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Personal reflections (4/12)

It took me four months of traveling to get to my favourite European city: Paris. I will take this achievement as an excuse to dedicate the fourth edition of `personal reflections` to ? my own project. Many people have been asking me what, how, where and why questions about `Us Europeans`, and upon completing one third of my itinerary, I feel confident giving some insight in it. Here`s the Us Europeans FAQ, I hope you will find it interesting reading material.

Posted by Bruno

High speed travel

Earlier this year, the French railway company SNCF broke another world speed record for electrical trains. A TGV train then reached a velocity almost 600 kilometres per hour on the new tracks connecting Paris to Germany. The French have a taste for prestigious projects and the TGV proudly features on the list of France`s favourite toys. A profitable toy though: a TGV connection with Paris is a guarantee for economical progress for all regions that are hooked up.

Posted by Bruno

La dynamique française

Nine down, eighteen more to go! I exchanged Spain for France this morning and will spend the next 15 days or so in the country of frog legs and smelly cheeses. I am happy to arrive just after a wave of strikes paralysed the country. The railway strike came to an end last week, so I should not have any difficulties reaching Luxembourg before the end of the year. I am looking forward to hearing people from Angoulême, Tours, Le Mans, Caen, Paris, Lyon, Belfort and Strasbourg tell me about local French life.

Posted by Bruno

Every country has its favourite sports and for many countries in Europe, that favourite sport is football. The Primera División is one of the leading European football leagues and many players can only dream of being recruited by one of the Spanish teams. But is there any other sport in Spain that can compete with the popularity of football?

Posted by Bruno

Planning the future

In a country of traditions and family values, making plans for the future is not necessarily something people like to spend a lot of time on. Previous generations of Spaniards often saw the church and the family decide their life path for them. Increasing individualisation and diminishing attachment to catholic values now force young people to make more choices than ever. A good reason to ask people what they think they will do in five years from now.

Posted by Bruno

The further enlargement of the European Union is a hot topic these days. What exactly defines the common heritage of Europe except its geographical position? How many more countries should be allowed in and which criteria do they need to match? Regardless of this complicated discussion, the EU may be forced to increase the number of participants when existing members split up. Scotland (UK), Flanders (Belgium) and Basque Country (France and Spain) are only a few of the regions cherishing independence dreams. Bilbao sounds like the perfect place to learn more about the Basque question in particular, and separatism in general.

Posted by Bruno

Faites vos jeux!

The end of the year is a busy period in Spain. Beside the predominantly Catholic celebrations of Immaculate Conception (early December) and Christmas (late December), Spanish people eagerly await another event: The biggest lottery of the year on December 22nd. It is not an official holiday and people go to work as if nothing happens, but a massive amount of participants hope to end the day as millionaires.

Posted by Bruno

Sahara approaching

Barcelona has faced some extreme weather over the last decade. Unexpected snow, storms, floods, hail and drought, all following each other rapidly. Forest fires have almost become a tradition and aquaducts are needed to guide water from the mountains towards the farmlansds. Is it all a big coincidence or is this climate change at work?

Posted by Bruno

Social values

Already within the first ten countries I have visited during this trip so far, I have found major differences in the way parents raise their children. In Scandinavia, parents teach their offspring how to live an independent life. In Spain and Portugal, kids are raised to behave as social human beings who seek each other`s company for the sake of being together.

Posted by Bruno

Giving and receiving presents is a global way of expressing sympathy for family and friends. While most of the Western world exchanges presents for Christmas and for birthdays, Spain has some additional days that are used as an excuse to buy your friends or family a treat.

Posted by Bruno