Tag: ultimate travel adventures

Graffiti Critique: Staining Europe’s Beautiful Landscape

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“Good” graffiti on the Berlin Wall

There is “good” graffiti and “bad” graffiti. But most of it is bad, and the problem is rampant in Europe these days! I thought the U.S. had a graffitti problem… until I returned to Europe after a long hiatus – and found it virtually unrecognizable. In the U.S., you see graffitti mostly on abandoned and condemned buildings on the outskirts, in decaying neighborhoods, and around subway and bus terminals in some, not all, cities. Across Europe, it seems, these hoodlums are happy to leave their mark anywhere and everywhere – including around historic sights, tourist neighborhoods, and the formerly pristine countryside.

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“Bad” graffiti across the river from the tourist-mobbed Berlin Wall

As an Art History major in college, most graffiti really offends my sense of aesthetic sensibility. I can’t believe there’s actually a raging debate about whether it’s o.k. because “it’s freedom of expression!” and “it’s art!” If you buy a building and spray paint it until your heart’s content, or you paint where it is allowed, that qualifies as self-expression and may even qualify you as an artist. But when you deface property that is not your own and without permission, you are a criminal, not an artist. And, frankly, even if it were art, that still wouldn’t give you the right to alter another’s property without permission! Yet there are a number of articles on the internet suggesting this is actually a debatable topic.

Another “argument” given by some is that the practice of grafitti is ancient, and that there is ancient grafitti which is considered art to us today. As a student of Art History, I agree that due to its historic value and cultural insight, ancient “graffiti” certainly is art. But we do not live in Ancient Rome today, and we were not there, as much as we may have studied and know about Ancient history. Their culture was different – and their laws. Just because something was acceptable then does not automatically make it acceptable now. That goes for grafitti, slavery, a lower status for women, and butchering animals in the arena. I’m fascinated by Ancient Rome, but Roman society has its place in Ancient history. Would these same people who argue grafitti is ok now because it was ok then say the same of these other activities? Their argument is deeply flawed.

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“Bad” graffiti steps away from Kronborg Castle deep in Copenhagen’s tourist district

I wonder why the graffitti isn’t removed and I ponder whether, perhaps, the problem is so rampant that building and other property owners have just given up. I wonder how many times they removed the offending marks just to have them turn up again?

I believe there IS a place for graffitti, and I believe it can be art. There are locations where the spray painting has been allowed – in confined areas where it is not imposing on another’s personal property, or on a person’s appropriate use of property (such as when grafitti “artists” paint over train windows obstructing the view of customers who paid 4.50 Euros for reserved window seats…!) The Berlin Wall is an ideal (and rare) example of the positive impact graffiti can have on a structure.

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Graffiti as art on the Berlin Wall

In the U.S., unless a building is abandoned, in many cases an owner will expeditiously remove unwelcome graffiti. It sends a message that this behavior is not tolerated. In Europe, I fear that by not responding, the opposite message is being sent, potentially making the problem even more rampant. Europe is already buried under the weight of the blanket of graffiti everywhere you look.

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Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial’s gray blocks – covered in anti-graffiti coating

The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin shows that on some large-scale projects, efforts are being taken to deter the graffiti scourge. The memorial is covered in anti-graffiti coating, and the gray color resists shadowing. I hope other civil engineering projects in Europe will follow suit with this defense against the graffiti that threatens the integrity of our treasured monuments.

I understand that property owners may be concerned the graffiti will just come back, and are hesitant to spend the money for removal for that reason. That is why the government needs to step in and make penalties far more severe for the defacement of private property. Perhaps then owners would be more inclined to respond, and “taggers” would be less inclined to repeat their bad behavior.

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How do you feel about the graffiti covering the landscape of Europe? Comment below!

 

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Freeport, Bahamas Chill and Thrill!

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Adventure by ATV!

The (regrettably) last stop on our back-to-back cruise on the Pride was Freeport, Bahamas. With little to do at port other than visit a handful of overpriced shops, an adventure was in order instead! This combination thrilling ATV ride, chill-out botanical gardens visit, and brief, beer-enhanced beach break fit the bill perfectly!

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Sights and sounds to delight in

Claude Monet would have relished in the views of the gardens here. Many of the scenes I witnessed resembled the splash of the impressionist brush and would have been the perfect template for the next great Impressionist painting.

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Claude Monet would have approved

The botanical gardens provided a breathtaking array of not only plant life but wildlife. I enjoyed seeing more wildlife on this tour than most of the so-called “wildlife” tours I’ve signed up for in the past, and it was a very pleasant surprise! With my feathery friend and tour guide, I was basking in the beauty of the exotic plants, trees, and flowers as my ears delighted in the sounds of waterfalls, fountains, and singing birds.

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Getting back to your roots

Lush and lively were the botanical gardens, satisfying so many senses with the sights, sounds, and smells. It was a joy to explore, looking forward to what surprises could be found around every corner.

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The scent of these African flowers was intoxicating

I quickly realized why so many in the animal kingdom chose to call this place home. Deterred by a time limit on my tour from getting lost in the labyrinth, I contemplated how found it could feel to spend the day getting lost in there, surrounded by this natural wonderland.

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A bounty of beautiful birds

After frolicking in this fantastic natural wonder, it was time to explore the natural beauty of the Bahamas on four wheels! The ATVs were ready and waiting! I had never tried driving an ATV before, so admittedly I was apprehensive. But it was easy and I had a blast! The tour guides provided a sandbox opportunity to get used to the ATVs before we headed out onto bumpy ground, and I was completely comfortable after this tutorial.

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I went with the Army green!

We traversed bumpy dirt jungle roads on the way to the beach, my ATV navigating huge tree roots and rocks with the utmost conviction. Fending off whiplash, I reveled in the back road excitement and “backdoor” views. GoPro on my chest, I contemplated whether to edit the bouncy footage out of my video and decided that the rugged nature of the experience was paramount in conveying what the experience was like to my viewers. You can view the video below!

The beach break was the last stop, but with the beach swarmed with schoolchildren and cold, local brews beckoning at the bar, I settled on a beer break instead!

You can view my experiences of the day here!:

 

Stay tuned next for my series on Europe including the Baltic Sea cruise on Norwegian Breakaway and independent travel in Germany! Thanks for reading and hope you will join me again next time!

Princess Cays, Bahamas: a Hedonistic Retreat!

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Private Bungalows at Princess Cays

Princess Cays is irresistible, with a rainbow of boldly colorful bungalows, windswept palm trees, powdery sands, and brilliant aqua waters suitable for scuba or swim. It’s the ultimate hedonistic retreat! Princess Cays in the Bahamas is privately owned by Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruises, and you will find the stop only on these ships’ Caribbean itineraries. The private bungalows available for rent, and housing up to four people, are the perfect retreat from the crowds swarming the buffet and at the other end of the beach around the shops, party vibe, and live music.

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My playful pink paradise

With your bungalow rental, you receive four lounge chairs and a beach umbrella, lots of very satisfying snacks (allowing avoidance of the crowded buffet!) including a bounty of fresh fruit, vegetables and dip, and chips with salsa and guacamole, a cooler of sodas, a shower, and an air conditioned haven from the heat and/or rain. There’s also an electrical outlet for gaming and social media addicts (you know who you are!) Scuba gear and floats are also included if you are so inclined.

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In the shade of the palm trees life is good

Steps away from the beach, life is tough: having to decide whether to lounge around and soak in the sun on your private lounger, partake in the abundance of snacking delights in the cabana, or cool down in the crystal clear, soothing Bahamian waters. After a stroll to get the lay of the land, I did all three… three times!

If you can avoid the crowds in the area of the beach closest to the tender port, Princess Cays provides an extremely peaceful, relaxing experience. My perky pink cabana home for the day, it was paradise. It was an enviable escape, the perfect place for zen-like meditation, tranquility, and contemplation.

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More palm trees than people at this end of the beach

After not nearly enough time, it was time to return to the ship to head towards Freeport, Bahamas, completely relaxed, refreshed, and recharged in this perfectly peaceful place.

Want a tour? You can see it here:

Donation

I am extremely grateful for your generous donation to help keep the site running! This site and individual posts are not sponsored! A dollar may not be a lot, but every dollar counts!

$1.00

 

Next week: Freeport, Bahamas, followed by my trip to Europe with new, upgraded filming equipment in tow! Hope you can come along for the adventure!