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Banlieues Bleues 2011

Posted by dan on February 23, 2011

Banlieues Bleues 2011

Click to download as a screensaver (1024x768 px) - Banlieues Bleues 2011

Banlieues Bleues, an annual five-week festival of French and international music – jazz, blues, R&B, soul, funk, flamenco and world music – is about to begin next month. Some programs already start on the 1st of March, with the main festival events from the 11th of March till the 8th of April. The venues, including La Dynamo, are a bit out but can be reached conveniently by RER or other means. If you find something that you like – and if you’re around this time – maybe it’s worth that little effort.

Banlieues Bleues official website: www.banlieuesbleues.org

La Dynamo
9, rue Gabrielle Josserand
93500 Pantin

Access:
Bus 170 – 249 – 330
RER E Pantin
Métro ligne 7 Aubervilliers – Pantin – Quatre Chemins

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Matopos – the place of benevolent spirits

Posted by dan on January 25, 2011

 

Charles Dume Sana - meaning Praise the Lord - and his family

Charles Dume Sana - meaning Praise the Lord - and his family

It’s been called the place of benevolent spirits, and Cecil Rhodes, as he wished, was buried there at Malindidzimu hill. Today Zimbabwe is off the main tourist path, but even when it was on the main route few people visited the Matopos region – also known as Matobo Hills. Much of the area is a national park – the Matobo National Park -and it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is close to the town of Bulawayo and shorter or longer safaris and treks can be organized locally. The local people belong to the Ndebele tribe, which is split into a southern and northern branch – first live in South Africa, the second in the southern part of Zimbabwe and parts of Botswana. The following images were made in 1996 in a small Ndebele settlement just outside the national park, where I’ve spent a week staying at Fortune’s family with two fellow travelers, Mark from Holland and Ian from Scotland. People are almost self-sufficient – if the season is good – and earn a little cash from making carvings or working in town – and would love to receive visitors in their homes. It is a magical and sacred landscape – as powerful as the Red Center in Australia, the Sinai mountains in Egypt or Hampi in India – and could develop into a trekking, cultural and retreat destination, if things were going better in the country. The locals would definitely deserve it – let’s hope things will get better one day.

More about the Ndebele:

Northern Ndebele people, located in Zimbabwe, and Botswana
South Ndebele people, located in the South Africa

More about the Matobos National Park:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matobo_National_Park
Matobos National Park official website: http://www.zimparks.org/?option=…

Useful link:

Matobo Conservation Society: http://www.matobo.org/

 

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Australia – the Red Center

Posted by dan on January 25, 2011

Uluru

Uluru

The Ayers Rock, or Uluru as it is known today in the language of the traditional owners, is the symbol of Australia. It is a sacred place and visitors are discouraged to climb the rock to show respect, although it is not forbidden. Nice walks can be made around the base, where there are several ceremonial places. The Olgas, known as Katya Tutya, is a stunning range a bit further away from Uluru, which can be visited in a day from the small settlement at Uluru. Smaller in size but again a very powerful site, the Devil’s Marbles, or Karlu Karlu, is just off the main Darwin-Alice Springs highway. Camping is allowed in the area for a small fee (to be dropped in a locked box) and there are clean facilities. Even if you do not have your own transport, these places can be visited by coaches, they drop and pick up people at all important sites.

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Snapshots – Hampi, India

Posted by dan on January 25, 2011

Silence that speaks...

A popular destination with the Goa crowd, Hampi is indeed a magical place. The little town is cute, but the surrounding natural setting is what makes it special. There are ruins of an ancient kingdom, temples, sacrificial places amongst incredible boulders. It is a big area, you could explore it for several days – or just chill out in a nice cafe overlooking the river, like most people do.

More about Hampi: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hampi

 

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Ozora festival, Hungary

Posted by dan on January 25, 2011

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The festival was born on the total eclipse in 1999 – some twenty thousand people descended on the little village of Ozora in southern Hungary to attend the Solipse Festival. Locals have never seen anything like this before, but were impressed how peaceful the event was. It also boosted the local economy, with farmers selling  their produce and locals working on the event. In 2005 the festival, under the official name O.Z.O.R.A. Festival, was reborn and became an annual event, still presenting the best international artists and attracting visitors from all over the world. Close to Austria and Slovenia, but many people arrive from much further afield, either by car or on budget flights – direct party buses are provided from the Budapest airport.

A full confirmed lineup has been announced for the 2011 event.

O.Z.O.R.A. Festival official website: http://www.ozorafestival.eu/

Read the rest of this entry »

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Snapshots – Calcutta downtown

Posted by dan on January 22, 2011

The first time I went to India was in 1991, arriving in Kolkata – then still Calcutta –  from Bangkok. My friend and I said we’d never come back again to India – we were so shocked, even with South-East Asia and China behind us. Yet, a year later I was back, and then again in 2001. Most of the photos here were taken on the last trip, except the one of the beggar who buries his head in the foot path. That was taken in 1991, in front of the Indian Museum. The other images are also from the area (Chowringee, New Market and Sudder street) with the exception of the last one at the train station. Beggars were absent on my last trip; they were pushed out of the city center, although surely didn’t vanish. I wonder how much the city has changed in the last ten years. Massive and run down, I still love it – as much as any other Indian city, it has its own special flavor and vibe.

See also: Kolkata attractions pictures & videos

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Bangkok – the world of the khlongs

Posted by dan on January 15, 2011

Dragon boat at Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn

Dragon boat at Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn

Bangkok – or as locally called, Khrung Thep, the City of Angels – was built on the banks of the meandering Chao Phraya river. Much of the land was crisscrossed by little channels – known as khlong – and houses, even all neighborhoods, were built on wooden poles. Most of the waterways in central Bangkok have been filled up, but just across the river from the Khao San road area there are still larger areas intact. The fleet of the Royal Barges is also housed here, which is open to the public. Getting around on the water, even for longer distances within the city, there are several options from cheap public boats to water taxis, and there are also organized cruises.

You can get to the Royal Barges from the Khao San Road area by a little ferry. The pier is in a little lane, off the major road that runs parallel to the river. From the same pier you can board a regular ‘water bus’ to all the way to Silom Road – faster than on the road by a regular bus for the same price.
There is also a frequent little ferry between Wat Po and Wat Arun. The pier is bigger and more obvious, with several Thai restaurants and vendors around.

Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, looks different than Wat Po and the temples around Wat Phra Kaeo, as it was built in Khmer style. Its massive stupa looks  impressive from the base, and it is covered with carvings and sculptures with obvious Hindu influence. Well worth taking the ferry ride.

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New Year’s Eve celebrations in Paris

Posted by dan on December 31, 2010

 

New Year's Eve in Paris, Seine, lit-up Eiffel Tower

New Year's Eve in Paris with a lit-up Eiffel Tower - no fireworks.

Paris is one of the most colorful and lively places in the world to celebrate New Year’s Eve, whether you are spending it in a restaurant, a club, at a house party, out on the street – or, as often the case is, a combination of these. All of Paris is safe on NYE, just as as at any other time, although it is a loud and crowded experience at many places. The whole city is lively and full of partying people, but the most popular spot is the Champs Elysees area. Paris is one of those few cities which did not follow the mega-fireworks trend. There have been smaller displays at the Eiffel Tower and at other places such as Place de la Concorde in the past, but as far as I know nothing is planned this year. Fireworks is more on the spontaneous side – people setting off them all over the city, sometimes in crowded places. Montmartre is another popular neighborhood to spend the night. It is somewhat calmer and there are good views over the city – although not much of the Eiffel Tower itself. Wherever you are in Paris, it is party time and there are happy people wishing each other – Bonne Annee!

Further info:

Celebrating New Year’s in Paris: http://goparis.about.com/od/events/a/Paris_NewYear.htm

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Happy New Year

Posted by dan on December 31, 2010

The New Year has already started in Sydney with an extravagant fireworks display.

2010 NYE fireworks sydney

Sydney 2010, NYE fireworks. Image: http://www.abc.net.au

If I’m right the Sydney fireworks craze has started with the 2000 Olympics – I certainly remember NYE celebrations without any fireworks – and since then it became the biggest party in the world, with an estimated 1.5 million revellers on the streets and a billion people tuning in to watch the show on the screen.

Baywatch-themed cocktail party at the Opera Bar

“The best views will be had by those who queued for hours to take temporary possession of a prime piece of real estate at the Botanic Gardens, the Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay.

Some splurged up to $500 for a Baywatch-themed cocktail party at the Opera Bar where guests were being served drinks by waiters in swimming costumes.

‘This has got to be the best place to be in the world tonight,’ said Marc Wilson, 41, from Sydney.”

I personally would prefer a quieter place – and Sydney offers several good choices – but don’t want to argue with Marc. Different strokes for different folks – enjoy it and a Happy New Year!

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/12/31/3104625.htm

In pictures: New year celebrations: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12100065

 

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Wiener Christkindlmarkt – Christmas market in Vienna

Posted by dan on December 22, 2010

The Christmas market in Vienna – called Wiener Christkindlmarkt – is one of the most famous destinations during the winter festive season in Europe. With snow almost guaranteed, the capital city of Austria will not leave you disapointed if you are after a real winter experience. (Although this year Paris turned white as well and Rome had its cold days with fountains freezing.) There are several Christmas markets in Vienna, at Maria Theresien Platz or Karlskirche, but probably the best is at the Rathaus, the Townhall, on the Ring opposite the Burgtheater. Following are some images made yesterday.

A comprehensive listing of all important Christmas Markets in Vienna: http://www.vienna4u.at/christmasmarket.html

 

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