally posted 2012-01-12 20:20:58.

More from Japan – our trip to the land of the rising sun

More images from our trip to Japan – this time mainly Tokyo and Kyoto.

Below a snap from the Shinjuku Gyoen park. We visited a number of parks on this trip, and this one had a beautiful conservatory, a koi pond and two teahouses. Shinjuku is densely populated, and to escape into the green is a great distraction. But the high rises are always visible!

We also visited several museums and the MOMAT (museum of modern art Tokyo) was definitely a highlight. Especially intrigued by the paintings originating from the time of Second World War. Most were quite oppressive and disturbing to look at.

Better not travel by subway around rush hour- but sometimes it can’t be circumvented.

Below: a delicious cup of coffee with Macha-based cream!

The picture below was taken in Kyoto (the place where the Kyoto Protocol was signed). Ironic to see this air conditioner in action: cold air exits the smaller tube, hot air is released from the bigger exhaust. Great for the patrons, but not truly CO2 conscious.

More travel news here.

Find out more about my books.

Originally posted 2019-07-20 18:02:00.

From Tokyo to Kyoto – travels in Japan. Highlights of Shibuya.

No trip to Tokyo is complete without a visit to the Meiji shrine. Below the iris garden created for the Meiji empress at the start of the 20th Century. A beautiful, well balanced park, you can see a lot of gardening effort goes into the maintenance.

Visitors leave their wishes at the temple, which are later burned by the priests.

In Shibuya there’s a cafe where you can stroke cats! It costs a few hundred yen for an hour or so. You can just see a white cat at the top of the arrow. We didn’t go in, the idea made us feel a bit guilty.

You think that’s weird? How about a cafe where you can stroke hedgehogs? The lady holds up the sign to invite you in.

Or would you rather pet an owl?!

Then again, Shibuya is a wild place, heavily frequented by hipsters and tourists, and full of weird stuff (which is not typical for mainstream Japan).

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My books www.clemenssuter.com/books

Originally posted 2019-06-28 17:10:00.

Surprise! You won’t BELIEVE what I saw in Kansas City. The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.

I had a chance to visit Kansas City. First surprise: this town isn’t in Kansas, but in Missouri, a relatively flat place with an abundance of farmland and space. Looked quite rural yet attractive from the air.

As usual I only had a couple of free hours in between, so how best to spend my time? Most US cities do not have an inner city that invites a leisurely stroll, so I had to come up with a plan B (although later I did discover that downtown Kansas City does have its charm). An Uber driver pointed out that the city had an art museum – he wasn’t impressed by it, but by his looks he wasn’t into art too much; more a baseball kind of guy.

So I took two hours for a fast visit to the Nelson Atkins museum of art, and indeed was in for a very big surprise, as shown on the photos below.

An impressive facade protects a rich exhibition, which was assembled by art scouts during the 1930 crisis: with wallets full of hard dollars earned the years before the economic collapse, these scouts bought artifacts and paintings from all over the world.

All in all, a visit to this temple of art is definitely time well spent!

 

The façade of the museum, with Rodin’s Thinker in the sculpture garden
An early Piet Mondrian, created before his more abstract style
An early Piet Mondrian, created before his more abstract style
A beautiful impressionist painting by Monet
A beautiful impressionist painting by Monet
A painting by Rembrandt van Rijn
A painting by Rembrandt van Rijn
A Kandinsky
A Kandinsky
A painting by Max Beckmann
A painting by Max Beckmann
A Indian deity in the historic section
A Indian deity in the historic section
I statue from the small but exquisite Egyptian section
I statue from the small but exquisite Egyptian section

Originally posted 2018-10-20 20:17:00.

The Experience of a Lifetime – Airtravel Back Then and Now

I just returned from a business trip Germany to Kansas City, and as I sat on the plane, it suddenly occurred to me that I must have witnessed this utterly stupefyingly safety pantomime over 400 times. That’s a whopping 1000 or so minutes shaved of my life, thank you FAA and EASA. And it doesn’t help either: just ask a colleague or fellow traveler to repeat what’s in the safety instructions and what to do if the plane must land on the Hudson River, and you will only get back embarrassed smiles. I can guess what passengers will do if a plane makes an emergency landing: I suspect some will continue to push and shove to get to the exit first – countermeasures to that are alas not in the instruction booklet.

OK, I’m exaggerating. Mostly I feel sorry for the crew that needs to go through the exercise, while the passengers are staring into their smartphones and picking their noses.

It’s not that I fly excessively, but thanks to my adventurous parents I had an early start getting airborne. I recall times when air travel was still special; reserved for a few businessmen or tourists that were a bit better off than the ordinary citizen. The countries were more exotic then: half of the world was out of bounds being communist and therefore utterly boring, and many of the other countries had no infrastructure to support any mass tourism. Nowadays, if you haven’t visited Iceland, the Arabian peninsula, Chili, the Congo or Detroit you do not count as a well-traveled tourist. And in every country you can buy exactly the same stuff these days. I know a Japanese couple that vacations every year in Tuscany, Italy, and friends of ours from Switzerland have been traveling with a camper through Yellowstone – every summer, eight years running. Get a life and stay at home folks.

But I’m getting distracted. Back then (I am talking about the seventies and eighties) if you entered an airplane, smoking was naturally not allowed. In the non-smoker section and until after take off that is, after that you could light up your cigarette, cigar or even pipe; and relax. The ashtrays in the armrests was emptied continuously by the crew, since air travel makes nervous (surprisingly very few people are aware of this observation), and together with the cheap cigarettes bought in the tax-free shop, the soothing effect of a relaxing smoke could be enjoyed intensively.
The smoky air and the lack of water offered (in those days nobody realized that dehydration is an unpleasant accompanying effect of air travel) put a terrible strain on travelers, leading to colds and coughs. My mother suffered from asthma, so we usually sat in the non-smoking section; enjoying the recycled, second hand smoke coming from the vents.
Halfway during the flight, a movie screen was lowered in the front, and a beamer came out of the overhead. One or two movies were projected on the screen to keep passengers occupied. These systems regularly crashed, so sometimes there was no movie to watch at all but in that case we could revert to six radio channels. After an intercontinental flight you knew all the tunes by heart and singing along wasn’t a big challenge.
The door to the cockpit was unlocked and even stood open sometimes (thanks, Osama bin Laden, for putting a stop to that ridiculous practice) and the captain regularly walked through the cabin to chat. if you asked the stewardess (no stewards then) you could actually go to the cockpit and the pilot would explain the instruments and the basics of aviation.
Due to security, you had to arrive at the airport early: for intercontinental flights this meant at least 45 minutes before takeoff. For domestic flights three minutes sufficed. Security checks consisted of a quick look at your passport,  hand luggage wasn’t scanned, and I recall passengers sitting on the plane with taped-up carton boxes and the like; anybody’s guess what they contained. Customs usually took those boxes apart after landing; I once witnessed the extraction of a 6 pound freshly caught fish from such a package (its freshness clearly debatable after an eight hour flight). Once, on a flight in the USA, a gun was confiscated. This didn’t upset the passengers too much, after all, in the lines for passport and customs checks we all enjoyed a relaxing smoke, ashtrays were available next to all waiting lines, so we didn’t need to flick the ash on the floor. We did throw our cigarette buts on the floor, I recall that a lady once scolded me and a cousin, stating that this practice was “frowned upon” in US airports. I was young and very much ashamed, I do recall that.
On most flights you had to pay for alcoholic beverages (but even as a teenager I could buy beer or whiskey, if my parents agreed, which they did). At the airports there was very little distraction: the tax free shop and one restaurant was all that you could visit, if those were available at all. Many terminals were rather empty buildings; a counter and uncomfortable metal chairs.
A few things didn’t change over the years: the aircrew was just as polite back then as now, which is surprising in light of the extreme stress due to higher numbers of passengers and increased security measures these days. There are a few more female pilots and a few more male stewards, but there is still a way to go on emancipation of the sexes in the transportation industry. The passengers are the same too: most compliant to the unnoticeable, a very few very obnoxious – usually explainable by higher levels of flight anxiety.

And United Airlines back then was just as ba… – but don’t get me started on that tangent.

On a apple device? Top Tip. Get Great Adventure eBooks on Your iPhone. Hey, presto!

The Author Clemens P. Suter enjoying early days air travel

The Author Clemens P. Suter enjoying early days air travel

Originally posted 2018-10-18 05:00:50.

Quiz time! Can you guess which famous leader used to live here? He must be turning in his grave.

Today a Chinese restaurant (“Peking Duck”), but once upon a time a very infamous man had his residence and offices behind these doors. Can you guess who?

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The truth behind the duck:  Mr. Mengling Tang from China is the owner of a Chinese eatery in the Voßstraße in Berlin, exactly on the spot of the entrance to Adolf Hitler’s “Neue Reichskanzlei” – the new chancellery. The building didn’t survive the ravages of war, within a few years after completion, the home of the brutal, and weirdly mustachioed dictator was destroyed by allied bombs. Adolf probably wouldn’t have clenched his little fists with pleasure, if he would have known about the re-purposing of the spot where his ugly government building (designed by his favorite architect Albert Speer) once stood. But then again, maybes he is, in purgatory?

Interested to learn where Adolf Hitler ended up, after his suicide? Ge t a copy of my novel CELETERRA, e.g. in iTunes:

Originally posted 2018-05-18 05:08:00.