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
On Saturday, September 21st, 2019 at high noon sharp Munich’s Chief Mayor – the Lord Mayor – will once again ceremonially exclaim: ‘It’s tapped!’ The Oktoberfest, a festival recurring for the 185th time, has been exerting its magnetism on the crowds since 1810. It means huge fun for regular folks, works as an illustrious place-to-be-seen for celebrities of all shapes and sizes and could even enhance or jog a career of one trade or another. And it serves as a welcome runway for the presentation of suitably traditional garb (such as Dirndl, Lederhosn or Lodenjanker) – or for a rare species of couture whose daring cross-over creations are at times hard to swallow for the more conservative. Read article
Reading time: about 9 minutes
Phobias: A Plague or Mutations of the Basic Instinct?
Phobia is Greek and means to be afraid of something. In the non-Greek world, it is mainly used in psychological terms, signifying severe fear as in: terrified and: neurotic and: in need of professional treatment. Those in the grip of a veritable phobia are panic-stricken and paralyzed when it comes to tackling certain situations. Phobias are relics of our evolutionary past and were quite useful back then. Should a ferocious sabre-toothed tiger – teeth bared – spring up inadvertently from the undergrowth with an intimidating roar, the primitive brain would switch to red-alert and reliably signal to the short-legged homo erectus: RUN as fast as you can! It was a matter of survival, and the same basic instinct takes control over us in perilous situations until this day.
Reading time: about 3 minutes
Most of the time, satisfying one’s cultural hunger can easily be accomplished by simply walking into a museum. Theoretically. Yet, the Museo Subacuático de Arte, located in different sites on the map of Mexico, demands a little more effort than that – but surely does offer an additional thrill: its life-size exhibits are mounted to the seabed and thus best inspected in the sporty scuba-diving or snorkeling mode. Accelerated heartbeat assured. Those who would rather keep their noses above sea-level, are invited to explore the arcane population of underwater sculptures conveniently aboard a glass-bottomed boat, with or without a preceding jungle tour.
Reading time: about 2 minutes
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.
Reading time: about 3 minutes