Lessons in the "Europe" Category

Backpacking around Europe

Today, let’s talk about backpacking around Europe. It’s a popular pastime, especially among young people at this time of the year. Many like to go around Europe while they discover themselves, and whilst discovering what joys the continent offers them.

The best way to travel around Europe is by coach or train. Students can buy all sorts of different passes that are relatively inexpensive. Popular routes include Berlin to Prague, Amsterdam to Berlin, and Milan to Venice. There is also Munich to Salzburg, as well as Prague to Bratislava then onwards to Budapest. These days many low-cost airlines offer a cheap alternative to rail and coach travel around Europe.

25 years since the Berlin Wall fell

Today, let’s talk about the Berlin Wall. The 9th November 2014 marked the 25th anniversary of one of the most significant moments of the Cold War: The Fall of the Berlin Wall.

Last night Berliners and tourists at the Brandenburg Gate celebrated the moment the Wall came down to the strains of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. A nearby street festival at the Brandenburg Gate also helped the city to celebrate the moment.

Category: Berlin / Berlin Wall / End of Communism

The Blood Countess

Today, let’s talk about the Blood Countess. Never heard of her? Well, while she was no relation to Count Dracula, her story is equally interesting!

Countess Elizabeth Bathory was actually a real person, as opposed to the fictional character of Count Dracula. Bram Stoker who created Dracula in 1897 is said to have been inspired by Bathory’s real life story.

The Blood Countess acquired her name as she is said to have tortured and killed between 80 to 650 girls. She liked to bathe in the blood of her victims, as she believed the blood of virgin girls would maintain her youthful looks.

Category: History / The Blood Countess / Central Europe

Norway’s Prime Minister goes undercover as a taxi driver

Recently, Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg worked secretly as a taxi driver in central Oslo for an afternoon in a bid to woo voters in his country’s upcoming general election. Dressed in a taxi driver uniform and sunglasses the Norwegian Prime Minister drove around the streets of the Norwegian capital for several hours.

Mr Stoltenberg said he wanted to hear what Norwegian’s really felt about their politicians and what they wanted for their country. He added, “If there is one place where people say what they really mean about most things, it is in a taxi. Right from the gut”.

Category: Norway / Prime Minister / Taxi driving

Eurozone slides into recession…

Recent news from Europe tells us the Eurozone has fallen back into a double-dip recession, as the debt crisis deepens. Even the economic powerhouse of Germany is suffering with a slowdown in its economy. The 17-country region, which represents a fifth of global output, shrank by 0.1% in the third quarter of 2012 (July-September). It shrank by 0.2% in the previous quarter (April-June).

Category: Europe / Eurozone / Statistics

Europe 1912, Europe 2012

You are in a bar discussing about how life is at the moment in Europe, its challenges of living there and its politics. You are also discussing the future, about how life might be like, and about how Europe might look like in the future. You live somewhere in Europe where there is one currency and where there are many nationalities. You live where the movement of trade is easy and fair, with little paperwork - thus avoiding goods being blocked at borders for days on end. You live where people can cross vast areas freely from the mountains to the sea without hindrance and false borders.

Category: History / Europe / Change

The unwritten rules French waiters use to get a bigger tip

Today, let’s talk about the unwritten rules French waiters use to get customers to part with their cash in order to get a good tip. These Gallic waiters have an impressive array of tricks and techniques to effortlessly do this.

The unwritten rule book on how “garçons” from Paris and the rest of France manage to lengthen diners bills without raising their hackles has been set in stone by the rue89 website. In their headline “Seven serving tips to increase the bill” rue89 says that waiters and waitresses are taught skills, such as, showing diners to a table right by the front door or window in an otherwise empty restaurant to attract more custom.

A golden rule is never to place bread on the table before an order, as diners are likely to get full too fast for several dishes. A French waiter called Romain explains: “My boss wants me to give it after bringing the dish, even if it means forgetting it entirely so customers will be hungry for dessert.”

Category: France / Restaurants / Waiters

Auschwitz – A lesson in history

Today, let’s talk about Auschwitz. It’s a lesson in history we should never forget. Why discuss it now? Simple – I was recently invited to go to Poland for a long weekend to Cracow. One of the trips we made was to Auschwitz. I can tell you – it makes you think twice on many things once you have visited the place.

Whilst it is not in my top 10 places to visit I believe it is a place you should visit once in your life. Indeed, many tourists do – during mid June to mid September mostly. It is as creepy and shocking today as you can imagine. When you walk around the site you can only imagine how ghastly it was and what it might have been like to live there. I will add – for those non-believers who say the Jews weren’t murdered by the Nazis – I say this – visit this place and you will rapidly think again.

Category: History / WWII / Auschwitz