This article was originally published on TVBee
There are many things we travel for, amongst them is the most important of all, which is to experience different cultures other than our own. Every country in Europe offers a different cultural experience, and an unforgettable one at that! Europe is well known for its historical architecture, patriarchal rebelion, incredible food and wine, and all-in-all luxurious and frivolous lifestyle. There are definitely experiences you can only find in Europe, from rooftop wine and baguettes, eating fish from head to tail, crossing magnificent ecoduct bridges, playing traffic light ping pong, and sending your kids to miniature traffic playgrounds. From Medieval houses built in the 15th century, mini cathedrals for the blind in Poland, protesting bees and butterflies in Slovakia, looking through portals to the present, pasta as straws, and many more extravagant and unforgettable European experiences.
Keep VLC Ads-Free
Many of us may not be privy to use the VLC software, as with so many media streaming softwares available to us now, VLC isn’t exactly our go to anymore. But most of us may remember the orange traffic cone logo that played our downloaded videos and movies regardless of their format, well the guy behind this software is French computer engineer Jean-Baptiste Kempf. The VLC software remains free to use and free of Ads, so we can enjoy streaming our videos and audios ad-free, thanks to Jean-Baptiste Kempf.
According to a number of sources, Kempf turned down “tens of millions of Euros” in order to keep VLC Ads-Free. Here’s a guy who really believes in loyalty for his customers, we might have to reconsider VLC just to give this guy some well-deserved support.
A Bridge For Wildlife
Wildlife crossings are structures built over overpasses allowing animals to cross human-made structures safely. Wildlife crossings are an attempt by habitat conservations to rebuild the connections between different habitats. These types of overpasses and underpasses have served a great deal in the safety of animals, allowing them to avoid oncoming vehicles and other risks. Ecoducts are structures built over roads, most of the structures are between 10 m and 60 m wide, and typically have soil, litter, and vegetation on top to provide suitable habitat for a range of different species.
The Netherlands was one of the first countries to deploy a network of wildlife crossings, and there are currently over 600 wildlife crossings in the Netherlands, both Ecoducts and underpasses.
No More Advertisements And Billboards
We all know the best way to get anyones attention is to go big, as big as a billboard or advertisement on the side of a building in a busy street. Although it’s great for events and business, it’s not so appealing aesthetically. Buildings often look very overcrowded with different colored advertisements that clash. Getting onboard the anti-advertisements and billboards is the Polish city of Gdańsk, along with Warsaw and a few other cities, who are slowly getting rid of billboards and advertisements on buildings, thanks to the local and national versions of the Landscape Protection Act.
Poland has so far been the first country to condone the removal of ads and billboards, and continue to clean off their buildings in the hopes to be rid of all advertisements and billboards.
Medieval House Still Stands Tall
During the Medieval period approximately from the 5th to the late 15th centuries, there were different types of Medieval houses built, some for the rich and some for the ‘peasants’. The earliest forms of Medieval Housing were the weakest due to design flaws and the materials that peasants used, such as sticks, straw and mud. After the black death swept the country in 1348, new methods of building houses were introduced.
The framework was constructed of timber, and woven twigs were used to fill spaces, these twigs were splattered in mud which when it dried made a strong hard wall. These homes were stronger, and lasted centuries after they were built. Some of these Medieval homes were reframed and structured, and others remain standing tall across Europe.
The True Heroes Of Greece
In the last year the world has seen tremendous environmental disasters, and the true heroes are those working tirelessly to keep us safe. Firefighters risk their lives every day to keep us safe and alive, and they are often not given enough credit. In the biggest wildfire to sweep across Attica, Greece in decades, firefighters were so exhausted they were sleeping where they stood. Over 1,400 firefighters were deployed to the fires earlier this year, the blazes in Greece, spreading through to Turkey and other regions and continue to burn through the country today.
Thousands of tourists and locals were evacuated at the time, and so many have already lost their homes, as wildfires continue to spread throughout the country. Firefighters continue to fight tirelessly to protect, and we thank them for their bravery and work.
Same-Sex Marriage Made Legal For The First Time
We all remember 2015 and the news of the Supreme Courts decision to finally leaglize same-sex marriage in the United States. The United States became the the 17th country to legalize same-sex marriage at the time. But who was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage? It was in the Netherlands. In 2001, that the Netherlands became the first country to fully legalized same-sex marriage. The Washington Post had reported comments made by those who first opposed this law, who now believe they were wrong to be so cynical.
"At the time I opposed same-sex marriage, I was led by fear, having seen so many happy gay and lesbian couples getting married, I realize I was wrong" Hannie van Leeuwen, leader of the Christian Democrat party and opponent to the gay marriage law had reported.
DIY Pro-Democratic Flags
Often one has to face oppression with humor to get through, and the Belarusians definitely know how to hold a movement. The Belarusian democracy movement is a term used to describe opposition groups and individuals in Belarus that challenged the Soviet Belarus from 1988–1991 and the President Alexander Lukashenko, whom supporters of the movement believe is a dictator. In 2020, the Belarusian presidential election was held where Alexander Lukashenko was announced to have won a sixth term in office, which spiralled an uprising in the movement once again.
Not long after the election, people of Belarus took to the streets to protest, some from their own homes getting creative with the colors of their historical white-red-white flag.
British humour is very well-known to be blunt, scarce, self-deprecating and sometimes insulting. To many other cultures it might seem rude and unnecessary, and often misunderstood. Many British comedy series have become internationally popular, becoming a representation of British culture to international audiences. In many Western cultures, humour is often used to make sense of the world, to hide emotions or express them, and people have grown more conscious and accepting.
Life is so full of rude and unnecessary, and humour should definitely not be considered as such. So next time we’re confronted with some British humour, we will definitely take it with a grain of salt.
Mini Cathedral For The Blind
There is nothing more satisfying to most tourists than having a route planned and set up for them. In Warsaw, Poland,The Royal Route comprises a series of connecting Warsaw streets that feature a number of historic landmarks. The Royal Route has become one of the most frequently visited tourist routes, with the aim to allow equal access for the blind and those with difficult visions, to also enjoy the heritage of Warsaw, Poland. Models of landmarks for the visually impaired are described in Braille in Polish and English languages.
Not only can you skip those incredibly long and tedious lines, this opportunity allows equal opportunity for everyone to enjoy and learn about the city's heritage.
Protesting For The Bees And Butterflies
Tesco, a grocery store in Slovakia opened with empty shelves. They wanted to show their customers how it would look if all bees and butterflies become extinct. Pollinators are a vital part of our ecosystem, to create and maintain the habitats that many animals rely on for food and shelter. Without pollinators, the human race and all of earth's ecosystems would be at risk of extinction and eventually would not survive. Without bees and butterflies our supermarkets would have less than half the amount of fruit and vegetables.
Most of us know bees as insects that sting and make honey and butterflies as these majestic and colorful, harmless creatures, in the simplest of forms. But they are definitely much more vital than that.
The Devil's Bridge, Germany
A very distinguishable landmark found in Kromlau, Germany’s Kromlauer Park, is the arched devil’s bridge known as the Rakotzbrücke. The bridge was specifically built to create a circle when it is reflected in the waters beneath it. Built in 1860 by the knight of the local town from local stone, the bridge was named ‘the devil’s bridge due to the colloquialism that such obscure and unseen bridges must have been built by Satan.
Today, the bridge still stands as if it was just built, and can still be viewed in the park, but people are prohibited from crossing it in order to ensure the historic landmark is preserved.
Portal Into The Present
Like nothing we’ve ever seen, Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, has installed their very own ‘portal’ to the Polish city of Lublin in real time, which is about 600 kilometers away. The portal resembles a circular door, with a large screen in the middle and cameras, which according to its creators and quoted from Lrt News, “the project entitled PORTAL is supposed to serve as a visual bridge to bring different people together.”
Like a kind of digital bridge connecting two cities together, this invention is not only extremely magnificent, it also came in handy during COVID regulations!
Blood Moon, Finland
There are so many incredible natural events that Mother Nature provides, we sometimes forget to take a minute to appreciate and enjoy them. A Blood Moon is one of these rare and unmissable natural events A blood moon is also known as a total lunar eclipse, because of the reddish and orange color the Full Moon takes on when fully eclipsed. A truly captivating event that doesn’t happen frequently.
Finland experienced a blood moon on the 21st of January 2019, lasting over an hour. It was captured by many people and was truly an extraordinary site.
Traditions Of Pomak Village Of Startsevo, Bulgaria
Pomaks are Bulgarian-speaking Muslims that live in Bulgaria, Greece and mainly Turkey. Their language is referred to as the Pomak language, and they speak in various Bulgarian dialects. The Pomaks specifically in the Bulgaria are referred to as Bulgarian Muslims, they are mostly descendants of Bulgarian Christians who converted to Islam during the period of Ottoman rule, and currently reside in the Rhodope Mountains.
Their distinctive cultural dressing is truly a beautiful reflection of their traditions, and a way to honor their ancestral heritage.
Running Champion Of Slovakia
Annamária Horváthová sparked media interest in 2018 when she won the student running competition despite the fact that she wore ballerinas instead of sports shoes. The fifteen-year-old comes from modest conditions in a settlement in Moldava nad Bodvou. Annamária Horváthová is now Slovakians vice-champion running 800 meters in the category of older runners, coming in third place. Horváthová is currently one of the four best 2000 meter racers in her category.
Horváthová is proof that if we really set our minds to something and believe in the possibility of our own abilities, we can accomplish almost anything despite any odds that might be stacked up against us.
Roman Mosaic Villa Floor In The Rainforest
A Roman mosaic floor was discovered under a vineyard in northern Italy after decades of searching. The floor was intact and well-preserved buried metres under the earth. According to BBS News, scholars first found evidence of a Roman villa there more than a century ago. As mentioned in The Guardian, the superintendent who discovered the artifact is still trying to reach an agreement with the owner of the vineyard on the best way to preserve this monumental find and make it available and accessible for people to see.
The cultural sites in Italy are slowly coming back to life, and as new discoveries are found, we are excited to see what other discoveries will come to light.
Christmas Market 2019, Dresden, Germany
Traditionally known as Striezelmarkt, Dresden's Christmas Market is the oldest Christmas Market in Germany. The Dresden Striezelmarkt happens annually on the Altmarkt Square, and is surrounded by various Christmas themed Markets alongside the entire street centre. Dresden has the largest number of Christmas markets in the eastern part of the country and is the oldest event to date in Germany. The market originally started back in the 15th century, and remains one of Germany’s celebrated events.
Considered the first genuine Christmas market in the world, we will definitely be visiting the famous Striezelmarkt for some incredible apple strudel next time we’re in Germany!
Oldest Door Still In Use In Rome
One of the oldest doors in the world, the Saint Sabina door in Rome is over 1500 years old. It is thought to be the original door, dating back to 430, with one of its wooden panels thought to be the earliest depictions of Christ’s crucifixion. Carrying an enormous size of 472.0 cm in height and the length of 125.0 cm, and an insane weight 1.85 tonnes this exquisite piece of Ottonian art was cast entirely of gunmetal.
It’s hard to believe that something that stands so strongly today has stood in the same place for centuries, and will probably continue to stand for centuries to come.
Playing Traffic Light Ping Pong
Germany has completely outdone themselves yet again! Forget standing at a traffic light impatiently, since 2012, a few design students from HAWK University unveiled a concept now known as StreetPong. StreetPing is a game of pong installed at a street crossing that allows people to play opponents waiting on the other side of the road. After two years in the works, the game units were designed and approved by the city of Hildesheim, Germany. They were officially installed in November 2014.
An amazing way to pass the time and possibly get to know a stranger while we wait for the pedestrian light to turn green.
Heat Wave In Rovaniemi, Finland
Finland and hot summers are very familiar with one another, going through their latest heatwave that occurred in July of this year. The heatwave sent Finns running to the beach and emptying stores of air conditioners, with temperatures reaching over 33 degrees Celsius. Although heat waves are often normal in the North of Finland, the latest one was exceptionally hot. Despite summer temperatures being a majority favorite, it is also a clear cry for help from our planet.
Heatwaves are definitely a great time to hit the beach or lay under the air conditioning, but maybe we need to start looking at the bigger picture, contributing to help raise awareness.
Miniature Traffic Playground
A miniature traffic playground in Copenhagen is available for kids to learn to cycle in traffic, but remain safe. Such traffic playgrounds have been commonplace in Denmark and the Netherlands since the 1950s, providing realistic traffic simulation, with traffic lights, road signs, bike paths, petrol stations and much more. The playground is staffed during business hours, helping children learn how to cycle and guiding them throughout this experience. Many children in Copenhagen are used to cycling to school by the age of six and seven, so it is vital for them to understand road safety.
This miniature traffic playground gives children the opportunity to learn in a playful and exciting way, while maintaining a level of safety that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
Banner At The Pro-EU March, London
Hundreds of thousands of people in London opposed to Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union marched through central London in 2019 to demand a new referendum. Protestors mocked David Davis by holding up a large scale banner which pictured a tweet of the former cabinet minister’s old statement. “If a democracy cannot change it's mind, it ceases to be a democracy,” was the quote written on the banner.
Protestors believed that the former secretary claimed a stance that was inconsistent with current statements and stands, calling him out in a very loud and unwavering way.
Pasta As Straws
In an effort to cut down on plastic use and help the environment, the European Union voted to ban single-use plastic items throughout the EU by 2021. This now includes offering alternatives to single-use plastic straws, with some bars in Italy having started serving their drinks with environmentally friendly pasta straws. Italy isn’t the only place to adopt these alternatives, a London-based company called Stroodles also produces alternatives to plastic straws, also adopting biodegradable pasta straws.
Plastic straws take up 4% of the world’s plastic pollution, and single-use plastic is detrimental to our environment and its inhibiting ecosystems, so it’s great to see alternatives being used instead of plastic.
Repurposed Phone Booths, UK
It seems phone booths have become a thing of the past, but although they have become seemingly obsolete, the red telephone boxes in London are being repurposed in very interesting ways. Rather than getting rid of the famous London red telephone box, some Brits have started turning them into coffee shops, bars, art galleries, phone repair stops and more. The enduring British design is also being sold to individuals interested in repurposing it.
The famous red telephone box is one of the most famous monuments in London, and there aren't many people who visit and don’t snap a photo! We are loving the idea of preserving them, and are pretty excited to see what it gets turned into next.
Climate Protest In Cologne
Ongoing protests in Cologne, Germany have become very intense as protestors stood on a block of ice with rope tied around their necks, proving just how vital climate change is becoming. Activist Luisa Neubauer, told French news agency AFP that they want to "The political parties haven't taken the climate catastrophe seriously enough," Neubauer said, adding that young people wanted "no more excuses" from older politicians about the state of the world they will leave behind.
Cologne has become the first German city to join the declaration movement, with more than 700 cities around the world becoming more aware of the urgency of the climate crisis.
Eating A Herring In The Hague, Netherlands
Traditionally, the herring is eaten with diced onions, by holding it by its tail and letting the fish slide into your mouth. Although most people prefer eating it in a bun or cutting it into pieces and eating it with a cocktail stick.The Dutch love their herring, it is traditionally caught every year between May to July, with the herrings being cleaned and salted aboard the ships. It starts with an auction, and then sold everywhere else, with feasts organized in many different places around the city.
The start date of the herring season is usually announced around the end of November, for those who want to catch the herring season and try this interesting tradition for themselves!
Wheel Of Cheese After Winning Goal
Competitive sports is always an exception to go a little crazy, most people find it endearing, and expect the most unexpected. But the most unforgettable moment was during the 2018 World Cup Football game, Xherdan Shaqiri fans in Switzerland took excitement to an entirely new level when they threw a wheel of cheese at him after he scored the final goal. The Swiss are very well known for their extravagant cheese, and traditionally it is of great significance to their culture, so we were not entirely surprised at the gesture, but definitely entertained.
We’re looking forward to seeing what is thrown next time Switzerland marks their world cup goal, maybe something a little lighter? We will be anxiously waiting and watching to see!
Queue For The Queue
The Port of Dover, also known as the ‘Gateway to Europe’ due to millions of passengers and vehicles passing through on cross-Channel ferries each year, is Europe's busiest international ferry port. The Port of Dover is constant, 24 hours a day, 364 days a year, departing every 30 minutes, so there’s always a chance to catch one ferry if we miss the last. Dover to Calais is the quickest ferry route from the UK to France and the most popular UK-France crossing, docking multiple times a day.
If you enjoy traveling in a less conventional way, and enjoy adventure, we definitely think the Port of Dover creates that exceptional feeling of travel. There is nothing more beautiful than enjoying the sea on a nice summer day between destinations.
Éire: A WW2 Warning Sign
The 2018 fires at Bray Head exposed a Second World War era Éire sign that had been covered up for more than 70 years. A World War Two-era landmark along the Irish coast which means Ireland in the Irish language, which was used during WW2 to warn bombers both Allied and German pilots they were flying over a neutral country. There were many signs during that time that were engraved in stone, many of which are still in plain view, and some which have been restored by volunteers in recent years.
It is estimated there are 85 such signs extant around the coast of Ireland, each with their own number, the one at Bray Head being number eight, an incredible historical find.
Baguette And Six Bottles Of Wine, Paris, France, 1945
French baguettes, rooftops, and wine, the most traditional Paris experience. If there’s one thing Paris is known and loved for other than the eiffel tower it’s the bread and wine, especially the traditional French baguette, France’s most iconic foods, a kind of unofficial symbol of Paris. Interestingly enough, France’s iconic bread was given government protection in 1993 with the Décret Pain. The law stipulates that traditional baguettes can only be made with four ingredients (water, flour, salt and yeast) and must be made on the premises where they are sold.
The French really take their baguettes seriously! Baguettes are an intrinsic part of daily life in France and around 6 million of them are sold each day, and we are definitely craving one right now!
The Netherlands, 1966
Putting your child in a bike chair is not favoured by many people in the 21st century, although seemingly safe, it’s nowhere near as daring as the Dutch in the 1900’s. They are known for living on the edge, such as cycling without helmets, ignoring emergency alarms, and taking many more unimaginable risks, we wouldn’t dare try. Bicycling in particular for Dutch people is not a difficult task as they learn to cycle from a very young age.
Although most of us would not dare try what the Dutch are very comfortable with, we definitely enjoy watching them take extraordinary risks, but kids, don’t try it at home!
Dedicated Swedish Fans
Sweden has many traditions that make it one of the best countries to live in. Most Swedish traditions seem to either include a celebration of some sort or eating plenty of great pastries and food. Between Cinnamon Bun Day, Midsommar, Santa Lucia, Christmas markets and many more, it’s hard not to love everything about this country and its people. One interesting custom we more than enjoyed, was muscular football fans dressed as IKEA girls to the game. Swedes definitely don’t miss any opportunity to celebrate their traditions, or stand out of the crowd by doing something extraordinary.
Anything that brings people together for a laugh is a place we want to be, and it seems most of us will be packing our bags and heading to Sweden.
'Time Out' For Speeding
Estonia has taken an interesting turn to hold speeders accountable for going over the speed limit. Drivers that are caught speeding along the road between Tallinn and the town of Rapla are stopped and given a choice, to either pay a fine, or the new option of taking a “timeout”. The timeout can range between 45 minutes or an hour, depending on how fast the speeder may have been going at the time they were stopped. The aim of the experiment is to see how drivers perceive speeding, and whether they believe lost time to be more of a deterrent than lost money.
A collaboration between Estonia’s Home Office and the police force, News EER quotes Elari Kasemets, PPA innovation advisor, "This is part of a traffic innovation project that aims to find new effective ways to improve road safety."
Neo-Gothic Apartment House, Budapest, Hungary, 1894
Visiting anywhere in Europe the most extraordinary things to see are the historic buildings, cathedrals and homes that still stand centuries after they’ve been built. Among the many beautiful architectural buildings to see in Budapest, The Royal Palace, National Theater, The Parliament, and many more, the incredible Neo-Gothic Apartment House In Budapest Hungary is one to see. Built around 1894, and still standing strong, this house is every Harry Potter fan's dream.
There are many hostels, hotels, and buildings that still carry this type of character in Budapest, and similarly all over Europe, and we are in absolute awe.
Jakub Wejher Or Darth Vader?
The monument of Jakub Weiher depicting the city founder, Jakub Weiher, was turned into Darth Vador in 2016, when a snowstorm hit the town of Wejherowo. The statue is located at the Jakub Weiher Square, and has been standing tall since 1643. Similarly to the snowstorm, on various occasions the statue is often dressed as various characters, including Santa Claus during christmas. There is something so warm about a small town with inside jokes, and dressing up a historical figure as a town is something we all want to get in on!
Next time we’re in Poland, we will be sure to stop by the town of Wejherowo, to take a picture with the famous Jakub Weiher, we wonder if he was really able to take a joke!