UKRAINE: Jungle in a castle / Ukrainian hardstyle

The Crimson Room at Pidhirsti (1871) by Aleksander GryglewskiSource

I’m adding to my list of DJ sets in unusual locations – first up a mountain in winter in Finland, then by a lake of liquid asphalt in Trinidad, now at an abandoned castle in Ukraine! Pidhirsti Castle dates back to the 1600s when the area around Lviv was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. There’s some great drone shots of it in the video.

As for the set, it’s a really fire collab between Ukrainian DJs Nastia and Daria Kolosova – very heavy driving jungle / drum&bass, slightly industrial.

When you think of electronic music in Eastern Europe, hardstyle more often comes up (including hardbass, a subset that emerged in Russia, and is used in memes). Like metal, there’s fine-grained stylistic differences between genres – d&b is faster and syncopated, hardstyle is more harmonic and distorted, usually with vocals. Here’s a whole mix of hardstyle from Ukrainian musicians, in case you want to keep the dance party going.

ECUADOR: By drone

Join me on a neat little trip by drone, starting in Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador and a major trading port.

Then the beautiful rugged Andes in the middle of the country, and Quito, located high up in them:

Then down past the volcanoes into the Ecuadorian Amazon forest of the interior:

And to come back as far as you can go in the other direction, and watch the sea turtles from above in the Galapagos:

GABON: Streetviews

I’ve been having fun poking through the streetviews of Gabon on Google – there’s hasn’t been comprehensive street-by-street coverage yet, so it’s just what individuals have uploaded themselves. There’s a total mix – some beautiful and scenic views and some very prosaic or random ones. One of the prettiest is this sunrise drone shot of Libreville.

Also on a quiet early morning in front of a fancy hotel in Libreville. It makes me feel like that first jetlagged morning on vacation when you wake up at an unholy hour and go out for a walk just as the day wakes. There’s also an nicely decorated mosque next door and flags of neighbouring countries in front.

A nice shot of the beach in Loango National Park, a large park with rare protected ecosystems and wildlife, including the famed “surfing hippos“.

A view from the top of the Kongou falls, way in the interior.

I like this one, because it not only gives you a sense of the thick forests around the country, but this one guy seamlessly getting three times in the shot.

There are lots of really random streetviews of offices, stores, and other buildings. I like this upstairs of a homegoods store mainly because I really want that multi-coloured square rug.

This one I like for no other reason that this random office in Gabon has the exact same colour combination as my own living room.

We’re two of a kind.

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: Latvian Tobago

“Latvian Tobago” sounds as ridiculous as Czechoslovak Togo, but this was an actual attempt by the Duchy of Courland (modern day Latvia) to colonize Tobago. They got to the point of a fort and a town, with growing population, international trade, and unfortunately, slavery and violence against Indigenous peoples.

So why was there never a Latvian Caribbean? The Dutch outplayed them for control of Tobago, and Courland itself was caught up in European wars between the larger Baltic powers around it. Tobago would continue to be fought over by European powers for centuries. The Latvian attempt at an empire evaporated, and all that’s left today is an oddly brutalist monument with some very dated language, plus some place names.

Here’s a slightly irreverent look at the odd bit of history that was New Courland:

There’s still a bay on Tobago called “Great Courland Bay” – check out this drone footage, it’s beautiful:

European colonialism is not really something to laugh at; there was so much violence inherent to the whole process – which still has effects on our everyday lives. However, I am totally losing it at the absolutely ridiculous flag of New Courland.

There is only one step to building an empire, and it is crab.

ALGERIA: Sidi M’Cid Bridge

So the Sidi M’Cid bridge in Constantine – looks like a normal bridge over a valley, right?

But take a look from a distance:

The bridge straddles a half-kilometre deep gorge that cuts through the city of Constantine. The city is understandably famous for its bridges, as well as buildings built right up to the cliff edges.

What an incredible city – I’d love to visit some day! Please enjoy some dizzyingly beautiful drone footage of the bridges of Constantine: