Saturday Surprise — Going Places!

Okay, friends … twice this week I have robbed you of the fun stuff, Jolly Monday and Good People Wednesday, so I am determined to provide a bit of fun today in hopes of making up for it.  We haven’t done any traveling for a while, so I went in search of really odd things we could go visit.  Are you up for a bit of an excursion?  Be sure to bring your coats, hats ‘n mittens, for at this time of year you never know what sort of weather we might run up against.  So, hop aboard the Filomobile and let’s head for our first destination …

First stop … the Netherlands!  Maybe we can pop in and visit my friend Choosing while we’re here!  But first, a housing community comprised completely of ball-shaped houses. ball-houses-1Bolwoningen (“ball homes” or “bulb homes”) is but one of the country’s housing experiments. The giant orbs stand in stark contrast to the conventional abodes located right across the street.

Artist Dries Kreijkamp was the mastermind behind the project, which was completed in 1984. Kreijkamp, who died in 2014, said he drew inspiration from clay huts in Africa and Inuit igloos. His logic behind the design is that round shapes are the most seminal and natural forms for living.ball-houses-3But to humans accustomed to living within more standard houses, dwelling within a concrete globe can feel unnatural. The buildings are best suited for single people or childless couples, as space inside is tight (592 square feet/55 square meters). The lowest level includes storage and central heating installations. A spiral staircase leads to a bedroom. Keep climbing the stairs, and you’ll then arrive at the level housing the toilet and shower. The highest part features a tiny living room and kitchen area.ball-houses-2Though interest in and funding for additional ball houses dwindled, this settlement is still going strong. People still live in Bolwoningen, and tourists have been known to wander by to gawk and gape at their unusual homes.

I’m thinking … no corners to clean!!!  Then again … the square/rectangular furniture might not fit so well, either.

Since we’re so close, let’s travel over to Derbyshire, England, where there is a giant snail sculpture I was hoping to check out …snail-1This magnificent example of public art is based at a location which was, from the 1990s until the early 21 century, a derelict industrial factory site between the Chesterfield railway station and the River Rother.  The derelict factory was demolished and replaced with a housing development. This spiral sculpture is a result of the Chesterfield Borough Council’s planning policy, which encourages all large developments to include up to one percent of the total investment for public art.snail-2Liz Lemon, the sculptor behind the artwork, used the land as inspiration, as the area is known for both Goniatite and gastropod fossils. She also paid homage to the land’s industrial past. Because the factory that formerly stood at the site built turbines for many of the world’s large hydroelectric dams, Lemon designed the sculpture in metal with a high precision finish to reflect the former factory’s dedication to high-quality engineering. Manthorpe Engineering completed the construction.snail-3The resulting sculpture is about 25 feet high. The spiral form was created from many sections of stainless steel sheets that vary in thickness, and the way it fits together is evocative of the types of pipework construction used in the hydropower plants that the former factory worked on. The artwork has five rows of “portholes” of reducing size all the way around the spiral. The internal cavity houses blue and green fiber optic lights that are switched on at night.

Pretty cool, yes?

You guys know I love Japan, right?  You didn’t know?  Well, you’re right … I’ve never been there except on virtual tours like this one, but from what I have seen, I think I love Japan.  And so, when we were invited to stop by Tokyo for a visit to a little bar in Kichijoji that boasts an elaborately decorated interior made up of skulls, skeletons, and even agony-filled faces of the damned adorning the walls, well, how could I resist?Tokyo-bar-4The name of the bar is Yurei Izakaya, named for ghosts known as yurei, and its decor, menu, and staff blend Japanese folklore with plenty of haunted house kitsch. The food and drinks are made to look like bloody eyeballs, impaled bodies, and various yokai (mythological monsters). Most reviewers rate their meals—which are standard izakaya fare—as average, so don’t be expecting 5-star dining – it’s all about the atmosphere!

The highlight of visiting Yurei is the “wasabi roulette” in which the guests eat an order of dumplings or kushikatsu and whoever gets the one filled with wasabi “dies.” The unlucky soul is then dressed in a white kimono and laid in a coffin in the middle of the bar. The waiter then chants a traditional Buddhist prayer, thus completing the mock funeral.  Isn’t this fun???

Back across the pond we go and let’s travel south to Argentina!Sarmiento-houseThis house was the former home of Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, Argentina’s seventh president. He was also the author of one of the country’s most important pieces of literature, Facundo, which is not only a testament to his political views, but also a reflection of Argentina’s history.Sarmiento-house-2Sarmiento also carried out some ambitious policies regarding education and had a tremendous influence on Argentina’s school systems. He trained new teachers and built new buildings for public schools. He successfully passed a sanction that guaranteed schools would be free and separate from religious teachings and opened various free libraries.Sarmiento-house-3Sarmiento lived with his family in this house after his tenure as president (1868-1874),  until he died in 1888. He chose a quiet abode in Tigre, a city within the delta around the La Plata River. Trees he planted still stand around the property, and the house still holds some of its original furniture. The building, which became a National Historic Monument in 1966 is encased in glass to protect it from the elements and now functions as a museum.

And now, folks, it’s time for us to head back home, for it is Saturday morning and I know we all have plenty to do, what with less than two weeks ‘til Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and just over six weeks ‘til Christmas.  I have mentioned postponing Christmas to my girls, but they weren’t amenable to the idea, especially when I said I wanted to postpone it until next December – 2019.  Sigh.  I’m lacking spirit this year.  Anyway, have a wonderful weekend, whatever you do!weekend

7 thoughts on “Saturday Surprise — Going Places!

  1. Dear Jill,

    Thanks for the fun world tour. I like the idea of those ball-shaped houses in the Netherlands but I wouldn’t want to live in one.
    The Japanese bar/ restaurant is hoot. My adult kids would love this.
    I only wish that there were more leaders like Domingo Faustino Sarmiento.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 1 person

    • I might like to try one of the ball-houses if I lived alone, but with my girls and 6 kitties — NO WAY!!! I ended up reading several articles about Sarmiento, for I was very impressed with him. He had the right ideas! Thanks for joining the tour … always fun to have you along! Hugs!!!


  2. Is tomorrow any kind of holiday in the States? In Canada and a lot of other places it is some form of Armistice Day, the offcial last day of World War I. Canada calls it Remembrance Day. It has become an official holiday for most Canadians. Peace to all!
    And thank you for today’s travels. Around the world in 8 minutes. Not bad at all…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sunday, the 11th, is Veterans Day … used to be called Armistice Day until it was changed circa 1954. But, it is celebrated on Monday so people who work for companies that are generous with holidays can have another day off to spend in the bars. It has also been, at some point, called Remembrance Day here, but now it’s just Veteran’s Day. A lot of businesses give free meals, etc., to veterans on that day.

      Liked by 1 person

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