Tag Archives: must see

Desert Scene: Beautiful, Serene.

Deserts…

Nothing quite like them. Endless sandy scenery, wavy dunes, sand all squishy underfoot – or blowing up into your face by the wind; in fact, sand: EVERYWHERE! In your boots, in your pockets, in your… teeth! But despite such petty tortures (and with sandals on your feet, not boots) – the desert is otherworldly beautiful, breathtaking, brain-numbing, hypnotizing. Like this:

Read on: the largest contiguous sand desert in the world…

Nightclubbing – Viennese Style.

Our introduction into Viennese nightlife occurred most unexpectedly: we were invited to a ball! A real ball, which takes place in a large concert hall somewhere in downtown Vienna. Woah!

To the sound of chamber music, with the men in tailcoats (white tie) and the women in ball gowns, the guests gathered for the 10pm ceremonial kick-off to the ball. The ceremony was most official – formally opened by two government ministers (of internal affairs and foreign affairs). Here’s the latter making his speech. Yes – he is young for a minister :-):

So, if I was there, why did I take a pic of a TV screen and not of the (young) man himself? Simply because there were that many folks in the hall – literally thousands! (Clearly evening-wear rental and/or sales must is a profitable business in the Austrian capital). So many ball-goers, in fact, that we couldn’t even get into the hall for the opening ceremony, which was just like you see in the old films: guests being paraded in front of the royal/ministerial hosts, with a few formal words exchanged with each:

A little later things calmed down a bit and we managed to squeeze our way inside. And this is what I saw…

The debutantes’ dance, or whatever it is they call it: young couples new to such a ball. They take dozens of lessons on how to do ballroom dancing so they can dance as per requirements at the ball. The ball itself is something like an exam, or so it seemed to me. Or simply a demonstration of the newbies’ cavorting talent. The moms and dads in the audience must have been very proud:


Read on: Nightclubbing – Viennese Style…

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Happy New Year from Central Moscow!

Happy New Year folks, and hope you all had great holidays!

You won’t believe this… but this post is about… RED SQUARE! // Incidentally, the square I consider to be the most beautiful spot in Europe!

I hadn’t been in downtown Moscow on New Year’s Eve since… oooh, 15 years ago! Yep – 2001 was the last time, on Pushkin Square watching the fireworks. But I’d never been on Red Square on New Year’s Eve. What?! So this year I decided to make amends…

So how was it? Well, actually, my overall impressions were… mixed. And it’s those mixed impressions that I’d like to share with you today.

Read on: Red Square was really something!…

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All Quiet on the Highly-Militarized Demilitarized Front.

This is a veeerrrry strange place. It’s a place that’s completely isolated from the outer world – isolated by man, that is (not naturally isolated like, for example, Kamchatka). In fact, more isolated (by man) than the Chernobyl or Fukushima nuclear power plants. To get into it and get over to those there hills on the horizon is completely impossible, even theoretically – neither by ground nor air. You’d be shot!

An absurd paradox of paradoxes, if ever there was one: they call this place ‘demilitarized’. Turns out to be one of the most heavily militarized strips of land on the planet! Yes folks, this is the Korean Demilitarized Zone – the DMZ.

Read on: A brief history of the place…

The Vatican: A Pope’s-Eye View.

Rome. Without a doubt – one of the most… significant cities in the world; 100% must-see. I’ve been to the city many times, toured the different parts of the center on foot several times, prodded, tasted, tried on, and took lots of pics of practically everything. And ‘practically everything’ of course includes St. Peter’s Square, including pics from the top of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, taken on three or four separate occasions. But this was the first time I viewed the square from this angle:

And seeing this person in the flesh – that was also a first!

Read on: Palm trees and monuments…

Such Much Sochi!

I’d heard many good things about Sochi on the whole, and Krasnaya Polyana in particular, but still: nothing beats seeing it for oneself. That’s right: for some odd reason I’d never properly visited Sochi. Ok, I was here briefly two years ago for the Formula-1, but I only got to see the racing track and Olympic Park.

This time, despite a typically busy business schedule in the city, I got to take in the sights and sounds of the place, and even got a bit of hill-trekking in. And, ohhhh boy, was I glad that I did! For here in Sochi I was pleasantly surprised astounded by how cool the place is. I simply couldn’t believe this was a Russian seaside town on the Black Sea. How things have improved been transformed!

Krasnaya Polyana also bowled me over with its spaciousness, modernity, shininess (newness), wide embankments and contented pedestrians strolling along the riverbank.

Read on: ski and palms…

Altai-2016: The Big Water Trail.

Hi all!

Altai ranks up there as one of the most fascinating and magical places on earth.

It’s not only beautiful – there’s something about the place. It might be some sort of special energy in the rocks there or something else unbeknown to us. Here the colors are brighter, the water tastes better, the grass is greener, and the mountains contrast more with their surroundings. This year I was lucky enough to spend three weeks in Altai with a group of like-minded adventurers. We hiked, choppered, and rafted (down the Katun River).

In all we walked about 70 kilometers to Lake Akkem and then around it, flew around mount Belukha in a helicopter, flew up to the headwaters of the Katun and rafted down to the lower reaches of the river – almost 400km (four HUNDRED kilometers!!) in all, and descending over a kilometer along the vertical axis. This was my ‘summer holiday’.

Reaв on: And this is what it all looked like…

Weekend Volcano.

Volcanism. It’s one of my hobbies. I just love getting up volcanoes all over the planet. Something about their beauty, power, hooliganism, infamy, aliveness, hotness, lava, craters, calderas, lakes… you get the picture.

But there’s one thing about volcanism that can be a bit of a pain: you normally need a good few days – if not weeks – to engage in any properly. This is because volcanoes of course tend to be massive, inaccessible, and often there are several in one spot that demand conquering. But then I heard about Mount Aragats: the quintessential ‘weekend volcano’.

Here she is. As you can see, she’s not far from the Armenian capital – so there’s the ‘inaccessible’ point crossed off as a volcanism-hindrance. She’s big and has more than one peak, but there is just one of her. All that is to explain its ‘weekendness’ :). But enough words; check out the pics:

Read on: Ruined over the millennia; but that’s half its charm…

Worldwide Swimming – Pt 2.

Oakie-doakie. On we march front-crawl, to the next stop on the worldwide swimming bus – Europe.

6. Hot Sea, Santorini.

Santorini is a volcano-island, or island-volcano. It’s actually a ring of islands, which are the remains of the caldera of a huge volcano of yester-millennia, with a fresh volcano growing up inside the ring in the middle, which every now and then erupts and grows bigger. I was on Santorini not long ago, and wrote plenty of words about it here on this blog.

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The only hot springs in the world that are situated in the sea reside here. At least, the only ones in the world known to me. The hot water spurts up from the seabed through the sea, making said sea the warmest sea you’ll ever know :).

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There are quite a few spots around the islands where you can partake in hot-spring-sea-bathing. The one in the above pic isn’t the best; others are deeper and hotter, I’m told…

Read on: summer holidays on the White Sea islands…