Author: Margit Rüdiger

CultureAndCream Author from Munich To travel during my profession as a beauty journalist was never enough for my. Also my six month on a world trip didn't do it. It always attracts me to other cities, foreign countries, on roadtrips and places I don't know yet. But I am not only interested in "culture" and "cream", I am also fascinated by people who have stories to tell .  Such unique experiences I want to share with you.

The large format pictures of photo artist Markus Rock are anything but nice and pleasing compositions. His oeuvre, he has already shown on many international exhibitions like the NordArt, is provocative and thought-provoking.

Markus Rock’s photographic work centres on the question of what it means to be human in contemporary society. His earlier series show de-contextualised naked female and male bodies floating on black surfaces. The prints confront us with different states of individual being. But they also thematise the universal human longing for intimate and meaningful relationships. The physicality of the human body, the images suggest, is the landscape into which such searches for and struggles over human identity and selfhood – individual and collective — are inscribed. The ultra-realistic aesthetics of Rock’s photography can be deeply unsettling because the boundary between the body’s reality and its representations is kept open, porous and undefined. The powerful drama of human life is there for us to see and we are inescapably drawn right into it, complicit in the construction of ‘the Other’. The struggles of fellow human beings for dignity and recognition, Rock’s powerful images remind us, are always part of our own.

Modern vanitas symbolism

In his most recent work Markus Rock continues his visual exploration into what it means to be human in today’s world. He is particularly interested in what role material culture plays in who we think we are. Is there a meaning to the physical world that goes beyond its materiality, its mere use value? Rock is inspired by the old genre of vanitas still-lives which first emerged during the Golden Age of Dutch and Flemish culture in the 16th and 17th century. Decorating the parlours of the burgeoning merchant and bourgeois classes such meticulously arranged and amazingly realistic paintings aimed to show off the wealth of the patrons. They also celebrated the then growing stress on worldly accomplishments and human abilities: colourful paintings carefully combined the precious, rare and exceptional produced by the arts and to be found in nature with the pleasures of the mundane: flowers, bread, cheese, fruits and vegetables, books, jewels, golden and silver wine-filled chalices, scientific objects, maps, mirrors, Venetian glass, Chinese porcelain, silver cutlery, Indian cloth and Turkish carpets. Such opulent paintings were – and still are – a material feast for the eyes. Some of the objects there depicted, however, such as the hourglass and even more importantly the human skull, drove home another profound, if invisible, philosophical message: all is vanity, they reminded the viewer, and thus pointed to the transience and brevity of human life as well as to the shallowness of all human pleasures, of power, beauty and wealth. All material things and personal achievements amassed during your own life time, the painting warned, are insignificant. The essence of your being is your immaterial eternal soul granted to you by God. Such profound Christian beliefs led the still-live paintings to ooze in symbolism and to depict allegorical compositions in which every element had a deeper, hidden meaning to be deciphered by the pious onlooker. It was only at first sight that a vanitas painting celebrated worldly goods, possessions and human abilities. Their exuberant materiality ultimately aimed to take the viewer beyond the shallow materiality of the physical world onto a spiritual journey to encounter and explore the mysteries of the human condition, and renew one’s faith in the love and power of the Almighty.

Meanings of being human

The peculiar double-meaning of such early modern paintings radiates a unique aesthetics which inspires Rock’s carefully staged 12 vanitas photographs, all of which are immersed in dark atmosphere. But he gives this old genre a fresh meaning. Each of the pictures juxtaposes a skull with a carefully composed scenery of familiar objects used in our contemporary consumerist culture and many of these compositions carry a significant dose of satire. Arrangements such as the ‘conversation’ of the human skull with an empty and seemingly hastily thrown-away bag of crisps or the assembly of battered-looking plastic toys are humorous and even funny. But they don’t make you laugh full-heartedly. One cannot help wondering what it means to be human in our throw-away global consumerist culture. What are we as humans if all we produce is trash? What is left of the faith in human dignity and unique abilities so cherished by our early modern ancestors if human knowledge today is reduced to quick visual searches on the web to be downloaded by everyone onto a cheap electronic device? Is the human skull still a meaningful reference to human mortality at the time when the cognitive life sciences are promising us to soon be able to unlock the mysterious of eternal life in our brain chemistry? What is left of the earthly pleasures such as delicious foodstuff if consumed in a haste from plastic containers? Does the material world really have no deeper meaning to us than its immediate use value? Rock’s vanitas images celebrate the pleasures of sight but, simultaneously, they also leave us deeply unsettled: meanings are emptied, plastic consumerism seems to take their place and the shock of a global trash culture lingers in one’s mind. One is left with the old question: who am I in all of this?

Author: Dr. Claudia Stein
About: Markus Rock was born 1962 in Solingen/Germany. He started his career as a makeup artist, stylist and produktion designer, before he became a photographer himself. For 25 years he worked in San Francisco, Munich, Paris and Barcelona for a variety of international customers as Vivienne Westwood, Harper’s Bazaar, Madame, Levis, MTV and Sony Music. Since 2008 Berlin is the center of his life.

Hardly anyone comes back from a vacation in Thailand without the tin with its golden lid and the colourful sleeve with the tiger around it. In Asian countries you will encounter them at every nook and corner – on the market, at street stalls or in the boutique of your holiday resort.

They cost almost nothing, if you compare it to western medicines. And that is exactly how the locals use the balm. It is brought to the aid of almost all ailments, each sort of tension and inflammation, also for the navel care of human and animal newborns. Tigerbalm should not be missing in any household. Also with us, it is now part of the basic equipment in the handbag of many women. Because it helps, when a sudden headache attack is announced, with itchy insect bites or to clear the nose when you have a cold.

Monkey versus tiger

Many people think, the healing balm is originated in Thailand. But this is an error. „Tigerbalm stinks“, says my thai son-in-law. They prefer there own product „jaa-mong“, recognizable by the monkey on the packaging. It’s official name is „White Monkey Holding Peach“ balm, but mostly it is called just Monkey Balm. Its composition is similar to that of the Tigerbalm. It also consists mainly menthol, camphor and methyl salicylate, the methyl ester of salicylic acid. Beside that it also contains various types of ginger. The locals don’t just value it as a medicine. It is placed in bowls dissolved in a little hot water, to neutralise unpleasant smells in house and kitchen, or to repel mosquitoes and other insects. Warmed up in the hands, it becomes the massage palm.

Long tradition

The asian balm originally comes from chinese medicine. In China it was reserved exclusively for the emperor and his ailments.The recipe has been strictly guarded. It was always passed on by a great teacher only to his best students. This treasure of traditional chinese medicine would certainly have been forgotten, if it hadn’t handed over to the Burmese plant scientist Aw Chu Kin by accident 150 years ago. He owned in Ragoon, the capital of Myanmar (former Burma), a small shop for natural remedies. Back then, the balm wasn’t called Tigerbalm. It owes its name to Aw Chu Kin’ s sons, Boon Par, the „soft lepard“, and Boon Haw, the „soft tiger“. They took over the pharmacy after the death of their father. The golden oil – „Ban Kim Ewe“ – was first bottled in small glass bottles. Due to the great demand, the Haw Par brothers had to put their business on a more professional footing with own factories and strategic sales. The oil was renamed in „Tigerbalm“, named after Boon Haw. The tiger, the symbol of power and strength in China, became the trademark for the company and its products. It is now sold in more than 80 countries.

Beastly good

Despite the animal symbol on the can, the balm is purely vegetable. Camphor from the wood of an asian tree accounts makes 25 percent of the active ingredient combination. Added 10 percent menthol from essential mint oils, which is said to have a particularly pain-relieving effect. Also decaying cajeput oil, anti-inflammatory eucalyptus oil and invigorating cinnamon tree oil. Clove oil is only 1.5 percent contained in the white balm, because it is very strong. In the red balsam are contained 5 percent, which provide blood circulation, relax the muscles and relieve inflammation. The red one is therefore recommended for muscle inflammation and joint pain, also for arthritis and tension. The combination of camphor and menthol in the white balm is particularly effective for cold and cough. Dabbing it on temples or forehead, he develops a refreshing and pain releasing effect on headaches. By the way, there is also a green balm in Thailand with a higher concentration of menthol and camphor mixed with green herbs. It is not only used for pain relief. Dissolved in hot water should it as a massage oil also help against cellulite because its decongestant effect.

And so much more

Tigerbalm can also be used in everyday activities. As a natural deodorant, menthol neutralizes the smell of sweat. Ideal for a quick refresher on the go. Swollen feet benefit from the slight cooling effect. Nausea on car or bus trips? To inhale the soothing scent of the essential oils helps immediately. Itchy mosquito bites in summer? Apply a small amount of balm thinly and the itching is gone. However, the balm should only be used on intact skin. And then wash your hands thoroughly and clean your fingernails from tiny rests of the balm. In contact with mucous membranes, the balm can burn like hell. But is not too bad, it passes soon by itself. In the meantime, you no longer have to travel to Asia to stock up on the panacea. You can get it everywhere at home in asian shops, drugstores and pharmacies. However, I personally miss there the tropical travel experience!

Leading photo: shutterstock@apple2499, Tigerbalm (4), Melanie Rüdiger (1)

New Year – New Hair

From black to gray. I started my exciting hair experiment already last year. It is a long way, but now step by step each appointment at my Milan hairstylist brings me closer to the desired result. My friend Barbara calls it „salt and pepper“.

How everything startet? I’ve been tired of coloring the roots of my naturally black hair for a while. Also I hated to mess with the black paint in the bathroom now and then, when there was no time left to make an appointment at the salon. But I only came to this decision to let the gray strands grow out after a long struggle with myself. I always thought by myself, that gray hair makes everyone looking old. Some years ago when „granny hair“ became trend, I couldn’t get excited about it. Well, a young face without lines and blemishes cannot look old per se. But so far, I’ve only found gray to be good for my grandmother Elsa, and she always wore a shade of blue because of her Spanish ancestry. I myself immediately tore out the first, still isolated, gray hairs in front of the bathroom mirror. No solution, as I soon found out. New ones were added. Even worse, the temple contours became light and lighter. As soon as the hairdresser had recolored it, new grays appeared, nearly happening on the way home. In order to always have a perfect contour, dyeing would soon have been necessary every 14 days.

My hairdresser said no

At some point I got tired and asked my hairdresser, a good pal for many years, if I shouldn’t let the gray strands grow out. He waved it off and said: „No, that doesn’t suit you!“ We experimented briefly with brown strands, which barely stood out in my dark hair. Uncertainty and dissatisfaction continued on my side to be colored black on a regular basis. Then something decisive happened last summer. Through a friend I met in Munich a hairdresser from Milan. His name is Armano. He cut my hair and asked rather casually, if I had thought about to let the gray strands grow out. It was as if he had read my mind. He said the solid black hair would look very hard, like a dark helmet. We arranged an appointment in his salon in Milan for my next trip to Italy. I was a little queasy. In order not to confuse myself even more, I did not discuss the hair topic with friends and family.

My adventure in Milan

When I made my way to Milan in mid-September, I still heard the words of my hairdresser friend in my head: „That doesn’t suit you!“ The gray strands had grown out five centimeters by now, as Armano had asked in order to be able to start changing the color. When I got to his salon in Via Senato, I sat on the chair, nervous enough. How would I look with the change? My black hair and red lipstick had been something like my trademark for years. And as when visiting the dentist, the toothache is blown away, I found my hair the way it was that day especially cool. But I didn’t want to act as a coward either. So I kept quiet. Armano discussed the procedure with me. He said: „To harmonize the gray strands, especially on the temples with the rest we do need a bleaching.“ It removes the color pigments from the hair and forms the optimal basis for subsequent colors, especially with light gray shades. However, the procedure means a lot of stress for the hair and also damages in some way. If you have problems with split ends, you should carefully consider the treatment. I was happy that my hair always has been healthy and lush.

What a procedure!

The hair was divided into passées and each single strand was coated with the bleaching on aluminum foil. In the mirror I saw tangling black hair and silver foil on my head. Overall impression: still black. After hours and even more espressi Armano opened some of the foil packages to check on the progress of the bleaching. He shook his head every time. Not yet finished, was the expression on his face. The darker the hair color, the more difficult it is that the color does not turn yellowish. „And black hair likes to take on a red cast, which we don’t want either“, so he had said already upfront. Then finally it was done.The best possible bleaching result was achieved for this first session. Finally, all of the foils were removed above the sink. The bleaching was washed out thoroughly, and the hair was treated with different haircare products.

Oh dear!

The first glance in the mirror. OMG! The bleached strands hung like pale spaghetti in my hair. In this moment I could not share Armanos’ enthusiasm for the result in any way. Haircut and blowdry followed. As natural as possible, please. Just nothing artificially. In the dry state, the pale „spaghetti“ mixed harmoniously with the rest. But overall my hair seemed much lighter than I had expected. When I sat in my train compartment back home a short time later, it was already dark outside. I saw my reflection in the windows and was completely foreign to me. Haircut and color were really great. But was that really me? Big question mark. This feeling was with me for many months. The reactions of the people in my environment were much more positive. I got comments like „the light hair looks much friendlier“, „great color“, or „much better than the hard black hair“ and also some meant „you look years younger“.

A new look was needed

With the changed hair color, my look also changed. I recently found my red-painted lips too pushy, many of my previous favorite outfits now seemed too color-intensive. My hair seemed colorful enough to me with all its various shades of blonde to light orange. Instead of my beloved Tilbury orange-red, I felt more comfortable with rosewood to purple on my lips. Close to the face I only wore monochrome. My hair also needed more care than before. The bleaching had put a lot of strain on it. I now regularly use hair masks to keep them hydrated and to avoid breakage. So called silver shampoos reduce the yellow hue. The new “roughness” of my many and therefore heavy hair has one advantage. They have an enormous volume and the hair becomes never greasy. Dry shampoos are taking a break for the moment.

Second bleaching session

Three months later, just before Christmas, Armano was visiting Munich again. We arranged another bleaching appointment. And what should I say: I am really overwhelmed. The yellow and orange tones have disappeared. The back of the head is now less black. The strands on the forehead finally have exactly the silver tone that I had wished for. Now I’m curious to see what it looks like when my own gray streaks have fully grown out and I wear gray with black instead of the black with gray before. “Salt and pepper“ – as Barbara calls it.

Photos (4): @up_n_co

It was launched on Valentine’s Day 2013 and is set in the heart of Dubailand. Since then each year Dubai Miracle Garden reinvents itself with a whole new concept and design experience. 150 millions of flowers form on 7,2 ha territory outside of the City sculptures, castles, animals and an airplane of the national airline „Emirates“.

Bigger, higher, more spectacular

Where else the biggest flower garden should bloom if not in Dubai, known as the city of superlatives. At the beginning of November, when temperatures for flowers drop to a bearable 25-28 degrees, he opens its doors. Already at the entrance one is received by huge flowering horses, which seem to grow from the ground. It’s a foretaste of let’s say a floral craziness. The 18 metre sculpture high Mickey Mouse floral sculpture has earned in 2018 the 5th Guiness Records entitled „World’s largest Topiary Structure“. It is made from almost 100,000 plants and flowers, and weighs 35tons. Emirates Airline has constructed together with Dubai Miracle Garden the world’s largest floral installation through a life-size version of the Emirates A380. The plane is covered in more than 500,000 fresh flowers and living plants. When in full bloom, the aircraft structure will have an unprecedented total stem count of 5 million flowers and will weigh over 100 tonnes (take-off weight of an actual A380 is 575 tonnes). The path through the garden show is lined with opulent beds and giant hanging baskets – colourful and strong scented. In between you will find flowered little gazebos, called cabanas, where you can have a little rest and rub your eyes, if that is all reality, what you have seen: the 12-metre-high Teddy bear, the 15-metre floral clock, the hug castle covered with flowers or the underground floral cascade „the lost paradise“ with a depth of 20 ft. The garden with its colourful arches and patterns, and the myriad shapes they form, is truly magnificent and an oasis where birds and insects bustle you will never find downtown. Definitely it is a must for all Dubai visitors.

Good to know

The Miracle Garden reopens November for a new season after closing for six months during summer for renovation. It is required in order to protect the plants and flowers from excessive summer heat of the region. However, the trip outside the metropolis will be well planned. Be aware that Friday and Saturday is Dubai’s weekend, and the garden may be crowded because it is also a destination for many locals. The 30 minute drive can be covered by taxi, by metro and bus, on a hop-on/hop-off bus tour or in a mini-van with transfer and included entrance fee. The regular ticket price of the Dubai Miracle Garden is just 55 AED (almost $15 USD).


photos@Margit Hiebl

Whether day skin care, serum or gel, hyaluronic acid is lauded as THE miracle weapon in the field of anti-aging. It is purported to cushion the skin, smooth wrinkles and balance roughness. But is the praise really justified?

The body’s own natural substance

Hyaluronic acid (HA for short) is, at least, not foreign to the body. Chemically speaking, it is a polysaccharide, i.e. a multiple sugar, and thus an important component of various types of connective tissue. It is the main component of our synovial fluid and lubricates the joints. The largest proportion of HA, about 50 percent, is stored in the skin. Its task is to bind enormous amounts of water – up to six liters per gram. Unfortunately, the body’s own production also decreases with age, starting from around the age of 25. At 50, the water reservoirs are only half full and this begins to become noticeable in the outside appearance: Fine lines and wrinkles, sunken cheeks, crow’s feet or a deepening of the nasolabial fold are classic signs of hyaluronic acid deficiency. The elasticity of one’s own skin, the so-called skin turgor, can be measured easily: one raises a skin fold on the hand with two fingers and releases it. Depending on the moisture content, the wrinkle remains or restores itself elastically. By the way, cracking joints are also an indication that hyaluronic acid is decreasng in the synovial fluid.

Chain reaction

The empty depots cannot be filled as easily as one might imagine, and certainly not with an externally applied cream. Whether this has an effect and what that effect may be is mainly due to the size of the HA molecules. Simone Presto, physician and expert for the Eucerin HyaluronPlus series, confirms this: “The long-chain (high-molecular) hyaluronic acid is a very large molecule which remains on the skin. The medium-chain hyaluronic acid penetrates a little deeper into the superficial skin layers through the epidermis, up to about the middle of the 12 epidermal layers. The short-chain (low-molecular) hyaluronic acid can penetrate more deeply.” But, as the doctor admits, there is a limit here as well. Even the smallest HA molecules cannot break through the basal membrane, the bottom layer of the epidermis, where cells are constantly produced. No innovative cosmetic can overcome this. The short-chain hyaluronic acid is deposited there and swells up because it binds water from the tissue. In this way, it can not only ensure that wrinkles become flatter, but also that cell communication is maintained. Ultimately, it supports the physiological processes of the skin. The basic prerequisite, however, is that enough moisture is already present in the tissue. Simone Presto also stresses: “This is why it is so important to drink enough fluid. After all, it is up to me to provide the skin with moisture from below, which can then be bound above.”

Nerd knowledge

Strictly scientifically, Hyaluronic acid has been called Hyaluronan for several years. Until the end of the 90s it was extracted from cockscombs, today it is obtained from yeast or grain by fermentation, a vegan alternative which is much more tolerable. The molecular mass is measured in Dalton (kd stands for kilodalton and is named after the English natural scientist John Dalton, who studied atomic theory). High-molecular hyaluronic acid has 1,500 kD, medium-chain 100 kD and short-chain 50 kD or less. Incidentally, when ingredients are indicated on cosmetic products, the so-called INCI, all variants are called sodium hyaluronates. If you want more information about what your cream contains, you should contact the manufacturer. If the aim of a cosmetic product is to moisten more than just the surface, both long- and short-chain molecules must be present in high concentrations. Even if the industry would like to convince you of the contrary, no care product can lift facial contours, enlarge the lips or iron out deep wrinkles. Only hyaluronan injections given by your beauty practitioner can build up targeted volume on individual facial areas. These can penetrate to deeper skin layers and thus achieve more intensive and long-term effects.

Continuous operation

For hyaluronic acid to really have an effect, it must be used long-term. Simone Presto: “The skin’s own enzymes, the hyaluronidases, break down hyaluronic acid. In the case of a care product, this is usually within 12 hours. That’s why cream should be applied twice a day to maintain the effect.” If the skin barrier is weak, this will only help to a limited extent. Strengthening the barrier layer is necessary for long-term moisture penetration. The outermost layer of the epidermis, the so-called horny layer (stratum corneum), maintains the actual protection of the skin against the environment and prevents excessive moisture loss. Urea, vitamins and ceramides are among the most important active substances that strengthen the barrier function.

Foto: @up_n_co

After visiting Slovenia, another Balkan region, Croatia, with a side-trip to Montenegro, was on my travel agenda this summer.

The Dalmatian coast, with its many small bays, rugged rock formations and the green-blue Adriatic sea, is stunningly beautiful. Countless islands dot the waters just off the almost 400-kilometer-long coastline. The back country, in contrast, is as monotonous as the coastal landscape is impressive. After hours of meandering past wide valley meadows, rocky, scrub-covered hills, the occasional lone cypress and a few scattered villages, we decide to stick to the coastal roads. It’s difficult to get around in Croatia without a car, especially if you want to drive the back roads and not only to the next bay or nearest city. There are buses and they do have timetables, but this these are rarely adhered to and standing room in the overcrowded public transport is the norm. So rent a car – a small one is will do just nicely. On foot we check out all of the local rental companies in Dubrovnik, where our flight from Munich had landed the previous day. Ultimately we find what we are looking for at Sixt, which offers the most reasonable rates (275 € per week incl. insurance). Now we’re independent and mobile. By the way: Although it is part of the EU, the means of payment in Croatia is still the national currency (Kuna) as opposed to neighbouring Montenegro. It’s worth noting that since the mostly two-lane coastal roads are narrow and winding, journeys by car can take quite a bit longer than distances in kilometers would suggest.

Hotels and their Star Ratings

It pays to do a lot of research before choosing a hotel. Unless you’ve booked into a luxury chain such as the Hilton or Radisson, the star ratings aren’t much to go on. We opted for a four-star hotel in Zaton, about 9 kms from Dubrovnik. A big mistake! There was no minibar in the room and if, as was the case three times that week, the group of Chinese guests had attacked the buffet like a swarm of locusts by 7 a.m., there was no (at the best of times very meager) breakfast either. Things improved after a chat with the manager but even then, for a week we felt like we were in a training camp for hotel staff: Please try to clean the bathroom floor without leaving a smeary film; please replace the used up shower gel and soap (there was nothing else anyway), and in the mornings, no riding up and down in the lift with the staff on their various cleaning days. Right of way is normally the privilege of the guests! But the pool on the roof offered a fabulous 360-degree panoramic view. And the small restaurant in the nearby bay of Zaton, run by the family grandmother was a blessing: friendly people (as almost everywhere else in the country), good quality, moderate prices. The latter is unfortunately not the case everywhere. In a snack bar on Stradun, the main boulevard of Dubrovnik’s old town, we paid the equivalent of 30 euros for an espresso, a soy latte, a Coke Zero and water!

The Old Town of Dubrovnik

… is a must for all visitors to Croatia. It is, however, also a must for the three to four cruise ships that anchor here every day. Finding the right time to visit is important, and this is usually in the afternoon, when most cruise guests have to be back on board. The massive, over 1,9-kilometer-long city wall was completed in the 16th century and is considered to be one of the greatest monuments to peace in Europe. For centuries it protected its inhabitants and more recently served as a backdrop for King’s Landing in the TV production “Game of Thrones”. There are even “Game of Thrones” excursions through the city, including a cruise on the “Karaka“, the ship used in the series. The tour visits the various film locations and the fan shop where one can pose for a photograph on the Iron Throne. The architectural styles of the well-preserved buildings are varied, ranging from the Baroque church of St. Blasius to the Renaissance style of the Sponza Palace and the Gothic Rector’s Palace, a historical museum today. Most shops and restaurants can be found in the limestone pedestrian zone Stradun or Placa. The best view of the Adriatic coast is from Mount Srđ, at 405 metres actually more of a hill. The trip to the top takes 4 minutes by the cable car which was built in 1969. Just like the old town, the offshore island Lokrum is a UNESCO Cultural Heritage site. Not only a nature reserve, the island is the scene of many stories and legends, and it is said that Richard the Lionheart stranded here in 1192 after his ship went down. The island can be reached by boat from the old harbour in Dubrovnik in 15 minutes.

Swimming in Cavtat

In contrast to the rather turbulent and bustling Dubrovnik, Cavtat, a mere 20 kilometers to the south and with only 2015 residents, is an ideal place to relax and swim. The picturesque little town, set on the tree-covered hill of the Rat peninsula, nestles among Mediterranean evergreen pines and cypresses. There are over seven kilometers of shallow coastline, with crystal clear water, sandy beaches and coves. In addition to the beautiful but more basic types of accommodation, new hotel complexes and luxury houses have now sprung up along the coast. Many yachts head for Cavtat where the administrative centre of the municipality of Konavle, with its own harbour captain and customs dock, is located.

Bears in Montenegro

Via Cavtat we continue along the Adriatic coast into Montenegro (in Montenegrin: Crna Gora), the smallest of the former Yugoslavian Republics: Rugged mountains, narrow beaches and medieval villages. It’s no wonder that Montenegro was chosen as the main setting for 2006’s “Casino Royale”, the 21st James Bond movie. It has also been the world’s first declared environmental state since 1991. But this miniature Republic on the Adria has long since ceased to be an insider tip. We bypass the capital Podgorica and the newly built Porto Montenegro, where super-rich investors set the tone, and visit the bay of Kotor instead. We are in luck and it isn’t too crowded. The scenery puts one in mind of a Norwegian fjord with many churches and fortified towns. Off the coast of the charming little town Perast lies the man-made islet of Our Lady of the Rocks. The Catholic Church, built in 1452, houses impressive masterpieces by Montenegrin and Italian artists. It is a traditional place of pilgrimage where, even to this day, seafarers come to pray to for a safe passage home. The secluded Durmitor National Park in northern Montenegro, with its bears and wolves, glacial lakes and the 1300-metre deep Tara Gorge is a breathtaking experience.

Europe’s longest stone wall

For those who haven’t yet visited the Great Wall of China, the “Ston Wall” is quite an impressive sight. Extending to a length of 5 ½ kilometers over the mountain, it ranks as the second largest preserved defensive fortification in the world after China’s famous wall. The small medieval town of Ston (approx. 2500 inhabitants) is located on the Pelješac peninsula in southern Croatia. Its history dates back to the 14th century, when the monumental stone wall was erected by the Dubrovnik Republic. It served to protect the salt mines and to maintain complete control of access to the peninsula. The quiet, narrow streets, historical monuments and landmarks such as Napoleon Street and the world’s oldest active salt marshes are definitely worth a visit. Not forgetting, of course, the traditional cuisine of the area with seafood specialties from the region’s own oyster beds and the local wine.

Relax in the Arboretum

The Arboretum Trsteno, hidden away about 18 kilometers northwest of Dubrovnik in southern Croatia is a haven of peace and quiet far away from the all of the hustle and bustle. This unique park, which houses a large variety of plants from around the globe and the oldest collection of exotic trees and plants in the country, is taken care of by the Croatian Academy of Science and Arts. The 28-hectare area is divided into different units: a Renaissance garden with a summer residence, a neo-romantic park from the 19th and 20th centuries, a historical olive grove and natural forest vegetation. In 1494, at the time of the Renaissance, the summer residence of the philosopher and politician Ivan Marinov Gucetic-Gozze was located in Trsteno.

Back to the big city

We go through passport control at the Bosnia-Herzegovina border to return to Croatia and its second largest city Split. Split is renowned for its beaches and although summers here are hot, the autumn weather was pleasant and ideal for bathing in the still- warm sea. The spacious promenade is reminiscent of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice and the city centre is dominated by the fortress-like complex of the Diocletian’s Palace. Built in the 4th century by the Roman Emperor Diocletian, it incorporated thousands of buildings in its heyday. Even today the ruin still encompasses more than 200 different structures. It’s fun to take a stroll within the white stone walls, to visit the cathedral and inner courtyards, browse through shops or simply relax in one of the many cafés, bars or restaurants.


The use of autologous (own) fat as a filler substance for wrinkles and sunken facial areas is essentially nothing new and own fat is certainly one of the oldest soft tissue augmentation materials known to mankind. Its advantages: The good and almost always unlimited availability as well as the optimal compatibility of the body’s own natural substance. Novel is that special consideration is paid to the anatomy, ensuring better aesthetic results and increased durability. Dr. Gerhard Sattler, founder and medical director of Rosenpark Klinik in Darmstadt explains the method and its advantages:

How does the Facial Lipo Reset (FLR) method work?

The harvested autologous fat is filtered and freed from connective tissue fibers, blood and the oil phase. The processed fat is then filled into syringes and, in confirmity with the patient’s anatomy, inserted into the tissue layers via thin (18 gauge) cannulas until the tissue or volume deficit has normalized. In contrast to the classical Coleman LipoStructure method, the FLR method uses the existing anatomy as the basis of the tissue architecture to avoid changing the individual appearance of the patient.

What is the fundamental difference between the two methods?

In the LipoStructure method, the subcutaneous tissue zone is intentionally mobilized, and the harvested fat incorporated diffusely. Within the framework of wound healing, the tissue conditions are then homogenized and harmonized. With the FLR method, on the other hand, the body’s own fat tissue is injected exactly into the space in which fat tissue is located or used to be located. This means that the fat is applied in an orderly manner into a fat chamber while preserving the architectural equilibrium and structure. The FLR method may, therefore, also be described as a targeted augmentation, while the LipoStructure method can be regarded as a destructive homogenization treatment. The latter is an anatomy-independent lipofilling without taking the recipient site, the anatomy and statics of the treatment zone into consideration. Simply put, the basic intention here was simply to “inflate” or fill out.

What is the advantage if the fat is injected in conformity with the anatomy?

Aesthetic anatomy allows the knowledge of fat chambers, retaining ligaments and various tissue layers. Injected fatty tissue has the best survival rate if it is injected into rooms in which fatty tissue is already located. Fat tissue placed between fasciae (connective tissue) or septa has no survival rate.

Which areas can be filled out?

Mainly the superficial fatty tissue layers of the face as well as the deeper localized fat chambers are augmented. If the concept is followed, the tissue situation to be corrected is restored almost by itself.

How high is the growth rate or degeneration of the fat cells?

The growth rate is generally much lower than generally stated. The lasting correction effect in all minimally invasive augmentation procedures is the stimulation of the fibroblast cells. This means that the metabolic cells of the skin form connective tissue around the injected material and, in this way, create a permanent, new framework of connective tissue. This applies to autologous fat as well as hyaluronic acid or other injection materials. The fat tissue actually injected is therefore not necessarily responsible for the built-up in tissue volume.

How swollen is the face after the treatment?

Since the FLR method only treats deficient parts of the face and works with blunt cannulas along anatomical layers, the face is barely or only slightly swollen. In most cases there is hardly any visible swelling the following day meaning that the so-called downtime is between one and a maximum of four days.

How long does the result last?

The durability of a treatment result is dependent on many different factors and is individual for each patient. One should start out with a reduced expectation on the part of the doctor and the patient and always with the option of repeating the treatment until the desired result has been permanently achieved. A period of three to four months should elapse between treatments.

Does fat have to be gathered each time or can it be preserved?

It used to be possible to freeze autologous fat if certain conditions were met. However, since the legal situation has changed in most federal states in Germany, the freezing of own fat is no longer permitted. This means that it must be harvested anew for every treatment.

Sponsered by Rosenpark Klinik, Photo: @up_n_co


German journalist Petra Springer has always been passionate about fashion and film. Here, she explains how, with this passion, she created her first film “Holy Sh*t, it fits”, and later, the Cartoon-Lady Holly:

I love films, but I never ever thought, producing my own.  After attending a workshop for visual communications, in which I was introduced to filming software such as Premiere and After Effects, I started “Holy Sh*t it fits“ as my graduation piece. I was fascinated! Now, I was able to combine my illustrations with moving pictures.

Heart and Passion

Already at the age of 12, I copied the fashion sketches from magazines and catalogs. Later, I attended the “Meisterschule für Mode“ in Munich and the “FIT Fashion Institute“ in New York. In the following years, I worked as Fashion Director for various Fashion Magazines. Nevertheless, I have always remained true to my passion for fashion illustrations. In 2017, I submitted my graduation movie to the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival in San Diego. I have been a big fan of this festival for a long time, as it was one of the first to offer a platform for Fashion Film makers. Fashion movie, the culmination for me as a cineast. Fashion, my lifeblood, and film, my passion – all represented at a festival.

Nominated at the Festival of Fashion Film makers

Fred Sweet, the Festival Manager, has a feel for new trends. He recognized the importance of fashion films as an independent genre in the future. When he started his festival in 2009 everything was still in its infancy. Photographers started to create small videos during fashion shoots. All this was made possible by the new technology of digital photography. The Fashion Festival has established itself in the past 10 years and, according to, is now, not only one of the five best film festivals in the world but also considered the “Cannes of the Fashion Film World”.  A few days after I submitted my film, I received the exciting news from the US, that it was nominated in three categories: Best Creative Concept, Best Narration, Best Art Direction. Wow! This was amazing, a sensation for me! I was over the moon, being nominated. Four weeks later I found myself on the Red Carpet with my first film “Holy Sh*t, it fits“ as it was shown in front of a selected expert audience. Among others, there was Kean Etro from the Italian designer brand Etro in the audience. Commercials of big fashion brands were presented, and successful, well known film directors of the whole world attended the festival screenings. They liked my film; I received a lot of applause and positive feedback. Manager Fred Sweet encouraged me: “Keep sending me your films, I like them!“

Fashion Girl Holly was born

Back in Germany and after giving it some thought, I named my main character “Holly“. I started the “Holy Sh*t it fits“-series with short video films and a message: Holly is a Fashion Girl, she loves traveling, is crazy about fashion and dreams about Glitz and Glamour. Nevertheless, she is also interested in all new food trends, loves eating sweets and gets mad not having the perfect model body, as a tiny lady. So, she repeatedly falls for her “perfect model body delusion” and gets into her own personal fashion disaster. The basic idea behind this story is: this film should be seen as empowerment for all women worldwide and show us, fashion is fun, even if we do not have the “perfect size”.

Holly goes on

Since every animated film comes to life with its voices, I have been thinking about for a long time, who’s voice “Holly” should be. My choice was Katharina Schürf. We knew each other from the fashion business. Everybody appealed to her unique, exceptional voice; her funny laugh is her trademark. She didn’t hesitate and is now the voice-over of all my “Holly” Films. I could not make a more perfect choice. Katharina brought “Holly” to life with her brilliant voice, gave her soul and made “Holly” so unique.In 2018, my second film “Super-Holly“ won an Award at the LJIFFF, and in 2019 we were not only nominated in three categories, Best Creative Concept, Best Narration, Best Art Direction, but also chosen to hold a speech on stage. Festival manager Fred Sweet said it best: “Holly goes on“.

The newest Cartoon Film

Holly in Bavaria“ is playing at the Munich Oktoberfest. This year, the film was shown in the US at the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival in front of a big audience. It runs in the category Animation and is from the award-winning series “Holy Sh*t it fits”. The music for the film was provided by the famous Bavarian-Rap-Band “Dicht & Ergreifend“. The commercial film “The Dream Dress”, my first work for Lorelei Shellist, was based on the “Holly” screenings. Lorelei is a Fashion Designer, an Ex-Couture-Model and host of the LJIFFF. She is an avowed lover and collector of fashion illustrations and was personally drawn during her couture career by Karl Lagerfeld and the American fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez.

Although from a medical point of view the brown spots are harmless, visually they can be quite disturbing. There are many methods of treating them and one of the most modern is fractional laser technology.

Pigment spots commonly appear on the forehead, the cheek area and above the upper lip. Most hyperpigmentation spots are caused by exposure to sunlight and for this reason, frequently develop on the back of the hand or on the forearms, areas which often less protected against light. If someone has spent a lot of time in the sun, the first brown spots may already appear at the age of 35 or 40. The skin then often looks blotchy and prematurely aged.

Hormones and sun

“As with genetically caused freckles, these are caused by an excess of the pigment melanin. In both cases of over-pigmentation, the dark spots are intensified by UV radiation,” explains Dr. Sonja Sattler, founder and senior physician at Bellari Rosenpark in Frankfurt and Hamburg. Hormones can also have a lot to do with the development of pigment spots. These are then known as melasma or chloasma and are common during pregnancy, menopause, or during a hormone treatment to increase fertility. It is not known exactly how hormones promote the development of spots, but it is a fact that the combination of hormones, sun and blue light as well as genetic predisposition is the trigger. Once the spots are there, they stubbornly remain, even after the hormone balance has levelled off again. Certain types of medication, such as some antibiotics or St. John’s Wort preparations, can also cause hyperpigmentation under UV influence.

Prevention and treatment

Dr. Sattler therefore advises: “Because UV light, in combination with our skin memory, is responsible for the unsightly spots, anyone with a tendency towards pigment spots should, in general, choose a skin care preparation with a high sun protection factor (e.g. SkinCeuticals Ultra Facial Defense 50+) for use during the day. If pigment spots are already visible and, depending on their severity, fruit acid peeling or laser combination treatments are suitable. “Bellari offers SkinCeuticals’ Pigment Balancing Peel as a professional cosmetic treatment. This is performed by trained beauticians who also provide recommendations for an appropriate follow-up care to achieve an optimal result. For more intensive effects, the most modern method is the fractionated laser. It can not only remove pigment spots, but red veins and wrinkles can be dealt with at the same time as well. “The fractional laser renews the skin surface and ensures the breakdown of increased melanin. In combination with a sieve-like damage of the dermis, the formation of new skin cells is stimulated without damaging the cells themselves. This results in a refinement of the facial skin – it appears fresher, smoother and thus also rejuvenated,” says Dr. Sattler.

Gentle to intensive

Depending on the degree of skin damage, the Bellari works with the gentle Emerge laser and the more intensive Icon laser. The light penetrates the skin to a more or lesser depth – with the corresponding effect. During the approximately 45-minute treatment, the dermatologist moves the laser handpiece several times in different directions over the face in order to achieve as uniform a result as possible. If a local anesthetic cream is applied beforehand, almost nothing is felt. After completion, the laser treatment is supplemented with the application of a high dosage vitamin preparation. Any ensuing slight redness or swelling can easily be concealed with make-up. Depending on the result and density of the pigment spots, laser treatment can be repeated. A strong sunscreen must be applied for four weeks before and after the treatment. Those who then wish to continue spending time in the sun will only remain permanently spot free with the consistent use of adequate UV protection.

Sponsored by Bellari

Her name is Leila Alaoui. The work of the French-Moroccan photo and video artist came to my mind for the first time at an exhibition next to the newly opened Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech. They were portraits of Moroccans from different regions of the country – all life-size and in front of black background.

You stand in front of the pictures and believe that you would look the human directly into the soul. Or is it the other way round? I was so impressed that I wanted to learn more about Leila Alaoui. Unfortunately she does not live anymore. Sie died 2016 aged 33 from injuries suffered in a terrorist attack in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Alaoui was hired by UN Women and Amnesty International to work on a photographic assignment on women’s rights in Burkina Faso. Being one of the most promising photographers of her generation she is an artist to remember and will live on in her work. The Leila Alaoui Foundation was initiated and is run by her mother Christine. She has given herself the mission to preserve her daughters work and values. There are still two unpublished project from the years 2014 und 2015.

With the bus across Morocco

To realize her photo projects Leila Alaoui has spared no effort. For her series „The Moroccans“ she travelled between 2010 and 2014 the country with her mobile photo studio to capture the ethnic and cultural diversity of Morocco. She portrayed women and men in the manner of the traditional orientalist portrayal. Her style of presentation is often compared with Richard Avedon, one of the greatest portraitists of the 20th century. Alaoui’s life-sized images captured on a black background attracts you to look them into the eyes. The black canvas highlights the beauty of their facial features – no matter if they are young or old -, the sophisticated aesthetic of their dress, and the rich cultural traditions they stand for. Archaic people from a rudimentary, dusty environment. The book „The Moroccans“ I can highly recommend.

On search for destinies

Through this project, and all others, Leila Alaoui seemed to aim for the same social impact: one deconstructing the idea of hierarchy between culture and people. Her work shows a high degree of empathy for the people she portrayed. Born in Paris to a Moroccan father and a French mother, and grown up in Marrakech she has known the difficulties of a life between Europe and Africa. In her 2008 series „No Pasara“ Alaoui documents the life and dreams of young Moroccans who wished for a better future on the other side of the Mediterranean. Just one year before she died she had realised the video project „Crossing“. It aims to convey the traumatic experience of Sub-Saharan migrants who embark on makeshift boats to reach European coasts. In both cases she tried to analyse how the utopian paradigm of the old continent is constructed in the African popular imagination. Since the beginning of the Syria conflict in 2011 she has always traveled to refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq to bring the personal fates of the people there to life. When you look at their pictures you do not feel sorry but respect and admiration for those, she had portrayed. That was Leila Alaoui’s strength.

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