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Abu-Dhabi-Finali-Mondiali.

How time flies… It’s now nearly two weeks since I was in Abu Dhabi for a high-speed adrenalin injection, and only just now have I gotten round to putting fingers to keyboard. So apologies for the delay folks; sometimes I need a full reboot – a few days of catching up on sleep and spending quality time with my family. Everything else – for later. Now, here’s that later…

So, like I say, I was in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for the Finali Mondiali.

Abu Dhabi Ferrari Challenge

But why? Well, why, that is, apart from ‘it’s nice and sunny down in the Middle East’, like always?

Easy. Sometimes you need to meet face-to-face the folks you normally communicate with only by telephone or email. Mod-coms are all very good, but they’ll never by any match for personal interaction for catching up properly…

To take an analogy, let’s say you’re barbequing on the shore of a lake. Your pal’s also barbequing nearby – but on the shore of a neighboring lake. And you’re Skyping each other.

Question: Are you eating together or separately?

Answer, IMHO: You’re eating separately, and only imitating human interaction.

Homo sapiens – we were all designed to interact with one another. And the closer and more personal, the better. And that’s why I was in Abu Dhabi. Ok, that’s enough theory/work… Now: FUN!

There were tons of fun to be had in Abu Dhabi, so much so I’m struggling to work out which particular tons were the funniest. I think… yes – for me the best was the mega roller-coaster here (interestingly sometimes referred to as a Russian mountain – turns out roller-coasters first appeared in St. Petersburg – in the 18th century!!). What can I say? It’s mega!

Abu Dhabi Ferrari World

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Read on: May the luck be with us next time!…

Seashells and a hotel on the seashore.

After staying the night in a hotel recently in the town of Cascais just outside Lisbon, I just had to put fingers to laptop to tell you about it. I’ve seen quite a few hotels in my time, but this is one of the few I’ll never forget…

Please meet the Fortaleza do Guincho. It’s simple, it’s classy, it’s cozy, it’s modest. A boutique hotel with a Michelin-starred restaurant (we ate in the local greasy spoon fish fork, which deserved a Michelin star too:). In short: lovely lodgings.

But this hotel gets a whole blogpost dedicated to it not for any of the above-mentioned niceties. Instead, it comes down to the hackneyed real estate buying threesome: location, location, location. For this heavenly hotel is located right on the coast of the Atlantic – almost in it, in fact. The ocean’s literally outside your window. The sound noise of the waves crashing against the shore… it’s almost hypnotic – and can lull you into a doze-cum-meditation before you can say ’40 winks’ or ‘om’. Incredible. I want to go back already!

This is how it looks from up above:

And this is what it looks like down on the ground:

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Just like the palaces here… unusual, unique architecture :)

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The cliff theme continues

Read on: View to the left, to the right and from my room…

A palace, a castle and a cape near Lisbon. 

Last week we had another free afternoon in Portugal. Naturally, we made the most of it.

On our way to Lisbon airport we made a quick detour off the highway to take in another two interesting Portuguese places of interest.

They’re not quite as monumental as the cliffs we saw on the southern coast of the country, but all the same they’re still worth a look. The first place, real close to Lisbon, is the town of Sintra (and its Pena Park). The other is the western-most point of Europe – Cabo da Roca – approx. 20km from Pena.

Pena Park is actually the grounds of Pena National Palace, perched high up on the top of a hill here (500 meters above sea level).There are various different touristic tidbits to check out in and around the grounds, but the main two are the palace itself plus Castelo Mouros – Castle of the Moors – another hilltop-located ancient construction (and the cooler of the two).

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Pena National Palace

Read on: Summer residence of the Portuguese royal family…

How much per minute? The Spanish parking pricing conundrum.

Still in Spain, after Barca, we headed over to the city of Seville. We needed to park up the motor for a few hours, so drove to the parking lot in the airport. And that’s when we saw it: Absurdity with a capital A. Or so it seemed at first…

On the wall of the parking lot hangs this here price list:

No folks, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. And no, that hasn’t been Photoshopped. Those figures, though very unreal, are actually for real.

What? How? Why? Anyone have a clue?

Read on: The reality of the matter turned out to be much more prosaic…

For Those about to Rocks: Earth, Wind and Ocean. 

We recently had a day spare after a partner conference in Portugal.

What were we to do?

Easy: get ourselves a rented car and race along the country’s south coast! We set out from the city of Faro.

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It’s a coastline of very impressive imposing cliffs – forever battling the ferocious forces of the ocean.

Read on: startlingly stunning!…

Dead season – best season.

I finally get it.

The best time to travel around Europe is November!

All the great-weather tourists have long disappeared, and it’s a month until the Christmas/New year tourists will be back en masse. Yep – November is the perfect time of year for leisurely strolls along European streets and visiting (empty!) cathedrals, palaces and museums. Of course, the weather’s not super fine like in summer, but then Europe – especially southern Europe – doesn’t have a harsh northern climate anyway, so it’s perfectly doable.

Of course, you have to expect some rain, and you need to put a coat on… Big deal. A small price to pay for avoiding throngs of folks everywhere getting in your face, for not having to stand forever in endless lines, and not needing to get out of the way of pictures being taken by a zillion other tourists.

A.B. and I were lucky on this quick trip to Europe: We managed two hours walking gondoliering around Venice and a whole day strolling around Barcelona.

Venice

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Read on: Two hours in Venice and an evening in Barcelona…

Nano-racing.

What does an ideal weekend… smell like? I mean, an ideal weekend for boys… of all ages? :)

The answer, I firmly believe, is as follows:

An ideal weekend for boys of all ages smells of burning brake pads, of engine fumes, of gasoline, and of adrenalin. Motorsport. It’s like rock’n’roll, only better.

Just recently some comrades and I had some spare time between business engagements and headed down to Italy to take part in the Adria-24 car race. It was a national-level race, but still very much a full-on adrenaline-pumping one. Unfortunately though, the sweet smell of car racing success didn’t pass through our nostrils, for about half-way – after 12 hours – our car… died, and no amount of reanimation measures could save her. A great pity. Here’s her corpse, poor thing:

24 Ore di Adria race

Read on: Nano-racing…

Nifty lifty.

On my business travels around the world, I come across some of the most ingeniously intriguing bits of tech-kit, which never cease to amaze me. Simple ideas, efficient ideas, effective ideas, smart ideas. And they normally were thought up long ago. Maybe they just seem quaint now because of modern hi-tech overload numbing? That’s possible. Still, they’re no less fascinating for it…

Here’s a perfect example: the paternoster (meaning ‘Our Father’ in German).

It’s an elevator that goes up and down non-stop with a fairground carousel-like action. Or you could think of it as a vertical escalator. Wikipedia describes it as similar to rosary beads passing through one’s fingers round and round. Not so sure about that one. Hmmm, photos don’t really help out either in trying to explain exactly what it is. But I think the animated gif on Wikipedia cracks it:

Paternoster: how it works?

The first ‘Our Daddy’ I saw was in Hamburg in the Axel Springer building in 2009. Nice.

Read on: Lift, I’m youк daddy!…

Slieve League’s paths and views: in a league of their own.

Top of the day to you, folks!

Here we are with the final installment of travel notes from Ireland – and another magical natural wonder from the west coast of the country: Slieve League.

The mountains this day were neither much higher nor steeper than the ones we’d seen the previous day, but the views, somehow were a lot better…

Slieve Laegue cliffs, Ireland

Read on: Chuckle chuckle…

Irish towns: Water, water, everywhere.

En route to the Cliffs of Moher in the north of Ireland, we stopped over in Sligo, the principal town of County Sligo (incidentally, where W.B. Yeats spent much of his youth. But, you poetry buffs, can you name the poet who wrote the words in the title of this post after the colon?:).

What struck me most here – and in other Irish towns we drove through or strolled around – was the prominence of water. I mean natural water sources – rivers and, if it’s nearby, the sea.

There seems to be a river or stream running right through the middle of just about every town in Ireland. Of course, rivers and streams run through most towns in most countries, but it seemed to me that in Ireland they’re all big and in-your-face – and often very fast flowing and choppy (and making a heck of a din).

In Moscow, for example, rivers seems to be deliberately put out of sight, as if they get in the way. The man-made riverside walls there are always really high, so you can often be forgiven for not noticing rivers there. In Ireland they’re central to the character and spirit of towns, prominently visible and taking pride of place.

Like the river Garavogue running through Sligo. Look at the pics and you’ll see what I mean. Incidentally, Garavogue means ‘little rough one’. I can see why…

Just looking at the little rough one’s rapids flowing through the center of town got me salivating for water-tourism. Those arches under that bridge really need canoeing through, followed by a quick turn to avoid the stone wall just after it. Oh how I miss canoe-catamaran-rafting adrenalin…

Sligo, Western Ireland

Read on: Sligo rapids…