Category Archives: Travel

India is a different planet

I will now be somewhat Serious, which is quite rare, and may never happen again on this silly blog.

India may be the closest thing you can get to visiting another planet.

It’s a joke that every corner market sells bananas and cell phones. But there’s truth to that joke. More than 500 million people own cell phones and there’s a growing middle class to go along with a highly educated elite, which is just as creative as any other in the Western world.

Yet most of the population still lives in the countryside and is employed in agriculture. Just think of what will happen when they make the same shift we did in America, the mass migration to the factories to embrace horsepower instead of actual horses.

A hallway at the Red Fort, next to the Taj Mahal. Photo by Guy Bergstrom.

India is the world’s biggest democracy which only recently made the switch from state-run industry to a full market economy.

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Zooming on das Autobahn to Belgium, the friendliest place IN THE WORLD

So I’m driving on the Autobahn from Frankfurt, Germany to Goze, Belgium on zero sleep for about 36 hours, which is not the wisest thing in the world when you’re going 160 kilometers per hour, seeing how closing your eyes and napping for half a second will be fatal.

But I do not nap, and the Citroen of Itty Bittiness does not slam into the guardrail and burst into flames.

Frankfurt is a big city full of skyscrapers, the Manhattan of Germany, and this is because after World War II, cities razed by bombs had citizens vote: (a) bulldoze the rubble and start over or (b) rebuild on the ancient, narrow cobblestone streets and painstakingly restore all that was destroyed.

The people of Frankfurt picked “start over.” And you can tell, with just a glance, how any random city in Germany voted after the war.

Goze, Belgium was not bombed to rubble during the war. It’s a tiny little town full of brick homes and brick business and stone churches.

If you’re not familiar with Belgium, let me give you a primer:

  • The Netherlands (Holland) is to the north, Germany to the east, France to the south and Luxemburg also hidden nearby, so people in the north speak Dutch / Flemish and those in the south speak French, though nobody really speaks German
  • Belgium is home to European parliament, NATO headquarters and 72 other important things, maybe because Belgium is friendly and has the best chocolate and beer IN THE WORLD
  • They are NOT French fries, but Belgium fries, invented right here, and the one thing that will make Belgium peoples unfriendly is to repeatedly ask for “French fries,” which I do not do

Just like three years ago, we stayed with my wife’s host family from when she lived here as an exchange student. I lived in Holland and Germany as a kid, so this whole area feels like home. Continue reading

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How fast can a rental go on the Autobahn?

How fast can a rental car go on the Autobahn?

Now, I lived in Germany and Holland as a whippersnapper, and they never let me drive on the Autobahn back then. Whenever I pulled into the passing lane on my Big Wheel or bicycle, the nice men in police uniforms would pull me over and explain, in careful German, that “kinders nicht driven on das Autobahn” and such.

True story: a car once hit me as I drove around on a Big Wheel and it broke my leg. Totaled the car, though. I am kidding! The car exploded into flames.

So: as a grown-up, I just spent two weeks driving The Citroen of Itty Bittiness all over the Autobahn, and it forever changed me. Can I drive 55 now? No. I am ruined.

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PART ONE: Dodging disaster and death in India and Dubai

Roaring toward certain death, I don’t flinch. Hitting the semi head-on will turn the car into a burning pile of metal, plastic and roasted flesh.

But I’m not afraid.

Not because I’m some kind of tough guy. No, I don’t fear death because (a) this happens every five minutes when we make the kamikaze decision to pass other cars and (b) my driver could dodge killer semis in his sleep.

The driver has a crewcut, a manly mustache and scars on his chin and cheek. He looks like an ex-Special Forces vet who got into a knife fight in the mountains of Kashmir, and he drives with supreme confidence and insane skill.

He’s the Indian version of Jason Statham in THE TRANSPORTER.

Our driver changes lane at 120 kilometers per hour without glancing left or right. A sixth-sense, like radar, lets him know where all the mopeds, cars and trucks are on the road, which has painted lines on the asphalt that you’d look at and say, “lanes,” but in India, lanes, seatbelts and airbags are for nancypants.

Are there driving rules? Oh, yes. There are two clear rules that everyone follows:

Rule No. 1: If something is bigger than you, and you want to live, MOVE OUT OF THE WAY.

Rule No. 2: Use your horn to (a) tell pedestrians and smaller vehicles to move or die and (b) inform buses and trucks you’re nearby so they don’t smoosh you into a twisted metal cube of death.

People use their horn all the time, maybe because they want to live, and every Indian driver on the road is incredibly skilled, maybe because bad drivers have a shorter shelf life than a box of Twinkies in Rush Limbaugh‘s pantry.

Coming in PART TWO: Leading a mob into battle against the Drums of Doom.

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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Pieces of the World

I have been to a few places, and shot them with the Nikon of Infinite Beauty.

These shots got printed on canvas and framed for my first photo show, Pieces of the World.

Big thank you’s to the Candi and the Vini for thinking of it, and making it happen — and to everybody who showed up, from near or far.

On my earlier blog, I wrote a few stories about the India and Dubai trip, so when  I find time, I’ll repost those & write something  about Iceland and Sweden.

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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My first photo show is ON LIKE DONKEY KONG

Some of you know that I own a Nikon of Infinite Beauty, and that I’ve lugged it places.

India and Dubai, France and Belgium, Alaska and Hawaii, Sweden and Iceland — that sort of thing.

I’m having having a travel photo show — Pieces of the World: Photos on Canvas — 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18 at my favorite restaurant, Savory Faire.

Bottom line: canvas rocks. If you shoot photos, don’t print them on glossy paper and show off your pile of 4x 6 snapshots that you keep in a shoebox. No. Print your favorites on canvas. DO IT NOW. Because you could get hit by a truck tomorrow.

Sidenote: Is the title of the show just pretentious enough without being obscure and stupid? Maaaybe. Could I have gone with a photo-geek route with F-Stops in Eight Places? Sure, if I was a photo geek, but I actually hate messing with f-stops and whatnot.

Other rejected titles:

Snapshots of Where I Ate Fish Curry and Fermented Shark
Hey, These are Actually In Focus, Mr. Fancy Camera Man
I Rode on 43 Different Stupid Airplanes to See This Stuff

Some of the photos:

Arc de Triumphe in Paris, France

Arc de Triumphe in Paris, France. Photo by Guy Bergstrom.

Houseboat in Kerala, India

Houseboat in Kerala, India. Photo by Guy Bergstrom.

Sunset in Stockholm, Sweden

Sunset in Stockholm, Sweden. Photo by Guy Bergstrom.

Kerio volcanic crater, Iceland

Kerio volcanic crater, Iceland, where Bjork held a concert from a floating raft in the lake. The acoustics are glorious. Photo by Guy Bergstrom.

Dune bashing in Dubai

Dune bashing in Dubai. Photo by Guy Bergstrom.

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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