Topic: Europe

Beethoven's Ode to Joy

The Sound of Friendship: Beethoven’s „Ode to Joy“

5.05.2019

Whenever there is reason to celebrate on a festive scale, a dramatic sound scape must not be missing. Worldwide, solemn ceremonies are carried by Beethoven’s „Ode to Joy“ (Ode an die Freude), being played by enthusiastic orchestras and sung by effervescent choirs in front of a mesmerised audience. Since its debut in Vienna in 1824, the compassionate tune and emotional lyrics manifested themselves as the epitome of the brotherhood of man.

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Reading time: about 4 minutes
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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Reading time: about 3 minutes
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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A toy harbour scene: The Miniature Train World in Hamburg's attracts millions of visitors each year.

Hamburg: The world’s largest model train exhibition

12.03.2019

Where’s Gulliver?

If a long-hatched childhood dream is ever to come true, entrepreneurial reason mostly isn’t the proper leverage to make it happen. Frederik Braun and his twin brother Gerrit still bravely ventured out on a project not only demanding a vast amount of courage, enthusiasm, utmost technical aptitude, congenial logistics and never-ending perseverance – but also a mighty portion of disregard towards the shaky economical outlook and the financial risks lurking virtually everywhere. A browse through a model railway shop in Switzerland’s capital Zurich back in 2000, triggered the idea for what was to become the largest and most successful exhibition of model railways worldwide. Read article

Reading time: about 3 minutes