Posts about Conferences

The Smetana Hall + Obceni Dum in Prague

Prague: Obecní dům – a Genius Loci of fine Art Nouveau

17.02.2017

Great sculptors and painters of their time have created an architectural treasure, whose masterly opulence bears witness to their genius to this day. Jan Preisler, Mikoláš Aleš, Max Švabinský, František Ženíšek, Ladislav Šaloun, Josef Mařatka, Josef Václav Myslbek or Alfons Mucha – names difficult to pronounce – were but a small fraction within the remarkable group of skillful artists involved in building and decorating Obecní dům – the Municipal House located right in the heart of Prague. Since its inauguration in January of 1912, the extraordinary building has served as a splendid stage for atmospheric concerts, grand festive balls and fancy fashion shows and is justly listed a national heritage site.

Its two protagonists – the Smetana Hall and the restaurant Francouzská – alone are well worth the trip to Prague, from whichever corner of the globe it may have to commence.

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The Spitbank Fort in the Solent strait in Great Britain.

Solent Forts: Strongholds in the Sea

23.08.2016

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. www.amazingvenues.co.uk/solent-forts

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Pretty fish in orange and yellow: A coral reef inside the George Aquarium in Atlanta.

The Georgia Aquarium: Pause with Jaws

5.05.2016

Swimming against the tide can be a tiring affair, even if only meant as a literal term. When on the look-out for extraordinary venues for discerning business or private functions, the variety on the locations platter has grown so rich that the final decision often represents more of a helpless surrender than that of earnest determination. Opting for something lying completely off the beaten track, narrows down the confusing kaleidoscope of choices considerably and ideally alleviates avoidable worries. Ever thought of going aquatic big style? If so, aquariums may be the trump up your sleeve.

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Exterior of the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. Copyright: Thies Raetzke

Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie: What’s another year, Elphi?

2.03.2016

Haste makes waste. The very first proposal came as early as in 2001. For a while it seemed as though the bride would transmute into a spinster by the time she could be given away – although her prerequisites had been privileged from the beginning. Something old: her massive warehouse brick base stemming from cocoa-traders’ times. Something new: her extravagant self! Something borrowed: generous funds. And something blue: the surrounding waters of Hamburg’s Harbour City (with a bit of cheating on the colour side). Maddeningly slow progress had been made over the years, much controversy stirred, and her engagement phase could well be tagged „Roman“ (definitely more than a day). But now, eventually, the historic day lies within reach and both, family and in-laws, are over the moon.

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