Posts in Adventure

Letters from Egypt: Lost Kingdom somewhere between priceless Treasures of Egyptian Museum in Cairo…

My dear travellers, how are you today? I sincerely hope you are well and ready for another new story from far away Africa. In a previous post, you had the opportunity to get to know the capital of Egypt – Cairo and the suburbs of Giza, where the only remaining world wonders of the ancient world are located – The Pyramids.

If you have not been able to read my previous post from Egypt, now is the perfect moment just to take a few minutes to enjoy the beauty of Cairo and the Pyramids as today’s post will be a continuation of my previous story from Cairo. Specifically, when I saw that according to the plan and program of visits to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, I thought it would be enough to round out with one post just to make the full story of Cairo.

Before I begin my today’s post, I would like to thank the Egyptian Tourism Authority once again for their cordial invitation. It was a great pleasure for me to get to know Egypt and to get the opportunity to bring the cradle of civilization to all my dear readers and adventurers who love to read my travel stories.

After visiting the museum, my photographer and I realized that there would be a lot more material and we decided that it might be best to dedicate a special post to this treasury. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo is located in the heart of the city close to famous hotel chains. A person from the Egyptian Tourism Authority told us that due to the crowds, we could see if there was a possibility of early entry into the museum.

When we came to the museum, I could see for myself the river of people waiting to buy tickets and enter the museum. I must admit that I was pleased to see people interested in the history of the ancient great Egyptian Kingdom.

The exhibition of the museum is divided into several epochs and from the very entrance to the museum your story through history begins with the oldest royal dynasties that ruled Egypt during their history dating back to just over 4500 years BC.

The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, known as the Egyptian Museum or Museum in Cairo, is home to one of the largest collections of ancient Egyptian antiquities. Under one roof you can find about 120,000 items, most of the items are on display, while a smaller part is kept in special sections of the museum, which is closed to the public. The museum building was built in 1901 by the Italian construction company Garozzo-Zaffarani according to the design of French architect Marcel Dourgnon.

This museum is one of the largest museums in Africa. It is believed that with the opening of the new Grand Egyptian Museum in 2020, the new museum will be the largest museum in the world. If I’m lucky enough, we may be reading some news about Cairo’s new museum next year at this time on Mr.M blog, wish me luck! 🙂

The Egyptian Museum in Cairo contains many important parts of the history of ancient Egypt. It houses the world’s largest collection of ancient pharaohs. The Egyptian government established a museum that was built long ago in 1835 near the Ezbekeyah Garden and later moved to the Cairo Citadel. A little later in 1855, the Egyptian government donated all the artifacts to Duke Maximilian of Austria. These objects are currently in the Museum of the Kunsthistorisches in Vienna.

When I captured this photo above, the first thing on my mind was: “Sorry Klimt, but the first Kiss was made in Egypt!”. Let’s continue with our story… The new museum was founded on Boulaq in 1858 in a former warehouse, following the founding of the new Department of Antiquities under the administration of Auguste Mariette. The building was located on the bank of the Nile River, and in 1878 suffered significant damage during the Nile flood. In 1891, all collections of objects were moved to the former royal palace, in the Giza Cairo district.

There, all the exhibits remained there until 1902, when they were last moved to the present museum in Tahrir Square, built by the Italian company Giuseppe Garozzo and Francesco Zaffrani according to the project of French architect Marcel Dourgnon.

15 years ago, the museum received the first female general director of Egyptian Museum – Wafaa El Saddik. During the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, the museum was demolished and two mummies destroyed. After repairing the damage, the workers at the museum realized that several important artifacts were damaged during the invasion of the museum. When they completed the final list of items, about 50 objects were missing. Fortunately, so far, in cooperation with the authorities, the museum has been able to locate and reclaim 25 items. The museum and certain items were restored and were set up in 2013 in an exhibition titled Damaged and Renovated.

Among the exhibited artifacts are two statues of King Tutankhamun, made of cedar wood with gilding, a statue of King Akhenaten, a statue of Ushabti belonging to Nubian kings, a mummy of a child and a small polychrome glass vase.

During this visit I learned a lot of interesting things and memorized some interesting stories that I will share with you today. For example, in the previous picture and in the picture before it, you see statues with a male character. It was women! In ancient Egypt, women who claimed to be rulers had to prove to the people that they were strong enough and able to carry out politics and govern Egypt in a wise way. The sculptures you see are related to an earlier period of the great Egyptian Empire, long before the Cleopatra we all know a lot about.

Its predecessors had to pave the way for women in politics and it was much more difficult because their sculptures initially had a male character to be respected and appreciated by the people and recognised as powerful rulers.

Do you remember the Great Cheops Pyramid from your previous post? It is the largest pyramid in Giza built for himself for the afterlife by the famous Pharaoh Khufu, who was the second pharaoh of the fourth dynasty of the old kingdom.

My guide, who helped me better understand the history of ancient Egypt, asked: “Marko, are you ready to see the largest statue of Pharaoh of Cheops ?!”. I briefly answered “yes” and nodded significantly and wondered if I would be able to make a good photo as some statues were so large that I struggled to capture them… However, we came into the room and the guide showed with a smile a statue of the great King of Khufu that can fit in a slightly larger pocket of a jacket or coat… This is for now the only and largest figure of Pharaoh of Cheops that archaeologists have been able to find. (picture above)

This statue showed that over time the position of women in the society of ancient Egypt changed. The woman has become a strong and stable pillar of the family! Here is a slim and healthy woman who, despite everything, stayed with her husband.

There are various interpretations of the male figure, perhaps the husband was ill from birth or was injured and he is smaller than the woman. If you look a little better, he has two children instead of legs, which in some way completely compensate for his lack, and with a strong wife, their life goes on without any problems. After a long period, this is the first figure where the female character is smiling and firmly holding the man with much love. Such figures have not been made before in ancient Egypt…

Family happiness was also recorded in the royal family. You can see here one Pharaoh spending time with his wife and children. Usually in royal portraits spouses are not close and showed not the slightest kind of affection and kindness. This was the first portrait of the royal family where all members in everyday life can be seen. The direction of the history of Ancient Egypt is changing and we are slowly coming to the new dynasties that ruled Egypt.

Now we come to an interesting part of the exibition of this museum. I’m sure we all remembered some details about the history of Egypt and how the Egyptians were devout had their gods and believed in the afterlife. Since then, social classes were expressed, depending on which one you belong to depend on your ability to adequately prepare for life after death.

Let’s start with the richer ones. The couple from the court who were otherwise ancestors of the famous Pharaoh Tutankhamun, more precisely Yuya was his great-grandfather, while Thuya was his great-grandmother. They lived during the period of the 18th New Kingdom dynasty. At the Egyptian Museum in Cairo you can see their remains, as well as the remains of other pharaohs whose tombs were found in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor.

Until the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, Yuya’s and Thuya’s tomb was one of the most spectacular ever found in the Valley of the Kings, despite Iuia not even being a Pharaoh. Although the burial place was looted in ancient times, many items that were not considered worthy of looting by the robbers remained. Both mummies are largely intact and were in amazing and preserved condition. Their faces have been particularly distorted by the process of mummification and provide remarkable insight into the real and natural appearance of the deceased while alive.

Yuya and his wife were buried in the Valley of the Kings, where James Kuibell discovered their tomb in 1905. Although robbers broke into the tomb, perhaps upset because Kuibell had already found most of the funeral equipment and two mummies that were virtually untouched. As Egyptologist Cyril Aldred noted: Although the tomb was ruptured in ancient times, the funeral repository was largely intact, there was no doubt about the identity of the pair found among the cut canvases inside their tombs.

As they were a couple who lived in the court and the ancestors of the famous Tutankhamun, they are the best example of what the preparation of the wealthier social class in Egypt looked like. Due to administrative problems and the large crowds in the museum, it was necessary to vacate the room in order to make the photos of Tutankhamun’s treasures, but because of the large number of visitors it was not possible at that moment with all the goodwill of the Ministry of Antiquities and the Ministry of Tourism of which I was a guest. and because of our plan and program, I was unable to return before the museum closed and failed to make the photos.

The problem is that otherwise Tutankhamun’s treasure should not be photographed, except for special media delegations when the room is vacated because of the value of the items, it is not possible to make photos in groups, but solely individually and under supervision.

A statue that was found in the Tutankhamun tomb that was a form of protection for the tomb itself. Just over 5,000 items were found in the tomb, including a solid gold casket, an obituary face mask weighing about 11 pounds, thrones, archery bows, trumpets, a lotus chalice, food, wine, sandals and linen linen.

Recent analysis shows that the dagger found in the tomb had an iron blade made of meteorite. The study of artifacts of the time, including other artifacts from Tutankhamun’s tomb, could provide valuable information on metalworking technology throughout the Mediterranean at that time.

The history of ancient Egypt was turbulent and was marked by many personalities who made their stories to keep the stories of Egypt alive and to be the works that the world will forever talk about. They were advanced in their time, they had faith and their beliefs that led them to the goal.

Today, all these exhibits are part of history and have their own story and attract people all over the world to come to Cairo. The “star of the day” was the God of the underworld and the mummification of Anubis. It was hard to come by, you can see for yourself how many people were waiting just to be able to make photo of Anubis. I’m also sure you may have remembered that all the people who were mummifying wore the Anubis mask on their face during the process.

In the picture above you can see what a mummy of a young female person looked like during the Roman Empire time in Egypt. New details are present and pictures of the deceased are inserted. The mummification technique and the making of the casket have changed significantly. It is believed that this young woman was from a wealthy family by the way the coffin was made.

An example of a New Kingdom death mask in Egypt. It is made for a young male person.

My dear adventurers, once again we have come to the end of our special post from series of post from my Egyptian adventure. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from Egyptian Tourism Authority for this incredible adventure and Conrad Cairo Hotel and Marriott Mena House Hotel for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home.

I also would like to say huge thank you to employees of the Egyptian Museum and my wonderful guide who did his best to make story about Egyptian history more closer to my readers.

How do you like this story about Egypt? Have you maybe had a chance to visit Cairo and Giza and to enjoy in the beauty of the incredible pyramids? I would like to share with me your experience! See you soon on some other interesting destination!

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,
Mr.M

This post was sponsored by Egyptian Tourism Authority. I would like to say thank you to Conrad Cairo Hotel by Hilton and Marriott Mena House for having us. The flights were like on the magic carpet thanks to Austrian Airlines. I also thank my friends from Sony who made it possible to enjoy in these beautiful photos made with the Sony Alpha 7r Mark II camera with Sony FE 24-70 mm lense from special G Master series of professional lenses.
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Letters from Egypt: Story about Golden time of the Pharaoh’s Empire…

My dear travellers welcome to the Mr.M blog! I have to announce that this is my first blog post in the new season and I am very excited about it. Many of you have asked me when new letters will “arrive” from some interesting destinations. I think today is the right time to send you a new letter, right from the cradle of civilization – the Arab Republic of Egypt.

Just couple days ago, I received an invitation from the Ministry of Tourism and the Egyptian Tourism Authority to come and visit their wonderful country. Since until now I have not had the opportunity to visit Egypt and fulfill my dream of seeing the pyramids, one of the important sights on the UNESCO list one of 7 wonders of the world I just had to find free time and visit a country that is considered to be the cradle of a civilization whose history is longer than 4500 years…

After receiving an invitation from the Ministry of Tourism and Egyptian Tourism Authority, I was contacted by His Excellency, Mr. Aljowaily Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Belgrade, who set aside his free time and was kind enough to introduce me with basic information about Egypt as well as about the trip itself. I would like to thank him for his time and all the useful information and tips.

After a couple of days, I don’t think it’s been 5 days since everything happened in a fast track, little Marko and his photographer found themselves on flights by Austrian Airlines, where we came to Cairo like on a magic carpet. My excitement peaked when a photographer scrambled me from my dream to show me the pyramids in Giza that can be seen from the plane, if you are one of the lucky ones! The feeling was amazing and it was the first time that I actually realized that I had arrived at my final destination…

After landing and paperwork we had a warm welcome from our hosts – Egyptian Tourism Authority and they helped us with our luggage and equipment to make our way to hotel in Cairo easier. Africa is maybe a far distant continent for us, their culture is unusual and exotic to us, but the most interesting fact is that Cairo is one of the largest cities in Africa with over 25 million inhabitants. If I had to choose only 3 words to describe Cairo, I would say – SANDY MODERN CROWD! The city where so many millions of people live never sleeps and count on it to take you a lot longer to reach your destination, so you should always leave at least an hour and a half or two early to arrive at your desired destination on time.

Cairo is located on the banks and islands of the Nile in the northern part of Egypt, a little south of where the river leaves its desert valley and where a three-arm branch begins at the Nile Delta.

The oldest part of the city is located on the east side of the river, while the New modern part gradually extends west, surrounding the green areas of the Nile Valley. The new western part of the city was built in the time of Ismail the Magnificent, inspired by architecture of Paris, with wide boulevards, parks and open spaces. As for the old part of the city, the eastern part is the totally opposite. It has grown randomly through the centuries and is full of narrow, clogged streets. While western Cairo is dominated by government and state-of-the-art buildings, the eastern part is filled with hundreds of old mosques that serve as landmarks.

The abundant use of Nile water allowed the city to expand eastward further into the desert. The bridges connect Cairo to the islands of Gezira and Rhoda, which house state government offices. Bridges across the Nile, the capital connects to the suburbs of Giza and Imbabah. One interesting fact for all of you, the longest bridge in Cairo, but also across Africa, is the October 6th bridge, which is nearly 22 kilometers long, which connects the city center with the airport.

The first day in Cairo went by so fast and we only had time to stay at the hotel with the hope that the next day would be full of excitement. Due to the expedited process of organizing this media trip, I got the plan for the next day in the evening, which was quite exciting for me. On the second day we visited the Egyptian Museum where we took more pictures than we expected, so I decided that it would be better to show you the historical treasury in a few days in a special post where we will discover the history of ancient civilization together, meet some Pharaohs and of course see part of Tutankhamun’s treasure. I’m sure you’ll love it!

As a surprise for the end of the second day in Cairo, the Egyptian Tourism Authority decided to show us what Cairo looks like at night, so we went on an interesting cruise where we enjoyed a dervish dance and a rich cultural program.

Whoever followed my adventure in Egypt through my Instagram stories you could see the most interesting parts of this Nile cruise, it was very exciting and I was glad to be able to feel the magic of nightlife in the capital of Egypt. If your way sometimes leads you to Cairo, I think you should visit this waterfront restaurant and experience the beauty of Cairo with oriental vibe cultural program.

One of the most memorable sights of the program was the dance of the dervishes. For all those who are not familiar with the meaning of the dervish dance, I will try to explain as quickly as possible the meaning of the dance ritual itself. The cradle of the dervishes is located in Turkey, the founder of the Mevlevi order was Jalaluddin Rumi Mevlane in Konya (Turkey). A large number of branches, “monasteries” of the Dervish order, have been established in Syria, Egypt and Algeria as well.

The dance of the Dervishes consists of well-defined movements, where the gentle rotation becomes more dynamic as each dervish reaches a state similar to a trance. The music that accompanies these turns also changes the rhythm and speed, giving everything a hypnotic impression as you watch it from the sidelines, and helping the dervishes themselves reach ecstasy. Another name for this dance is “heavenly dance” because it is thought that they are so easily approaching and opening their path to God.

Those two hours which I spent on this amazing cruise will be truly remembered as the most extraordinary night in my life, since on most trips, little Marko gets into bed in that time and charges for the next day. For a wonderful miracle, I was not tired at all the next day.

Day number 3 – Pyramids of Giza, the most important part of this incredible journey! Because of the excitement I didn’t sleep at all that night, after the fun I got on a cruise and when I saw that I was going to Giza I couldn’t close my eyes. I was too happy to go to bed, so I was looking at the stars and imagined how Giza looks like, one more time before our real “meeting”!

Giza is best known as the archeological site of some of the most impressive ancient monuments in the world, including the tomb complex of ancient Egyptian pharaohs and temples, consisting of the Sphinx, the Great Pyramid (the Cheops Pyramid) and numerous other pyramids and temples.

Giza was once a zero meridian, a reference point for determining longitude, and certain archaeologists claim that it was located in the Great Pyramid – the Cheops Pyramid.

Giza’s most famous archeological site – the Giza Plateau contains some of the greatest monuments of ancient Egyptian history. The area was formerly a true oasis thanks to the Nile that directly irrigated the plateau, so the pyramids of Giza were built so from the top of pyramids you could see the ancient Egyptian capital Memphis, which was near present-day Cairo at the time of their construction.

Giza has changed a lot over its long history. The greatest changes to the infrastructure itself were recorded during the reigns of the Old Empire dynasties that ruled Egypt and during the occupation of Great Britain in the 19th and early 20th centuries, which built a large number of streets and buildings in the surrounding area. It is often mistakenly thought that Giza is anything but a desert. However, Giza has become the center of Egypt’s culture and is densely populated, so there are many buildings and city services in it.

Giza has received a lot of attention because of the large number of ancient Egyptian monuments in the Giza Plateau, as well as the millions of tourists who come here every year. That is why the British authorities invested in the Giza infrastructure until the Egyptian Revolution, after that period the Egyptian government continued to invest considering its cultural and historical value.

Thanks to the numerous temples and cultural monuments of Ancient Egypt, millions of tourists come to Giza every year. The most important tourist destination is certainly the Pyramids of Giza, a complex of three tombs of Egyptian rulers – pharaohs. Giza, with Sharm el-Sheikh and Cairo, is the most famous tourist destination in Egypt.

The Giza Pyramids are among the most famous and oldest structures in the world. They are located on the western edge of the Nile Valley, about eight kilometers southwest of the city of Giza. They are about 15 kilometers from the center of Cairo. They are the only ones left of the Seven Worlds of Ancient Wonders.

The largest and most famous pyramid is the Pyramid of Cheops, which belongs to the ancient Pharaoh Keops, who was the second pharaoh of the fourth dynasty of the ancient kingdom of Egypt. Close to this pyramid you will find the Great Sphinx and the Khafre Pyramid. The third, and at the same time the smallest, is Pyramid of Mikerin (Menkaure).

The Cheops Pyramid is about 140 meters high and covers an area of 5.3 hectares and is the only pyramid that has both ascending and descending corridors. When built it was about 150 meters high, but over the years the top collapsed by about 10 m. According to the writings of Herodotus, the preparation for the construction and construction of the Pyramid of Cheops itself took more than twenty years. 100,000 people worked there, twenty years at three months a year, at the time of the Nile flood when land could not be cultivated.

For this reason, in 1979, they were listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in Africa, along with the nearby ancient city of Memphis and the necropolises (“cities of the dead”) in Abusir, Dahshur and Sakara.

In addition to Cheops Pyramid, on the Giza plateau there are pyramids of Pharaohs Khafren and Mikerin (Khafren’s successor). The Khafren Pyramid is the second largest, but raised on higher ground, so it looks larger, though ten feet lower than Cheops Pyramid.

The third Pyramid of Giza, erected by Mikerin, was originally 65 meters high, but today it is about 60 meters high. It is built of limestone and granite.

My dear adventurers, once again we have come to the end of our first special post from series of post from my Egyptian adventure. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from Egyptian Tourism Authority for this incredible adventure and Conrad Cairo Hotel and Marriott Mena House Hotel for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home.

How do you like this story about Egypt? Have you maybe had a chance to visit Cairo and Giza and to enjoy in the beauty of the incredible pyramids? I would like to share with me your experience! See you soon on some other interesting destination!

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,
Mr.M

This post was sponsored by Egyptian Tourism Authority. I would like to say thank you to Conrad Cairo Hotel by Hilton and Marriott Mena House for having us. The flights were like on the magic carpet thanks to Austrian Airlines. I also thank my friends from Sony who made it possible to enjoy in these beautiful photos made with the Sony Alpha 7r Mark II camera with Sony FE 24-70 mm lense from special G Master series of professional lenses.
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Letters from Latvia: One Artistic Day in Riga

Dear travellers, welcome to the new post! Today we continue our story in the capital of Latvia. Many people call Riga the “Pearl of the Baltic” which this city really deserves. In today’s post, I’m going to take you to one that is considered to be one of the biggest artistic treasures in the Baltic. Sometimes beauty is really only in the eye of the beholder, and I am sure that with my post today I will convince you.

In the previous post – link, we started our adventure in Riga, so if you missed to read it or you want to remind yourself about some details you should do it before you continue with reading this post.

Another beautiful morning in Riga dawned, so my photographer and I had to get ready for a special day, because an exciting day was waiting for us. Everything was organised by our organizers of this unusual trip and without which this project would not be possible – Riga Tourist Organization – Live Riga and the national Latvian airline airBaltic. This trip really changed my image of the cold Baltic, and I realized that their culture and lifestyle was somewhat similar to ours in Serbia. Of course, this journey also convinced me that the distances still somehow connect us.

On the way to the Latvian National Gallery of Art, we had the opportunity to see the largest Orthodox shrine in Riga – the “Church of the Nativity of Christ” is the largest Orthodox church in Riga, which in the Soviet era played the role of a planetarium and restaurant, but again became a sacral building where they hold regular liturgies.

When we talk about sacral structures, we can say that they represent a mirror of the society in which they were created and a reflection of the whole culture of a nation. Thus, except for religious ceremonies, the church has always served for social gatherings and has been the center of cultural life.

You can visit this magnificent building in the Esplanade Park located in the heart of Riga! The Church of the Nativity of Christ is an architectural gem and a symbol of stability, which anyone to visit who needs comfort and refuge.

As I promised you, I will now tell you more about the Latvian National Museum of Art. The collection of the largest art museum in Latvia contains more than 50 thousand works of Baltic and Russian painters and sculptors.

In addition to the basic exhibits, this museum regularly offers various temporary exhibitions. Visitors can take advantage of special educational programs and guided tours. One of the continuing exhibitions is “19th – 20th Century of Latvian Art” offers the entire history of Latvian art in the 19th and 20th centuries. The exhibition includes masterpieces by the founders of the Summer National Painting School – Wilhelms Purvitis, Janis Rozentals, Johans Valters. The new art showroom is located at -1 level, where you can always see a modern exhibition on current topics and works of modern art.

The museum is housed in a building in Riga that is of great historical importance. The building on Janis Rozentals Square 1 was designed by German architect Vilhelm Neumann and was built in 1905. It is one of the most impressive historic buildings on the boulevard and is adjacent to the Academy of Arts.

It was the first building in the Baltic to be built for museum purposes. The last reconstruction lasted almost 5 years and was completed in late 2015.

According to some historical records in 1869, it is thought that a museum was founded when the City Art Gallery was opened. In 1905 the museum was renamed the “Riga City Museum of Art”, 1940. The name was changed to “Soviet Art Museum of LSSR” in 1945 – State Latvian and Russian Art Museum of LSSR, 1964 – Museum of Art of LSSR.

In 1987, the museum was renamed as the “National Museum of Art”, and in 1995 it was given the name that we all know today – the “Latvian National Museum of Art“. Initially, the museum consisted mainly of works by foreign artists from several private collections. Wilhelms Purvitis, director of the museum from 1919 to 1940, made it possible to collect works by renowned Latvian authors.

The concept of the oldest art stage in Latvia was created by local German painters Johann Heinrich Baumann, Johann Leebereht Eggin, Alexander Heibel and others. The special collection of Latvian artists (late 18th – first half of the 20th century) includes more than 300 artists and 3,300 works of art. This permanent exhibition gives visitors an insight into the development of Latvian art, created by the work of Karl Hoon, Karl Petersone, Julius Feder, the first Latvian art group “Dwarf” and its creator Adam Alksna.

The museum owns the largest collection of works by academician J. Feder – about 300 drawings, paintings and sketches. The museum’s collection contains large collections of paintings of national classics of Latvian art – Janis Rozentals, Vilhelm Purvitis, Johann Valter.

Also prominent are Voldemars Matveys, Jacobs Caxax, Jazeps Groswalds, Conrads Ubans, Valdemars Tone, Janis Liepins, Leo Svemps, Nikolas Strunke, Ludolfs Liberts, Janis Tidemanis, Eduards Kalnins, Karlis Miesnieks and others.

The Contemporary Art Collection combines the collections of the former City Museum of the City of Riga and the National Museum of Latvia, or both major collections of Latvian war art, as well as items from earlier collections – Friedrich Vilhelm Brederlo, Riga Art Society (Kunstverein), Latvian Association for the Promotion of Art in Latvia.

In 2018, the museum received a cultural award for the great success of the Baltic Symbolism exhibition at the Paris Museum Orsay.

If you visit Riga I think you should visit this museum, the ticket price is around 3 – 4 euros and I think you would enjoy the beauty of classical and modern art. As I said at the very beginning of this post, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I think you would surely find works of art you would enjoy.

After an few hours long visit to the museum, it was time for little Mark to go and buy some presents and little things for his friends. I decided to share with you a few interesting shops in Riga where you can buy interesting gifts for your loved ones and friends.

RIIJA is a Specialized Concept Store located in the heart of Riga in the main street of Terbatas Iela, offering an eclectic range of Latvian designers’ products, from housewares and freestyle clothes to original furniture, cutlery and lighting. All products are designed and crafted by local designers, representing the label’s blend of traditional Latvian craft with a contemporary worldview. I am sure you will find something interesting, I bought jewelry for my dear ladies and it was on a good discount. You can find the address of this store in Riga at the LINK.

The next interesting store I visited was MANILLA. This is the place where huge fans of paper and pretty things and creatives meet! The Manilla shop is the result of a great love for paper and a love for paper things that you hold in your hand and cannot simply let go. Manilla is little more than a small shop in downtown Riga – a small oasis for all paper and design lovers who need to touch the surface of the paper to feel life, who can truly appreciate the warm greetings printed in a modern greeting card, who really believes it is Gift packaging is as important as its contents or planner and a notebook for them is an accessory that makes everyday life more interesting and beautiful.

Having bought everything I needed for dear people, I decided to sit on a bench in one of Riga’s many parks and enjoy the beauty of nature. Of course, for me, the only thing left is to do after I spent all of the money! Of course it is a joke, I always try to attract myself to dear people and I buy interesting gifts and I have never regretted buying some interesting gifts for people who I respect and my family.

To be honest, it didn’t even take me an hour to sit on the bench to rest. Riga is a small town, but when you are actively walking there it is normal to get tired. I was also tired of the previous trips which I had this summer, so it kind of caught up with me!

Okay, in the end I had to find some strength to continue exploring Riga. Since we had a couple of bags we decided it was best to go back to the hotel and return to a new part of town and continue our research. The picture you can see below has one interesting story…

On my way back to the hotel with heavy bags in my hands, I wanted to take pictures of the old part of town with the people on the street as it was ideal natural lighting… Of course the photographer since had a heavy backpack with two laptops (he was mine there too since I was a little scattered on trips) ) and busy hands over bags of things we bought (you’ll understand if I say that the reductions were literally 70-80% off…) and a shoulder bag.

Now imagine the scene, the photographer I threatened to rub her shoulder with, still hold one bag in my teeth, hold the camera with one hand and try to find the focus…. it’s not going… again i put the camera back on the photographer’s shoulder to zoom in better with the same hand since my bags were in my other hand. I take the camera again and the impatient photographer moves because photographer will no longer want to stay in the same place otherwise all the bags would finish in garbage bin that was on the side street next to us… well, at the end I got at least some photo, it is not perfect, but if we take in considering the situation it’s perfect!

Afterwards I met in town with my mother who enthusiastically showed me this interesting shop in the heart of the old part of Riga. I was most attracted to the advertising slogan on the store window: “Life is too short for ugly shoes.” The store is otherwise held by a funny Italian who is trying to crack classic Italian music from the store. I love the Italian mentality and their lifestyle is always “Dolce far niente! – blissful idleness or what my mother would say “The sweetness in life when your money falls from the sky and you don’t have to work.”

P.S. Mom bought the moccasins in the right angle, that are a combination of beige, light blue, and navy colors for some really symbolic price. Yes… again we bought almost a number and a half smaller shoes, but who asks when it’s a good deal! Our magical shoemaker in Serbia managed to extend them!

In the picture above you can see the oldest and narrowest street in Riga. It is so interesting, isn’t it? My dear adventurers, once again we have come to the end of our second and last blog post from Riga. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from Tourism Board of Riga – Live Riga and airBaltic for this incredible adventure and Pullman Old Town Riga Hotel for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home.

How do you like this story about Latvian National Gallery of Art? Have you maybe had a chance to visit Riga and to enjoy in the beauty of Latvia? I would like to share with me your experience! See you soon on some other interesting destination!

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,
Mr.M

This post was sponsored by Riga Tourism Board – Live Riga and the national Latvian airline company airBaltic and Pullman Old Town Hotel Riga. I also thank my friends from Sony who made it possible to enjoy in these beautiful photos made with the Sony Alpha 7r Mark II camera with Sony FE 24-70 mm lense from special G Master series of professional lenses.
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Letters from Latvia: Explore Riga with airBaltic!

My dear travellers, how are you doing today? 2nd of September is a special day for me because that day in my calendar is marked as the happiest day in year – my birthday. I have to admit when I was younger I was not a fan of that date because that was a time when was school going to start. I always thought I was biggest jinx in the world because I was born on that day! Obviously, It was destined because I was unplanned and I came into this world exactly two months before the expected date.

What is the life… On this day twenty-something years ago, one little mumbled baby called Marko came. It’s much easier nowadays, my generation was warlike when inflation reigned in hospitals they didn’t even know what an incubator was. The nurses and the doctor who took care of me gave me the nickname “Crumb” because I was a little heavier than a loaf of bread, today the weight has changed a little! 🙂

But let me get to the topic of today’s post. A few days ago I promised you a new story and that we will explore the pearl of the Baltic, the capital of Latvia – Riga. By the invitation of the Riga Tourism Board – Live Riga and the National Latvian Airline airBaltic, little Marko and his photographer visited the capital of Latvia.

Riga for sure has marked this summer in a special way for me because it was also my last collaboration to close the “summer season” on my blog. The largest metropolis in the Baltic, Riga perfectly blends a timeless tradition and a superb modern atmosphere. In its turbulent history of almost 800 years, everyone from the German knights to the Swedish kings and Soviet commissioners left their mark, and today the capital of Latvia is an exciting European metropolis at the crossroads of Eastern and Northern Europe.

This visit would not have been possible without the help of the National Latvian Airline AirBaltic, which was one of the main partners of this project. The Latvian airline Air Baltic Corporation (airBaltic) was founded in 1995. AirBaltic is a hybrid airline that takes all the best practices from the business of traditional online airlines and low cost carriers in Europe and the world. In 2008, airBaltic changed its operating model from a carrier to a point – a network airline, making Riga a hub between east and west. AirBaltic’s main priorities are – safety, accuracy and quality of service.

Currently airBaltic operates direct flights from all capitals of the Baltic States – Riga (Latvia), Vilnius (Lithuania) and Tallinn (Estonia). AirBaltic offers convenient flights connecting North Hub Riga to its airline partner networks covering Europe, Scandinavia, Russia and the Middle East. It was a great pleasure for me to work with an airline such as airBaltic and to feel all the benefits of their business class.

As a business class traveler, you will receive outstanding service. Priority boarding, welcome drink, seating with additional free seating for more privacy, gourmet meal with three course menu, unlimited non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, the latest printed media, as well as a quick priority exit upon the end of the flight.

Riga Airport is easy to navigate, because of its size and simplicity, trust me you will get out fast and head for exploring Riga. There are several ways of transportation to the center of Riga: by public transport – by bus or taxi. Since we had the transportation provided in advance, I can tell you the prices.

One-way bus fares cost € 1.15 if you buy in advance or at the vending machine or € 2 if you pay directly with the bus driver. When we talk about taxi services you have a Baltic Taxi and a special 15 euro one way fare, so if travel in the group of 3 or 4 people go you can split the cost.

The first thing I could see through the car window was the fact that Riga was a “green” city, on all sides there were green areas, squares, parks that were unusually arranged. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, but Riga at very first sight brought a smile to my face. I knew this trip was going to be another beautiful adventure.

We settled into a hotel, freshened up a bit and were ready to go. Our Pullman Old Town Riga hotel was located in the heart of the old part of town. One thing I learned from traveling is that you should always start every city tour with a tour of the old town to get to know the city better. The old part of the city always has some special energy and that is what makes each city special, just like Skadarlija, the bohemian quarter gives Belgrade some note of the beauty where the cultural “creme de la creme” of high society gathered. I would love to write some basic information about the destination itself as I always do.

Riga is the capital of Latvia with a population of just over 600,000 inhabitants which is one third of the Latvian population. Being significantly larger than other cities in Latvia, Riga is also the largest city in Latvia. It is also the largest city in the three Baltic States and home to one tenth of the combined population of all three Baltic States. The city lies on the Gulf of Rome at the mouth of the Daugava River where it meets the Baltic Sea. Riga was founded in 1201 and is a former member of the Hanseatic League.

The historical center of Riga is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, known for its Art Nouveau – Jugendstil architecture and 19th century wooden architecture. Riga was the European Capital of Culture during 2014, along with Umea in Sweden. Riga hosted the NATO Summit in 2006, the Eurovision Song Contest in 2003, the 2006 Men’s Ice Hockey World Championship. An interesting fact is that almost one million tourists visit Riga every year!

There are more legends, theories about how the city got its name. One theory about the origin of the name Riga is that it is a corrupt borrowing that marks the Liv ring, and refers to an ancient natural harbor formed by the tributary of the Daugava River.

Another legend is that Riga owes its name to an already established role in trade between East and West. The English geographer Richard Hackluit in 1589 calls Rija a name, and the German historian Dionysius Fabricius confirmed the origin of Riga in 1610 from the word Rija. A third theory could be that Riga is named after Riege, the German name for the Riden River, a tributary of Daugava.

One theory is that the name Riga was introduced by Bishop Albert, the initiator of the baptism and conquest of the Livonian and Baltic peoples. He also presented an explanation of the name of the city as derived from the Latin word rigete (“irrigated”), which symbolizes “the irrigation of pagan souls by Christianity.”

The locals you see in the picture above in Riga are called the House of the Blackheads (Latvian: Melngalvju nams,) is a building located in the old part of town. The original building was built during the 14th century for the time of the Brotherhood of the Blackheads, as a kind of association for the unmarried, shipowners and foreigners in Riga. The main works were made at the beginning of the 17th century, adding most of the mannerist decoration. The sculptures were made by August Volz’s workshop. The building was bombed by the Germans on June 28, 1941, and the remains were demolished by the Soviets in 1948. It was restored between 1996 and 1999 and what we have today to see is an identical replica of the original building.

Riga is an exceptional city and very organised. Besides being able to enjoy the beauty of the city and make beautiful pictures for your album, you can also do some nice shopping. In addition to the many interesting shops that have local and Baltic designers, there are plenty of outlet shops. In the heart of the city, there are at least 50 outlet shops that have different brands from street brands to some more luxurious, prestigious brands.

You should not hesitate, believe me I found such a beautiful turtleneck sweater and sweater from one brand I adore and I paid it only 35 euros, the full price would be much, much higher. That is my most sincere recommendation if you find yourself in this beautiful city.

The streets of the old town are paved with cobblestones, so it is very important to wear comfortable footwear. In the old part of Riga there are the most beautiful restaurants, museums and hotels. Most interesting to me were street musicians and artists who were entertaining the tourists. Riga is a city of culture and art, believe me in this city you have time for everything because the city is well organised and you can easily find everything that interests you.

You can see the church of St. Peter in the picture above. It is first mentioned in records from 1209. The church was built and went undamaged in a major city fire in Riga that year. The history of the church can be divided into three distinct periods: two related to the Gothic and Romanesque styles of construction, and the third to the early Baroque period. The middle part of the church was built in the 13th century, which covers the first period of construction. The only remnants of this period are found in the outer walls of the nave and on the inside of several columns in the winding, around which larger columns were later built.

During World War II, the church lost its status as an important cultural heritage – an impressive bronze candelabrum made in 1596 – which was taken by the Germans from Riga to the city of Vłocłavek and moved during the Heim ins Reich campaign to Poland. The candelabrum, called the standing lantern, was commissioned by Riga City Council from Riga Foundry Founder Hans Meyer. To give an idea of the order of size of this standing lantern it was about 3 m high and about 4 m wide.

After the war he was exhibited at St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Assumption in the Vłocłavek Basilica. On March 1, 2012, this work of late Renaissance art returned to its home, as a result of an agreement on the repatriation of cultural property. An interesting fact is that the rooster statue that you can see at the top of the church weighs about 160 kg, and it’s made of gold.

Freedom Monument (Latvian: Brivibas piemineklis) is a monument honoring soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence (1918–1920). It is considered an important symbol of the freedom, independence and sovereignty of Latvia. Built in 1935, 42 meters high in granite, travertine and copper, it often serves as a focal point for public gatherings and official ceremonies in Riga. The sculptures and reliefs of the monument, divided into thirteen groups, depict Latvian culture and history.

The core of the monument consists of rectangular shapes that are arranged one on top of one another, decreasing in size towards the top, complemented by a 19-meter (62-meter) high travertine pole bearing a copper figure of freedom that raises three gilded stars. The concept of the monument was first publicly announced in the early 1920s, when the Latvian prime minister ordered the conceptual designs to be drawn up and a competition for the design of a “memorial column” opened. After several public competitions, the monument was finally built in the early 1930s under the scheme “Mirdzi ka zvaigzne!” The construction work was funded by private donations.

There were already German-language theaters in Riga, which also had opera and ballet. The first attempt to create the Latvian National Opera was in 1893, when the “Spoku stunda” by Jekabs Ozols (“The Hour of the Spirits”) was performed. The Latvian Opera and Ballet (Latviešu Opera) was founded in 1912 by Pavuls Jurjans, although almost immediately during the First World War, the opera group was evacuated to Russia. In 1918, the opera was restarted (Latvia Opera) led by Jazeps Vitols, founder of the Latvian Academy of Music. The debut performance, January 23, 1919, was Wagner’s “Der fliegende Hollander”.

Since 1944, after the occupation of Latvia by the Soviet Union and its incorporation into the Soviet Union, the Latvian National Opera became the Latvian S.S.R. State Opera and Ballet Theater. In 1990, the theater was renamed the Latvian National Opera, but the building was closed almost immediately until 1995 for renovation. In honor of its reopening in 1995, the first opera was Uguns un nakts by Janis Medins (Fire and Night).

My dear adventurers, once again we have come to the end of our post. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from Tourism Board of Riga – Live Riga and airBaltic for this incredible adventure and Pullman Old Town Riga Hotel for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home.

How do you like this story about this gem of the Baltic? Have you maybe had a chance to visit Riga and to enjoy in the beauty of Latvia? I would like to share with me your experience! In a couple of days we will continue our adventure in Riga. I will show you one art treasury, the biggest one in Latvia, so be ready! I am sure you will like it as I do. 🙂

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,
Mr.M

This post was sponsored by Riga Tourism Board – Live Riga and the national Latvian airline company airBaltic and Pullman Old Town Hotel Riga. I also thank my friends from Sony who made it possible to enjoy in these beautiful photos made with the Sony Alpha 7r Mark II camera with Sony FE 24-70 mm lense from special G Master series of professional lenses.
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Letters from Azerbaijan: Lahij, place where dreams are made of copper…

Hello my dear travellers, welcome to new post on the Mr.M blog. How are you doing today? Has something interesting happened to you today? Some people are back from vacation, while some lucky ones are just getting ready to start their journey. In the past few days, I read on the social networks comments from some people, like: “Why we call our vacation “annual leaving”, if it only lasts for 2,3 weeks… It is not fair!”. I agree with them, but what to do it looks like it’s another “wrong” name, such some terms like “final discounts”, and in the store you will find the maximum of 20% discount… Sweet “white” lies which we just love and want to believe.

In the previous two posts you had the opportunity to get to know Baku and see where the cradle of Azeri culture – Gobustan National Park. In today’s post you will meet an interesting village, which is located in the most beautiful part of Azerbaijan, at the heart of the Caucasus.

Of course, before I start today’s post I would like to thank the National Tourism Board of the Republic of Azerbaijan for its excellent organization, as well as other partners of this project who made our stay in Azerbaijan unforgettable!

Tural, our guide told us the opinion of the local people in Azerbaijan, which is that they consider that the road to Lahij village is one of the most beautiful in Azerbaijan. You can see how nature has adapted to climate and you have the great opportunity yo enjoy the view of mountains, plains and sea.

I must admit that usually when traveling somewhere by car, I try to rest and get some sleep because press trips can be extremely stressful at times and I use every free moment for rest and relaxation. However this time was different, the trip was different and I decided to show you these beauties of nature to people who may choose to visit Azerbaijan one day!

The people of Azerbaijan are simple, kind and frank. The language may be a small barrier, but because of its close proximity to Russia, many people know Russian. Maybe this fact helps from Balkan region like me because the Russians can understand some of Serbian words which makes it easier for some basic communication. Of course a lot of people speak English as well, but we are talking about older generations who lives in rural areas.

Tural explained to us the geographical location of Azerbaijan and some basic things about places where we are going, so this trip passed so fast for us quickly. Of course we took a couple of breaks, maybe the trip was a little longer, but we learned a lot about Azerbaijan.

At the first break, I used the time to take a picture by the sea… Well, I went well all way to far away Azerbaijan, I guess I deserved to have at least one nice picture with my best friend, I’m most afraid of – water. Strange, but very interesting love!

Shortly after these breaks, we came to our first stop on this short car trip. My hosts wanted to show me their oldest and largest mosque in Azerbaijan – the Juma Mosque. According to legend, it was built in the 8th century when Shamakhi was chosen as the residence of the Arab Caliph. This is why Shamakhi Juma looked like one of the oldest mosques in the Caucasus region. The architecture of this large complex is as follows – the huge prayer hall is divided into three independent sections that are connected with wide open arches.

Each part has its own separate mikhrab and an entrance. After considerable destruction of the mosque during wars and earthquakes, it was repeatedly reconstructed and restored. The current appearance of the mosque was formed in the early 20th century. The mosque was practically rebuilt on an old basis without losing the basic principles of its structure. There are still three halls. In addition, the central hall is covered by a huge dome and the other two smaller domes.

Below the central dome is a window belt. The windows are decorated with bars. The whole facade is decorated with tracery lattices. Built more than 1,200 years ago, the Shamakhi Juma Mosque remains one of the largest cult structures in the Caucasus region.

Mikhrab in the main Hall.

It was a great honor for me to visit this holy place and learn more about the history of this part of Azerbaijan. I was particularly attracted to the harem of the mosque (this word has different meaning, but also it is the name of the enclosed courtyard of the mosque) at the entrance to the mosque, as it was arranged as a small green oasis of peace and happiness.

We had to continue our journey, because we had a long way to go to Lahij village, and we had a few more things to see. We got in the car and continued our trip. Of course I got my camera ready, the photographer fell asleep from the heat, so I had to do some of his work. Nobody knows my “blogging” troubles on the trip when I have different roles to play at the same time…

You are maybe wondering why we headed to Lahij village? Lahij is a remote village located in the Ismaiilli area of Azerbaijan, on the slopes of the Greater Caucasus. About 2,000 people live in this village, mostly belonging to a minority ethnic group that speaks Tat.

Lahij is one of the oldest permanently populated places in the world. Moreover, the sewerage system of the village dates back to 1000 years ago, which during this time you must admit was very unusual and commendable. For example, large European cities such as Paris and London did not have sewerage system until the 13th – 14th centuries. Incredible, isn’t it?

The facilities and master plan of the village are very unique. As a result of frequent earthquakes, locals have developed sophisticated and authentic construction techniques. Traditionally, people used the ground floor of houses as workshops and workrooms. The houses here are characterized by flat roofs. In addition, some houses have balconies overlooking the street.

The history and story of the village, are associated with many legends. According to one legend, many years ago there was a town of 36,000 inhabitants called La. One day a major earthquake happened and La was leveled to the ground. There was no town afterwards, but the place name changed to La-hec. “Hec” in Azerbaijani means nothing or zero. Over time, people came to live in this settlement again. At that time, La-hec changed to Lahi.

According to another legend, the Persian Shah Kai Khosrov killed a prominent ruler of a city, which caused great unrest in his country. Finally, after some power and throne struggles, the defeated chess decided to flee the country to save his life. He later found refuge in the mountains near modern Lahi. The Shah servants established the village of Lahij for their families. Eventually Kai Khosrov died there, but gradually the small village expanded and turned into a settlement.

This is the way how locals consider themselves to be descendants of Kay Khosrov’s original court. Moreover, they claim that the name of the village comes from a place called Lahian in Persia. A tomb with a tombstone belonging to Kai Khosrov was found at the Zavara cemetery in Lahij along with other tombstones dating back more than a thousand years.

In the medieval period the village became an important center of craftsmen in Azerbaijan. Lahij’s artisans have started to become very popular throughout Asia and Europe. In the 18th century, the city gained a reputation for producing cold steel weapons and copper. Many of them, such as copper pots and lamps and weapons, still adorn famous European museums, especially the Louvre and the Hermitage. Today, the village and its entire heritage are protected, but open to tourists. The spirit of medieval times and the path of ancient silk is still found in Lahij.

Also, there is one interesting museum in this picturesque place called the Museum of Local History of Lahij and you can find many interesting exhibits in it and learn more about the history of this unusual village.

The museum was opened in 1985 within the Lahij Historical and Cultural Reserve. Initially it was part of the historical and cultural nature reserve, but since 1992 it has the function of an independent cultural object of significance. The museum itself is housed in a building known in Lahi as the “Aghaoglu Mosque”, which was built in 1914.

The exhibit of the museum consists of more than 1000 exhibits in 10 different sections. The exhibits date from ancient examples of crafts, including ceramic specimens, specimens more than 2000 years old, bellows made in the 18th century for copper smelting and other livestock and trade related parts, as well as information on the city’s underground irrigation system operating since 15th Century!

The development of international tourism, together with some new knowledge about people and cultures, has resulted in a gradual interest in the cultural diversity of the region. Lahij has attracted the attention of many world tourists in recent years and as a result Lahij village is now included in the tours of several leading travel agencies.

The time for move came and we continued our journey, we had an amazing time in Lahij village, but Gabala is calling us! Gabala (Azerbaijani: Kəbələ, also known as Kabala, the capital of the Kabbalah district) The municipality consists of the city of Gabala and the town of Kusnat village. Previously, the city was known as Kutkashen, but after the independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the city was renamed in honor of the much older city of Gabala.

The geographical location and mountainous relief of the city greatly influenced the formation of complex climatic conditions in the vertical arid region, as well as the density of the river network and the richness of land and vegetation cover.

The facilitated and humid climatic conditions of the Gabala region led to the formation of a dense river network in the area. The city is rich in chestnut and hazelnut trees. The flora and fauna of the district are very rich. Deer, wild boars, rabbits, bears, wolves, foxes and numerous birds can be found in the forest.

Gabala is an ideal tourist destination due to its combination of unusual spring climate, mountain scenery and diverse fauna. There are many world-class hotels and resorts, much of the Kafkaz hotel chain. The region’s natural climatic conditions create opportunities for summer and winter tourism development in the region. The northern side of Gabala belongs to the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus mountain range, the central part of the Alazan-Haftaran Valley, the southern part of the Ainohur Mountains.

In addition, Azerbaijan has the highest mountain peak in Azerbaijan – Bazarduz Mountain (4466 meters). Also in Gabala is the Ieddi Gozel waterfall. In translation, it means ‘seven beauties’ because of its seven phases of decline, but it also depicts the classic story of Nizami Ganjavi. The city also contains the Gabaland Amusement Park, a skating rink and Greek-style theater built specifically for concerts and outdoor events. Gabala also has several malls. The city is home to the Tufandag Ski Resort, which is rated as the best ski resort in Azerbaijan and one of the main in the Caucasus.

My dear adventurers, once again we have come to the end of our post. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from National Tourism Promotion Bureau of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan Airlines for this incredible adventure and Qafqaz Thermal & Spa Resort Hotel Yengija for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home.

How do you like this post about National Park Gobustan? Have you maybe had a chance to visit Azerbaijan before? I would like to share with me your experience! In a couple of days we will continue our adventure in Azerbaijan, and I will show you one interesting Lahij village which I visited during my visit. Stay tuned!

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,
Mr.M

P.S. If you want to know more about Azerbaijan you should read my other posts, I am sure you will find plenty of interesting tips and information about this incredible country:

This post was sponsored by National Tourism Promotion Bureau of Azerbaijan and the national airline company Azerbaijan Airlines and Qafqaz Thermal & Spa Resort Hotel Yengija. I also thank my friends from Loro PianaMakia Clothing and Picard Lederwaren for amazing outfits and my friends from Sony who made it possible to enjoy in these beautiful photos made with the Sony Alpha 7r Mark II camera with Sony FE 24-70 mm lense from special G Master series of professional lenses.
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Letters from Azerbaijan: Gobustan, the Cradle of Azeri Culture…

My dear travellers, how are you today? Before I begin with today’s post, I would like to thank you for the wonderful comments which you have sent to me for previous post about Azerbaijan. I am glad you liked Baku and I sincerely hope you will enjoy the post I have prepared for you today. For anyone who has not arrived yet to read my story from Baku or you would like to remind of some details, you can visit this LINK.

Have you ever wondered what the world looked like 20,000 years ago? What kind of people were then? What was their culture and religion customs? Has their consciousness been developed as it is today? Which language did they speak? We can find answers to all these questions from experts in archeology and history, but so far it all comes down to interpreting certain assumptions.

In today’s post, you’ll have the opportunity to see the cradle of Azeri culture, I’m taking you to Gobustan National Park. This trip was a whole new experience for me as I learned a lot of new information and had the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of this lovely country.

Before I begin today’s post, I would like to thank the National Tourism Board of the Republic of Azerbaijan for this wonderful and exceptional experience. It has been a huge honour for me to get to know a completely different culture and I hope that I will be able to go there again and continue my adventure during my lifetime.

Gobustan National Nature Reserve, located just few kilometres west of the city of Gobustan, was founded in 1966, when the region was declared a National Historic Landmark of Azerbaijan in an effort to preserve ancient carvings, mud volcanoes and gas rocks. Gobustan National Park is very rich in archeological monuments, the reserve has more than 6,000 carved stone paintings depicting primitive people, animals, paintings of fights, ritual dances, boats with armed paddlers, warriors with spears in their hands, camels, images of the sun and star. These paintings are thought to be on average 5,000 to 20,000 years old.

Gobustan National Historical and Cultural Reserve gained national status in 2006. In July 2007, the Gobustan National Couple was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The carvings and petroglyphs in this place depict fascinating images of prehistoric life in the Caucasus. Well-preserved paintings depict ancient boat-traveling populations, antelope men and wild bulls, while some depict women dancing. Well-known Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heierdahl returned to Azerbaijan several times between 1961 and his death in 2002 to investigate the site in his work “Search for Odin”.

The language of the ancient population of Gobustan is partly controversial, but the petroglyphs still provide information about the lives of prehistoric people who lived here. More than 4,000 pictures of animals, humans, certain life experiences, hunting and dancing have been carved over thousands of years. Most petroglyphs are found on large cliffs, and in some cases are carved on larger older rocks. The first carvings depicted natural figures of humans and animals, often irregularly, but over time they began to increasingly resemble the dimensions and proportions of their subjects, including such details as the muscles of the feet of humans in the hunting scene.

The heads of human figures are usually small and carved with no nose, mouth, eyes or ears. However, experts do not interpret this lack of facial features as an indication that Gobustan artists lack technical skill, as some carvings show a greater degree of complexity and detail. Many scenes from tribal life have been shown among the petroglyphs, and pictures from the “Seven Beauty Cave” indicate that women may have been involved in the hunt.

I have to admit, it’s an amazing feeling when you see all those pictures in stone that who knows when done by people who lived there thousands of years ago. The pictures prove that they had an awareness of all the things that surrounded them, that they had a particular religious cult that they believed in and studied the stars.

The natural world of Gobustan is much more convenient than other regions of Azerbaijan. However, the natural conditions of these places were completely different 20-25 thousand years ago. From the drawings of animals and human figures on Gobustan, the rocks appear to have been under a warm climate of 10 to 12 thousand years. Men wore light clothing, men tightened their limbs, and women wore short leather dresses. Due to the constant warm weather, greenery and large amount of water, these places were the habitats of wild animals: bulls, horses, deer, goats and other animals that lived in Gobustan.

From stone drawings and archaeological writings, wolves, tigers, foxes, jackals and other wild animals were found in this place in ancient times. In 1968, when they cut a layer of stone about 3 feet in size near Atbulah, large bones of an unknown animal were accidentally cut off. The workers informed the Ministry of Culture of the Azerbaijan SSR, not knowing what those bones were. After examining the discovered bones, it was determined that these bones were the remains of a “Southern Elephant” that lived in what is now Gobustan.

Perhaps during my visit to this national treasure of Azerbaijan, weather was one of the aggravating factors, but I enjoyed the beautiful view that stretches along the region.

Due to the temperature and the landscape, I had the impression that I was going on a safari and that I would see a giraffe soon, but that was just my imagination!

It is estimated that 300 of the world’s 700 mud volcanoes on the planet are located in the Gobustan, Azerbaijan and Caspian Sea. Many local and world-renowned geologists have come to study this natural phenomenon called “Mud Volcanoes” such as Firuz, Gobustan, Salian Crater and have come to some discoveries where they have stated that mud from these volcanoes has healing purposes.

After we finished our tour of Gobustan National Park, our guide took us to see some more interesting sights, one of which is another natural phenomenon that attracts tourists who come to visit Azerbaijan, called Yanar Dag.

Yanar Dag (translated from the Azeri language, meaning “Burning Mountain”) is a natural gas fire that burns constantly on the slope of the Apsheron Mountains in the Caspian Sea near Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. You may remember when I mentioned in my previous post how Azerbaijan was known as the “Land of Fire”. Flames can reach up to 3 meters in the air from a thin, porous layer of sandstone.

Yanar Dag officially belongs administratively to the Absheron region. Unlike mud volcanoes, the Yanar Dag flame burns fairly steadily, as it uses a continuous outflow of gas from the underground.

It is claimed that the Yanar Dag flame was only noticed when it was accidentally ignited by a shepherd in the 1950s. No mud or liquid can be seen, which distinguishes it from the nearby volcanic muds of Lokbatan or Gobustan. In the territory of Yanar Dag, by the Presidential Decree of May 2, 2007, a State Historical, Cultural and Natural Reserve was established, which is under the control of the State Tourism Agency of Azerbaijan.

After a major renovation that lasted almost 2 years (2017-2019), the Yanar Dag Museum and the Yanar Dag Cromlech Stone Exhibition were launched in the area of this unusual reserve.

Our next stop – the Temple of Fire! I know this may not mean much to you at first sight, but remember the fact that Azerbaijan is a “Land of Fire”, so it is quite logical that they have a “fire” temple.

Baku Ateshgah (Azerbaijani: Atəsgah), often called the “Baku Fire Temple”, is a religious temple similar to a castle in Surakhani city. Based on the Persian inscriptions the temple was used as a Hindu, Sikh and Zoroastrian place of worship. “Atash” (ạtsẖ) is a Persian word for fire. The Pentagonal complex, which has a courtyard surrounded by cells for monks and a tetrapillary altar in the middle, was built during the 17th and 18th centuries. This temple was abandoned in the late 19th century, probably because of the diminishing Hindu population in the surrounding area. The natural eternal flame extinguished in 1969 after nearly a century of oil and gas exploitation in the area, but is now lit by gas from Baku.

Baku Ateshgah was the pilgrimage and philosophical center of the Zoroastrians from the northwestern Indian subcontinent, who were involved in trade with the Caspian region via the famous “Great Road”. The four sacred elements of their belief were: ateshi (fire), badi (air), abi (water), and heki (earth). The temple ceased to be a place of worship after 1883 with the erection of oil plants (industries) at Surakhani.

The complex was turned into a museum in 1975. The Ateshgah Fire Temple was nominated for a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998, and on December 19, 2007, by the decree of the President of Azerbaijan, it was declared a National Historic and Architectural Reserve.

My dear adventurers, once again we have come to the end of our post. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from National Tourism Promotion Bureau of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan Airlines for this incredible adventure and Boulevard Hotel Baku for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home.

How do you like this post about National Park Gobustan? Have you maybe had a chance to visit Azerbaijan before? I would like to share with me your experience! In a couple of days we will continue our adventure in Azerbaijan, and I will show you one interesting Lahij village which I visited during my visit. Stay tuned!

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,
Mr.M

This post was sponsored by National Tourism Promotion Bureau of Azerbaijan and the national airline company Azerbaijan Airlines and Hotel Boulevard Baku. I also thank my friends from Loro PianaMakia Clothing and Picard Lederwaren for amazing outfits and my friends from Sony who made it possible to enjoy in these beautiful photos made with the Sony Alpha 7r Mark II camera with Sony FE 24-70 mm lense from special G Master series of professional lenses.
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Letters from Azerbaijan: Baku, a modern city made of traditional dreams…

My dear travellers, welcome to my blog! The holiday mood is ON, so there is a plenty of time that we can spend on a nice trip. As I promised you a few days ago in the previous posts, August will be very interesting time as we will discover some new unusual destinations together.

When I received an e-mail from the National Tourist Board of Azerbaijan few months ago, I could not imagine that this summer I would have the opportunity to get to know a whole new culture of Azerbaijan. The first email I received from them was short, but it was straightforward with the question of whether I was free this year to meet the land of fire, which is located somewhere between Europe and Asia. I couldn’t even think about the trip, but my minds were already somewhere in the Caucasus region.

In collaboration with the Tourism Board of the Republic of Azerbaijan and their national airline Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL), I was able to visit this incredible country and I’ve got an amazing opportunity to #takeanotherlook. In July, my photographer and I just checked in our suitcases full of dreams and we started our adventure!

After less than 5 hours from cozy Berlin, my photographer and I jumped into summer outfits, because surely the temperature difference at that point was about 20 degrees. Azerbaijan Airlines definitely “bought” me for a little interesting little sign of attention! They had an ice cream on the flight, so far it was the first time that I experienced that on a flight I have dessert like this, so you could enjoy on their flights with this lovely summer sweet treat.

Journeys are a wonderful thing and anyone who is able to go around the world you should pick up magnets just to have some nice memories from the trips, until as they can normally open the door of the refrigerator! 😀

In my case it will be my aspirator in the kitchen where there is no room for new magnets anymore. My mom constantly criticizes me, but again somehow we clean the dust on the aspirator together, so I’m the one who even though I’m scared of heights, climbing on the ladders while mom is cleaning the magnets which I give to her… And so the same story repeats every 2 to 3 months. Sometimes is hard, but that is the price of having some priceless memories.

This is the first picture I made in the capital of Azerbaijan – Baku, a city that you will learn more about in today’s post. At first sight, Baku looks like one city from the future, you see all those skyscrapers that just don’t know which one is bigger. As you approach to the center, you realize that the city has some unusual warmth and architecture is totally different than in other countries.

Previous rulers and politicians have been great lovers of the arts and aesthetes who have strived to beautify their country in the best possible way. The inspiration for the architecture of Baku comes mostly from Europe, specifically from Italy and France, where architects have found unrivaled inspiration.

Baku represents the social, cultural and industrial center of Azerbaijan. In recent years, Baku has become an important place where many international cultural events take place. Azerbaijan hosted the 57th Eurovision Song Contest in 2012, European Games 2015. Baku, the F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix of 2016, also hosted the 2018 UEFA League Finals and will be one of the UEFA Euro 2020 host cities. Impressive isn’t it?!

Since my photographer and I arrived in the evening, we wanted to rest and to prepare for the next day. We had a real adventure and a long tour which will help us to get know Baku! The next morning I woke up fresh and with smile on my face and we could start our first official day in Azerbaijan!

The nice weather, the sun, the full camera battery and the ready photographer was just enough for me to start a new adventure! Of course, my photographer immediately did his best to show me how good I could look in Azerbaijan. I think because of my beard, I was able to pass all out like an Azeri guy…

Shirt: Makia 
Backpack: Picard

Whoever has followed my stories on Instagram certainly remembers the intensity of the wind and then I fully understood those words of our old wise people: “The wind blows so heavily that it carries the trees!”, Now I had the opportunity to feel it on my skin. It was quite exciting!

In the picture above in the background you can see 3 buildings that are symbol of the city. Surely you’re wondering why they’re the symbol of the city? These are just three ordinary, beautiful modern buildings. You get the right answer to that question in the evening when these buildings, with the help of modern technology and ice screens, become the “Towers of Flame” that are a symbol of Baku.

After we had finished our photo shooting and we used the morning light, our guide Tural came to us, who was there to reveal to us all the secrets of this lovely land, which lies somewhere between East and West, somewhere between Europe and Asia. Tural told us that if we want to get to know Baku better, we must visit the old part of the city first, because that is the only way to understand the real value of this wonderful city.

About 100,000 years ago, the territory of modern Baku and Apheseron was savannah with rich flora and fauna. The first traces of human settlement date back to the Stone Age. Since the Bronze Age, rock carvings have been discovered near Bajil and a bronze figure of small fish has been discovered in the Old Town.

These findings led many to the existence of Bronze Age settlements in the city. Near Nardaran, at a place called Umid Gaia, a prehistoric observatory was discovered, on which rock images of the sun and various constellations were carved along with a primitive astronomical board.

Further archaeological excavations revealed various prehistoric settlements, temples, statues and other artifacts in and around the modern city. In the 1st century BC, the Romans organized two Caucasian actions and reached Baku. Near the city, in Gobustan, Roman inscriptions dating from 84-96 BC have been discovered. This is one of the earliest written evidence relating to Baku and Azerbaijan.

Maiden Tower (Azerbaijan: Kız kalası) is a 12th century monument located in the Old Town of Baku, Azerbaijan. Along with the Shirvanshah Palace, dating from the 15th century, it forms a group of historical monuments that were listed as a cultural property by the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001. It is one of the most prominent national symbols of Azerbaijan, so this tower can be found on Azerbaijani banknotes and coins.

There are various mysteries and legends related to the Maiden Tower. However, the main mystery is the design and purpose of the tower itself. In the meantime, there are 20 legends related to the Maiden Tower. A large number of them are related to the Islamic and medieval period of Baku history. Quite a few legends are deeply rooted in Azerbaijani Zoroastrian or pre-Islamic history, religion and culture.

Probably the most famous legend is that of a fiery-haired girl who rescued the Baku people from slavery. The epic shows the roots of the Azerbaijani Zoroastrian faith and culture and reaches to the modern day.

The view from the Maiden’s Tower is amazing and it is worth climbing to the very top where I was able to take the photo you can see above. The Maiden Tower houses a museum that tells the story of the historical development of the city of Baku. It also owns a souvenir shop. The view from the top crosses the streets and minarets of the Old City, Baku Boulevard, De Gaulle House and Baku Bay View.

The Old Town is the first ideal stop for every tourist who comes to meet Baku. It is a city with a long and rich history that will intrigue everyone, legends that leave people breathless.

Azerbaijan is different, their culture is unique and when you come in contact with it you should be open minded to understand its value and essence. This trip has completely changed my picture of countries in the East.

After tour of the Old City, it was time to visit unusual modern part of Baku. As we crossed the line from traditional part of Baku that led straight into the modern era of new Baku, our guide told us so many legends about the emergence of modern Baku that even 10 posts would not be enough for you to write down all the stories in detail.

On the other hand, somewhere in the streets of modern Baku you will see a bunch of cars and very wide boulevards that are mostly one-way streets. To be clear what I’m talking about since I was a kid growing up in Europe, one ordinary boulevard in downtown Baku is wider than some boulevard in Paris and all lines are one-way. Maybe now you can just figure out what I’m talking about.

T-Shirt and Trousers: Loro Piana 
Backpack: Picard

Little Marko didn’t miss the opportunity to take some photos on the streets of Baku, the photos turned out great at the end thanks to my photographer. Due to its unusual architecture, the city is extremely photogenic, so it was easy to make good pictures. Baku has some special energy, which perfectly matched my sensibility.

In the heart of the city is a monument to Nizami Ganjavi, a medieval Persian poet in Nizami Square. The opening ceremony of the monument was held in April 1949.

The position of the monument is set symbolically so that the famous poet will look in the arts – the National Museum of Literature Nizami Ganjavi. This museum represents the largest and best collection of rich Azerbaijani culture. Collecting, researching and storing scientific and other materials on Azerbaijani literature and culture presents these materials in the exhibition and is the main objective of this museum.

Sculptures of eminent Azerbaijani poets and writers were placed on the facade of the museum by this order: Muhammad Fuzuli, Molla Panah Vagif, Mirza Fatali Akhundov, Khurshidbanu Natavan, Jalil Mammadguluzadeh and Jafar Jabbarli. There are 120.000 exhibits in the museum’s rich collection.

In the picture above you can see what the Heydar Aliyev Foundation looks like. This institution is a charitable foundation headed by First Lady of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyev. The foundation is named in honor of the former leader of Azerbaijan – Mr. Heydar Aliyev, who was also the father of the current President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev. The people of Azerbaijan really appreciate and love Mr. Heydar and many establishments in Baku is named after by him. In this post I will show you what the Museum of Modern Art looks like, which also bears his name – Heydar Aliev Centre.

By the time, Baku became a metropolis with sophisticated architecture. Each corner is unique and original, the parks are beautiful (especially Philharmonia Garden which you can see in the photo above) and represent a real little paradise where you can rest your eyes and soul. Surely you may be wondering how Baku “became so green”? Tural told us an interesting legend that Baku has become so green.

Few decades ago, Baku was like a desert, they had oil, but they had no nature at all. The rulers implored their dear guests who plan to visit Azerbaijan to bring seeds of their plants and plant trees instead of expensive gifts and to contribute to the improvement of nature in Baku.

However, it did not help too much either! Then they thought of asking their customers to send a certain amount of soil for each gallon of oil sold, to allow them to create suitable conditions for the land to be able to plant some plants and plant trees. That’s how this “green” story began, and so Baku became a green oasis where you can find pomegranate trees. I have to admit that in Azerbaijan, for the first time in my life, I saw the trees of pomegranate.

After we are done with the city tour, it is time to fulfill my promise and present to you the collection of modern art – the Heydar Aliyev Center. The Heydar Aliiev Center is a 600,000-square-foot construction complex in Baku, Azerbaijan, designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, and she is recognizable for its distinctive architecture, curved style that emerges from sharp angles.

The center is named after Heydar Aliyev, the first secretary of Soviet Azerbaijan from 1969 to 1982, and the president of the Azerbaijan Republic from October 1993 to October 2003.

As a great piece of post-modern architecture, the shape of the building is an eternal cycle of life, which connects the past with the present. The building has a conference room, galleries, museums and more and the basic idea is to unite people of different backgrounds in the place of common ideas. The building won the prestigious London Museum of Design Award in 2014.

In this rich art treasure house you can always find masterpieces of contemporary art. In addition to modern art, one part of the center is dedicated to Mr. Heydar Aliyev, a man who was the father of democracy in Azerbaijan and the president for life of the Republic of Azerbaijan until his death in 2003. A museum dedicated to his life and work depicts the political development of Azerbaijan until modern times and when his son Mr. Ilham Aliyev became the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Also, you can learn some new and interesting information about Azerbaijan, see what the Scriptures and the Koran looked like, as well as some of their traditional musical instruments. This museum is unusual and has an interesting doll exhibition. The dolls are made to look natural, I also learned that the hair, eyelashes and eyebrows on the dolls are also natural.

Also, I was impressed by the exhibition of dolls depicting society in Azerbaijan. The museum is suitable for all ages, so I’m sure it will be enjoyed by both young and slightly older visitors. Believe me, fun is guaranteed here!

For the end of today’s post, I decided to show you the Bibi-Heybat Mosque. The Bibi Heybat Mosque (Azeri: Bibiheibət məscidi) is a shrine located six kilometers southwest of Baku, Azerbaijan. Fatima al-Sughra, daughter of Imam al-Kazim, was buried in this mosque.

This place is also called Pir Bibi-Heibat and is referred to by the locals as the Fatima al-Zahra Mosque. The mausoleum was built during the Safavid dynasty, but was destroyed when Stalin conquered the area. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the independence of Azerbaijan, the President of the country ordered that this shrine be restored.

This mausoleum – the mosque hides a very sad love story, but of course it is part of history, there are many legends, but people always believe in the power of love. This mosque was decorated because its original purpose was to be the place where the daughter of the imam would rest in peace, but later it became a mosque.

My dear travellers, once again we have come to the end of our post. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from National Tourism Promotion Bureau of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan Airlines for this incredible adventure and Boulevard Hotel Baku for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home.

How do you like this post about Azerbaijan? Have you ever visited Baku? Have you maybe had a chance to visit Azerbaijan before? I would like to share with me your experience! In a couple of days we will continue our adventure in Azerbaijan, and I will show you one interesting Lahij village which I visited during my visit. Stay tuned!


If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,
Mr.M

This post was sponsored by National Tourism Promotion Bureau of Azerbaijan and the national airline company Azerbaijan Airlines and Hotel Boulevard Baku. I also thank my friends from Loro Piana, Makia Clothing and Picard Lederwaren for amazing outfits and my friends from Sony who made it possible to enjoy in these beautiful photos made with the Sony Alpha 7r Mark II camera with Sony FE 24-70 mm lense from special G Master series of professional lenses.
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Letters from Lapland: Santa Claus, the great hero of children’s dreams…

My dear travellers, how are you today? Maybe today’s post will be quite inappropriate because we will talk about the man who is the main symbol of the winter fairytale, but I’m sure you will enjoy as much as I do. I believe that we all of us have one little child who reminds us and teaches us some small things, but very important life lessons that make life better and more interesting.

Santa Claus, the most beloved grandpa in the world is a symbol of the happiness and winter holidays in children’s hearts. A super-hero with his unusual team which is made up of elves – little assistants and reindeers who help him with his sleds to visit the world and share gifts and happiness to children around the world. There is no such child in the world who has not heard and even “met” Santa Claus.

This post would not be possible without the help of the Tourist Board of Rovaniemi – Visit Rovaniemi and the Finnish national airline company Finnair and other local partners.

My first “meeting” with Santa was when my mom took me to New Year’s celebration in her company, where I started to cry when I noticed that it was actually her colleague who just glued up huge white beard. I guess I experienced it as a great trauma, since I had lived in that belief that it was a real Santa Claus.

My mother who decided to “save” my childhood tells me that real Santa Claus lives in the North Pole and is busy and sometimes can not visit all the children in this world, he “asks” his friends in every country to help him. He gives them a special permission to replace him and share gifts and joy with children, while he is on his Christmas tour.

As far the years passed by, little Marko decided to check all these information and on the Internet I found that the real Santa is living in a village of Rovaniemi in the north of Finland, in the area known as the Lapland.

Almost 25 years later, Marko finally got a chance to meet Santa Claus, a superhero of children’s dreams. No matter the years, Lapland will awaken the little child in you. Do not think that only parents with children come to Rovaniemi, there are elderly people who have remained small children in their souls, so they decided to get to know the superhero who marked their childhood even in their golden age…

When you come to Santa Claus Village you have the feeling that you are in fairy tale. It’s a fantasy that lives 365 days a year! The village is adapted to all ages, so that no one will feel neglected at some point during the visit.

In this village, Santa has its own special North Pole post that receives thousands of letters daily, the farm of reindeers and its office where he receives all visitors.

When you enter Santa Claus office, you will see elves who are busy storing presents because less than 200 days are left for this holiday season! Everywhere you can see a lot of lockers full of gifts and ready for delivery!

You can also see the gift packing process and how elves do it with a lot of love and patience.

You can also see a wall of celebrities who came to visit Santa, Claus so you will have the opportunity to see some music star or a serious politician who came to visit this unusual superhero.

Just a couple of minutes and a cheerful elf that led us to Santa Claus, I completely lost myself with the great excitement I met the superhero of my childhood dream. After I passed through one of the doors, I expected to see a continuation of the “Wall of famous people” who had the opportunity to meet Santa Claus. Instead of the wall, I went into the living room where Santa was sitting. Just behind the Christmas tree, I saw the world’s most famous hero with a long, white beard. As I heard those most famous words “Ho ho ho”, I think I wanted to cry out of luck and excitement.

No matter how old you are, this place will surely bring you back to childhood in those nice, carefree days when you believe in the magic of New Year’s holidays and Christmas. It just happened to me! Reality was different it was the summer season, but in this living room with a fireplace and the Christmas tree I had the feeling that the holiday season has already come!

I spent a little more than half an hour with my favourite superhero, I think that Santa Claus realized that a little five-year-old Marko came to him in the body of an adult man. I was interested in how looks like one of his working days. Also, I wanted to check some myths about Santa, so he was more than happy to answer on all my questions.

In this unusual village, you can meet the reindeers, who help Santa Claus every year to visit the world as soon as possible and share the joy along our planet. Not far from Santa Claus’s office there is a small farm of reindeers, where I had the opportunity to see the albino reindeer for the first time in my life! He is a real attraction here in Lapland.

My photographer and I got some herbs with which we can more easily get in touch with animals. I must admit that they are socialized and act like domestic animals. How cute was an irresistable baby reindeer who I wanted to take home with me, but there are minor problems with the transport of animals across the borders of Europe! 😀

For the first few minutes, I was a little scared because I saw that they had very big horns, but after you see that these horns are “coated” with small hairs, you have the impression that they are so fluffy! Reindeers are very lovely animals, until they get a little better knowing you, they still will want to bite you a little. Do not worry, after a few moments when you show herbs as the sign of the friendship, the reindeer will follow you along the farm and will be very jealous if you try to get close to another reindeer on the farm. Believe me, they are very jealous!

This visit brought me back to childhood and I’m glad that I managed to meet the favorite superheroes of my dreams. Perhaps it was so judged, and after 20 years I finally got the opportunity to use my moment of sleep!

After meeting with Santa Claus and visiting the Reindeers Farm, my photographer and I sent postcards to our loved ones from a special post office located in the North Pole. Maybe I’ll get a special letter from Santa Claus this holiday season, but we’ll see! Everything is possible! Maybe I’ll get a bike with the letter, who knows…

My dear travellers, once again we have come to the end of our post. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from Visit Rovaniemi for this incredible adventure and Arctic Light Hotel for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home.

How do you like this post about Lapland? Have you ever visited Rovaniemi? Have you maybe had a chance to visit Finland before? I would like to share with me your experience! In a couple of days we will continue our adventure in Lapland, and I will show you one interesting outfit which I did in collaboration with famous luxury street wear brand Makia. Stay tuned!

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,
Mr.M

This post was sponsored by Visit Rovaniemi Tourist Board and the main partners of this project Finnair National Finnish airline company and Arctic Light Hotel. I also thank my friends from Santa Claus Office, Santa Claus Reindeer farm and my friends from Sony who made it possible to enjoy in these beautiful photos made with the Sony Alpha 7r Mark II camera with Sony FE 24-70 mm lense from special G Master series of professional lenses.
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Letters from Finland: One interesting day in Rovaniemi

My dear travellers, I think now is just a perfect time to read another letter from Finland. I sincerely hope that you are doing good to and you are on some vacation, whether if you have been able to travel somewhere or relax at home, vacation is a very important thing to people who works, they need to relax! First of all, I would like to thank you for the wonderful comments you sent me for the previous post, as well and the wonderful messages and questions that you send me to the Instagram about Azerbaijan.

Today on the blog we continue our adventure in Finland, but I promise you that within a few days we will officially “start” our adventure in Azerbaijan! In the previous post, you had the opportunity to meet my new furry friends – Huskies with whom I had the opportunity to hang out. If you are interested to remind a little or you have missed a chance to read my previous post from Lapland, please take time and click on this LINK.

Of course before I start today I would like to thank the team from the Rovaniemi Tourist Board – Visit Rovaniemi as well as the national Finnish airline company Finnair on this wonderful trip. This trip was an incredible experience, which I will for sure remember, for a lifetime.

Today I have set myself a special task, which is to prove that Rovaniemi and Lapland are not only the land of Santa Claus and the cute Reindeers, but that there is also something else that this area is known for. Also, some of you have sent me the questions: “Is it worth it to go to Finnish Lapland in the summer time? Is there anything special and interesting to be seen? ” In a way, for us from the Europe, Finland is one cold Northern European country and rather unexplored country, but that does not mean that it is a country where 365 days of snow and that it is only known by Santa Claus. My shortest possible answer to the previous questions would be: “Yes, there is a lot of interesting things to see!”.

To understand what I’m talking about, I think you should read this post till the end. Have you ever wondered how daily life in the Finnish part of Lapland looks like? How to live in the Arctic? What is the Arctic Circle?

To find out something new and by the way maybe to provide answers to all these questions, the first station in Rovaniemi would be the Arktikum – Science Center and Museum.

Arktikum is a science center and museum located in the center of the city and with its modern look, attract views of tourists. This is the perfect first “station” you need to visit because it will help you to get to know Rovaniemi and the Arctic area better.

The first interesting thing you will notice at the entrance to this museum is a beautiful glass dome over the main hall, and if you look better, you will see a finger-shaped dome that “shows” to the North Pole. At the Arktikum Museum, you always have interesting and educational exhibitions that are interactive, so that they have made every effort to enjoy, while discovering some new interesting facts about the Arctic.

The first exhibition which I visited was dedicated to the history of the city of Rovaniemi, as well as the regions themselves. In addition, you have the opportunity to learn about Saami people. Saami are indigenous inhabitants of the Arctic region of the Sapmi, which includes today’s space of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola peninsula in Russia. They are the only remaining autochthonous people of the European Union who lived in Lapland even before the national borders were established and their history was nearly 7,000 years old.

In addition, you can find out a lot of historical facts related to Rovaniemi, such as what happened to the city after the Second World War, as well as the remaining animal and plant species found in this region.

Rovaniemi, like the whole of Lapland, had an interesting history. The city developed until the Second World War when it was literally completely destroyed, and after that the city was completely rebuilt out of the ashes again. Only a few objects have “survived” the attack, and one of them is the building of today’s Korundi, a gallery of modern art. I promise that I will write about this art gallery about this extraordinary treasury of contemporary art.

It is believed that this region was a settlement 7,000 years ago, when the first representatives of the Saami people who came to these area. They developed some basics of the exchange of goods, which were just the roots of some trade systems that we know today.

In my head it goes like this: “Buyer: Hello, can I get these boots for 4 salmons? Seller: It’ ok! (or seller wants to bargain and raise the value of his goods).

This exhibition is really incredible because you have the opportunity to experience the cold Arctic in another way and just to see that life is happening there in a similar way as it was in other parts of Europe and the world.

Of course, in addition to learn more about the progress of society, you also realize that nature is also the most important thing which need to think about and take care. This region has an extremely rich herbs world and Arctic animal breeds.

I personally saw one beautiful owl and some other animals in just one day, but that does not mean you will not meet a wolf or a polar squirrel. Who knows, everything is possible!

I must admit that the Arktikum was one of the most interesting museums that I had the opportunity to visit in my whole blogging career. It’s simply incredible how much a person can learn something new and useful through some interesting exhibitions in the museum.

Lapland is a place where you can find some reindeers and mooses more than people! (of course that is one local joke) I am sure that this land has more than one species of these deers than dogs, and this is a sign that nature is in the strong connection with the people in Lapland.

After the story of the history of this city, as well as of the entire Arctic region, you continue your journey to the second part of the Arktikum museum, where there is an exhibition that explains some of the natural phenomena.

In this part of the world, there are known natural phenomena that occur in various seasons. For example, in the winter, polar light appears. Today, this is just a beautiful colours on the pictures on Instagram, but in some past times people were afraid of this incredible phenomenon.

There are more legends, but one of the most interesting is the myth of Polar Fox. “When the winter comes, the fox can’t be calm, she jumps through the sky, and with the tip of her tail, she forms certain parts, and thus, those unreal rays of green color appear in the sky. It was not a good sign, ghosts are not happy! ”

The natural phenomenon I must admit most of all is the phenomenon known as “Midnight Sun” that occur in the summer months from the beginning of June to the middle of July, and during that period the Sun does not go down at all.

Imagine seeing the sun at midnight or at 1 o’clock in the morning… Oh yes, there is no sleeping at all! I think that this part of the world is ideal for us bloggers, because we can work literally 24 hours a day, just to take photos of our outfits and finally little Marko can finish all the work on time! 😀

In addition to these famous phenomena, you can find out more about the effect of “Greenhouse Effect” and the problem of the melting of ice on the poles. These are extremely huge problems and we have to treat them all as humanity if we want to survive.

Nature helps us, we can help her and continue the normal flow, and we all live in harmony with nature. So we need a little bit of happiness, why should we ruin it all?

Well, after we have a little thought about our current state as humanity and if we have awakened the consciousness, I think that it requires a cultural upbringing. If you remember, I mentioned to you that Rovaniemi during the Second World War had literally been destroyed and that a couple of buildings had survived the attack.

One of these buildings is today’s building, which is home of the Korundi Modern Art Gallery. Korundi is a real treasury, where you can find exclusively some master-pieces of modern art.

A few years ago, Rovaniemi city administration has decided to help young artists and encourage their work. For some time they thought how to help develop creativity and keep young hopes and Korundi opened its doors to all young artists.

As an ordinary observer, who really does not understand the true value of these works, I enjoyed conversation with my guide, who was trying hard to explain their way of working.

New art workshops were opened, young artists opened their art schools, and I had the opportunity to see how a young artist taught some seniors how to develop their talent for painting, completely free!

I thought that artist can not live normally, but it seems that it’s just about how much consciousness is developed about the need for art. Maybe I do not know the value of all these artworks, but I realised that I was staying in front, while I was sitting and watching some kind of modern art, I was calm down in some unusual way.

Maybe I do not understand art, but that does not mean that I can not understand how to enjoy their beauty. Still the beauty of the work itself is in the eye of the observer.

My day in Rovaniemi was fulfilled and I did not feel any special tiredness, I think this was a form of educational vacation where I learned a lot of new things that I was interested in, so maybe that’s why I’m excited as I write this post now.

Of course, this blogger must have something to eat, so I received a recommendation from the Rovaniemi Tourism Board to try some local cuisine in Rakas restaurant. My photographer only love this part of our trips when we are going to eat, so the team from the tourist board and the restaurant itself wanted to prove their culinary skills…

My photographer is more of a type of “meat” lover person, but I decided to eat some vegetables this time because this blogger got a little weight up, so there was something wrong with the jeans, so I had to go on the diet.

My dear travellers, once again we have come to the end of our post. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from Visit Rovaniemi for this incredible adventure and Arctic Light Hotel for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home.

How do you like this post about Lapland? Have you ever visited Rovaniemi? Have you maybe had a chance to visit Finland before? I would like to share with me your experience!

In a couple of days we will continue our adventure in Lapland, and I will introduce you with the most beloved man in the world – Santa Claus! I can’t wait to share all those beautiful photos with you. Stay tuned!

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,
Mr.M

This post was sponsored by Visit Rovaniemi Tourist Board and the main partners of this project Finnair National Finnish airline company and Arctic Light Hotel. I also thank my friends from Arktikum Science Centre and Museum, Korundi Art Gallery, Rakas Restaurant and my friends from Sony who made it possible to enjoy in these beautiful photos made with the Sony Alpha 7r Mark II camera with Sony FE 24-70 mm lense from special G Master series of professional lenses.
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Letters from Rovaniemi: One day with Furry Friends…

Dear My travellers, welcome to the new post on Mr.M blog. As I promised you today, we are starting a new adventure somewhere in Northern Europe, more precisely in the north of Finland – Lapland. At the very beginning, I would like to thank the national Finnish airline company Finnair and the Rovaniemi Tourist Board – Visit Rovaniemi for this wonderful experience.

Have you ever wondered how looks like daily life in Lapland? Lapland is a cultural region in Finland, which is known as the home of the world’s most desirable grandpa – Santa Claus. In addition, Lapland is known as the Saami country that settled this land 7,000 years ago. The first inhabitants were exclusively engaged in hunting and fishing.

In addition to hunting and fishing, the process of domestication and raising of reindeers has begun. Saami people are inhabitants of the Arctic of the Sapmi region, which includes today’s space of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola peninsula in Russia. They are the only remaining autochthonous people of the European Union who lived in Lapland even before the national borders were established and their history was nearly 7,000 years old.

I must admit that when I received an invitation from the Rovaniemi Tourist Board to come and visit the heart of Lapland, I felt a great satisfaction and special feeling of happiness. I am honored because I have the opportunity to be one of the ambassadors of the city and share my stories on the blog of this charming town in Lapland.

Today’s post will be dedicated to lovely beings who love us unconditionally, regardless of everything. Our most sophisticated four-legged furry friends who do not leave us when it comes to the worst periods of our lives, who don’t know the value of money and seek only for love, little food, a warm space when it’s cold and rainy, and in return you will get incredible love for the lifetime…

Valentijn is the person who dedicated most of his life to the Husky, a breed that has always fascinated him. The Husky is a dog which is totally different from all other breeds because of its excessive love for running. “It’s a special dog that is not for every owner!”, This is the first sentence I’ve heard from Valentijn, a man who for almost 20 years loves this incredible breed of incredible dogs.

This breed for centuries has been used exclusively for sledding and racing, and today they attract attention with their beautiful fur and incredible color of the eyes. During my visit to Bearhill Husky kennel, owned by Valentijn and his family, I learned many new things about this breed of dogs, as well and some of his wishes and dreams that he plans to achieve in the future.

The Husky is a fast, powerful and agile dog, a real athlete who simply has an incredible desire to run. Some people would have thought it was too much of an effort for the animal, but as I just mentioned, Husky is a breed that has been used for sledding and racing as well.

Dogs, like humans, have their own desires and needs. Each dog is a personality for itself, you have those dogs who are simply born to be leaders and lead others in the team and those who need someone to lead them and direct them in the right way. This is also one of the most basic rule in raising this breed of dogs.

In Bearhill Husky kennel, Valentijn and his team build with all dogs a relationship that will be beneficial to the dog, while meeting all the basic needs of the dog to be happy and satisfied. Valentijn, alongside his family, has another large four-legged furry family of more than 100 members. Beside the fact that he had the opportunity to grow up in Africa, most members of his furry family are named after by the tribes, rivers and lakes in Africa.

All members of this furry family have some of their responsibilities, younger members carelessly enjoy the charm of growing up and childhood while coaches work with them to learn some of the basic commands such as sit, lay down, turn around. I have to admit that it was so sweet to see the youngest members of the furry family who are confused looking at the coach and the older dog who is there to properly train them. Depending on the age of the dog, the tempo of training is properly individually adjusted.

The youngest members – puppies 2,3 months old exclusively stay in the “dog nursery” with their mother and all initial trainings are done with the help of their mother who shows them basic commands as the best model. In this way puppies easier to learn commands more quickly.

The first more serious trainings for young dogs start when they are 7,8 months old where the dogs reach a certain age and strength they need to work and train. After that, young adolescents dogs successfully direct their attention and energy and easily overcome new tasks.

I attended the training of young puppies who are currently learning the first and most important command – to return home. After 14 years, I again had the opportunity to see so many cute puppies on one place so much amount of sweetness in one place, since it was 14 years now when I chose my best furry friend – Bebi (Labrador – Golden Retriever). I was a kid and it was my first time to see so many little souls in one place. After so many years, with a little help of the Tourist Board of the city of Rovaniemi, I again felt that excitement in Bearhill Husky kennel!

Now you will understand a quote “the dog is the best man’s friend”, that is really one big truth. Dogs do not care if you are rich or poor, he will always give you love, and as your best friend, you will become his whole world and help him to connect with the rest of the world.

When you bring a dog into your life, you need to know the fact that it is not a toy, it is a living being that feels it all. Dogs, like humans, are afraid of being alone and being rejected, so always before you take a pretty and cute puppy, keep in mind the fact that puppy will grow up and become an adult dog, and after a senior dog then you have to help him when he is the hardest time. So you need to be aware of all those important thing before you get a dog or any animal.

Dogs may not be able to speak, but they can show you the love with their unselfish gestures just to show their devotion which is priceless. Each owner has to help his dog understand some things, without any use of violence of any form, as this can affect the dog. Like humans, not all dogs are over-intelligent. Some dogs need more time to master some commands and rules, while some dogs need significantly less time to learn the commands.

If you don’t teach your dog or hire professionals to help your dog, your dog will not be able to behave and to learn some things then you must be prepared to understand some things and you wouldn’t have to be angry at your furry friend, because he didn’t have opportunity to understand you what you really want.

Valentijn equally loves all members of his furry family, but only slightly shows love to the youngest members of his community, while on the other hand those oldest members who have more than 10 years show love after training. Regardless of age, every dog likes to cuddle and play with his owner.

These dogs are not trained to be pets, but they build a fair and friendly relationship that helps the dog to properly develop his personality, to meet all his basic needs and to keep the dog in good shape. Husky is a dog that love sledding and racing is absolutely in its blood, it is a true four-legged athlete who raise a lot of love for running. Running for this breed is not an effort, it is the joy of life that other breeds of dogs do not capable to do the same.

After I had the chance to see how looks like one day in a dog kennel where over 100 members each have something to “say”, you realize that this is a big mess, but also a cute noise. Valentijn patiently waited for us to feed together the youngest members of his furry crew, since after breakfast they go to training and on a small holiday where almost all puppets are going to sleep.

After the noise and distress, the rain distracted us, so we continued the story of his life and work in the Bearhill Husky kennel with tea and cookies in his interesting cabin.

Valentijn as a little boy, was raised with huge love for this dog breed. Since this job requires a lot of investment, it was necessary to pass a certain period of time and finally managed to open his kennel after more than 15 years of hard work.

Every kennel’s owner dreams to have the best dog team for sledding and race. Valentijn told me his biggest dream is to go to Alaska, where the biggest snow sledding race is held, where only the best dog kennels come from the whole world with their sledding breeds. This race is not at all naïve, it lasts for a couple of days, there is a specially defined route with which dogs must pass, but they also take great care of their safety.

Specifically this sledding race itself lasts for several days and each team has at the beginning 14 to 16 dogs in their teams. Of course, due to unforeseen circumstances, some dogs do not finish the race because of their effort, they stay quarantined until the end of the race, depending on where the owner left them.

For this race, all kennel owners are preparing for years because the dog needs a certain racing experience besides the strength, so before this big sledding race, dogs go to less difficult races where they just get some experience and learn some rules of racing.

This race itself is very difficult both for dogs and for the owner who goes with them because only one person can go with the dogs in the team. Which means that the owner is there to feed the dogs, wearing them special jackets that are needed for these weather conditions and preparing the dogs for a successful continuation of the race. During the race there are certain places (smaller cities) in which each team can take a break, during which it can take food and water for dogs and other necessary equipment. There are also veterinarians who check the health condition of the dogs, so that everything is organized in the best possible way that dogs can do what they like most, TO RUN!

In these sledding races, the most important thing is to have dogs that simply have the cheerful spirit and who are always ready to continue their journey and in that way motivate other dogs in the team to continue the race. The more dogs like these you have you have a better chances of winning. After a couple of hours which I spent with this wonderful and very intelligent dog breed, my photographer and I continued to discover the beauty of Lapland, so we went to the hills with special bicycles.

I have to admit that for some time I was not active, although as I was as younger, I was constantly riding a bike around the mountain because my father insisted that in a healthy body you can find a healthy spirit. That is why my grandfather, grandmother and my father decided to buy a house on the mountain so that they could raise my awareness of the importance of sports and healthy mountain air in my sister and me as well.

My father still one sportive active guy, who is riding a bike around the mountain, while my sister and I decided to replace it with city transport! What my grandmother would say “Guys, your mission has failed!”. After a few years, little Marko again sat on a bicycle and with the help of Johannes, the guy who is one of the founders of the Roll Outdoors mini company, which allows all visitors to a slightly different way awaken their adventurous spirit and that with bikes of new generation with engines easier overcome obstacles and enjoy the nature of Lapland.

My dear travellers, once again we have come to the end of our post. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from Visit Rovaniemi for this incredible adventure and Arctic Light Hotel for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home.

How do you like this post about Lapland? Have you ever visited Rovaniemi? Have you maybe had a chance to visit Finland before? I would like to share with me your experience!

In a couple of days we will continue our adventure in Lapland, and I will show you how you can spend quality time in Rovaniemi! I can’t wait to share all those beautiful photos with you. Stay tuned!

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,
Mr.M

This post was sponsored by Visit Rovaniemi Tourist Board and the main partners of this project Finnair National Finnish airline company and Arctic Light Hotel. I also thank my friends from Bearhill Husky kennel, Roll Outdoors and my friends from Sony who made it possible to enjoy in these beautiful photos made with the Sony Alpha 7r Mark II camera with Sony FE 24-70 mm lense from special G Master series of professional lenses.

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