A trifecta of the iconic landmarks, all in one composition.
La Défense is a major business district just west of Paris. If you keep going in a straight line from here, you’ll end up right at the Arc de Triomphe, on the exact opposite side of the Champs-Élysées.
The temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum, at the foot of the Capitoline Hill.
The Rijksmuseum and the IAMSTERDAM sign.
Early June sailing requires busting out a skiing jacket to stay warm - the city is around 18-20ºC, the water is just 6-7ºC and the wind keeps the air at a cool 10ºC.
So here’s the thing - this was originally just an ad. The sign was created in 1923 as an advertisement for a local real estate development that was supposed to stay there for a year and a half. It’s essentially a 1920s equivalent of a condo model unit. And it didn’t even spell out “HOLLYWOOD” - it was originally “HOLLYWOODLAND” and the sign would flash “HOLLY”, “WOOD” and “LAND” on repeat. Then in 1949 the “LAND” part was removed to represent the district rather than the housing development. Then by the 1970s it got into such a bad shape, some of the letters broke in half and others fell down completely, spelling out “HuLLYWO D” instead. The sign that is physically there right now is the result of the 1978 restoration initiative that replaced the original letters with new ones that were 5’ shorter. And who was the person who organized the public campaign to restore the sign? Hugh Hefner. Yes, THE Hugh Hefner. You’re welcome, world, Hugh gotcha back.
The Trakai Island Castle (Trakų salos pilis), one of the main centres of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, started in the 14th century by Kęstutis and completed around 1409 by his son Vytautas the Great. The castle lost its military importance soon after the Battle of Grunwald, when the chief enemy of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was defeated by the Lithuanian-Polish army. Thereafter it got transformed into a residence. Later on it served as a prison. During the wars with Muscovy in the 17th century, the castle got damaged and was not reconstructed, falling into disrepair. It didn't get fully reconstructed until the 20th century.
It looks very nice and sunny, but since we’re mere 2º south of the Arctic Circle, don’t get any ideas of swimming in that beautiful, blue water (that’s what the hot springs are for). The summer is strange - despite it being May and the sun shining brightly, it is far from scorching. And the fact that it’s bright out 22hours of the day doesn’t actually help with the warmth aspect (if you compare it to a much less sunny, but much warmer London). Catch a bit of a wind-gust, and you’ll want a sweater and a windbreaker (and to get back inside). But that’s alright, because a much better place to be at is a hot spring. You can go to one and even if the air temperature is 12-15ºC, because the water is hot, you’ll feel very comfortable. And if you do it on a sunny day, you’re guaranteed to get a tan. So yeah, just 2º south of the proper Arctic, you can go swimming in your bikini and expect to get a sunburn. Iceland - tis a magical, weird place.
Hope Town is a small village on Elbow Cay in Abaco. “Small” is quite literal - the total population is ~500 and most streets are so narrow only golf carts and/or bicycles are allowed on them. Although visited by Lucayan Indians earlier, the first known permanent residents arrived in 1785 who were British loyalists fleeing the newly independent United States of America for the nearest British territory in the Bahamas. Between 1785 and 1959 Elbow Cay and the Abacos were very isolated and the residents survived by fishing, limited trading, and salvaging of ships wrecked on Elbow Reef. Then in 1959 the Marsh Harbour Airport was built, which brought in more tourists and increased the number of residents. The harbour of Hope Town is popular with sailors, as Elbow Cay protects the boats from the rough water of the Atlantic, seen in the background.
View from the roof of Centre Pompidou.
During the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in World War II, Prague Castle became the headquarters of Reinhard Heydrich, the "Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia”. Heydrich was described by Hitler himself as “the man with the iron heart” - with praise like that it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Heydrich was one of the organizers of the Kristallnacht and the man behind the Final Solution. In January 1942 he chaired the Wannsee Conference during which the details of the Final Solution were worked out and set in motion. The Nazi plan to mass-murder Jews in Poland starting in July 1942 was named after Heydrich - Operation Reinhard. The good news is that within the first year of taking residence at Prague Castle, the Czech resistance carried out Operation Anthropoid (Greek word for "having the form of a human”) and fatally wounded Heydrich, injuring his diaphragm, spleen and lung which lead to his death 9 days later from sepsis. The bad news is that the Nazis carried out reprisals for Heydrich’s death by massacring 5,000 Czech civilians. In the village of Ležáky, all adults were killed in the reprisals. In the village of Lidice, 199 men were executed, 195 women were deported to concentration camps, and 95 children taken prisoner. Some of the kids taken from Lidice were taken for adoption by German families, but 81 were killed in gas vans at the Chełmno extermination camp. Both villages were razed to the ground. That was the price paid in human lives for killing a single SS-Obergruppenführer.
An end of the weekend #sunset at Man-O-War Cay.