10 questions for Keith Jenkins – Interview number 50

Happy to feature ever smiling Keith Jenkins, a long time travel blogging friend who runs the price winning luxury travel blog Velvet Escape, for my 10 questions series.

1) Who Are you?

I’m Keith Jenkins, the Founder & Publisher of the Velvet Escape luxury travel blog. In 2008, I left a ten-year investment banking career to travel the world. During my travels, the financial sector collapsed. Unable to find a job in banking after returning from my round-the-world trip, I started blogging about my travels. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me!

2) What do you like about what you do?

I get to travel the world and work according to my own terms.

3) What don’t you like about what you do?

As the owner of the company, I oversee all aspects of the day-to-day operations and of these, financial administration has never been one of my strongest points.

4) Please tell us all about your blog and your aims with it.

I started the Velvet Escape blog in December 2008 and since then, I’ve won various awards and the blog has been featured by the likes of Lonely Planet, National Geographic, CNN, BBC Travel and the New York Times. In a nutshell, Velvet Escape is about getting out and exploring the world in style, and being inspired by our travel experiences. I cover destination tips, gastronomy and hotels, as well as culture, architecture and nature. My aim is to inspire people to travel and learn from immersive experiences.

5) Your top 3 destination experiences you’ve ever stayed to date and why?

  • Experiencing the incredible nature of the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.
  • Any of my food experiences in Costa Brava (Catalonia, Spain) or in Emilia-Romagna (Italy).
  • A helicopter tour of Cape Town. The views of the city, Table Mountain and the coast were simply phenomenal.

6) Your top 3 accommodations you’ve ever stayed to date and why?

Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur

  1. Four Seasons Mauritius at Anahita – an incredible resort with stunning villas! See: http://velvetescape.com/four-seasons-mauritius-anahita/
  2. Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur – some of the best views of the Petronas Twin Towers! See: http://velvetescape.com/grand-hyatt-kl-review/
  3. Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador – amazing design lodge nesteled in the cloud forests of Ecuador. See: http://velvetescape.com/mashpi-cloud-forest/

7) Your top 3 most memorable food / wine experiences to date and why?

    1. Moscato di Scanzo meditation wine in Lombardy, Italy – this wine is simply exquisite and is guaranteed to make you dream away! See: http://velvetescape.com/moscato-di-scanzo/
    2. l Celler de Can Roca – one of the top-3 restaurants in the world every year, a meal here is a feast for the senses! See: http://velvetescape.com/heaven-el-celler-de-can-roca/
    3. Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid – one of my favourite markets in the world, I could spend all day here just eating and drinking my way around! See: http://velvetescape.com/mercado-san-miguel/

    8) Your 3 worst destination/ accommodation /food experiences to date and why?

    Whoa, this is a tough question. I can only think of two I’m afraid.
    The absolute worst accommodation experience I’ve ever had was in a hotel in Rotterdam (which closed down some time ago so there’s no point mentioning it here). The room was dirty, dusty and swarming with mosquitoes. I was booked there for one night but left after an hour when they couldn’t give me another room! That’s the only time I’ve ever left a hotel prematurely.

    When it comes to food experiences, I’ll never forget that ‘cardboard’ burger I had at the airport in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I was so hungry but even then, I threw it away after a few bites. It was just too gross to eat.

    9) Can you offer the readers 3 destination/ food / accommodation / things to do tips about the city you are currently living in?


    • Visit the Food Hallen in the Kinkerbuurt for some gorgeous food/wines
    • Have a drink at the SkyLounge at sunset
    • If you love architecture, stroll around the Rivierenbuurt/Oud Zuid neighbourhoods to admire the ‘Amsterdam School’ architectural style, a unique brand of Art Deco.

    10) Any Question(s) you’d expected me to ask that you would like to answer?

    Which 3 cities would you definitely return to again and why?
    They would be Montréal, Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro.

    • Montréal – from Old Montréal with its gorgeous historic buildings to the city’s striking architecture and arts/design scene, fab restaurants and lovely parks, this city has tonnes to offer. Most of all, I love the energy in this city, a unique brand of joie de vivre that never let’s you go once it has you in its grip!
    • Rio de Janeiro – the home of samba, Copacabana, Ipanema, the Sugarloaf Mountain and the Christ Statue, Rio is exotic, breathtaking, vibrant and laid-back all at once. There’s just something magnetic about this city!
    • Cape Town – another stunning harbour-side city which I can’t get enough of! The views from the top of Table Mountain are bewildering, as is the drive around the Cape Peninsula. Cape Town is a lively hodge-podge of markets, historic buildings, colourful neighbourhoods like Bo Kaap and terrific restaurants and cafés.

    My Take:

    Thank you Keith for helping me out with this interview. Especially now I’ve completed number 50, half a century in cricket terms.

    Please go on with your blog as you are a super blogger and example for many. I love Velvet Escape and admire the fact that you are one of the happy few who are able to live from blogging.

    I’ve used this opportunity to change this blog’s header photo from a surfer in a storm in Scheveningen into a sculpture in Pesaro in the Marche in Italy as you fell in love with Emilia Romagna and I with the adjacent Marche region in Italy.

Cory Doctorow on Copyright

Found it at his site Craphound

Here’s the 32 minute video of my presentation at last month’s O’Reilly Security Conference in New York, “Security and feudalism: Own or be pwned.”

Cory Doctorow explains how EFF is battling the perfect storm of bad security, abusive business practices, and threats to the very nature of property itself, fighting for a future where our devices can be configured to do our bidding and where security researchers are always free to tell us what they’ve learned.

Kind of funny Youtube says:

This video is unlisted. Be considerate and think twice before sharing.

Probably they will take the video down in the near future…

Gorilla High Five

I gave it a High Five (number 11)

Furka Steam Railway Depot at Realp


You just walk westward from Realp and you’ll find this golf ball marking the entrance to the golfcourse on your right. On your left you will find the Railway Depot of DFB AG. In my prior post you can find more details of DFB’s History.

_56a7833kl As you can see now more clearly the depot just starts left from the Golf Ball.
old-swiss-snow-removal-train-_56a7819klAmong others a real snow plowing loc.
A diesel originally from the FO or Furka Oberalp line which merged into the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn

There is a mini museum in this wagon that tells the story of the Vietnamese narrow gauge railroad where this wagon was used and where several steam locomotives were sold to after the mountain route was electrified in the 40ies. If I see it correctly at present 2 locomotives that were repatriated from Vietnam in the 90ies are being rebuilt in the Loc shed.

The amateur railway lovers are united in the VFB 0r Verein Furka Bergstrecke or Furka Mountain Route Club since 1983. It has several chapters, not only in Switzerland, but also several in Germany and one  in The Netherlands. It is a reservoir for all the volunteers who succeeded to rebuilt the railway itself and do the maintenance and who work in 3 sheds, one in Uzwil, one in Aargau and one in Realp. Locomotives and chassis are being rebuilt or renovated in Uzwil. wagons are being rebuilt / renovated in Aargau. The Realp shed is for Diesel/electric and for steam maintenance. It’s fascinating to see how they succeed to operate the railway very professionally from the second half of June to the first half of Oktober each year.

The biggest achievement of the club members is the return of the original steam locomotives from the old days. These were sold to Vietnam after the introduction of electrical power in 1941, where they were in operation until the mid-seventies. Afterwards, they were turned off in a locomotive shed, where they were discovered by a member of the VFB. The plan quickly ripened the to put the locomotives back to the old mountain route. With a great deal of effort it was possible to recover a total of 6 locomotives in Vietnam in 1990 and transport them to Switzerland. Four of the locomotives were original BFD / FO, the other two had been built in Switzerland, but were delivered directly to Vietnam. In 1993 the two locomotives HG 3/4 1 “Furkahorn” and 2 “Gletschhorn” were restored in the Meiningen factory of the former German Reichsbahn and were put back into service on 27.3 and 30.7.1993 respectively.


Before the opening of the Furka Base Tunnel, the Glacier Express used the Mountain traject as well and then the Mountain Route was considered one of the nicest parts of the Glacier Express tour.

An interesting read on the Furka Steam Railwy can be found at the International Steam site.

Furka Steam Railway – DFB AG


Traveling by Car

I like traveling by Car. On June 4, 2016, on my way to Italy I traveled the Gotthard Pass as the Gotthard tunnel seemed to take a lot of time because of the traffic lights regulating the number of cars in the tunnel (two lanes only). There I noticed that the road to the Gotthard pass crossed the Furka Pass road. A road to the Rhone Valley in the Swiss Kanton Valais (or Wallis). In the past I had spent a couple of winter sport holidays at the other side of the Furka Pass in the Bettmeralp ski region and was curious to explore a bit of the eastern side of the pass. The first photo shows part of the road being widened which resulted in several one lane traffic light regulated stops. That also took some time. But then a bit further on the Furka Pass Road in Realp I ran into a part of Swiss narrow gauge Railway history, the Furka Steam Railway.


Just west of Realp is a golf course and it mus be one of the steepest golf courses of the world, as it stretches along the road to the Furka pass.
Opposite the golfcourse is a depot of DFB AG with several very interesting trains and wagons.

Glacier Express


One of the most romantic train journeys is the Swiss Glacier Express which connects the three pioneer cities in Alpine sport Zermatt, Sankt Moritz and Davos. Part of the journey is the narrow gauge railway track between Brig and Andermatt/Disentis. Currently the Glacier express is operated by the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn and the Rhaetian Railway.

History of the railway track and DFB AG

The first concession for a railroad through Goms  (a distict of the Wallis Kanton rougly between Brig and Andermatt) and via Bedrettotal to Airolo was issued in 1886.

Financial problems prevented the construction. It was followed by numerous other projects.

In 1907 a licence to operate an electric narrow gauge railway with partial gear operation from Brig to Gletsch and on to Andermatt Oberalp Disentis was granted. Since the majority of shares in Brig – Furka – Disentis Bahn BFD was held by French shareholders, the French called the shots and required to operate the railway with steam locomotives rather than electric locomotives,in order to save costs.

On June 30, 1914, the steam operation between Brig and Gletsch was opened.

When the First World War broke out shortly thereafter, the Italian railway workers went home and the construction work between Gletsch and Disentis had to be postponed. Because of the incomplete-ended route and the war, the BFD came in financial difficulties. The French shareholders didn’t want to grant extra money and in 1923 the company was liquidated.

Politicians knew that the still unfinished, 100 km long Alpine railway was a dire need. A new company called Furka – Oberalp Bahn FO was founded and led the construction work quickly to end. In 1926 train-traffic between Brig and Disentis was finally possible.

From the beginning, only a summer operation was provided on the Furka, a winter operation came not because of the exposed position in question. This circumstance was of course an obstacle for tourism on both sides of the Furka and the FO took the both 7-month separate operating higher expenses and lower income massively.

Furka Base Tunnel

In 1964  first plans for a Furka Base Tunnel were presented. Building commenced in 1973, but only after huge political resistance to the tunneling work. In 1982 the 15.4 km base tunnel was opened despite enormous geological problems. The mountain part of the railway was split in Oberwald and Realp. Electrication was taken away and it fell into a deep sleep. The prince to wake it up came in the form of some enterprising people (then called Spinner) who wanted to take the mountain route as tourist train back into service. The “Furka Cogwheel Steam Railway” DFB AG was founded and with volunteers from the six world track and also the rolling stock has been put back into operation in stages. The total distance Oberwald – Realp could again be driven in 2010. A great achievement of the DFB employees and many many volunteers

DFB AG means a company with shares named Dampfbahn Furka-Bergstrecke. It is a publicly held company that owns the license to drive with trains on the track.

It has nothing to do with the Glacier Express as the Glacier Express travels  through the Furka Base Tunnel nowadays, but I needed the use of their map to guide you to the exact location of the Furka track in mid Switzerland.


The Glacier Express travels the Furka Base tunnel that you don’t see on this map except both entrances at the Oberalp and Realp sides. The red track on this map is the Furka Steam Railway – DFB AG part.

More details in the next post.

USA Election Day – Humilitas Odiosa Superbis


Humilitas Odiosa Superbis

Is the motto engraved in the facade of one of the city palaces in Jesi, an Italian city in the Marche region, not afar from the Adriatic sea bordering city Ancona, and yes very close to the recent earthquakes of Norcia and Perci by the way.

Humilitas Odiosa Superbis means so much as humility is wasted to the well to do.

I had to think of Mr Trump off course in his Titanic battle against Hillary Clinton. I hope if he happens to win he earns some more sensitivity….

Jesi is where the Italian Componist Pergolesi was born. Pergolesi is most know because of his Sabat Mater…. nomen est omen