Charles Bridge, Prague
Hotel Adler, Dresden, Germany
Yes, the name was a significant factor in my choosing to stay at this hotel. From the outside, it looked like a haunted mansion, which only made the experience all the more wonderful.
Outside the house where my dad grew up. (Usti Nad Labem, Czech Republic)
My experience traveling around Europe, especially the Czech Republic and Germany, was a constant interplay of the past and present. As the granddaughter of survivors, so many cities were laced with the Holocaust — the crimes, the tragedies, the way each place had integrated it into their cultures (or not).
Before I left, I knew this would likely happen and it did, albeit in unexpected places. A small plaque on the side of a Dresden building commemorating a family that had lived there, for example, elicited an extreme and teary reaction in a way that visiting the Dachau concentration camp site did not.
Usti Nad Labem, the town where my dad grew up, brought a softer kind of sadness. My grandparents ended up there only because of the Holocaust. Still, they settled, built a family, built (difficult) lives. At the same time, it was kind of magical to be in the place where the stories of my dad’s youth were set. That park! The school! The synagogue my grandfather helped to build!
My family fled in 1969 when the Soviets took over. Today, the only real sign of their lives here is the synagogue. Even that, though, has lost its lease and will be relocated in a few months. And so, in the summer of 2014, I was the last person of my family to step foot inside.
“ Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life. ”
Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic… all have been wonderful thus far… although the internet has been (and continues to be) pretty spotty and slow.
Currently in Munich, with everyone around us riled up for the World Cup game tonight. I’m not usually one for sports, but I love the energy of the whole thing.
During the Brazil-Germany match, people were running around whooping, their faces painted, talking excitedly to everyone around them. (If only everyone was like that always…) Tonight will probably be even more frenetic, especially if Germany wins. So here it goes…
The bathroom attendant (yes, it was just her and she was collecting money) and her (perverted?) dog,
Somewhere between Berlin and Dresden…
At a (Crazy Delicious) Falafel Place in East Berlin:
I'm from America, too!
Oh, yeah?! Where in America?!
As American as it gets. Baghdad.
Here’s one of the things I love most about travel: it’s never what you expected it to be.
When I got on the train to Padua yesterday, my thoughts were square on the university where Galileo taught, touring the rooms where he lectured, seeing the anatomical theatre.
What I didn’t take into account? It was Sunday. And Sunday in Italy is really the day of rest. No university tours, no museums. Well we weren’t about to turn around and head back, so we wandered around town in the intense sunshine and humidity in search of something. First, a church-run hall with restored art. Then a visit to the St. Anthony Basilica, which was incredibly beautiful and holding services (so cool!).
But the best part of the day came when we wandered into Prata della Valle, a giant plaza with a park in the middle. There, on the side, were a group of Italians taking turns trying out a slack line. They spoke halting English, we spoke halting Italian; somehow we communicated. We sat there for close to an hour, just laughing, hanging out, playing around on the slack line, having a good time.
It’s these simple moments of that matter most: coming to understand a place through its people and becoming a temporary part of that culture yourself.
Robert’s first try at slacklining with a little help from our new friends…
2am, Hotel Casa Peron, Venice
A city of blue skies, of sunburn. Islands of lace and islands of glass. Of bright blues, magentas, leaves growing strong and green and wild. Of laundry blowing in the sun. Of impressionist paintings dancing in the water. And bridges, bridges everywhere.