Travel Archive

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The Hidden Jewel of Ascona – A Russian painter Marianne von Werefkin

4.11.2016 Posted in Travel, Writing No Comments

At the end of September I found myself in Ascona – a beuatiful town in the Italian part of Switzerland. The main reason of my trip to Ascona was to look at the paintings of a Russian painter Mariannne von Werefkin (1860 – 1938) who lived in Ascona for the last 20 years of her life. I love her paintings – beautiful, solitary and kind images of daily life. Bron in Tula as the daughter of the commander of the Ekaterinaburg Regiment, she became a student of Ilya Repin, the most important painter of Russian Realism. In 1892 she met Alexej von Jawlensky, who desired to be her protégé, and in 1896 she, Jawlensky, and their servant moved to Munich, where she initiated a Salon which soon became a center of lively artistic exchange. She also founded the “Lukasbruderschaft” of which also Kandinsky was a member. At the outbreak of the First World War, Werefkin and Jawlensky immigrated to Switzerland. With the beginning of Russian Revolution in 1917, Marianne lost her money in Russia and could no longer be a protégé of her husband. By 1918, they had separated. Jawlensky who had a son with their servant married the servant and went back to Germany. Werefkin moved alone to Ascona, on Lago Maggiore where she painted many colorful, landscapes in an expressionist style. In 1924 she founded the artist group “Großer Bär” (i.e., Big Bear, Ursa Major). Unable to make her living she lived in povetry supported by a few friends. Marianne von Werefkin died in Ascona on 6 […]

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Following in Angelica’s footsteps – St Gall – Angelica’s first place of work

7.10.2016 Posted in Travel, Writing No Comments

As you know my biography of Angelica Balabanoff ‘The Strange Comrade Balabanoof: The Life of a Communist Rebel‘ has been published in June by McFarland Publishers. To celebrate the launch of the book I decided to devote my blog to Angelica’s lifestyle, friends, recipes and places where she lived during her long and interesting life. After laborious preparations I have finally managed to go to Switzerland for a one-week trip at the end of September. I have dreamt about it for years. Angelica spent quite a few years in Switzerland first in 1903-1906, then again later in 1918. She came to live in St Gall after graduating from the Sapienza university in Rome. The objective of her stay in town was to help the Italian immigrants who worked in St Gall in the textile industry. Most of them did not speak German, were unerpaid, lived in dreadful conditions and needed someon who could help them out and represent them.  Switzerland beeing an expensive place to visit – my trip was not easy to arrange and I took time to prepare it.  I wanted to visit as many places related to Angelica’s life as possible. Obviously I could not miss St Gall – a town in the North Eastern part of Switzerland where she had her baptism by fire as a speaker in 1903. St Gall was named after its first citizen an Irish monk Gallus, whose statue can be seen on the central square, also named after him. As a place to […]

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Angelica’s Hometown – Chernigov and its City Day

9.09.2016 Posted in Travel, Writing No Comments

Those who have been following my blog know that my biography about Angelica Balabanoff  The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel has been published by  McFarland Publishers in June. To celebrate the book launch for the past few months the articles in my blog More Then Red have been devoted to Angelica : her lifestyle, friends and recipes. Today I would like to devote a few words to Angelica’s hometown – Chernigov, today’s Ukraine, – which is about to celebrate its City Day on September 21. Angelica’s life story starts in Chernigov, hundreds of miles away from Paris, Rome and New York, cities where she would spend most of her life. Because the research on my book about Angeica was sponsored entirely by my own funds, I could not afford to go to all the places I needed to see. I had to abandon the idea of a trip to Chernigov. The journey promised to be interesting but long and expensive. Going there without knowing in advance what the trip might entail was rather complicated. I decided to continue looking for more documents about her childhood, while remaining in Paris, contacting the archives in the Ukraine by Internet, collecting any information I could from Google and reading Angelica’s memoirs. However I’m sure had I decided to go to Chernigov, I could have found a lot of most fasinating information about her family and childhood. (I ended up contacting the staff in the Chernigov archives by phone and they were most friendly and […]

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Five Red Things to Do in Paris – on the Right Bank of the Seine River

21.11.2014 Posted in Travel No Comments

Paris is known worldwide as a beautiful and romantic city. Even though the guide-book’s about Paris are numerous and the choice of places to visit is vast, here is a small selection of places not miss, on the right bank of the Seine River, if you visit Paris any time soon, particularly during Xmas or New Yeaer vacation. 1. Visit the picturesque open-air market in the 16th arrondissement on avenue President Wilson. Open Wednesday and Saturday. The market boasts remarkable stalls of fish, seafood (do not miss out on the incredible legs and claws of the Crabs of Kamchatka), local and exotic food and some clothes. True, there are many markets in Paris but this one is truly elegant and stylish, offering a unique Parisian touch.(To get there: market is open 7.30-14.30, avenue President Wilson between Rue Debrousse and the Place d’Iéna, Metro Line 9: Alma-Marceau, Iéna). 2. After a stroll through the market have a glass of hot mulled red wine on the heated terrasse of Chez Francis, with a view of the Eiffel Tower (if the heaters do not work they will offer blankets). Located in the heart of the ‘Golden Triangle,’ it is one of the most beautiful terrasses in Paris, with a breathtaking view during the day and in the evening, elegantly furnished with dark-wood furniture and red-upholstered chairs. (To get there: 7, place de l’Alma, Metro Line 9: Alma-Marceau) 3. Have a steak tartare, a Parisian specialty. The best-known restaurant that serves it is the […]

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Five Red Things To Do in Chablis

12.08.2014 Posted in Travel No Comments

Chablis is a beautiful medieval town, in the region of Bourgone, famous worldwide for its white wines, and it is less than a 2-hour drive from Paris. Most people who visit Bourgone stop by in Chablis only for a few hours on the way to better-known places such as Beaune and Dijon. However, this small town is worth spending a day or two in, and it can also serve as a base to visit nearby towns equally known for wines or scenery, like Irancy or Vezeley. So if you choose this latter option,  Five Red Things To Do in Chablis are: 1. Have a glass of Chablis in the courtyard of the beautiful Hostellerie des Clos – a 4-star hotel and a restaurant rated by the Michelin guide as No. 1 in Chablis. A 40-page wine menu offers an impressive selection of Chablis, which can be tasted in the gorgeously- decorated (in Red colors) courtyard of the hotel (prices starting at 6.50€ per glass). If  you are looking for a place to stay in Chablis, the hotel Hostellerie des Clos offers a great price/quality ratio, with most exquisite rooms starting at 70€ per night and a restaurant ranging from 50€-100€ per person (a bit on a pricey side but worth every moment, and cent). How to get there: 18 Rue Jules Rathier, Chablis, Tel.: 03 86 42 10 63, www.hostellerie-des-clos.fr/ 2. Go for a 1 ½ hour walk along the most prestigious Grand Cru Vineyards of Chablis, with some of […]

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Five Red Things to Do in Ghent

10.06.2014 Posted in Travel No Comments

So I continue travelling and seeing the world through Red. My husband and I went for a day to Ghent, a beautiful medieval city in the  Flemish part of Belgium. To be honest, I like Ghent more than Bruges, considered as a rule the absolute star of romance and tourism in Europe. Ghent is much less touristic, has a small center which can be easily visited – the pretty mediaeval streets with buildings made out of red brick, an excellent choice of restaurants and a great night life. So if you are in Ghent the five Red things to do are: – Have a walk around the city. Start with the famous Graslei, the most scenic place of the old city with ancient houses and cafés bordering the canals. – Take a boat for a canal ride though the city which allows seeing it from another angle. (boats stop along the Graslei, 6.50€ – 7.60€ per person for a 40-minute ride) – Try one of the Belgian beers, of which there are  more than 300 varieties. The most popular is Trappiste, a strong abbey beer, if you prefer something more original opt for the red-colored cherry beer, Kriek. – Ghent has excellent Museums. The four main Museums are the Museum of Fine Art, Contemporary Art, The City of Ghent and most importantly The Ghent Altarpiece (also called the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb), a 15th-century painting attributed to Jan van Eyck. The painting is currently being restored. So at the […]

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Five Red Things to do in Ostend

9.05.2014 Posted in Travel No Comments

Ostend is a seaside resort in Belgium less than three hours away from Paris by train. Though Ostend is less well-known than the much more picturesque French Deauville, Honfleur, or even the Belgian Knokke Le Zoute, it offers a welcome and affordable week-end break away from the city with plenty of things to do in the area, making a change from more habitual week-end trips. So the Top Five Red Things to do in Ostend  (besides being only a 15-minute train-ride away from Bruges, or 40-minute ride from Ghent, which you can also visit while staying in Ostend, or going to Casino Kursaal, museums, buying chocolate and shopping in town): – Rent a Red bike to go along the seaside. The Ostend bikes are amazing. They are available in all shapes and sizes, starting from small replicas of horse carriages and ice cream vendor-bikes for children to 4-6-seater bikes for adults and beer-bar bikes with a table in the middle which seats up to twelve cycling passengers around it. Where: Bikes can be rented in the shops along the Promenade Albert I from 5.50€ to 18€ per hour. – Rent a Red-striped mattress on the beach, near the Promenade Albert I, to enjoy a half-day-off near the sea. Do not forget to rent a windbreaker as well, which will not only protect you from the strong wind (almost unavoidable in Ostend), but will allow you to get a great sun tan. (Starting from 1 pm the two mattresses and a […]

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Five Red things to do in Rome

25.04.2014 Posted in Travel No Comments

This year my husband and I decided to celebrate my husband’s birthday in Rome. I wanted to use this opportunity to prove my hypothesis that the world could be fully and gaily seen through the colour Red, and to see what might be the best Red Things to do in Rome. I have to say that before going to Rome I was a bit worried about Red sightseeing in Rome. I wondered what would be Red besides the obvious, like delicious Italian pizza with tomato sauce or mouth-watering Italian tomatoes, the best which I have ever tried in my life and which grow in this sunny southern climate. As it turned out, I did not have to worry about it. Rome proved to be a beautifully and excitingly Red city to visit. So if you visit Rome and decide to see it through the brightest colour of all, the Top Five Red activities are: Take a Red-Wheel horse-drawn carriage along the entirely cobble-stoned center of Rome. This beautiful ride allows to see the main attractions like the Roman Forum, Colosseum, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, picturesque little piazzas and narrow streets with red terracotta houses which have little Madonna and St Joseph statues integrated into their outside corners— usually found on the second floor. Where: You can find the carriages near the Colosseum. Note: I saw only carriages for two passengers, compared to in other cities like Bruges or New York where they exist for four passengers or more. 2.Visit the Fine […]

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Five RED Things to Do in Bruges

4.02.2014 Posted in Travel 2 Comments

To Prepare your perfect St Valentine’s week end – here are the Five RED Things to Do in Bruges Bruges is-quite rightly- known as one of the most romantic places in the world. There may be no better way to spend your St Valentine’s week-end than to stroll along the narrow cobblestone streets of the medieval town, crossing its small bridges and scenic canals complete with swans, enjoy a Belgian waffle and a cup of fuming hot chocolate in one of the numerous coffee shops, and finally buy some chocolate to bring back home. So the Five best RED things to do in Bruges are to : – Walk around the Old Town town populated with red step-gabled brick houses–some dating back to the 11thcentury; – Go to the Candy and Chocolate shop – Confiserie Zucchero and buy their chocolate in the shape and color of a red high-heeled shop;   – Visit the collection of paintings, of Hans Memling, the 15th century German-born Flemish artist, and enjoy the masterfully painted red folds of garments of which Memling was very fond in his works of art. The museum is situated in the Old St John’s Hospital built in the 11th  century, one of the oldest surviving hospital buildings today in the world;     – Take a horse-drawn red-wheel carraige for a ride around town; – Have a famous Belgian waffle topped with strawberries.

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Five Red Things To Do in Tokyo

31.01.2014 Posted in Travel No Comments

1. Visit the Asakusa area, famous for the sacred and spectacular Senso-Ji Buddhist Temple and eye-catching traditional souvenir shops of the Nakamise Shopping Street which stretches for over 250 meters all the way to the entrance of the Temple. (To get there: Asakusa Station, follow the Senso-Ji Temple Exit)   2. Enter one of the Traditional Stationary shops with impressive selection of flower-pattern  gift wrapping paper, cards, all sorts of writing paper and envelopes of various shapes, sizes and styles, as well as mirrors, notebooks, files and paper artifacts. (Here are the addresses of two shops : Haibara Shop – Nihombashi Station, exit B8 & C3 & Tokyo Kyukyodo Shop – Ginza Station, 7-4Ginza 5chome Chuo-ku)     3. Visit the Tsukiji Market – the biggest fish market in the world. The market which looks like a hangar opens at 5 AM to sell more than 450 kinds of fish available at 1700 stalls. For those who want to see daily tuna fish auctions the market can be visited starting from 5 AM or from 9 AM as wholesale market. Make sure you wear compfortable non-slippery shoes to walk along the narrow and slippery alleys of the market. (To get there: Tsukijishijo Station, Exit 1 & 2)         4. After your visit to the market, have a Tuna Sashimi at one of the food stalls. I know it is early but it is difficult to walk by without tasting some of the tuna/crab/octopus products you see prepared in front of you or buying kitchen and tableware displayed at […]