Ostalgie: What is freedom, anyway?

This Sunday marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. I'm brought back to my first visit to Berlin, a divided city then. Crossing from West to East Berlin, we had to exchange 25 Mark (about 20 USD) into 25 Ostmark (East Mark). [...]

2018-11-05T16:00:49+00:006 November 2014|Balkans, From the heart, Germany, Idle musings|

Scenes from a Bahraini mall – empty elegance

Manama, Bahrain, 29 September 2009 It's 6:30 pm and I'm in Moda Mall at the World Trade Centre, wondering where all the people are. Moda is a huge shopping centre with high-end boutiques. Just from where I now sit, I see Louis Vuitton, Dior, Emporio [...]

Reading the past with the Rosetta Stone

The British Museum is one of my favourite museums in the world. Yet, like many museums in the western world, the British Museum should probably return some of the artefacts to their country of origin. One of these is the Rosetta Stone, a stele from [...]

Pyramiden – an Arctic ghost town

I'm in Pyramiden, once a showcase of the Soviet Union, a perfect mining community, set between mountains, glaciers and fjords in the Svalbard archipelago. Today, it's an Arctic ghost town. The decision to abandon the settlement was sudden, its implementation even more so. The inhabitants [...]

Barentsburg highlights

Barentsburg, you say? Where on earth... ? The Svalbard archipelago has four settlements of significant size, one of them is Russian. Norway has sovereignty over the archipelago, but the Treaty of Svalbard ensures all parties equal access to scientific and economic activities in the islands. [...]

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