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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WILDLIFE A Country Counts The Killers

A strange thing took place in Botswana ...

Khama

Wildlife Minister Tshekedi Khama

IT HAPPENED IN THE PARLIAMENT, in the spring of 2017, in the capital of Gaborone, when the Minister of Wildlife, Tshekedi Khama (the brother of the president, by the way), had to answer this question: „How many of our animals were poached between 2014 and 2017?“ And Khama replied so detailed that it was suspected he made up the figures by a moments notion, allowing for a joke first: He couldn’t say unfortunately how many fish and birds were killed by poachers! Careful laughter in the house. But the figures of the mammals, so Khama said, were as follows: 513 animals all in all, 114 in 2014, 217 in 2015, 113 in 2016 and 17 so far in 2017. This adds up to 461, he said – but where are the 52 missing mammals? Nobody checked the figure in parliament, Khama got away with it. But nevertheless: I don’t think that 1) any other Minister of Wildlife in Africa has such a detailed account, and 2) would tell it publicly, if he had. Insofar it was a great moment in history (so to speak) and in the protection of wildlife. A question followed: „Where do the poachers come from?“ Khama’s clever answer: „Not all come from neighboring countries, but our borders are too far stretched to protect them properly since Botswana is so big and got two million inhabitants only.“ By the way: If you wonder why Khama looks like a white businessman – his grandfather came from Scotland …

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BOOKS A Modern One For US$ 62 500 – Why?

… because it's a special edition of Lawrence of Arabia's main work!

Lawrence

That's the rare book ...

IT WAS AUCTIONED AT SWANN’s IN NEW YORK in May (2017) and even the estimate was stunning: US$ 50 000 to 75 000. Not bad for a book which was published in 1926, not 100 years ago: T. E. Lawrence’s „The Seven pillars of Wisdom“. But it was a privately printed edition, complete with 65 plates or color illustrations by contemporary artists, bound in green leather – and the inspiration for the classic film „Lawrence of Arabia“. The stunning tome is even inscribed (see insert), with „Complete copy.“, the date „I.XII.26“ and his initials TES (the S stands for Shaw, Lawrence’s sometimes and in those years used pseudonymum), and was given to his dentist, Warwick James. The bidding went fast and an unknown collector bought it for US$ 62 500! A very high price for a „modern“ book, but a solace for all „Bookinists“ who lament that their darlings are not worth the paper they are printed on, the moment they are published. Which, in 90 % of all publication worldwide, is unfortunately true.

P. S.: They say that Lawrence had ordered six copies of this edition only, and where the other five are, is a mystery …

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TRAVEL Just A Quick Advice …

… if you want to see Udine, Trieste and the region

Friaul

That's the region of Italy ...

Friaul

… that's how the cards look ...

Friaul

… and these are the access possibilities

I KNOW, TOURIST CARDS“ ARE COMMON ALL OVER THE WORLD. Many cities and regions issue them. But what convinced me of the value of the „Friuli Venezia Giulia Card“ (look at the map of this part of Italy), was its diversity: You can buy it for 48 hours (18 Euro or US$), 72 hours (21 Euro/US$) or 1 week (29 Euro/US$). It’s covers a huge and highly interesting region, including the castles Miramare and Duino, the palazzi of Palladio, one of the oldest towns in Italy, Aquleia, and naturally the towns of Udine and Trieste. „It would be a crime, not to buy our cards“, said the guy, I bought mine from. After using it for a week, I contradict him: „It would be a sin …“. P. S.: I scanned the access possibilities!

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