Brückenschläge und Schlagworte

Schlagwort: landscape

Bridge, somewhere in Bosnia & Hercegovina

This bridge is random. It doesn’t have a name. I don’t remember exactly where it was or which river it crosses. But look at this beauty: Bosnia & HercegovinaThe bridge is not even entirely in the picture, it is more like I’m on it – in fact, crossing it on a bus – taking the photo. When I went to Bosnia a few weeks ago, I travelled there on a plane for the first time. Approaching Sarajevo, the plane went lower and lower above the green hills, my heart grew wide, and as we touched ground, tears shot out of my eyes with great force. I was coming to collect part of my heart that is tied to that country. Forever. I had to leave it again when I left.

From Sarajevo I took a bus to Mostar. It took me through the landscapes of Bosnia and Hercegovina, and I couldn’t take my eyes away from what opened up for me outside of the window. It wasn’t the first time I was in awe facing the different shades of green in the hills and the emerald colours of the rivers, but I was enchanted yet again. Was it the Bosna we crossed here, or the Neretva? I don’t know. I just know there is a bond tying me to that place as strong as any bridge made from stone, steel or wood could ever be.

If you have read My Mission statement, you know why I love bridges. To me they are the most universal symbol of connection, of bringing people together and overcoming anything that may seperate us. I want to present to you pictures of bridges that I really love in places that I really love on my blog every Sunday. If you have a picture of a bridge that you would like to share with my readers as a guest post, feel free to contact me!

Fieldstone Churches in Brandenburg

Last week I had a day so bad that I knew right away that it was time to take some distance, get out, and leave my job and my life behind for one day of discovery and enjoyment. I rented a car, not knowing where I wanted to go. Just out.

Blossoms, Lindow, GermanyI picked up the VW Polo at Alexanderplatz and took random turns through the city. Finally there was a sign directing me towards the Autobahn. I took that turn. On the Autobahn there was a sign toward Stralsund. I knew I probably wouldn’t make it that far, but I love that town, so I followed it off of the Autobahn. And then all there was were rape fields, lakes, forests, and a horizon so wide that it made my heart jump.

Rape Fields, Brandenburg, GermanyThere is something about rape fields. The bright yellow spreading for miles and miles like an overdimensional carpet. I’ve often met southerners who think Northern Germany’s landscapes were boring due to the lack of hills and mountains. Well not to me they aren’t. There is nothing like the tree lined alleys and the  contrast of juicy green grass, the intense blue skies sprinkled with white cotton clouds and golden yellow rape.

I felt so wonderfully free, there was music on the radio, and the day awaited me with nothing but beauty to show. I spotted a gorgeous small church in the distance – so I took a few turns and went there to take pictures. The signs told me I was in Herzberg – wasn’t a village that had the word Herz, heart, in it, the perfect first stop.

Herzberg, Germany

Fieldstone church in Herzberg

There is fieldstone churches galore in the Northeastern part of the country. A lot of them are not well-kept, but this one must have been recently restored. The little cemetery was lovingly cared for, fresh flowers lined the graves, and daisies and dandelions drew patterns on the lawn. Someone was laying new bricks on the steps from the street to the church, he was listening to well-known German hip hop singer Jan Delay on a portable radio which seemed unfitting for work on a cemetery – but I didn’t mind, I thought it was funny. The guy eyed me suspiciously as I entered the church yard. Surely they don’t get many visitors. I just smiled at him and he shyly smiled back. I booked that as a success. To my surprise, the church was open, so I took a look around.

Church, Herzberg, Germany

„I am the light of the world“ – the church altar and pulpit in Herzberg

The inside was every bit as pretty as the outside. The beautiful wooden ceiling with its dark red, yellow and grey colours was intricately done, and had me look up at it for a long time. Of course I was overcome by the powerful urge to sing, and so I did. It’s not like anyone would have been disturbed by it. It was just me and the presence of that unseizable something that is bigger than all of us – call it God, call it fate, call it life itself, I don’t care. I just know that there was something there when my voice rung through the tiny church.

Church, Herzberg, Germany

Levitating angel in the church in Herzberg

There were two levitating angels, one of which I stood eye to eye with for quite a while. Presenting his stoup, it had a mysterious look on its face. I say it, because it was weirdly genderless which I quite liked. Angels aren’t male or female. They are bigger than the dichotomies we use to grasp our lives. I felt like it was there to give me a small blessing and reassure me that I was watched over, but that I nonetheless had all the power I needed to prevail inside of me already. I left the church feeling stronger, smiled at the construction worker at the steps again, got in my car and drove on.

A few rape fields and shadowy alleys later, I found another church that prompted me to stop.

Radensleben, Germany

Church in Radensleben

I had missed the town sign, so I had to check my smartphone to see where I was (and I loved the fact that it was of no real importance whatsoever, but just my curiosity that made me do so!), and it was a village called Radensleben. The churchyard was much more overgrown than the one in Herzberg, but I loved its romantic atmosphere. The church was closed, so I just aimlessly wandered around the church.

Chapel, Radensleben, Germany

Chapel at the church in Radensleben

There was a brick stone chapel on the backside of the church. The low walls with the cross pattern in them allowed for a beautiful play with light and shadow, and of course all my avid readers know that I love red brick stone more than any other material. Moving on, I found a wooden gate behind which I spotted a small cemetery. As I pushed down the handle, thick cobwebs tore on it, and the door creaked loudly as though I was about to enter the Secret Garden from Frances H. Burnett’s childrens‘ book. Magic was about to happen.

Church, Radensleben, Germany

The cemetery behind the church in Radensleben

The small cemetery was partially buried in deep black shadow, but the sun still shone hotly on most of the pretty tomb stones. The daisies were so big that they bordered on marguerites. While from the front the church had looked somehow bigger and cooler than its sister in Herzberg, from this angle it radiated the simplicity I find so inviting about field stone churches. They are down to earth. They don’t look to impress with pomp and grandiosity. They just are.

Walking out of the creaking gate and making my way back to the street, my eyes lost themselves for a little while on the cute cobblestone street that the village arranged itself around. Deadstraight it ran into the distance, as though it lead right into eternity. Dusty, empty. Peacefully sleepy. No one about. The moment was perfect. But I think it was so only because the road promised so much more to be ahead.

At the next rape field outside of the village that lined the country road, I stopped, got out of the care and walked into the rape. The smell of nature embraced me, and I realized how very far away my very bad day was, even though it was only two days ago.

Point proven. Travel heals.

Mariella in a rape field, Brandenburg, Germany

The Things I Love About Poland – Part II

I guess we all have countries which make us feel at home more than others. My parents, for example, love Greece, and they feel imbalanced when they don’t go every year. Most people get that. Greece has beaches, and islands, and ouzo, and lots of pretty old ruins. When I speak about Poland with that same affection, people just give me disbelieving looks. But guess what. Poland has beaches! And lakes! And vodka! And TONS of pretty old ruins – and pretty old buildings that are still whole, or have been restored beautifully.

Dlugi Targ, Gdansk, Poland

Długi Targ, the Long Market, in the center of my most beloved Gdańsk. Everything was in ruins here after World War II, but is shiny and sparkling today. I hear that Polands restorers are among the best in the world, and I believe that alright!

Last week I spoke about my love for the urban beauty of Polish cities, of the amazing sense of history in the country, of the hospitality I have met and the friends I have found, about the enchanting melody of that beautiful strange language, and about Polish music that has touched my heart. As if all this wasn’t enough, I have more reasons why my eyes light up when I talk about Poland. And I am not afraid to tell you about them.

6. The Landscapes

How could I speak about the cities and not equally enthusiastically mention the landscapes! From the Baltic Sea and the Mazurian Lakes in the North to the Tatra Mountains and the softer Plains in the South, the country really has it all.

Szczytno, Poland

Szczytno in the Mazurian Lake district enchants with a beautiful sunset.

Rozanka, Poland

Różanka in Lower Silesia offers pretty views and is very close to the Sudety mountains.

Poland even has the last European jungle in the Northeast which is high on my bucket list as I haven’t managed to see it yet. The wild bisons that live there, the żubry, have been namesake to both the beer żubr and the vodka żubrówka. Who wouldn’t need to see them now? One of the things that make Poland such an amazing country is definitely its diversity. From beach vacations by the sea to skiing in the mountains, you can find everything your travel heart desires here.

Sopot, Poland

Didn’t I say there were beaches? If it is this pretty in winter, just imagine how amazing the pretty spa town of Sopot must be in summer!

7. The Food – and the Vodka!

Ah, the food. I am not a huge foodie, but Polish food has me salivating. For one thing, don’t expect to ever go hungry in Poland. Generally, there is too much food for a person to handle, even if it is so delicious that you never want to stop eating. The Polish are big on soups and stews from żurek, a sour rye soup, to all kinds of vegetable soups (especially try barszcz, a beetroot based soup), to bigos, a heavy cabbage stew that will warm you on a snowed in winter’s night (because yes, it does get cold in Poland). I can never get enough of wątróbki, poultry livers served with apple and onions, and of the famous pierogi, dumplings that come filled with all sorts of different stuffings. If you can get someone to make them from scratch with you, you will never want to cook anything else at home anymore.

Making Pierogi in Bystrzyca Kłodzka, Poland

When I lived in Bystrzyca Kłodzka in Lower Silesia, we made Pierogi in the group of international volunteers with our Polish teacher. And my, were they yummy!

Of course a good Polish meal is not complete without good Polish vodka. No other beverage have I been drunker on. But if you drink the good kind and don’t mix it with cheap kinds, you will not even be hungover. I’m fairly sure I don’t even have to talk much about it. If you go to Poland, one or two vodka incidents are without fail bound to happen. And even if you never liked vodka before, trust me and try it here. It is delicious and it certainly speeds up the process of making Polish friends.

Pear Vodka, Sopot, Poland

Doesn’t look like vodka? Ah, but it is! With pears! And it was beyond delicious. Never would I have gotten to taste it if my friend Karol hadn’t known the bar tender 🙂

8. The Literature

Adding to the Polish language having drawn me in with strange magnetic pull, I have also fallen hard for Polish literature. It was no love at first sight. For a long time I didn’t really have any favourite Polish authors or works. But the more I read, the more I wanted, and the better I knew the language, the more I loved what I was reading. Epic realist novels like Bolesław Prus‘ Lalka („The Doll“), masterpieces of absurdism by Witold Gombrowicz, amazing SciFi like Stanisław Lem’s Solaris and heartbreaking poetry by the nobel prize winners Czesław Miłosz and Wisława Szymborska, and the great feminist novelists of today, like Olga Tokarczuk and my very favourite Joanna Bator – the list goes on and on.


I have found myself in too many books to actually list here, they have been eye-opening for me. To give you a taste, I translated one of my favourite Szymborska poems for you.

Na lotnisku

Biegną ku sobie z otwartymi ramionami,
wołają roześmiani: Nareszcie! Nareszcie!
Oboje w ciężkich zimowych ubraniach.
w grubych czapkach,
ale już tylko dla nas.
Bo dla siebie – nadzy.

At the airport

They run towards each other with open arms
Calling out laughing: Finally! Finally!
Both in heavy winter clothing
In heavy hats,
But only to us.
Because to each other already – naked.

9. The Sense of Humour

Poles are extremely friendly and set great store by hospitality, as I mentioned last week. But not only that. Man, those people can make you laugh! I don’t know wether it is because they haven’t had much to laugh about in history, but generally Polish humour is dark, dry, politically incorrect and screamingly funny. To be quite frank it took me a while to really get into it, but I’m just telling you to not be shy, take that stick out of your butt that has been shoved up there in whatever country you are from, and go ahead and laugh.

Browarnia, Gdansk, Poland

„A bar tender is no camel, he needs to have his drink too!“ – on a jar for tips in a much beloved Gdansk based bar. Yeah, sometimes the humour isn’t dark and twisted, but just cute 🙂

I was warned before watching the Polish cult film Rejs, „The Cruise“, that I might not get why it is funny. I never stopped laughing when I saw it. I wish I had found a subtitled version of this scene which is my absolute favourite. I can but hope that the body language of the cast alone will at least make you smile. The dialogue is hilarious.

10. The Swearwords

Closing on a high note here. Obviously there is one specific part of language, which in general I already discussed, that deserves extra attention. Almost any language beats German when it comes to swearing, we only have boring words that don’t do the somewhat violent melody of our language any justice. But cursing in Polish is pure poetry. It is so emphatic and creative. I know you expect better of me, the academic, but I dare you to have a Pole teach you how to curse and your life will never be the same. There are actual linguistic studies on the fact that German cursing is usually related to fecies (shit) while Slavic cursing is related to sex (fuck). There is nothing as relieving as uttering a heartfelt kurwa jebana mać (a very emphatic „fuck!“, but literally something like „damn fucked bitch“). And the most brilliant thing is: They use swear words for affirmation and celebration as well – as in zajebiście, which means „awesome“, but literally „fucked“.

Bystrzyca Kłodzka, Poland

I called the little town of Bystrzyca Kłodzka my home for 6 months. There was nothing spectacular about it. But it is Poland. Therefore, it is home.

Having said all of this, I feel once more ever so grateful for my blog. You don’t understand how even thinking about all these things made me so happy. I think back on all the places I have seen in Poland, and all the ones I am yet to discover. There is no other country except for Germany that I know so much about, and yet I don’t know nearly enough. I want to see more, know more, understand better.

You know how when you travel and get cash from the ATM in a foreign country, you try to calculate so you won’t get too much as to not be stuck with foreign currency at the end of your trip? In Poland I never do that. I always take out any decent amount I feel like taking out. If I have Zloty left over at the end of my stay, I will just spend them the next time around. It is never far away.

Which country makes you feel at home? Why do you love it so much, and do people understand your love for it?

A Mystical Place – Kap Arkona on Rügen

Kap Arkona. An intriguing name for an intriguing place.

Sighting Tower, Kap Arkona, Rügen, GermanyIt is a rather grey and rainy day as we get in our rental car and drive to Putgarten, where we have to pay the whopping 4€ for parking and then start walking. We walk through the small village of Putgarten with its clean tidy houses and cobble stone streets.

Putgarten, Rügen, GermanyAndrew stops for recording songs every now and again. He will later use them for sampled pieces of electronic music. It makes me more aware of the soundscape that surrounds us. The little shuttle’s motoric roar on the pavement. The clip clop of horse shoes as a carriage passes us by. Wind, always wind swishing across the wide open landscape and the already barren fields. The light houses that we have seen light up from our bedroom window in Lohme at night and the sighting tower are visible early on over the width of the countryside.

Lighthouses, Kap Arkona, Rügen, GermanyWe turn left at the fork in the end of the path toward the light houses first. The smaller one is made from red brick (my heart beats faster…) and designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, an architect responsible for most of the Prussian neo-classical architecture in Berlin’s city centre. It is almost 200 years old. Its taller brother is 100 years old and the one that we have seen light up. They look like Laurel and Hardy.

Lighthouses, Kap Arkona, Rügen, GermanyThe lighthouses are quite iconic, but funnily enough, what gets to me more is the view of the tiny building across from them, just by the entrance to one of the two military bunkers. It is simpler and less considerable, yet the white and red colours against the grey sky glow and glisten in my eyes.

Kap Arkona, Rügen, GermanyThe two bunkers were mainly used by the military of the socialist German Democratic Republic, although one was built for the Nazi Wehrmacht. They house exhibitions today. Military history is not unusual up here, I have been to bunkers on the neighbouring island of Usedom, too. Andrew seems fascinated. I have never given it too much thought. Maybe because it makes me slightly uncomfortable.

Military Bunker, Kap Arkona, Rügen, GermanyWe keep following the path that leads us to a small tree-lined alley. To the side there is a small stamped out trail in the grass. I suggest we go down there, through the bushes wet with raindrops. Just a few steps into the thicket and we get to the top of the massive cliff, to the overgrown ledge barely secured by a wooden bannister. The views of the Baltic from here may be the most spectacular we have had all weekend. The sun is breaking carefully through the thick grey clouds, the sea is howling under us, golden marram grass and even the bright orange fruits of the sea buckthorn are contrasting the reserved dark colours of sea and sky.

Kap Arkona, Rügen, GermanyAndrew is recording sounds again, but all of a sudden he points behind me and tells me quietly to look – there is a deer, staring curiously at us, quite close and not really as shy as it should be. I carefully try to take out my camera and photograph it, but as it goes, the second I press the button, it decides to hide away into the thicket and I only catch its rear. As much as it has felt like we were the only two people in the world up here, I am enjoying the fact that we had a quick moment of company of an inhabitant of this magical and slightly mysterious place.

Kap Arkona, Rügen, GermanyIn one of the small souvenir shops, I go to look at the jewellery. The rings are  tied to adder stones, or as they are called in German: Hühnergötter, chicken gods, – small rocks that have natural holes in them. They are found on Rügen often, and according to ancient Slavic pagan beliefs, they protect from the Kikimora, a poltergeist from Slavic mythology who killed or harmed poultry and eggs. Today most people use them for decor, but they still remind of the Slavic history of the region – because the earliest settlements in what today is Northeastern Germany were not Germanic, but Slavic. I pick a ring with an amber stone. The saleswoman unties it from its adder stone and I start wearing it right away. It has intricate silver ornaments holding the tear-shaped amber. A mystical, a nostalgic piece of jewellery. It will give me bittersweet memories of this weekend and of this place that I love so much whenever I wear it.

Kap Arkona, Rügen, Germany

To Nottingham’s Posher Places – the Park Estate

As Andrew and I walk from Mapperley to the city center on my second day in Nottingham, the sun is coming out, and the clouds are sailing away solemnly in the sky.  This is most certainly not your typical „English weather“, this is a lovely early summer’s day. We walk past the castle and into what is called the Park Estate. Built in such close proximity of the castle, it must have been built on what used to be immediate castle grounds.

Park Estate, Nottingham, EnglandThe Park Estate is a private residential area with beautiful Victorian architecture. The houses here are not houses. They are mansions. I don’t think people here qualify as wealthy anymore, they are probably filthy rich. There are only three entrance gates, and it feels very secluded – but in the sense that is a bit terrifying. I don’t think a lot of protection increases the feeling of security; on the contrary, I think it takes away from it.

I am strangely reminded of the one day I have ever spent in Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, going there from Texas. My host father took me to see a protected estate where the upper class lived – just on a drive through, but I didn’t fail to notice that there was barbed wire on top of the white wall that surrounded the area with its houses of unreal dimensions. Quickly I call myself to order as I feel uncomfortable with that comparison. A gap between rich and poor as big as in South America – here in Europe? Impossible. Or is it? Honestly, gaps in society are probably much more of a reality than most of us in Western Europe care to admit.


But it is easy to forget about injustice on a day like this. The area is open to the public today for what is called the Park Garden Trail – meaning some of the gorgeous Victorian style gardens can be visited, and in the circus in the middle they sell food and drinks, and a band is playing with what we quickly identify as the least enthusiastic drummer in the world’s history. But as we sit on the grass in the sun and sip our wine, that doesn’t take away from the beauty of the day.

Park Estate, Nottingham, EnglandThe first garden we enter has a high fir hedge and designer wedding dresses on display. I wonder if people will throw me out if they hear my American accent. Honestly I don’t think I would even be surprised if someone along the lines of Maggie Smith, the way she looks in Downton Abbey, would call me words like „ghastly“ and „common“ and tell me to leave. The second one is much more up my alley. It has a few cute terraces with shrubberies and a beautiful house (have I mentioned that they are all red brick stone…? So much love for Nottingham for all its red brick stone!). Then there is one where they sell scones. People are sitting at tables or on the grass with trays that hold delicate china and sip their tea. It cannot possibly get more quintessentially English than this.

Park Estate, Nottingham, EnglandAll of the gardens are full of people out and about, enjoying the sunny weather and the beautiful flowers. Yellow roses are blossoming, reminding me of the BBC film North and South where they play a plot vital role.

Park Estate, Nottingham, EnglandAgain with the romanticizing England because of costume dramas… I blame Jane Austen. The architecture doesn’t stop its charms at the red brick stone being interfused with glazed ones to form ornaments – there are little pillars and statues, and gorgeous coloured windowpanes, jutties and balconies.

Park Estate, Nottingham, EnglandForgetmenots are blossoming all around in most of the places we see. I pluck one to put it into Andrew’s button hole. He looks at it and says: „Look how the three blossoms all have a different colour in the middle!“ I look at it and it’s true – one is white, one is dark yellow and one is pale yellow.

Forgetmenots, Park Estate, Nottingham, EnglandI am thinking that this must be why people love travelling with other people – because they point out stuff that you wouldn’t have seen yourself. Then I notice that this is not travelling in its strictest sense, because we are in Andrew’s home town. This is basically just good old regular sharing your life. And I get very excited at that thought.

I’ve Got the Month of May

May has been my favorite month ever since I can remember. That transition phase between spring and summer is so full of hope and opportunity, so bursting with expectation and dreaming. Nature is exploding in all her most beautiful colors and the sky has that special color that is both coyly pastel and stunningly intense and deep.

The train ride between Berlin and Gdańsk never ceases to be of indescribable beauty to me. Between Berlin and Frankfurt / Oder, the first hour of the ride, I can’t help but notice how different the landscape looks now from the way it did when I made the journey in the winter. The wide and rolling fields of Brandenburg are now not barren, brown and lifeless. They are juicy green and promising. And as I look out the window, suddenly I my heart starts leaping. Green has been substituted by garish and bright yellow.

Rape Fields, Brandenburg, GermanyIt is the first rape field in blossom that I see this season. I could just cry. They say that up here, you can see with the naked eye if someone will be coming for a visit in three days. Everything is spread out into the open. Everything is just there. In this world and in this life that holds so many surprises for us on an everyday basis, I think it more than calming to find myself in this Northern Germany plain that doesn’t keep anything from me. Barren brown and grey fields in winter. Explosions of green grass, golden wheat and yellow rape in summer. This is home to me, a place where I can feel secure and at peace, unafraid of the surprises that may lurk around the corner.

At my most recent stay in Poland, after our visit to Grudziądz, Karol decides to not go back on the Autostrada – the large highway – but on the quiet country road by ways of the countless cute little villages on the way to Gdańsk. After the humid, hot day with stunning blue skies, small clouds has started to emerge, and now they are thickening across the wide dome above us. Nothing hinders the eye from wandering along the horizon on either side – no hills, no house, no tree distorts my view, and the sky looks different on every end in millions of shades of white, grey and blue as it meets the earth with its astonishingly juicy green fields. The rape is blossoming a little more carefully here than it was in Brandenburg – the fields are not of the same unbroken golden yellow colour, but they are intertwined with green. The rape is not entirely ripe yet, still waiting to give out its explosive force entirely.

Landscape, Pomerania, PolandOn another day, Aga and I take the tram from the Gdańsk city center out to Brzeźno and walk from there to the park in Jelitkowo. It is too windy to walk right by the Baltic Sea beach, so we take the tarmaced trail behind the bank slope. Families with little children abound, young and old couples walking holding hands, friends chatting away, cyclists, skaters, buzzing life. The trees jutting out of the slope show leaves of such tender bright green that I feel any touch would have to destroy them. When we get to the park, we lie on the grass for an hour, sleeping, chatting and wreathing daisies.

In Jelitkowo, PolandBack in Berlin, the chestnut trees have exploded. In German the blossoms are called blossom candles, „Blütenkerzen“, as though they were something that shed light and was burning brightly into an already bright summer’s day. The pink ones have been my favorite trees since I was in high school. Their color is not subtle, it is crazed and screaming, exciting, fresh and fitting for visions of summer.

5 Kastanie

And speaking of blossoms, there are of course the cherry and apple trees that have their white beauty on display as though they were ready for their wedding. They never look as gorgeous as they do when in blossom, no matter the appeal of a tree carrying ripe fruit. I cannot help but think how the entire change of seasons and the idea of the passing of time is so iconically symbolized in the little white flowers on these trees. They remind me that every moment is precious, and they make the promise of a good tomorrow. I find hope in them.

Greifswald, GermanyGrudziądz, PolandDo you have a favorite month? What do you like about this time of year?

The Variety of Home

I am curating a twitter account this week that works by the rotation curation principle. It is called @i_amgermany and a different German or lover of Germany tweets on it every week, changing Sunday nights. Of course that makes me want to write about Germany on here this week, but I don’t exactly have a post in the drawer, and to be honest, taking care of two twitter accounts takes a lot of time.

So truthfully, it is a bit out of lack of time that I am bringing you a photo essay this week. Then again, when I look at the beauty I have to offer in this, I don’t think you will take it too badly. I am trying to show you the variety of what my beautiful home country has to offer, and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did picking the photos for you.

Of course there are the thriving cities of Germany – Berlin, the largest and the capitol, surely comes first and foremost, but next in size are Hamburg, Munich and Cologne, and they are not to be neglected. All of them are very different, yet charming in their own ways.

Hamburg, Germany

The Speicherstadt, that is, City of Warehouses, shows you how functionality and beauty go together in Hamburg

Munich, Germany

When in Munich, climb up Alter Peter’s church tower – the view will be worth it!!

Cologne, Germany

Cologne’s Cathedral is bound to leave you speechless with its gothic grandeur

But there is also landscapes! I had to cut down to a very small introduction of what Germany has to offer in that department. There’s the North and Baltic Seas in the North, and the Alps in the South, and a whole lot of rivers, mountain ranges, forests, lakes and fields in between.

Lake Constance, Germany

Lake Constance borders Germany, Austria and Switzerland and brings maritime flair to the Southern most part of the country

Schwärzloch, Germany

Very dear to my heart, although I’m usually more fan of flat landscapes, are the rolling hills of Swabia, especially on a beautiful winter day like this

Schlachtensee, Berlin, Germany

Would you have ever guessed that this is… Berlin?! Schlachtensee is a popular day trip destination in the summer

There are the castles that so many people associate with Germany. I have to admit I have never been to Neuschwanstein, the famous one that inspired the Disney castle, but there’s plenty of others worth visiting:

Schwerin, Germany

Castle Schwerin in the North East of the country is a true fairytale place to me

Bayreuth, Germany

The Bayreuth Eremitage in Bavaria is worth a visit too – next to the castle you have a large park with beautiful grottos like this one

And in general there is much architecture to admire. Be it sacral in churches and monasteries or functional in post offices, train stations, hospitals, universities and so many more. Germany is just really pretty. Nothing to argue about that!

Bebenhausen, Germany

Bebenhausen in Southern Germany is one of the prettiest monasteries I have been to

Fulda, Germany

The Fulda cathedral may not be as famous as the one in Cologne, but it surely makes for a beautiful stop right in the heart of the country

Lübeck, Germany

Lübeck with its hanseatic beauty of red brick stone holds a very special place in my heart!

Greifswald, Germany

Would you mind going to school here? This is Greifswald university, right by the Baltic Sea in the North East of the country. I absolutely loved my years as an undergrad student here.

Hohenlychen, Germany

Sometimes the beauty is not taken such great care of. This former hospital complex in Hohenlychen in Brandenburg is slowly left to decay. Such a shame.

Tübingen, Germany

Tübingen, another university town, has charmed everyone I know of. Studying there for my Master’s wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened to me.

I could have and would have wanted to show you so much more, but I had to stick with places I had decent footage of this time around. Time and time again I think that travel in Germany alone could take years and years.

What are your favorite places in Germany? Or your dream destinations? Any places you think are must-sees – or need to be avoided?

Tricity’s Waterfronts, or My Happiness

Making me happy is not the hardest thing: Let me travel. Show me something – anything! – that is beautiful. Make me sing. Bring me to one of my Places of Desire. Teach me something about the world. Or get me to anywhere where there is water.

Any of these things will put a smile on my face and love into my heart. Being in Gdańsk, or really in Trójmiasto – that is the Tricity area consisting of Gdańsk, Sopot and Gdynia – has made it possible for all the things on the list to be given to me at once. It can be really overwhelming.

It is cold this time around in Gdańsk – not that it was exactly warm when I came in November. As I walk from Happy Seven Hostel (easily one of my favorite hostels in Europe!) toward the Long Market, I wrap my scarf around my face to keep the cold from gnawing its frosty teeth through my skin. My own warm breath clings onto my scarf in tiny ice crystals. The pavement on Długie Pobrzeże, the waterfront street, is slippery and wet, frosted with a not so thin layer of ice on top of the snow. The sky is blue and shiny. The air is fresh. It feels like the first day in the world. As carefully as I feel I should tread here, my eyes are as though fixated on the outlook I am facing and that I love so much.

Gdansk, Mottlawa

There is the Motława River, glistening in the sun. The sillhouette of the Żuraw, the old and mighty city gate, stands still and black and mighty before the sun. As I approach the water, I see that it is frozen over slightly, and covered with half melted snow, and the tracks of swan and seagull feet paint pretty pictures on the surface. I walk towards the sun, and the light tickles in my eyes – the only party of my face that isn’t covered to be kept warm. Eventually I turn back, and I see this:


Sunlight is suffusing the houses with its wintery morning light. It is not actually a warm light, but when it hits the red brickstone, the houses look like they were shone upon by an August summer sun. It is the red brick stone that savours the warmth of yet brighter and warmer days. I love the material more than words can say.

On a different day, I take the SKM to Sopot. I have been here once before. Almost 20 years ago. My memory of it is very faint, but it exists. It was summer, the August of 1993 to be precise, and I remember the beach to be very white, whiter than any I had ever seen. The sky was misty, and there were lots of white birds I suppose must have been seagulls – „No,“, said my mom when I related this memory to her once, „they were swans. Lots of them. I had never seen swans on the Baltic Sea before.“ I remember the Grand Hotel dimly – grey and big and mirroring in its slightly run-down morbidity many tales of former grandeur.

What will it be like to go there now?


Through Sopot’s downtown, I make my way to the pier. In summer it actually costs money to go there. I find this in tune with the very chic, elegant spa-town feel of the main street. I am not saying that it isn’t beautiful. I just tend to feel a bit displaced when I encounter somewhere like this. Everything and everyone looks so gorgeous and tidy, and it makes me very aware of my jeans being torn and my hair being messy, and I’m practically waiting to slip and make a perfect slapstick fall that passers-by will sniffily pretend to have not seen. I’m missing an edge, because Sopot’s picture-book perfection is making me queasy. And then… then I get to the water.


20121223-134527.jpgThere are swans and seagulls in the water. Fog is all around, but the horizon still marks a fine line between skies and earth, between eternity and the material world. The Grand hotel in the distance is white and shiny and I cannot believe that it is supposed to be the same place my memory held. I know that soon the look of the majestic and wealthy world class hotel will have replaced my old and faded image from the early 1990s that still exists in my head. I grieve upon that knowledge for a moment. I liked the unrestored Grand Hotel. It told a whole life story. This new one has nothing to do with me in all its phenomenal beauty. Incredible that we, a family of five, could afford to stay there 20 years ago. My mom and I found old bills in a photo album, dinner there for the five of us cost some 140,000 Zloty – in today’s currency rate that would be 35,000 Euros. Times change.


My eyes go back to the water. The ocean is the same in an elegant place like this as in any other. My Baltic. Its waters connect so many places I have seen and loved. Skagen in Denmark, where Baltic and North Sea meet. Greifswald, my German college town. The Curonian Spit in Lithuania with its fir tree forrests and white sandy beaches. Latvia’s Riga and Estonia’s Tallinn, the lively and individual Baltic capitols. It calms me to think of these places.

On this weekend, there is also a quick visit to Gdynia’s beach. It is of beauty that is beyond my capacity to describe but in two words: Olbrzymia Cisza. In Polish that means: Gigantic Silence.