Tag Archives: travel writing

Barcelona – Gaudi’s Practicality of Beauty

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Perhaps the only thing more amazing then the striking architecture of Gaudi’s Casa Batlló is the fact that it was for all purposes just that – a casa! Josep Batlló and his family commissioned Gaudi to build a house – a distinctive house granted – but a house nonetheless. It was a house they lived in until their deaths and remained in the family for nearly twenty years afterwards. It’s an impressive example of how art can be both breathtaking and have a pragmatic purpose. It also exemplifies Gaudi’s genius, the fact that he was capable of producing a perfect marriage of spectacle and home.

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Bucharest – Tragic Tyranny in The House of the People

 

House of People 4I went to the Romanian Parliament – known in Romanian as The House of The People – with my Romanian girlfriend and her mother recently and I’ve never been struck by more of a sense of pathetic irony in my life. Its name suggests a place where people are free and the ownership of the building is in the hands of the people. This however, has never been the case. Since its construction in 1984 to the present day, this palace has never been a house of the people. It is a place where tyranny rules, preposterous opulence reigns and freedom is ground to dust.

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Athena’s Acropolis – A Spectacular Idea Yet Desecrated Reality

 

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A stunning symbol of the birth of European democracy, philosophy and science; a culture and society which was so ahead of it’s time, society seemed to collapse in on itself after it’s fall – this is what one thinks of when one thinks of the Acropolis. It was a marvel at its zenith. Centuries of looting and destruction later – and two centuries of archeological annihilation and reconstruction – and its difficult to even comprehend what is left. It has become a great wonder of the world, and as such, archeologists feel the need to ‘renovate’ it.

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Athens – Rebellion Without a Point

 

Graffiti can be a fantastic resource for those who – by circumstance of choice – are isolated from mainstream artistic expression. People can make virtually any (legally or not) public space the canvas of their message or expression. Equally its target of criticism can be the very building, which a graffiti artist uses to display their message. However, all too often, it can be merely a manifestation of nothing except somebody’s attempt at immortality or being noticed. I’m referring to the mindboggling concept of tagging one’s own name. Athens is no exception to this phenomenon and in many ways it’s an exemplar of this inane form of self-expression.

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Athens – A Bustling Necropolis

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Arriving in Athens has left me startled due to its derelict appearance. I don’t use the word Necropolis here in a conventional sense of death. I instead wish to use it to describe the atmosphere of ruined buildings and dilapidated shop fronts, which are tagged with the names of any disenfranchised person armed with spray-paint and nothing worthwhile to say! It’s staggeringly bleak and dammingly deprived, a meager twenty-minute walk from the Acropolis…and yet, there is a tragic beauty in it all!

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The Forgotten Price of Haggling in the Medinas of Marrakesh

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The souks of Marrakesh’s Medina certainly seem like a throwback to the Medieval and the forgotten. If it wasn’t for the marketers touting the usual tourist tack, the ubiquitous bottles of Coca-Cola and the mesmerised tourists it would seem like a forgotten time. The chaos, the smells and the products have, sadly, long been cleansed from the streets of Europe. With them the art of haggling has long since been eliminated from common practice. The art of haggling has more or less collapsed in Europe about 150 years ago. And with it, it has taken our ability to partake successfully in the practice.

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Circumcision Festival: Mbale, Uganda

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The stifling morning air churns with excitement, energy and the sweet smell of homemade hooch. The road is coated with drunken pilgrims seeking refuge, dancing and chaos inside the gates. A sea of blue and green monitors the scene ready with cattle-herder’s sticks and AK-47s to beat any civil unrest – which might be detrimental to the elite minority -into the muddy dust at our feet.

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