Fake Birth Certificate For Hamburg's Harbour

One of  the events that should be on everyone's bucket list happens every year at the beginning of May in Hamburg. Over 1.5 million people come to Hamburg for the festival commemorating the birthday on 7 May 1189. There is a document proving it, and it is a fake. Never mind, bring out the fireworks.

Imperial Austria in Leipzig

On the countrified outskirts of Leipzig in Germany, a double-headed imperial Austrian eagle spreads its wings on a memorial to an Austrian hero of 1813. Built in 1913 by the Austrian Military Order of Maria Theresa, it was blissfully forgotten by German imperials, republicans, communists, and republicans again. When the monument started causing costs, no one felt responsible to pay them.

The Picasso Miracle of Basel

In 1967, the Swiss city of Basel was rocked by student protests. Their protest slogan was: "All You Need Is Pablo." The students were not protesting against something or everything, they were protesting for the acquisition of two pictures painted by Pablo Picasso. The protests were a turning point and moved voters in Basel to spend more than six million Swiss francs in public money. This legendary ballot led to a miraculous propagation of pictures by Pablo Picasso.

Engineering Time Capsule: Amsterdam

In the 17th century, Amsterdam was bursting at the seams fed by a booming economy. Population growth and influx led to a housing crisis. To end the housing shortage, rich merchants designed and built horseshoe-shaped canals with ostentatious houses overlooking the waterways. The canals known as 'grachten' are the landmark of Amsterdam to this day.

The Town That Builds a Medieval Monastery

They wear homespun clothing made from flax. They use wicker baskets for transportation. Workers in the German city of Messkirch have started building a monastery. The technology is exclusively medieval. The template for the monastery was provided for in the never realized a plan dating to the 9th century intended to be built in St Gallen, Switzerland. Is it a gimmick, tourist attraction, or archaeological research?

Cleopatra's Needle on the Embankment

One of the things you do when in London is walking along the Thames. That will inevitably bring you to the Victoria Embankment where Cleopatra's Needle is standing tall. The needle is an obelisk, and it has absolutely nothing to do with Cleopatra. Otherwise the name is apt.

Yemen: The Way Into Today's Mess

Yemen is not a usual tourist destination. It could be one, if the country had a minimum of organisation and structure. But that was lost and willfully destroyed during the cold war in the last century. If you want to know the reasons why you are unable to enjoy the Yemen historic sites and landscapes, here's a book to read. 

Slow Travel: Walking From Somerset to India

Parents like to remind their children to eat slowly. And slow cooking has progressed from being a fad to being a way of life. Time to think about slow travelling. And quite frankly, you can't see anything when doing Europe in three days. My advice, take a page out of Thomas Coryat's book and start walking.

Superhighway from Londinium to Isca

A Roman road was uncovered in Puddletown Forest in Dorset. While the existence of the road was a well-known historical fact, it had been well hidden by the forest that it could not be located so far. The harvesting of a planting of Norway spruce firs by the Forestry Commission brought parts of it to light finally.

Swiss Village St Silvester on Its Saint's Day

The feast day of Saint Sylvester is the 31st of December, New Year’s Eve. In French and in German, the saint's name is synonymous with New Year’s Eve, party, booze, and fireworks. In the village of St Silvester in Switzerland, his special day starts off with an old tradition dating back more than 400 years.

How a Village Prays For Its Glacier

For times immemorial, humans have prayed to their gods to look favourably upon them, to keep them safe, and to grant their wishes. But what happens once the wish has been granted? This real life story tells you exactly what. The village of Fiesch in the canton of Valais in Switzerland does a yearly pilgrimage to ask God and Saint Ignatius of Loyola for help.

The Real Tower Bridge in London

Everyone knows one of the most iconic buildings to be seen in London: The Tower Bridge. The Olympic Rings had been suspended between its two towers and its raising platforms have fascinated generations. Have you seen it? Stupid question, you might think, pictures are all over the internet. But have you seen the working bridge? Because what you see is not what you get.

My Teddy Needs a Break

My Teddy was recently complaining. He felt overworked and desperately needed a break. While lying in bed all day might be your idea of relaxation, he thinks it’s just another day in the office. Luckily, there are options for Teddy’s holidays.

Castle Rapperswil and The Polish Museum

Castle Rapperswil above the city of Rapperswil in the Swiss canton of St Gallen is home to the Polish Museum in Switzerland. It offers a breathtaking view over Lake Zurich with its islands of Lutzelau and Ufenau. It is a place few people know of and yet it is your loss if you haven't gone there when in Switzerland.

Why You Should Visit St Botolph-without-Aldgate in London

The church of St Botolph without Aldgate had a curious show piece, a head in a glass case. The provenience of the head is a great mystery. Different theories as to its history have been proposed, but there are no clues as to whom the head was once attached to. And it looks like the mystery will remain unsolved. 

Weird Switzerland

Switzerland is an odd little country in Central Europe bordering Germany, France, Italy, Austria, and Liechtenstein. It contains more oddities than people, I think, and I want to present a few of these weird peculiarities to you. They might also give you some ideas as to what is going wrong in other, larger, countries.

Travelling in The Alps: Use a Roadworthy Car in Winter

When planning to take your car into The Alps in winter, proper preparation might be worth your life. It might also be worth a lot of money as most countries may hand out hefty fines if you aren’t ready for snow and icy conditions on the roads. 

Swaziland, Switzerland, and Sweden

Over many years I found that what seems quite obvious to some is a mystery to others. This article is a help for people getting Swedish and Swiss or Switzerland and Swaziland mixed up. Once you remember just a few key facts about any of the places, you will be able to keep out of trouble when showing off geography knowledge.

Forgotten City of Kings: Solothurn

We all know London, where the kings and queens of England were crowned and where the United Kingdom crowns kings and queens today still; most might know Aachen as the place where the kings of the Eastern Franks were crowned, and Rome, where the Emperors and Empresses of Rome and later the Holy Roman Empire were crowned. But do you know Solothurn, where the kings of Burgundy were crowned for over 500 years?

How Baden-Baden Came by Its Name

The German town of Baden-Baden acquired that name officially in 1931. Before that, it was simply called Baden. Baden was a bathing spa in Roman times, and accordingly called Aquae like Bath. Both have the same meaning as Baden. How did this tautological weirdness come to pass?


Basel Tattoo; Are You Missing Out?

The Basel Tattoo has been established as the run-up to The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo for some years. It is the second largest outdoor Tattoo in the world after Edinburgh. The two Tattoos are closely linked and the Basel show arena in the historical city barracks is an exact copy in size and layout of Edinburgh's. This year, Basel does what Edinburgh doesn't: Horses. Are you missing out on something?


When Visiting London, Get an Oyster Card

When visiting London, the first thing you should get is an Oyster Card from Transport for London (TfL). The card can be used on all public transport in London and offers a pile of advantages over buying single tickets. You will travel at a discount and it even saves you some advance planning.