I was looking forward to use the Moscow Metro again. It is a work of art! Unfortunately there is not much time for sightseeing as millions of people use it on a daily basis. Everybody is in a hurry and get upset if you are not moving quick enough. However, things quiet down a little after rush hour and then you can stop to admire the art.
This time round I was looking for something specific, something that I have missed in 2008. I was looking for the Metro with the lucky dog.
This Metro has bronze statues of soldiers with their K-9 friends. I am not sure how this ritual started but students used to stop and rub the nose of the dog. It meant good luck. Later it spilled over to all people visiting the metro and now it is a ritual. You have to stop and rub the nose.
If you look at the photo you will see that it had been rubbed so many times it is shining! I also saw roosters in this Metro and people are starting to rub them too. I think it is so cute and I enjoyed seeing people smiling when you give it a rub.
We used this metro late one evening and I had to take a picture of the soldier and his dog. I gave the nose a quick rub and then I hopped on the train. It didn`t bring me luck though, two days later we missed our flight!
Where: Ploshchad Revolutsii station (Moscow Metro)
When: 19 May 2012
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A couple of weeks ago I attended show where a live orchestra was performing. I was fascinated by the music and powerful performance. Have you ever wondered how these musicians are able to see their sheets of music in such low light conditions? I have! I noticed that each person has a special light above their music sheets. I decided to read a little more about these lights.
They are indeed called Orchestra lights and are not your average reading light. These lights are specifically designed for musicians and people playing in orchestras. The lights use modern LED technologies and they never have to change the bulbs! It simply clips onto the music stand and it can illuminate 4 pages of sheet music. There a variety of these lights at music stand lights at guitar center with different specifications.
I realized that an orchestra light is just as important as the musical instrument.
Mom`s cat Barsik, didn`t like us from the word go. He made it clear from the beginning that we were not welcome. The first time he saw us, he made a dash for the door, looked back and disappeared. Mom laughed and said he will warm up to us later. After three months he finally did, in his own cat way. Touching was not allowed and he still hissed at us when we looked at him too long.
One morning I was sitting inside, working on my computer ,when I noticed it was getting slower. I called hubby to have a look and see if he could find a cure for a slow computer fix. He is our computer expert.
It gave me a great opportunity to walk in the garden with my camera. That is when I saw the black kitten of the neighbors trying to climb the fence. He was on his way to pay us a visit. I gave up with Barsik and didn`t try to make friends with him anymore. Instead I lavished all my attention on this fluffy little kitten. What a cutie he was!
Barsik was hiding underneath an old table but he was watching us intently. Before I knew what was happening, he was standing next to me, staring at the kitten. The kitten wasn`t scared of this grumpy cat and wanted to play. Playing was the last thing on Barsik`s mind and he gave the poor kitty a glare, that told him in no uncertain terms, he over-stayed his welcome. He was clearly not impressed with this intruder.
The cherry on the cake was when the kitten dashed inside the kitchen and drank milk from Barsik`s saucer! Before a cat fight could start, I decided to take the kitten outside and back to his own home.
Last week we spoke to Mom and asked her about the black kitten. She told us that the neighbours don`t take care of him and he often eats at her house. Barsik`s reaction? He is not happy but he has accepted the fact that another cat is eating there. He remains the cat of the house and get`s to sleep in Mom`s room!
Where: Kaliningrad,Russian Federation
When: 18 July 2012
Plaza Dorrego Bar in the San Telmo district in Buenos Aires is one of the most famous bars in the city. On a recent visit to Buenos Aires I popped inside to have a look and see what makes this place so popular.
Dorrego bar is situated on the ground floor of a historical building that was built-in the Italian architectural style in 1880. Back in the day it hosted a typical grocer store where alcoholic beverages were served. It was known as Almacen de Besio after the name of the owner. Over the years the place have changed owners and names but the unique thing is that the bar remained.
The first thing that I have noticed was the huge wooden counter and a very friendly man behind it. The place was packed but I managed to get a table close to the window. There are beautiful black and white photos on the walls and the place has a special charm. When you look closely at the decorations you will notice an old espresso coffee machine and several drawers of wood and glass, where they used to store items such as coffee,tea and mate. On one of the walls is a memorable photo taken in the 1970`s when Jorge Luis Borges and Ernesto Sabato met here for a cup of coffee.
Personally I don`t like it when people write on wood and I noticed that the beautiful wooden counter and tables are decorated with carved names and messages. Messages vary from love notes to soccer fanatics who have expressed their opinions about their favourite club. Maybe they decided to keep it like that because it forms part of the history of this cozy bar.
The building also hosted generations of successful silversmiths from the Pallarols family. They were originally from Spain but came to Argentina at the beginning of the 19th century. A sixth generation silversmith called Juan Carlos still works from this same building today. He is world-famous and works with gems,silver,bronze and gold. Some of his famous customers include the late Princess Diana, Prince Felipe of Spain and Queen Maxima of The Netherlands.
Next time when you are in Buenos Aires and you are looking for a place to eat or to drink a cup of coffee, pay them a visit. I didn`t eat there but the coffee and service was great.
Where: Humberto Primo 401-449, Buenos Aires, Argentina
When: 1 March 2013
When applying for residency in Argentina it is required that a criminal history check (antecedentes penales) be done. This is a straightforward procedure but if you don`t know how it is done, then you can be losing valuable time running from one place to another.
The information is still fresh in my mind because I had to get mine done yesterday. They have made the process easier by introducing certain on-line functions.
- Visit this (http://www.jus.gob.ar/) site and click on the button in the right-hand column that says “Reincidencia”. Then click on the button “Ingresar”.
- It is best to choose an office close to your home address. In the middle of the page is a drop-down box where you can select your province and city. In my case I selected Cordoba because that is the closest city where I can get the check done.
- Write the physical address down because this is where you need to go and have your fingerprints taken.
- Go back to the previous page and select number 1 in the left hand column – “Inicie el tramite de antecedentes penales”.
- Click on the 2nd option that reads “Personalmente por el interesado”.
- In the middle of the page is a blue link that reads “Ir al formulario” and this is the place where you will input all your personal information, the names and surnames of your parents,your passport number and other information that is required. It is important to check that the information entered is correct before you print the page.
Tip: I saved the document to file and then printed it BUT I didn`t print it with a laser printer. When I arrived at the bank to pay, they didn`t want to accept it and I had to rush and find a Cyber café and re-do the whole form. If you don`t have a laser printer don`t print it. The bank will not accept it because they cannot read the bar-code and they refuse to key in the code. The document doesn`t fit on an A4 page and you need to print in on “HOJA TAMAÑO OFICIO”. The page is a little longer than an A4 page.
- You can also choose if you want the document in 6 hours, 24 hours or 5 days. The price varies and if you want it in 6 hours it will cost you $150 pesos whereas in 5 days it will only be $40 pesos.
- Once you have the printed document you need to go to a Banco de la Nacion where you can make payment.
- Now you are ready to go to the building to have your fingerprints taken.
Tip: If you are doing the fingerprints in Cordoba remember that there are two streets with the name Alvear. There is Marcelo T. Alvear and Alvear, where you need to have the fingerprints taken. They are on opposite sides of the city.
- There is an electronic machine at the entrance where you key in the letter “P” and it will give you a number. This number will be called and then proceed to the office to have your fingerprints digitally taken.
Tip: Remember to take a copy of your Passport with you. They need it and will not do the fingerprints without it.
- Once the fingerprints are done you will get a receipt with a website address and authorization code to access your criminal history check on the Internet. If you have opted for 6 hours then the document will be ready in 6 hours.
- All the information that you need is on this document. It is a very important document.
- Now you are ready to take the “turno” (Appointment to see the Immigration people in person) online.
Always check the website for changes. I have learned from experience that things change overnight especially when you deal with Government institutions.
Traveling along the Royal Way in Warsaw, you will find a monument dedicated to the famous romantic poet,playwright and activist, Adam Mickiewicz. He is regarded as one of the greatest poets in all Polish literature.
Mickiewicz was born in 1798 in the Russian partitioned territories of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania,Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. His home region was part of the Russian Empire and he became an activist to fight for independence and freedom. There is also a monument for him in Vilnius (Lithuania) and Nowogrudek (Belarus,Ukraine).
Due to his political activities he spent 5 years in exile and eventually lived the rest of his live abroad, first in Rome and then in Paris. It is presumed that he died of cholera in Istanbul (1855) after trying to organize Polish and Jewish forces to fight Russia in the Crimean War. In 1890 his remains were sent back to Poland where he now is buried in the Wawel Cathedral in Kraków.
His monument was designed by C.Godebski and unveiled in 1898. It became a gathering place for people seeking freedom and peace. Sadly in 1942 the Nazis destroyed the monument and it was transferred to Hamburg. After the war they managed to recover the head and fragments of the torso. J.Szczepkowski and J.Trenarowski reconstructed it and it was unveiled in 1950.
Young poles looked up to Mickiewicz and his work became an inspiration to many. One of his poems that inspires young people is “Ode to the Youth”.
Ode to the Youth by Adam Mickiewicz (1798 – 1855)
Without hearts, souls, these are the skeletal people.
Add me the wings, adolescence!
Beyond lifeless world let me float,
paradise domain spectacle,
where a fervor makes miracle,
novelty it shakes florescence
and the golden pictures are dressed in hope.
Let the one whom age makes dizzy,
bending to earth forehead wrinkled,
such is seeing of world’s circle
as with dull eyes he draws busy.
The youth! You beyond the measure
fly, and with an eye of the sun
of people’s multitudes treasure,
permeate, from end to the end – run.
Look down – where the eternal fog endarkens,
area of indolence flooded by depths.
Look beyond her perturbed water,
jumped amphibian into shelter.
Oneself sailor, a helm, a ship;
small amphibian, on a pleasure trip.
Once is floating, once is falling
neither wave clings to him nor he to the wave,
then as bubble he burst on a large boulder rolling.
no one knew his life, knew his fate:
these are egoists.
The youth! To you nectar of life,
for now sweat, when with others shared:
blue hearts are plied with joy in strife,
when together are bound by a golden thread.
Together young friends!
In happiness of all are all targets;
in oneness strong, minded to euphoria.
Together young friends!
And this one is blessed, who fell in duty,
with a fallen body in glory,
gave others a rung to victory.
Together young friends!
Even though the way is steep and slippery.
Weakness and rape are defending entry:
the rape by the rape is pressed,
to overcome weakness, in youth we shall learn!
As a child in a crib who the Hydra’s head did take,
that one as young will Centaurs’ suffocate,
from hell he will pull out offerings,
to heaven he will go for his sufferings.
Reach there, where eyesight won’t reach;
brake, what mind won’t brake.
Youth! Eagle’s might is your flight,
as a thunder is your arm.
Hey! Shoulder to shoulder! With the people’s chains.
let us shoot our thoughts in one fire,
and in one fire, souls’ desire.
Earthy circle’s, peace we shall gain.
Further solid from post of World!
Onto new we shall push you track
till you will dispose mildew bark.
You will resemble young life broad.
And as in countries of night and disarray,
calamity quarrel disturb,
you become one, God’s rule obey.
World of things stands on the verge tough,
roaring are winds, the depths are rough –
dark sky will be lit up by stars.
Yet in the countries of mankind deaf is night:
elements of will are yet at war;
here love is, as fire in word,
from discord will come, future bright:
youth will conceive it fraternal
and friendship will last eternal.
The icebergs are melting away,
bias obstructing is light span.
Morn of freedom with us will stay,
behind it reviving is sun.
Written 1820, Translated by Art Wielgus 2002
Where: Krakowskie Przedmieście, Warsaw, Poland
When: March 2008
There is an enormous Rubber Tree in Plaza Francia close to Café La Biela and La Recoleta Cemetery. Most people come to visit the famous La Recoleta Cemetery and don`t know about this tree.
The Rubber tree or “Gomero” in Spanish, was planted by the Recoletos brothers in 1800. They were in charge of the church at the time. What makes this tree extraordinary is it`s measurements. It is 20 meters high and 50 meters wide. Not a lot of information is available about the tree or why it was planted. Presumably it was planted for it`s shade because Buenos Aires can be very hot and humid in summer.
It is impossible to photograph the tree as a whole. It is just too big and some of the branches are supported by wooden poles.
People often stop to admire it and to take photos. Others love the shade and take a nap when it is too hot in summer.
Interesting facts about the Rubber Tree:
- Rubber Trees grow in wild,hot and humid conditions.
- The sap is used in the manufacturing of various rubber products.
- Rubber trees are also found in southern Thailand, South America, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and along Africa’s Ivory Coast.
- The sap from the rubber tree is made into numerous products, including tires, belts, insulation for electrical writing, gloves and gaskets.
Where: Plaza Francia, close to La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires,Argentina
When: 28 February 2013
There is only one statue on Red Square (Krasnaya Ploshchad) and that is the Monument dedicated to Minin and Pozharsky ( Па́мятник Ми́нину и Пожа́рскому) and you will find it directly in front of Saint Basil`s Cathedral.
This is a very important monument and became a symbol of freedom. In 1612, two men, Prince Dmitry Pozharsky and merchant Kuzma Minin, gathered a Russian volunteer army and expelled the Poles from the Moscow Kremlin. Officially they put an end to a troublesome time in the history of Russia.
There is a bronze plaque in front of the base of the monument that depicts a scene of patriotism – citizens sacrificing property and goods for the benefit of Russia. There is also an image of the sculptor Martos who gave away two sons to fight. Martos was the sculptor of the monument.
The monument wasn`t always standing here. It`s original place was in the middle of Red Square but when Stalin took over, he decided to move it because it obstructed military parades. In 1936 it was moved to it`s current place, where it is still standing today.
A little bit of history about the monument itself.
Minin and Pozharsky were originally from Nizhny Novgorod and people wanted to have the monument erected there. However Tsar Alexander I decided that it was best to have the monument in Red Square,close the Moscow Kremlin. First they needed a design so it was decided to hold a competition. Many famous sculptors entered and Ivan Martos won in 1808. In 1813 the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna and the Russian Academy of Fine Arts approved a completed model and the casting of the monument began.
The monument is made from 1,100 lbs of copper (St. Petersburg) and three huge blocks of granite (Finland and carved in St. Petersburg). It was a huge challenge to get the base and statue to Moscow so it was decided to wait until winter when the waterways were frozen. Unfortunately the monument couldn`t be unveiled for some time because Napoleon decided to invade Russia. It was finally unveiled in 1818.
Minin and Pozharsky were eventually honored in Nizhny Novgorod, when an exact replica of this statue was erected in 2005. The only difference is that the replica is 5 cm shorter than the original.
How to identify which one is Minin and which one is Pozharsky?
Pozharsky is the man sitting and Minin is the man standing.
Where: Moscow, Russian Federation
When: May and August 2012
One of the most important things to consider when you are planning your next vacation is the hotel room. You are going to need some amenities after you spend all day touring a foreign city. Being a tourist is tiring. Make sure your room has the following, or you may not have a very comfortable vacation.
The very first thing that most people want to do after a day of sightseeing is take off their shoes and dive into a big comfy bed. There are a lot of resorts that simply don’t have comfortable beds. In fact, some of them are like sleeping on a slap of concrete. There is no real way to try out the beds in a resort, but you can do a little bit of detective work on your own. A simple search on the Internet should give you a good indication of what the beds are like. People will be more than happy to complain about uncomfortable beds or even worse, bedbugs. Put on your detective hat and start investigating.
Hot Tub Anyone?
There is one thing that is even better than a nice comfy bed and that is a steamy hot tub. Imagine spending the evening after a long day of sightseeing soaking in a nice warm hot tub. Let the bubbles massage and sooth you after a long day. You may get so relaxed that you fall asleep.
Having your very own personal mini bar is the icing on the cake. There is no better way to end a long day than with a great drink in your hand while you relax in the hot tub or the big comfy bed. Not all resorts offer this unique amenity. Check your resort in advance. For some great resort information, take a look a a look at: http://hotels.expedia.com/resorts/