Topic: Europe

Things one needed for a train ride.

Ireland: Delightful prospects for train lovers

19.01.2016

As of summer 2016, Ireland (Republic and Northern) can be explored by rail luxury style aboard the Grand Hibernian, a new member to the family of iconic trains such as the legendary Royal Scotsman. Between August and October, clients are offered an attractive choice of three journeys – each following a different itinerary, yet all starting and ending in Dublin. The train boasts accommodation for up to 40 guests in private en-suite cabins whose cosy interior has been inspired by the isle’s rich cultural heritage.

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Reading time: about 2 minutes
Halfpipe and bikers: Sounds of the city captured virtually everywhere.

City tourism: Sound-hearing soon enhancing Sight-seeing?

15.12.2015

What are the sounds usually associated with a city? The irritating ones issued from cars hooting, tyres screeching, trams rumbling, from air-conditioning units humming relentlessly? From ambulances swishing by with sirens amplified by the Doppler effect that hurts our eardrums and sets our minds on alert? When embarking on a trip to a busy metropolis, an undistinguishable concoction of man-made noise will have to be tolerated as an inevitable part of the package. Positive connotations are asking for more pleasant experiences, though.

Conquering an urban jungle by mapping it out via the typical sounds it exudes, is an idea temporarily put into practice in Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam during an “ambient marketing” campaign: from interactive audio billboards, the “Sounds of the City” could be tapped by means of a personal headphone plugged into jacks directly embedded in the “neighbourhoods” of choice.

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Paris: The stage of a glamorous Montmartre Show.

Paris. Montmartre – a Sphere of its own Right

14.12.2015

The Making of a Bohemian Microcosm

Montmartre evolved following a massive urban reconstruction and relocation scheme initiated by a great man of the 19th century: Napoleon III. Together with his ambitious town planning prefect Baron Haussmann, he aimed at creating a mundane Paris of dazzling allure and wanted it to become „the most beautiful city of Europe“ – not without granting spacious plots of land in prime locations to Haussmann, his many friends and financial supporters. By rigorously stomping unsightly areas into the ground and by replacing humble housing by posh manorial edifices and narrow crooked alleyways by grandiose and airy boulevards and squares, Paris’s face was substantially lifted and embellished – albeit at the expense of the less privileged population, who became early victims of gentrification. Read article

Reading time: about 6 minutes
The original timbered houses on the Roemerberg in Frankfurt were destroyed during WWII. The buildings shown here are replicas. + goodmeetings.com

Frankfurt – my Zuggerschneggsche

27.10.2015

The soft sides of a business queen

It’s been a long and sometimes painful journey through a jungle of misconception and prejudice. Both seem to die as hard as any of the bad habits the world so happily cultivates. Finally it looks as though Frankfurt – Hesse’s largest city (but not it’s capital, that’s Wiesbaden, you didn’t know that, did you?) manages to shed its unjustified reputation as an inapproachable, calculating, frigid financial hub. With nothing else on its urban mind than to tag along the leading string of insatiable banking institutes who vainly established themselves in the prime areas of town pointing their noses high in the sky. And whose sole purpose (allegedly?) lies in maximising their own riches and, thus, recklessly minimising everybody else’s.

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Reading time: about 5 minutes
Chocolate: The key to Happiness?

Chocolate: The Key to Happiness?

19.10.2015

My, my. Which connotation to a food product could be more flattering and mollifying than the much-employed one attributed to chocolate? It is a scientifically corroborated happy-maker! Endorphins – hormones produced by the human brain – make you see the bright side of life even on a blue, blue, drizzly November day. Heaven knows what else is triggered by the miraculous components chocolate evidentially contains. Speculations are manyfold. Hips and pouch? Rumour! Just succumb to the temptation! Chocolate also works wonders as an antidote, should a guilty conscience creep up after unbridled indulgence. Yep. It is a virtuous circle indeed.

Chocolate, respectively the use of cocoa beans, looks back on a history of nearly 4000 years. It has been a long way from the heaven-sent bitter drink Maya and Aztec civilisations consumed, to the solid sweet treat of our day. The Chocolate Museum of Bruges in Belgium unravels the development of the mysterious substance and its long voyage from Central America to remote Europe in: The Choco-Story.

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Reading time: about 3 minutes