Today I did what is possibly the most German thing ever: I applied to be the legal guardian of a patch of dirt.
The word is Gartenpaten, which roughly translates to “garden godparent.” It means someone in a neighborhood who has agreed to look after a “garden” – or in this case, a small patch of dirt around a street tree in the middle of a sidewalk. Continue reading “The Legal Guarian of a Patch of Dirt”→
If you go to Prague, be sure to get off the beaten path.
Cross the river, take the underground, go to the other side of town, and explore.
Sure, you should see the tourist attractions, too. See the astronomical clock, go to the castle, walk along the King Charles Bridge. But sooner or later, you’ll realize this isn’t the real Prague – those tour guides with their yellow umbrellas, the waiters standing outside restaurants, waving for you to come in, the museums and gift shops and street artists are just predators, preying on tourists, milking them of the money which keeps the city alive. It’s a sort of Disneyland, enthralling visitors with its fairy tale towers and cobblestone streets. The historical buildings, the colorful winding streets, the costumed performers, they all do such a good job re-enacting Prague in the middle ages (or 19th century, or 20th century, or take your pick), that many visitors never get to see what Prague in the 21st century is like.
The first time I went to Prague, I checked the tourist stuff off the list. The Old Town Square with its highly-overrated anematronic clock, the castle, the restaurants. I returned nearly seven years later (has it been that long?) with a different purpose to the trip: to visit friends – or, more specifically, a former lover. I wound up seeing a new side of the city, and gaining a new appreciation for it. Continue reading “If You Go to Prague”→
Saunas are a popular winter pasttime in northern Europe. The steam and heat are the perfect antidote to the darkness and the cold, which sap your energy and leave you tense and shivering all the time. Though many of my friends spoke fondly of their sauna experiences, I had somehow never been invited to one, and I was too nervous to go on my own. But when a dear friend from the U.S., Kel, came to visit me in Hamburg in November, it was the perfect opportunity to try.
Despite the fact that I’ve been writing marketing texts on cruise ships for the past eight months, I’d never actually been on a cruise ship. So when the opportunity arose to tour the MSC Magnifica while she was anchored in Hamburg, I took it.