A view of the old railroad bridge over the Sava river in Belgrade, Serbia, photographed on April 29, 2019.
A complete removal of the railway bridge and the closing of the main railway station was done for the Belgrade Waterfront project, designed to completely rebuild a run-down area at the heart of the Balkan city of two million people.
163 years after his death, Honoré de Balzac remains an extremely modern-sounding wag.
Were he alive today, he’d no doubt be pounding out his provocative observations in a coffice, a café whose free wifi, lenient staff, and abundant electrical outlets make it a magnet for writers.
One has a hunch Starbucks would not suffice…
Judging by his humorous essay, “The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee,” Balzac would seek out a place that stays open past midnight, and the strongest, most arcane brewing methods.
The Bucket of Black Snakes was his Green Fairy. He was that most cunning of addicts, sometimes imbibing up to 50 cups of coffee a day, carefully husbanding his binges, knowing just when to pull back from the edge in order to prolong his vice.
Coffee — he called it a “great power in [his] life” — made possible a grueling writing schedule that had him going to bed at six, rising at 1am to work until eight in the morning, then grabbing forty winks before putting in another seven hours.
It takes more than a couple of cappuccinos to maintain that kind of pace.
Whenever a reasonable human dose failed to stimulate, Balzac would begin eating coffee powder on an empty stomach, a “horrible, rather brutal method” that he recommended “only to men of excessive vigor, men with thick black hair and skin covered with liver spots, men with big square hands and legs shaped like bowling pins.”
Apparently it got the job done. He cranked out eighty-five novels in twenty years and died at 51.
The cause? Too much work and caffeine, they like to say.
Other speculated causes of death include hypertension, atherosclerosis, and even syphilis.
Photo by Thangmar on Wikipedia | Copyright: Public Domain
Contributor: Josh (Admin)
More of an out-of-control tree than the lilting flower the name might suggest, the Rose of Hildesheim, otherwise known as the Thousand-Year Rose, is thought to be the oldest living rose on the planet, and it looks to continue to be for the foreseeable future since not even bombs can stop it.
Growing up the side of a columnar portion of Germany’s Hildesheim Cathedral, the now-bushy flower is thought to have been planted in the early 800s when the church itself was founded.
Miraculously, the hearty plant slowly crept up the side of the apse for hundreds of years, and still continues bud and bloom each year, producing pale pink flowers once a year (usually around May).
While the rose bush looks as though it’s big enough to have been growing for a thousand years, the plant has been nearly destroyed a number of times throughout its history.
Most notably the bush was nearly completely razed during the Second World War when Allied bombs annihilated the cathedral.
Every bit of the plant above ground was destroyed, but from the rubble, new branches grew from the root that survived.
Today the the base of the Thousand-Year Rose is protected by a squat iron fence and each of the central roots is named and catalogued to protect one of the oldest pieces of natural beauty one is lucky to find.