Why fly when you can float?: London, Paris and a floating farm?

Wouldn’t you want to know about some of the magical ways to experience a city from “above”?

Paris …

When in Paris, you can find your way to the Promenade Plantée that is an elevated walkway built around a disused railway line about three floors above ground level and winds its way “above” Paris in the 12th arrondissement, which means you can peep into Parisian living rooms and bedrooms and also have a panorama view of Parisian rooftops as you saunter through green arches in your chic attire on paved paths or do some reading on the benches or by the sunken pools.

You may also know that you can float from the biggest hot-air balloon in the world while you are in Paris!  The ballon de Paris, installed in the Parc André-Citroën since 1999, takes you up 150 metres from the ground and gives you an effortless bird’s eye view of the City of Lights.  Serving also as an air quality awareness tool, the balloon can reach a height almost as high as the Eiffel Tower in optimal weather conditions.

London …

If you are in London, you can experience have a rather different “from above” experience from the “upper level” of the Tower Bridge which is 40 meters above the river with a transparent “glass floor” giving you a rather special view of the city!  (Here’s a walk along the south bank of the Thames that takes in much of the neighbourhood around Tower Bridge).

There is a new way to “float” in London too!  A new – in fact the world’s first – transparent swimming pool suspended between two buildings has opened in the city.  This Sky Pool is attached between the 10th floors of two buildings in the Nine Elms neighbourhood in south-west London, which by the way is not far from the Houses of Parliament.

We haven’t tried it yet but it sounds very cool!

A floating farm …

For those a little nervous about heights … well, there’s still a few things to do …. a few hundred kilometers away, in Rotterdam, is something a little bit unusual but floating nonetheless.  Much of the Netherlands is of course built on water, and in this multicultural city, Rotterdam, with Europe’s largest seaport, you can marvel at the world’s first floating dairy farm that opened in late 2019 just by the harbor.  Home to 32 cows producing dairy products that are on sale in stores all over the city, the project is meant to also show how food production can become less vulnerable to climate change and boost food security.

A largely self-sustaining ecosystem has been developed, with cows eating potato peels and grass clippings, a Roomba-like robot sucking up and dumping down the dung through a shaft to a deck below.  There it is turned into fertilizer for the soccer fields and parks that grow the grass feed.  A milking robot pulls around 5 gallons from each cow, which is bottled or made into yogurt and then trucked to local grocery stores.

Well, when cows float ….

(Anything can happen.)

(And memories of something that has a connection with floating comes to mind: the drowned ice-cream, or affogato, which when properly made is super cold gelato with a shot hot espresso, and its many versions like matcha ice-cream with either espresso or green tea, or hazelnut gelato drowned in Marsala, or its distant cousin, lemon sorbet drowned in prosecco (sgroppino).