One day in Ravenna

We stopped over in Ravenna on the way down to the ferry port in Piombino. It was worth every minute. I had not realized how many mosaics and works of art and lovely churches there are and many are on the UNESCO world heritage site list.

 

In the center of the old town there is the Piazza del Populo with restaurants, gelaterias and the town hall. We stayed at the quaint Palazzo Galletti Abbiosi, renovated from the 18th century, with tiny rooms yet a lot of ambiance and a decent breakfast. You buy a combined ticket for 5 UNESCO buildings that are worth visiting.

We enjoyed the mosaics museum as well which even offers a reduction in certain restaurants. Yet what was interesting were the examples from different areas and epochs, some modern mosaics are truly amazing.

Don’t forget to visit Dante Alighieri’s tomb. He wrote the Divina Commedia and spent his exile in Ravenna. The theater is named after him and there are many plays, as well as summer concerts in June through August.

One of the best places to sample regional food and wine is the enoteca or wine house Ca’de Vèn in the pedestrian zone, following the suggestion of the young lady in our Palazzo. They have all sorts of fancy food, but they recommend piadine, simple sandwiches with Parma ham and a soft white cheese not quite like mozzarella. The wine is very full-bodied and aromatic.

For other meals we can strongly recommend the Osteris Piatto Forte in the Via del Ariani, 10, right in the courtyard with one of the tinier UNESCO buildings that is unadorned on the walls but has a beautiful mosaic ceiling.

Do take the time and enjoy this wonderful town!

The Maldives

Probably the most fascinating trip we ever did was to the island Coco near Malé of the atoll Maldives. Not only was the weather near perfect, we also had heard that there are practically no natural catastrophes like tropical storms or tsunamis, the beaches are beautiful, sandy and the water so clear, blue and green.

Added to that are all the wonderful animals and the gorgeous flora of the island, helped on by the fantastic head gardener.

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If you are a fan of snorkeling and diving like us, do try and go there. The resident marine biologist is glad to have any photos of turtles, as there is an active program to save turtles from being snagged in nets and each and every one is being tracked where possible. There is an abundance of turtles, small sharks, fanciful and colorful fish, manrays, etc. When resting from swimming in the wonderfully warm water, we would walk through the island’s gardens, often laid out in coconut groves.

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Or we would enjoy the sunset and the breeze with a tasty fish menu. Or look at the creative Easter decorations of some of the young designers, made of styrofoam and paint on the backside of the large main restaurant.

The massages and treatments were nothing if not luxurious, only the tinny music wasn’t quite to my liking. Very much to our liking was the encyclopedic knowledge of the sommelier who had learned his craft in the middle of Europe’s finest wineries, do try the 6 course menu accompanied by varied glasses of pure bliss.

The self or the selfie

Ego means the self, the individual, one’s own person as defined by psychologists, philosophers, social scientists, theologians, etc. The self or ego is per definitionem an image of Gold the Almighty, as opposed to another person or living being. That is why I was so fascinated by a televised documentary on elephants some days ago. […]

Ego means the self, the individual, one’s own person as defined by psychologists, philosophers, social scientists, theologians, etc. The self or ego is per definitionem an image of Gold the Almighty, as opposed to another person or living being.

That is why I was so fascinated by a televised documentary on elephants some days ago. Not only do they have gigantic feet that can feel the most delicate of vibrations or quakes, they also have their trunk which serves as a nose for breathing, can pick up about 400 different scents, thus more than a dog can, helps them to put food into their mouths and can be used as an all-round tool for multiple other purposes.

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Vincent van Gogh Iris

 

However, what fascinated me most, was the mirror experiment. It seems that when scientists presume animals to be highly intelligent, they devise a mirror experiment. Those animals that realize that they are the individual shown in the mirror prove that they can comprehend the abstract notion of an individual self, as opposed to the other animals and babies around them. The more the shame that these wonderful creatures are hunted for the ivory of their tusks.

And human beings? Are we truly conscious of our inner “self”? Or more often than not just take ten selfies in front of any sort of background without really reflecting on what and who we are?

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Selfie! and that is precisely the reason you are here.

It may seem funny enough looking at all those selfies – or getting an “external selfie” done by your boy-friend (I am quoting Django Asül here) and trying to recognize the background – eventually. But isn’t it worth more looking at your inner self, your ego, and considering if everything is fine or worth changing a bit?

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Self or ego also have to do with selfish or egotistical. Being selfish is not bad in itself. Being selfish has to do with mindfulness, taking care of yourself, being good first and foremost to that body and mind that are yours, just as Christ talked of when he said to care for yourself. Only then will you be able to take good care of others and fulfill what God has commanded us to do.

When was the last time you did something good to yourself? Don’t wait, do it now: Sing a song, massage someone’s back, make that phone call, whatever. You’ll feel way better and you will sleep better. Be an elephant.

 

For the fun of it, a children’s rhyme I (still) adore:

Eletelephony (1932)

Once there was an elephant

Who tried to use the telephant,

No no, I mean an elephone

who tried to use the telephone,

(… now you have to read the rest yourself!  just follow the link)

 

Carmen in Bregenz

Driving down to Bregenz on the Austrian side of Lake Constance or the Bodensee as German speakers know it is definitely not far, in fact, only little more than two hours from Munich. Yet it is an entirely different landscape, especially since the theater stage is set on or even in the water. This year 2018 the stage-scape was sculpted by the Londoner Es Devlin and never have I seen a more spectacular one. Some of the playing cards or rather “fate tossed between two female hands” seems to still be flying through the air whereas others offer a kind of balcony and the lowest ones lower into the water at the dramatic end.

The cards also change colors and views of their back or colors and suit, at times even dissolving in the rain.  The three levels have three different names so the actors, dancers and singers know when to be where. The hands reach up about 20m high. The whores have especially heavy make-up, khol-black around their eyes and the dissolving cards remind one of runny mascara when crying. When Carmen is finally strangled and drowned by her unhappy lover Don José, she actually wears an oxygen tank underneath her flashy red dress. I gasped to see her struggle for so many minutes. My guess was a kind of James Bond breathing device and I guess I wasn’t too far off.

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We had a wonderful meal at the lake restaurant and a spectacular sundown. Enjoy a lovely walk around the lake.

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On the day prior to the opera by Bizet we “did” Dornbirn where our hotel was located: We first visited a very interesting Rolls-Royce Museum and a tour by the collector’s children.

a fantastic view down the mountains from the “Karren” Seilbahn or incline and a long soak in the great pools of the Waldbad, the forest pools. Whichever other negative points, like the tight legroom of the bleachers and the chaotic parking signs, yes, I’d do it again!

Horror! the Monster! Horror! El marido!

No, don’t laugh, I am trying to be serious. Once it has turned “summer” here in Central Europe, meaning hot and humid and pending thunderstorms or even drought-like weather conditions, everybody starts moaning and groaning about the high temperatures, which often entail the growth of hookworms in the local lakes.

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Now, how about imagining a giant worm, a Lindwurm, a kind of greenish Nessie rising high out of your nearest lake, like Loch Ness? I often get the feeling that people like to exaggerate the temperatures and the dryness or the dampness, whichever. I also often think that each giant Lindwurm sums up a lot of anxious feelings people have  about their future and / or their environment. The big green worm encompassing all kinds of hidden feelings, being grumpy at work, being grouchy to friends and enemies alike, “green behind the ears” , a “greenhorn” when it comes to experiences that weren’t too agreeable,  like a wasp sting here or worms in the box shrubs now. Only they are not quite as awful as the locusts that plagued the Egyptians back in the Old Testament.

The Lindworm (cognate with Old Norse linnormr ‘ensnaring snake’, Norwegian linnorm ‘dragon’, Swedish lindorm, Danish lindorm ‘serpent’, German Lindwurm ‘dragon’) is either a dragon or serpent monster. In British heraldry, lindworm is a technical term for a wingless serpentine monster with two clawed arms in the upper body. In Norwegian heraldry a lindorm is the same as the wyvern in British heraldry. (source : Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lindworm)

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Maybe we should consider the Scottish thistle as the better symbol of our summer stings, the thistle being thorny on the outside, but soft and edible on the inside with a lovely purplish color to boot, a delicacy for donkeys:

In 1503, the marriage of King James IV of Scotland to Princess Margaret Tudor of England, seems to have been the inspiration behind the poem entitled ‘The Thrissil and The Rois’ (‘The Thistle and The Rose’) penned by the Scottish poet William Dunbar. The thistle represented King James and the rose represented Princess Margaret.

Toward the middle of the same century, historians believe that Scotlands’ highest chivalric order was founded by King James V (son of King James IV), it’s name was ‘The Order of The Thistle’. It’s heraldic symbol was, not surprisingly, the humble thistle…..Heraldic symbol of the Scottish' Order of the Thistle'. Public domain image, attributed toWenceslaus Hollar [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Image Attribution: Wenceslaus Hollar (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons

The official motto of this organization is‘Nemo me impune lacessit’, this Latin translates into ‘No one provokes me with impunity’  (or in Scottish-English ‘ Wha daur meddle wi’ me?’ ) which ties in perfectly with the original legend. (source: https://www.scottish-at-heart.com/scottish-thistle.html)

Whichever symbol you are in favor of, just remember, there is no need to make a mountain out of a molehill, so think like Merlin the Magician and use your head, forget about monsters and enjoy the flowers while they bloom. 20180611_114937.jpg

 

Hemingway’s mojito – now is mint bloom!

One of the top classic cocktails, and now that the mint flowers are blossoming, a fine time to mix some mojitos against the heat wave Europe is experiencing :

fresh limes, cooled, partially peeled and cut into round discs

cane sugar and a pestle to grind the discs of lime with the teaspoon of sugar

ron añejo, one shot glass

fresh sprigs of mint

crushed ice / cold water and ice cubes

Put several rounds of lime into a mojito glass, a teaspoon of cand sugar on top and grind with the pestle. Add the rum, the crushed ice, some sprigs of mint and a cocktail stirrer. Enjoy while it ‘s hot!

Earnest Hemingway loved this cocktail especially,  as every Cuban tour guide will be eager to point out. He was known for his drinking habits, his intrepid nature when in Cuba or in the Spanish Civil War. Whoever looks for clues, will be able to find them in his short stories: one tenth meaning and nine tenths buried in the underneath currents of meaning like an iceberg.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Everybody knows of his physical prowess and his symbols of love, friendship, those bewildered repetitions when his characters must adapt  to a new environment, the search for love, light, orderliness, human warmth,  not agony or the strain of war. As to a list of good reads, I’d offer you a library shelf or two, my faves were “A Clean Well-lighted Place”Farewell to Arms“, For Whom the Bell Tolls“, “Fiesta“, “The Old Man and the Bridge“… take your own pick! Oh yes, and for fun, look at his old boat, tiny but double sturdy!

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Photo by Ruel Madelo on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

Coco Malé

I’d like to be

under the sea

in an octopus’s garden   in the shade

sings Ringo Starr in his “Yellow Submarine” – how true, the best place in the world at times!

 

This was an Easter trip – unforgettable! We met a marine biologist working for Nature for the owners of the Coco Island near Malé, Maldives. She explained all the plastic garbage / rubbish/ microplastic awfulness in the Oceans of the World.

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Meanwhile I am the proud owner of two cute stuffed turtle fellas and have actively filmed and photographed as many turtles as I could. I have also checked out the corals, dead near the Family Islands in the Great Barrier Reef, ditto in the Red Sea in the Coral Park, ditto but less less awful in Malé, near Denià I didn’t see much due to the wild tempestuous weather leaving a long deep scratch that took a year to heal (no big deal).

And yes, this is the place I’d like to be most. Not only because of the snorkeling, but because of the lovely people and the great meals and the wonderful surroundings and the fantastic bungalows etc. I made more friends here than in other places, which is why we are planning to come again. I also know of others who similarly make repeat visits.

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The cotton turtles are only a reminder of what still needs to be done to save these and other animals from disappearing from the face of our planet. Treating trash and residue lightly or not recycling will have fatal consequences for us all some day. Yes, I am worried about my carbon footprints, but I have not yet learned to fly on my own, anybody out there who knows how?  I just can’t wait to go back in the near future.