Eiffel Tower, Paris - France

The Eiffel Tower – Paris

Hi Folks!

It’s hard to beat a picnic underneath the Eiffel Tower (or almost anywhere in Paris to tell the truth). The tower is an iconic tourist spot and quite astonishing. Washington Monument held the title of tallest structure in the world until the Eiffel Tower was erected and thereafter the Eiffel Tower held the title proudly with its peak in 324 meters from 1889 to 1930.

The Americans just could not stand the situation and so the Chrysler Building was built in New York. The height of the Chrysler Building was only 320 meters but a 38 meters long spire with a steel needle was added to the top to claim the title back to USA. Some of you may question whether the Americans could actually be that petty, but look it up yourself. Walter P Chrysler admitted in his autobiography that the needle was added only to increase the height of the Chrysler Building just enough to claim the title of the worlds’ tallest man-made structure.

But who cares which structure is the tallest. It’s the looks that matter in the end. I have not seen any replicas of the Chrysler Building. But the Eiffel Tower has inspired the creation of probably over 20 replicas, many of them also in USA. One of the most known replica is probably in Las Vegas. I’ve heard that the Eiffel Tower is actually a replica too and that the design was copied from the tower located in Lyon. I will have to get to the bottom of the matter and head directly to Lyon. Could it possible that the landmark of Paris is nothing but a knockoff of the original in Lyon.

– Gart

Hungarian Parliament Building - Budapest - Hungary

Hungarian Parliament Building – Budapest

Hi Folks!

Nothing new in Hungary. The Danube river flows through Budapest, the Parliament Building serves as a popular tourist attraction and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán leads the (allegedly authoritarian) government. The Danube does not usually suffer major floods but it is said that once it overflows the water cleans the riverbanks of all the waste. The following flood is closer every day.

Fisherman’s Bastion (pic below) is situated on the Buda bank of the Danube, high above the city. There is a zero chance that a flood could be a threat to the bastion. The location of the bastion indicates that the fishermen in Budapest are a bit pessimistic or then they are expecting a tsunami. The next parliament election in Hungary will be held in 2022 or earlier, just so you know.

– Gart

Fisherman's Bastion - Budapest - Hungary

Fisherman’s Bastion – Budapest – Hungary

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

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

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

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!

-Gart

Agios Epiphanios, Ayia Napa - Cyprus

Agios Epiphanios, Ayia Napa – Cyprus

Øresund Bridge, Copenhagen - Denmark

Øresund Bridge, Copenhagen – Denmark

Hi Folks,

A body cut in half was found some years ago on this very spot in the middle of Øresund Bridge connecting Denmark with Sweden. Terrible incidence all together. The location of the body caused some confusion in the police departments’ jurisdiction and the investigation made big news. A Swedish police detective Saga Norén was teamed up with Martin Rohde from Danish police to investigate the case. Never has the collaboration between Danish and Swedish authorities been so smooth and beautiful. You may look up all about it in internet.

Øresund Bridge is magnificent. The lights on the background in the photo is Copenhagen. In that sense my nose is pointing to the wrong direction, namely to the Swedish city of Malmö. After my pal Zlatan Ibrahimović left Malmö, not that many good things remained there. If you happen to be in the same spot, make sure you continue your way to the beautiful Copenhagen instead Malmö. Some of the happiest people live in Copenhagen, as Denmark often ranks the happiest country in the world. In Copenhagen, just stroll around and you will find out why they are feeling so good.

-Gart

Metelkova City, Ljubljana - Slovenia

Metelkova City, Ljubljana – Slovenia

Hi Folks!

These pinheads guard the gates of Metelkova City throughout the year. Metelkova is an autonomous part of Ljubljana – much like Christiania, the freetown in Kopenhagen. I was glad to find out that these young gentlemen took care of my wellbeing as I wondered through the streets of Metelkova just when all the region’s freaks were celebrating Halloween. It was a wild night but let me tell you, if you really want to go crazy and see the nut side of Ljubljana, take a walk on… Triple Bridges. I have seen some disturbing stuff in my life, but three bridges literally right next to each other crossing the Ljubljanica River takes a while to digest. Below is a pic of me and the Triple Bridges.

– Gart

The Triple Bridge, Ljubljana - Slovenia

Pärnu - Estonia

Pärnu – Estonia

Hi Folks!

Pärnu is a marvelous town by the Baltic Sea. The beach in there is just great. There’s a bit of everything and that’s why it is only just that the town has two slogans. There were too many good proposals to choose from and that’s why the sensible people of the city decided to stick with two. Which one do you like the best: (1) Pärnu – Estonia ‘s native town! or (2) Pärnu – JUST SEE!

I really love both of them but I started to wonder, what were the proposed slogans that made it to the top 10 list but were not selected. I contacted the city hall of Pärnu and Hele (the wonderful assistant of the mayor) sent me a list. As I am a kind fella, I will share some of the ones that caught my attention.

Here’s the first one: Pärnu – Just enough of groove! Isn’t that fantastic. Just enough, but clearly not too much. Nothing over the top. You do not have to check your travel insurance before entering into the night of the city.

And another one of my favorites: Pärnu – Sand in all the right places! Some ad agency has clearly been involved in designing these. Who else would come up with these ideas. It’s good to know that there’s sand in all the right places but ruling out the opposite would be more important. With a little upgrade the idea could have become selected. How about: Pärnu – No sand in the wrong places!

Finally the last one of my favorites on the top 10 list: Pärnu – Just Do It. This is really cool, although it resembles a work of someone else and could be a rip off. I do not mean the other Pärnu-slogan (Pärnu – JUST SEE!). I mean this: Do It

-Gart