The most enchanting characteristics of Argentina’s capital may not be entirely genetic in terms of having grown from an indigenous seed – as accounts perhaps for other metropolises. Buenos Aires’s obvious charm is much rather the result of the Old World wanting to settle in the new one without abandoning their familiar ways and traditions. Immigrants arriving to the country during the nineteenth century created a fascinating mix of distinct ‘European’ style neighbourhoods by lending their foreign identities to acquired territory: Madrid is now in Avenida de Mayo, Paris in Recoleta and Alvear Avenue or Naples in La Boca. Downtown Buenos Aires exudes the atmosphere of grand colonial times to this date. Spanish, Italian and French cultures made sure to also leave their legacy in sectors such as education, art, architecture and gastronomy.
Reading time: about 7 minutes
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.
Reading time: about 2 minutes
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.
Reading time: about 6 minutes
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.
Reading time: about 4 minutes
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.
Reading time: about 2 minutes