A hustle through Brussels

My only full day in Brussels started out less than promisingly, with a spitting cold rain pelting me as I left the city’s central station and tried to sort out where I could go before getting soaked. I had no map, no real plan – only a short list of things to see and do…

It’s about (Amster)dam time

When you’re a teacher, you count a year not by the January to December cycle like normal people do. We’re an August to June lot, counting a “year” as the school year like some kind of alternative planet we follow instead of the sun. To be fair, we are mostly on alternative planets when one is…

When you need a little (or a lotta) Christmas

A German Christmas story – Berlin – Christmas markets It is difficult to explain how a German Christmas market smells. A bit of a heady combination of spiced red wine, cinnamon, cookie batter, sizzling sausages, damp earth from a recent rain, and baking bread – it is all of these things and more. My first market…

A hobble around Museum Island

A German Christmas Story – Day 5, Berlin – Museum Island Despite a very swollen and rather stiff ankle, I wrapped it up with sport tape and an ankle support sock and set out for Museum Island, a UNESCO heritage site on the River Spree known for its architecture and concentration of art and artifacts….

The long shadows of war and wall

A German Christmas story – Berlin, Day 4 – Berlin Wall Memorial & Jewish History Museum It was hard to drag myself out of the hotel the next day after staying up half the night watching news footage about the Berlin Christmas market terrorist attack. The hope that it had been only an accident quickly faded away…

The landscape of terror has not been forgotten

A German Christmas Story – Berlin, Day 3 – Topography of Terror (afternoon) Germany is very upfront about the Holocaust. The Topography of Terror Documentation Center stands near a long stretch of the Berlin Wall on the former site of the Gestapo and SS headquarters. It is a low, modern building which seeks to lay…

From Prussian splendor to post-war gloom

A German Christmas Story – Day 2 in Berlin – Checkpoint Charlie and Schloss Charlottenburg I fell asleep early the night before and did not make it to a Christmas market after all. However, I unashamedly got thirteen hours of sleep after a restless night before leaving for Berlin and almost none on my flight,…

I am not a jelly doughnut, but that sounds good anyway

A German Christmas Story – Day 1 in Berlin Ich bin ein Berliner. Those were the first words used to introduce me to the conflict in Berlin, and indeed, the Cold War in general. Since I was only five years old when the Berlin Wall was torn down, I have no memory of the Cold War…

Defensive maneuvers at Changing of the Guard

Anglotopia Day 22 – Get me to the palace on time One can’t visit London without witnessing the colorful, entertaining, and pageantry of the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. And, on this particularly grey Monday morning, that was the thought of every tourist in London. I thought Monday would be safer say, than a…

Between a palace and a war place

Anglotopia Final Edition – Day 23 – Kensington Palace and Imperial War Museum  It was my last day in the UK, so I came up with a strategic plan to visit Kensington Palace again – I was there on my first trip years ago – and the much-recommend Imperial War Museum. I hopped the Tube…

I do bestride the narrow world like Colossus

Anglotopia Day 21 – A boat cruise to Greenwich  One reason for my choosing the Big Bus 48-hour ticket was not only access to the bus lines for two days, night tour, and walking tour – but also a boat ride down the tidal Thames River to Greenwich. To be fair, most people might skip…

The American’s quintessential London

Anglotopia Day 20 – Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, and the Big Bus I have to say, I geeked out over getting to visit Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament. I mean, if you’ve read my previous posts, you know I really admire Will and Kate, and getting to visit the abbey where they married in…