North Cape (Nordkapp), Midnight sun - Norway

North Cape – Norway

Hi Folks!

Midwinter (or winter solstice) marks the day with the shortest period of daylight. It’s certainly the low point of the annual cycle but who wouldn’t feel a bit festive as the amount of daylight begins gradually increasing. No wonder that back in the days the midwinter festival of “Yule” lasted for 12 days. Thank god Christmas took the place of Yule though, nowadays no one would have the energy and the time to keep up the celebration for that long. Although Christmas is a perfectly compact three days party, I could live without it. I prefer summer and the sun over Christmas trees and Santa Claus.

Nord Cape (Nordkapp) in Norway is a superb place for admiring the sun. I took these photos in Nordkapp last summer just when the sun reached the lowest point after the midnight. The view was extremely pleasing. By the way, Nordkapp is the northernmost point of Europe, so cross that off my bucket list. Beyond this point, there’s nothing but sea, perhaps a few fishes and eventually the North Pole.

– Gart

North Cape (Nordkapp) - Norway

North Cape (Nordkapp)

Grand Canal, Venice - Italy

Grand Canal – Venice

Hi Folks!

Venice is a remarkable place. Astonishing even. Some 30 million tourists visit there annually. As only some 50.000 residents live in Venice’s historic center. The situation with the tourists has gotten a little bit out of hand. It’s so bad that even Donna Leon decided to abandon Venice. She lived over 30 years in Venice and wrote several best-selling criminal novels that were all set in Venice. I mean Donna was an absolute Venice enthusiast, but not anymore. There’s been discussion on restricting the number of tourists in the historic center. For that I have only one thing to say: probably not that bad idea!

But tourism is not the worst of Venetian’s worries. The city is sinking. It was probably the most absurd scene I have seen in weeks, when I spotted three carpenters fixing a roof by the Grand Canal. They must have been immigrants, as the locals are too aware of the Venetian saying: if it ain’t floating, don’t fix it! By the way, being a real estate investor in Venice must be a real challenge. Only a few have tried and none have succeeded.

If you are planning to visit there, I truly recommend that you ride a water bus along the Grand Canal to get from the Santa Lucia railway station into the basin at San Marco. If you are navigating your own boat, you should learn the ins and outs of the Grand Canal, including the latest short cuts, from James Bond’s Casino Royale (2006).

– Gart

The Sideways Head, Eros Bendato (Eros bound) - Igor Mitoraj

Eros Bendato – Igor Mitoraj

Hi Folks!

When the Swiss order a sculpture on love from a Polish artist the outcome is, to put it mildly, cynical. Eros Bendato (Eros Bound) is Igor Mitoraj’s understanding of love and affection. Mitoraj’s sculpture is blindfolded suggesting that love is blind. Not that original though. We’ve heard the same from Fergie, Jack White, Alicia Keys, Pulp and many others. Even Amy Winehouse heard about it, or so she claimed.

The head was created in 1999 and is on display in Lugano. It should not be confused with the similar sideways heads in Kraków, Vancouver and St. Louis. If I forgot to mention some location, please let me know. I would love to see them all.

– Gart

Verona - Italy

Verona – Italy

Hi Folks!

The panoramic view from Castel San Pietro over Verona gives only a hint of the beauty of this marvelous city. The bridge in the photo was built by Romans and is called the Ponte Pietra. The tall construction is the bell tower of Verona Cathedral. I could go on and on about the sights in Verona. The Roman and medieval landmarks in Verona are just overwhelming and the restaurants serve the finest dishes in northern Italy. It is no wonder that three of Shakespeare’s plays are set in Verona. Although Shakespeare never even visited the city, what a shame.

Verona is known as the city of love. If you are planning to visit there, you should see Baz Luhrmann’s document Romeo + Juliet (1996) to get into the right mood for diving into Verona’s vivid social life. The document is about Romeo DiCaprio and his girlfriend Juliet Capulet who lived in Verona some years ago. One could say that they had some difficulties in their relationship. It only shows that not even all the Veronese have luck in their love.

The courtyard beneath Juliet’s balcony is the most visited sites in the town. Aaw, people are so romantic. But for real, get a grip! It’s only a balcony and you can see it in the photo right below.

– Gart

Verona - The balcony of Juliet's house

Verona – The balcony of Juliet’s house

The Kiss - Francesco Hayez

The Kiss – Francesco Hayez

Hi Folks,

At his time, Francesco Hayez was a fine representative of the voyeur community. And he could truly capture the tension and sensual energy between this young couple in his painting. It shows dedication, both to art and to voyeurism. The Kiss (1859) is Romanticism at its best. Some insist that the painting represents the formation of the new kingdom of Italy. That could very well be. I do not have any arguments against that. But deeper interpretations cannot take anything away from the kiss, as it’s still as passionate and sweet as a kiss can be. Hayez leaves me no option. I have to leave to Verona, city of love, at once. To the young couple in the painting I would say: Oh come on guys, Get a room!

– Gart

Baptistery of Parma - Italy

Parma – Italy

Hi Folks,

Who would have thought that one of the most remarkable medieval monuments is located in a town that’s famous for its cheese and ham. The Baptistery of Parma is made of pink marble. The construction work begun in the 12th century under the supervision of architect Benedetto Antelami. Based only how the Baptistery looks outside, I can understand why it’s considered to remarkable. But what’s really astonishing is that there is only one storey and no interior walls in the Baptistery. It’s basically one very tall room on ground level.

I heard from a reliable source that Benedetto enjoyed his Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto a bit too much. And as we all know, such a heavy diet makes you drowsy. Who cares about adding floors and walls in the drawings when you’ve had one cheese chunk too many. Luckily Benedetto wasn’t a big fan of Spumante. Otherwise the pink marble could be just a pile of rocks next to Parma Cathedral’s bell tower.

– Gart

Reclining Nude with Loose Hair - Amedeo Modigliani

Reclining Nude with Loose Hair – Amedeo Modigliani

Hi Folks,

Amedeo Modigliani lived the reckless life of a rock star decades before the first rock n’ roll tune was played. At his time he was probably best known for his extreme substance abuse and bohemian lifestyle. Sadly his life ended just when he was about to brake as an artist. Nowadays Amedeo’s paintings are sold regularly for tens of millions of dollars. His painting known as Reclining Nude (1917) was sold for 170 million dollars in 2015, making it one of the most expensive painting ever sold. Reclining Nude is a piece from the famous series of nudes that Amedeo painted. The painting in the picture, Reclining Nude with Loose Hair (1917) is from the same series and would probable sell for much higher price. I mean, come on… the hair is loose. Just look at it, the hair really is loose; there has to be some value in that.

Amedeo’s fine work make me think that perhaps it’s time to travel to Italy again.

– Gart

Cavo Greco, Ayia Napa - Cyprus

Cavo Greco – Cyprus

Hi Folks,

Life in Cyprus is relaxed ­– and it’s especially relaxed here, at Cavo Greco. Everyone’s just sitting back and unwinding, as if it was summertime already. See the people on the photo. They’re definitely just chillin’ out, maxin’ relaxin’ all cool. And that’s fine by all means. Frankly, it’s an achievement considering the closest neighboring country. Some Cypriot might say that the closest neighbor is a little too close. Turkey invaded the northern part of Cyprus in the 70’s. The invaded area, c. 1/3 of Cyprus, is nowadays a self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognized only by Turkey. Even if that wasn’t worrying enough, the president of Turkey is Mr. Erdoğan, who’s famous for having quite unique approach to diplomacy.

Here’s an advice for you: when at Cavo Greco and when done maxin’ relaxin’, visit Agios Epiphanios Chapel (see photo below). The view from the chapel is magnificent!


Agios Epiphanios, Ayia Napa - Cyprus

Agios Epiphanios, Ayia Napa – Cyprus

Mirror Room (Pumpkin) - Yayoi Kusama

Mirror Room (Pumpkin) – Yayoi Kusama

Hi Folks!

Yayoi is best known for her obsession for dots. She has also this thing for pumpkins. It’s sort of convenient that obsessions are her inspiration. She may have created an infinitive source for inspiration in her own obsessions. Yayoi has said that dots are a way to infinity, which seems quite accurate, all things considered. In the 50’s Yayoi painted dots on walls, floors and household objects. In the 60’s she painted dots on naked performers. And since then she’s been painting dots where ever.

What I especially love in her works is a frequent combination of fire-engine red and white dots. You just cannot go wrong with that. It is clear that Yayoi is definitely a unique person, almost unique in her own way. There’s probably only one person who’s more obsessed with dots. Namely Kim Schmitz, who changed his name to Kim Dotcom. Kim absolutely loves dots and coms.

– Gart