Most and least powerful passports

While some travellers are able to stay abroad for months or even years, others are subject to expenses Visas, strict time limits or even long waiting processes.

paasssaap

Why is there this division?

Which are the most and least powerful passports?

Passports tend to reflect the international position of its country, then of course, countries with positive diplomatic relations, tend to have stronger passports.

On the other hand countries involved in international conflicts, have a less powerful passport.

How long to get a visa?

Generally you get the visa 60 days after your application or the visa’s interview, anyways this time can vary depending on where the consulate is located, the price also changes depending on from which country you are, where you are going to and the purpose of the journey.

To go to some countries you need the Visa, to go to some other countries you can go Visa free, and to go to some other countries you need the Visa on arrival.

What does Visa on arrival mean?

It means Visa on arrival.

That let you obtain your visa upon landing at your destination instead of having it in hand before you even get on the plane.

arrivals

Ok, now I list some of the most and least powerful passports!

At the end I link you the website where you can check if from your country you need the Visa, the Visa on arrival, an electronic travel authorization, or simply nothing.

Remember that these are the statistics of the Henley Passport Index and are based on data released by the Canadian-based International Air Transport Association (IATA).

class

The most powerful passport is the Japanese, whom citizens can travel to 190 countries without Visa (or obtain one upon arrival), Japan has overtook Singapore that in 2017 was at the first one, and now…

…it is the second! Citizens of this small country in the south of Malaysia, can travel to 189 nations, Singapore in fact,  being a global financial centre has kept good diplomatic relatonships with many countries.

At the third place we find 3 countries: Germany, France and South Korea.

Germany has fallen to the 3rd place, while France and South Korea moved up when France gained Visa free access to Uzbekistan and South Korea with Myanmar.

With 187 countries Visa free we have: Denmark, Finland, Italy, Spain and Sweden.

If by chance you have the Italian passport, know that you can enter in almost any European country without any paperwork, but you will still need a visa to go to Russia, China, India, Saudi Arabia and others. For other common destinations like Austrialia, United States and Canada yo need to obtain an electronic travel authorization in advance (it should cost 10-15€).

 

Now the least powerful, or the first from the bottom.

Iraq and Afghanistan are positioned at the least desirable passport in terms of how many countries to which they allow their holders to travel, they are just 30.

Then with the least visa free accesses we find Syria and Somalia, with 32 countries, Pakistan 33, Yemen 37, Eritrea, Palestinian territory and Sudan at 39 etc…

top 5 e 5

These coutries have a low number of visa free accesses so their movement to other countries is limited from their passport.

In addition, in some cases there may also be other kinds of restrinctions.

For example with the North Korean passport a person can travel to more countries compared to the Iraqis, indeed, North Koreans can travel to dozens of countries without prearranging a visa, some countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Kyrgyzstan, don’t ask for a visa at all, but…

…North Koreans need an exit visa from their own government to travel abroad and as you might expect, those documents are usually rejected.

Another factor to take into cosideration is the price of the passport, it should be affordable, in Syria the last year a new amendment raised the fees to 400$ for regular applications, and given that the minimum wage in Syria is around 50$ per month, just few people can afford it.

 

Here you can check where you can go with your passport!

https://www.henleypassportindex.com/passport

Annunci

4 Bad Habits when travelling

A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.       -John A. Shedd

What I really like about travelling is how naturally habits break, your daily routine during those days you’re abroad for vacation gets broken.

It’s because you can’t do sport at the usual place, you are not in your house, there are not your friends, you don’t have your car and so on and so on and so forth.

This is wonderful because you realize you are doing some activities in different ways, at a different time with different people, and this situation gives you the possibility to experiment how it is, how you feel.

There are anyway some habits we automatically form, even when we are travelling, some of them are good and others can be bad for us, and sometimes for locals as well.

Here I list 4 bad habits and 4 new habits to replace them!

 

1- Google maps (or others maps online), it’s very useful, even without internet you can see the point that tells you where you are, with the small arrow that looks toward the direction you are going.

It is really easy and confortable to use, but what happens is that you will probably watch you phone during the entire walk, missing the views of the city and feeling also a bit stoned.

What you can do instead is to get a paper map of the city for free at your hostel, hotel or  touristic information points and write down on the map where you want to go.

Try to follow the map and get help from locals!

maps

 

2- We all take lots of pictures when we are abroad for holidays, cause we get in an environment where everything is new for our eyes.

I like to take some pictures to have a memory of my trip.

But I think there are many people that, when they are in a suggestive place, have a stronger desire to take pictures rather than enjoy the moment.

Being focused on taking many pictures, can actually alter the way your brain processes an experience, you’ll forget it faster because you rely on your camera to remember it for you.

Instead, take some pictures and then put your phone back, then take into scene your 5 senses.

photo

3- Do you like to try local food?

It’s a way to get in the culture that hosts you.

If you are used to have breakfast from Starbucks and lunch or dinner from Mc Donalds, Burger King or Domino’s Pizza during your trip, try instead to go to some local bars or restaurants.

If you go to fast food chains you feed multinationals, if you go to local restaurants you feed the local community.

multinn

4- Another way to keep a memory of your trip is to buy souvenirs.

Maybe a cup or a shot glass with the name of the city on it, a t-shirt with the writing “I love Rome”, a keychain or a magnet with the landscape of the city and many others.

These are the typical souvenirs made for tourists and sold in souvenirs shops.

Probably they are all produced in the same chinese factories and the gadget you bought in Berlin is identic to the one in a London’s souvenir shop but with the different city name.

To improve the quality of your purchase buy handcrafted products!

They are usually more expensive, but:

They are unique.

They can be personalized because you talk directly with the artisan.

In this manner you are supporting skilled work, that with technology is slowly being replaced with machines.

And, as for restaurants, locally owned independent businesses, selling handmade products, return a higher percentage of their revenue to their communities than chains.

In fact, owners and employees, are more likely to spend their salary or invest their profit at places in the same area where they work.

The second type of “souvenir” I suggest to get are objects you used during your trip.

These are the memories I prefer and they are free.

For example if you went to a Museum in Berlin you keep with you the ticket you got at the entrance for remembering that day, or if you went to the Saxon Switzerland National Park you get a stone you find along the trail, an empty bottle of a typical beer or whatever leaves you a memory.

souvenir

The 3 cheapest European destinations

Do you think that travelling in Europe is expensive?

Not always.

Depends where  you go.

Travelling to Europe doesn’t necessarily mean going to Rome, Berlin, London or Paris.

Personally I find quite boring choosing always the most famous destinations, even if of course there is a reason why the are top destinations.

There are interesting places to visit everywhere, depending on the kind of experience you are looking for.

Here I list 3 between the most affordable countries, taking into account expenses like food & drinks, accommodation, local transports (public and private) and activities (city tours, nightlife etc…). They exclude the flight ticket.

All of them located in central-eastern Europe and none of them using the Euro currency.

 

1) Bulgaria

Local currency: Lev -> 1 Euro = 1,95 Lev

This country is slowly becoming more popular to traveller’s eyes for it’s incredibly low cost of life, but also because since its entrance in the European Union in 2017 has been improving its touristic infrastructure.

Many low cost airlines have direct flights to Sofia, but also Varna and Burgas.

Here the taxi’s fare is the cheapest in Europe, if you are in a small group of 3 friends and you do 5-6 kilometres distance you pay 1-1,50 euros each person.

I recommend the Hostel Mostel (https://www.hostelmostel.com/)if you are planning to go to Sofia, dorms for 7-8 euros per nights, and they also offer breakfast and dinner for a really low price.

 

2) Romania

Local currency: Lei -> 1 Euro = 4,63 Lei

It’s economy is now one of the fastest growing in Europe, this country is well known for being the land of Gypsies (false), the country of Dracula (false), a place where is dangerous to go around alone (false), where everyone is religious, where citizens eat a lot of garlics and onions and where everything is cheap!

As most of the countries the capital is more expensive, but if you go outside the centre or in other cities like TImisoara, Brasov, Cluj-Napoca the prices are even smaller.

You can find an accommodation in a hostel’s dorm with prices from 7 euros per night, I stayed in the ‘Podstel Bucharest’ (http://www.podstel.com/)  hostel for 5 nights  and I payd less than 40 euros, they are really friendly and in the common room there was a nice atmosphere.

You can eat in a restaurant for 8-10 euros and in Unirii Square, right in the centre of Bucharest there is a shop that sells hotdogs for 2 Lei (less than 50 cents).

If you buy the bus tickets airport-centre and centre-airport together the price is 3 euros in total.

If you need a taxi ask before to locals in order to avoid to be scammed, anyways the fare is low.

 

3)  Ukraine

Local currency: Hryvnia -> 1 Euro = 31,79 Hryvnia

Ukraine ranks as the most affordable country in Europe and also one of the top-10 cheapest countries in terms of living costs in a new study “The Cost of Living Around the World 2018” published by British moving company MoveHub.

But what’s cheap for tourists is still pretty expensive for the majority of Ukrainians.

In fact, gross domestic product per capita stood at just $2,459 in 2017, marking a significant fall from the $3,969 in 2013. Among European countries, only Moldova has a lower GDP per capita.

Nice cities to visit here are Kyiv, Zaporizhia, Odessa and Lviv.

europes

Icelandic’s things

Let your memory be your travel bag.                                       -Alexander Solzhenitsyn

1) How many islands bigger than Iceland?

In Europe there are many islands and archipelagos, but just one is bigger than Iceland, and it is… the Great Britain!

In the globe there are many more bigger islands than Iceland, guess how many?

They are exactly 17:

Greenland, New Guinea, Borneo (Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei), Madagascar, Baffin (between Canada and Greenland), Sumatra (Malesia), Honshu (Japan), Victoria (over Canada), Great Britain, Ellesmere (next to Greenland), Sulawesi (Indonesia), South Island (New Zeland), Java (Indonesia), North Island (New Zeland), Luzon (Philippines), Newfoundland or Terranova (Canada) and Cuba!

If you are asking yourself why Australia is not included in the list it’s because it’s not considered an island, being the main part of the continent ‘Oceania’.

islands

2) Ponies vs Horses

Have you seen Icelandic horses?

Many people consider them Pony because of the small size, but they are horses, they weights in average between 330 and 380 kilograms and their height is between 132 and 142 centimetres.

horse

This Icelandic race, it’s a unique race, that came to Iceland with the first settlers from Norway 1100 years ago.

Forming part of their culture, this horse’s breed is protected by the Icelandic law. Hence, to prevent possible diseases and races from mixing, no any kind of horse can enter in the country!

Normally horses have 3 types of paces: Walk, trot and gallop.

These small Icelandic super skillful hairy horses have 5 paces.

These are the ‘tölt’ and  ‘skeið’ or flying pace.

Watch this video!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RV9P0w8vZi8

 

3) Quiet country

Iceland is considered one of the quietest country on earth, they are roughly 335000 people, also well spread around the territory.

Hence, it’s normal their are not loud, probably puffins make more noise than people.

Yes, these are the puffins.

puffin

Icelanders are a bit reserved and distant, they have opinions about politics and world events they open up with people that are close to them. A small island far from everything and with a small population I guess doesn’t receive attention about what they think.

In addition, being over there in the North Atlantic, more than 1000 km far from the UK, being a really isolated island, needing to import almost everything, they feel like ‘we are tough’, a sort of drunk boxers with broken noses, broken facial bones and bruises going back to te ring for one more round.

Sometimes they keep it in their patrol car, but the policemen don’t carry guns with them, anyway every officer is trained to use firearms.

Crimes and violence are almost non existing, this facts is reflected in the prisons. In Iceland there are 5 prisons, Fangelsið Hólmsheiði, Fangelsið Kvíabryggju,Fangelsið Sogni, Litla-Hraun, Fangelsið Akureyri, in order with 56, 22, 20, 45 and 10 capacity’s places, in total just 153!!!

stay

4) What’s your surname?

Icelandic names are different from the western family names system.

Iceland shares a common cultural heritage with others Scandinavian countries like Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Faroe Islands.

But, unlike the others 4 countries mentioned, Iceland continued using its traditional name system, which was previously used by all the Nordic countries.

In general, a person’s second names, in made by his father’s name plus -son if he’s a guy or -dòttir if she is a girl.

For example if the father’s name is Jòn:

Son —> Jònsson

Daughter —> Jònsdòttir

There are few cases where the kid gets his mother name.

surnamer

5) Bonusss

Last but not least, Bonus.

I wouldn’t write anything about bonus if I wouldn’t have loved its symbol.

Bonus is a normal discount supermarket, you can find 32 stores in Iceland and 7 in the Faroe Islands.

It’s symbol is a funny moneybox with the shape of a pig smiling and looking up!

Nothing else to say.

bonus

 

5 facts that (maybe) you don’t know about Spain!

1) Habla español?

Spanish is today one of the most spoken languages in the world, over 400 million people in the world are Spanish native speakers (more than English) and 100 million more can speak it fluently on all continents.

It is the official language in many countries, and these are:

Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Chile, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Uruguay, Puerto Rico, Perù, Paraguay, Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and of course, Spain.

Every of these countries I listed has it’s own dialect and others depending from the region.

In Spain in addition to all the different dialects, there also other languages that are the Galician in Galicia, the Catalan in Catalonia and Euskera or Basque in the Basque region.

hablas

2) Travel abroad

Sometime travelling abroad can be boring, at the moment you are crossing a country’s limit you are just sitting on a bus, train or airplane.

Have you tried other methods?

In Sanlucar de Guadiana, a small neighbourhood close to Huelva, in the South of Spain, there is a more exciting transport to cross the border with Portugal.

A 720 metres long zipline separates the two countries and passes over the river Guadiana, that gives you the possibility to fly to Portugal but without airplane and also to fly back to the past, cause Portugal has 1 hour behind of the time zone. :’)

This is the video!

 

3) What time is it?

Had you ever thought about the time zone in European countries?

If yes, have you found any incongruity?

I thought about this few days ago, and I saw Spain has a different time zone respect the UK.

Spanish territory’s crosses exactly the Greenwich meridian, so they should use the UTC-+0, like in the UK.

But they don’t, they use the one of central europe, like Italy, Germany, France, Poland, Norway and others.

Then.. why?

During the second world war, in 1940, the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco also known as ‘El caudillo’, decided something.

Spain didn’t fight in the second world war, the country was devastated by the civil war, and during that was, being Franco allied with the two other European supernationalist dictators Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, whose sent him troops during the war.

He decided to change their time zone, in order to have a better collaboration with them, since that time Spain adopted the UTC+1, still present today.

time zone

4) Without words

Have you ever noticed that the Spaniards never sing along when their anthem
is played?
That’s because the spanish anthem has no official lyrics!

If you search on YouTube you’ll find the anthem with a lyrics, but that’s not the official one, anyway, the anthem’s name is ‘marcha real’ (real march), made in 1770 by an unknown person.

Spain is one of the only few countries in the world with no official lyrics for
their anthem, the only one other country I could find is Kosovo (maybe there are also others).

5) Alcohol party

How to do when you are too poor for buying cocktails in bar or clubs?

The answer is ——-> Botellòn!

I explain you what it is.

The origins of botellón trace back to Andalusia in the 1980s, workers began buying alcohol to drink outdoors in areas such as plazas or parks instead of spending money in a bar or club.
Young people, especially students (obviously), adopted the concept of botellón in the ’90s and it first appeared in the city of Cáceres (Extremadura, poorest region in Spain).

It’s a Spanish activity when people congregate in public areas to socialize while drinking alcohol. The activity is popular partly because more people can
meet in one place, Botellón is not an alternative to typical nightlife, but is rather an economical way to drink with people before going out to bars, discos, or clubs.

I lived one year in Seville, every time we went to discos, before we did the botellòn, personally I love this stuff, it’s a good way to meet new people and save money while staying in a open-air area.

But, on the other side, in Spain it’s illegal to drink alcohol on the streets, so the ‘botellòn’ are made, let’s say ‘illegally’, in places hidden from the streets. 

I also want to say that guys doing so, are really well organized.

I mean that they bring plastic bags with super alcoholic drinks, soft drinks and also cylinder plastic glasses (with the same shape of the ones you get in a disco) and a pack of ice! Well done :’)

botellon

What you didn’t know about Leipzig (Germany)

1)  Johann Sebastian Bach

You heard about this name right?

If you don’t, listen some of his melodies.

He was born in Eisenach, Germany the 31 March 1685… then what does he have to do with Leipzig?

Well, from 1723 until his death he lived there!

He devoted himself to the production of holy music, because he is deeply religious and he conceives his music as a tribute to the greatness of the Creator.

Bach, in fact, means to express, through his notes, a deep spirituality, in order to promote the communication between humans and God.

Today, at the entrance of the Leipzig’s main train station, there are music boxes always playing Bach’s melodies, letting visitors hear his music at the same moment they can have the first glance to the city!

bach

2) Leipzig’s beer?!

In Leipzig there is one beer that’s really popular and famous, the Gose beer, what they claim it’s their ‘local’ beer.

Is it really so?

Actually, the Gose Beer, so widely popular, is in fact a product of Goslar.

Though Leipzig is a city in the country known for its beer, what they affirm its their local beer isn’t even so.

It belongs to the same family of sour wheat beers as the Berlin-made Weiss and Belgian Witbier.

But cause of the use of coriander and salt, Gose does not comply with the “Reinheitsgebot” (German Beer Purity Law in English, is a series of regulations limiting the ingredients in beer in Germany), nevertheless, it is allowed an exemption on the grounds of being a regional specialty.

gose bier

3) The revolution begins

Leipzig’s located just 2 hours by car from Berlin.

And the revolution that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall separating East and West Germany, saw its humble beginnings in Leipzig’s St. Nicholas Church (Nikolaikirche, built in 1165) on September 4 of 1989.

Meetings that began quietly on Mondays in this church changed the destiny with East Germany, bowing to the feelings of its people.

nikolaikirche

4) ‘Red Bull Leipzig’ or ‘Rasenballsport Leipzig’?

The Rasenballsport Leipzig, better known as RB Leipzig, is a German football society located as you can imagine, in Leipzig.

It was founded in 2009 by the initiative of the famous Austrian multinational ‘Red Bull’.

The initial forecast of investment by Red Bull to the team amounted 100 millions euro,in order to lead it at the top of the German football and fight for the access to European Cups.

Of course given the huge investment of the company the symbol of the team should had been Red Bull.

But…

It’s forbidden by the German la to insert a commercial brand directly in the team’s name (there are just few exceptions, like for the Bayer Leverkusen). 

As a consequence, the team had been named ‘RasenBallsport Leipzig’, that means ‘sport of the ball on the lawn’, where the two initial R and B, are the ones of Red Bull.

On the other hand, the picture symbol of the society, was made by placing two bulls, using the red and white colours and as official nickname ‘Die Roten Bullen’, literally ‘the red bulls’.

rb

Differences East and West Germany nowadays

The next 9th November will be the birthday of Germany, 29 years after the reunification of the two parts.

It’s a unique country, but is it really united?

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, ex-communist eastern German companies and factories suddenly had to compete with their much more efficient western neighbours. Capitalism arrived too fast and many eastern German companies went bankrupt and some regions never recovered from the shock. Until today, income levels are much lower in the east than in the west.

In 1991, per capita GDP in East Germany was 33% of Western per capita GDP, rose to  63% in 2003, and again until 68% in 2015.

In 2015 the total GDP of Germany was 3.025 millions euro, of which 455 millions in the 6 regions of East Germany (including Berlin) and 2.570 millions in the 10 regions of West Germany.

Dividing 455/3.025 we get 0,15041, as a result we know that East Germany produces just the 15% of Germany’s GDP.

We shouldn’t forget that the dimension of the East is smaller and the population lower, but despite this the productivity follows the wave.

gdp

Germany’s unemployment rate is one the lowest in Europe.

But that rate is not evenly spread:  West German states still have far better
employment levels than their eastern neighbours. That’s in part because more young
people have moved from rural eastern areas to the west, which has also decreased
the amount of job-seeking eastern Germans.

Now, the latest release of the 30th August 2018, gives the unemployment at 5,2%.

unemploy

Of all the 28 countries in the European Union, Germany is the one with the highest amount of immigrants. They are over 10 millions in a country of 82 millions inhabitants, they cover around the 12% and main part settled in West.

Where do they come from?

Everywhere, but mainly Turkey, Poland, Russia and Italy.

immi

It was also the German government to encourage this immigrant flow.

For 2 reasons:

To address the labor shortage and to address longer terms demographic problems, like the low birth rate.

The density population is highest in West, but the highest dense areas are the biggest cities that are:

Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt, Essen, Dortmund, Stuttgard, Dusseldorf, Hannover, Bremen.

In 1990 the population of West Germany was 63,73 millions and of East Germany was 16,11 millions.

Germany-Population-Pyramid

Furthermore, the climate is less friendly to foreigners in the east, according to a study by Leipzig University researchers who interviewed 16,000 Germans over 10 years.

These findings coincide with a larger presence of right-wing neo Nazi sympathizers. The right-wing National Democratic Party, whose members have often been accused of glorifying Adolf Hitler, enjoys particular support in the east.

Why did right-wing politicians are successful in the once-communist east?

The explanation is complex, but scientists often attribute it to a mixture of anti-leftist views after the wall fell and the economic downturn in the east.

 

Top 5 curiosities Berlin

1) Dimension and bridges

Have you been to Berlin? If not and later you go to Berlin, you will notice how much time you need to walk for moving from one place to another. I answer, a lot, and because the city huge!

To make you get an idea, Berlin is 8 times bigger than Paris, precisely 891 squared km against 105 squared km.

About Bridges, there are many bridges in Berlin? Yes, they are around 960-970, thanks to the increase after the wall’s fall, in 1990 around 190 bridges were build.

Venice, whose centre is formed by 124 islands has less bridges than Berlin, they are 417.

bridge

2) No photography please

In Berliner’s discos strange rules are imposed.

I want to specify discos in Berlin are mostly with techno music, then if you like the gender there are many options.

Berghain is absolutely the most famous one, others are Sysiphos, Kater Blau, About Blank, Treson, Chalet etc…

When you are almost inside and you pay the entrance, they give you 2 stickers, for the 2 cameras of your phone front and rear.

Being techno parties I saw many people taking drugs like ecstasy, then probably owners don’t want people to make selfies in bad conditions and then spread them on social networks, it would result in a worse reputation of the club.

In Berghain, some locals told me there is also a completely dark dance floor, and sometimes people dance naked, or they have sex in a corner…

phot

3) Television tower

At 368 metres the Berliner Fernsehturm (Television Tower) is the tallest building
in Germany and one of the tallest constructions in Europe.

Actually is also a good orientation point, you can see it from any part of the city and it’s located in Alexanderplatz.

Berlin Television Tower

4) Berlin’s most famous parking

Just two minutes walking from the Holocaust Memorial there is a parking for cars, it has nothing apparently different from any other open-air parking, but at any hour there is someone looking at it as it was a tourists attraction.

In the place of the parking, underground there was the ‘fuhrerbunker’, Hitler’s hideout in Berlin.

After 14 years of relationship, Adolf Hitler and Eva Broun got married, the 29th April 1945.

The day after their marriage, the 30th of April, when the Russian troops entered in Berlin, he ordered his general that his body would had been burnt, so that the Russian couldn’t capture him and get his body as a prize. Eva Braun got the same fate.

Nevertheless, nowadays, his jaw and teeth are in a museum in Moscow.

parking

5) How to pass to the West side?

Given that between 1949 and 1961 around 3 millions Eastern Germany’s citizens escaped to West Germany (including from east Berlin to west Berlin), mostly young people and professionals, the DDR’s government took a decision to stop this traffic.

Precisely during the night between the 12th and 13th of August 1961, while everyone was sleeping, around 30.000 people started to put temporary barriers between Berlin.

Through the construction of the wall, from a day to another, squares, houses and street were cut and separated, transports were interrupted.

Can you image if tomorrow without notice, your city will be divided in two and you can’t go anymore to your university, grandparent’s house or to your workplace?

Obviously, many people tried to escape. In which ways?

Some escaped by foot, taking unusual routes, with home-made hot-air balloons, using hooks to cross the wall, using fake documents, and many others ‘creative ways’, one was by a tunnel connecting the two parts.

Most of these tunnel projects started by eastern citizens who already escaped, in order let their families and friends cross.

Digging a tunnel was an hard operation, that needed a lot of time and energy, what’s curious is that were actually the western radio’s and newspaper’s businesses to finance these tunnels in order to have more news to talk about!

berlintunnel1

 

 

Berlin’s memorials and their secrets

A traveller without observation is a bird without wings. -Moslih Eddin Saadi

1) Bebelplatz Book Burning Memorial

Do you think this memorial is like the others?

Mmh it has something slightly different.

If you go to Bebelplatz looking for the memorial, after a little walk you would think: “Where the fuck is it?!”

Firstly, you would surely notice the Humboldt University, the oldest university in Berlin and which has had famous professors, including Einstein, Karl Marx, and the Brothers Grimm, in particular the ‘Juristische Fakultat’.

faku

While on the other side there is the St. Hedwig’s Cathedral, one of the few Catholic cathedrals in Berlin.

Ok.. but the memorial?

In the centre of the square, exactly the 10th May 1933, the Nazis burnt around 25.000 books by Jewish writers or about the Jewish faith.

In the same point where it happened, now there is the memorial.

It is under the ground, it’s a chamber, with rows and rows of empty bookshelves.

memori

This chamber symbolizes the void the nazis left with that act.

Few metres from there, on the floor a nameplate, with a sentence made from Henrich Heine in 1820.

crfase

In German it says: “das war ein vorspiel nur dort, wo man bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am ende auch menschen”.

Translated: “That was just a prelude there, where books are burnt, in the end also people are burnt”.

 

2) Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Holocaust Memorial)

You can find this memorial close to Brandeburg Gate, in the district of Mitte.

It was made for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, designed by architect Peter Eisenman, an architect from New York.

Constructions began the 1st April 2003, and it had been inaugurated the 10th May 2005, exactly 60 years after the end of second world war.

This place consists of a 19.000 square metre site covered with 2,711
concrete rectangular concrete blocks or “stelae”, laid out in a grid formation, is on a slight slope and its wave-like form is different wherever you stand.

But why the blocks are 2,711, is it a casual number?

The Torah is the Hebrew Bible, and 2,711 are the pages of the Babylonian Talmud  that discuss the details of 613 commandments of the written Torah.

The cost of construction was approximately €25 million.

There is also an underground “Place of Information” that contains the names of approximately 3 million Jewish Holocaust victims these info had been obtained from the Israeli museum Yad Vashem.

ebree

5 top curiosities about Germany

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” – Albert Einstein

1) Solidarity tax

Do you remember the conditions of Germany after the second world war and how was it divided?

Most of the cities in the country had been completely destroyed, as a consequence the reconstruction costs were obviously absurd. The United States, with the “Marshall Plan”, gave to West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany), that was divided in 3 parts (1/3 France, 1/3 England, 1/3 US), enough money to rebuild fastly its cities.

In the meanwhile in East Germany (Deutsche Demokratische Republik) the reconstructions were really slow. Then, with the reunification of the two Germanies after the fall of the wall, the government decided to introduce the solidarity tax, to help the merger. The tax is levied on corporations and individuals, subject to the conditions specified in the law.

The country introduced a solidarity tax with a flat rate of 7.5% on all personal income in 1991 after East and West Germany were joined together again. The purpose of the tax was to provide capital for the newly integrated administration. It was implemented and collected for only a year as it was only meant to be a short-term program. However, in 1995 the government re-introduced the tax to help fund economic development in the east of Germany.

After the rate was reduced in 1998, taxpayers must pay a 5.5% tax of their yearly corporate and individual tax bill towards the solidarity tax, nowadays this tax is still active! germania 2) Beers

Germany is a beer country and that’s a fact!

Using only the four basic ingredients to produce beer they managed to create 5000 brands of beer.

When it comes to drink alcohol whether for a party, a dinner or just chilling in a park with friends, beer is always a good choice, it can also be consumed in public the whole day!

In Germany you can buy beer at any hour: In the Ruhr area it’s known as a Trinkhalle, in Mainz it is called a Büdchen and in Berlin it goes by the name of Späti; these are minimarkets or kiosks and they sell newspapers, tobacco, sweets and lots of beers.

The biggest Beer Festival in the world is of course the Oktoberfest in Munich, Bavaria (and in Bavaria beer is considered a food officially), where the size of the beer glass is not 500ml but a whole litre!

The consumption of beer is the 3rd highest in Europe, after Czech Republic and Austria, Germany counts with 106 litres/capita per years, not bad right?

With more than 1200 breweries it’s home of the oldest ones:

-Franziskaner: from Munich, founded in 1363.

-Augustiner, Brau: from Munich, founded in 1328.

-Privatbrauerei Gaffel Becker: from Cologne, founded in 1302.

-Weltenburg Abbey brewery: from Kelheim, founded in 1050.

-Weihenstephan brewery: from Bavaria, founded in 1040


birra

3) Adidas and Puma

Do you have any cloth signed Adidas or Puma?

Even if you don’t at least you heard about this two companies.

Do they have anything in common?

Of course! Two Bavarian brothers.

After the first world war Adolf Dassler started a small business with his father producing handcrafted shoes, later, also his brother Rudolf began to work with them, and the company’s name become the “Gebruder Dassler” (brothers Dassler).

After a personal conflict, the two brothers divided and Rudolf decided to start up his own company. He thought a good name could be “Ruda”, but he ended up with “Puma”, that became internationally famous thanks to his son, Armin.

Adolf was known with the nickname of ‘Adi’ Dassler, joining ‘Adi’, with the 3 firsts letters of his surname arise ‘Adidas’.
puma adi
4) The “Autobahn” (highway)

Are you used to respect that 100-130 km/h speed and to pay expensive toll for the highway and fed up of it?

Then, go to Germany.

In Italy’s autostradas or in France’s autoroutes you would pay a kilometre-based toll, while in Switzerland or Austria you would get charged an annual or monthly flat fee for the use of its autobahn network.

In addition, in these countries the speed limit is around 130 km/h.

In Germany just the 33% of the autobahn network has a permanent speed limit, in other parts there is a ‘dynamic speed limit’ where electronic signs display the speed limits that are adjusted depending on the weather, road conditions or traffic.

In all the rest of the autobahn network there are not speed limits, you can drive as fast as you want, you will find some signs with ‘suggested speed limits’.

Measurement from the German State of Brandeburg showed average speeds of 142 km/h in free flowing conditions! Don’t forget they are completely free!
autobahn

5) German law on first names

Do you want to name you child Batman or Superman?

Well…

Although in many countries there is not a specific law that regulates the rules about the first names, in Germany there is!

For example: It must be possible to recognize the kid’s gender by the name;

if you choose a neutral name (Ashley, Morgan, Jordan) you have to add a second one.

The chosen name must not be weird or degrading, and they cannot be surnames, products names and objects.

To summarize, some are prohibited because considered against the country’s traditions, others to avoid future inconveniences to the children.

A small list of forbidden names: Adolf Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, Kohl, Stompie, Matti, Goku, Spiderman, Naruto, Yugioh, Sandwich, Pizza, Bratwurst, Apfel, Starbucks, Mc Donald, Burger King, Coca-Cola.