The Traffic Lights Will Watch You …

... in London. But it's a clever idea!

Wie die Beatles in der Abbey Road ...

YOU KNOW THE SITUATION AND HATE IT: You are stopped by a red traffic light without need – there are no pedestrians crossing! Or the other way round: You can’t cross a street because of the red light – but there are no cars! So far traffic lights were stupid, exchanged their colors by a fixed time signal, not appraising the real demand. To alter this, the city council of London decided to install 200 smart traffic lights which recognize the real situation and adapt the duration and sequences of their colors accordingly. Thank you! But the United Nations should order all their member states to follow – it would safe time, energy, exaust fumes and frustration enormously around the globe …

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The „Astoria“ will be back!

Leipzig's famous hotel resurrects from the dead ...

... and the old luggage label

A postcard of the hotel ...

ONCE IT WAS THE HOTBED OF THE INTER- NATIO- NAL VIPs – even Enrico Caruso slept hier! Opened in 1915, the „Astoria“ stands close to the equally famous train station, both being fine examples of Imperial architecture and representing in splendor the former wealth of this Saxonian town. But the State ownership during the socialist reign of the GDR ruined it and even the unification of the two German states couldn’t save it – in closed in 1995 and became an empty shell. Now it will be restored with the original facade, with 250 rooms up to the latest hospitality standard, and the opening is scheduled for late 2020. Hurrah, cry the aficionados of hotel nostalgia!

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WITH JULES VERNE IN VIGO

The Spanish Port celebrates the French writer

So wirbt das Museum mit Jules Verne

HE WAS TWICE IN VIGO, and both times Jules Verne was passenger on a ship and something went wrong! First he had to take refuge in Vigo, after tremendous gales almost sank the vessel, the second time, some years later, the ship herself had a grave problem and had to be steered to the port. It maybe therefore, that Verne let his famous book „20.000 Leagues Under the Sea“ start in Vigo, an ideal setting for an adventure like that. And now the exhibition „The Limits of the Imagination“ at the „Marco Museum“ in this Spanish harbor covers the two stop-overs and joins the discussion about the French authors overflowing phantasy and his influence on the modern world. It’s open until September 16.

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Neanderthals were different …

... tell the latest findings: very early paintings in Spain!

That's how they looked ...

... und that's a stencil of their hands!

DUMB, BRU- TISH CREA- TURES THEY WERE, SO EVERY- BODY BELIE- VED – but then arche- ologists discovered remarkable paintings in three Spanish caves: a red linear motif in La Pasiega (Cantabria), a hand stencil in Maltravieso (Estremadura) and red-painted speleothems (mineral layers) in Areales (Andalucia). When the results of the uranium-thorium dating came back, it was a total surprise – they were at least 68 000 years old, made 20 000 years before the arrival of modern humans in Europe! Which means: These painting were definitely done by the dumb and brutish Neanderthals! Until now, it was thought that their artistic expressions was – if there wer any – limited to body ornamentations. Now the gap between Neanderthals and modern human beings is closed, the scientists are jubilant.

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When near the Moselle River (Germany) …

... don't miss the Art Nouveau hotel „Bellevue“ in Traben-Trabach!

The hotel on the Moselle river ...

... the authentic restaurant ...

... and the fabulous bar ...

ART NOUVEAU WAS FASHIONABLE BEFORE THE FIRST WOLD WAR (1914-1918), and there are many great examples left around the globe (Barcelona, Vienna, Palma de Mallorca, Paris, Lüderitz, Udine). But a hotel, completely preserved in Art Nouveau is very rare and therefore the  „Bellevue“ in Traben-Trarbach, situated directly on the shores of the Moselle river, is unique! Wherever you move in this turreted, castle-like building, you encounter the original, more than 110 years old architecture, decorations and even tools – from the painted-glass windows to the  upholstery of the chairs in the restaurants, from the frescoes in the bar to to carpets in the lounge, from the lamps in the leisure rooms to the cutlery in the restaurant. The door frames? Wow! The champagne coolers? Another Wow! The hundreds of examples of elaborate woodcarving? Astonishing! The bedrooms? Museum-like and the owners still managed to combine their precious heritage with the utmost modern comfort. Just have a look at the two picture I show here! Room rates: More than US$ 100, less than US$ 200 (it depends on many factors). Conclusion: You have to see it, to believe it! Adress: An der Mosel 11. Phone: (0049) 65 / 41 70 30. Email: info@bellevue-hotel.de Internet: www.beevue-gotel.de

 

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When in Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic) …

... and you are hungry, go straight to the restaurant „Embassy“!

The 80 years old facade of the restaurant ...

... and the general view of the interior

THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF RESTAURANTS in this once spectacular Bohemian spa, trying to lure you inside. I can’t say I tried them all, but I got a gourmet friend in this town of a thousand traditi- ons, followed his advise and was not disappoin- ted: The „Embassy“, in 1938 built by the architect Mewes and on the righthand side of the Hotel „Embassy“, is cosy, authentic, full off „Gemüt- lichkeit“, has very good food, cooked in the best Bohemian Style, the service reminds you with its humor of the world famous „Good Soldier Svejk“, and it is almost impossible, to spend more than US$ 30 for a full menu. The wines are local, much better than expected (even excellent), but don’t drink the reds, there is not enough sun in his part of Europe. You find the „Embassy“ more or less opposite the „Grandhotel Pupp“, but on the other side of the river (look for the nearest bridge). Conclusion: Highly recommended, no tricks involved! Adress: Nova Look, 21. Pone: (00420) 353 / 221 161. Email: info@embassy.cz

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Why The Houses Look Down Into the Grachten …

Here I explain an oddity in Amsterdam (The Netherlands)

See, how they are leaning forward?

Amsterdam 2

... and that's the boom for the furniture

WHEN I VISITED THE FABULOUS FLUTIST FRANS BRÜGGEN in his many century old palais in the center of Amsterdam, I wondered why all the historical houses in the centre are leaning forward! The top of their facades were often over-hanging by ca. 45°, compared with the groundfloor! Was it a tribute to old age? Or is it due to the shaky ground with all that water and mud? Some house bow in a way, that the owners or architects had to implant iron clamps to keep the front from falling over. Then I discovered the reason: Land was so precious in Amsterdam and along the Grachten (= channels), most houses could only be just a few yards wide and therefore have four floors as a minimum.  Doors and especially staircases are traditionally very narrow. To move large pieces of furniture into the houses was/is almost impossible. Therefore they all have an in-built gallows or boom at a high point of the facade – to pull up things which can not be transported through the doors and staircases! And if the facades would be straight, in a 90° angle, the loads will bump against the front wall, causing damage to both. With the ropes being in free fall, because of the 45° facade, any object, even a Grand Piano, can be lifted to any desired opening. The bowing faces of Amsterdam’ old houses are no optical illusion but a clever trick, born out of necessity …

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Honors For The Red Heroes?

Try to find stamps with portraits of the great Chiefs ...

Indians

The 12 Chiefs – on Marshall Islands stamps ...

YOU WON’T SUCCEED, at least not in the USA! There the Red Indians didn’t even have voting rights in most states far into the 70s, and after they got back some of the privileges the Whites had stolen from them, they are still recognized only as a „folkloric element“, heroes of nostalgic novels and movies – just one got his portrait on a coin, almost none can be found on stamps, despite their highly decorative appearances. When I searched the internet, I had to click again and again, and finally I got a hit in a far-away region – the Marshall Islands in the Pacific! They issued 12 stamps for 60 Cents each, nicely assembled in a bloc, and showing the famous chiefs Tecumseh (a Shawnee), Powhatan (a Powhatan), Hiawatha (Mohawk), Dull Knife (Cheyenne), Seqouyah (Cherokee), Sitting Bull, Red Cloud and Crazy Horse (all Sioux), Cochise and Geronimo (both Apache), Chief Joseph (New Peace) and Pontiac (Ottawa). The Islands don’t have the least to do with the celebrated leaders of their tribes, naturally the stamps are issued only for the sake of collectors and their money. But nevertheless – a bad reason, a nice honor!

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Absolutely Silly Question!

But very interesting, if you start drilling in Auckland ...

Auckland

Start at Position 1 (Auckland), and you will appear on Position 2 (Marbella) ...

FORGIVE ME, I KNOW I SHOULDN’T ASK! But when I stood on Mt. Eden in the centre of Auckland, the biggest town of the Northern Island of New Zealand, the question came to me like a seagull: If I were to start drilling vertically into the ground, through the globe – where would I come out? Very difficult question. I would have guessed the opposite point would be near … – mmhm, where? Somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, in Bergen

Auckland

Beautiful Auckland in New Zealand ...

Auckland

... and aweful Marbella in Spain

(Norway) or Tjumen (Southern Siberia)? Totally wrong. Look at my world map: Drill at position 1, all the way through Mother Earth, and you would come out at position 2, and that’s Marbella on the Costa del Sol on the Spanish east coast! Amazing! But geologists/geographer made a 100 % watertight calculation, even the author Jules Verne, knighted with abundant phantasy, hadn’t speculated. Well, that’s the post this time, no more, but isn’t it enough?

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Ever Heard Of Daniil Granin?

He was a Soviet Party lackey, but what a great travel writer!

Granin

That's his East German travel book ...

 

Granin

... and that's him in the 80s

I DISCOVERED HIM MUCH TO LATE, in the year of his death, this Daniil Granin (1919-2017). He was for ages the president of the Soviet Writers Union, responsible for the ostracism of his colleague Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. And he enjoyed such a privileged status, even under Stalin, that he could travel wherever he wanted, got enough money to do it and used it extensively. I don’t like his political attitude (a stiff communist, as long as Communism existed in the Soviet Union, and a liberal thinker afterwards), but even when he travelled in the Cold-War-Fifties and the precarious 60s, he was – amazingly enough – a fair observer, a man for whom humor meant more than ideology, and to read the commentaries of a writer from another world (about the Taj Mahal, the New York traffic system, the Japanese emperor, Indonesian temples or Goethe in Weimar) in such a literary quality is eye-opening. I read Granin in German, in editions which were published in East Germany only, and I regretted not to have known his „Travel Sketches“ (that’s how he called them) before I went to the destinations he had visited and written about. This Russian is definitely in one class with Waugh, de Beauvoir, Gide and Fleming.

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