AUCTIONS You Want A Piece Of A Pope?

There is a original gold-embroidered Mitra for sale ...

The price is 4500 Euro

John Paul II wearing a Mitra

HONESTLY, I DIDN’T KNOW THAT PART OF A POPE’S WARDROBE IS AVAILABLE. But in November (2017) they auction an original Mitra in Munich. It belonged, so the catalogue says, to the Polish Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) – one of these ceremonial hats, used in pompous appearences, called Mitra. In this case, since it is embroidered with gold-threat, showing a Maltese cross and twigs of laurel, the official name is „Mitra ornata“. From the back hang two (silk?) bands, decorated with John Paul’s personal crest and again the Maltese cross. I tried to find a picture of the Pope, wearing this one, but couldn’t, the stamp from Serbia comes close. The price? It’s called for 4500 Euro or ca. US-$ 5000. The auction date: 14th./15th. of November. To get in touch with the auctioneer use his e-mail adress: contact@hermann-historica.com

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SPICES I Break The Boycott for Iranian Saffron!

A friend from Tehran always smuggles the floral gold ...

So verkaufen die Perser ihren Safran

OH, IT’S SO INCREDIBLE EXPENSIVE! Well, they harvest cheaper Saffron nowadays in Spain, there is even an international „Fake Trade“, but by far the best still comes from the Iranian province of Khorasan. Saffron from there will cost you ca. 5000 Euro or US$ 5500 per kilo (= 1000 grams). They produce 3 different kinds, called „Pushal“, „Sargol“ and „Negin“, but I can’t tell the difference. I only know that the price for 1 gram varies from ca. 4.50 to 7 Euro (add 10 % for US$). That’s 10 times the price of silver (and 1/7 compared with gold). It comes in air-tight small plastic bags (like tea bags) or very flat plastic boxes looking like transparent discs, the size of beermats, or in rectangular boxes, looking like sealed matchbooks. They sell it in portions of 1, 2, 3 or 5 grams, but if you can afford it, they will be happy to offer you kilo-packages. The international boycott still looms over the Iran, but (as you might know from your continued secret purchases of Persian caviar) there are always channels from Tehran, held open by mouth-to-mouth propaganda, to supply you with whatever you want from there. Next time just ask for Caviar and Saffron! Like my friend Mansour, who always stuffs his suitcase with saffron bits, was so far never stopped at any border and sells me (and dozens of other clients) the precious spice for the affordable local price in Iran. The disc I show here, is typical „Pushal“, the information is printed in Farsi only and it contains 1 gram.

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IDEAS Surprising News from Vietnam …

How a lady invented very special public libraries

„Roaming Thuy“ (left) with readers at one of her „Library Temples“ ...

MY OLD FRIEND HANS HAS AN INTERESTING FRIEND IN HANOI. Bui Tui Thuy, nicknamed „Roaming Thuy“, dreams of becoming an artist, but so far works in a normal 9 to 5 office job. But her creativity is overwhelming and she told Hans about her latest activity, and he related it to me: Roadside libraries, where people exchange their old books for new ones! „Roaming Thuy“ uses the hundreds of old „ghost shelters“ along the countryside roads (all over Southeast Asia, looking like „bird houses“ on stilts), where superstitious people used to pray for protection and forgiveness. But in Vietnam, a country of socialist Marxism, ghosts got almost extinct and the shelters, some even call them mini-temples, are not used in the old sense anymore. When „Roaming Thuy“ discovered the possibilities, she filled them with the books she had finished reading, added a „How o do ..“ notice – and hit a jackpot: Readers understood the idea immediately, brought their used books, took one they hadn’t read so far, and the idea became a country-wide success …

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SOUVENIRS Sorry, no more Elephant Poo-Poo!

... because, they say, shit is also part of an endangered animal ,,,

The original poo-poo on the road ...

... souvenir poo-poo from South Africa ...

... and paper made from the shit

FOR YEARS I BROUGHT THE POO-POO HOME FROM AFRICA, a surprising souvenir, enclosed in small acrylic hemisphhere, engraved on the bottom: „Genuine Elephant Poo-Poo“. A pinch only, not more than 5 grams, looking like dirty straw. Such a shit-dome did cost, in Namibia for instance, about US$ 3 or 2.50 Euro. People placed it on their desks, and it became an eternal conversation-piece. But they stopped selling it. Hysterical „animal lovers“ had it banned, like the sale of tusks (which is understandable), claiming that shit is also a part of the endangered elephant. How ridiculous they are! „Oh no“, declared the lady in the souvenir shop just opposite the airport in Maun (Botswana), „it’s illegal now!“ Well, elephants are crapping all over Botswana, shitballs as big as bowling balls can be found on all roads in Africa. Nobody hunts elephant for their poo-poo, not a single one is killed for the shit. To get it, you need living creatures. To forbid the sale of the poo-poo doesn’t protect one single elephant. In South Africa they are a bit wiser, there you can still find the acrylic shit-hemispheres. There they even make „Poopoopaper“ from the dung, looking like real paper …

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SOUVENIRS Ever Heard Of The Cycladic Idols?

These figurines impressed the greatest painters and sculptors ...

That's how some ...

... of the Cycladic Idols ...

... from the Agean Sea ...

... look as originals ...

... or as replicas ...

… AND I CAN’T THINK OF A MORE BEAUTIFUL SOUVENIR FROM GREECE! Delicate, mostly marble figurines, carved between 5000 and 1600 B. C. Simple beauties, from 7 to 40 cm high, used in today mysterious cults on the Cycladic islands (in the Agean Sea, but not the ones along the Turkish coast). There were thousands of them, today there are still thousands, but only a few hundred are genuine, the rest are copies and fakes – and the produce them in amazing quality for the dealers on the islands, the museum shops and the internet trade. You might be lucky to acquire an idol from an illegal digging (robbed from about 500 archeological sites), but they are normally sold to criminal art dealers and will cost you a three-digit sum at least. So be happy with the incredible beauty of an idol you buy for up to US$ 20 in a licensed shop (the best is in the Goulandris Museum in Athens), and learn, by staring at it, that they explain a lot about modern art – because before you, Brancusi, Giacometti, Picasso, Braque and Henry Moore have stared at the Cycladic Idols to learn about the art of minimal expression …

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HOTSPOTS The Stalowa in Warsaw …

I say: Go there! Some say: Oh no, it's bloody dangerous!!

Stalowa

That's the Stalowa Street ...

Stalowa

… and here you find it (upper righthand corner)

THE STALOWA IS NOT A SMALL STREET IN POLAND’S CAPITAL. It was an ugly thing in communist times, the center of the steel district (stalow = steel). But – the Germans didn’t destroy the Stalowa in World War II, therefore Roman Polanski filmed „The Pianist“ in this rare relict of Warsaw’s pre-war architecture. That’s not my point, I want to tell you that one antiqueshop after the other opens here. I counted a dozen in the spring of 2017, „Look Inside“ being the best in my opinion, offering vintage objects from posters to cutlery, spanning more than a century. But I might mention, that there exists an official warning, „never ever“ to enter the houses to have a look at the (often fascinating) enclosed courtyards, especially not after sunset. „The Stalowa is Warsaw’s most dangerous street“, they say. I never felt menaced, the warning must be some years old …

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TRAVEL What a hotspot Angola would be!

But it doesn't appear on the touristic worldmap. Why not?

Angola

That's the Angolan canyon ...

Angola

… and in the lower lefthand corner you find it

I ASSURE YOU: ANGOLA HAS EVERYTHING – landscape beauties, beaches, wildlife, the vegetation, the weather, even some infrastructure, mineral wealth, nice people, a European language (Portuguese) – and she is a enormously rich country. And Angola is bigger than South Afrika, Tanzania and Namibia. But the president and his family is robbing Angola blind. The capital, Luanda, ranks No. 1 as the most expensive city on earth (what a melancholic record!). And tourism? Forget it! As long as the dictator hasn’t squeezed the last cent from the country, they don’t want international witnesses. Angola could be the leading African destiny for travellers – but they are not welcome (only businessman are). I give you one highlight example: In the south, near the town of Lubango, there is a place called Huila and nearby you find a Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon of Africa! A lost paradise, nobody there, you are alone, founded on the 8th day of creation. Hidden in an inaccessible state. What a shame! And instead of clearing his country from millions of land mines, the dictator clears it from all the cash he (his name its Jose Eduardo dos Santos) and his daughter (Isabel, supposed to be the richest woman of the whole continent) can grab.

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MONEY Absolutely, definitely worthless …

… but very beautiful: The Somaliland Shilling!

Somaliland

The beautiful money ...

Somaliland

… and the non-existing country ...

YES, YOU KNOW, THAT I GOT A KNACK FOR STRANGE BANKNOTES … – and the one I’m showing you here, is the strangest of all. Because it was issued by the government of a country, SOMALILAND, which doesn’t exist (officially). Is not recognized by any other state. But it is very well governed, maybe the best system on the African continent, you can even fly to the „capital“ of Hargeisa (from Djibouti or Addis Abeba), Somaliland is bigger than Greece or North Korea (neighboring Djibouti, Ethiopia and Somalia, from which it split), peopled by 4,5 millions (mostly Moslems), with her own flag,national anthem – and money, the beautiful Somaliland SHILLING. Being worth 0,0000 of any money, the moment, you leave Somaliland. Nobody will give you in London, New York or Berlin a single Cent for a suitcase full of SomShi. They really made an afford to produce money one is happy to look at, but the value is just like a cut-out from a fairytale book. That’s the oddity I wanted to show you – oh, and by the way: To the east, containing the Horn of Africa, there is a second country, which doesn’t exist in reality – Puntland, also a former part of Somalia, but that’s another story …

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ARCHITECTURE The ingenious Italians …

Look, what I discovered on Udine's rooftops!

Udine

The Piazza della Liberty ...

Udine

… and some of the ...

Udine

… penthouses and ...

Udine

… roof gardens

EVERYBODY WANTS A PENTHOUSE, YES? Or a roof terrace! Isn’t it so? But you can’t have it if the house is a 100 years old (or older), got 3 or 4 or 5 floors, the usual tile-covered roof and the high exits of the chimneys on top. End of the line. No, because when I sipped an espresso in a street cafe on Piazza della Liberta in Udine (Italy) and let my eyes roam, I saw the solution: posh penthouses or terraces with greenery on stilts! Growing out of the tiles, built between the chimneys, floors the original architects hadn’t thought of. A great idea. The waiter saw my wonderment and brought me down to earth: „Signore, 99 percent are illegal!“ Maybe and so what! Italy might be the last country of individual freedom on earth. The EU can’t chance this century old attitude: As long as something illegal causes no reaction of the legal system, it will exist! I love it. Around the Piazza della Liberta alone I discovered six sky scraping additions. „And this“, said the waiter and pointed to a garden terrace high up, „is where I live.“ I shook his hand: „Gratulation!“

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ADVENTURE They Swim Across The Pacific …

5500 miles, 8 hours/day, 180 days - from Tokyo to San Francisco!

Pazifik

The incredible route and ...

Pazifik

… the swimmers equipment

CAN YOU IMAGINE? NO, NOBODY CANa group of He-Men, not one a professional or Olympic swimmer, accompanied by a vessel, crossing the mightiest ocean, in the water, by muscle power alone! The boss of the team, Ben Lecomte, is (unbelievable!) a lawyer, who swam the Atlantic and the Panama Canal already. During those adventures and while swimming the Pacific, the 67ft US sailing boat „Discovery“ will join and in case of emergency protect them. They do it to experience marine environmental issues the direct way, with their bodies, skin-close, so to speak, collecting data, and therefore they are sponsored by the Explorers Club in New York, in addition to NASA, Universities, institutes and Scientific Centers. The crossing its the longest swim ever tried, and in the spring of 2018 the start in Tokyo is scheduled. You can easily contact Lecomte by two emails: thelongestswim.com and ben@the longest swim.com for further information and up-to-date-news …

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