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europe

Haus Schwarzenberg courtyard in Berlin

Berlin Is the Johannesburg of Europe

I spent three days in Berlin, which is not enough time to get to know a place and make dramatic pronouncements like, “Berlin is the Johannesburg of Europe.” Potsdamer Platz, Berlin. But I’m saying it anyway because that’s how I felt when I was there. Berlin/Joburg Of course there are the obvious differences. Berlin is in Europe and Joburg is in Africa. Berlin is wealthier and cleaner and has far less poverty than Joburg. Berlin certainly has less crime and is safer to walk in at night. Berlin has superior public transportation to Joburg. Berlin is gloriously flat, making it an excellent city for cycling, and doesn’t have any mine dumps. Unlike Joburg, I hear Berlin has horrible weather in winter. And yet there are so many similarities. Street art by Various & Gold on the former border of East and West Berlin. The concrete wasteland behind that fence was once a parking lot for cars passing between East and West Germany. Street art in a concrete wasteland…very Joburgian, no? Both cities are full of immigrants. A Turkish restaurant where I ate my first dinner in Berlin. I could just as easily have been eating in Istanbul. Both cities feel chaotic in […]

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Heather over a canal in Amsterdam

Solo Traveling, Never Alone

A few months ago I received an invitation to my friends’ wedding in Vienna. I’d never been to Vienna before so I decided to go. While I’m at it, I thought, I should really go to Berlin. I’d never been there either and I had an open invitation from an old friend. And while I’m at it, I thought, I should visit Fiver and Stuart on their boat. They live on a boat every summer and float around somewhere in Europe. This summer they would be floating through the Netherlands. I’d never been to the Netherlands before (can you see the pattern here?) so I decided I couldn’t pass up that opportunity. And once I’m in the Netherlands, I thought, I have to go to Amsterdam. Because (you guessed it) I’d never been to Amsterdam and that’s just unacceptable. Thus I embarked on the #2SummersEuropeanTrip, a solo traveling journey in which I was never alone. At a vineyard just outside Vienna, dressed up for Ruth and Michael’s wedding. (Photo: Jeremy Yung) Cycling through Berlin. (Photo: Jeroen Van Marle) Driving a century-old boat named Hendrika down a canal in the northern Netherlands. (Photo: Fiver Löcker) A typical scene in Amsterdam. (Photo: Fiver […]

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