Friday, 1 July 2016

Visiting Belarus in Second Life

Where I live in RL, Belarus is usually mentioned only in the context of its long-ruling President Lukashenko (in power since 1994!), dubbed as "Europe's last dictator." I'll be the first to admit that I know very little about the country and its history, and so I couldn't pass on the opportunity to visit Belorussian capital Minsk - in Second Life.

Landing point is a large square in front of the city's iconic social-realist government building - Independence Palace - with a large map of Belarus on the ground.

Walking down the street towards east gets you to the escalators which you can take to go inside the underground train station.

The station needs some improvement, as you can easily fall off the wall and end up on the neighbouring parcel...

...or among the dancing sirens on the level below!

Back on the ground level, I spent some time clicking on the links available on the kiosk. They all take you to various Belorussian newspapers. As a native speaker of Croatian, I was surprised by how much I could understand.

Not far from the train station is a large church with a rather colourful interior.

Back on the central square, I went to check out the Independence Palace. To be honest, it was a pleasant surprise. There's a number of galleries depicting the history of Belarus, from the medieval times until the 1990s, also showing the country's notable scientists, writers and historical figures. Interestingly, not a word of Lukashenko.

You can flick through the books and, even though everything is in Belorussian, the illustrations are quite nice.

On the other side of the city there's a monument dedicated to victory in WW2...

...and a small store where you can pick up a few Belarus-themed freebies, such as these T-shirts.

Also available there are displays of the country's postage stamps and RL clothes featuring typical Belorussian folk ornaments.

Just when I was about to TP back home, I realized there was another underground train station not far from there. Or that's what it looked like at first... When you walk down, there's actually a relatively large underground area turned into a lake. Who knew there were crocodiles in the lakes of Belarus! :D

Giving the limited size of the parcel, it's probably a good use of space, although I guess a bit different textures on the side walls would have been more effective....

All in all, Belarus in SL may not be the most visually appealing sim out there, but it is interesting and worth a visit. One thing I would definitely suggest adding are the signs and translations in English, which would make the place much more informative for those who don't understand a word of Belorussian and can't read the Cyrillic letters.

Overview of Belarus in Second Life
To visit Belarus, follow this SLurl.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Silent Movie Night: The Abyss

After last week's Hitchcock thriller The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog, the next movie we'll be watching at Refugium is the Danish film The Abyss (Afgrunden), made in 1910. 

Directed by Urban Gad, The Abyss launched Asta Nielsen into international stardom. It was considered so scandalous that it was censored in several countries, including Norway and Sweden. 

Until the beginning of World War 1, Danish cinema was the Hollywood of Europe, and thanks to the success of The Abyss, erotic melodrama continued to be its preferred genre throughout the 1910s.

Come join us for this gem of early movie history, this Friday, 1st July at 1pm SLT. To reach Refugium, follow this SLurl.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Rockin' in the Fjord

Yesterday we had the first music event on Norgaard Island in East Fjord Grieg. DJ Elf Starsider spinned some classic rock tunes for us at the newly open houseboat Cafe & Lounge.

With the tragic events in Orlando still in the thoughts of many, there were a lot of pride flags waving in show of support.

After the party, Duncan and I stayed behind to clean up, but not before we had a few beers...

Thanks again to everyone who joined us! Elf's DJ sets will be a regular event on the Island, and I'll keep you posted on the next one.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Tethys Revisited

A few days ago I briefly visited Tethys on the SL continent of Sansara, not far from the snowy regions. About two years ago I owned some land there - a sort of home away from home. I named it Pine Cliffs.

I haven't been able to retrieve many snapshots from that time, but here are a few that show what the place looked like back then.

Down by the river - great for rafting - I had a small church and a green market. An elevator would take you up the mountain to my house.

I'm reminiscing on it now because I've realized that one of those parcels, currently on sale, still has a lot of my things rezzed there. The next owner asked me if he could keep them, and I was okay with that. Coming there after so much time and finding my rocks, trees, animals and builds still intact made me feel nostalgic.

I went to say hello to my elks and squirrels, and then I stopped by the mountain shelter high up in the rocky mountains. The new owner hadn't made any changes at all.

The only thing  that has changed are the surrounding parcels. At the time when I lived there, most of them were occupied, with not much abandoned land. There was a lot of trees, growing all the way down to the canyon - most of them mine, but then the neighbours rezzed some, too. The area, while far from perfect, at least looked lively. And this is what it looks like now!

It was strange to see only my own things there, and I don't even own any land there any more. I didn't have time to check whether all the surrounding parcels have been abandoned, or the people have chosen to move up in the skyboxes. Either way, it was a sad sight...

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Tarot Card History at Rocca Sorrentina

For centuries, tarot cards have been either a favourite pastime or reverently approached divination tool. The current Tarot Card History exhibition at Rocca Sorrentina provides a nice overview of the still unclear origins of tarot and how the tarot deck evolved, both in its design and purpose.

Up on the walls you can find relevant information and lots of illustrations.

Also interesting is the part on the darker times of the history of Europe, when playing with tarot could send you straight to gallows.

Make sure not to miss the final part of the exhibition, found in a side room towards the exit. It's a photo booth of sorts, where you can sit, pose and have your face adorn a number of tarot cards. I had to choose the Fool, my favourite one!

The exhibition has been open for a while now, make sure you visit before it closes. You can reach it by following this SLurl.

Friday, 17 June 2016

The cafe is back!

Ever since I've owned land in Second Life, a small cafe of some sort was always one of the features on my parcels. When I moved to Second Norway, I kept shrinking it down - due to prim limit, mostly - until only one coffee table remained at the dock, a far cry from what my friends and visitors were used to.

Well, today I'm reopening a proper cafe: a boat cafe and lounge. It's going to put some pressure on my prim count, but I can make cuts elsewhere.

Since June is gay pride month I've themed it as a small gay club, at least for now, but everyone is welcome.

The sea level area is going to be more of a lounge, with some games and gadgets.

There's also men's room, which is a convenient addition... Before this I had to go pee in the bushes!

The cafe is on the upper level. There's also some music equipment and dance animations up there.

I'll be adding a few more things, food mainly, but the essentials are already there. When you're sailing around Second Norway, stop by for refreshments!

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

"Are We There Yet?" - Nautilus Road Trip #1

Last night I went on a road trip across Nautilus with a group of friends. The continent, previously not well known to me, has a really nice public road running across it - Route 12. While some of the other continents, such as Heterocera, have a more elaborate system of roads and railway tracks, Nautilus feels much less cluttered with typical mainland junk, which makes for a more pleasant drive.

We gathered on the eastern end of Route 12, in Rannveig. The rezz zone there served as a convenient place for everyone to rezz their vehicles. For the purpose of this event, we agreed to have a 1950s theme, and it was lovely to see all the period vehicles. I bet it's been a while since there was a proper traffic jam there (or on any other SL public road, for that matter)!

Although on the world map the Route seemed a bit long, it took only about 20 minutes to reach my petrol station in Odie, on the western part of the continent. Sadly, a few people had to leave us at that point, but after a short break we continued down the road.

It was another ten minutes or so, and we reached the end of Route 12 in Beatrice. There was nothing much to see there, but I wanted us to go visit Amakuni, a Japanese place a few sims back. To get there, we had to go back to Desdemona and drive across a few abandoned parcels. The first thing we reached in Amakuni was a forest with a rather narrow dirt road. There was a lot of honking, as you can imagine...

Soon it became impossible to continue the journey by car, but as we practically reached the destination, we continued to explore the town on foot. Amakuni spreads over several sims, and contains interesting and funny features, including free Japanese food and toys. After a long journey, the refreshments were very welcome!

Further from the central square there's a cafe/poetry club, a large church (designed for weddings, apparently), public baths, outdoor gym and other facilities, but nothing attracted more attention than the wrestling ring. Had I known Zoe was so strong, I'd never consent to playing with her!

Once I picked myself up, we went to check out a nice Shinto shrine on the hill above the town. 

A visit to this little piece of Japan on the western coast of Nautilus made for a very pleasant end of our first group road trip. I plan to organise more of these in the near future and I'll keep you all posted!