Monthly Archives: November 2017

The glamorous final Grand Prix – where else but in Abu Dhabi.

Oh my G-force. The Formula 1 season’s over! Where did that go?

What can I say? Well done to Mercedes, is what. Unrestrainable and uncontainable they are. I mean, the Merc racing cars are pretty much the same as the Ferrari ones, but as a team they make less mistakes. The fearless Finn and the blazing Brit together make a fearsome twosome – a more level-headed and self-possessed one than Ferrari’s German-Finn combo, it turned out. In Baku Seb… forgot his age and national character traits, while in Singapore… no – let’s not even mention it. All the same – staying positive – we are at least one point up in the Constructors’ Championship.

So what about Sunday’s race? Well, of course it was on the Yas Marina Circuit, so it was never going to be a ton of fun. Our F1 fanatics always complain about how dull it is: boring turns, a lack of overtaking possibilities, and so on. But, as they say in Russia, to a bad taxi driver a round steering wheel will always be square :). The Benz boys won fair and square – at least to non-insider spectators. There were all sorts of rumors about behind-the-scenes pressure on the new owners of Formula One, but I don’t know the details and so can’t comment on them.

But now about the race.

The best bits of any race are of course the start, the tactical controversies throughout the race, the overtaking, and the pit stops. I think the pit stops are best of all: so long as you don’t blink! Three seconds and they’re done!

Read on: Pics from the pits…

Bunker in Berlin. Funst with Kunst.

Guten tag folks!

After a practically horizontal weekend (intense recuperation after the previous weeks’ long slog) and a day-and-a-half in the office in Moscow, before you could say das ist fantastisch, I was heading back to Deutschland. On the agenda: two days, two cities (Frankfurt and Berlin), four speeches, dozens of interviews, an event for partners. Then home again for another horizontal weekend to sufficiently recharge the batteries for yet another busy schedule the following week.

So. Frankfurt. What can I say? Well first here’s what I can show:

Read on: Pull up to the Bunker baby…

Tourism: Chinese. +4 must-sees.

In my Top-100 Must-See Places in the World, there’s a special section on China. So why does this single country get a section all of its own (as Russia does) unlike most other countries? Simple: it’s packed full of touristic wonders; it’s only they’re hardly known about outside the country. China is in many ways a self-sufficient country, and that includes in terms of its domestic tourism. China has no real need for foreign tourists: it has plenty to be getting on with from inside the country ).

Anyway, I regularly (but quietly) add new places to the China sub-list of my Top-100 list, based on my travels around the country. So here’s my latest update adding new data and recommendations to the list…

1. The Longyou Caves.

The Longyou Caves – meaning Dragon Caves – were discovered in 1992 when some locals were pumping water from a pond. You can image their surprise when they came across this lot! It turned out to be ancient man-made caverns – ‘secret’ (unrecorded) ones at that; MASSIVE ones at that (they scooped out a whopping MILLION cubic meters of bedrock to make them!). I mean, how do you (rather, you and, say, an army of laborers) keep that undertaking (which clearly lasted decades) quiet so no one at all knows about it/writes about it? All a mystery. And, accordingly – very must-see!

Here’s some detail on the caves; here too (photos are from here).

Read on: Longyou Caves, Dunhuang, and Lugu and Kanas Lakes…

A View to a Thrill.

Be careful what you wish for!…

…I’d been wishing for an aerial view – from an airplane – of Santorini for years. Well now it’s come to pass.

I had in fact flown over the Greek island before, only at night and/or on a cloudy day, so I never saw anything. This time, the conditions were perfect: a bright, clear day. The conditions were so perfect that even the pilots were taking pics!

Santorini!

Read on: Santorini from a plane – the beauty’s almost insane…

Herod the Great’s Great Palace.

Hi folks!

There are some places on the planet that need to be checked out purely for simple touristic pleasure – but which also highlight one’s scandalously scant level of knowledge of important historical events. One such place I visited last week. And if you’re ever in Israel, don’t be lazy to get there.

Absolutely recommended, especially if you’re near Jerusalem.

This is one of Herod the Great‘s palaces: Herodium, or, at least the ruins thereof.

The life, adventures and exploits of King Herod could only really be found out about if one were to travel back to the decades before Christ in a time machine. The folklore that’s been handed down through the ages may be based on any number of sources, and they can hardly be checked for accuracy 2000 years later now can they? Even the mighty internet has its limitations!

Read on: An underground fortress built ‘into’ a hill…

Thames Path – pt. 4.

Hi folks!

Since April 2016 I’ve been sneaking in strolls marches along the River Thames, since I’m lucky enough to visit London rather regularly on business. Not repeat marches of the same stretches of riverbank of course, but different sections – since there’s quite a lot of riverbank to be marched here. Here’s my first stretch, here’s the second, the third… so that makes this riverbank ramble my fourth already.

So what’s the attraction? Why a whopping four (and counting) visits (and saunters) already? Well, it’s mostly all down to something called the Thames Path – a neat and well-paved/tarmacked pathway that runs along the full length of the river – all ~300 kilometers of it!

Now, I’m never shy of extreme tourism, where there are precisely zero paths – plus zero civilization whatsoever, come to think of it – but when I’m short of time, and in London that’s always, I like to rely on paths to make sure our trekking is just that – straight trekking – not finding the way, losing our way, navigating tricky unforeseen obstacles and so on. Make sense? Alrighty. Just had to explain that in case you think I’m going soft :).

This time our Thames-walking took us away from the capital’s center – and turned into a veritable ‘London as you’ve never seen it before’ experience…

Read on: A green and pleasant land, floods, pubs, allotments, stormtroopers…

XIA – PEK – SVO – LHR – NAS – LHR – PHEW.

I’ve been getting about quite a bit this fall, and practically every day I’ve been as busy as a bee. It’s that slightly disorienting routine I get into every few months or so: each day something new – starting with the hotel room I wake up in.

But the other day it wasn’t a hotel room. Upon waking, my first question to myself was the usual ‘Where am I?’, but the answer this time came ‘in an Airbus!’ Indeed I was, flying Xi-an – Beijing – Moscow – London – the Bahamas – London over several days.

Such continent hopping in a short time with lots on the work agenda forces my happy-snapping habit into its minimalist regime. This isn’t so bad, as the pics that do manage to get taken are normally very much ‘greatest  hits’ and no padding. Thus, this post: ‘Greatest Hits of the Last Several Days’!

First, here’s a masterpiece from Petrovich taken at dawn at Danxia:

Before you ask about the fly, let me make the introductions: please meet our pet fly, whom we carry around the world with us in a jar and sometimes let him out for a walk fly :).

And now for a brief rundown of my recent continent hopping…

Read on: Asia > Europe > North America > Europe…

Xi’an, pt. 3: imperial hot springs and a giant wild goose pagoda.

There are many reasons to visit the city of Xi’an and environs. But if those given, and exhibited by way of photos in my previous two posts (Terracotta Army and the old city walls) haven’t convinced you yet, just keep reading…

Between 10 and 15 kilometers from the city there’s a totally ace place called 华清池, aka Huaqing Pool, aka Huaqing Hot Springs. This is a real pretty spot, but at night… more about that in a bit…

Straight away at the entrance you’re knocked off your feet by the sight of some Victoria amazonica – a native plant from, as the name suggests, the Amazon River basin; yep – that Amazon: the one that runs through South America. So what they doing here? I never did get to find out, but it doesn’t really matter… in fact it adds to the mysteriously pioneering spirit of this perfectly peerless plant!

Read on…