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New York in Winter

Travelling to New York in April you notice that it’s still much colder there than in Europe. There was a major blizzard right before we arrived in 2018 (the last one in the season), and the mood in the city was rather grim. Though it’s not a bad time to visit the city as it was not as packed as I usually imagine it to be. There were some quiet moments to have, even in busy Manhattan. Time to look around and observe the last moments of winter right before the dawn of spring.

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Mostar: Journey in Time

In the last several series’ about Mostar I focussed on the war thorn past of the city. While the past conflicts are still vivid and can by seen when wandering the streets one should not dismiss the long history of Mostar as an Ottoman town. The historic buildings are situated in a scenic way alongside the river with the well known bridge of Mostar, which was rebuilt after the war entirely, marking the center. It’s also the place where the well known tradition of bridge jumping takes place. There are several beautiful mosques, paying tribute to the Islamic belief still followed by the people living in this part of the town. Walking the old town of Mostar truly feels like a journey in time.

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The Sniper Tower

The Sniper Tower is an abandoned high-rise building in the war-torn city of Mostar in Bosnia-Hercegovina. The eerie site is officially closed down but is still in use as a space for graffiti art. During the Bosnian war 1992 to 1995 it was used by Croatian snipers to target the near-by square, also hitting and killing many civilians. Today there is peace luckily, but Mostar is still divided between Catholic Croats and Muslim Bosniaks, the sniper tower marking the border of the two parts of the city and standing as a visible reminder and as a warning.

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Tokyo After Dusk

After the sun sets and the electric lights turn on the city of Tokyo changes its form. While during the day the seemingly endless sea of concrete and glass is roamed by people it gets surprisingly quiet by night. Unlike New York or other so called world capitals Tokyo generally sleeps at night. Japanese people work a lot and additional office hours are common, so sleep is valued highly. Hard to belief but even the sprawling subway system is shutting down service for night time, so it can be cleaned and maintained for the upcoming day. Of course there are exceptions as no city with the size and proportions of Tokyo can truly go to bed. Like in a fever dream people continue playing and gambling in places like the entertainment district Akihabara or go to Izakayas, a kind of Japanese pub, to meet people, eat and drink. And of course there are the lights illuminating the allies and streets of Tokyo, bringing day into the night.

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The Far East

The most astounding thing about the far east as I experienced it in Japan is that it is a busy place with people and cars everywhere you look, but still it is impossibly quite and calm at the same time. There is hardly any shouting on the sidewalks and beeping on the streets. Even cyclists won’t beep when passing by closely, but will rather slow down. There is an important sense of courtesy and carefulness in play here that can seem very foreign to a Westerner. Of course the culture is closely linked to the religions of the region, mostly Buddhism and Shintoism in Japan. So the feeling of quietness and serenity can be best understood in and around religious temples and shrines, which also tend to be beautiful places overall.

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