Full of tourists during the summer months, it clears in winter leaving space for snow, mist, and emptiness. Locals carry on with daily life in town, whilst the walks along the sea promenade are eerily beautiful and quiet.

It is always one of our favourite places in the world to spend a few days, and we always think of Mangalia with special fondness.

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Thailand. The humid and hot land, with smiling people driving in infernal traffic. A country with houses that spill their guts out in the street. Food stalls everywhere, delicious. Back streets with rats, big lizards, monkeys and tropical forests on islands. Tourists, odd pairs of old European men holding hands with young Thai women. A mix of amazing and baffling that might be the thing for some, or create irritation for others.

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Iceland. Just so that there is no suspense.  A “hot” touristic place, up to the point where locals are starting to moan that their local pub is now full of happy snappy tourists.

We’ve been there twice, both times with a couple of friends. Once to experience the music scene in the capital, and once to hit the road and do the full tour of the island.

It stroke me from the first time I’ve been there how good machinery ruins look on that magnificent island. Like in no other place. You can find them on the side of the road, in the backyards of remote farms, and at the end of a long empty road of some farm land, where black sand begins.

Some of them are really famous now, tourist attractions by all means, some of them are just sitting discarded by a family who has no need of them anymore. I assume it must be the fact that they are few people there, so far from each other especially in the villages, that it makes no point to transport them at a scrap yard. It looks like most farms or houses have their own machines’ cemetery.

I guess that for our mind, pre-filled with sci-fi movies imagery, it is the closest we will be to a post-apocalyptic scene outside a built set.

Put together in a series they also tell a nice story of the dots you tick as you circle the island, offering a rusty paint like snippets of a great land. They also capture all means of transport used by man, but also strange inner machinery cores unidentifiable for the common eye. Impossible film blends perfectly with every scene, capturing the right mood, or even adding its own fantastic layering. You just need to treat it nicely in the harsh conditions of Iceland. A warm pocket will do in most cases though.

Iceland is a bit like a miniature Earth itself, and is chilling in its majesty and in the fact that it can make you feel like one of the last people remaining on the planet.

Would go to visit again any time, any season. There is no shortage of things to see. And meanwhile, who knows, some more discarded objects will gain some beautiful patina.

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There is a land far away from Europe, but also far away back in time, when things used to be slower and people were fascinated by TV as the only in house entertainment and connection with outside world. We are swamped today with all kind of screens with internet connection, and the TV in the old sense, when it had a few channels to choose from, seems already somehow antiquated.

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Simone Lueck, with her series Cuba TV brings back a long forgotten charm, the one of the main apparatus of the house. The images are saturated in colours, the houses of the people are poor but welcoming, and retro seems to be the word of the day when we think of Cuba. Castro and baseball, cigars and Oldsmobile, rum and Hemingway.

Read the full story of Simone’s TV journey here and here.

We are putting the gloves on, and going to Havana in style, towards a fascinating past.

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Almost a full month ago, we took our bikes, jumped two trains and arrived in the lost resort of Morecambe. A seaside small town once famous and thriving with tourists, now losing the battle with the sunnier places of Europe and the assorted cheap flights.

What brought us there, apart from our usual need for discovering new corners of the island? Well, it was the second edition of a festival called Vintage by the Sea, promising classic bike rides, vintage cars on display, a market full of wonders to discover, an old school London double decker transformed into DJ booth from where great northern soul and other good vibes spread, and some a nice rave for the Saturday evening.

And we were not disappointed. We had all these, but also some great extras offered by Morecambe, like the beautiful Art Deco Midland hotel, the Winter Gardens, a former bath, bars, ballroom and theatre complex, now half ruined, half renovated, a classic British promenade, a former Odeon cinema Art Deco building, book shops, coffee places selling records, vintage advertise signs painted on buildings, and an overall charming feeling of what you could feel that for most part was a ghost town.

First things first, we checked in our old fashioned hotel, that had a very grumpy in sort of bored funny way owner, and who turned to be quite nice in the end, offering safe shelter for our bikes. Quite a blessing the festival he said, pointing at the no vacancy sign displayed in the window.

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From there we dived straight into the early festival atmosphere, and we had a nice warm up parading along the promenade in a “sea” of vintage, retro and new bicycles. Folks were dressed appropriately, showcasing some really fine machines and assorting gear. We also git to change ideas with other cyclists and even had a short ride on a great Puch 80’s folding bike.

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And then…full day of swinging and enjoying all the eye candies from another age…traditional amusements, dancing on the platform, assorted stalls with vintage clothes and other bits and pieces.

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Even the food was sold in retro ways.

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Discovering Morecambe was a really pleasant surprise, and we had fun identifying hints to a glorious past, savouring the empty streets behind the houses facing the promenade, and imaging how the life flows at the bay when the town is not flooded by crazy vintage fashionistas.

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Back to the centre of the festival we had a good share of classic punk anthems, which sounded surreal coming from the tiny Melodrome scene. But the guys in the band seemed like the real material and enjoyed themselves and the warm audience.

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From there, after a bit of rest at our charming hotel, we headed for a full night of acid house beats from the golden age of Hacienda. DJs Dave Haslam and Mike Pickering perfectly complemented each other and poured bliss in our ears, Haslam heating us up with excellent house anthems, while Pickering taking everybody to a trance state of non-stop dance. All this was made even more surreal in the space offered by the derelict Winter Gardens, the former ballroom and theatre. The statues and ornaments from the high ceiling were the perfect guards from vintage times.

Sunday was a perfect sunny day to be enjoyed by the sea. And in the surroundings of a Streamline Art Deco bijou like Midland Hotel, everything made even more sense. It was built in the 30’s, abandoned in the 90’s and brought back to life in the new millennium. With those cars left there after the classic car show, it seemed to literally take you back to the time when it was opened. And those sculpted sea horses…

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Photo28_25The stroll was great that Sunday and left us with great memories and images to be enjoyed later. A great festival in the perfect place, check their page here.

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