Train Travel

Lots of train travel this year. Vienna:

U-Bahnhof Donauinsel


M3 Metro Line


Gare de Viry - Chatillon


Thoughts on Investing in Bitcoin and other Crypto-Currencies

About two years ago I became interested in Bitcoin and the underlying blockchain technology. At the time, it was mostly tech and finance circles discussing their potential.

Today, it seems everybody is talking about it. As the price of Bitcoin has soared even mainstream media feel they need to report on it.

Is it a bubble?

Earlier this year, I figured that simply being interesting in crypto-currencies wasn’t enough. In order to talk about it credibly, I wanted to be more invested in it (literally). So I decided a take a few hundred Euros to buy small mounts of Bitcoin, Ether and Ripple, even though they had already increased quite substantially in previous months. I reasoned, if the bubble burst, the financial loss would be bearable, but if it increased ten-fold, I would turn a nice profit. Either outcome seemed equally likely then.

Of all the crypto-currencies out there, I chose these three, because

  1. Bitcoin was (and still is) the most popular and thus in my mind has the largest chances of being driven up by speculators.
  2. Ether is the value token of the Ethereum smart-contract platform, which is a technology I thought had a lot of promise as the building blocks of many digital innovations yet to come.
  3. Ripple is different from other crypto-currencies in that it was not really competing with existing currencies and the banking system, but rather complementing them. In my opinion, it also neatly solves a few of the issues in other real-time gross settlement systems, such as the complexity of managing standard settlement instructions (SSIs).

When to get out?

Initially, my investments languished. But particularly in these last few weeks, interest in crypto-currencies has spiked and I suppose, as the rise in Bitcoin has people looking for alternatives, Ether and Ripple have been driven up as well.

Thus, my investments in Bitcoin and Ripple have now increased four- to five-fold (Ether a little less). Naturally, no one knows when this is going to end (but end it must, I believe). So I decided to limit my down-side risk and sell about a fourth or a fifth of my stake in Bitcoin and Ripple.

This way, I’ve fully recouped my initial investment, but still have hundreds of Euros worth of crypto-currency left. Now, a couple of days later, Bitcoin has continued to appreciate, but I am not worried about the money I did not make by selling early. I can now sit back relaxed, knowing that I cannot lose anything, but still have a lot to gain as I watch the crypto-currency story unfold and hopefully realize its full potential.

[11-Jan-2018 Update]: Looks like I’m not the only one taking money off the table.

Should I invest?

I don’t give investment advice. Not in real life and particularly not on the internet.

But whenever you need to ask someone, whether something is a good idea, you obviously don’t know enough about it to make an informed decision for yourself.

Hiking in Heimbach (Eifel)

As there were two holidays last week, I decided to get out of town to take a short vacation in Heimbach (Eifel) for some hiking. The Eifel is only two hours away by train, but you feel so much closer to nature around all the forests and lakes.

Burg Hengebach

Burg Hengebach mit Brücke

The landscape is dominated by various reservoirs and dams, most notably the Rur dam. Below the view from the Hirschley atop the Kermeter onto the Rur lake.

Hirschley Panorama


More reservoirs downstream from the Rur dam.

Stauanlage Heimbach


The Art Nouveau hydro-electric power plant in Heimbach.


Vitra Architecture Tour

On the last day of my Obereggenen vacation, we went to Vitra in Weil am Rhein. They are a maker of designer furniture, show-casing some of their offerings in this stylish building.

Vitra Alice in Wonderland

Vitra Haus

As part of their architecture tour we got to see their production facilities where almost every building has been designed by famous architects; e.g. passage cover by Álvaro Siza and fire station by Zaha Hadid.

Vitra Überdachung

Vitra Fire Station

Vitra Zelt

Vitra Zeltdach

Vitra Bank