Pato, Argentina’s national sport

Football –or soccer, as it’s known in some parts- may be Argentina’s most popular sport but pato is the country’s official national sport.

Pato (Spanish for duck) dates back to the early 17th century, albeit not in the form it is played nowadays. A chronicle written in 1610 describes a game played on horseback in which two teams fight for the possession of a hide sack with handles with a live duck inside. I can only imagine the poor thing’s sheer terror. Years later, authorities banned this game because it was deemed too violent. I’m sure the web-footed community breathed a sigh of relief.



April 3, 2013 Comments disabled

What is the biggest Kazakh sport?

When people ask about Kazakh sports, the first thing that comes to mind is kokpar. Often described as Central Asian polo, kokpar is a competitive sport on horseback for nomads (Kyrgyz kokboru and Tajik buzkashi are similar: see a great buzkashi film trailer here!).

I haven’t yet seen the game in person, but the piece below is a great representation by a local TV channel:


March 8, 2013 1 comment

Tour de France 2012 in Souillac in south-west France

Souillac is situated between Sarlat and Rocamadour in the department of Lot in south-west France and was one of the towns traversed by the riders of the 99th edition of the Tour de France on July 20 during Stage 18.

Tour de France 2012, Stage 18 in Souillac, Sponsors

On that day the 153 remaining riders  covered 222,5km from Blagnac-Toulouse to Brive la Gaillarde.

The stage was essentially flat with only four climbs (Côte de Saint-Georges, Cahors , Souillac and Lissac-sur-Couze).

Riders had gone through three weeks of racing and 14 teams had not had a stage win, so the pressure for doing well on this stage was quite high.

The stage started fast as it took only 21 kilometres for an escape group to form, but at the 120 kilometres mark a dog ran across the road causing a crash in the peloton involving the riders Gilbert (BMC), Menchov (KAT), Farrar (GRS) and Vichot (FDJ) who fortunately were not injured and were able to ride again.

Lead group with the Green Jersey and the Polka-Dot Jersey

The first attack from the front runners came from David Millar (GRS) with 43 kilometres to go but he was caught up. The escapees had an advantage of just 1’35″ with 37km to go and Millar was credited as the rider who did the most work at the front of the escape.

All the riders gave their most but despite all their effort Cavendish (SKY), who had received a perfect lead-out from Bradley Wiggins and his other teammates, started an amazing sprint 300 metres from the line and gave his team a 4th stage win in the Tour de France 2012.

Wiggins ended 19th.

Tour de France, parade of the sponsors known as Caravane du Tour de France

Tour de France, parade of the sponsors known as Caravane du Tour de France

The Tour de France always has the same magic, no matter if you are interested or not in biking as it is not only a major sport event but a cultural one.

Its popularity seems to cross the borders as more and more foreign riders win it. Locals and holiday makers arrive hours in advance to get the best place along the roads and patiently wait for hours to see their champion and the other riders run past like rockets!

The attention goes up one notch or two as soon as the helicopter that follows the riders is heard and seen in the sky…they are just round the corner…

Cameras are ready and everyone starts shooting or recording.

The spectacle lasts only a few minutes then it is all over…but it is worth every minute!
The show is not only with the riders but also with the Sponsors’ Caravane which precedes the riders by about an hour.

It seems to improve year by year as the sponsors compete for ideas and ingenuity to produce the finest decoration for their cars.

The crowds eagerly await the distribution of gadgets and gifts that are thrown from the cars.

Caravane du Tour de France: Sponsors parading and throwing gadgets and mini gifts to the crowds

Tour de France: Sponsors parading and throwing gadgets and mini gifts to the crowds

Everyone takes to the game, children and adults, and engage in a true scuffle to grab the goodies in mid-air!

Vittel, the official water of the Tour, always parades last and traditionally sprays the spectators with water. It is great fun and everyone expects it, and it can be quite welcome on a sunny and hot day!

It is always very amusing to watch the faces of those who return home with a wealth of gifts!

2012 was the 99th edition of the Tour de France, a major annual cycling event which was first staged in 1903 and which covers over 3600 kilometres in 21 days.

Parade of the sponsors...

Parade of the sponsors, PMU.FR the official sponsor of the Green Jersey

This year event It started with the Prologue on Saturday, June 30 – 6.4 kilometres Liège-Liège.

The riders started Stage 1 on Sunday, July 1 – 198 kilometres from Liège to Seraing and ended with Stage 20 on Sunday, July 22 – 120 kilometres from Rambouillet to Paris Champs-Élysées.

Stage 18 day’s winner was Cavendish (SKY) , the Yellow Jersey Braddley Wiggins (SKY), Green Jersey Sagan (LIQ), Polka-Dot Jersey Voeckler (EUC) and White Jersey Van Garde (BMC).

The overall individual winner of the Tour de France 2012 was Bradley Wiggins (SKY), the first ever British winner of the event, and Cavendish won his fourth successive victory in Paris!

The first French was Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), the youngest rider in the Tour 2012 -20 year old- who qualified for the 10th place in the general classification. A young rider to follow closely next year…during the 100th edition!


Read more

Catching the Tour de France in Brittany

Mardi Gras – Carnival Season

Wind energy industry in France

August 10, 2012 2 comments

Picture Postcards: Kendo in Japan

Most universities have a kendo club in Japan. These students were practising on a winter’s afternoon.

Read more:
Picture Postcards: Japanese lunch
Picture Postcards: Ukon tea from Okinawa
Five unusual servings I’ve encountered in Japan

April 29, 2012 3 comments

We Really Do Dog Sled in Canada.

Canadians love to joke about how there is always snow, we all live in igloos, and our main source of transportation is the dog sled. While, it is definitely not a main source- there are roads, highways, airports- dog sledding is a part of the culture in the North.

A small sled meant to carry one rider inside and one driver on the back.

The Yukon is north of 60° (latitude). It’s a 2.5 hour flight up from Vancouver. It borders Alaska, USA to the west and British Columbia, Canada to the south. It was home to the Klondike Gold Rush in the 1890’s. And, in the winter, boy is it cold there!

One major winter event is the Yukon Quest: a thousand mile race from Whitehorse, Yukon to Fairbanks Alaska. This race follows the gold rush route and is called the toughest dog sled race in the world. The race can take between 10 and 20 days to complete, with limited checkpoints between. This is not a winter sport for the faint of heart. Yukoners are hearty, strong, and adventurous.

Tourists can partake in this cultural sport without facing the sure death that would befall the inexperienced musher (sled driver). A resort just outside of Whitehorse offers day trips and short expeditions. It is called Muktuk Adventures and is home to experienced mushers of the Yukon Quest. We did a quick 2 hour trip that followed a very small portion of the Yukon Quest trail. It ran on top of the frozen Takhini River.

The trip starts with a major bundling up in winter gear: wool socks, winter boots, thick snow pants, giant jackets, warm hats with ear protection, hoods, and, of course, water and wind proof gloves. We then learn the easy basics: a sharp “Let’s go” will get the dogs moving, a low “Whoooaaa” will bring them to a stop. Two to a team, we each have one driver and one rider pulled by five dogs.

Let me tell you, if I was as excited for a day’s work as these dogs, life would be perfection. Every dog in the yard wanted a turn to get out for a good run. Imagine 100 dogs barking and running in circles for attention. Even on the trip, their excitement never dwindled. They barked and danced. They ate snow and played with each other. They constantly seemed tangled in their lines beyond repair during breaks, but always seemed to sort themselves out in time to start up again.

I am more clothing than person!

The dog village.

Overall, it was quite a fun experience. I did fall once, but managed to pull myself back up onto the skis of the sled, find the brake, and give a “whoooaaa”. No harm done. Being on the river, most of our trip was flat. The way back up to the cabin, though, was a short uphill. Here, the driver is expected to jump off and run with the sled to help out the dogs. Hopping back on is the tricky part.

The team pulling us across the frozen river.

I am very glad to have been able to join in on such a stereotypically Canadian winter sport. Though I am years of training off of running a race, maybe next time we will try an overnight expedition.

Eager to keep going!

January 11, 2012 6 comments

An Effervescent Summer in Bucharest

No time to be bored in Bucharest this summer! The only problem is to have enough time (and sometimes money!) for all the interesting things that happen in our capital city.

For tourists looking to have fun in Bucharest, Bucharest inhabitants with no holiday money or highly monopolizing jobs, pensioners, children in the summer holiday, grandparents with grandchildren or any other interested person, Bucharest has something to offer. Festivals, concerts, sport events, workshops for children, good vibes and spirits, we had them all.

From the many events, I‘ve chosen for you a few representative examples:

So, there was Street Delivery, campaigning for a city where pedestrians are given the same importance as other road users and trying to determine the cultural authorities to create a pedestrian route in Arthur Verona Street area (City Center).

Therefore, for three days a year, Arthur Verona street close to cars and opens for people.

Street delivery in Bucharest

Bucharest - Street Delivery 2011 - Arthur Verona Street


July 29, 2011 1 comment