Posts in category: Feature

Black-and-white: Astronauts resting during a training at the Askja Crater in Iceland.

Astronauts: Fly me to the Moon – but fly me to Iceland first

19.07.2019

The vast and diverse landscape of the United States of America is not only the stuff an authentic Hollywood backdrop is made of. In parts, it also offers the essentials a training ground for missions of national and international gravity requires: a moonlike scenery with lots of rubble bearing geological secrets to be lifted, in preparation for lunar missions by NASA, for instance.

Yet, when it comes to „moonlike“, no place on earth is more suitable to simulate an extraterrestrial situation better than Iceland can thanks to its volcanic origin. In 1965 and 1967, two groups of Apollo astronauts accompanied by geologists travelled to the destination for geological studies in preparation for their journey to the Moon. Among the 1967-group was Neil Armstrong, whose Apollo-11-mission was the component vital for the US Space Race to be won over the USSR. It made John F. Kennedy’s challenge, pronounced in 1961, come true: to “land a man on the Moon, and return him safely to the Earth”, before the end of the decade. On the 20th of July, 1969 at 20:17 UTC, Apollo 11 landed on the Moon and Neil Armstrong became the first human ever to leave his footprints on the powdery lunar surface.

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A Camel in the Emirates: Camel Polo has become a favorite pastime in the Gulf. Copyright: Christina Feyerke

Dubai: Ever heard of Camel Polo?

11.06.2019

No extra skills needed!

Have you ever tried to play Camel Polo? If not, perhaps the time has arrived for you to muster all your courage, clamber onto the chosen Camel’s furry back and see what happens. Organisers of this entertaining pastime declare that no prior equestrian or camel riding experience is required and that this activity is nothing but great fun for virtually everyone.

Those who have made the acquaintance of camels before may find them cute or even cuddly, despite their size and their sometimes intimidating grunt issued from the base of their huge lungs. They are tender giants, really. Depending on the outcome of an encounter – and with all due respect – some rate camels (who can close their nostrils) smelly and stubborn – and they slobber. In general, the camel, a mammal, is pleasant to have – but one never knows what it’s up to next. They can be such clowns, camels! Even the classy racing variety – costing as much as a fleet of Rolls’s and trained to keep their aristocratic countenance at all times – could not care less about conventions if caught in a foul mood. Crowds cheering on grandstands have watched priceless camels stop dead in their speedy strides and abruptly turn on all four heels, only to continue their lonely run in the opposite direction, protruding lips flapping. Much to the chagrin of the helpless jockey…

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The Spitbank Fort in the Solent strait in Great Britain.

Solent Forts: Strongholds in the Sea

28.04.2019

The Solent? Non-Britons may wonder what or where that might be. A marine area brimming with flat fish floundering about perhaps – or a lonely island lost somewhere in the limitless ocean? Whereas the former’s majority are commonly frequenting the chilly waters of the North Sea around the bend, the latter is a pretty close guess, at least when it comes to the „island“ part. Solving the geographical riddle: the Solent is a strait (about 20 x 4 miles) running between the mainland of England and the Isle of Wight. It not only serves as a shipping route for commercial and military vessels, but also poses as a welcome playground for a multitude of watersports. Southampton, the largest port, surely rings a bell in many a mind as being the last British pier for RMS Titanic to call at before commencing her unfortunate voyage across the Atlantic. Another popular harbour lying by Solent shores is Portsmouth, from where before-mentioned enigmatic islands are best reached: the Solent Forts, a group of sturdy man-made islands built in the late 19th century to ward off sea-born attack. The three Forts – Spitbank, No Man’s Land and Horse Sand – were decommissioned after WW II, lay dormant for a number of years, put up for sale in the 1960s seeing changing ownership. Today, the Solent Forts offer luxurious accommodation incorporated in extraordinary venues and are owned and managed by the AmaZing Venues company.

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Heiligendamm. An incentive event in front of Hohenzollern Castle

Heiligendamm: A White Beauty by the Sea

2.04.2019

As is frequently the case, the spirit of a new era is ushered in by initiative of one committed individual. When it comes to the history of German spa-ing, it is said to have been a progressive physician by the name of Samuel Gottlieb Vogel, who had triggered off the lasting success story of sea-side health treatments. The healing effects of a coastal climate and the invigorating properties of salty seawater on skins in desperate need of airing, were promoted by him. And, in order to corroborate his cause, Vogel convinced nobility to act as prominent supporters and forerunners, making Heiligendamm with its tideless shores the premier German spa resort and Friedrich Franz I of Mecklenburg-Schwerin the first-ever guest to use it. That was back in 1793.

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A green Easter egg depicting Czar Nicholas II. The Fabergé Museum in St. Petersburg

Guardians of the „Egg“ collection: The Fabergé Museum in St. Petersburg

12.03.2019

Карл Густавович Фаберже – Karl Gustavovich Faberzhe – the Russian goldsmith and jeweller born in St. Petersburg in 1846, gained worldwide fame with his luxuriously fashioned Easter Eggs crafted in precious metals and lavishly encrusted with twinkling gemstones. Czar Alexander III awarded The House of Fabergé the title „Goldsmith by special appointment to the Imperial Crown“ in 1885, after getting acquainted and enthused about their exquisite contemporary craftsmanship on the occasion of a Moscow exhibition. He induced Fabergé’s works to be displayed at the renowned Hermitage and commissioned the first superbly finished Easter egg as a present for his wife, Empress Maria. Over time, frequent orders were placed by the Imperial Court and ample freedom was granted in terms of design, which proved to become more and more elaborate. Only one condition needed to be fulfilled by the talented jewellers: each one of the eggs must contain a surprise. Until this day, the bejewelled masterpieces exert their magic on whoever lays eyes or hands on them. The tradition of Czars ordering Easter eggs from Fabergé continued until 1918 when – during the October RevolutionThe House of Fabergé was nationalised by the Bolsheviks and their stock confiscated.

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