Monday, September 21, 2009



Today we will visit Nagano, Japan - the host of 1998 Olympics. The hockey tournament, even though frustrated for USA and Canada teams, was absolutely unique. It was first time when the NHL players were fully permitted to participated in the main World sport event by having the special break which stopped the NHL schedule during this competition.
All top players from all countries were able to take part representing their countries. Terrific team from Czech Republic went all the way up to gold having Canada beaten at the semis thanks to penalty shorts then Russia in the finals.

I happened beeen to Prague the next summer. The whole city was still decorated with posters and banners honored the Czech team and the sight like "Hasek to President!" were everywhere. So, Enjoy this trip to Nagano!


Nagano, the capital city of Nagano Prefecture, is located in the northern part of the prefecture near the confluence of the Chikuma and the Sai rivers, on the main Japanese island of Honshū.

Nagano is most famous for Zenkō-ji, a 7th century Buddhist temple which overlooks the city. A million tourists visit Nagano annually, the gateway to a variety of sightseeing spots. Nagano was originally a small town in Kamiminochi District built around the hilltop temple, the largest wooden building in eastern Japan, but the city now encompasses locations that were within Sarashina, Hanishina, and Kamitakai districts as well.

The historic site of the Battles of Kawanakajima has been retained as parkland, with a municipal museum of the history of the Zenkoji plain.

Matsushiro, the former castle town of the Sanada clan, is located in the southern part of the city. The town retains an historical atmosphere, preserving many old samurai residences, temples, and gardens of the feudal period, including the remains of the castle and mansion of feudal lord Sanada Jumangoku.

Sporting venues built for the Winter Olympics include the M-Wave speed-skating arena (with the world's largest wooden suspension roof), Big Hat arena, and the Aqua Wing Arena.

To north of the city is the village of Iizuna. A popular destination in both summer and winter, it includes an Olympic ski resort, campsite, onsen, 10 ponds, and a mountain slide ride.

Northeast of the city is Japan's largest ski resort, Shiga Kogen, with the nearby Jigokudani Monkey Park, famous for the wild Japanese Snow Monkeys often found bathing in its hot springs.

Just south of the downtown core, in Shinonoi, Mt. Chausu hosts the Nagano Chausuyama Zoo, an outdoor dinosaur park, botanical garden, and a museum of natural history.

1998 Winter Olympics

In 1998, Nagano hosted the XVIII Olympic Winter Games, the second Winter Olympics ever held in Japan and the first since 1972 when the Winter Games were held in Sapporo, also the site of the first Winter Olympics ever held in Asia.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Jiri Hudler, the new Czech Republic hockey team captain was shining during the Euro Hockey Tours opener that was held in Karlovy Vary this month.He led his team to the tournament victory scoring the 1-1 goal at 17:30 of the final game against Russia. He tied the game a second time at 57:21 after Russia held a 2-1 lead for most of regulation. A shoot-out decided and the game-winning goal was scored by who else than Hudler.

Jiri Hudler - Czech Team Captain

Jiri Hudler was born January 4, 1984 in Olomouc, Czech Republic. The first choice, 58th overall selection of the Detroit Red Wings in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Hudler honed his skills in the Czech Republic before making his North American debut in 2003-04. This summer the young czech rejected the Red Wings offer and joint Moscow Dynamo of KHL to play in Russia and be able to join his national team.

He spent his childhood in Olomouc, the Czech beauteful sity which we are about to discover today.

The late barocco sity of Olomouc is a city in Moravia, in the east of the Czech Republic. The city is located on the Morava river and is the ecclesiastical metropolis of Moravia.

Olomouc contains several large squares, the chief of which is adorned with Holy Trinity Column, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The column is 115 ft (35 m) high and was built in 1716–1754.

The most prominent church is the Saint Wenceslas cathedral. In the end of the 19th century it was rebuilt in neo-Gothic style, but it kept many parts from the original church, which had also been rebuilt many times (Romanesque crypt, Gothic cloister, Baroque chapels). The highest of its three spires is 328 ft (100 m) The church neighbours with the Romanesque Bishop’s Palace (often incorrectly called the Přemyslid Palace), a 12th century Romanesque building. (image) The real Přemyslid Palace, i.e. the residence of Olomouc members of the governing Přemyslid Dynasty, used to stand nearby.

The Saint Maurice Church, a fine Gothic building of the 15th century, and the Saint Michael’s Church are also worth mentioning. The Neo-baroque chapel of Saint John Sarkander stands on the place of a former town prison. Catholic priest John Sarkander was imprisoned here in the beginning of the Thirty Years' War. He was accused of collaboration with the enemy and tortured here, but did not reveal anything because of the Seal of Confession, and died. The torturing rack and Sarkander’s gravestone are preserved here. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II during his visit in Olomouc in 1995.

Another place that John Paul II visited here was Svatý Kopeček, a part of Olomouc lying on a hill, with the magnificent Baroque church of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary looking down at the city. The Pope promoted the church to Minor Basilica.

The principal secular building is the town hall, completed in the 15th century, flanked on one side by a Gothic chapel, transformed now into a museum. It possesses a tower 250 ft (76 m) high adorned with an astronomical clock.

The old university founded in 1573 and suppressed in 1860, was reopened in 1946 and called Palacký University.

Olomouc is also proud of its six Baroque fountains. The fountains survived in such a number thanks to cautious policy of the city council. While most European cities were removing old fountains after they had built their water supply piping, Olomouc decided to keep them as water reservoirs in case of fire. For their decoration ancient Roman motifs were used. Five of them depict Roman gods Jupiter, Mercury, Triton, Neptune and Hercules, and one depicts Julius Caesar, the legendary founder of the city.

There are few monasteries in Olomouc, including Hradisko Monastery, Convent of Dominican Sisters in Olomouc and others.

Despite its considerable charms, Olomouc has not been discovered by tourists in the same way that Prague, Český Krumlov and Karlovy Vary have. Its inner city is the second-largest historical monuments preserve in the country, after Prague.

One of Olomouc's famous sons was the film-maker Edgar G. Ulmer, who was born in Olomouc in 1904, but who always preferred to give Vienna as his birthplace, as this sounded less provincial. Another notable son of Olomouc is football coach Karel Brückner, formerly head coach of the Czech national team and later head coach of Austria. Now we can added Jiri Hudler to this list of honnor

HC Olomouc (white jersey)

The hockey club of Olomouc (HC Olomouc) was first established in 1929 became a member of Moravian hockey league, but proved itself as a real in 1955 only under name of Sprtak Moravia Olomouc.
Even this club has produced some well known players (as Tomas Kucharchik for example) the most popular is Jiri Dopita who played for Czech national team, Flyers and Oilers. Dopita is a member of the famous 1998 Czech team which won Nagano's Olympic.
But who knows, maybe Jiri Hudler in some years will be same popular his elder friend. He has all opportunities to do it.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Have you ever heard about Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame? No? But there is one located in Tampere, the second large town of Finland.

Tampere. Sity Theatre

Tampere is a city in southern Finland located between two lakes, Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi. Since the two lakes differ in level by 18 metres (59 ft), the rapids linking them, Tammerkoski, have been an important power source throughout history, most recently for generating electricity. Tampere is dubbed the "Manchester of Finland" for its industrial past as the former center of Finnish industry, and this has given rise to its Finnish nickname "Manse" and terms using that such as Manserock.

The Tampere region, called Pirkanmaa, which includes outlying municipalities, had around 470,000 residents, of which 230,000 were employed, and a turnover of 25 billion euros in 2007.

Tampere. Sity Cathederal

Tampere is the most populous inland city in any of the Nordic countries. The city has a population of 209,748, with close to 300,000 people in the conurbation and over 340,000 in the metropolitan area. Tampere is the third most-populous municipality in Finland, after the Greater Helsinki municipalities of Helsinki and Espoo. Helsinki can be reached in 1.5 hours by train and 2 hours by car. The distance to Turku is approximately the same. Tampere airport is the second-busiest international airport in Finland, with 800,000 passengers annually.

Tampere was founded as a market place on the banks of the Tammerkoski channel in 1775 by Gustav III of Sweden and four years later, 1779, Tampere was granted full city rights in 1779. At this time, it was a rather small town, consisting of only a few square kilometers of land around the Tammerkoski.

Tampere grew as a major market town and industrial centre in the 19th century. During the latter half of 19th century Tampere had almost half of Finland's industrial labour. The town's industrial nature in the 19th and 20th centuries gave it the nickname "Manchester of the North", Manse for short (in Finnish).

Tampere. Finlayson Works

Tampere was the centre of many important political events of Finland in the early 20th century. On November 1, 1905, during the general strike, the famous Red Declaration was proclaimed on the Keskustori, the central square of Tampere, subsequently leading to universal suffrage in Finland and the Tsar of Russia granting larger freedoms to Finns. In 1918, when Finland had recently gained independence, Tampere also played a major role, being one of the strategically important scenes during the Civil War in Finland (January 28–May 15, 1918). Tampere was a red stronghold during the war, with Hugo Salmela in command. White forces captured Tampere, seizing about 10,000 Red prisoners on April 6

Prevalent in Tampere's post-World War II municipal politics was the so called Brothers-in-Arms Axis (aseveliakseli), the alliance of conservatives and social democrats against the communists and Agrarian party. During this era some of the most renowned city managers of Tampere were Erkki Napoleon Lindfors (who was responsible for many ambitious construction projects such as the Näsinneula tower and the construction of the suburb of Hervanta, Tampere's "daughter town"), Pekka Paavola (who gained some notoriety in corruption scandals) and Jarmo Rantanen. From 2007 on, Tampere switched to a new model of having a mayor and four deputy mayors, chosen for a periods of two years. Timo P. Nieminen was elected as the first mayor of Tampere for the years 2007–2009.

Tampere. Daytime

After World War II, Tampere was enlarged by joining some neighbouring areas. Messukylä was incorporated in 1947, Lielahti in 1950, Aitolahti in 1966 and finally Teisko in 1972. Tampere was known for its textile and metal industries, but these have been largely replaced by information technology and telecommunications during the 1990s. The technology centre Hermia in Hervanta is home to many companies in these fields.

Tampere is known for its active cultural life. Some of the most popular writers in Finland, such as Väinö Linna, Kalle Päätalo and Hannu Salama, hail from Tampere. These are all known as writers depicting the lives of working class people. Also from a working class background was the famous poet Lauri Viita of the Pispala district (which is the original home of Hannu Salama too). Tampere also has old theatre traditions, with such established institutions as Tampereen Työväen Teatteri, Tampereen Teatteri and Pyynikin Kesäteatteri, which is an open-air theatre with the oldest revolving auditorium in Europe. Tampereen Teatterikesä or Tampere Theatre Festival is an international theatre festival held in Tampere every August.

Tampere is also known for its Tampere Art Museum, Tampere, Finland which featured American artist Richard Humann in 2004, for his exhibition entitled, Delicate Monster.

Tampere Film Festival, an international short film festival, is held every March. Tammerfest is Tampere's urban rock festival held every July.

Tampere Music Festivals organises three international music events: Tampere Jazz Happening each November, and in alternate years Tampere Vocal Music Festival and Tampere Biennale.

Tampere is home to the television channel YLE TV2, with its studios in the Tohloppi district, known among all for such popular TV comedies as Tankki täyteen, Reinikainen and Kummeli.

A local food speciality is mustamakkara, which resembles black pudding of northern England.

Tampere. Ilves Banners

Tampere's sporting scene is driven by two sports, ice hockey and football. As the first ice hockey match was played in Tampere, on the ice of Näsijärvi, between Ilves and Pyrintö, Tampere is nicknamed the hometown of Finnish hockey. Two notably exceptional ice hockey teams exist in Tampere—Ilves and Tappara. They both have had a great impact on Finnish ice hockey culture and are among the most successful teams in Finland. The Finnish ice hockey museum, and the first ice hockey arena to be built in Finland, the Hakametsä arena, are both located in Tampere. Football, however, is the number one sport in Tampere. Only Ilves have over 4,000 players in their football teams, while Tampere boasts over 100 football teams alone. Tampere United play at the highest level in Finland. The city also hosted two flatwater canoeing world championships, in 1973 and 1983. In 1977, Tampere hosted the Junior World Rowing Championships.

Tampere. Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame

So, back to the Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame - the exhibition objects and video clips bring many memorable moments of the Finnish hockey back to the visitor's mind. Also all championship medals won by Team Finland as well as the World Championship Trophy from 1995 are on display in the Museum.

The Museum receives the objects mainly through donations. Admission costs are -Adults: 7 €, Children 7 to 16 and students: 2 €, Children under 7: Free of charge

I hope you will enjoy this trip.

The sources are: Wikipedia and Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame

Friday, August 14, 2009


Over the last 30 years, Jerry Bruckheimer has been involved in more than his share of Hollywood power plays. The executive producer of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies and "CSI" TV dramas would rather take his power plays on ice, however, playing his favourite sport - hockey.

Bruckheimer's passion for the game came up earlier this month at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif. It was during a session for one of two new shows he's producing for the fall, ABC's "The Forgotten" (the other being the cable crime drama "Dark Blue," which stars Dylan McDermott).

Christian Slater was asked how he came to be cast as the lead in "The Forgotten," a drama about a team of amateur sleuths who look into cold cases involving forgotten murder victims.

"Jerry plays hockey, and I think in the locker room, my agent also plays on maybe a different team, but they ended up talking about it. And Jerry said he was looking for an actor for a new show that he was doing, and my agent put it together. So this all sort of came together in the locker room."

Jerry Bruckheimer and Gary Bettman

Bruckheimer confirmed the story. He said he was changing and sitting next to an agent who said: "I understand you're casting your show, 'The Forgotten.' And have you ever thought of Christian Slater?"

Recalls Bruckheimer: "I said, 'Christian Slater is a terrific actor. Would he actually do television?' And he said, 'Let me talk to him.' And that's how it started."

Slater himself doesn't play hockey, and laughed when it was suggested to him he better start lacing 'em up if he wants to stay in the Hollywood power loop. "I'm going to have to get in the game," he said.

Asked after the session if he'd ever consider suiting up opposite some Canadian TV critics, savvy Bruckheimer joked that we'd be "too good."

The 63-year-old Detroit native has invested in a new sports arena in Las Vegas, and his name always comes up in rumours about possible ownership in an NHL franchise there. He got into hockey after working out with former L.A. Kings tough guy Marty McSorley. Another ex-King, Luc Robitaille, is part of Bruckheimer's puck posse. Now Bruckheimer scrimmages at least once a week whenever he's in the L.A. area, with famous actor clients such as Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding, Jr., sometimes joining him on the ice.

Bruckheimer's not the only TV mover and shaker to put his passion on ice. On the east coast, actor/writer/producer Denis Leary suits up once-a-week in Brooklyn, N.Y., with cast and crew members of his series "Rescue Me" before heading to the set. Leary even works hockey players into his series, like former Boston Bruin great Phil Esposito, who usually pops in once a season as a hot-headed rival firehouse captain.

Not all of the actors who skate in Bruckheimer's league are famous - yet. David Henrie, a 20-year-old who stars in the Disney/Family Channel comedy "The Wizards of Waverly Place," plays hockey with the producer on a regular basis. Henrie grew up in the not-so-hot hockey bed of Phoenix, but nonetheless, as a youngster, took part in hockey tournaments all across North America. He couldn't believe his luck when he moved to L.A. to pursue his acting career and got invited to skate with Bruckheimer and the many stars - from hockey and Hollywood - who make the games part of their weekly routine.

This year, Bruckheimer jammed his two press tour sessions between dates for his annual "Bad Boys" hockey tournament in Las Vegas. It's named after his 1994 Will Smith film "Bad Boys." On the ice is a mix of Hollywood and professional hockey talent, with Chris Chelios, Jeremy Roenick, Jarome Iginla and Paul Kariya taking part in past years.

Apparently the tourney lives up to its name. Kiefer Sutherland used to play every year, but not anymore. "The deal runs four days," Sutherland said at last year's press tour, and, by the fourth day, "it's just not conducive to playing hockey anymore."

Too tough for Jack Bauer? Maybe the Leafs should start recruiting from Jerry Bruckheimer's Hollywood hockey league.

Ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky arrives with his wife Janet Jones for the premiere of пїЅThe Hangover,пїЅ at the GraumanпїЅs Chinese Theatre in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles, California on June 2, 2009.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Danish hockey fans had a rare opportunity to watch a parade of the biggest Swedish NHL stars when the Icebreakers visited Copenhagen 5-6 August 2009.

On 5-6 August, the Icebreakers, a charity team formed by Peter Forsberg and Markus Näslund in 2002, visited Copenhagen to play two games against an All-Star Danish teams and the local team of Rødovre. It was the first time in its history, the Icebreakers played outside Sweden and Finland.

Danish Frans Nielsen vs. Russians. 1997 World Championship

Icebreakers' featured an impressive lineup of some of the biggest Swedish NHL stars: Peter Forsberg, Markus Näslund, Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Bäckström, the Sedin twins,. Indeed, in both games, the Icebreakers played with a superline centered around Forsberg with Bäckström, Näslund and Zetterberg, and this line received plenty of icetime. The Danish Allstar team included NHL'ers Frans Nielsen (NY Islanders) and Peter Regin (Ottawa Senators) as well as North American legionars Sebastian Dahm and Morten Madsen. Unfortunately, the Danish teams missed some of the biggest NHL prospects, Mikkel Bødker (Phoenix Coytotes), Lars Eller (St. Louis Blues)and Philip Larsen (Dallas Stars). If available, Bødker and Eller would have played both games as they grew up with Rødovre.

Great hockey players, exciting hockey, but what to do between the games? Do not worry, my friends. Actually a lot of fun and interesting places to watch around! Let's have a look.

Copenhagen may take you farther than the Danish capital, Scandinavia’s largest city. You just might find yourself transported to a place where Hans Christian Andersen indulged your childhood fantasies of red shoes, ugly ducklings, Thumbelina or the Little Mermaid, still perched precariously in the harbor.


One of this city’s greatest attributes is its ability to enchant visitors with its charm and cordiality, engulfing them with a welcome that is more reminiscent of a small town than a cosmopolitan metropolis. A stroll along Nyhavn (“New Harbor”), with its beckoning cafes, may entice you to taste some of the Danish specialties, such as smorrebrod (open sandwiches), polser (hot dogs) and frikadeller (meatballs), along with a cold Danish beer. Bring your skates for a dash around the central ice rink or enjoy the variety of stores along the Stroget, a pedestrian shopping area connecting east and west Copenhagen.
The kid in you – and with you – will clamor for Tivoli Gardens, one of the world’s best loved amusement parks. Since 1843, the architecture of this fairytale-come-to-life has bid tourists and locals alike to surrender to the charms of its merry-go-round, theatres and gourmet restaurants, all situated in the heart of the city.


Whatever you do, don’t miss the historic Changing of the Guards. Every day at noon, crowds gather at Amalienborg Palace in the city center for the splendid pageantry of this colorful event. Queen Margrethe, her husband Prince Henrik, and the Crown Prince Frederik, live in the palace, which flies the queen’s colors when she is in residence.
Denmark’s imperial history is also evoked by Christiansborg, seat of the Folketinget (Danish Parliament) for nearly a thousand years, as well as the Supreme Court, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Royal Reception Rooms. People with a yen to see the crown jewels will enjoy the Royal Danish Chronological Collections (De Danske Kingers Kronologiske Samlinger) in Rosenborg, summer palace of the 17th-century King Christian. With roots dating back to 1699, the beautiful gardens of Frederiksberg enhance the palace museum that honors King Frederik V.
And what’s better than the Danish side of Scandinavia might just be the Swedish side, connected since 2000 by the Oresund Bridge. The link between Copenhagen and Malmo is a bridge-tunnel accessible by car or train, enabling people to go from one country to the other in less than 20 minutes.


Copenhagen has a wide variety of sport teams. The two major football teams are Brøndby IF and FC København. Brøndby IF plays at Brøndby Stadium in Brøndby and FC København plays at Parken in Østerbro, Copenhagen. Notable Copenhagen teams playing at the second highest level in Danish football (the Danish 1st Division) include Lyngby BK, AB, HIK, Frem, Brønshøj, Fremad Amager and Skjold.
Copenhagen also has three ice hockey teams: Rødovre Mighty Bulls, Herlev Hornets and Nordsjælland Cobras.
There are a lot of handball teams in Copenhagen. FC København owns both a women's and a men's team, which have the same name and logo. They were formerly known as FIF. Of other clubs playing in the "highest" leagues there are; Ajax Heroes, Ydun, and HIK (Hellerup).
Rugby union is also played in the Danish capital with teams such as CSR-Nanok, Copenhagen Scrum, Exiles, Froggies and Rugbyklubben Speed. The Danish Australian Football League, based in Copenhagen is the largest Australian rules football competition outside of the English speaking world.

Copenhagen is also home to a number of Denmark's 40-odd cricket clubs. Although Denmark has been an associate member of the International Cricket Council since 1966, the sport is not taught much in schools, and Danish cricket competes unfavourably with the much more widely followed sport of football for players, facilities, media attention and spectators.


Copenhagen is a green city with many big and small parks. King's Garden, the garden of Rosenborg Castle, is the oldest and most visited park in Copenhagen. Its landscaping was commenced by Christian IV in 1606. Every year it sees more than 2,5 million visitors and in the summer months it is packed with sunbathers, picknickers and ballplayers. It also serves as a sculpture garden with a permanent display of sculptures as well as temporary exhibits during summer. Also located in the city centre are the Botanical Gardens particularly noted for their large complex of 19th century greenhouses donated by Carlsberg founder J. C. Jacobsen. Fælledparken is with its 58 hectars the largest park in Copenhagen. It is popular for sports and hosts a long array of annual events like a free opera concert at the opening of the opera season, other open-air concerts, carnival, Labour Day celebrations and Copenhagen Historic Grand Prix which is a race for antique cars. A historical green space in the northeastern part of the city is Kastellet which is a well-presserved renaissance citadel that now serves mainly as a park. Another popular park is the Frederiksberg Garden which is a 32 hectars romantic landscape park. It houses a large colony of very tame grey herons along with other waterfowls. The park also offers views of the elephants and the elephant house designed by world-famous British architect Norman Foster of the adjacent Copenhagen Zoo.

Characteristic of Copenhagen is that a number of cemeteries double as parks, though only for the more quiet activities such as sunbathing, reading and meditation. Assistens Cemetery, the burial place of Hans Christian Andersen among others, is an important green space for the district of Inner Nørrebro and a Copenhagen institution. The lesser known Vestre Kirkegaard is with its 54 hectars the largest cemetery in Denmark[45] and offers a maze of dense groves, open lawns, winding paths, hedges, overgrown tombs, monuments, tree-lined avenues, lakes and other garden features.

It is official municipal policy in Copenhagen that all citizens by 2015 must be able to reach a park or beach on foot in less than 15 minutes. In line with this policy, several new parks are under development in areas poor in green spaces.


Copenhagen and the surrounding areas have 3 beaches with a total of approx. 8 km of sandy beaches within 30 minutes of bicycling from the city centre. This includes Amager Strandpark, which opened in 2005 and includes a 2 km long artificial island and a total of 4,6 km of beaches, located just 15 minutes by bicycle or a few minutes by metro from the city centre.

The beaches are supplemented by a system of Harbour Baths along the Copenhagen waterfront. The first and most popular of these is located at Islands Brygge and has won international acclaim for its design.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Today we will visit the young San Jose backup goalie Thomas Greiss who according to the Sharks management opinion should be an important part of the team reconstruction.

Thomas Greiss was born January 29, 1986 in Cologne (Koln), Germany. The third round, 94th overall selection of the San Jose Sharks in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Greiss honed his skills in his homeland prior to his arrival in North America.

A calm mannered netminder, Greiss made his North American debut between the pipes of the Sharks' AHL affiliate in Worcester. That season, Greiss posted a respectable 25-15-2 record in the AHL and was assigned to the ECHL for three games. The following season Greiss returned to Worcester and managed to make his NHL debut on January 13, 2007.

Internationally, Greiss has represented Germany at numerous junior tournaments and most notably, the 2006 Winter Olympics.

Cologne (German: Köln) is Germany's fourth-largest city (after Berlin, Hamburg and Munich), and is the largest city both in the German Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants. It is one of the oldest cities in Germany, having been founded by the Romans in the year 38 BC.

Cologne lies on the River Rhine. The city's famous Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cologne. The University of Cologne (Universität zu Köln) is one of Europe's oldest universities.

Cologne is a major cultural center of the Rhineland and has a vibrant arts scene. Cologne is home to more than 30 museums and hundreds of galleries. Exhibitions range from local ancient Roman archeological sites to contemporary graphics and sculpture. The city's Trade Fair Grounds are host to a number of trade shows such as the Art Cologne Fair, the International Furniture Fair (IMM) and the Photokina. Cologne is also well-known for its celebration of Cologne Carnival, the annual reggae summerjam, and the gay/lesbian pride festival Christopher Street Day (CSD) (Hm..not exactly the hockey theme, sorry, people..).

Within Germany, Cologne is known as an important media center. Several radio and television stations, including Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), RTL and VOX, have their headquarters in the city. Both Pro7 and Sat.1 produce TV shows in Cologne as well. Further, the city hosts the Cologne Comedy Festival (That's better, isn't it?), which is considered to be the largest comedy festival in mainland Europe.

In 2005 Cologne hosted the 20th Roman Catholic World Youth Day with Pope Benedict XVI.


Cologne has several museums of many kinds. The famous Romano-Germanic Museum features art and architecture from the city's distant past (also see landmarks). Several orchestras are active in the city, among them the Gürzenich Orchestra and Musica Antiqua Köln, as well as several choirs, including the WDR Rundfunkchor Köln. Cologne was also an important centre of electronic music in the 1950s (Studio für elektronische Musik, Karlheinz Stockhausen) and again from the 90s onward. The public radio and TV station WDR was involved in promoting musical movements such as Krautrock in the 70s. There are several centers of nightlife, among them the Kwartier Latäng (the student quarter around the Zülpicher Straße) and the nightclub-studded areas around the Friesenplatz and Rudolfplatz.

The large annual literary festival Lit.Cologne features regional and international authors. The main literary figure connected to Cologne is writer Heinrich Böll, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Cologne is well-known for its beer, called Kölsch. Kölsch is also the name of the local dialect. This has led to the common joke of Kölsch being the only language one can drink.

Cologne is also famous for Eau de Cologne (Kölnisch Wasser). At the beginning of the 18th century, Italian expatriate Johann Maria Farina created a new fragrance and named it after his hometown Cologne, Eau de Cologne (Water of Cologne). In the course of the 18th century the fragrance became increasingly popular. Eventually, Cologne merchant Wilhelm Mülhens secured the name Farina, which at that time had become a household name for Eau de Cologne, under contract and opened a small factory at Cologne's Glockengasse. In later years, and under pressure from court battles, his grandson Ferdinand Mülhens chose a new name for the firm and their product. It was the house number that was given to the factory at Glockengasse during French occupation of the Rhineland in the early 19th century, number 4711. In 1994, the Mülhens family sold their company to German Wella corporation. In 2003 Procter & Gamble took over Wella. Today, original Eau de Cologne still is produced in Cologne by both the Farina family (Farina gegenüber since 1709), currently in the eighth generation, and by Mäurer and Wirtz who bought the 4711 brand in December 2006


Cologne carnival is one of the biggest street festivals in Europe. In Cologne, the carnival season officially starts on 11 November at 11 minutes past 11 a.m. with the proclamation of the new Carnival Season, and continues until Ash Wednesday. But the so-called "Tolle Tage" (mad days) don't start until Weiberfastnacht (Women's Carnival) or, in dialect, Wieverfastelovend (Thursday before Ash Wednesday), which is the beginning of the street carnival. Hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to Cologne during this time. Generally, around a million people are celebrating in the streets on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday.


A 2006 FIFA World Cup venue, The RheinEnergieStadion, hosts both the city's football team "1. FC Köln" which competes in the Bundesliga, and the American football Cologne Centurions who played in the now defunct NFL Europa.

The city is also home of the hockey team Kölner Haie (Cologne Sharks), in the highest hockey league in Germany, the DEL. They are based at the Lanxess Arena.

Founded in 1972 Cologne is the most successful team in modern german hockey history. The team has uninterruptedly played at the highest level since 1973, winning eight championships. The team has the biggest arena in de DEL and is the second best drawing team in Europa. Best period in history was the 1980s when Cologne won four titles in five years. The team was a founding member of the DEL in 1994 and is the all time points leader in the league. Two championships and three places in the final confirm its strength over the last decade.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


So last post was about Croatian hockey and Joe Sakic, this one is about Zagreb.

The name Zagreb appears to have been recorded in 1094, although the origins of the name Zagreb are less clear. The Croatian word "zagrabiti" translates approximately to "scoop", which forms the basis of some legends. One Croat legend says that a Croat ban (viceroy) was leading his thirsty soldiers across a deserted region. He drove his sabre into the ground in frustration and water poured out so he ordered his soldiers to dig for water. The idea of digging or unearthing is supported by scientists who suggest that the settlement was established beyond a water-filled hole or graba and that the name derives from this. Some suggests that the name derives from the term 'za breg' or beyond the hill. The hill may well have been the river bank of the River Sava, which is believed to have previously flowed closer to the city centre. From here, the words may have been fused into one word and, thus, the name Zagreb was born. According to another legend, a city ruler was thirsty and ordered a girl named Manda to take water from Lake Manduševac (nowadays a fountain), using the sentence: "Zagrabi, Mando!" which means, Scoop it, Manda!. A less but probable theory is that the name Zagreb is believed to be related to the Zagros mountains of Iran.

Zagreb is an important tourist center, not only in terms of passengers travelling from Western and Central Europe to the Adriatic Sea, but also as a travel destination itself. Since the end of the war, it has attracted around half a million visitors annually, mainly from Austria, Germany and Italy. However, the city has even greater potential as many tourists that visit Croatia skip Zagreb in order to visit the beaches along the Croatian Adriatic coast and old historic Renaissance cities such as Dubrovnik, Split, and Zadar.

The historical part of the city to the north of Ban Jelačić Square is composed of the Gornji Grad and Kaptol, a medieval urban complex of churches, palaces, museums, galleries and government buildings that are popular with tourists on sightseeing tours. The historic district can be reached on foot, starting from Jelačić Square, the center of Zagreb, or by a funicular on nearby Tomićeva Street.

Souvenirs and gastronomy

Numerous shops, boutiques, store houses and shopping centers offer a variety of quality clothing. Zagreb's offerings include crystal, china and ceramics, wicker or straw baskets, and top-quality Croatian wines and gastronomic products.

Notable Zagreb souvenirs are the tie or cravat, an accessory named after Croats who wore characteristic scarves around their necks in the Thirty Years' War in the 17th century and the ball-point pen, a tool developed from the inventions by Slavoljub Eduard Penkala, an inventor and a citizen of Zagreb.

Many Zagreb restaurants offer various specialities of national and international cuisine. Domestic products which deserve to be tasted include turkey, duck or goose with mlinci (a kind of pasta), štrukli (cottage cheese strudel), sir i vrhnje (cottage cheese with cream), kremšnite (custard slices in flaky pastry), and orehnjača (traditional walnut roll).

Sports and Recreation

There are several sports and recreational centers in Zagreb. Recreational Sports Center Jarun, situated on Jarun Lake in the southwest of the city, has fine shingle beaches, a world-class regatta course, a jogging lane around the lake, several restaurants, many night clubs and a discothèque. Its sports and recreation opportunities include swimming, sunbathing, waterskiing, angling and other water sports, but also beach volleyball, football, basketball, handball, table tennis, and minigolf.

Dom Sportova, a sport center in northern Trešnjevka features six halls. The largest two can accommodate 12,000 and 4,000 people, respectively. This center is used for basketball, handball, volleyball, hockey, gymnastics, tennis, and many others. It is also used for concerts.

Arena Zagreb is was finished in 2008. The handball arena has 16,300 seats and it hosted the 2009 World Men's Handball Championship. The Dražen Petrović Basketball Hall seats 5,400 people. Alongside the hall is the 94-meter (310 ft) high glass Cibona Tower. Sports Park Mladost, situated on the embankment of the Sava river, has an Olympic-size swimming pool, smaller indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a sunbathing terrace, 16 tennis courts as well as basketball, volleyball, handball, football and field hockey courts. A volleyball sports hall is within the park.

Sports and Recreational Center Šalata, located in Šalata, only a couple hundred meters from the Jelačić Square, is most attractive for tennis players. It comprises a big tennis court and eight smaller ones, two of which are covered by the so-called "balloon", and another two equipped with lights. The center also has swimming pools, basketball courts, football fields, a gym and fitness center, and a four-lane bowling alley. Outdoor ice skating is a popular winter recreation. There are also several fine restaurants within and near the center.

Maksimir Tennis Center, located in Ravnice east of downtown, consists of two sports blocks. The first comprises a tennis center situated in a large tennis hall with four courts.

There are 22 outdoor tennis courts with lights. The other block offers multipurpose sports facilities: apart from tennis courts, there are handball, basketball and indoor football grounds, as well as track and field facilities, a bocci ball alley and table tennis opportunities.

Recreational swimmers can enjoy a smaller-size indoor swimming pool in Daničićeva Street, and a newly opened indoor Olympic-size pool at Utrine sports center in Novi Zagreb. Skaters can skate in the skating rink on Trg Sportova (Sports Square) and on the lake Jarun Skaters' park. Hippodrome Zagreb offers recreational horseback riding opportunities, while horse races are held every weekend during the warmer p art of the year.

The 40,000-seat Maksimir Stadium, currently under renovation, is located in Maksimir in the northeastern part of the city. Upon renovation, it will seat 55,000 spectators, and sport a fully retractable roof. The stadium is part of the immense Svetice recreational and sports complex (ŠRC Svetice), south of the Maksimir Park. The complex covers an area of 276,440 m2 (68 acres). It is part of a significant Green Zone, which passes from Medvednica Mountains in the north toward the south. ŠRC Svetice, together with Maksimir Park, creates an ideal connection of areas which are assigned to sport, recreation and leisure.

The latest larger recreational facility is Bundek, a group of two small lakes near the Sava in Novi Zagreb, surrounded by a partly forested park. The location had been used prior to the 1970s, but then went to neglect until 2006 when it was renovated.