Introducing France

France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean – it covers 640,679 square kilometers and has a population of 66.6 million.
The largest country of the European Union, located in Western Europe, has a huge variety of landscapes: it encompasses medieval and port cities, tranquil villages, mountains and Mediterranean beaches. From the mainland to the overseas territories, the geography of France is rich in contrasts and an extraordinary natural heritage.

 
Paris, its capital, is known worldwide for its couture fashion houses, classical art museums including the Louvre and monuments like the Eiffel Tower. Paris is often referred to as the ‘city of love’, considering its endless opportunities of romantic walks along the Seine River, numerous romantic sidewalk cafes and restaurants and, of course, the Eiffel Tower all aglow at night. Lascaux’s ancient cave drawings, Lyon’s Roman theater and the immense Palace of Versailles are testaments to the country’s long history.

 
France is also renowned for its sophisticated cuisine and its wines. A French meal often consists of three courses: hors d’œuvre or entrée (introductory course, sometimes soup), plat principal (main course), fromage (cheese course) or dessert, sometimes with a salad offered before the cheese or dessert. No meal is complete without a good French wine, which is is produced all throughout France, in quantities between 50 and 60 million hectoliters per year, or 7–8 billion bottles. France is one of the largest wine producers in the world.

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Introducing Slovenia

Slovenia is a nation state on the Adriatic Sea, bordering Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Croatia to the south and southeast, and Hungary to the northeast. It covers 20,273 square kilometers and has a population of 2.05 million. Its capital and largest city is Ljubljana.

Slovenians are known to embrace their country’s nature, focus on its organic development, promote a niche economy and welcome diversity.
Any season is the right season to visit Slovenia. This green part of Europe is indeed a special place – wherever you cross the border, you can expect an exceptional diversity of landscape that changes in spectacular fashion, while friendly people and fine cuisine, health resorts and spas, tourist farms and sports offer something for everyone.
A short drive of just over two hours brings you from the azure Mediterranean to Alpine peaks. From there it is not far to the Pannonian lowlands, or to the gently rounded Dolenjska hills.

Slovene cooking has over 30 different regional cuisines, influenced greatly by Slovenia’s neighboring countries. While there is a sufficient amount of poultry, dairy products, and potatoes, much of the land in Slovenia is not suited for producing crops. Basic foods such as oil, wheat, sugar and meat are imported.
Slovene foods are often simple and hearty. Many dishes are made with cream, such as mushroom soup, and pork sour soup. Horseradish with cream, a specialty of northeastern Slovenia, is often served with beef dishes. Chicken paprika is a creamy sauce made with spicy, red paprika served over noodles or dumplings. The delights of Slovenian cooking are usually accompanied by excellent Slovenian wines.

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Introducing Finland

Finland is a Nordic country in Northern Europe bordered by Sweden to the west, Norway to the north and Russia to the east; Estonia lies to the south across the Gulf of Finland. It has a population of approximately 5.5 million, and its capital is Helsinki.

Finland is probably one of the most innovative and modern countries in Europe – what makes this beautiful country so special?
It its well known for its wild nature, clean lakes and modern Finish design – but also for unique natural phenomenon “Aurora Borealis” and the Midnight Sun.
Aurora Borealis is the name for “The Northern Lights”, a powerful light phenomenon. It is said, that the thrill of witnessing the Aurora Borealis is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many. Some, however, get hooked and can never get enough of the blazing colors in the sky. Being one of the best places to spot this event, Finland has even received immigration because of them. The further north you go, the greater the chances of spotting the Aurora Borealis. In Finish Lapland for example they can appear up to 200 nights a year.
The midnight sun is Finland’s most iconic natural phenomenon. In the northernmost parts of Finish Lapland, the sun stays above the horizon for over 70 executive days during the summer.

Another interesting fact: Finland was the first European country to introduce women’s suffrage, which elected the world’s first female members of parliament in the 1907 parliamentary elections.

Make sure to try one of the oldest traditional pasties found in Europe: the Karelian pastry.  Common fillings of this rye wheat crusted pastry are barley, potato, rice and buckwheat.

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Introducing Poland

Poland is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine and Belarus to the east and the Baltic Sea and Lithuania to the north. Approximately 38 million people live on a total area of about 313 000 square kilometers.
Poland is another country that offers it all: Chic medieval hot spots like Kraków, Gdańsk and energetic Warsaw are the most visited tourist destinations of the country. Outside the cities woods, rivers, lakes and hills offer some fresh-air fun for the entire family.

Poland is known for its heartwarming and good home cooking, just the way your grandmother used to make it 🙂 Polish food is based on local ingredients like pork, cabbage, mushroom, beetroot and onion, combined simply and prepared to perfection. Regional specialties like duck, goose, herring and even bison keep things from getting dull. As for sweets, it’s hard to imagine a more accommodating destination: Cream cakes, apple strudel, pancakes, fruit-filled dumplings.. if you have a sweet tooth, you may have you skip the main course and jump straight to the dessert!

warschau desserts landscape

Introducing Sweden

Sweden is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. Sweden borders Norway and Finland, and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund.
The country has a population of about 9.7 million, living on 450 300 square kilometers. About 85% of the population lives in urban areas. Southern Sweden is predominantly agricultural, while the north is heavily forested.

The capital is Stockholm – the most populous city in the Nordic region, with 900 000 people living there. Stockholm spreads out over 14 islands in Lake Mälaren and looks out proudly to the Baltic Sea to the east. Its grand public buildings, palaces, rich cultural history and museums tell her 700 year-old history beautifully.

A very popular tourist destination is Gothenburg and the West Coast, where you can find world-class seafood, restaurants and a coastline and archipelago to die for. Green travel, green accommodation, green attractions, eco-labeled adventures and green city tours have become more and more popular in the last few years. This country offers everything: from outdoor activities like golfing, fishing, skiing and biking to shopping, spas and many cultural attractions. It’s a perfect destination for a family vacation!

Swedish food is much more than just iconic meatballs and chewy fish-shaped sweets 🙂
Lingonberries are widely used to accompany a variety of dishes, from meatballs and pancakes to porridge and black pudding (blodpudding). Pickled herring is another Swedish staple: it comes in a variety of flavors – mustard, onion, garlic and dill and is often eaten with boiled potatoes, sour cream, chopped chives, sharp hard cheese, sometimes boiled eggs and, of course, the famous Swedish crispbread.

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Introducing Slovakia

Slovakia is a country in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about 49,000 square kilometers. Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south. The largest city is the capital, Bratislava.

Slovakia offers natural landscapes, mountains, caves, medieval castles and towns, folk architecture, spas and ski resorts.
More than 1.6 million people visit Slovakia annually and the most attractive destinations are the capital Bratislava and the High Tatras, a mountain range along the border of northern Slovakia and southern Poland.
The High Tatras are dotted with villages with deep peasant traditions although the landscape was ravaged by a merciless wind storm in 2004. Liptov, at the foot of the Low Tatras, is a popular destination with a rich history, beautiful greenery, mountain streams and caves.

Numerous restaurants offer typical Slovak food & drinks. Slovak food is hearty, typical of a country with strong rural roots. It is heavy on meat (especially pork), potatoes, dumplings, thick sauces and cheeses. If you’re looking for vegetables – there’s always cabbage, often in the form of sauerkraut.

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Introducing Denmark

Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The southernmost of the Nordic countries, it is located southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany.

Denmark has a number of characteristics that distinguish it from its northern European neighbors: it has 406 islands and 7314 km of coastline. The total population of 5.6 million people is spread out on 43 000 square kilometers of land. The country’s capital is Copenhagen. More interesting facts are that the highest point in the country is only 170 meters above sea level, and that
the average wind speed is 7.6 meters per second. That explains why Denmark is one of the world’s largest exporters of wind turbines!

Main attractions for the thousands of tourists every year are Tivoli, the Little Mermaid or Legoland. Many come to enjoy the Danish countryside with its many thousands of kilometers of beautiful coastline.

Denmark is famous for its modern furniture design and architecture but also for a whole new way of cooking with New Nordic Cuisine, introduced by the world’s best restaurant “Noma”. The New Nordic Cuisine has revolutionized Danish gastronomy and created an entirely new focus on local ingredients.
Danish food was essentially associated with potatoes and bacon – very traditional foods are porridge, open sandwiches and the classic roast pork with parsley sauce – of course served with a glass of good Danish beer.

copenhagen coastline porkroast

 

Introducing Bulgaria

Bulgaria is a country in southeastern Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, and the Black Sea to the east. It has a territory of approx. 111 000 square kilometres and a population of approx. 7.3 million. Sofia is the capital and with 1.3 million inhabitants also the largest city of the country.
What to do and what to see in Bulgaria? The opportunities are endless:
From churches and icons, mountains and forests, ancient ruins and Black Sea Beaches – this country offers it all:
Bulgaria has a long tradition of religious art, and wherever you go, you will to notice the beautiful, timeless icons appearing in museums and the counties’ countless churches and monasteries.

Seven diverse mountain ranges are criss-crossing the country: a true haven for hikers, mountaineers and anyone interested in wildlife and the great outdoors. An extensive system of hiking trails and huts makes it easy for walkers to enjoy the country’s rich and varied landscapes. You can explore untouched alpine forests, lakes, waterfalls and bubbling streams and even activities from skiing and snowshoeing to caving and kayaking are all available.

Looking for relaxation? The Black Sea coastline is one of the most popular summer destinations in Europe: the long, professionally maintained sandy beaches are breathtaking and ideal for any kind of watersport.  The two biggest cities located on the coast, Varna and Burgas, also offer attractive beaches within minutes of their busy urban hearts.

Bulgarian food often incorporates salads as appetizers and is also noted for the prominence of dairy products, wines and other alcoholic drinks such as ‘rakia’. The cuisine also features a variety of soups and pastries, such as the filo dough based banitsa, pita and the various types of Börek.

 

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Pictures:

Beautiful beach of the Black Sea,Hiking in Bulgaria, a family resort in Bulgaria, the city of Varna located on the Black Sea, Sofia, capital of the country and Bulgarian Börek.

Introducing the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west and northwest, Austria to the south, Slovakia to the east and Poland to the northeast. Prague, the capital, is the largest city with 1.3 million residents. The entire country counts 10.5 million people.

The Czech Republic offers an exciting history: castles and chateaux everywhere, illuminating the stories of powerful families and individuals whose influence was felt well beyond the nation’s current borders. Prague Castle, a famous tourist attraction and home to many museums and galleries, is said to be the largest ancient castle in the world, covering an area of nearly 70,000 square meters. Besides its deep history, beautiful landscapes and impressive architecture, the Czech Republic offers a wide range of activities for young and old: hiking, biking, horseback riding, skating or golfing… the Czech Republic offers it all!

The capital Prague is known to be one of the world’s most beautiful and cultured cities – and one of the most exciting ones considering its dynamic music and arts scene.

What else to do? The city of Pilzen is worth a visit, home of Pilsner Urquell, the original lager. It is located about 90 km west of Prague, and one of the most populous city in the Czech Republic. The most common Czech beers are pale lagers of pilsner type, with characteristic transparent golden color, high foaminess and lighter flavor. The Czech Republic has the highest beer consumption per capita in the world!
Na Zdraví!

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Introducing Métis

The Métis are one of the recognized Aboriginal peoples in Canada. They trace their descent from mixed ancestry of First Nations and Europeans.

Over two hundred years ago, the Métis first crossed west of the Continental Divide and descended the Rocky Mountains into the beautiful lands now known as British Columbia. Wearing their colorful sashes and singing songs, they were pathfinders, voyageurs, fur traders, guides, interpreters and builders.

Being descendants of the intermixture of two great cultures (First Nations and European), these indigenous people inherited some cultural and other traits from their parental ancestors: the Métis developed their own unique identity, culture, customs, traditions, symbols and way of life. In time they coalesced into a ‘New Nation’.

Their unique cultural evolution extended to their own flags, sashes, vehicles, language, food, clothing, folklore, folk heroes, poetry, songs, music and dance. The Métis shared a common ancestry and kinship, history, heritage and way of life.

The Métis culture is rich and vigorous – and the European Festival is the perfect place to showcase the Métis in Canada!

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Explore the best of the European culture in Vancouver!