PUBS Hey, You Love Beer Mats …?

Then „The Edgar Wallace“ in London is the place for you!

Pub

Look at all the beer mats ...

Pub

… in this Pub

WALLPAPER, PAINT OR PICTURES? They don’t need that in „The Edgar Wallace“ in London, address: Essex Street No. 40/Devereux Place. Because the landlord assembled a vast collection of beer mats/coasters and displays them in his pub. Hundreds, I would say, maybe more than a thousand. I asked him how many, but he hadn’t the faintest idea. The beer, the food, the service and the opening hours (11-23 h) are as good (or bad) as anywhere, the facade is old fashioned chic and the landlady, as you can see in the small photo, has a green thumb. That’s nice, but not outstanding. Why go there? To enjoy the uniqueness of the beer mat/coaster interior! It’s a British curiosity and one must have seen it. And what has Edgar Wallace in common with „The Edgar Wallace“? It was his favorite … – well, well, what did you expect would have been the answer the landlord gave me? Oh, the famous English photographer Steve Vidler made the picture and sent it to his friends …

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POLITICS Let’s Phone the Minister …

Look, what I discovered in Botswana!

Sprechstunde

Make your choice of the Cabinet Ministers ...

I CAN’T IMAGINE ANY OTHER GOVERNMENT AROUND THE GLOBE, who would dare to do something like that! To publish an advertisement in the paper with the largest circulation, announcing 1. the date, 2. the hour and 3. the phone numbers to all citizens, so they can call the  18 Cabinet Ministers of the Republic of Botswana in their offices!!! For instance the Ministers of Finance, Health, Agriculture, International Affairs and Wildlife. The schedule I’m showing here (in two languages, Tswana and English) was for April 2017 (I was by chance in the country at that time), and it’s amazing that 11 of the ministers take the calls between 7 and 8 p.m.! Well, 60 Minutes per month and minister isn’t much, but Botswana only got 2,2 million inhabitants and how many of them dare to dial these numbers? But it is a splendid example of a functioning government with a great sense for public service, initiated by president Ian Khama. Congratulation!

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GOLF Get Lifted Between Two Holes!

In Radstadt (Austria) there is a „Birdie Jet“ from Green 11 to Tee 12 ...

Golf-Lift

Golfers use this Cable Car between ...

Golf-Lift

… the holes 11 and 12 ...

IT MIGHT BE WORLDWIDE UNIQUE and I present it to you, because I know, that golfers are collectors of unusual courses. Here I introduce a connection between two holes by – Cable Car! I know there are tees on mountaintops, reachable by helicopter only; boats ship you to island greens; elevators bring you to the next tee on another landscape level. But a cable car, called „Birdie Jet“ seems to be „one only“ and you find in Radstadt (Austria). Just look at the map on the left: You see the green of hole 11, followed by a straight line, ending at the tee of hole 12. That’s the route of the cable car which takes just some seconds, is for free and each cabin holds two players (it’s a shuttle). Well, if you don’t want it, don’t use it. Players in carts avoid it naturally. I didn’t, I wanted to experience the fun. With a fine view. Oh, by the way: The green fee is 79 Euro/US$ (as in July 2017) and the club has a fabulous website (radstadtgolf.at).

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ART Nobody Paints Africa Like Larry …

This Zimbabwean artist is the greatest, says me!

Norton

Larry at home in Vic Falls ...

Norton

… just finishing a huge canvas ...

Norton

… a leopard at the falls ...

Norton

… hippos taking a bath ...

Norton

… the Victoria Falls ...

Norton

,,, and that's his pricelist!

I WROTE A POST ABOUT HIM SOME TIME AGO, but I just visited Larry Norton at home in Vic Falls – and was so deeply impressed by this man’s ability to depict Africa on canvas that I have to present some of his latest works! An remarkable artist, who, when not in his study, roams the plains just by himself, sketching, noting details, collecting trivia and sharpening his senses. Some may call his paintings „Kitsch“, but Larry creates his works with the artistry of the Old Masters and whatever they painted, it’s never „Kitsch“. Just look at my large photo and discover, how Larry paints – the elephant (a real portrait!) and the trees first! The painting, by the way, was commissioned by an American fan. Larry knows what he is worth, of course, and therefore I show here the price list he has sent me: from US$ 2100 to 22 000, depending on the size (the large one takes up to 4 months) – and worldwide shipping is no problem, the DHL office in Vic Falls is around the corner from his study.

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CAFES When in Warsaw, snack in Wilenska 3!

For breakfast, I would go there every day ...

Wilenska

That's the Cafe ...

Wilenska

… and here you find it (upper righthand corner)

THIS QUARTER OF WARSAW IS NOTHING SPECIAL, the street, Wilenska, is without clear and welcoming identity. Just remember: Poland’s capital was razed in World War II. Therefore go straight to No. 3, there you’ll find the Cafe „Wilenska 3“. A strange place: Wall decorations from the 1970s, music from the 1980s, furniture late Art Deco (partly), style like a well-to-do Communist’s living room – and kitchen international! The „Wilensky 3“ is knighted with the label „Best coffee in town“, and they even offer the Polish breakfast speciality (tough to stomach, but I love it) „Chleb ze smalcem“ = Dark bread, coated with lard and covered with slices of gherkin. But you get your fried eggs (over easy), yoghurts and crisps as well.

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CURIOSITIES Learn Co-Existence In Venice …

Let me explain a hilarious street corner

Venedig

Gelebte Koexistenz an einem Canale ...

THAT’S WHY I ADMIRE THE ITALIANS! The „Don Camillo and Pepone“-Italians. Those who live and let live. Fight and embrace. Accept all contradictions of existence. And then I saw in Vernice, by chance and close to the Arsenale, at the corner of Corte Nova and Fondamenta de la Tana – two houses, not in best shape, the one making the corner, painted bloodred, decorated with a red flag and a neon star above of the door, the neighboring house, to the left, ugly brown: the office of the Partito Democratico. And the red house?  The local office of the Communist Party of Italy. And to the right, high on the red wall (belonging to the communists quarter), you see an altar, carved in wood – Jesus Christ the Saviour, painted in vivid colors! With a roof, wooden shutters and some burned down candles. Now you know what I mean with „co-existence“: The communists being the „hosts“ of Christ, and the Democrats being the peaceful neighbors of their political arch-enemy …

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MONEY The Multi Zero Desaster!

Look at these banknotes: Documents of corrupt despots ...

Banknoten

Mobutu and his 500 000 ...

Banknoten

… and Mugabe's 100 000 000 000 …

Banknoten

… and the new 500 000 000 Zim-Dollars!

USELESS AND NOT WORTH THE CRISPY PAPER THEY ARE PRINTED ON – and now remember, that both states, Zaire and Zimbabwe, once belonged to the most prosperous countries in Africa and on earth! And then stupid, ruthless and even criminal despots (and their families) ruined the blossoming economy with their greed, became billionaires with foreign bank accounts and, as a rule, always get away with their historically disastrous behavior. Just look at the stoical portrait of dictator Mobutu of Zaire on his 500 000 Zaire banknote. With a value of then – nothing! You couldn’t get it changed into any foreign currency, it was valid in Zaire only – app. 1 US cent. Even worse: The 100 billion dollar note (!) of the senile president Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. When I got it, it was worth 0,002 US cent! Mobutu was finally chased out of the Congo, is dead now, his stolen assets still in the dirty hands of his relatives. But Mugabe, 93, is alive and still squeezing his country dry for his personal wealth, nobody even considers to kick him out or send him to jail – and the printing of colorful Zimbabwean Monopoly Money goes on. Just look at the recent 500 000 000 Zim-Dollar note! I collect these banknotes, for me they are the tombstones of Africa’s future gone wrong …

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LUXURY Mr. Steidl’s Sleeping Car …

The charming secret of the successful German publisher

Steidl

That's Gerhard Steidl ...

Steidl

… and that's a car like his VW Phaeton

GERHARD STEIDL WAS BORN IN 1950, lives and works in Göttingen (immortalized by Barbara’s chanson, recently covered beautifully by Gerard Depardieu), is what they all say, the producer of the best art books – and the publisher of some literary big shots (like the late Günter Grass) who trust nobody but him. „The New Yorker“ printed some weeks ago a fabulous portrait of Steidl (by Rebecca Mead), which – I’m afraid – not too many have read. And there was a paragraph which fascinated me, not even 20 lines long, and I want to bring it to your knowledge: „Steidl is driven to Paris dozens of times a year. He makes the trip in a Volkswagen Phaeton in which the passage-side seats have been replaced by a bad, as in the first-class cabin of an aircraft. He drinks a glass of good red wine before leaving Paris, and is asleep, sandwiched between two pillows, by the time the driver has reached the peripherique. ‘I wake up when the car gets off the highway – I see the Burger King sign, and I know I have arrived in Göttingen … not one minute earlier’.“ That’s, in my eyes, luxury in the 21st century – directly adopted from the traveling of the old Romans in their palanquins. A millionaire’s way, I confess, but in the end, probabely, cheaper – and cozier – than flying and by far less time-consuming. I admire Steidl for this as well …

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ANIMALS Good-by, Beautiful Monkey!

Less than 30 are left of the Black Crested Gibbon on Hainan ...

Hainan

Say good-bye to this blond Gibbon …!

NO CHANCE! The gen pool is too weak with not even 30 animals, this glorious monkey, one of the most beautiful, can’t survive. The Chinese try to save this rare rainforest dweller on their island of Hainan, but on the other hand Hainan is rapidly and recklessly developed into the Chinese riviera, an ideal hotspot of tourism with endless white beaches like on south sea islands. The travel industry needs the hinterland to construct hotels and amusement parks, even now hundred thousands visit Hainan from the mainland – and now they are trying to „sell“ the island to first class tourists from foreign countries. The forests disappear faster than you can look and the ecologists and zoologists react! It’s a definite good-bye to the blond Gibbons with the black crest who are as cuddly as Australian Koala bears …

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ART NOUVEAU A (Almost) Forgotten Cafe In Italy

Try to drink an espresso in Udine's stunning „Contarena“

Udine

The entrance to the „Contarena“ ...

Udine

… the exit to the toilets ...

Udine

… and some Art Nouveau/Art Deco details

IT ISN’T MENTIONED IN THE GUIDES, I saw it by chance: the „Caffe Contarena“ in the Via Cavour, 1. Why hasn’t anybody mentioned to me, that Udine in Northneastern Italy houses an Art Nouveau/Art Deco treasure? A public one! An 19th century palace, a modern entrance with sliding glass doors – and inside a stunning sight: a rare mixture of the two styles who blend into something great! The frescoes and the mosaics are late Art Nouveau, the architecture, the lamps and the windows pure Art Deco. They built the „Contarena“ a bit too late, between 1911 and 1925 (I wonder what took them so long) and Raimondo D’Aronco, Italy’s most prominent Art Nouveau architect, couldn’t avoid the upcoming Art Deco move, but refused to part with the style he was best known for. I saw fairytale book illustrations in the Caffe, Mucha-like figurines, floral ornaments, formed into cupolas, and golden masks, growing from rows of circles. Here the decorations could fit into a church, there into a brothel. Square meter after square meter are filled with flowers, made of tiny stones, and painted with a tender touch by the tip of a brush. And I sat down, ordered a capuccino for 2.50 Euro (more or less the same in US$), and turned a 360° circle to inhale the beauties. Just look at the lamps, hanging from the wooden cassette ceiling like a cascade of frozen water, and mind the wall lamps, which are placed high to illuminate the treasures, not the tables. Even some of the original furniture survived. I confess I drank three capuccini and ate a brioche, because it took me quite a while to understand all the details of D’Aronco’s work.

 

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