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Category Archives: Travel Notes

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…

Atom Heart Moher.

When folks who’ve been to Ireland get asked what its best ‘must-see’ or ‘must-do’ bits are (besides Guinness), most reply with the Cliffs of Moher, and understandably so. The Internet even says these cliffs recently became one of the top must-sees, not just of the whole of Ireland, but the whole of Europe! Bold reckonings. But they might just be right…

This part of Ireland is stunningly beautiful.

200-meter high sheer cliffs facing out across ‘the pond‘, aka – the Atlantic Ocean. Monumentally magnificent. And the waves way down below – like 50 floors of a skyscraper down below – can still be heard up here at the top crashing against the rocks. Them some powerful waves.

Western Ireland, Cliffs of Moher

Read on: Raining cats and dogs…

Sado-tourism.

What are you supposed to do in Japan if you’ve a free Saturday, you’ve already ‘done’ Tokyo several times, you’ve just had a partner conference in Osaka, and Kyoto’s also been fully inspected before?

My Japanese trolls-cum-colleagues suggested shooting up to Fukushima, but when I asked them what’s really worth seeing there, they went all quiet. So with Kyushu and Hokkaido being too far for a day-trip, we ended up deciding to hop onto a train to speed over to the west coast of Japan, and then travel by boat a bit further – to the island of Sado.

Sado island, Japan

Source

Now, when my Japanese trolls colleagues kept referring to ‘island’ – ‘here on the island’, ‘they reside on the island’, etc. – it seemed a little strange to me. As if Japan were the ‘mainland’, and just Sado were an island. Still, I guess the largest island of Japan is both ‘main’ and ‘land’, so maybe I’m nitpicking… Hmmm.

Anyway, what’s there to see on the smaller island? :)

Simple: not much. Hardly anything interesting whatsoever. A visit is purely just for the check mark on a list of been to’s of the world. Japanese west coast/island: check.

But wait… There’s always something… Surely. Yes: here, it’s the colors of autumn across Japanese mountain ranges: simply stunning.

Sado island, Japan

Read on: Glide with Boeing…

Monaco – the view from above.

Hi folks!

Here I am in Monte Carlo, Monaco, to attend this year’s INTERPOL General Assembly. I love this place. I’ve been here several times before, but never tire of it. One thing I’d never gotten round to doing though was getting up into those hills that tower up above it.

This time, I finally managed it. It was just a shame that in the morning it was really overcast and rainy…

Monaco, Monte Carlo: bird eye view

The view from the top of the hill – from a village called La Turbie

Read on: Mercifully the weather soon cleared up…

The three Kurilsks of the Kurils – your guide.

The Kuril Islands are bleak – plain and simple. Extreme weather, poor communications with the continent, a 100% mark-up on all imported goods (and just about all goods are imported from mainland Russia), and a constant threat of natural disasters such as volcano eruptions, earthquakes and tsunami!

It takes a tough individual to survive here; an even tougher individual to love the place. However, there are things to love about it; you just need to know where to look…

The total land mass of all the Kurils is slightly less than that of Israel or Slovenia, or about half the size of Belgium. However, its population is only around 20,000, half of which lives in three towns: (i) Severo-Kurilsk (North-Kurilsk), (ii) Kurilsk, and (iii) Yuzhno-Kurilsk (South-Kurilsk). All very logical.

Surprisingly, the first two have the official status of town, yet their populations combined are smaller than that of the third, which is officially deemed an ‘urban type settlement’. (Logical?) There are also a few tiny hamlets plus seasonal fishing villages which come to life in the summer after hibernating through the winter.

So what’s it like living on the Kuril Islands?

Kurils islands, Tyatya volcano

Read on: your complete guide to Kuril settlements…

Deutsch funicular vernacular: Genuine genius.

Somewhat infrequently, I come across something that’s both reeeaaally simple but at the same time reeeaaally amazing and astonishing. For example, the funicular in Wiesbaden, Germany.

At first glance – it’s just two tram cars going up and down a small hill: simple. However, on closer inspection you find out that these tram cars weren’t built say in the middle of the last century… No – it was actually 1888 when they were commissioned: amazing! And the engine they use?… Nope – no engine! The cars go up and down the hill using just gravity plus one other unlikely source of energy – water: astonishing!

Germany, Wiesbaden

Read on: how this hill-tram works?…

Underground Jerusalem

I have read and heard a lot about the about the excavations in Jerusalem, around the Holy Temple and under its walls. I have seen the pictures, licked my lips in anticipation but I only managed to visit the ruins of the city and one of the newly discovered tunnels (not the main one though) that runs under the Western Wall.

Then all of a sudden – a surprise!

Down the stairs, under the ground, from level to level, from floor to floor. How many of them have not been excavated yet?? Along the Roman cobbles, under the 700-year-old Turkish renovations, along the ancient walls of the Temple. Wow! I never even dreamed of it – but it really happened!

Underground Jerusalem

What is hoary antiquity for New York, is just last night for Jerusalem…

Sacré-Cœur – mon Dieu!

Next stop – France.

Here we were celebrating the 10th b-day of the KL France office. The goings-on deserve a post of their own really. For now though, it’s down the Champs-Élysées and onwards for some speedy surveying of the familiar spectacular Parisian places of interest I never tire of checking out…

Paris, France

Read on: My top-three fave places in Paris…