If You Go to Prague

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.

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Downtown Prague is a fairy-tale land, full of inauthentic but beautiful stuff to impress tourists.

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”

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The ship visit that changed my mind about cruising

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.

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There’s got to be a better way to stop the Nazis

Thousands  of counter-protestors successfully halted a neo-Nazi march on the anniversary of Rudolf Hess’s death on the outskirts of Berlin last Saturday. International media is largely hailing this as a victory for the left and praising the efforts of the brave protestors. What they’re not talking about, however, is how the counter-demonstrators accomplished this feat.

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500 right-wing extremists march towards Berlin Spandau. Photo: dpa
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Workers survey the damage to a train signal outside of Berlin after protestors set fire to it in order to stop a train of Nazis from entering Berlin. Photo: DPA

Anti-Nazi counter-protestors set fire to a train signal outside of Berlin last Saturday morning in order to prevent a train full of neo-Nazis who came to participate in the march from reaching its destination. The fire was successful in stopping that train – and all of the trains that were scheduled on that route for the next three days. This included two of the most highly traveled routes in Germany: Berlin-Hamburg and Berlin-Hannover.

Why do I care? Because me and my parents were scheduled to take one of those trains. And because the fire resulted in canceled trains and massive delays, my parents missed their flight home. Overall, this little stunt cost my family about $500. Continue reading “There’s got to be a better way to stop the Nazis”

Skiing in the Austrian Alps

Having grown up in the foothills of the Pacific Northwest Cascade mountains, I was spoiled when it came to skiing. My hometown was less than an hour’s drive from one of the larger ski resorts in Washington, and my Saturday mornings as a child were marked with ski lessons instead of cartoons. I’d never done a proper ski holiday before, unless you count a brief stay in the Czech Republic in 2012, so when a friend invited me to go skiing in the Alps this winter, I said yes.

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My friend Sebastian sits at the top of Glattjochbahn at the ski resort Brandnertal in western Austria. Perfect weather made for gorgeous mountain panoramas of the Alps.

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Nijmegen: 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.

Continue reading “Nijmegen: The Dutch city that was the summer capital of Europe”