What seems tranquil that wasn’t

Will you travel to a gulag? Don’t know what that is? There was a really dark period of history in the story of Russia and its legacy remains till this day. Though from the onset one might not get the feeling that a lot of bad things happened here.

The location itself is definitely exotic enough.

This story from the Daily Mail covered it all (link). And the pictures that you will see in the link may suggest Solovetsky is a beautiful place to visit, albeit a little on the difficult to reach since it is ~100 miles from the arctic circle. Remember our post about this dream cruise (here)?

But the point is – some places appear so peaceful today when one strolls through it, but back in the day, there could have been carnage or immense suffering and destruction that took place. Well ‘Solovi’ has all the trappings of it all. One might bump into a monk, but the places were meditation and prayers take place today was once home to a brutal regime of torture.

Dark tourism some call it. Though there are also natural wonders such as the many arctic terns that nest in the islands as alternative sights of interests.

So here is one more of the exotic locales we wrote about in the vastness of the Russian federation (previous ones here). Will this inspire you to make the journey there?

The Heart of Europe?

Is there such a thing as the heart of a country? How about its political capital? In the case of the European Union, it seems that most of the institutions are located in the little country of Belgium. Can we call it the heart of Europe? You tell us.

Because of its proximity with the Netherlands (Holland as we ever so fondly call it), frequency of drives to/through it occurs at such a high rate that its not worth counting. You see, Mel had to drive through to northern France where the manufacturing plants were located as well. And the distances are too near to fly yet too far (time and connection-wise) to take the train. Hit the road, Mel… and that’s what he did, sometimes with Suan in tow.

Comprising of two quite distinct regions, Belgium can only be said to be a melange of influences both Flemish and French. Why not take a leisurely read of our feature here? You might note that we do not have any reference on the Wallonia part of the country. And that’s actually the pitiful part, in the sense it was so close to us yet not touched. Though we’ve driven through on the way to Alsace in France.

Where in Belgium have you been? So what else is there to the ‘heart’ of Europe that you can share?