Saturday, 25 March 2017

Picnic for bikers

Finally, spring has arrived. It is still quite timid but the weather is nice enough to enjoy a good ride on a bike.

Why don't you jump on yours and accompany me on a trip on the shore of the Zurich Lake.

We have seen the Zurich Lake a number of times already but each time I discover some new nice places there.

The lake is full of various fishes.

This is probably the reason why you can meet there lots of water birds. Like the swans ...

... the ducks ...

.... and some coots.

The lake is obviously also full of humans. It is still too cold to swim in the badis, so they either use some small boats ...

... or some big ferries.

You say it does not seem big? Well, it can ship something like 30 cars to the other side of the lake. And some bikes on top.

I must say that all this biking has made me hungry. If you want, we could sit in one of the many family-owned restaurants that offer fresh fish.

Or we could look for a place to picnic. What do you think about this one?

What's that noise? We have company, just next to the picnic table.

Maybe we should choose the one a bit further from the lake shore. And enjoy a nice early spring afternoon on a bikers picnic.

Saturday, 18 March 2017


When we arrived to Rotterdam my human secretary was really reluctant to go into downtown, telling me that visiting docks when it is getting dark is not a good idea. I had to use all my negotiation skills to persuade her to go. I hope you will enjoy those glimpses of Rotterdam at twilight.

The history of Rotterdam dates back to 1270 when a dam was constructed in the river Rotte and people settled around it. But the city center is quite modern, with office building housing the headquarters of the biggest Dutch multinationals.

When I talked to Dutch people from other cities, they often highlighted that unlike in many other places, in Rotterdam there are many skyscrapers.

Just a few hundred meters from the main train station you will find the City Hall. It was built a hundred years ago and is one of very few building which have survived the bombing of Rotterdam during World War II.

Just next to it stands a monument devoted to those who did not return home after the war.

Let's cross one of the many canals and move closer to the river.

Finally we arrive to the market square. Or more precisely to the Market Hall.

Not impressed? Then look inside.

This huge indoor market is the size of a football pitch. The inner walls are decorated with bright paintings depicting food and flowers.

Inside you will find a myriad of small shops, selling of course all types of food ...

... and flowers.

Next to the Market Hall your eye can be drawn first by this spinning wheel.

But I was more interested to see the Cube Houses. And yes, they are cubic. And yes, they lie on one of the corners. And yes, people really live in them.

But Dutch people are used to using the limited space they have in unusual ways. For example they build two-level bike parking lots.

Since its creations, Rotterdam was an important port. If you would like to get a feeling what it meant some centuries ago, you can visit the Konigspoort Maritime Museum which is very close.

But still today, Rotterdam is the biggest and most important port in Europe. On the New Meuse river, you can see many large barges.

They cross many bridges, the best known of which is the Erasmus bridge. Erasmus was the most famous Dutch humanist and philosopher of the fifteenth century who was borne in Rotterdam It is a bascule bridge, which means that it can be opened and lifted if a tall ship needs to pass it.

It is getting really dark, let's return to the city center. We pass next to the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences.

Next to it, you can see the St. Lawrence church.

The building in the back is again the Market Hall. You can see clearly that it is in fact a residential building. Or maybe two residential buildings with a shopping space in between.

I hope that you have enjoyed this evening walk through Rotterdam. Remember it was not easy to be done. But even my human secretary seemed to truly enjoy it in the end. Well, life is a spinning wheel in the end, it goes around and around ...

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Museum of Russian Airborne Forces

I love travelling. And soldiers also do. And they also like to make a surprise and come unexpectedly from the sky where and when nobody awaits them. On parachutes. And since they are like born from the air, they are called Airborne Forces.

Let's see the ones born from the sky in their museum in Ryazan, just next to the school where all Russian paratroopers are trained.

In most countries the parachutes are quite small and they can carry only soldiers or small light cars, or small cannons like ZIS-3, with barrel caliber 76 mm.

Or anti-tank cannon like SD-57, with barrel caliber 57 mm, which used to be sufficient to make a hole in tank during WWII (or as they call it in Russia - The Great Patriotic War).

Or M-30 howitzer, that is a short barrel cannon to shoot high, for example over mountains.

Or a small anti-aircraft cannon like this ZU-23, used in 2 barrels version even now.

But Russia is a huge country. And everything in Russia is huge. So Russian troops have also huge parachutes and they can carry even heavy armoured infantry fighting vehicles.

The first airborne infantry vehicle was constructed in Russia in 1967 and is called BMD-1

It looks like a small tank, has a turret with cannon calibre 76 mm and can carry up to 7 soldiers. But it must be light enough for a parachute so it's armour is much thiner that in tanks and protects only against small arms fire and shrapnels. The improved version is called BMD-2.

The most impressive object for me is a self-propelled gun SU-85.

Unfortunatelly they do not offer parachute jumps in the museum. Or may be it is even good, I am not sure I would be brave enough. Would you ? 

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Ryazansky kremlin

Ryazan used to be the capital city of the Principality of Ryazan, until 1521 when it was annexed by the Principality of Muscovy. The prince used to live in castle, called in Russia a kremlin. Today we will visit what remains of the Ryazan Kremlin.

The kremlin is located on a hill next to a river, to enhance its strategic and defensive character.

On our way I spotted a chapel that reminds me of Kolomenskoye which we have visited two weeks ago.

As you can see, the kremlin ensemble also includes mainly churches (eight of them to be more precise) and few public buildings. Let's walk through the bridge and get inside.

The bell tower guarding the entry is one of the tallest bell towers in Russia standing at 86 metres tall, including a 25 metre gold-coated spire.

Behind it, you will find the Dormition Cathedral. It was built between 1693 and 1699. The cathedral is now the Summer Eparchial Cathedral of the Ryazan and Mikhailov Eparchy. It is only open in the summer.

The orange building next to it is the Nativity of Christ cathedral. It is the oldest building in the kremlin dating from the early 15th century.

Finally, here comes the palace. Modest but elegant.

 And yet another church.

Behind it you will find a small graveyard.

Time to leave the Ryazan kremlin. As you have seen, it is rather small but quite diversified. We still have a bit of time before the sunset so we may take a little walk on the banks of Oka river.

Did you notice the lockers on the bars of the bridge?

They are everywhere. Actually, the local authorities have even built special structures for the lockers so that they do not weigh too heavy on the bridges.

As we walk away, the kremlin is still visible on its hill. As it used to be for centuries where the prices of Ryazan used to rule their people from there.