Sunday, 24 November 2013

The Best of the 40th Edition of Ski and Snowboard Show in London from Monarch Airlines

The winter is here. That means, no more fooling around in the beach but staying home next to the fireplace. Well, it sounds great but only if you don’t like ski! If you find skiing pleasurable, then probably you didn’t miss London Ski & Snowboard Show that was organized last month.

More than 250 brands exhibited their latest products while free ski and snowboard lessons were supposed to introduce amateurs into the delights of these two winter sports. It seems that the latest trend on skiing is off-piste ski. Ski aficionados are searching more for unpredictable terrains that can increase the levels of excitement.

Monarch Airlines gives us an account on what happened at this prestigious event. Read more.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

St. Andrew’s Day in Scotland and in Tenerife

Scotland Fireworks at St. Andrew's Day,  Edinburgh.
credit: Grant Ritchie
 For as long as we inhabit this planet, we will always search for reasons to celebrate. Annual celebrations with historical and cultural significance in particular aim to strengthen community bonds and to preserve the collective memory and identity alive. Every nation, every culture, every group of people in this world maintain its cohesion by celebrations, specific events or even… myths! The creation of myths is necessary for writing of the history of any nation and group of people. Sometimes, it’s hard to separate myth from reality when it comes to celebrations of historical events; this is what makes people united and proud, though. 
Celebrations that bear a religious character are very significant even today, when religions aren’t as important for societies as they used to be in the old days. St. Andrew’s Day is one of these celebrations that look towards a glorified past and, at the same time, point out towards the future: Scotland will remain Scottish as long as in this particular day of the year its people will feel proud and connected with their particular history.

Scottish Flag in Scottish Skies, St. Andrew's Day
credit: Stewart White
St. Andrew’s Day is such a big day for Scotland because St. Andrew is actually the patron saint of the country. Every year, millions of Scottish take the flag of their proud country and celebrate in the streets and elsewhere what they feel it is a day for unity. St. Andrew never set foot in Scotland, but that’s somehow another story that we will leave for the historians to debunk! What’s of importance to us is that the celebration of St. Andrew takes place in Scotland since the 11th century, in one form or the other. Recently, in 2006, St. Andrew’s Day was declared a public holiday.

St. Andrews Cathedral, Scotland
credit: Daniel Peckham
The importance of St. Andrew’s Day is even greater in a Scot’s calendar, as the 30th of November is usually chosen as a day when important government announcements are made concerning the country’s future. In that sense, past, present and future are intertwined and combine each other.
It goes without a saying that the week around the 30th of November is an ideal time to visit Scotland. However, and in case you search for something more playful and warmer, why not visit Tenerife? In Tenerife they also celebrate St. Andrew’s Day in what it is to be a slightly different experience, though.

The fiesta of St. Andrew takes place mostly in the night before the 30th of November in the north of this magnificent Spanish island. In Puerto de la Cruz, which is located in the less touristic part of Tenerife, people flood the streets around midnight, ready for yet another Spanish fiesta. Little kids enjoy the freedom of the day that allows them to tie metallic objects in the back of parked cars; at the same time, adults taste the first wine of the year!
During the night of the 29th of November, wine producers from around the island bring their new wines for the people to taste along with delicious roasted chestnuts. The smell of roasted castañas will make you thirsty for more wine, just mind not to spoil your night by having too many of those glasses!

Autumn in Tenerife
photo: Zú Sánchez
Spanish are very well known for their fiestas that always tend to reveal their lightness and the playfulness of whomever is to join them at their parties. And the passionate Spaniards will never miss yet another chance for having fun! Of course, in Scotland the meaning of St. Andrew’s Days weights heavier, as we’ve already depicted: we’re dealing with Scotland’s patron saint and its national day, aiming to bring Scots together, to remind them of the glory of the country’s past. However, the Spanish fiesta and the chestnut with wine are not to be disregarded either!
It depends of your mood, after all! If you choose Tenerife for this year’s St. Andrew’s Day you will have a great chance to enjoy the sunshine and have some good old fun and, nevertheless, some brand new wine! However, in case you decide that Scotland is the best choice for you, then don’t forget bringing Scotland’s flag with you! And an umbrella! Whatever you’ll decide for, don’t hesitate to enjoy! Cheers!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Singing in The ... Shower: 5 Great Songs to Make Your Day!

Fabio Armiliato - To Rome With Love, Woody Allen
Remember the all-time classic American musical Singin' in The Rain, from 1952 starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds? It is one of the best musicals ever made. But don't bother if you do not remember the musical, this is not the point. For sure you know the melody of the song... it goes like “Doo-dloo-doo-doo-doo-doo...I'm singing in the rain, Just singing in the rain/ What a glorious feelin'. I'm happy again” ... and it goes on! It makes one happy even about the sometimes inglorious feeling of singing in the rain, when it happens to rain for real and not in the movies, when it just happens to always rain on you, uncontrollably.
But what about singing in the shower? What about that glorious feeling? Aren't we happy again when we get under the splash of water, clean away the dirt of a day out working, walking, sweating or, why not, singing in the rain ... there is nothing like a good old shower accompanied by the best practice for an indeed happy and ... musical life, which is: singing in the shower.

Here is a compiled list of the best songs to accompany you during your shower experience, making your everyday life better due to the melody, to the message and due to the process itself. After all, it is all about having fun! Whether you are the happy owner or user of one of those truly modern and even futuristic models of Mira showers or you are still having your showers in the barrel just like in the old days, your life will certainly improve by trying out the following tunes (if you haven't done so already!), which will put that big smile on your face and give you a kick forward!

1.                  Daft Punk – Get Lucky!

"We're up all night to the sun,
We're up all night to get some.
We're up all night for good fun,
We're up all night to get lucky."

Regardless of the moment of the day, this song is going to put you in a good mood ... for partying and having fun. I would especially recommend to keep the tune for the weekends. The side effect of singing it is that you are going to feel as if in the bar or the club already while under the shower still. Next step that will come naturally to you will be to go out there, dancing and flirting. 'Get lucky' puts you in the mood for cocktails or dancing in the sand like no other song.
Or maybe, there might be just another oldie, but goldie, that could give a similar effect...

2.                  The Andrews Sisters – Run and Coca Cola

This song makes me feel just as if I am already by the beach sitting at the bar in Hawaii. And when you think of it, it fits perfectly well the setting: being sung under the shower. You can close your eyes and be transposed by ways of imagination directly in Hawaii. Enjoy!

3.                  Julian Cope – Greatness and Perfection of Love

Still, there is nothing like ... "The greatness and perfection of Love Love Love". What better message of a song to start your day with!? "Take your place and take your time and that's what matters" – some wonderful lyrics that, if sung every morning under the shower just like a mantra, might even turn you into an even lovelier or lovable human being! Why not!?

4.                  Herman's Hermits – No Milk Today

Still, there is an old proverb saying that love first passes through the stomach. And, since it all comes to that, it all comes to ... milk. The perfect way to cheer up in the morning in case you wake up alone, aside from having ran out of milk already, is to sing this wonderfully melodious song, while even taking your shower cold. Sometimes, humor is the best way of coping with realities...

5.                  The Beta Band – Dry the rain

"I will be alright, I will be ok .. Lalalalalal lalalalala" – this is what I usually like to sing under the shower, especially on rainy days. Since I personally like summer and all that sunshine, I'd rather think of something more positive than even singing in the rain, which in my case is to ... Dry the rain! I will be alright, I will be ok ... lalalalal lalalalalalal.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Greece, Cyprus, Turkey –The Perfect Summer Fun Destinations

There is no bigger punishment for one than that one of finding oneself in the big city during the hot summer month of August. The city seems just like a prison for the free spirit that might feel like wondering around or flipping and flopping in the Mediterranean sun. In case you feel somehow punished and kept prisoner in the big city, then it is time for you to fly away. And what better destination for a summer escape and for unleashing your senses than the Mediterranean? And the choices you have come in plenty!

Santorini, Greece
Credit:  Jeka World Photography on Flickr
Corfu, Greece
Credit:"DirkVandeVelde trying to catch up" on Flickr

Credit:  Rick Muusers on Flickr
Credit : elsa11 on Flickr

Credit:   matt.hintsa on Flickr

First, there are the Greek islands. Whether you choose one of the refreshing and green Ionian Islands (Zante, Lefkas, Corfu, Kefallonia or even Ithaca) or the whiter than white Aegean Islands, you will not be disappointed. Zante is worldwide famous for its Navagio and for the Caretta Caretta turtles, usually spotted in Laganas. But if you go to Laganas, you will also be impressed by the party spirit of the place and its youthfulness – perfect for a summer getaway! Lefkas has perfect beaches, such as the world class Porto Katsiki, with its perfect stripe of white sand lying by the impressive cliff and the turquoise waters. Vasiliki is the ideal place for wind surfers. As for the gourmands, I'd recommend a visit to the village of Agios Petros just five kilometers away from Vasiliki; there is the perfect tavern awaiting there with the most awesome food and it is called Balkonaki. Enjoy the flavors! If you are in for an even larger dose of natural beauty and sandy beaches in all colors – including red sand! - then Kefallonia is the place! Fiskardo and Assos are places not to be missed for those who want to go wine and dine by the Mediterranean Sea. For the more sophisticated, there is Corfu with its cultured beauties awaiting for be admired and cherished, aside from the regular sun & fun that is by default included in the package. As for those of you who are into the most refined whiter than white experiences, there are the Aegean islands standing as the epitome of an ideal summer experience. For those who enjoy partying and socializing at maximum, there is Mykonos. As for the romantics, they will always have Santorini, with the most impressive sunsets and most gentle waters!

Ancient kourion, Cyprus
Credit : Ru Lochleaon Flickr
Aphrodite's Rocks, Paphos
Credit: on Flickr
Sea Caves of Ayia Napa
Credit: KOSTAS GEORGIOU on Flickr

Another summer paradise lying right next to the Greek islands on the map is Cyprus. The wonderful Cyprus is easy to reach at anytime and from anywhere due to the affordable flights that take you there swiftly. The beauty and diversity of the island does not stop surprising its visitors. No wonder its waters are the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Ancient Greek goddess of beauty and love! These are among the best waters around the Mediterranean. Paphos is the place that manages to bring together myth and contemporary fun, as it is considered the exact birth place of Aphrodite. Whomever is on a quest for love and beauty won't regret going to Paphos. As for all that Dionysian summer fun, well... that's to be found at Ayia Napa, which has in store a real bacchanal of the sense, Ayia Napa is one of those places that can equal Ibiza or Mykonos when it comes to summer fun and partying on the beach – all day and all night! So, what are you waiting for! The party has already started! You cannot miss all that fun!
Olympos Turkey
Credit:  Laine Markus on Flickr
The Blue Lagoon
Credit:  artemisia_martin on Flickr

Antalya, Castle
Credit: Annette Elisabeth Rudolph on Flickr

Nevertheless, if that sort of laid back attitude got deeply into you and you already do not feel like moving a finger during your summer holidays, then I could only recommend you the Turkish Riviera. Antalya is worldwide famous by now not only for its natural beauty and the coastlines blessed with the clear waters of the Mediterranean, but also for the perfect all-inclusive services. If you just want to get out of the city walls and find yourself on the perfect beach and on the perfect beach bed, drinking the perfect cocktails and indulging in all that perfect food that comes in plenty, then the Turkish Riviera is definitely what you are searching for. And if you somehow feel adventurous, you can simply rent a gullet and go explore the coastline, swim wherever you feel like and indulge. What is for certain is that even on the gullet you will be surprised by the same high quality of the services offered. Turkey is already famous for spoiling its visitors with everything: it's the all-time all-inclusive heaven!

So, what are you waiting for!? Summer is not waiting for longer! It's August and now's the time for summer fun! Whether it's Greece, Cyprus or the Turkish Riviera, you will not regret it! Have fun!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Lord of the Rings: the Legend Lives on

The Lord of the Rings is possibly one of the greatest stories ever told and this is not simply my personal opinion. Almost everyone seems to be in agreement over this: experts, the public and even… history have adequately proved that the epic story of life and war in the Middle Earth is of unique beauty; its charms and its depth have won over the respect and the admiration of most of us and have proven resistant to the test of time.

Lord of The Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien, the writer of Hobbit and the three books that complete the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings, is today considered to be a genius, a writer that managed to speak about the serious matters of his times through the creation of a fantasy world that, in some ways and metaphorically speaking, resemble ours. To put it differently, we might not be living among hobbits and elves, and thankfully there are no orcs or Uruk-hai around neither, however, basic elements of human life just like death, war, greed, ambition and most of all friendship are incorporated in Tolkien’s unique literary universe. We might all hide a little Hobbit (which reflects our kindness) inside us and, unfortunately for all of us, some people do resemble to orcs in terms of their nastiness and potentially destructive behavior.  

Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, Book Covers
Our generation came in contact with the legendary tales of the Hobbits and men through the movies of Peter Jackson that managed to transfer the magic to the big screen for the first time with the success that the books always deserved. That said, even after you watch the movies, reading the books is still highly recommended. Only by reading Tolkien’s books one can get fully acquainted with his mysterious world; only in there you will be able to grasp his visionary imaginary world at its full glory.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to underestimate the power of the moving image, not at all! I myself have watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy multiple times and of course I didn’t feel like waiting not even for a day when the fourth installment of this epic story came to our screens last Christmas. At this point, I do want to state that the last movie, Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (which actually narrates the story before the time the fellowship of the ring joined forces in order to save Middle Earth from the almighty evil of Sauron), even if  exciting, it did feel that it was slightly less impressive than the first three movies. This is what I felt when I saw the film a few months ago, but something tells me that this could potentially change in the near future and after I will have the chance to watch the movie again… and again… and again!

Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
What is more, with the second movie of the new Hobbit trilogy coming next Christmas, one must admittedly be patient a little bit. Nevertheless, there is a way out of the stress of waiting till this moment comes: one can head to New Zealand where all of Jackson’s films were shot! By booking early your GoSeeDo Attraction tickets you will have the chance to take the Middle Earth Filming Locations Tour and live the legend! As a big fan of Tolkien’s stories as you probably are, a guided tour will help you bring in mind all of the glorious battles you watched on the big screen as you will explore the beautiful Wellington region.
The Hobbit Holes. Photograph:
The Hobbit Holes. Photograph:

A 13m-long sculpture of Gollum diving to catch a fish awaits passengers at Wellington airport. Photograph:
A sheep farm near Matamata, doubles as the Shire in both The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogy. Photograph:
There might be numerous regions in this world that get to be perceived and described as paradises. For Americans, for example, Hawaii is the paradise, while for some North Europeans the Greek Islands of Cyclades are those lands that resemble the most to an earthy Garden of Eden. What is for sure, though, is that in the case of New Zealand most of us would agree that we’re dealing with a geographical region that is unique and renowned for its wild natural beauty. Its attributes and characteristics can only bring in mind a place that doesn’t belong to this earth, but to a rather imaginary paradise, where souls meet in the afterlife for a bit of relaxation.

What is more is that there is also a second choice for the Lord of the Rings fans and New Zealand aficionados. If you choose the Palliser Bay Seals and Lord of the Rings Sites Day, you will once again visit places like the Great River Anduin, Riverndell and Helms Deep. However, this time you will also enjoy a visit to a huge fur seal colony located at the Cape Palliser Bay. Let me put it this way: fur seals are much better than orcs, don’t you think!?
 Rangitikei River Bend in New Zealand, used as River Anduin in LOTR
Kaitoke Regional Park in New Zealand, used as Riverndell in LOTR,
Angitata River valley used for Helms Deep in LOTR

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

What to expect while driving around the globe

For some, cars might seem to be a relatively recent invention, as the year of birth of the automobile dates back to only 1886 (the end of the 19th century, that is). Comapred to the infinity of centuries going back in human history, 1886 makes for a quite recent date, being very close to nowadays. Still, cars feel so much part of our everyday realities that it somehow feels that they have been here, among humans and for humans, since times immemorial. But when I say "our" everyday realities I have to be specific and stress out that I am particularly refering to Western societies, defined by values which promote democracy, equity and equality of rights, personal, social and political freedoms and the like.

Western societies, though, are not the only societies existing in the wide world we live in. And, even though the planet is round, I won't pretend that just because of that I cannot see through to the other side of it. On the contrary, I insist on stretching my neck to take a look at what is the case with cars and car-related issues in other parts of the globe as well. Let's take China, for a start.


Did you know that, as a non-Chinese, you cannnot actually drive around China, even if you have the International Driver's License? Well, yes, it is true; unfortunately, China did not book for that. However, if you happen to go by plane to China and land in one of its major cities, you might want to convert your International Driver's Permit into a Chinese permit at the especially assigned counters in the airport. This is the only chance you've got! Otherwise, I guess you will just have to pass the Chinese examination for a Chinese driver's licence and I wish you good luck with it!

Central Ningbo -
Immediately after, you might also need to forget any driving rule you might have known, as there will be no other way for you to adapt to the Chinese traffic otherwise. Maybe just because of that, taking the car in China might prove to be dangerous, especially if not adapted to the chaos. There are twice as many car accidents happening in China annually compared to the United States, even though the numbers of cars registered in the US are four times more than those registered in the whole China. Interesting numbers! Not to mention that most of the car accidents happening in China prove to be fatal in too many instances. So, if you are in for some extreme adventure and for that drive on the 'wild side', just try out driving in China!

Eastern Europe – Romania

However, if China seems too far away, but you are still into a drive on the wild side, why not take a car tour of countries that used to belong to the former Eastern European block? You might be impressed with the number of very expensive and truly luxurious cars that you might be faced with in these parts of the world. It so many times happens to get surprised when over there!

Transfăgărășan Highway, Romania
Romania is famous for the very expensive cars that one might get to see on the roads, but also for the ... unfinished highway leading to the West – or linking the Central-West to its more Eastern paths. So, if coming from the west, pay attention to this uniquosity and avoid the road that leads to nowhere. As funny as it might seem, I think that it might get less amusing if you find out, for instance, that the AA breakdown cover will be of no use in these "off the beaten track" situations - literally speaking! Good luck with it!


Cars are also present in Africa, even though to a much lesser extent than in other parts of the world. Safari in Africa sounds very posh to anyone's ears, as it stands for a very exquisite treat that one might offer to him/herself, don't you think? Maybe because for a safari in Africa you need a car and cars are rather scarce on the African continent. You will find the rather practical cars, well equipped with a very strong engine to take you out of troybling roads – as a paved road is hard to find on the Black continent – that's a fact!

Saudi Arabia

Last, but not least, in case you go to Saudi Arabia, well ... you will be seeing cars. But the cars will only be driven by ... men. Saudi Arabia is one of those cases of striking discrimination when it comes to gender issues that could drive any European nuts. Over there, only the boy can play with his toy – namely, the car – and women are left outside of it. Maybe that is why the roads are also unsafe, as the drivers tend to onfenly get agressive.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the car ride around some of the places you could visit around the world. I also conclude that, even though it might come natural to many of us to drive a car, it seems that the car is, indeed, a rather recent invention and it still has a long way to go. Maybe not for us – those offspring of Western societies -, but certainly for those born non-Western.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Let the Fun Begin! Champions League Final, 2013.

FC Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund 

The time has come, at last! What do you mean you have no idea what I’m talking about? Let me tell you, then: this Saturday night we will finally know the winner of this year’s Champions League! You don’t really need to be a big soccer fan to be tempted to spend two hours in front of your television and preferably along with some good old friends, bringing over some beers and pizzas. The Champions League final is an event of global interest, as soccer (we all know it!) is the “King of Sports”. And we love sports, as much as we are thrilled with the competition.

As a matter of fact, the interest for the winner of a Champions league Final is usually so high that hundreds of millions of viewers have the chance to watch it live from their television screens. From South Korea to Nigeria, from Argentina to Russia and from England (the motherland of soccer) to Japan, the whole world is waiting for this night!

Two German teams -FC Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund - qualified this year for the big final. If I want to be completely honest with you, that didn’t make me entirely happy; you see, I’m actually a big fan of Barcelona. However, I couldn’t have done otherwise than to accept the simple fact that the two BEST teams made it to the final this year and Barcelona, unfortunately, was not one of them this time. Even if I supported Barcelona against Bayern Munich during the semifinal that took place a few weeks ago, the performance of the German team in these two games was very good and one might say nearly exceptional, given the reputation of the opponents. It also brought a shade of bitterness, though, if comparing Barcelona's performance from previous recent years and the nevertheless weaker performance that they had this year.

It takes to be a narrow minded fanatic not to accept that your team IS NOT always the one deserving to win and Bayern, for some years now, it is undoubtedly the best team in Europe. Since, despite some sadness in doing so, I accept that Barca is not on top right now, I consequently acknowledge the fact that Bayern is for the moment the top team of the world.

As for speaking in terms of the big admiration that I have as a soccer fan for players from Argentina and Brazil (just like Messi, for instance), I still have to admit on the fact that the European soccer clubs that they are playing for are definitely a few steps ahead in terms of organization and budgets, compared to soccer clubs from the places that these remarkable players originate from. One might accurately point out on the fact that I am not at all ashamed of openly declaring that I am a big fan of European soccer – always! Given this detail that could not pass unnoticed, I am looking forward for next 'Saturday night's fever'.

Bayern Munich will play against Borussia Dortmund, yet another German giant that has risen from mediocrity to the top in only few years of hard work and serious planning. The final will take place in London, on the legendary Wembley Stadium. One fascinating detail is that the two teams took around 25.000 tickets each for the needs of their devoted supporters. Why am I not surprised!? However, what comes as an even more striking detail is that there were more than… half amillion Dortmund fans that applied for one of these tickets! Given the huge discrepancy between demand and supply, I guess that many fans will have no other choice than to watch this big game elsewhere than on the Wembley Stadium - at home, in their favorite pub or on their friends' sofas.

As for the Bayern fans that couldn’t make it to London, well, they are given another choice. The game will be screened on Bayern’s stadium, the famous Allianz Arena, one of Europe’s most impressive soccer venues. Some 45.000 of Bayern's fans surely hope to celebrate the 5th trophy in the club’s history. In case you’re not one the those lucky few who will go to watch the game on Wembley, then you might just as well be interested to explore Bayern’s headquarters, so make sure to book your place at the FC Bayern Soccer Tour with the GoSeeDoattraction tickets.  As for other available options, another screen will be placed in Theresienwiese, where Oktoberfest is annually held. I wonder if Bayern fans will drink more beers than the Oktoberfest attendees.  That, we could not know for certain! What I know for sure, though, is that Munich is a fantastic city; who wouldn’t take pride in 'taking a ride' to the city of BMW and BC Bayern, after all?
Soccer-wise, from where we stand at the moment, there is only one thing we can be sure of at the moment: no one can safely predict the winner in a game between two equal teams.  We could even call it a derby. One can only hope for the best team to win, scoring as many breathtaking goals as possible.

And one last thing: Be it coincidence or not, Gary Lineker’s famous words could not possibly be left unvoiced, especially this year. Lineker, a legend of British soccer, once said that “soccer is a game for twenty two people that run around, play the ball and in the end Germany always wins." Like it or not, this year Germans will celebrate the trophy and who can possibly deny them that!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Empty billboards in Greece

Take a look on some... empty billboards. Weird.
Reblogged from Deserted Places.

Deserted Places: Empty billboards in Greece: They can still be found all around Greece, along the highways and inside the city centers. Today though, many advertisement billboards have stopped carrying messages.

Worn by time and assaulted by bad weather, the message the billboards carry today, is the absence of message.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The bath of Culture and Events: Bath Literature Festival

(getty images)

History means heritage and this is definitely an issue to be taken seriously, as it builds our identity and shows us the way – past paths with a view towards the future. No wonder that there are so many cities worldwide proud of their own unique history! As there is a sense of pride in paying tribute to one's own past and identity. It is in such places that we find our inspiration, that we usually connect with ourselves and manage to see clearly towards the future, as the remnants of old civilizations are usually able to trigger not only the  imagination, but also a broader vision towards life and the course of things.

From the once almighty Rome to classic Athens and from China to the Pyramids of Egypt, the world hosts innumerable monuments worth exploring. And what makes us feel even more fulfilled and pleased when visiting a historical place is the sense that the mere story of the place is being well taken care of, mingled in the webs of present moment, as if still an ongoing story that we – visitors – can also be part of. Cultural events are the glue of the past with the present, making us feel part of something grand that still brings life and energy to places that, otherwise, might give one the impression that gave their all already. Bath is one of these places with a breathtaking story that, somehow, still manages to breath – and it does it fully, by all means!

Bath is an historical city of England. Located in the Somerset County, in the South Western part of England, Bath is already well known to the informed tourists. Bath flourished as a famous spa town during the Georgian era and the city’s Roman Baths are the region’s most visited touristic attraction up till today. Moreover, the whole city of Bath has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. Thus, wherever you may find yourself walking in Bath, bear in mind that you are taking a stroll through history, witnessing the miracles and wonders of it, created for us to enjoy.

We might all know by now that holidays in England can mean a trip to history and an embrace of our modern culture just as well; it feels in no way different when visiting Bath. Culture manages, with its always transforming vibrant events, to adapt places to an adopted moment in the present, and it surely plays a special role, even in a place such as Bath, which have already a story and a voice of their own. In Bath, a number of cultural events are offering the chance to locals and visitors alike to feel that the city cares deeply about its past, its story and its status as a place with a unique cultural heritage. As for hotels in Bath for your stay to be worth it, my recommendation would be to keep it simple and search for a Travelodge hotel in Bath where comfort meets reasonable prices. After all, it is all about visiting Bath, not the expensive hotels!
Let’s now take a look at what qualifies as the most renowned festival that takes place in Bath year by year: the Bath Literature Festival!

Bath Literature Festival

Established in 1995, the Bath Literature Festival is by now a very prestigious international literature event. Over the years, a number of leading writers and intellectuals have been giving lectures in front of those audiences that are always thirsty for knowledge. Influential figures such as Doris Lessing, Margaret Atwood, Tariq Ali, the late Anna Politkovskaya and Eric Hobsbawm, Steve Bell and Wendy Cope among many others have participated in this celebration of literature.

This year, the festival was held in the first week of March and was met with significant success. The two most prominent figures that naturally stole the attention were Hilary Mantel and J.K. Rowling.

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel is the only female writer that won twice the Booker Prize, one of the most significant of all literature awards. Her books belong to the historical fiction genre, but her splendid writing skills make these books the exact opposite of a book filled with boring, endless information about facts of historical relevance. Recently, she found herself in the middle of a storm due to a highly critical statement that she made against the Duchess of Cambridge. Hopefully for her (and her fans), though, during her lecture at the festival the audience didn’t seem to care a lot about the controversy.

JK Rowling
As for JK Rowling, well… you know what they say: it is difficult to write her name in a sentence that doesn’t include the words “Harry Potter” as well! The publishing phenomenon of the last decades, Rowling, for good or for bad, will always be linked with the books that made a generation of kids and teenagers or those who always feel teenagers at heart to fall in love with reading (while forgetting about their game consoles for a bit)! To be honest, I don’t think people will stop asking her questions about the books that made her rich and famous, no matter how many years will have passed. After one of these types of questions during her speech at the Bath Literature Festival, Rowling rejected the idea of writing a prequel to Harry Potter’s adventures. As far as it concerns her latest book, the first after the Harry Potter series, it took mixed responses from the critics, but it still sold fast!

Nevertheless, the Bath Literature Festival is not the one and only cultural event taking place in Bath, but just the most prolific. However, there are other festivals held in Bath that are worth the attention, such as the Bath International Music Festival and the Children Literature Festival. With all these cultural events taking place in such a marvelous location, Bath does sound like a very attractive destination!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Something British, Something cool

I was barely a teen when their music reached my years … and not only the music, but that whole cool, detached attitude counterbalanced by the lyrics, that are quite to the point – very British, one might say! And Britain seen through the songs of The Smiths has something of its own, something of that humor – dark at times or nearly always - , something of that twist of straightforwardness as well.

Their music has a specific genuine flow coming from the raw simplicity, which is suggested by the very name picked to define the music band. What other more ordinary British name than Smith? Still, The Smiths, as simple as they might seem, brought poetry and artful guitar sound into the picture, turning rock music into something more similar to what we hear nowadays. In one word, they were the pioneers of the sound that dominates nowadays.

Still, there is a specific melodic attribute that is to be given not as much to the sound as to the lyrics. Morrissey – the band's front man – has never ceased to also be a writer. He definitely brought an undeniably unique and unmistakable element to the band not only due to his performance, but also to his talent in writing lyrics. 'There is a light that never goes out' with Morrissey charming the audiences… 

 The song 'There's a light that never goes out' is from the album The Queen is Dead. There is an undeniable legacy that Morrissey carried on from his previous punk experiences. But, at the same time, there is a legacy that the Manchester band carried forward, as they made music and sang for and from the everyday life experiences of the simple and unpretentious, of those called 'the common people', still dignified by frankness and honesty. And it is precisely this honesty trans-passing the music made by The Smiths that politicized their music when the case, singing for and in the name of all those affected by Thatcherism and harsh policies affecting precisely the simple people in Britain.

 The band did not have a long-living life as they dismantled in 1987, only five years after getting together as a group. There were also some disputes taken to court concerning the royalties. No harm done, though! The strong and leading former members went on with their careers. The most well known ones remain Johnny Marr (the guitarist of The Smiths) and Morrissey, who went on with an independent career that brought him much reward for his talent and hard work, as well as the public acclaim that he seemed to have always been looking forward to, as he both is and he's being regarded as one of the most influential artists of today.


Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Big Beach Ball Festival in Aberdeen

UK is known for a million of things but if you are less than 25 years old and you crave for alternative rock music you certainly know Britain for its rock festivals too, the Glastonbury Festival and Reading and Leeds Festival among others. It is there where tens of thousands of youth from all around Europe gather annually to drink… as much as they can (beer is the predominant type of alcoholic drink) while losing themselves to the ecstatic rhythms of rock music. If you want to take a taste of the festival’s history then I would recommend Julian Temple’s documentary Glastonbury.

Since 2005, when the documentary was shot, many more artists have brought waves of enthusiasm to young music enthusiasts. Given the fact that last year the festival was not held due to the London Summer Olympics something tells me that many are already impatiently waiting for this year’s big rock party!

Apart from these gigantic festivals though, there are many more festivals of smaller size in many parts of the island. For example, on the 5th of May The Big Beach Ball takes place in Aberdeen, Scotland. Who would say no to some fine rock tunes by the beach in Scotland? Surely not anyone that wishes to stay updated with the latest trends of alternative music and hipster attitudes!

The festival takes place at the legendary Beach Ballroom, a beautiful art deco building ran by the Aberdeen City Council. Bands like The Beatles, The Small Faces, Pink Floyd and Cream have performed in the Beach Ballroom in the – not so remote – past. In case you want to grab a taste of a temple of rock ‘n’ roll that continues to rock till today, then book your Travelodge hotel in Aberdeen as soon as possible, not to somehow miss your chance to party!

Miaoux Miaoux

This year, a number of international DJ’s and Scottish groups will perform at the Big Beach Ball including Inner City, Octave One, The Xcerts, Miaoux Miaoux (nice name, eh!?), Lockah, the Little Kicks, Nevada Base and Marionettes, among other fancy choices. What is more, DJ Jackmaster in particular, is expected to set fire to around 3.000 people with the latest dance hits.

The festival is organized for the second year in a row. One might argue that The Big Beach Ball is a relatively new festival, but surely is an ambitious and up to date one! Not to mention that it is much less 'sweaty' than Glastonbury! Plus, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to decide to stay some more in Aberdeen and discover the city, which is, after all, one of Scotland’s biggest cities. Maybe a good idea would have also been for a festival to be held inside a Scottish castle; just imagine… the aura of a remote medieval past combined with rock ‘n’ roll tunes and endless amount of beers! Hic! However, now, that I am thinking of it, I could also do with that legendary Beach Ballroom. After all, it is not bad at all to step on the footsteps of The Beatles!