Inside Europe: The inside take on European affairs 30.12.2010 Dec. 30, 2010

from Inside Europe | Deutsche Welle· ·

On the program: We look back at the lighter side of 2010. How Greeks managed to get a laugh out of their country's financial meltdown - Icelanders who made cash from ash - Obama took the stage by storm in Germany - Paul the octopus dies with a splash - Innovations in the death industry - How TV literally became torture in France - Danish buses encouraged flirting - The UK goes bottle-kicking crazyGreeks got a laugh out of their country's financial meltdownIn 2010, Greece was crippled by national debt and strikes. The country's politicians certainly had a hard time ...



On the program: We look back at the lighter side of 2010. How Greeks managed to get a laugh out of their country's financial meltdown - Icelanders who made cash from ash - Obama took the stage by storm in Germany - Paul the octopus dies with a splash - Innovations in the death industry - How TV literally became torture in France - Danish buses encouraged flirting - The UK goes bottle-kicking crazyGreeks got a laugh out of their country's financial meltdownIn 2010, Greece was crippled by national debt and strikes. The country's politicians certainly had a hard time restoring domestic and international confidence in the country's beleaguered economy.But Greece's troubles did manage to generate some laughs for Athenians. At the beginning of the year, they were flocking to a play called "Mother Greece," which satirized just about everything that was going wrong in the country. Malcolm Brabant sent us this report.A sunny Australian perspective on Europe's gloomy newsDuring the first few months of 2010, it seemed like Europe was stumbling from one crisis to the next.Greece's financial fiasco led to the risk of contagion, the euro took a nosedive, there was the tragic plane crash that killed Polish president Lech Kaczynski, and as if all this wasn't enough, hundreds of thousands of people were stranded at European airports thanks to an Icelandic volcano. Our Vienna correspondent Kerry Skyring managed to escape all the doom and gloom by visiting his native Australia. And as we heard in the following postcard, Kerry concluded that Europe's bad news was best viewed from a sunny Australian beach.Icelanders made cash from ashIceland's volcano with the unpronounceable name caused havoc on and off, resulting in periodic closures of airspace and thousands of frustrated travelers throughout Europe.It also caused headaches for the people of Iceland. They were hoping that thousands of tourists would be flocking to Iceland to take advantage of the flagging krona. But the volcano put a stop to those plans. Nonetheless, some Icelanders made the best of the situation - like Hafsteinn Guobjartsson. The company he works for, Nordic Store, sells Icelandic products online. And it wasn't long before they realized that there's cash in ash. Hafsteinn told Helen Seeney more.Teddy bears on holidayAnother innovative - some would say bizarre - way of making money also came to our attention in 2010.A travel operator in the Czech Republic decided to organize holidays for teddy bears. Starting from 90 euros, you could treat your teddy bear or other furry friend to a luxury holiday in Central European cities. What's more, you'd even receive a photo album with his or her holiday snaps. Rob Cameron had the details from Prague.Barack Obama took the stage by storm in GermanyThere was no shortage of cultural highlights during 2010. But one of the more unusual premieres involved Barack Obama taking center stage in Germany - well, almost.It was a new musical called "Hope" and told the story of the 2008 US elections, as well as Barack and Michelle Obama's romance. There was also a singing Sarah Palin, go-go dancers and a Hillary Clinton solo. Washington went Broadway - at least on the German stage. Kyle James went to a rehearsal and sent us this report.Paul the octopus dies with a splashIn October, people around the world mourned the death of Paul, the psychic octopus. His demise was announced by officials at the aquarium in the German town of Oberhausen, which Paul called home.Paul, of course, achieved fame during the World Cup championships in South Africa, when he correctly predicted the outcome of eight matches. But while Paul's countless fans were shocked by the news of his watery death, others breathed a sigh of relief. As Andy Valvur pointed out in this postcard after Paul died, the conspiracy theorists went into overdrive.Innovations in the death industryWe all have to make our final bow sooner or later. As this story shows, it can be useful to prepare for this exit in advance.TANEXPO, or the International Exhibition of Funerals and Cemeteries, took place back in March in Bologna and is the largest trade fair of its kind. Our reporter Dany Mitzman went along. She discovered that the death industry is not only thriving, it also offers many interesting and comforting innovations. TV literally became torture in FranceFrench television viewers had the chance to watch the "Game of Death" this year.The program was along the lines of a normal quiz show, except for the fact that contestants were tortured with electro shocks if they got an answer wrong. Neither the show nor the shocks were real, but not everybody was let in on the secret. Researchers staged the show in order to find out just how far people would go in obeying authority, especially if that authority is backed by television and a roaring audience. As Eleanor Beardsley reported from Paris back in March, the results were rather disturbing.Danish buses encourage flirtingWe tend to think of buses as simply a mode of transport to get from A to B. But earlier this year, a company in Copenhagen decided that its passengers should look for love when they hop on board.The company, Arriva, which operates the majority of the city's buses, introduced "love seats" on more than 100 buses in May for a two-week trial period. The idea was to encourage flirtation, romance and happiness on board. And it must have worked, as the experiment was extended. The idea was the brainchild of Marianne Faerch, a business developer with Arriva. She told Helen Seeney more about the "love seats."A UK village goes bottle-kicking crazyEarlier this year, the small village of Hallaton in England hosted a rather eccentric festival - as it does every year.For 364 days a year, this quaint village in Leicestershire is steeped in quiet, chocolate box charm. But as we heard from Lars Bevanger back in April, on Easter Monday the place descends into organized anarchy, as hundreds of young locals battle with neighbors from the town of Medbourne in the ancient game of bottle kicking.