Thursday, 23 May 2013

Let the Fun Begin! Champions League Final, 2013.

FC Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund 

The time has come, at last! What do you mean you have no idea what I’m talking about? Let me tell you, then: this Saturday night we will finally know the winner of this year’s Champions League! You don’t really need to be a big soccer fan to be tempted to spend two hours in front of your television and preferably along with some good old friends, bringing over some beers and pizzas. The Champions League final is an event of global interest, as soccer (we all know it!) is the “King of Sports”. And we love sports, as much as we are thrilled with the competition.

As a matter of fact, the interest for the winner of a Champions league Final is usually so high that hundreds of millions of viewers have the chance to watch it live from their television screens. From South Korea to Nigeria, from Argentina to Russia and from England (the motherland of soccer) to Japan, the whole world is waiting for this night!

Two German teams -FC Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund - qualified this year for the big final. If I want to be completely honest with you, that didn’t make me entirely happy; you see, I’m actually a big fan of Barcelona. However, I couldn’t have done otherwise than to accept the simple fact that the two BEST teams made it to the final this year and Barcelona, unfortunately, was not one of them this time. Even if I supported Barcelona against Bayern Munich during the semifinal that took place a few weeks ago, the performance of the German team in these two games was very good and one might say nearly exceptional, given the reputation of the opponents. It also brought a shade of bitterness, though, if comparing Barcelona's performance from previous recent years and the nevertheless weaker performance that they had this year.

It takes to be a narrow minded fanatic not to accept that your team IS NOT always the one deserving to win and Bayern, for some years now, it is undoubtedly the best team in Europe. Since, despite some sadness in doing so, I accept that Barca is not on top right now, I consequently acknowledge the fact that Bayern is for the moment the top team of the world.

As for speaking in terms of the big admiration that I have as a soccer fan for players from Argentina and Brazil (just like Messi, for instance), I still have to admit on the fact that the European soccer clubs that they are playing for are definitely a few steps ahead in terms of organization and budgets, compared to soccer clubs from the places that these remarkable players originate from. One might accurately point out on the fact that I am not at all ashamed of openly declaring that I am a big fan of European soccer – always! Given this detail that could not pass unnoticed, I am looking forward for next 'Saturday night's fever'.

Bayern Munich will play against Borussia Dortmund, yet another German giant that has risen from mediocrity to the top in only few years of hard work and serious planning. The final will take place in London, on the legendary Wembley Stadium. One fascinating detail is that the two teams took around 25.000 tickets each for the needs of their devoted supporters. Why am I not surprised!? However, what comes as an even more striking detail is that there were more than… half amillion Dortmund fans that applied for one of these tickets! Given the huge discrepancy between demand and supply, I guess that many fans will have no other choice than to watch this big game elsewhere than on the Wembley Stadium - at home, in their favorite pub or on their friends' sofas.

As for the Bayern fans that couldn’t make it to London, well, they are given another choice. The game will be screened on Bayern’s stadium, the famous Allianz Arena, one of Europe’s most impressive soccer venues. Some 45.000 of Bayern's fans surely hope to celebrate the 5th trophy in the club’s history. In case you’re not one the those lucky few who will go to watch the game on Wembley, then you might just as well be interested to explore Bayern’s headquarters, so make sure to book your place at the FC Bayern Soccer Tour with the GoSeeDoattraction tickets.  As for other available options, another screen will be placed in Theresienwiese, where Oktoberfest is annually held. I wonder if Bayern fans will drink more beers than the Oktoberfest attendees.  That, we could not know for certain! What I know for sure, though, is that Munich is a fantastic city; who wouldn’t take pride in 'taking a ride' to the city of BMW and BC Bayern, after all?
Soccer-wise, from where we stand at the moment, there is only one thing we can be sure of at the moment: no one can safely predict the winner in a game between two equal teams.  We could even call it a derby. One can only hope for the best team to win, scoring as many breathtaking goals as possible.

And one last thing: Be it coincidence or not, Gary Lineker’s famous words could not possibly be left unvoiced, especially this year. Lineker, a legend of British soccer, once said that “soccer is a game for twenty two people that run around, play the ball and in the end Germany always wins." Like it or not, this year Germans will celebrate the trophy and who can possibly deny them that!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Empty billboards in Greece

Take a look on some... empty billboards. Weird.
Reblogged from Deserted Places.

Deserted Places: Empty billboards in Greece: They can still be found all around Greece, along the highways and inside the city centers. Today though, many advertisement billboards have stopped carrying messages.

Worn by time and assaulted by bad weather, the message the billboards carry today, is the absence of message.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The bath of Culture and Events: Bath Literature Festival

(getty images)

History means heritage and this is definitely an issue to be taken seriously, as it builds our identity and shows us the way – past paths with a view towards the future. No wonder that there are so many cities worldwide proud of their own unique history! As there is a sense of pride in paying tribute to one's own past and identity. It is in such places that we find our inspiration, that we usually connect with ourselves and manage to see clearly towards the future, as the remnants of old civilizations are usually able to trigger not only the  imagination, but also a broader vision towards life and the course of things.

From the once almighty Rome to classic Athens and from China to the Pyramids of Egypt, the world hosts innumerable monuments worth exploring. And what makes us feel even more fulfilled and pleased when visiting a historical place is the sense that the mere story of the place is being well taken care of, mingled in the webs of present moment, as if still an ongoing story that we – visitors – can also be part of. Cultural events are the glue of the past with the present, making us feel part of something grand that still brings life and energy to places that, otherwise, might give one the impression that gave their all already. Bath is one of these places with a breathtaking story that, somehow, still manages to breath – and it does it fully, by all means!

Bath is an historical city of England. Located in the Somerset County, in the South Western part of England, Bath is already well known to the informed tourists. Bath flourished as a famous spa town during the Georgian era and the city’s Roman Baths are the region’s most visited touristic attraction up till today. Moreover, the whole city of Bath has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. Thus, wherever you may find yourself walking in Bath, bear in mind that you are taking a stroll through history, witnessing the miracles and wonders of it, created for us to enjoy.

We might all know by now that holidays in England can mean a trip to history and an embrace of our modern culture just as well; it feels in no way different when visiting Bath. Culture manages, with its always transforming vibrant events, to adapt places to an adopted moment in the present, and it surely plays a special role, even in a place such as Bath, which have already a story and a voice of their own. In Bath, a number of cultural events are offering the chance to locals and visitors alike to feel that the city cares deeply about its past, its story and its status as a place with a unique cultural heritage. As for hotels in Bath for your stay to be worth it, my recommendation would be to keep it simple and search for a Travelodge hotel in Bath where comfort meets reasonable prices. After all, it is all about visiting Bath, not the expensive hotels!
Let’s now take a look at what qualifies as the most renowned festival that takes place in Bath year by year: the Bath Literature Festival!

Bath Literature Festival

Established in 1995, the Bath Literature Festival is by now a very prestigious international literature event. Over the years, a number of leading writers and intellectuals have been giving lectures in front of those audiences that are always thirsty for knowledge. Influential figures such as Doris Lessing, Margaret Atwood, Tariq Ali, the late Anna Politkovskaya and Eric Hobsbawm, Steve Bell and Wendy Cope among many others have participated in this celebration of literature.

This year, the festival was held in the first week of March and was met with significant success. The two most prominent figures that naturally stole the attention were Hilary Mantel and J.K. Rowling.

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel is the only female writer that won twice the Booker Prize, one of the most significant of all literature awards. Her books belong to the historical fiction genre, but her splendid writing skills make these books the exact opposite of a book filled with boring, endless information about facts of historical relevance. Recently, she found herself in the middle of a storm due to a highly critical statement that she made against the Duchess of Cambridge. Hopefully for her (and her fans), though, during her lecture at the festival the audience didn’t seem to care a lot about the controversy.

JK Rowling
As for JK Rowling, well… you know what they say: it is difficult to write her name in a sentence that doesn’t include the words “Harry Potter” as well! The publishing phenomenon of the last decades, Rowling, for good or for bad, will always be linked with the books that made a generation of kids and teenagers or those who always feel teenagers at heart to fall in love with reading (while forgetting about their game consoles for a bit)! To be honest, I don’t think people will stop asking her questions about the books that made her rich and famous, no matter how many years will have passed. After one of these types of questions during her speech at the Bath Literature Festival, Rowling rejected the idea of writing a prequel to Harry Potter’s adventures. As far as it concerns her latest book, the first after the Harry Potter series, it took mixed responses from the critics, but it still sold fast!

Nevertheless, the Bath Literature Festival is not the one and only cultural event taking place in Bath, but just the most prolific. However, there are other festivals held in Bath that are worth the attention, such as the Bath International Music Festival and the Children Literature Festival. With all these cultural events taking place in such a marvelous location, Bath does sound like a very attractive destination!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Something British, Something cool

I was barely a teen when their music reached my years … and not only the music, but that whole cool, detached attitude counterbalanced by the lyrics, that are quite to the point – very British, one might say! And Britain seen through the songs of The Smiths has something of its own, something of that humor – dark at times or nearly always - , something of that twist of straightforwardness as well.

Their music has a specific genuine flow coming from the raw simplicity, which is suggested by the very name picked to define the music band. What other more ordinary British name than Smith? Still, The Smiths, as simple as they might seem, brought poetry and artful guitar sound into the picture, turning rock music into something more similar to what we hear nowadays. In one word, they were the pioneers of the sound that dominates nowadays.

Still, there is a specific melodic attribute that is to be given not as much to the sound as to the lyrics. Morrissey – the band's front man – has never ceased to also be a writer. He definitely brought an undeniably unique and unmistakable element to the band not only due to his performance, but also to his talent in writing lyrics. 'There is a light that never goes out' with Morrissey charming the audiences… 

 The song 'There's a light that never goes out' is from the album The Queen is Dead. There is an undeniable legacy that Morrissey carried on from his previous punk experiences. But, at the same time, there is a legacy that the Manchester band carried forward, as they made music and sang for and from the everyday life experiences of the simple and unpretentious, of those called 'the common people', still dignified by frankness and honesty. And it is precisely this honesty trans-passing the music made by The Smiths that politicized their music when the case, singing for and in the name of all those affected by Thatcherism and harsh policies affecting precisely the simple people in Britain.

 The band did not have a long-living life as they dismantled in 1987, only five years after getting together as a group. There were also some disputes taken to court concerning the royalties. No harm done, though! The strong and leading former members went on with their careers. The most well known ones remain Johnny Marr (the guitarist of The Smiths) and Morrissey, who went on with an independent career that brought him much reward for his talent and hard work, as well as the public acclaim that he seemed to have always been looking forward to, as he both is and he's being regarded as one of the most influential artists of today.