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…

Apfelstrudel and outdoor art on the Wall

A German Christmas story – Berlin, Day 3 – East Side Gallery (morning) My morning breakfast so far had consisted of a cappuccino and some kind of sandwich at Starbucks. I mixed it up a bit and went across the street to a different coffeeshop. Shocker! I had my usual cappuccino but ordered apfelstrudel instead for…

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…

The Forest of Wisdom

Diary of an Autumn Leafer – Heyri Artist Valley & Paju Book City  If you tell a bibliophile that there’s such a magical place as a “Book City”, then it had better live up to its moniker. Add in 8 m high bookshelves and something called “The Forest of Wisdom”, and just point me in the…

A foot into the hermit kingdom

Diary of an Autumn Leafer – DMZ and JSA tour  When in Seoul, I felt that it was absolutely important that I visit the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) and the JSA (Joint Security Area) near the shared border with North Korea. In order to visit inside the DMZ and the JSA, a tour was necessary, and it had…

I came in search of autumn leaves

Diary of an Autumn Leafer – the palaces and mountain tops of Seoul  If all else fails in finding an Outback Steakhouse, at least I should be able to find autumn leaves in Seoul. As someone who had grown up in the Midwest of the U.S., I was used to fall leaves. It was my…

War, peace, and the surprising beauty of stones

Diary of an Autumn Leafer – Jeju Island Tourist Bus Besides meet up with old friends and colleagues who now work in schools on Jeju Island – and having Mexican food and local Korean BBQ for various meals – there were a few looping tourist buses that run around the island to drop people off…

What to do on Jeju

Diary of an Autumn Leafer – Jeju, South Korea  About a three hour flight from Hong Kong is a small Korean island called Jeju. The island made its living from seafood, and now, tourism – mostly of from China at about 85% of the usual tourist trade. October holiday, a blessed week that we get…

Hearts of glass and oyster shells

Notes from a Pacific Northwest road trip – Chihuly Glass Museum, Space Needle, oysters  Of all the things to see in Seattle – including the famous Pike Place Market – the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum is an absolute, absolute must-visit location. Situated right below the Space Needle, the museum was a gorgeous, bursting-full garden…