Tag Archives: Northern Europe

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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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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Corruption in the world: Where can I move to find less corruption?

Corruption in everyday life

Living with corruption in your everyday life

Our hero approaches the driving school manager and hands him money. It’s a whole by-weekly salary for him.

It’s not a payment, it’s bribery. The manager will hand-over that money to the examiner (of course after retaining a percentage of it). It’s nothing unusual around there. Everybody does that.

But this time the manager seems to be unexpectedly reluctant. After hesitating for a second he says: “I’m sorry, but I know your father is a policeman. It’s too dangerous. I will take nothing from you.”

That day our hero was the only one to fail road test.

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Best country to be born in 2013

Which countries are the best to be born in? Where my children would have the best opportunities? These questions tease any prospective expat parent. The Economist tries to give an answer to these questions since many years.

Pregnant woman bouncing on a birth ball

The moment we consider relocating to another country we ask ourselves whether and how that will improve our life.

If you have children, you would probably think of an improvement in their quality of life first.

Therefore becoming an expat can often be a way to give a better future to our children. Hence the question of this article: in which country should I give birth and raise my children in order to give them a better life than the one I have?

The Economist answers this question since more than two decades, with the Lottery of Life, an annual list of the best countries in the world to be born.

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Saint Petersburg’s architectural beauty and attractions: a photo essay

The Bronze Horseman, 1782 equestrian statue of Peter the Great, Senate Square, Saint PetersburgWhat do you do when you are in St Petersburg for a short time?

I basically did two things. One is a must: visiting the Hermitage Museum.

The Hermitage is a huge, super-rich collection of pieces of art hosted in buildings which are pieces of art themselves. One of them, the main one, was the royal palace, the Tsar’s residence.
I haven’t seen anything similar to the Hermitage in my life, except for when I visited the Louvre in Paris and the Vatican Museums in Rome.
How long you’ll stay in there depends on your resistance. I think it can be up to one whole day

But what else to do in St. Petersburg on a two-day stay?

Since its first stone was laid in 1703 by Peter the Great, the Tsars called the best European architects from all over Europe to build what is now known as the most Western-like city of Russia.
Mainly Italian and French architects, but also Russians, year after year, century after century, called by Tsar after Tsar, erected a wonderful historical center, made of several different styles: the Petrine Baroque, the Baroque, the Neoclassical, down to nineteenth century’s styles.
All that has produced a large downtown that is an open-air piece of art, and which was promoted UNESCO World Heritage site.

Therefore, I decided to take a bus tour. Below you can find a selection of the photos taken during that two-hour memorable bus ride.

If you’ve never been to St. Petersburg, by looking at the following pictures you can decide yourself whether I’m exaggerating in being so enthusiast about this Russia’s pearl.

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