Ruakuri caves

New Zealand is known for its natural wonders. One of them is well advertised Waitomo glow-worm caves. To see them, one has to stay in the dark. No photos are allowed there. Only in the first cave, where the guide explains what you see and will see, for a moment, lights are on, so you can see how the glow worms look like in reality. The highlight is a boat ride in the dark in a cave. Its ceiling is fully covered with glow-worms. You raise your head up and feel like you under a night sky, but somehow the stars are closer to you. You are requested full silence while there. Unforgettable feeling.

But the sightseeing of the glow-worm caves, including descent, lasts only 45 minutes. The boat ride maybe only a quarter. In a spur of the moment, I decided to visit another complex of Waitomo caves called Ruakuri caves located around two km distance from the main cave. In the aftermath, an excellent decision. 

An evening in a Paris cabaret

Paris is one of the cities where whenever you come in winter or in summer you have much to do. Much sightseeing indoors and outdoors at light-time. Partying at night-time. Below, some scenes were seen on an evening in Lido, one of the Paris cabarets.

During our last stay there we saw two shows, one in Moulin Rouge and the other one in Lido. In Moulin Rouge, there is a strict ban on making shots. Lido also prohibits photographing, but the rules are not as severe as in Moulin Rouge. I asked for permission to make shots.

Villa Borghese Pinciana. A breathtaking art gallery and a masterpiece in itself

In Rome, there is a park called Villa Borghese with a palace on its premises. The palace does not look very impressive from outside. But inside it contains a breathtaking art gallery called Galleria Borghese. It is not only the masterpieces of art like sculptures, paintings, and even the furniture that make this Villa. The villa is a masterpiece in itself.

Vikings did not bother to live there

Christchurch. Bringing England there did not work fully …

Christchurch was one of the first regular English colonial settlements in New Zealand. In fact, this is the oldest city established by the English in New Zealand (from 1856). The first European settlers came to the area around 1840. The colonization process was officially and legally organized by Canterbury Association and sponsored by the Church of England.

The Canterbury Association bought land from New Zealand Company and yet resold it at a higher price to colonists reserving the margin for public infrastructure. The first 800 colonists arrived around 1850 on four ships with a mission to build a city around a cathedral and a college.

Grand Place, Brussels

Between dreams and reality

Brussels is a meeting place for people of different nationalities and cultural backgrounds. On trips when it is not just fly-in-fly-out the same day, it is worth to ask around what to do in free time. A couple of months ago while in Brussels, a colleague of mine proposed to go to an art museum devoted to the Belgian surrealist René Magritte.

Padrão dos Descobrimentos

Historical figures important for the Portuguese discoveries like Vasco da GamaMagellanCabral, and others follow Prince Henry the Navigator. He is standing at the prow, holding a small vessel in hand. Discoveries Monument in Lisbon, Portugal.

Vers la Glorie

You enter a famous building, enjoy the architecture, shoot the art pieces that are inside, but because of time constraints (there are so many places to visit), you do not put attention to details. But making photographs has the advantage that you can come back to them later and study.

The fresco I photographed in the Pantheon in Paris while following our guide to the crypts. But only at home a couple of days later I red on its history and content.

The Crusader King

The statue on the photo I photographed a bit accidentally in Brussels on the royal route, while standing at a street crossing and waiting for a green light. It was a busy street, with many cars and trams passing by. Stubbornly I crossed the street towards the monument and tried to direct my camera the way that it finally went well. No, I did not read the description at its foot. My company was getting impatient.

Who the man on the horse was surprised. I realized only back home while processing the photo. The knight turned out to be not only a hero of his time but also a person symbolic for many years of European history. Even if many hundred years after his undertakings we may look on them with more or less skepticism.

Kenroku-en, a true Japanese garden

Kenroku-en is an authentic Japanese garden established already in the XVIIth century in Kanazawa, Japan. It is one of the three oldest gardens in Japan. Its name translated into English means the Six Attributes Garden. Those six attributes of a perfect landscape are spaciousnessseclusionartificeantiquitywaterways, and panoramas. All of them are true for this place.

Medieval life reconstructed at the Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle was a seat of Scottish kings. It was built originally in the XIIth century. The castle as we can admire it today was constructed in XVth, XVIth, XVIIth and early XVIIIth century by successful additions of new premises inside and outside the castle defensive walls. It was mostly in times as it served as the Scottish royal residence.

Later on, the Stirling castle served as an army barrack and a military depot. From the mid-XXth century, much effort had been given to restore the interiors so that they can provide at least a grasp of medieval life. The restored chambers have been opened since 2011.

The Mulberry harbour

Many people around Europe when asked about Normandy in France, will quickly associate it with the D-Day. D-Day was the most massive seaborne invasion in history that took place on the 6th of June 1944. Allied forces from around 13 countries, among other US American, Canadian and British started an invasion aiming to liberate Europe from the Nazi Germany occupation.

Thus, sightseeing in Normandy, we planned to visit the Gold Beach, one of five beaches where the landing took place. We expected to see a monument and some wreckage of military equipment.

Gdańsk, Poland

Low cost travel, benefits, dysfunctionalities and spillovers

We used to treat low cost traveling as something obvious. But some years ago, about 30 years ago, it was not so. The national countries protected the skies. National carriers, today we call them incumbent carriers, had only limited rights to operate flights in other countries. For many years many people engaged in promoting the so-called air travel freedoms. Only as the international community agreed on air travel freedoms, the low-cost carriers appeared in the skies, making the market that competitive that incumbent airlines had to lower their prices. It was in the 90s of the 20th century.

At the same time, the new digital technologies allowed for real time or dynamic pricing. It was indeed the airlines who, as the first companies in the world, introduced dynamic pricing. The coincidence of those two events made air travel, both local and global travel, cheaper and more accessible than ever.

Antwerpen Centraal

Antwerpen Centraal is definitely one of the most beautiful railway stations in Europe, sometimes even called the railway cathedral, for the roof over its waiting hall is crowned by a dome.

Originally it was a terminus station built 1895-1905. The waiting hall building is a real architectural pearl. Its structure was severely damaged during World War II bombings. A profound refurbishment was needed in the late XX century.  Glass and other roof components were replaced by lighter artificial materials to cope with the structural damage inflicted by the bombs.

Santiago Bernabeu. The Real Madrid fan zone

Madrid is one of those European cities you can simply enjoy. The town is relatively new in comparison to other European capitals, and there are not many historical objects on the must-see list. But the variety of places worthwhile provides much fun for a visitor.

One day you go to Prado, one of the most impressive galleries world-wide and the next day to this place – the big fan zone of Real Madrid.

The Meeting Place

Himeji castle

A white castle on a hill. The view was impressive, but at first, we did not realize how big this castle was. We were standing at a railway station exit gate, in front of a wide alley, two or three kilometers away. On the approach way already at the gateway to the castle premises, we had to take turns and go complicated paths between fortification walls. We crossed a series of smaller gates and baileys. At first, I did not give it much thought.

Sightseeing churches, monasteries, and shrines