St. Petersburg

photoI’m on a family trip and the first stop is St. Petersburg Russia. It’s an amazingly beautiful city. I knew very little about it before coming here so I didn’t know what to expect and the place has blown me away. Here are a few initial observations:

1. SUVs! Unlike places I’ve visited in Europe, people drive nice cars. I’ve seen a number of BMWs, Range Rovers, CR-Vs and many others all around the city. There are very few scooters and small cars do not seem to be the norm

2. The buildings are low. No building is more than 6-7 stories high so you can see lots of sky at all times. Not sure I agree with the economics of this, but it makes for a beautiful sight.

3. Parks and trees everywhere. St. Petersburg is known as the “Venice of the North” because it is made up of dozens of connected islands. But the city has also made a conscious effort to build parks and plants trees everywhere you look. It’s also spotless – I don’t think I’ve seen a piece of garbage on the sidewalk yet

4. Everyone is fit. Part of this may be that people walk more in the city but I’ve seen very few people overweight here. That’s just my observation and maybe I’m wrong but I don’t think I could walk around any major American city for a day and not see a number of obese people.

Those are just my first thoughts. I’ll hopefully have more later – I want to look up some more information on the city layout and population density.

It’s also the “White Night” period here as it is never dark. I took the picture above from my hotel room at 12:30 AM and while not necessarily bright out, you can still see sky and clouds clearly. I’ll post some more photos soon and check my twitter for more frequent updates.

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Euro 2008

Phew. What an incredible couple days of quarterfinal action. There were two overtime games, both of which had two goals scored during the extra time and one game went to a shootout. Let’s begin at the first quarterfinal match of the week, Portugal vs Germany, where Germany survived a furious final 10 minutes from the Portugese to win 3-2. The Germans were lead by Bastian Schweinsteiger, who scored a beautiful first goal and assisted on the next two. Schweinsteiger scored at the 22nd minute and Miroslav Klose scored just 4 minutes later to give the Germans a quick 2-0 advantage. Portugal rebounded right before the end of the first half, at the 41st minute, as captain Nuno Gomes fired a bouncing ball into the back of the net to get Portugal back into the game at halftime. However, Germany took a huge 3-1 advantage in the 62nd minute when star Michael Ballack headed one in. As Portugal’s Euro 2008 time ticked away, desperation set in and the Portugese were able to get one goal back off of a free kick with Helder Postiga heading a ball past German keeper Jens Lehmann to make the score 3-2, but it was not enough. Christiano Ronaldo and Portugal could not find that third goal in the final couple minutes of the game and Germany advanced on to the semifinals. Stats wise, Portugal outplayed Germany as they had twice as many shots on goal as the Germans  (10-5) and collected nearly three times as many corner kicks (8-3), but Lehmann held strong andGermany made good on their opportunities. An extremely entertaining game, the quarterfinals began with a bang, but the best was yet to come. Continue reading “Euro 2008”

Euro 2008 and World Cup Qualifying

If you haven’t been following soccer lately, then you have missed out on some great action:

Euro 2008 is in full swing as the Group Round finishes up tomorrow with two great matches, Russia vs Sweden and Greece vs Spain. Those four teams are in Group D, the fourth of four groups in Euro 2008. Spain has already guaranteed itself a spot in the quarterfinals and Greece has already been eliminated. If Sweden beats or ties Russia tomorrow, they advance, but if Russia wNew York Timesins, then they move on to the quarterfinals. If you don’t find a do-or-die game like that enticing, then you are not a sports fan.

That is just one of four groups in Euro 2008, though the other three have completed all their matches. In Group A, Portugal and Turkey advanced with 6 points each while Switzerland and the Czech Republic were sent home early. In a similar do-or-die game between the Czech Republic and Turkey earlier this week, Turkey scored 3 goals in the last 15 minutes, including two goals by Nihat Kahveci in the final three minutes of the game, to beat the Czech Republic 3-2 and advance to the quarterfinals. Lead by Christiano Ronaldo, Portugal sailed through the Group Round with easy wins over Turkey and the Czech Republic. In their final game against Switzerland, Portugal sat most of their starters as they had already ensured themselves a spot in the next round. Playing a sub-par team, Switzerland defeated Portugal 2-0 in the game and captured their only victory of the tournament. Continue reading “Euro 2008 and World Cup Qualifying”