My first German sauna experience

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.

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The sauna called “Kaffeestube” (coffee shop) at Holthusenbad.

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Something magical happens in this botanical garden in Germany every night

Planten un Blomen. The name is low German, or Plattdeutsch, for “plants and flowers.” This beautiful botanical garden is located right in the Hamburg city center, easily reachable by public transit.

Every evening in summer around dusk, an incredible performance takes place here: the Wasserlichtspiel, or water light show.

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The Dutch city that was the summer capital of Europe

Nijmegen. This small but vibrant city, located in the eastern part of the Netherlands close to the German border, has a couple of uncommon claims to fame.

It is the oldest city in the Netherlands and is more than 2,000 years old.

It was carpet bombed during World War II, meaning relatively few buildings more than 50 years old still remain.

And it is the self-described “summer capital of Europe.”

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Nijmegen is located at the bend of the river Waal. As with most Dutch cities, cycling is a popular mode of transportation.

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Geography lessons, gentrification and unexploded ordinances: a weekend in Aarhus

After more than a year away from Denmark, I took a weekend trip away from Hamburg to visit my friends in Aarhus.

Aarhus has changed, and it hasn’t. After a 4-and-a-half hour train ride due north, I found myself downtown in a city which I had once called my home. It was a surreal feeling, with everything at once so strange and so familiar.

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Downtown Aarhus. The gray clock tower in the middle is City Hall.

The EU has designated Aarhus the European Capital of Culture for the calendar year 2017, which means the city will be organizing a series of cultural events in order to draw visitors and make a name for itself.

According to Wikipedia, Preparing a European Capital of Culture can be an opportunity for the city to generate considerable cultural, social and economic benefits and it can help foster urban regeneration, change the city’s image and raise its visibility and profile on an international scale.

You know what another word for “urban regeneration” is? Gentrification. And the gentrification was hard to miss.

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