I hope that maybe you will want to join me on my visit to Baba in future and we will make some good memories together.
Today we visited Los Angeles Museum of Illusions and we enjoyed posing for many exciting, funny and scary pictures. Baba proved to be an excellent actor and he was even more happy after he saw all the photographs we took. What we learn from this experience is that things are not always as they seem or as we see them.
I hope that maybe you will want to join me on my visit to Baba in future and we will make some good memories together.
Coughton Court near Alcester
Today we visited one of the National Trust's treasures, Coughton Court, an English Tudor country house near Alcester. Since 1409 this interesting historical mansion has been a home to the Throckmortons, one of the UK's oldest catholic families. It is a massive mansion that would suit a really large family. To my surprise, I've learned that till October 2017 it was occupied by just one person, baroness Clare McLaren-Throckmorton.
I was not only intrigued by the history of the Throckmorton family associated with Walter Raleigh and Guy Fawkes, but I also liked the architecture of the house and its spectacular gardens. We spent a pleasant couple of hours walking around the grounds and enjoying the beautiful scenery. We took a lot of pictures and below is a selection for you to enjoy and perhaps encourage you to visit this beautiful country house yourself.
A visit to yet another museum of contemporary art in LA confirmed that I definitely don't understand and probably will never understand contemporary art. Look at the picture above for example - it's an artwork by Franz Kline entitled 'Black Iris' (By the way, I would have never guessed if it wasn't for the description). Apparently Kline is recognised as one of the most important yet problematic artists of the Abstract Expressionist movement in New York. I don't know what is the value of this painting, but another of his paintings (well, looking pretty much the same as the 'Black Iris') was sold for $40.4 million! Can you believe that? Do you think that the person who bought it understands this 'so called' art? I am not sure. I think sometimes that all this contemporary art is about coming up with a very clever interpretation of not so pretty artwork (well, artwork that doesn't actually require any skills! I think 5 years old child could have done better - sorry Mr Kline) and making a viewer believe that there is a deeper meaning to it. And then there is a bunch of snobs who don't really see a deeper meaning, but because they want to be cool, contemporary, arty and all of that, they pretend that they see a deeper meaning. I am not trying to insult art lovers, but that's how a well grounded person like me sees contemporary art.
In my view this was the best installation/artwork at the Broad - a mirror-lined chamber housing a dazzling and seemingly endless LED light display. The artist is called Yahoo Kusama and the artwork is Infinity Mirrored Room - The Souls of Millions of Light Years. I thought it was amazing, different from anything I’ve ever seen before, impressive, almost breathtaking. You stood on the little island on the water and wherever you looked you could see yourself from different angles in various mirrors. The room was dark with multiple tiny lights and only one person was allowed in the room at one time what even more intensified the experience.
Yayoi Kusama is a very versatile artist. Her multidisciplinary art includes painting, performance, installation, writing, film, fashion, design, and architectural interventions. Moving between modes of working, Kusama has escaped associations to specific art movements, and instead she has developed her own unique path.
Since the 1960s, Kusama has been creating Infinity Mirrored Rooms that provoke a sense of boundlessness and transcendence through extreme repetition. Kusama’s work is an expression of her life, providing insight into the many social and political contexts of her long career. Through her artwork, Kusama, a self-proclaimed ‘obsessional artist’, offers an unusual glimpse into the workings of a mind that is seldom quiet. The strength and appeal of her work goes beyond stylistic design; Kusama confronts the immensity of reality by searching at once for infinitude and oblivion.
In the Broad contemporary art museum in LA there is a massive eighty-foot-long painting by Takashi Murakami from Japan titled ‘In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow'. You can see it in my picture. It looked very impressive to me, probably mainly because of its size and very busy, colourful theme. I read the description and that’s what it says (I don’t fully understand it, but maybe you will):
The painting is informed by 18th century painters Soga Shohaku and Ito Jakuchu. Shohaku believed in reaching for new and alternative truths in picture making by imitating existing forms or styles and imbuing them with new essence. Murakami follows this belief, here using figures and motifs directly taken from Shohaku’s painting ‘Gunsenzu’, or ‘Immortals’ (1764), itself an imitation of an older version, which depicts Taoist hermits with magical powers. On the far left (my photo on the left), a hermit in blue riding a dragon; the hermit on the far right who holds a baby (middle picture); and the potbellied hermit leaning on a frog are but a few motifs Murakami appropriates from ‘Immortals’. However, the painting is unmistakably Murakami’s, reminiscent of contemporary Japanese cartooning and culture though rooted century’s old traditions.
Maserati - Development Process
At the Petersen Automobile Museum Baba had a chance to see an unique exhibition 'Made in Italy – Design to Line' featuring Maserati's flagship super sport sedan, the Maserati Quattroporte S Q4. The exhibition tells the story of Maserati's design through five chapters: 1) Raw Materials; 2) Body Shell; 3) Drivetrain; 4) Trims and Finishes; and 5) Final Product. It's an excellent educational display that defines the how and why Maserati is such a timeless performance automobile.
Based on the photographs taken at the museum I will describe the whole process for you. So that's how the story begins.
Every automobile begins as a vision that is realised when a designer’s inspired lines are transformed into complex components assembled in careful sequence. This holds true for the distinctive cars of Italian manufacturer Maserati, whose creations combine state-of-art technology with traditional hand craftsmanship as practiced by generations of Italian artisans and engineers. Among them were the Maserati brothers - Alfieri, Ernesto and Ettore - who began their journey in 1914 by founding the ‘Office Alfieri Maserati’ in Bologna. A fourth brother, Mario, created the trident logo of the company, taking inspiration from the statue of Neptune still located in the main square of Bologna.
1. Raw Materials
The Quattroporte is built at Maserati’s newly renovated Giovanni Agnelli plant, named after the founder of Fiat. This advanced manufacturing facility is located in Grugliasco, outside of Turin, Italy, and is situated on the grounds of the historic Carrozzeria Bertone design centre. Here, approximately 7,000 individual components are fabricated from a variety of materials and assembled with computerised precision by industrial robots controlled by skilled technicians.
2. Body Shell
The body shell of the Quattroporte S Q4 combines aluminium and steel stampings that together achieve maximum strength with minimum weight. A unibody design combines chassis and body into one complete assembly, which eliminates the use of separate components that might compromise structural integrity. The body shell provides a solid foundation for mounting other vehicle systems while protecting the occupants from the elements and during collisions.
The Quattroporte ‘body in white’ - the body shell prior to painting - is sent to the paint facility, where it receives anti-corrosive treatment, sealing and soundproofing, in addition to a carefully applied paint finish in solid, metallic or pearlescent tones. Final assembly then begins with the addition of subassemblies, glass and exterior trim. Interior components from seats and dashboard to the smallest details, reflect the Maserati high standard of quality and craftsmanship. Each car can be made to order, with countless combinations to match individual tastes and preferences.
The drivetrain of the Quattroporte S Q4 employs an all-wheel-drive system, consisting of many components working together to maintain controlled and balanced handling in adverse conditions. When the car is moving, a complex algorithm analyses its dynamic parameters (including wheel slip, steering angle, yaw angle, power output and speed) in real time. It also analyses factors relating to the wheels’ grip and can redistribute torque to maximise the traction profile for each wheel. The fully integrated systems work to provide both optimum speed and comfort.
4. Trims and Finishes
A Maserati automobile is imbued with details that can be appreciated in a variety of ways. Visually, the streamlined shape of the Quattroporte is enhanced by lustrous paint and polished aluminium trim. Maserati’s chrome Trident punctuates the iconic grille, while prominent exhaust tips proclaim the Quattroporte’s power. Inside, the feel and scent of hand-sticked leather are complemented by accents of metal, carbon fibre and precious woods like Tanganika, Ebano (ebony), Radical (briar) and Erable (maple).
5. The finished Quattroporte
Since its debut in 1963, the Quattroporte has expressed Maserati’s history of technological innovation, distinctive design and hard-fought racing success. Its namesake four doors welcome driver and passengers into a plush interior that is matched with a powerful engine. The first Italian automaker to pair sports car attributes with the space and comfort of a sedan, Maserati continues to offer a mix of elegance and performance with the sixth generation of Quattroporte models.
Baba at Petersen Museum
Baba recently visited Petersen Automotive Museum in LA. I wasn't there with him, but from the photos I can see that he enjoyed it greatly. The museum has over one-hundred vehicles on display in its twenty-five galleries and hosts a great variety of vehicles from high end classics and sports cars, movie vehicles, motorcycles and even bicycles. There are many extremely rare and very expensive cars on display, something that you probably won't be able to see anywhere else in the world. Baba especially enjoyed the beautiful classic cars like Cadillac, Bugatti, Ferrari, Jaguar. It's a shame that they don't offer a test drive for the visitors :-) The exterior of the museum is also amazing - it's a treat for the eyes. The façade was designed by the architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox, and features a stainless-steel ribbon assembly made of 100 tons of steel in 308 sections. Somehow it looks like a giant sports car, don't you think so? All in all Petersen Automotive Museum is definitely a very nice place to visit especially if you are interested in cars like Baba is.
While visiting Baba in LA we made a day trip to Santa Catalina island. It's a really charming little island. It is one of the Channel Islands, a string of eight semi-submerged mountains off the Southern California coastline. We visited Avalon, a very clean, very laid back beach town. It had a wonderful, peaceful, joyful atmosphere with happy, kind, smiling people and stunning views.
Santa Catalina Island has been inhabited for at least 8000 years, first by Pimungans. In 1602, on November 24, the eve of St. Catherine's Day, the ship of the a Spanish explorer, Sebastian Viscaino, sighted the Island. Viscaino renamed it Santa Catalina in honour of Saint Catherine.In the years following Catalina was used by otter hunters, smugglers, and ranching, mining and military operations.
In more recent years, Catalina Island was once owned by William Wrigley, Jr. of Wrigley chewing gum fame. He developed Avalon as a resort island destination and brought the Chicago Cubs baseball team (which he owned) to the Island for spring training in the 1930-1950’s.
Over the past century, Catalina has served as Hollywood's exotic backlot more than 500 times, for filming of hundreds of movies and assorted TV shows, documentaries and commercials. In fact, one of the movies filmed in the 1920’s brought 14 buffalo to the Island and left them on the Island. Now a herd of about 150 buffalo roam the island’s interior.
Catalina Island has also been a playground for celebrities, presidents and statesmen. During the 1930s and 40s - the island's heyday - its close proximity to Los Angeles allowed stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Humphrey Bogart, Johnny Weissmuller and John Wayne to sail or cruise their boats in the open ocean and reach Avalon harbour in only hours. The restaurants and bars were alive at night with music, which wafted through crowded streets, abundant with people drinking and dancing.
There are a lot of activities available on the island - you can lie on the beach, eat, shop, spot undersea life from a semi-submersible submarine, learn how to kayak or stand-up paddle. You can take a trip into the interior of the island. Venture into Catalina's interior allows hiking, mountain biking and camping. You may even see a shy island fox and spot some of Catalina's bisons. You can book various exploration tours, see the island from a zip line, you can play a miniature golf, tour the casino or look for ghosts on a spirited evening walking tour.
We did not take an advantage of any special tours and attractions - the island was so beautiful that just walking around, sitting on the beach and enjoying the stunning views was a treat.
Below there are some photographs we took on the island.
As you gathered from my previous posts Baba recently visited Griffiths Observatory and Planetarium. I wasn't there with him, but from what he said it was an impressive place to see. I mentioned before that the view from the observatory's roof top is breathtaking and it is one of the best points to see famous Hollywood sign, but Baba found the Observatory itself very interesting. He was provided with opportunity to see and do real observing in authentic environment. By exploring fundamental questions - what do we observe, how do we observe it, and why it is important - the exhibits prompted him to ponder his own relationship with the universe. Below there are some pictures from Baba's visit.
Simi Valley, LA
Simi Valley is another place I visited with Baba & Anna in Los Angeles. One Sunday afternoon we had a little time on our hands, not enough to take a metro to Hollywood or downtown LA, but too much to waste it sitting in the house. So Anna took us for a drive around and we discovered this beautiful Simi Valley nearby. We had a little walk and we spent some time enjoying the silence and admiring spectacular views.
Dear Atria, I don't know if you ever had a chance to experience a profound beauty of a perfect silence in harmony with the nature? It's a wonderful feeling. You automatically keep quiet just not to disturb the moment. It also makes you realise how much noise surrounds us in our everyday life. It bring peace to the mind and calms down all the emotions. I really enjoyed the experience.
Grand Park LA
We took advantage of park's facilities and we had a nice lunch in the park. There is a giant fountain at the most-western part of the park, with floor fountains (you can see me and Baba sitting in front of it). There are a number of monuments located throughout the park, including statues of George Washington and Christopher Columbus (Baba is posing with Christopher Columbus in one of the pictures).
There is also a Flag Garden, featuring historic American flags, that overlooks the Event Lawn and City Hall. I also liked the flow of the walkways and stairs. They guide you in a wandering fashion so subconsciously you may be relaxing instead of travelling in a straight path. I think they call them Broadway stairs. We spent good few hours relaxing in the park. There were no events on that day, but Grand Park was designed as a dynamic, inclusive environment for community events, cultural experiences, festivals, holiday celebrations and many other activities that engage and attract visitors from all communities in Los Angeles County. Park visitors can enjoy original programming, Music Centre programming, outdoor activities, interactive events, entertainment and many other activities that benefit from the park’s multi-use lawns, stages and spaces.
We will definitely visit the Grand Park again.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Frank Gehry and his team had to use aerospace software called CATIA (Computer-Aided Three-Dimensional Interactive Application) to piece the steel beams together. But the result is remarkable and Walt Disney Concert Hall became internationally recognised architectural landmark.
We did not go to a concert there, we just wondered around the building and spent some time in its beautiful roof garden. A concert there surely would have been an unforgettable experience as it is one of the most acoustically sophisticated concert halls in the world. They say that the sound is absolutely amazing.
The roof garden is open to the public, so we had an enjoyable walk around there. It's an interesting feeling walking between stainless steel and beautiful flowers and trees in the same time. The view from the garden is great as the building is located in the downtown LA, right in between many skyscrapers and office buildings. At the center of the garden is a rose fountain dedicated to Lillian Disney (you can see it in the middle picture), who provided the initial donation of $50 million towards the building of the Concert Hall. The fountain is constructed from broken pieces of Delft China, Lillian’s favorite. Gehry named the fountain, “A Rose for Lilly.”
Both, I and Baba, we were amazed by the unusual, contemporary shape of the building and the way the massive sheets of stainless steel were curved.
Iranian National Treasury
Yesterday we went to the Jewles Museum, the National Treasury which is kept under the central branch of Bank Melli in a massive walk-in safe.
It was fascinating, most of the objects were priceless and one of a kind. There were all kinds of object used by kings, some of which was gifted to them by other people and other countries, all from gold and/or decorated with jewels, rubies, diamonds and other precious stones.
These are only part of our treasures which have not been stolen, in fact one of the priceless stones there is a diamond called Daryaye Noor, which was taken from Iran together with its pair Kohe Noor. These stones found their way to India, but many years later Nader Shah and his army got them back.
After Nader Shah was killed, Kohe Noor was again stolen and found its way to England, where it resides to date.
The legand has it that these two diamonds were decorating the crown of Cyrus the Great, the founder of Hakhamaneshi and the Persian Empire. The also exists another legend that Rostam, the Iranian mythical fighter in the stories of Shahnameh, brought this back to Iran after he conquered Tooran.
Sometimes I wonder why us humans have developed a sense of value for a piece of metal or stone, not because we like the look of it or because it heals us or perhaps because it gives us special powers, but just because it happens to be rare! Surely this can't be a natural instinct, otherwise animals should all have been digging for gold and diamonds. There are stories of birds steeling small items, but in my view it is the reflection of light that attracts them as they also said to have taken worthless shiny items.
Another question to add to the Mysteries of Universe.
High in the Mountains
Once again contact details of your grandparents for you:
Tel: 009821 86034898
Address: Larestan Avenue, Eftekhar Street, Number 19, 4th Floor, Flat 7, Tehran, Iran
Madar Jan is also on Facebook as Mehry Shenassa and on Skype as m_shenassa
You can also contact them via this website in the 'Contact me' section - I will pass your message on to your grandparents.
As you know from my previous posts I visited Poland last year in December. One of the cities I visited was Krakow. Krakow is probably the most beautiful and fascinating city in Poland. The attraction is not just the splendid architecture and the treasures of art but also the unique ambience of the former Jewish district and the masterpieces of Polish Art Nouveau. However old and beautiful it is, Krakow is not limited to its monuments and museums. Krakow with its unique atmosphere, hundreds of pubs, clubs and cosy coffee bars sparkles with life and it is really nice place to visit. When we arrived in December the Christmas Market was still just about going. There were also white horse drawn carriages starting their fares from the square and men inside great wine barrels selling spiced hot wine and lots of small stalls selling pretty little things. A blacksmith even makes swords and other items in the square and two big outdoor ‘kitchens’ barbecue sausages and other local delicacies. It was lovely to walk around and enjoy the scenery. I took the picture you can see here while walking around the market square. I hope I can take you there one day and you will be able to experience the magical atmosphere of Kakow.
While in Poland we visited Auschwitz, a German concentration camp created by Hitler during the Second World War to exterminate all Jews, some Poles, Romanians and other nationalities that he in his sic mind considered not worth living. I don’t know how much they teach you at school, but you are old enough to understand history and I try to tell you a bit more about Auschwitz. I decided not to include any pictures except one general view as I don’t want you to find it distressing. This is going to be a very sad story, but I believe an important lesson for all the future generations to learn from it and never ever allow anything like that happen again. I couldn’t comprehend how one human being could do something like this to the other human being, but apparently it has happened.
During the Second World War Poland was under German occupation and Hitler set up extermination camps on polish territory, where he killed over 1,5 millions people. One of this camps, the biggest one, was in Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Auschwitz camp housed prisoners, was the location of medical experiments, and the site of Block 11 (a place of severe torture) and the Black Wall (a place of execution). At the entrance of Auschwitz there is the infamous sign that states ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ (‘work makes one free’).
Auschwitz-Birkenau was the real killing centre of the Auschwitz death camp. It was in Birkenau where the dreaded selections were carried out on the ramp and where the gas chambers laid in waiting. Jews, Poles, Slovaks, Gypsies (Roma), homosexuals, asocials, criminals, and prisoners of war were gathered, stuffed into cattle cars on trains, and sent to Auschwitz.
When the trains stopped at Auschwitz-Birkenau the newly arrived were told to leave all their belongings on board and were then forced to disembark from the train and gather upon the railway platform, known as ‘the ramp’. Families, who had disembarked together, were quickly and brutally split up as an SS officer, usually a Nazi doctor, ordered each individual into one of two lines. Most women, children, older men, and those that looked unfit or unhealthy were sent to the left; while most young men and others that looked strong enough to do hard labor were sent to the right. Unbeknownst to the people in the two lines, the left line meant immediate death at the gas chambers and the right meant that they would become a prisoner of the camp. Most of the prisoners would later die from starvation, exposure, forced labor, and/or torture. Once the selections had been concluded, a select group of Auschwitz prisoners gathered up all the belongings that had been left on the train and sorted them into huge piles, which were then stored in warehouses. These items (including clothing, eye glasses, medicine, shoes, books, pictures, jewelry, and prayer shawls) would periodically be bundled and shipped back to Germany.
The people who were sent to the left, which was the majority of those who arrived at Auschwitz, were never told that they had been chosen for death. The entire mass murder system depended on keeping this secret from its victims. If the victims had known they were headed to their death, they would most definitely have fought back. But they didn’t know, so the victims latched onto the hope that the Nazis wanted them to believe.
Having been told that they were going to be sent to work, the masses of victims believed it when they were told they first needed to be disinfected and have showers. The victims were told to remove all their clothing. Completely naked, these men, women, and children were then ushered into a large room that looked like a big shower room (there were even fake shower heads on the walls). When the doors shut, a Nazi would pour Zyklon-B pellets into an opening (in the roof or through a window) which would turn into poison gas once it contacted air. The gas killed quickly, but it was not instantaneous. Victims, finally realizing that this was not a shower room, clambered over each other, trying to find a pocket of breathable air. Others would claw at the doors until their fingers bled. Once everyone in the room was dead, special prisoners assigned this horrible task would air out the room and then remove the bodies. The bodies would be searched for gold and then placed into the crematoria.
Those that had been sent to the right during the selection process on the ramp went through a dehumanizing process that turned them into camp prisoners. All of their clothes and any remaining personal belongings were taken from them and their hair was shorn completely off. They were given striped prison outfits and a pair of shoes, all of which were usually the wrong size. They were then registered, had their arms tattooed with a number, and transferred to one of Auschwitz’s camps for forced labor. The new arrivals were then thrown into the cruel, hard, unfair, horrific world of camp life. Within their first week at Auschwitz, most new prisoners had discovered the fate of their loved ones that had been sent to the left. Some of the new prisoners never recovered from this news. In the barracks, prisoners slept cramped together with three prisoners per wooden bunk. Toilets in the barracks consisted of a bucket, which had usually overflowed by morning. In the morning, all prisoners would be assembled outside for roll call (Appell). Standing outside for hours at roll call, whether in intense heat or below freezing temperatures, was itself a torture. Food was scarce and usually consisted of a bowl of soup and some bread. The limited amount of food and extremely hard labor was intentionally meant to work and starve the prisoners to death.
Also on the ramp, Nazi doctors would search among the new arrivals for anyone they might want to experiment upon. Their favorite choices were twins and dwarves, but also anyone who in any way looked physically unique, such as having different colored eyes, would be pulled from the line for experiments.
When the Nazis realized that the Russians were successfully pushing their way toward Germany in late 1944, they decided to start destroying evidence of their atrocities at Auschwitz. Himmler ordered the destruction of the crematoria and the human ashes were buried in huge pits and covered with grass. Many of the warehouses were emptied, with their contents shipped back to Germany. In the middle of January 1945, the Nazis removed the last 58,000 prisoners from Auschwitz and sent them on death marches. The Nazis planned on marching these exhausted prisoners all the way to camps closer or within Germany. On January 27, 1945, the Russians reached Auschwitz. When the Russians entered the camp, they found the 7,650 prisoners who had been left behind. The camp was liberated; these prisoners were now free.
Now Auschwitz is a museum and millions of people from all over the world go there to see it. I’ve never been there before and the whole experience was very depressing and really sad. We had an English guide so I could understand everything and I was very much shocked. When I came out of there I was full of hatred for the whole German nation. Of course it went away after reasoning with myself, but the whole experience was quite horrifying. But still I think worth seeing. As someone wisely ‘Let it be a warning for the present and the future, let’s learn from the past’.
I gathered the above information not only from my visit there but also from Wilkipedia and historical websites. No words can ever express and describe the horror of Auschwitz and seeing this extermination camp made me really scarred of what human beings are capable doing...
Salt Mines in Wieliczka, Poland
Today we went to Wielczka salt mine near Krakow in Poland. At times life offers us an opportunity of an unforgettable experience, for me this was one them.
We chose the miners' tour to get a change to closer see the mine's structure, better understand the dangers miners had to face and to experience the atmosphere of the mine and see how the miners used to cut the salt and transport it to the surface. The standard tour had a lot less to offer and we chose to take the full advantage of this opportunity. The mining tour only started about five months ago in August 2012.
We started by meeting our guide who explained to us in English what to expect. He helped us with the registration and getting our helmets, overalls and equipment. We were given a locker for all our belonging as for safety reasons we were not allowed to carry anything but the torch and safety equipment we were given. We had to wear the overall provided and had to keep the helmet on at all times.
Well, without any experience we were about to go over 100 meters under the ground in a seventeenth century mine, a trip which would be unwise to embark upon in any way other than doing exactly following the instructions of our experience.
To give you an idea of how we felt down there, below I've tried to put in words a selection of feelings I've experienced. Imagine the darkest night, no moon or any other source of light.
Of course there was emergency telephones on the walls and we each had torches, gas masks for unlikely events of gas emission, a transmitter pinpointing our exact location in case of any unforeseeable circumstances and many more to minimise probability of anything going wrong, but the possibility existed.
All in all the experience was adventurous, not scary at all.
The Christmas Crib in Wroclaw
Over the Christmas period Anna had 12 days off work as the whole company was closed for the festive season. It doesn’t happen very often, so we took advantage of this holidays and shortly after Christmas (during Christmas flight tickets were far too expensive for us) we went to Poland. We visited Wroclaw, where Anna is from, Krakow, which many people describe as the most beautiful city in Poland, and couple of smaller towns. I will try to describe some of these places for you, so you can learn a bit about them if you want.
The first interesting place I wanted to tell you about is the Christmas crib in Wroclaw in the Chapel for Deaf-mute people. I am sure you’ve heard about Christian religion and the celebration of baby Jesus being born at Christmas. He was born in a stable and Christians set-up models of the stable with the Holly Family and animals surrounding the scene. The crib in Wroclaw was created in 1967 and there were just few statues driven by one mechanism. Over the years Priest Kazimierz Blaszczyk, who was a founder of this Christmas crib have been adding various figures, which filled up the whole chapel. Now, along with decorated Christmas trees, Holly Family, angels and shepherds you can see there figures of famous Poles, characters from children fairy tales and animals from all over the world. Many families with children visit the crib in Wroclaw over the Christmas period every year. I would like to take you there at some stage - it is very colourful and shows the Jesus birth in a playful, jolly way. I took some pictures for you to see.
As I told you earlier on Halloween we went to Austria to visit my parents, your grandparents. Although our visit was a short one, we did not miss an opportunity to see as much of Vienna as we could.
Not only the city was breathtaking, it was like taking a walk back through history. You must see it for yourself, and be sure to watch and listen to as many audio and video guides about Vienna you can find. Otherwise you may spend a lot of time in the city and see very little. Also the importance of some of the things you see is because of the part they have played in the history.
I bought an audio guide which we listened to as we were seeing the city, and I am glad I did, not only it gave us a clear view of what there is to see, it also turned our MP3 player to a personal guide telling us about the history of the places we visited.
I cannot describe my experience in words, it was amazing and I just want to give you an idea what to expect;
Imagine standing in the middle of the square where several thousand people were standing in 1938, looking at the balcony from which Hitler gave his famous speech after the take-over of Austria.
Imagine standing in front of the door that Mozart and Beethoven were walking trough.
Imagine standing in the magnificent room where Mozart gave his first concert at age of four.
Imagine standing in front of “Vienna Academy of Fine Arts”, thinking if Hitler had passed the entrance exam there would have not been a Second World War.
Imagine while visiting a palace, standing in one of its many rooms which is bigger than the whole of the house you live in, looking at a painting on the ceiling which took decades to finish.
I can keep writing about how I felt when I visited Vienna, but the question is that how will the city make you feel?.
Visit Vienna and let me know.
A few photos of Vienna as a sample of the beauty the city displays to its visitors.
Myfield Lavender Field
When me and Anna went to London to visit Rahman and his family, he took us to the Mayfield Lavender Field. It was a beautiful place. Lavender field was a farm full off rows of lavender, open to general public to walk through and enjoy the view and the smell of lavender. And the smell was just delicious! I am sure you know how does lavender small. It is frequently used in different cosmetics - soaps, perfumes, shampoos, body lotions and many many others. It is widely used in baths to help purify the body and spirit. However,lavender has also been used as a remedy for anxiety, depression and fatigue. Research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled. The smell of lavender made me feel happy and the view was a real feast for the eyes. In the pictures you can see me with Rahman's children Elliot and Sarah enjoying the experience. Sarah is almost the same age as you and seeing her I realised that you are no longer a little girl I remember and cherish in my heart, you are a little lady. And I would like to have a chance to get to know you. I never loose the hope for our reunion. One day... it is all in your hands my dear daughter...
West Midlands Safari Park
I haven’t told you yet about our visit to West Midlands Safari Park. It was back in April, when Baba was visiting. Both I and Anna wanted to make Baba’s visit special and take him to as many exciting places as we could. So, one of these exciting places was safari park. It was different than Cotswold Wildlife Park, which I described to you earlier as it combined self-drive safari experience, live shows, African Village, walk with lemurs and Theme Park. I would like to take you there some time – I am sure you would enjoy visiting. Below you can see the map of the park with many exciting things to do and see.
We first drove about 4 miles through safari with many great animals including stunning white lions and beautiful cheetahs. There were also rhinos, white tigers, giraffes, elephants, deers, zebras, antelopes, camels and many other animals. I liked the fact that most of the animals could walk freely within very large enclosures. We bought a guide book for Baba with all the animals pictured and described. We’ve learned a lot new things about them.
Did you know that a male lion's roar can be heard from 8km away!
Or that an adult elephant eats around 160kg of food every day!
Or that the penguins pair for life and often nest at the same site where they were hatched.
Or that a camel’s hump contains not water but fat, giving them a large reserve of energy for a harsh desert life.
I didn’t and it is really interesting :-)
After safari drive we went to see smaller animals including penguins, meerkats, lemurs, monkeys, turtles, reptiles, sea-life and all sorts of interesting creatures. Baba really enjoyed watching playful meerkats and a sea lion show.
Here are some pictures for you my dear Atria, but pictures don't really transfer the atmosphere accurately, so I would like you to take you for a nice day out in this park. Would you like to join me?
Yesterday we went with my Dad, your Grandad, to the Mechanical Art & Design Museum in Stradford upon Avon. We enjoyed it greatly as it was very exciting and challenging for us trying to figure out how things were working. We spent good few hours discussing the mechanism behind the exhibits.
For Anna the mechanism was not so interesting as an idea behind the project - what the Artist was trying to communicate through his/her work. The museum was giving the opportunity to execute both approaches and all of us were impressed.
Cotswold Wildlife Park
Last Saturday Baba, I and Anna went to visit Cotswold Wildlife Park. I have already told you a little bit about this place and indeed, it is a beautiful one. Although there was no sunshine the day was quite warm, so we took advantage of the weather and we spent almost the whole day in the park. We walked a lot trough beautiful gardens and we watched animals living in the park. Many of them were outside enjoying the weather like us. What I like about Cotswold is the fact that most of the animals have really large outside spaces to run around and play. It gives them more freedom than in the ordinary ZOO. The whole park is located on about 160 acres land, so it is a really great area to walk and enjoy. It feels open and spacious. Below you can see the map of the whole place.
I am your dad Atria.