Posts about Savoir Vivre

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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Reading time: about 2 minutes
All sorts of beer in Iceland

Iceland for Beer Enthusiasts?

11.01.2017

A Guest Post by Atlantik DMC, Iceland

Beer has been in the story books of Iceland since settlement times in 874. Yet, in 1915, alcohol was banned in Iceland. In 1921, the import of rosé and red wine from Spain and Portugal was approved due to business trading – and other products followed later. Eventually in 1935, all alcohol except beer became legalised. During the prohibition years, the two breweries in Iceland were allowed to only brew a 2,25% beer which we normally call Pilsner.

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Reading time: about 4 minutes
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
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
19th century drawing: ladies in the gym. The German Gymnasium: A successful structural modification at King's Cross.

London: The German Gymnasium at King’s Cross

7.10.2015

For the conscientiously-thinking German of the past centuries, keeping physically fit was equal to a national duty to be fulfilled – like going to church on Holy Sundays. Not a chance of ever playing truant. The constant surveillance by a rigorously watchful society saw to these rules not being neglected. Meanwhile in Germany, like in any place else in the world, people who work out regularly on a voluntary basis have become rarer and those zigzagging between sporadic exertion and hard-core couch-potatoing a sad majority.

German discipline was worthwhile being exported to ensure that far-away expats would not forget to stay in shape. And this is how the German Gymnasium at King’s Cross came to be. The money for „the first purpose-built gymnasium in the United Kingdom“, opened in 1865, was raised entirely by the German Gymnastics Society and the German community in London. 6,000 pounds well invested. Even women were allowed to use the facility: a freedom otherwise alien to ladies of that era.

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Reading time: about 4 minutes