Category Archives: Travel Life

Where to find ruins of war in Europe: the German hills of the dead and destruction (and rebirth)

During our last visit to Germany (Stuttgart, Baden Württemberg, Southern Germany) we learnt that also this city, as all major German cities, has an artificial hill made of debris removed from the bombed buildings.

Downtown Stuttgart on a cloudy day. The city is surrounded by hills. The high density of new buildings mixed with older ones is a war legacy

Downtown Stuttgart on a cloudy day. The city is surrounded by hills. The high density of new buildings mixed with older ones is a war legacy

Around Stuttgart lies a range of heights which give the city its beautiful look of an inhabited hollow surrounded by a crown of green hills.

One of those hills was chosen as the final resting place of Stuttgart’s postwar debris. The place’s name is Birkenkopf, and with its additional 120 ft of height due to piled rubble, has become the highest point in Stuttgart. Dirt has been added to allow tree growth.

The total amount of ruins piled on Birkenkopf is 15 million cubic meter.

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Cliffs of Moher Facts and photos

The Cliffs of Moher, IrelandThe Cliffs of Moher are a natural attraction on the Atlantic coast of Ireland.

This spectacular 5 mile-long chain of cliffs made of sedimentary rock sharply diving into the Atlantic is 700 ft high at its highest point.

The Cliffs are located in the opposite side of Ireland in respect to Dublin, in County Clare, on the western coast, right on North Atlantic ocean. They are reached by a million people every year.

The area of the Cliffs of Moher is home to a variety of birds as it is the largest seabird nesting colony in mainland Ireland.

The formation of the Cliffs started 320 million years ago. A river flew into the sea there during the Upper Carboniferous. In a warm environment, today’s sedimentary rocks were slowly formed by mud brought by the river that was dumped in layers during millennia and eventually dryed to turn into rock.

Reaching the Cliffs of Moher from Dublin

During our last holiday in Dublin we rented a car and crossed Ireland in order to visit the Cliffs.

Road to the Cliffs of Moher

Road to the Cliffs

Covering the 120 mi from Dublin to the west coast can be done quite rapidly, thanks to a freeway that doesn’t experience high volumes of traffic. Then there is an additional 40 mi route made of narrow roads flanked by dry stone walls that traverse a charming countryside.

The access to the cliffs isn’t free. You can access the site by paying €6. Parking is included in the ticket.

Carved in a hill just on the back of the central part of the cliffs is the Visitor Center, home to expositions and shops. Actually, it’s “centre”. We ignored it and went straight to the cliffs.

The place is spectacular, especially on a sunny day like the one of our visit.

To me, seeing the cost going down so abruptly into the ocean was like being on the very edge of Europe before the Atlantic. I couldn’t help thinking that this was the last sight for so many migrants looking for a new life in America (actually their ships mostly sailed a little bit more south, but allow me the picture, ok?)

Here is a series of our photos of the Cliffs. Only the last one is from Wikipedia.

The view from our very hotel room. The northern part of the Cliffs is visible

The view from our very hotel room. The northern part of the Cliffs is visible

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Canadian police cars are not easy to spot: how to avoid a traffic ticket in Canada

If you want to avoid getting a ticket from Canadian police, just don’t do what I did.

As it is true for any expat or travel-abroad experience, you should be very careful in interpreting reality from behind the glasses of your own country way of doing things.

Canadian Policeman

My mistake was basically thinking as I was driving in my country, which it is: “if you’re driving on a freeway and you don’t see any car with written ‘POLICE’ on it, then there are no police cars around.”

Simply – and tragically – wrong.

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Food in St. Petersburg, or how I ate as a real Russian (did I?)

DranikiDuring my short trip to Saint Petersburg, the most charming city in Russia, in ate only once in a restaurant.

As a result of that trip, I published a photo essay of Saint Petersburg historical center and a tip-post on a good budget hotel.

In the comments of the latter post, I was asked by Victor of Victor Travel Blog, a Russian travel blogger, to post something on Russian food.

Okay Victor, here’s the story around the only Russian meal I ever had.

I wanted that single shot to be totally Russian. It is my habit to eat local as much as I can, especially on short trips, in the belief that food, as much as language, tells a lot about a country’s culture. However, to be completely honest, I’m a total glutton.

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The porphyry disc in St. Peter where Charlemagne was crowned in the year 800 is still there

A photo of the Red Porphyry Disk by Linda C. McCabe

A photo of the Red Porphyry Disk by Linda C. McCabe from Legends of Medieval France and Italy.



There is a place in Rome where you can walk over a floor that had Charlemagne on his knees on it.

The most amusing thing about it is that most people don’t even know that. In fact, if you’ve ever been inside St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, you’ve probably already walked on it.

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