Tuesday, December 6, 2016

the 5 best Christmas markets of Europe

Main square in Rothenburg

It’s that time of year again. The days get shorter, the evenings darker, and the locals start lighting things up to have some glimmer of hope carry them through these Northern winters. Advent is here, which means all across Europe, Christmas markets have been set up, lights strung, and the Christmas season officially begun. Unlike in the United States, where we have a creeping Advent, one that seems to start the Christmas carols a day earlier each year, Europe is pretty well set in tradition. The fourth Sunday before Christmas heralds the new season, no matter what all the card and toy companies would like to have us believe. But what do these socialists know about holidays anyway? Don’t they know the true Christmas spirit is making a quick buck?

5 Best Christmas Markets in Europe

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

the secret gem of the Adriatic

What does the home of Marco Polo, lavender ice cream, and a monastery on an island in a lake on an island in a sea all have in common?

It was all the thrill of Italy--with people who were friendlier and beer that was cheaper--than anything we’d experienced in the high-heeled boot of Europe. For summer fun in Mediterranean Europe, Croatia is definitely the place to be, and the place I’ll return to a dozen times over. At the apex of this last summer, we took a cruise down the coast of ancient Dalmatia, stopping at ancient Greco-Venetian villages, seeing the home of Marco Polo, and sipping lavender champagne while watching the sun set over the sea. Croatia is a real jewel of Europe, certainly something we had never expected would be so amazing.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

the best tour of Prague isn't actually a tour

The hordes of Chinese sweep past, followed by the Russians, the Americans, the British. Gobs of single-ethnicity armies positioning themselves for better sights, better shots, each led by some embittered Czech, or expat perhaps, holding an umbrella high in the air, waving it around in circles, marshalling them onward, onward, onward! And they follow, mindlessly, thoughtlessly, carelessly, those lagging behind scoped out by the derelicts and ne’er-do-wells, hiding in the corners and near the beer stands of Vaclav Square. Up Na Prikope, past, around, down Myslbek, or any other nameless alleyway, towering sentinels of Baroque and neo-Romanesque and gargoyles and angels leering down at the masses. In a group one can never be truly in the city, bound by the authorities of the tour leader. You can’t linger long, you can’t skip through what’s interesting, you're bound.


There, behind the trdelnik stand, lurks a ne'er do well

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

the 4 best things about Frankfurt

Sachsenhausen at night
Frankfurt is a proud home of apfelwein. Where most of Germany is enamored with beer, Frankfurt went its own way on this front. We first tried a taste of it at a cafĂ©, just to consider it. It was something like an uncarbonated cider. When I say cider, I mean like the proper alcoholic drinks of Europe, not the hot apple tea of the United States.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

mini New York city

Frankfurt at night
The skyscrapers looked immense as we sped down the Hessian autobahn. They call it the New York of Europe because of the skyline, tower after tower lined up like they were stacked in an IKEA box ready to be unpacked and screwed together in a mesa of steel and concrete. It’s quite in a way that’s completely foreign to Europe, un-European almost in the sense that it’s very much American looking. But as the car drove up closer and closer, our speed was scaling down, trees thinning and gathering in orderly lines as they do in organized cities, the city also began scaling down.


Monday, October 31, 2016

A time to weep and a time for Birds!


There’s a man sleeping on the couch. A woman at the table writing, reading her narrative so the audience can understand what she’s thinking. She’s a bit mad, but then anyone in her situation would be--what, with the birds and all. The man sleeping suddenly wakes up, runs across the room and attempts to open the door.


Friday, October 28, 2016

Frankfurt Buchmesse: a very short guide

Huge hall after huge hall, packed with thousands upon thousands of people, shoulder to shoulder, a mess of bodies pushing and squeezing, trying to find something for sale, something for some sort of satisfying satiation. Some people in costume, playing out pittances of their favorite characters. Some people in suits. Others in sweats. Some seemingly on their way to fancy soirees, others like they’re off to work out. Such a conglomeration one might normally find in a mall in the US on Black Friday, but I found this in Frankfurt at the annual buchmesse--the largest book festival in the world--a gigantic hub for publishers, distributers, agents, and with a small touch of afterthought, writers. There were about three halls for German books, two for English language literature, two more for international works, one for children, one for education, one for religion. Pretty much any category you can imagine had its own massive trade hall. It’s hands down the largest affair of bound paper you can ever consider existing.