ONE FINE DAY in BRATISLAVA: Part III

I am no longer curious about the world. I get it. Now all that is left is chasing beauty and kindness   — Beth Byrnes

Bratislava Old Town cafe

Some people say the Old Town Main Square is the heart of Bratislava. They also say Schone Naci hung out here in his day. Schone Naci in Slovak means “beautiful Naci.” His real name was Ignac Lamar; the diminutive for Ignac is Naci (like Bill for William). He preferred Café Mayer right on the corner of the Hlavne Namestie, the main square, but there are numerous other cafes here that you might like. Continue reading

ONE FINE DAY in BRATISLAVA: Part II

I’d rather sleep in Budapest (or in Vienna)—particularly because good-value options in central Bratislava are slim, and service tends to be surly.—Rick Steves

Bratislava architecture--windows

WHAT’S UP WITH BRATISLAVA?

Coke lite, Miller Lite, Hungry Jack Syrup Lite—Bratislava is a lot like that. Compared to your average European-bucket-list cities, Bratislava is an unassuming wallflower at the party. Many tourists overlook it completely. Some stop off for a few hours before boarding a riverboat cruise and put it on their list, because it wasn’t there before, just so they can tick it off.

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STROLLING THROUGH PRAGUE: ONE FINE DAY—PART II

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.   –Albert Einstein

einstein in Prague

This is Part II in the series. If you missed it, visit Part I here.

 

4.  ASCENSION

antique car--Prague touring

About now, you might begin to feel like the fairy dust is wearing off, and perhaps you should have popped for a ride up the hill in one of Prague’s (in)famous, stretch, convertible, authentic-reproduction-antique limos. Continue reading

ANOTHER SIDE OF MALTA: DAY ONE

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AT TWO MINUTES BEFORE SIX IN THE MORNING, the steeple bells on the Lunzjata Parish Church chime ten times. I make a mental note: “What the…?” I am holed up in a 500-year-old house with stone walls two feet thick, tiny windows to contain the weather outside, an arched vaulted ceiling 25 feet high, and staircases chiseled by hand from massive slabs of stone. The double front doors, a thick wooden affair meant to keep out more than merely weather, seals itself with a massive steel rod which holds the door shut, that no SWAT team could ever penetrate (without using C-4). And just inside those doors is another set of glass doors: these, meant to allow light when the wooden doors are left ajar, and also to contain the weather—heat in winter, a cool breeze in summer. All the windows, as well as other doors that lead to outside areas, like the walled courtyard or the rooftop terraces, have wooden shutters on the inside. It can get pretty dark in here.

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13 GEMS OF PRAGUE: LOOK UP

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A WHITENESS OF SWANS (the actual venery term for a “group” of them) wings its way in silhouette downriver at sunset. When you roam around Prague, it’s a good idea to glance down and watch where you place your feet on the awkward and possibly dangerous cobblestone streets and walkways. But if you lift your head and look up, incredibly beautiful scenery abounds.

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PURE GARBAGE: OLD HOLLAND

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Nature in its wild state in the burg of Blaricum, in North Holland

When someone says Holland, you probably think Amsterdam. When someone says Amsterdam, you probably think expensive. But if you want to see expensive, there is a little village, an atavistic throwback nestled in the analog past, perhaps an hour out of Amsterdam.

Blaricum–the most expensive town you’ve never heard of:

The worst thing about Blaricum–or, the BEST thing, maybe–is that it is not touristy at all. There is nothing to see. There is nothing to do. There is no reason for you to go to Blaricum…well, unless you want to try the homemade ice cream or find folks who don’t speak English or see a village with no canals or watch locals riding bikes in a thunderstorm as though it were a bright sunny day. Or visit the closest thing to Hobbiton. So, don’t expect anything near Amsterdam if you wander off the beaten track one day and find yourself in Blaricum.

This is what Wikipedia has to say:    “Blaricum (Dutch pronunciation: ( listen)) is a municipality and village in the province of North Holland, the Netherlands. It is part of the region of Gooiland. It is known for its many monumental farm buildings, local cafes and restaurants, nature, several annual community events and extensive up-market residential areas.

According to statistics published by the Dutch land registry office in February 2011, Blaricum is the most expensive location to purchase a house in the Netherlands. The average home in Blaricum costs €800,000 and has risen an average of 12% over the last year.[5] Many Dutch celebrities live here, including Rene FrogerAnita MeijerPaul de LeeuwGordonJerney KaagmanJohn de MolAnita Witzier and Marco Borsato.”

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Blaricum cafe in unique architectural building

So one day, I look out my window and discover I’m in Blaricum, the high-end burg of Holland. Garbage is what I see. Of course, I see the monumental farm buildings; the local cafes; the extensive up-market residences; and the nature, including an ostrich and a llama–you can tell it’s a llama and not an alpaca because llamas have big, banana-shaped ears…which you cannot see in these photos, so you’ll probably argue it’s an alpaca.  But what strikes me as most interesting in Blaricum is the garbage. You can tell it’s marvelous garbage. High-class, high-end trash. What garbage ought to look like everywhere. And what trash collectors, maybe, should look like everywhere.

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One of the high-end homes of Hobbiton…er…Blaricum, with thatched roof and dormers

But let’s talk trash:

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First, garbage is separated before pickup. Here, this green container just for glass is separated by color of glass (notice the metal below the container).

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A local lady dumps her glass into the green container. A crane picks up the green container, but the green container contains a much larger container below (the metal in previous photo is the top of the larger container)

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The driver dumps the trash into the truck from his forward position

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The lady  wanders away to her upscale home. When empty, the container is lowered.

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And the larger container below the green container slides neatly below the surface, so we don’t ever see a mess. The llama chews upscale grass (you think it’s an alpaca, don’t you?).

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The lady on the bike rides away, the llama continues with dinner, and the crane rises

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The driver swings the crane into place, the llama wonders: “What the BEEP, why do those people think I’m an alpaca?”

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The llama returns to dinner, the crane is secured on the trailer, the driver descends  a la deus ex machina

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The trash disappears, the lady disappears, the llama disappears. Soon, the truck disappears. Wealthy people know how to live well…and apparently, how to separate and disappear garbage from their lives.

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Lopsided, perhaps, but banana-shaped ears. FYI: You can trust me. I will never lie to you. Oh, and by the way, I have a bridge I’m looking to sell…cheap.

You can find other entries in the WP Discover Challenge here: Analog

You can find other entries to WP Photo Challenge here: Pure

You can find other entries to Lucile’s Rehab here:    Photo Rehab

 

A CIRCLE IS NOT PEAR SHAPED

 

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A silver anklet encircles a woman’s ankle, Kerala, India

WHEN SOMETHING GOES WRONG, the Brits call it “going pear-shaped.” I don’t know the origin of that idiom, but I’m guessing that if everything is going fine, it’s shaped like a circle or round. When things go awry, maybe things get loopy and elongate into a pear shape. That’s my American take on the British vernacular. I could be way off on this. Continue reading

4 WAYS TO BE CAREFUL WHEN TRAVELING

THERE ARE FOUR DIFFERENT WAYS to look at the concept of “careful” when traveling. ONE: carefully observing carefully-constructed structures and artwork, meticulous in design displaying thought and attention to detail. TWO: being cautious of potential dangers around you, being prudent, guarded, protective. : THREE: doing or observing something done in a mindful fashion, unhurried, deliberate, measured. And FOUR: …um…OK, so maybe there’s only three.

  1. CAREFUL OBSERVANCE: observing carefully-constructed structures and artwork, meticulous in design displaying thought and attention to detail

Machu Picchu: Inca stones cut to fit without mortar, technique called ashlar

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3 DOORS OF PERCEPTION: Procrastination, Patience, Decisions

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I SHOULD NOT BE WRITING THIS, mostly because of one of my more formidable faults—I’m a procrastinator, world-class. If there were an Olympic event for procrastination, and a gambler wanted to place a thousand-dollar bet, every bookie in the book would list me as the favorite. I shouldn’t be writing because writing this is a passive-aggressive form of resistance: I have other things I need to do. I’m leaving the country in just a few days, and I’m not even close to getting packed and tying loose ends, and I need to find someone to water my plants and feed Duncan, my hermit crab. And because I recently procrastinated doing other things, I’ve morphed into a sluggish blogger: I haven’t written a post in almost two weeks; I haven’t kept up with comments; I haven’t been reading new posts by others; I’ve taken only a few photographs; I’ve been offline, scurrying down the space-time continuum, and procrastinating on everything along the way. Continue reading

7 SHADES OF DISAPPOINTMENT IN A RAINBOW: Katmandu in better times

Lei vendor -- with all the colors of the rainbow

Lei vendor — with all the colors of the rainbow

WHEN MY AIRBUS A330 LANDS IN KATMANDU’S Tribhuvan International Airport, my heart leaps with what might be called sheer excitement. Joy. Satisfaction. Wonder. Anticipation. As though this were my first journey anywhere. I have been waiting to visit Katmandu for years. And ten years earlier, I had actually been on my way and traveled half-way here, but I got side tracked in Thailand by a dubious and eclectic group of new-found friends, by a beach and a house with a view any gypsy would be proud to call home for a while, by a spiritual entity with a leaning toward sensuality, and by some pretty-heavy-duty Thai flowers. None of us smoked and certainly would never have inhaled; we just liked looking at the dried flowers and the ingenious way the Thais bundled the stuff with sticks—Asian capitalist marketing at its finest. Continue reading