Saturday, 31 December 2016

Red square

Over the last years, we have been in over twenty countries. Some of them were very small, like Liechtenstein or Tonga, other really large like USA or Canada. But today I will take you to the largest country on the planet. And if you want to start your first visit in Russia, there is no better place than the Red Square in Moscow, a UNECCO World Heritage Site. Let's enter by the Resurrection Gate.

On your right hand side you will immediately see the State Historical Museum, which is a museum of Russian history.

On your left hand side, you will see a church in bright orange colour. It is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan. It was built to commemorate a very important event in the history of Russia (to which I will revert later) but Stalin made it demolished completely. It was rebuilt entirely in 1993.

Next to the cathedral you will find a huge shopping mall. Or to be more precise the Main Department Store.

Let's have a look inside.

I am not sure if this place recalls you of anything? Well, for me it looks a lot like the Victor Emmanuel II Gallery in Milan, which we have visited last spring.

We have seen on the Red Square a church, a temple of wealth, now time comes for yet another type of temple. A modern type of pyramid where a human god lies, allowing believers to pay him tribute.

Yes, you are right, the red square structure in the middle of the Red Square is the Lenin's Mausoleum. As of what I have heard, Lenin actually wanted to be cremated and buried in St. Petersburg. But the communists knew better. It is not allowed to take pictures inside but if you have a special interest in mummies, you can take a look at another website.

The Mausoleum is located next to a high wall. This is the wall surrounding Kremlin, the most important place of power in Russia. Nowadays the gates are mainly decorative items but in the past they were really meant for protection.

A total of twenty towers survived, four of which are gate towers. Each is topped with a red star.

On the far end of the square, you will find one of the landmarks of Moscow and the only church which survived Stalin's orders. This is the church of Saint Basil.

In front of it stands a monument dedicated to Minin and Pozharsky. They were leading Russian forces which expelled from Moscow the forces of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1612. This victory was believed to be a miracle brought by the Virgin of Kazan, hence the church devoted to her on the Red Square.

Looking from the Saint Basil's church, the Red Square shows its size, even if only a part of it is visible.

Everything here is meant to make the visitor understand what an amazing country Russia is. The wall of Kremlin and it gates incite the proper respect ...

... the multi-colour domes of the Saint Basil's church bring hope in the divine protection.

But to be honest, I had a feeling that the further I walked from the Red Square the stronger the sun started to shine. Revealing the grandeur and uniqueness of this place.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Transparent Factory

Have you ever wondered how luxury cars are made? Today we will have the opportunity to visit an amazing car factory - the Transparent Factory in Dresden. It owns its name to the material from which it was built - almost all the walls are made of glass! 

The factory is large but is located relatively close to the city center in an area that used to be a fair area.

To limit the impact of the factory on the city, a special CarGo Tram was designed. It uses the regular tram rails and brings three times a day components from another site to the Transparent Factory.

Do you want to see the factory inside? Not only is it possible to enter inside but the factory offers a number of guided tours, available for many language and age groups.

As you see, the inside walls are also made of glass.

On the upper floors all stages of car manufacturing take place.

Here the so-called body-in-white arrive for the final assembly.

It is not allowed to take pictures inside but I took a few shots from a movie shown in the lobby. You can see how the seats are installed ...

... and doors are mounted.

The round-shaped tower houses ready-made cars awaiting for clients to pick them up.

The Transparent Factory is the birthplace of Volkswagen flagship car Phaeton.

Have you ever had the chance to sit in a car worth well over a hundred thousand euro?

The steering wheel made of well polished wood and high quality leather smells and feels like real luxury. 

Though I must tell you honestly that out of all the cars that I have seen in Dresden I liked best that one.

It is a Horch 951, built in 1938 by the father of the Audi brand. It does not have ABS or safety belts. But looks just amazing.

Who knows, maybe one day I will be able to afford a car like this. For the time being, I will keep on travelling by all means available. Because travelling is the essence of my life.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Augustusburg Hunting Lodge

My human family told me that they plan to visit the Augustusburg castle. I said "Great, it is one of the most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany". Too late did I discover that they actually meant the Augustusburg Hunting Lodge in Saxony while I meant the Augustusburg Castle in North Rhine-Westphalia. But small disappointments can sometimes turn into nice surprises. Let me then take you to the first Augustusburg castle on our trail. I do trust that we will see the other one some day as well.

The castle is located on a hill that is 516 meters high, on top of the town called (yes, you surely guessed) Augustusburg. It is surrounded by a park, in which you can find the "Fairytale Fountain" (Märchenbrunnen).

Let's take this path and go up the hill. Be careful, the fallen leaves are slippery.

The castle is surrounded by a long wall. It is white, with details in a colour that my human secretary calls "coral" and I will simply call orange.

As we approach from the North, first we need to pass the house of the guards.

Then comes the main entrance to the castle.

The inner courtyard is surprisingly vast.

Since Saxony is no longer ruled by a Prince-Elector, the castle is nowadays a museum. Let's go inside.

The Augustusburg castle was designed mainly to be a summer retreat and a hunting lodge. Once you enter inside, you cannot be mistaken about its original role. There are traces of both hunting ...

... and summertime leisure.

I can only hope that after having one of these mugs that could hold probably two litres of beer nobody tried to actually use the hunting equipment.

Through the window you can see the backyard. We will go there as well in a moment.

On the right you can see the Zschopau valley that lies beneath the Schellenberg hill.

Let's go out again and check on the backyard. We need to take the South gate.

In the old castle’s farm buildings we will find the Stage Coach Museum. Some of the carriages exhibited there are simply amazing. This one has the coat of arm's of Saxony.

This one is called a berlin and was probably at some point in time covered with golden ornaments.

The museum has also some less exclusive exhibits.

There is even a cabrio!

But I liked best this winter edition. Horse-drawn sledges must have been real fun. Though not for the horses of course.

I hope that you agree with me that travelling always brings some fun, even if it is another type of fun that one would expect. The Saxon Augustusburg Castle proved to be a nice piece of architecture.

Look, it is getting late! The sundials are maybe not as accurate as modern clocks but without any doubt they indicate that it is time to move on to new adventures.