Sunday, April 27, 2014

Going to London and a few more UK cities

So, as ironic (or not?) as it is, I'm going to London (Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen) in less than a month for a business trip. I am looking forward to changing my perspective, I think I'm finally ready for London. Will stay there for 4 extra days for myself, looking forward to it.

Monday, January 7, 2013

I don't want to go to London

One of the few places I never wanted to visit was London and I guess the UK in general. Both when I studied at school and at the university, there was this constant pressure to speak British English and to be involved in conversations about the Queen and the Royal Family, the Big Ben and the whole nine. Naturally, that made me want to stay away from Britain.

It's curious though that in the last year I've come to know many people who adore England and the UK, but me, still not there. Actually, my line of work now is directly involved with a lot of things English and British. England is our biggest product, so to speak. It still hasn't really grown on me, but I think eventually I might get off my ass and actually visit it. I'd be more curious about the countryside, I imagine. Although who knows. You hear all these good things about London, maybe it actually rocks. I've been surprised before, so one can't rule anything out.

I'm curious about Ireland.

I was surprised by Lisbon, it was different from what I thought it would be and I'll admit I didn't completely get it. Porto, I loved, it's somehow a wonderful mix of small town and urban atmosphere. But Lisbon I just didn't get. I was in a weird state when we were there, in fact I'd prefered to stay at home, so maybe that's the reason why I was not too impressed. So yeah, maybe I'll fall in love with London, England, UK.

I also thought of songs that remind me of certain places. When I was in the US, it was Posession by Sarah McLachlan.

That summer in Gettysburg, PA was hot and humid. Perhaps it is typical for that area, but I didn't stay long enough to find out. But mornings were sometimes brisk. In the morning, I would get on my fantastic fixed bike, turn on my iPod (there was a time I had one) and put my Most Played list on. I would light up my cigarette and start pedaling down a completely empty suburban road past American dream-like houses and Sarah McLachlan's refreshing voice would come on. I would pedal straight ahead, shoulders relaxed, until the end of the street, then throw my cigarette butt away, make a left turn and pick up a certain speed. I would enjoy the song for two-three minutes. It was a beautiful start of the day.

Another thought. I wonder what it would be like to go back and live in Berlin again. 2011 was a great year. I originally came to Berlin without knowing what an amazing place it was. I had quit my job and I had originally only planned to stay there for about 4 days. I then simply cancelled my return ticket (okay, I didn't cancel it and actually lost some dough, I just didn't use it) and decided to stay for almost 3 months. The city swept me off my feet right away. I was blown away. Met great people. Enjoyed myself. It was a good time.

My second uh, three-month term there was already different. I already had an established circle of friends and acquaintances. But I re-discovered the city by bike this time, so also a new perspective. Different, but good.

In 2012, I visited three times over the course of 5 months. I still love that place. It feels like home. You are who you are there more than anywhere else. And by you I mean me. But I guess living there would be different now. I wouldn't be happy just to be there and go out and hang out and freelance. A steady job (and a visa to support it) would change things, but yeah, they are close to non-existent. Maybe it's good for Berlin to stay in mind as a place where one rests and doesn't really work. A parental home of sorts to visit over holidays.

Friday, January 4, 2013

2012 in travel

Moscow in January.
Istanbul in January.
Rome, Athens in March.
Istanbul in March.
Sochi in May.
Berlin in June.
St. Petersburg in August.
Switzerland and Berlin in August-September.
Berlin in November.
Rome and Lisbon in December.

2012 turned out to be not my best year. For the first time I can say I'm a bit tired of travelling. Maybe because now it's not as laid back as it used to be or I plan wrong. Today I finish work, pack my bag in the evening and take off at night, spend a week or two elsewhere, arrive at night and go to work in the morning. It felt like I didn't really rest. Although this year was part fun, too.

I'm so glad to have stayed at home now, for the holidays. I'm so relieved not to have to pack and fly somewhere. Just to stay put and do nothing. I missed not doing anything. And while I'm looking forward to getting bored with it, I feel like I'm finally resting for real. There is a certain pleasure in waking up in an empty apartment, having your own routine, drinking whatever tea or coffee you please and constructing your day the way you want to. It's good not to depend on people or rather a person (okay, I'm not really there just yet).

In 2012 I sometimes lost grip with reality in terms of relationships and life and now would be a good time to pick myself up and elbow my way around. It feels like I learned a few things about myself, including discovering my weaknesses, my strengths I guess I was aware of.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I remember the time

I remember waking up and having nowhere to go except buy breakfast. Breakfast in our headquarters usually consisted of fresh Schrippen or maybe delicious toasts with some vegetarian spread and a slice of cucumber on top or possibly a leaf of salad. That's just for starters, of course. A peanut butter toast would follow, as well as a generous cup of fresh-brewed espresso.

None of that would be complete without a timely morning digest of the things that happened online and in the world in the last 8+ hours or so. An array of travel blogs and tweets, who went where and did what, a few news articles and columns to keep in touch with reality, maybe the latest episode of one of my shows for dessert.

Depending on the weather and further plans (or lack of those), I would slowly finish my Internet roamings and nice Berliner-ish breakfast and take up to an hour to get ready to go out. Take a shower, brush my teeth (always with the water turned off), dry my hair and put on some color-matching ensemble on.

Once outside, one could only dream of a wider choice of where to direct one's feet. Maybachufer with its goods market and a flock of artists and performers? Treptower Park and its tender atmosphere of no-stress? Wiener Strasse and my favorite Vietnamese diner? Or maybe a bike ride to Halensee and its FKK beach? You name it, it's all there.

Ah, life is good in Berlin.

Especially the morning and the evenings. The mornings for their breakfasts and brunches (am I food-dependant, or what?) and evenings for their companies: for old friends and new acquiantances. For beer at places like Silver Future or some other neighborhood bar. Ah, life is good in Berlin.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Amazon sale

My two travel guides are up on Amazon for sale. :) July 12-13 they are given away for free though.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

CS Sehnsucht


Just wanted to look up a number from an old cell phone and whoa, started reading text messages from over a year ago. So many memories.

Rinse, my favorite Stockholm CS host (produced in the Netherlands) and the quickest and fastest connection I've made with literally anyone. Oh, the fun that was had. Oh, the conversations that we shared. Those Nutella sandwiches...

Meeting Agata and having our weeks and fun of hanging out, going for walks, to parties, taking pictures, Berlinale, brunches and other variations of good time. Sojamilchkaffee. :) Kasza gryczana. :)

Christine, a fan of Russian language and literature who quit her job at Mercedes to study again and to spend a year in Irkutsk.

Ping Pong Battle in the snow with Yolanda. Vokue and Kollektivabendbrot with Mandy.

Rockstar CS host from Porto Renate!

Bernardo... So much in this word. :) Schwuz, Facebook, hang outs, meeting his mother... :) A great friend. I harbor hope to be best man at his wedding with Rainer.

CS host Emmannuel from Paris who gave me the keys to his apartment and left after talking to me for only 30 minutes. He later left me a fantastic reference where he said I left his apartment times cleaner than he left it to me - now some with some friends I go by "the girl who washes dishes after herself."

His friend Rafael who showed me around Paris and had a very thick French accent. An artist who lives 1 block away from Arc de Triomphe (in a "maid's room Parisienne") and survives on coffee and cigarettes. Charming.


The gang in Istanbul and Laurence. Lu. :)

And of course Helene. Our conversations and hanging out in Istanbul and then in Berlin and hopefully somewhere else in the future. Best bicycle rider and someone I always have something to talk about with.

Man, so many people, so many stories. The unwavering smile on my face right now.

Does it sound like I need to take off and hit CS again?

More navel-gazing

Moscow in January. Istanbul in January. Rome and Athens in March. Istanbul in March. Sochi in May. All my trips this year so far. Hopefully Berlin in June, unless Pegasus refuses to fly into one of the two currently functioning airports.

Taking into account all events of the present year, I have to look back onto our New Year's Eve and where I was as the clock struck midnight, in a crowd of people most of whom were drunk and pushy, 200 meters off the Red Square. It was a dangerous location to find ourselves at the time, we can smile about it today, but 5 months ago it seemed like we wouldn't emerge as alive as we entered the crowd. 

Anyhow. The year's been turmulous. At times terrific, at times not at all. Funny how who you travel with and how things between the two of you are directly impacts your impression of the destination. The same way I seem to be done with Prague, at least for the foreseeable future, the same way I am done with Athens. I suppose it is a beautiful city (a cross between Rome and Istanbul, no less), but I wouldn't want to re-visit any time soon. Istanbul, on the other hand, seems to always be worth a visit. Rome wasn't bad either, first time I was there the food wasn't memorable, but this time it struck a chord with me.

I'm really curious about Berlin now. Will it forever be the place I like to return to or just a temporary "favorite place on Earth"? With its tree-lined Puschkinallee, hip and cozy cafes, punks, liberal atmosphere, brunches, lakes, bike lanes, expats, locals, U and S Bahn, Treptower Park, Rixdorf, nightlife, galleries, collective dinners... Well, it is the home of my soul for now and so be it. Will embrace this for now and enjoy the moment.
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