The city of Dresden used to be one of the most splendid and baroque cities in Germany. How different it was the first time I visited the city shortly after the Berlin Wall came down. I met a man there and together we travelled through the recently liberated Eastern European countries and Turkey, which had a profound impact on me. In 1991 Dresden was a grey and desolate place full of abandoned houses, derelict Trabant cars and streets full of potholes.
Tbilisi is the capital of Georgia, a small country in the southern Caucasus on the edge of Europe.The Georgian culture is unique; its language has no relation with other spoken in the region, like the Turkic or Indo-European language groups. Georgians are an extremely hospitable and friendly people, who faced many threats and disasters throughout its history, like the Mongol invasion and many wars with Ottoman and Persian invaders. The post Soviet Russian state is seeking to preserve some of its influence in the region, against the interest of the Georgians.
Between 2009 and 2010 I was living and working in Ghent. I learnt to love this exciting city long before I finally moved there. it has a stunning, well preserved mediaeval city centre and in the twelfth century this was the biggest city in northern Europe. Now it is the stage for the Gentse Feesten. This place is packed with fine scenery, beautiful people and lots of excitement.
More and more cities in Europe have discovered cycling enthusiasts as a valuable target group - in addition to mass tourism in Amsterdam, Berlin or Bruges. Cities such as Groningen and Ghent have established themselves in their campaigns as a trendy city and a green, bicycle-friendly tourist destination. How green is the city really? Does the city council's policy have an impact on traffic density and reduce air pollution?
For the past ten years I have lived in Amsterdam-West, on the edge of the Jordaan. After all my wanderings, I decided to choose my new home in this city - mainly because of its international and liberal character. I cycle to the cozy Ten Cate market in the Kinkerbuurt, within 5 minutes in the Vondelpark or on the Leidseplein. A little further lies the Westerpark or the Amsterdamse Bos. I used to live in the Baarsjes near the Mercatorplein, where there are fewer tourists, who now have to stow this city in large numbers.