Lands without borders. What can be easier and less stressful. In the past when I revisited Europe (that was before the pandemic) I always stayed the minimum of three months, which in my case is also the maximum allowable – as a Canadian. It has happened, when last in Berlin, Germany,  2010, I needed an extension visa, as my stay there at a vacation apartment in Berlin-Kreuzberg had been over four months. For that purpose I needed to stand in line at a local immigration center. All others who were also waiting in line – mostly from the Middle East wearing a hijab, or Africans – staring at me. A former German, being born in that country, having left that country in 1965, and now a “foreign Canadian”.  I got my extension visa for 10€. During this same stay in Berlin, I had also booked an 8-day trip to Saint Petersburg, Russia. Difficult to get a visa for Russia. In Berlin, I stood in line outside the Russian Consulate with mostly Russians and Germans, requiring visas. Mine was automatically refused, because I am Canadian, and as such I needed to return to Canada, apply there for a Russian visa.

What I needed is proof of residency in Germany. Not easy with a stay in a vacation apartment. I went to see the local city department for getting a residency form. The lady there refused. I begged her, (I had already booked the trip and paid for it). Finally, she gave in and gave me this form. (Why was that possible ? because I speak the language.)

Returning to the Russian Consulate, – standing in line again – an agent finally granted me a big nice one-page colourful visa for one month. How nice ! In general I found that visiting Russia had been otherwise stress free. Language-wise, one can talk to people, sometimes German, often French. No problem. Easiest travel was from Germany to Spain, airport to airport, you arrive in Spain, walk out without any border controls.

Several times I booked a stay for longer than 3 months. When leaving the country, border controls any country never seem to care, but when arriving back in Vancouver, Canada, they make a big fuss about one day longer.

I know Europe so well, being born there, worked in many countries, travelled extensively everywhere, never had a real problem. Borders are so close. Often booking a months’ long stay in one country allows to just walk over a bridge to be in another. And the best of this is, to speak all those different languages.

Grenzgebiete – border areas. A good example is the most southern part of Germany with one of the biggest lakes Lake Constance (Bodensee), 570 km². Konstanz, the largest city on the borders of this lake is a delightful very old city, which during WWII did not get bombed out, because of its vicinity to Switzerland. [The burghers simply turned off their light during the bombing raids, and being this close to the Swiss border, got saved].  The house where I rented was very old, thick stone walls, Roman origin, no Internet of course. A nearby public library had access, though.

I spent four months there and made many trips to Switzerland, you can almost walk there from the city. Re-visiting Geneva, where I worked for UNESCO/BIE for my last assignment, before leaving for the United States. The lake, one of the largest, which shares three countries – Austria, Germany, Switzerland. All easily and fast to visit, from Konstanz. [In Europe I always use the train.]. Another trip to Austria, and further on to Vienna. All so close. When on the train to Geneva, there were camouflaged) border controls, checking passengers. Just walking through.

France – my favorite country. The southern part by the Mediterranean See, a hop and a skip from Italy, Monaco, and across to North Africa. Tunisia – no visa required for up to 120 days (I spent months there); Morocco, can stay for 90 days; my last visits 2012. Tunisia border controls – beware. In the 1970s I had overstayed my visit, and the plane to return to Holland only flew once a week. Twice I could not return. Then the next week, a Dutch pilot and his crew simply took me in the middle, walking up to the plane. To get out. These border controls are carrying arms. So are the Federales in Mexico.

Many changes since the 1960s, travelling from North Germany to Berlin, at that time still occupied and shared by four countries. Dangerous. Special trains, because many East Germans trying to flee the DDR (East Germany), hiding underneath a train. The Stasi and VoPo controlling all passengers. [What I did is, not take any compromising passport with me- like when I worked for the European Space Agency/ESTEC in Holland. If someone asked, what I do: “I am just a simple secretary.”].

Now all this has changed over the years. I wonder how it works out now, with the UK out of the EU. As a Canadian and a visitor I can stay in the UK for up to 6 months, as this is all part of the British Commonwealth.

[Nowadays, the British monarchy rules over 15 remaining realms, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Tuvalu.Sep 22, 2022].

With all this said and done, Imagine North America – where I arrived 1974 in the USA – then since 1976 Canada, it is huge. In fact Canada is so huge, takes a lifetime to see all of it. Nice ? yes, lots of space, but can also be boring at times. Still, Canada is the safest country to live.


NATURE – the most worthwhile cause for preservation and conservation, a healer, a life saver.

Leaving your estate to a good cause is the most rewarding action one can take, even if there is family to consider. Since seven years ago, when making my will, deciding to leave my estate to various charities (among others the major part of it to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, NCC), I feel good about myself and my decision.

And since surrounding myself with nature I feel better, and lead a better life. Visiting our parks, and surrounding myself with my own gardens at home here. Talking about parks: In all my travels and residing or working abroad – from Scandinavia to North Africa, Russia, North America to Mexico and all countries in Europe – I have not come across such a beautiful park as right here, ten minutes from where I live (Beacon Hill Park, Victoria, BC).

[Note. Parks are the most worthwhile attempt to recreate nature, while natural habitats are more than than, they are giving back to nature.]

[This post is not about all those travels and visits of nature areas, else I could fill a book with it. It is only to remind others what a good idea and feeling it is to leave behind for NATURE CONSERVATION. Protect nature from development, being run over by humanity and high risers, and above all help restore natural areas, thereby giving back to wildlife. What they deserve.]

YET, it is wonderful to witness how many efforts are made worldwide to do just that.

Canada, the second largest country (after Russia), with almost 3.85 million sq.miles. How many wild places do we still have ? Only about 23 per cent of Canada’s land habitats are still wild, and the oceans are even worse off – with only 13 per cent untouched by humans. That makes for about seven million square kilometers of wild land and another two million square kilometers of untouched ocean.Nov 1, 2018.

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And who can be held responsible for large-scale destruction and exploitation of the last wild places ? Mostly Governments. Who are afraid to make the right decisions and pass the right laws, because of fear not being re-elected.

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My photos CLICK HERE: [ ]

Bicycle instead of driving

BYCICLING or Cycling – one of the most rewarding activities and exercises. Once the bitter cold slowly gives way to (rather late spring), we see more bicycles on the road. Today was my first cycling trip for this year 2022 since last Fall. Until then, my bike only sits still in my office.

We had one of the coldest winters last winter on record. It still is cold. But with layers of warm clothing, it works. Meanwhile our City had built and installed many cycling lanes, roads still shared with cars, but priority for bikers.

Since last year I have been getting stiffer with arthritis problems also in both hands. I was afraid that my 21-speed would give me problems for operating the gears with my fingers. It damn well hurt. However, as usual, cycling makes you always feel good. Especially after you come home. Here in Victoria, Vancouver Island, we have lots of steep uphill climbs, because this entire island is of volcanic rock. That was tough. The first hill did not get up all the way, thought I get a heart attack.

But I know, it always gets better with regular practice. And it really makes you feel good.


UPDATE 19 August 22: BIG SHOUT-OUT for the nice ladies who helped me two days ago when I fell, with my bike. After stopping and trying to get my left leg over the frame – it’s a step thru, but not low enough, causing me again to loose my balance and fall hard onto my back and injure my lower spine and right knee. What a bummer ! One of the ladies (Lexi) walked with me through the Park, the other lady told me she is a nurse. So nice – muchos gracias to you. After slowly walking my bikem at the other end of our big Park, met another lady, asked her for cold water – it was very hot. She also turned out to be a nurse at the Jubilee Hospital, Victoria. Her name Doris. She gave me a knee brace and helped me put it on.

Again MANY, MANY THANKS TO ALL THOSE NICE LADIES. After hours, slowly walking home, I made it. What a day !

Seems like a long time ago. Cannes, the Côte d'Azur, the Mediterranian Sea, next door to Nice, then a bit further up the coast is Italy, just a 'stone's throw away'. In the winter of 2015 I traveled to the South of France, to spend three months in a wonderful (AirBnB) rental studio in Cannes, Rue des Fauvettes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, situated just a step away from the old town down the hill towards the Mediterranean Sea.
As all cities along this stretch of coast are steep downhill because of the mountain range along the entire coast line
[ ], in the morning to go for groceries I had to walk down a steep incline. Mostly there were steps to get down into the inner market streets where all the nice little stores, open air food markets and Algerian souks were. Including outside cafes - a cup of espresso was €1 only. I had rented for full three months with a very nice French lady, who became my friend. As French speaking traveler, no problem for me. 
My flight from Vancouver Airport to Paris was not less than adventurous. Leaving November 8,2015, arriving France November 9.  Just in time to experience some fallout from the November terrorist attacks on Paris 
[ ]. Turmoil at the biggest airport in France, wait times, special security measures. I had to continue my flight to Nice, Côte d'Azur, as Cannes does not have an airport. [Cannes, famous for its ]. Arriving at my destination in Cannes late evening November 10 by Bus from Nice Airport, without my suit case, lost at the airport in Paris. But arriving en retard 2 days later.
I made many wonderful excursions from Cannes along this coast line to both sides, Marseille, and especially Italy. across the border, buy a big panettoni for Christmas (which, by the way, I took home to Canada in my suitcase). Several excursions also to Monaco, Monte Carlo.
CHRISTMAS bus trip to Italy. Leaving with a group on December 23 for five days to spend Christmas around the many famous holy places so special during the Christmas season.
Its theme was Francesco de Assisi - Saint Francis of Assisi [ ]. The Bus left very early from Cannes, then via Nice Airport and from there towards Umbria, Italy. Umbria, a region in central Italy whose capital is Perugia. 
Driving through this area of Italy which is so well known, past Tuscany and flat or hilly landscapes, in winter is different. No hot sun, but higher elevations so foggy that visibility was mostly limited. We stopped at night at various hotels in medieval towns in Umbria, Arezzo, Perugia, Spoleto, Assisi,visiting many towns and medieval places of worship, cathedrals and churches, including the birthplace of Saint Francis de Assisi. Lots of tourists during the Christmas season.  [ ],
[ ].
Being among strangers and not with my family, who reside in The Netherlands (far away) - for me, this had been just another historically different, but very interesting excursion. The 24th of December, Christmas Eve, we stopped and stayed at a hotel in Arezzo, before continuing on to Perugia on the 25th. There was so much to take in, each day on this short trip from morning till late afternoon visiting churches and cathedrals. Returning Cannes late on the 27th. [Frankly, this must have been the last Bus tour I have taken with a group of unknown people.].
Leaving next day 28th for Eindhoven, Netherlands, to visit my family for New Years. Back to Cannes the 2nd of January 2016, a new year, new adventures. 


Recent heat wave here in Western Canada, British Columbia, was over 40C in most areas. Resulting among others in over 400 deaths in the Vancouver area alone, mostly among seniors. [ ], deaths related to this heat.

For the past 50 years in Canada I have been subjected to many heat waves, some during travel for work (Ottawa) and also Quebec, Montreal, during summer. I learned then that in addition to drinking lots of water, which really is only for your inside, that also the outside of your body, the skin, is heating up tremendously.

One fact is: Heat always rises, while water always runs down. Meaning, that during a heat wave, the body temperature rises, and the upper part of the body needs to be cooled down as long as the heat wave lasts, that means 24/seven.

How to take at least simple precautions: Use a cotton kerchief for the neck (I have many from my Cowboy days in Alberta), soak it thoroughly in cold water and tie it around your neck. This prevents heat rising to you head, and knock you out. Secondly, soak your T-shirt in cold water and wear it. As the body heats up, this needs to be repeated hourly. In addition, if I have to go out somewhere, always take a bottle of cold water, to re-soak and drink. I have done this regularly for every bicycle trip as well.

I survived this last heat wave, alone, without anybody helping me, and I am over 80 years old.

LANGUAGES – good for your brain

This has been known for centuries, “languages expand your brain”. [Or, as we say: “expand one’s horizon”.] New studies (University York at Toronto, Canada) have shown and proven that those who are at least bilingual in old age will show their first symptoms of Alzheimer and Dementia (if at all ) later than those with one single language (like English). [autres études l’Université d’Edinbourg et équipe indienne.] ]

There is also a correlation between widely traveling and thereby being exposed to other cultures and languages, and a healthier brain capacity. Besides the scientific implications of knowledge of several languages, not just one or two, there is also a practical side of this. When traveling, one who can communicate with the locals in another country often finds better deals and pays less. And finds new friends.

My own experiences: I traveled widely, several times to North Africa, Tunisia and Morocco. Besides Arabic, the primary language for visitors is French. Because tourists are highly appreciated income sources for the locals, taxi drivers will often drive you around to markets and stores belonging to one of their relatives. However, if you intended to go elsewhere, you never get there. Communicating in French helps tremendously, to somehow get (“out of there”). Mostly I used the public bus system, being the only European on this bus. Again, language knowledge helped ! When I spent one month in Marrakesh, Morocco, I met up with an Australian lady who always wanted me to tag along, to talk the Arab taxi drivers out of giving us the roundabout through the Souks.

Or, on another trip to several Caribbean islands, one was Saint-Martin, Sint Maarten [ ]. Interesting, one of the few islands shared by two nations – The Netherlands and France. Since I speak also Dutch (and French), no problem. In fact I saved some money. Needed to take a taxi with a nice lady taxi driver, from Philipsburg NL to Saint-Martin, paying much less (then still French francs; today €), when I told her that I don’t have much money on me. While back at Saint-Martin, the American tourists complained about having to spend US$20 for a small taxi trip.

I made many friends in many countries, simply because of my language knowledge. Once, spending three months at the Côte dAzur , Mediterrean, in Cannes, France. First day on a walk met some Russians, who also spoke German (my mother tongue), and amazingly lived in the same city I was born in Germany. World is small indeed !

I do miss traveling a lot, since outbreak of that pandemic. Since 2018 the last time I made a one month trip to Mexico.

 [NOTE. During this time, not many pictures of wildlife were done, because I was always on the road.]

During the many years living in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada, I learned how to live with wildlife. From 1978 on, when moving from Calgary, a rather large City in Alberta to the Kananaskis Country, South West of Calgary, I had horses and land. Many different properties. First near Bragg Creek, a tiny little hamlet. [ ]. Then, you could afford an acreage, not now anymore. Actually, the Kananaskis Country all the way past Banff is one of the most beautiful, wild, and natural areas in Alberta. [ ]. Living and working from there is a bit different than just visiting as a tourist. I needed to go to work in Calgary for years, in winter sometimes minus 30C, slow going on the roads. There were times that I had to stay in the city after work, because of snow storms. Wildlife abundant. Bears – Grizzly bears, many attacks reported then and still are around this wilderness area. For many years, being a horse person, we also went riding many times in the mountains, I once witnessed the victim of such a Grizzly bear attack. The poor horse – who threw its rider, luckily – had been seriously injured while running away from the bear.

Later on my 80 acres ranch, in the north west of Cochrane – that is west of Calgary – I learned to live with wild life. Each winter of course moose and other. On my property I had black bears, the occasional wolf, the great grey owl (who took my kitten, never seen again), coyotes and cougars in summer. Coyotes are also predators, they will also go for your cats. On my other land further north west, Jamieson Road, 160 acres, I temporary had my horses grazing during summer. Always went riding alone. Good to remember, make yourself heard. Animals are rarely seen, but they sure know you are there. When I saw bear scat – fresh – I quietly and slowly turn some other way.

Grizzly bear. A different story. From Water Valley I had to drive through the bush on my 4 wheel drive truck- no roads – to the saw mill, to pick up lumber. On my way, I see two guys in a truck coming from that direction, white in their face. Must be something there. They were soon gone. I drive on, then see some yellow safety tape around an area – apparently a Grizzly bear had taken down a cow. The wildlife service had put out warnings. I arrive at the saw mill, nobody there. What an eerie feeling that was ! |Wildlife has its space and needs its space and should be respected. Here on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, besides, we have many cougars – mountain lions. They are fantastic, prolific cats who normally mind their own business, until they get annoyed for example by dogs barking, or else surprised by humans. There have been attacks on humans. Myself, in many years, I have had no attack. And I always went alone. Grizzly bears are not to trifle with, don’t even think of ‘standing up’ to them.

What I do not like is to read about “some other young cougars needed to be put down.” Because some person, who normally enjoys to live outside the city, spots one of those cats. Well, then leave them alone ! And take your barking dog inside.

Let’s see what a new US President can do to Canada’s controversial oil industry and in particular TransCanada – with their Keystone XL Pipeline: [ ] [NOTE. TransCanada changing their name multiple times – see also TC Energy Corp : – [ ].

An Insider story – TransCanada.

Pipelines, oil and natural gas, the story of Canada’s primary resource. When I arrived in Alberta in 1976, after having spent years in the United States, among others completing my Master of Science (IST) at Syracuse University, my very first job had been a temporary computer programming assignment for now one of the largest Telecom companies in Canada. [NOTE. Joe Biden – ]. Shortly thereafter I was hired by Alberta’s oil industry. The first of them strongly connected with Canada’s own history – Hudson’s Bay Company; the oil corporation was HBOG – Hudson’s Bay Oil & Gas Co. Does not exist any more. Others along the way were also taken over by large US corporations. Along the way, I worked as System Analyst, Project Leader for large corporate computer systems – hardware and software. I survived – that in itself inside the oil industry – is extremely stressful.

Turn back the clock to the 1980s when TransCanada Pipelines took over Maligne Resources (Dow Chemical), and all employees like myself were now part of the takeover corporation – TransCanada Pipelines/TCPL. The culture within – thinking back – reminds me now of being incarcerated in something like Guantanamo Bay. TransCanada had sent down enforcersfrom their Toronto HQ. to control former employees and work on plans how to reduce the workforce, using asocial tactics and creating illegal firing situations. Resulting in many layoffs, (women first) without even so much as offering pensions for long term employees. The enforcer offered me C$14,000, this after almost ten years in that industry. Yet, I walked out with dozens of high-class Reference letters from employers in the oil industry and others since starting in information systems and computer work in the 1960s, including three from TransCanada Pipelines TCPLmanagement as well the President at that time. Afterwards I survived with computer contracts work until the mid-1990s.

1976 US Bicentennial travel with our Hobomobil*

PART 1 – From Alberta south to USA mid-west

Traveling with my little son in our old what I call Hobomobil* (a vehicle serving as a home, for decent temporary traveling folks; vs. hobomobile=Google app) square back Volkswagen. For the purpose of obtaining a Landed Immigrant visa for Canada. [See also my previous posts on 1975 travel during summer vacation from Syracuse University, taking a Greyhound Bus across USA.]

1976 is an important year for the United States, (their Bicentennial), having a history since 1776 and celebrating the most important events, which led to the US forming and their constitution, and – 4th of July 1776 – the Declaration of Independence. [ ]. I had come from Europe to the United States in fall of 1974 for my graduate program at Syracuse University. At that time I did not know much about US history. It was only coincidental that we (myself and my little son) would be there during this important period in time and history.

Likewise, not knowing at that time that my son after leaving Alberta, Canada, would also return to the USA, Alabama and later Washington, DC, for his own graduate studies. And then in 1990 return to his homeland Holland.

Back to my story – 1976, the year we arrived in Canada in Spring, on my expired US student visa. Having traveled in my VW for weeks to arrive in Edmonton, Alberta, staying with a friend. Someone who saw my vehicle (NY State license plate), turned me in to Immigration. Normally one has to return to ones home country to apply from there for a Canadian Landed Immigrant visa.

Impossible ! Somehow, with the help of another friend there, and some sort of job offer, I could return to the United States, to apply for the Canadian Visa and wait it out there. We took the opportunity, being it was summer, to just travel around. From state to state, during the US Bicentennial. Lots of celebrations, you might think ? Not so much. The nearest Canadian Consulate I chose was Minneapolis, Minnesota.

My old VW Hobomobil, our temporary home, in which we traveled, lived, slept, cooked, and accumulated a lot of stuff as souvenirs. Alone, on campgrounds, or just driving till late into the night, meeting others in similar or same positions. This old car did not even have an air conditioning system – summers sometimes high up into the 30C. All “road” people nice to us, even a group of Hells Angels motor cycle guys, met on the road during a heavy rain storm, waiting it out under a bridge.

[The pictures are from scanned images, previously slides]


9/11 World Trace Center Towers New York City Terrorist Attack

where were you ? I remember exactly where I was. This was September 9 in the year 2001. I had a Doctor’s appointment in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Walking the city I passed by a TV and electronics shop. Standing in front of the large store window and watching LIVE news. What do I see ? The plane plowing into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Wow !

Coincidentally, that same year, August 2001 we (my son and I) had visited New York City, to celebrate my birthday. Traveling by Amtrak train from Washington, DC (where my son worked and lived) to New York City. Stayed in a hotel at Central Park. The evening we went out to visit the sites: Little Italy, the Russian Cafe, Times Square, Broadway, at night watching the musical Les Miserables, and hanging out. That was August that same year. From Washington DC I then returned to Alberta August 14th. Then came September 2001 and 9/11.

Next year in January 2002 we went one more time to New York City (from DC), with the elevator up the Chrysler Building, try see the sight – Ground Zero. At that time it was still all sooty and smelly and hazy, and no more World Trade Center Towers to see.