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Archive for December, 2010

New Year’s Eve celebrations in Paris

Posted by dan on December 31, 2010

 

New Year's Eve in Paris, Seine, lit-up Eiffel Tower

New Year's Eve in Paris with a lit-up Eiffel Tower - no fireworks.

Paris is one of the most colorful and lively places in the world to celebrate New Year’s Eve, whether you are spending it in a restaurant, a club, at a house party, out on the street – or, as often the case is, a combination of these. All of Paris is safe on NYE, just as as at any other time, although it is a loud and crowded experience at many places. The whole city is lively and full of partying people, but the most popular spot is the Champs Elysees area. Paris is one of those few cities which did not follow the mega-fireworks trend. There have been smaller displays at the Eiffel Tower and at other places such as Place de la Concorde in the past, but as far as I know nothing is planned this year. Fireworks is more on the spontaneous side – people setting off them all over the city, sometimes in crowded places. Montmartre is another popular neighborhood to spend the night. It is somewhat calmer and there are good views over the city – although not much of the Eiffel Tower itself. Wherever you are in Paris, it is party time and there are happy people wishing each other – Bonne Annee!

Further info:

Celebrating New Year’s in Paris: http://goparis.about.com/od/events/a/Paris_NewYear.htm

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Happy New Year

Posted by dan on December 31, 2010

The New Year has already started in Sydney with an extravagant fireworks display.

2010 NYE fireworks sydney

Sydney 2010, NYE fireworks. Image: http://www.abc.net.au

If I’m right the Sydney fireworks craze has started with the 2000 Olympics – I certainly remember NYE celebrations without any fireworks – and since then it became the biggest party in the world, with an estimated 1.5 million revellers on the streets and a billion people tuning in to watch the show on the screen.

Baywatch-themed cocktail party at the Opera Bar

“The best views will be had by those who queued for hours to take temporary possession of a prime piece of real estate at the Botanic Gardens, the Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay.

Some splurged up to $500 for a Baywatch-themed cocktail party at the Opera Bar where guests were being served drinks by waiters in swimming costumes.

‘This has got to be the best place to be in the world tonight,’ said Marc Wilson, 41, from Sydney.”

I personally would prefer a quieter place – and Sydney offers several good choices – but don’t want to argue with Marc. Different strokes for different folks – enjoy it and a Happy New Year!

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/12/31/3104625.htm

In pictures: New year celebrations: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12100065

 

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Some like it cold – a different dip

Posted by dan on December 26, 2010

Christmas swim. Video: www.euronews.net

Christmas swim. Video: http://www.euronews.net

  • “For the first time in 30 years the Serpentine in Hyde Park was too frozen to allow all the ice to be cleared for the Peter Pan Cup, a 100 metre race, so swimmers had a hot cuppa to celebrate Christmas.
  • “The Berlin Seals” ice swimming club have been taking the winters of the Orankesee for their health since 1979.
  • The Copa Nadal held on a Barcelona beach is a 200 metre race celebrating its 101st anniversary in relatively balmy conditions. Only the civil war has ever interrupted this Christmas dip.”

Source: http://www.euronews.net/2010/12/26/icebreakers-needed-for-christmas-swims/

The “Peter Pan Cup” Christmas Morning Handicap Swim: http://www.serpentineswimmingclub.com/christmas_day_race.htm

Serpentine Swimming Club: http://www.serpentineswimmingclub.com/

 

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You better watch out…

Posted by dan on December 25, 2010

The following video was recorded at the Vancouver International Airport during this Christmas season. Wherever you are, you better watch out…

Operation Snowflake – Christmas 2010 / Opération “Flocon” – Noël 2010

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El Gordo – the Spanish Christmas Lottery

Posted by dan on December 22, 2010

El Gordo - Christmas Lottery in Spain. Image: The Telegraph

El Gordo - Christmas Lottery in Spain. Image: The Telegraph

The Spanish Christmas Lottery (Sorteo de Navidad or Lotería de Navidad) is a national lottery game organized every year since 1812 by a branch of the Spanish Public Administration . As measured by the total prize payout, the Christmas Lottery is considered the biggest lottery worldwide, with its first category called El Gordo – the Fat One.

While consumer studies reported that Spaniards were spending less this Christmas, as the country struggles on with austerity measures and 20 per cent unemployment, the average amount each household spent on the lottery has increased this year, from up to 69 euros from 58 euros in 2009.

In what has become a favourite Christmas tradition, the annual draw on December 22 takes around three hours as numbers are sung out by schoolchildren in a televised process that has the nation gripped to its screens. Prizes totalling 2.3 billion euros (£1.9billion) were distributed to several thousand winners across Spain with the top prize awarded to holders of tickets numbered 79250, appearing on 195 tickets.

A lottery shop in the small town of Sort – the Catalan word of luck – in the foothills of the Pyrenees sells more tickets than any outlet in Spain because of the name of the town and the fact it has stocked winning tickets several times in the last decade.

Source:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Christmas_Lottery

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/spain…El-Gordo-lottery.html

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Connecting Paris and London by Eurostar

Posted by dan on December 22, 2010

UK and France - snowy conditions outside

Snowy conditions outside, in the UK and France

Probably the easiest and fastest way to connect the two capitals is by the Eurostar train, which takes as little as 2 hours and 15 minutes. The biggest advantage is that you can start in the center of one city, and arrive in the center in the other one (St. Pancrass station and Gare du Nord), saving you time and money. Considering transfer times and costs, it is very competitive – and probably better – than the budget flights. You have to book as early as you can to get the best rates – tickets go on sale 90 days before trip – but you can get good prices even a few days before if you are traveling on a weekday or at certain times.

2010 is one of the snowiest winters in the UK and France, and many services were disrupted – flights as well as the Eurostar. As I am writing this post, I’ve heard news that travel is getting back to normal, which is very good news for many – especially at such an important time as Christmas. The following images were made when the first snow hit the UK and France in 2010.

Travel TipCheck rates and book tickets: http://www.eurostar.com/

About Eurostar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurostar

See also blog posts: Connecting Paris and London and Hotels around Gare du Nord

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Wiener Christkindlmarkt – Christmas market in Vienna

Posted by dan on December 22, 2010

The Christmas market in Vienna – called Wiener Christkindlmarkt – is one of the most famous destinations during the winter festive season in Europe. With snow almost guaranteed, the capital city of Austria will not leave you disapointed if you are after a real winter experience. (Although this year Paris turned white as well and Rome had its cold days with fountains freezing.) There are several Christmas markets in Vienna, at Maria Theresien Platz or Karlskirche, but probably the best is at the Rathaus, the Townhall, on the Ring opposite the Burgtheater. Following are some images made yesterday.

A comprehensive listing of all important Christmas Markets in Vienna: http://www.vienna4u.at/christmasmarket.html

 

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Paris – Christmas colors

Posted by dan on December 21, 2010

Paris, just as every city in the Western world, is preparing for Christmas. With its markets, Christmas lights and decorations, busy department stores, shopping and fun, Paris is one of the most colorful cities.

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Snapshots – Christmas in Rome and the Vatican

Posted by dan on December 20, 2010

Vatican, Christmas tree at St. Peter's Basilica

Christmas tree at St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican

Christmas is one of the biggest Christian celebrations and people from all over the world flock to Rome and the Vatican during the festive season. Following are images of the Eternal City preparing for Christmas.

Not everybody is as fortunate as most of us reading this blog – many people will spend this Christmas out on the street in every European city. According to every major religion it is a duty to help those in need. See blog post: Clochard – Homeless in Europe

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Great gift ideas – Ferrari merchandise

Posted by dan on December 18, 2010

The smaller items such as watches, key rings, toy cars, ties or valets would make a good gift for people who like cars and car racing. If you are the Ferrari fan yourself, you could have a photo taken next to the F1 racing monster for 16 euros (A4 size). There is a whole range of other items, including bags, clothes, car accessories, even skis. Although a pair of Ferrari skis is not a guarantee that you will be the fastest on the slopes, you definitely will be one of the most stylish. You can also get the electronic two-wheeler gadget (sure there is a name for it – pls let me know) which could be useful getting around in the city. In many big cities, including Rome, you can hire them for sightseeing if you first want to have a go at it – not the Ferrari ones of course.

There are shops in the city – the pictured one is just off Via del Corso close to Piazza Augusto Imperatore – and also at the airport.

Ferrari merchandise official website: http://store.ferrari.com/en/

See other great gift ideas: https://independentguide.wordpress.com/tag/gift-ideas/

See also blog post: Villa Borghese gardens – with kids or without

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