Category Archives: Lifestyle

NATO supper at Prado Museum

Madrid 29.06.2022 The leaders of 44 countries participating in the 32nd NATO Summit organised in Madrid, the capital of Spain, had dinner at the Prado National Museum.

The dinner event offered to the leaders by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez brought together the heads of state and government, foreign and defense ministers from 30 NATO member countries, and also 14 countries that participated in the Summit as guests.

The meal was prepared by Spanish chef Jose Andres, who went to Ukraine for humanitarian aid in the first months of the war, and the Kiev Symphony Orchestra also gave a concert.

The leaders also had the opportunity to see some of the works of famous Spanish painters Diego Velazquez and Francisco de Goya in the museum.

Biden’s granddaughters, daughters of Hunter, Maisy and Finnegan fill in for Jill at a lavish NATO dinner.

BRAFA: glorious Brussels art fair

Brussels 17.06.2022 Anna van Densky The 67th edition of the international BRAFA Art Fair takes place from Sunday 19 and Sunday 26 June 2022 at Brussels Expo. A unique occasion for art lovers to admire several millennia of artistic creation presented by 115 established and new art galleries.

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From 10,000 to 15,000 works ranging in different categories: from archaeology to contemporary art and design will be presented in Brussels. From a unique Murano blown glass luminary, to the painting ‘Les amoureux aux deux bouquets et le peintre’ by Marc Chagall, both collectors and art lovers will have the opportunity to enjoy exceptional drawings, paintings, furniture, sculpture, jewellery, tribal art, design…

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Whilst this change of scenery from Tour and Taxi to Brussels Expo has undoubtedly breathed new life into BRAFA, the Fair has also retained its essential values: quality, authenticity and eclecticism. Collectors will be able to explore the aisles where long-standing galleries and 18 new exhibitors will be displayed in a circuit that promotes discovery and a mix of styles.

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This year, amongst other novelties, and faithful to its constant evolution, BRAFA will be welcoming
the Galerie Kevorkian, specialised in the arts of the ancient East and Islamic Civilization, alongside
twenty other specialties. Traditionally than 80 independent experts were invited prior to the opening to rigorously scan thousands of works.

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Collectors will find fascinating objects from all over the world. As a Belgian fair, BRAFA boasts many precious pearls of Belgian art, including Samuel Van Hoegaerden, who will exhibit logograms by Christian Dotremont.
Francis Maere will present a stand devoted to the sculptures and drawings of Eugene Dodeigne. The
Collectors Gallery will exhibit a beautiful bracelet by Pol Bury, and two exceptional
Paul Delvaux masterpieces which can be admired at Stern Pissaro and De Jonckheere.

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BRAFA 2022 will also be a great opportunity to get to know the works of artists from outside Europe,
including the Cameroonian artist Barthélémy Toguo at Nosbaum Reding, the American artist Summer
Wheat at Zidoun-Bossuyt Gallery and the American-Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu at Galerie
Boulakia.

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As the centrepiece of its stand, Montagut Gallery (stand 80) will be presenting an exceptional Soninke
statue, from the Dogon culture, Mali, thirteenth century.

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A selection of “fetishes” from the Democratic Republic of Congo will also be on display, at Didier Claes.
The exhibition “Nkisi” focuses on the beauty of these “force-objects” which, through the addition of various elements, were magically charged and enabled access to their ritual function of divination and
communication with the spirits. Dalton Somaré (stand 111) will present a very graphic portrait mask,
Baule, Côte d’Ivoire, late nineteenth century, with traces of polychrome.

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Global: 4,5K flights cancelled

Brussels 25.12.2021 Global Christmas travel suffered with over 2,100 flights canceled amid surging COVID-19 cases. United Airlines canceled 177 flights and Delta canceled 150 flights on Christmas Eve due to shortage of staff.

Dozens of flights across Australia have been cancelled, with thousands of airline staff being forced into isolation.

Over 4,500 flights have been cancelled around the world in the past two days and thousands more were delayed as the highly infectious #Omicron variant disrupted holiday travel, according to tracking website #FlightAware:

Additional holiday travel restrictions

Brussels 25.12.2021 Anna van Densky The Omicron variant is “in the process of becoming or has already become dominant in several countries, including Denmark, Portugal and the United Kingdom” according to the World Health Organisation, which is supposed to lead to an increase in the number of patients in need of hospiatlisation.

Sweden announced a restriction of the conditions of entry into its territory for travellers from other countries of the European Union, who will have from December 28 to present a negative Covid-19 test, even if they are vaccinated. However, children under 12 and travellers of Swedish nationality or residing in Sweden are not obliged to comply with this rule.

Seven other EU member states – Portugal, Ireland, Cyprus, Latvia, Italy, Greece and Austria – already require a negative test, even for those vaccinated from the EU, and Finland announced on Tuesday evening that she was going to do the same.

Thousands of travellers have cancelled their Christmas travel plans due to the spread of the Omicron virus worldwide, and in particular, forced by the travel restrictions imposed by the governments in a bid to halt the spread of the new COVID-19 virus variant.

Just in days before Christmas, Europe has been stepping up restrictions to cope with in upcoming surge of the Omicron variant. A variant “in the process of becoming or already become dominant in several countries, including Denmark, Portugal and the United Kingdom”, according to the WHO, and whose very high contagiousness could have serious consequences on the collective level – the outbreak of contaminations automatically leading to an increase in the number of hospitalised patients.

Travel within the European Union: the validity of the vaccination certificate limited to nine months. The validity of a European Covid digital certificate, when it concerns the vaccination of its holder for intra-EU travel, has been limited to nine months (270 days), the European Commission confirmed on Tuesday December 21, while vaccination campaigns are continuing in the EU for the booster dose.

This provision aims to harmonise the various rules in force in the Member States. The validity period adopted takes into account the guidelines of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), according to which booster doses are recommended no later than six months after the end of the first cycle of vaccination. The certificate will remain valid for a grace period of three additional months, in order to allow the adaptation of national vaccination campaigns and citizens’ access to booster doses.

Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders defended this harmonisation, while several countries already require a PCR test when entering their territory, even for an intra-EU traveller who has already been vaccinated.

“Unilateral action in member states would bring us back to the fragmentation and uncertainties we experienced last spring. The nine-month acceptance period for vaccination certificates will give citizens and businesses the certainty they need to plan their trips with confidence. It is now up to the member states to ensure that the reminders are deployed quickly to protect our health and ensure the safety of travel “, commented the Belgian commissioner, quoted in a statement.

Champagne sales record year

Brussels 11.12.2021 The outlook for the key Christmas and New Year festive season, however, is clouded by uncertainty over the recently detected Omicron variant of the coronavirus, but Champagne sales are expected to mark a record year as shops and restaurants replenish stocks after months of virus-related restrictions and as retail demand surges, an industry body said Friday, December 10.

Jean-Marie Barillere, co-president of the CIVC Champagne industry association and president of the Champagne brand group UMP, told AFP that the sector was headed for sales of 315 million bottles this year, representing turnover of 5.5 billion euros ($6.2 billion).

If confirmed, that would beat the current annual sales record of 5 billion euros, reached in 2019, before Covid struck.

The sales increase comes after severe spring frosts followed by summer rains wreaked havoc on French vineyards, some of which are forecast to report harvest losses of as much as a third for the year.

But Champagne must be aged more than a year and producers traditionally keep millions of bottles stored in their cellars to ensure steady supplies from one year to the next.

Strong exports, especially to English-speaking countries, were a big factor for the bumper year, Barillere said.

“The pandemic has created new consumer habits,” he said. “Everything related to entertaining at home is in high demand, including champagne.”

However the prospects for traditional events and restaurant dining over Christmas and New Year’s depends on Covid developments, and whether the Omicron strand prompts new travel restrictions, curfews or lockdowns.

Europe: Omicron hits travel

Brussels, 11.12.2021 TUI (TUIFF) says a surge in Covid-19 infections and the Omicron variant is taking its toll on winter holiday bookings.

Europe’s biggest travel company said on Wednesday, December 8, it had been seeing “positive momentum” in bookings but that had weakened because of “the increased media coverage of rising [coronavirus] incident rates and the emergence of new Omicron variant.”

The company said that if “current sentiment prevails,” it would likely only operate around 60% of pre-pandemic capacity, towards the lower end of where it had hoped to be. Bookings for this winter were currently at 62% of levels seen in 2018-2019, it added.

“In light of recent trends, capacity will likely be modified towards the lower end of our winter capacity plans of between 60% and 80%. We expect the current short-term booking behavior to continue,” TUI said in its annual report.

Covid-19 infections have been rising in some of TUI’s most important markets. Germany on Wednesday recorded its highest number of daily deaths from Covid-19 since February, as it struggles to bring a fourth wave of the pandemic under control.

In the United Kingdom, pressure is mounting on the government to introduce tougher restrictions to try to limit infections amid rising case numbers. The seven-day rolling average on November 29 was over 45,000, the highest it’s been since a peak around October 17.

Venice Floating Nativity

Brussels 06.12.2021 Venice has been attracting people for hundreds of years, and with a natural setting as its lagoon, where even a floating nativity scene has become an open-air artwork.

The floating nativity scene brings the magic of Christmas in the lagoon of Venice with baby Jesus emerging from the waters, surrounded by a floating Joseph and Mary under the sunset near the island of Burano.

Due to the changes of sunlight throughout the day and with the water enhancing the colours of the silhouettes, the scene offers an atmosphere of serenity throughout the day.

The artwork, created by Francesco Orazio, a greengrocer with an artistic talents, was completed on Saturday, December 4, in an open stretch of water, out of the way of vessels.

The painted plywood Nativity figures were fixed by wooden stakes and then anchored on the bottom of the lagoon. And, for a couple of hours a day, the feet of the statues are exactly level with the water.

Omicron: France restricts travel

Brussels 02.12.2021 France has announced new rules for all travellers – vaccinated or not – arriving in France from non-EU countries in the face of the new variant of Covid-19 named Omicron.

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal, speaking after the weekly meeting of the government’s Defence Council on Wednesday, on December 1, announced the implementation of new rules aimed at controlling the spread of the newly-detected Omicron variant.

A government Decree published on Thursday, December 2, provides more detail.

The new rules come into force at 00.01 AM on Saturday, December 4th, and the testing requirements apply to everyone aged 12 or older – including those who have French citizenship or permanent residency in France.

All travellers – vaccinated or not – will require a negative Covid test in order to enter France from any country outside the EU or Schengen zone. This would include travellers from the UK, the USA and Canada.

The test must have been taken within 48 hours of departure. The decree states that only tests “that are able to detect protein N of Sars-Cov2” can be used – this covers all PCR tests but not all antigen tests. Home tests have never been accepted for travel purposes.

Spain: torture as entertainment

Brussels 13.10.2021 “Spain… join the 21st century! This game is a sadistic form of torture that reminds us of the times when gladiators were fighting in the colosseum or even before!!” calls OIPA NGO, demanding to stop the barbarism of torturing bulls with fire for fun. The ritual usually takes place every year around 13th November at midnight.

However all this suffering is only the beginning: the following day the bull will be killed in a slaughterhouse.
What is even more astonishing is that the event represents a huge risk also for humans that are watching. A few months ago, a 71-year-old man has been charged by a bull on fire in Jerica and died, for instance. Those in charge of organizing these festivals refuse to accept the danger to humans and say it is not that painful after all for the bulls.

The bull is tied to a pole in the middle of a square. In the meantime, hot ashes are scattered around the floor of the arena. Five bonfires, one for each of the holy martyrs of Medinaceli, light up the bullring where the ritual will take place.

The torture begins: a wooden frame is forcibly attached to the bull’s head. Either sides of the wooden frame are then set on fire, giving the impression that the bull has flaming horns.
The poor creature is then released and can do nothing but run around in pain at extremely high speed with the risk to crash, in an attempt to escape the flames and avoid the bonfires. The animal would probably have been blinded because of the fire burning its cornea. Every so often bulls hit their heads so fast that they die.

This atrocious physical and mental torture, considered as a “tradition” takes the name of ‘Toro Jubilo’ or ‘Bou Embolat’ and is still practiced in two Spanish regions, namely Catalonia and the Valencia Community.

Spain: man dies at bull festival

Brussels 31.10.2021 A 55-year-old man has died at a bull festival in Spain – marking the first death of its kind in the country since the start of the pandemic. The man died as a result of the grave injuries caused by a bull when he participated in the ‘bous al carrer’ in the Castellón town of Onda, as sources from the Ministry of Health have confirmed to Europa Press.

The provoked animal was filmed Saturday, October 30 lifting the reveller in the air on the end of its horns and dumping him on the ground as shocked onlookers were attempting to find a refuge in a shop next door.

Some of the party goers tried to entice the bull away to stop it attacking the injured man again as he lay unconscious on the ground.

The injured man was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead after haemorrhaging blood from a gore wound in his left thigh near to his groin which had perforated his femoral artery. VIDEO of dramatic moments of incident below:

He has also received a severe blow to the head that has caused a head injury, according to the newspaper ‘Levante-EMV’.

Onda town hall officials announced they were suspending the rest of the night’s events when they learned he had lost his life.

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