Author

Ryan Murdock

Author of Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Columnist at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

The misery of apartment hunting in Berlin

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It’s easier to get into North Korea than it is to rent a flat in Berlin. I can say that with great confidence, having done both. In Canada, renting a flat was simply a matter of replying to a few ads, viewing a few places, and filing out an application. The landlord might ask your permission to do a credit check — at their expense — but that was it. It doesn’t work that way in Berlin. When it...

The ‘Forbidden City’ just outside Berlin

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The largest Red Army base outside the Soviet Union was a 40 minute drive south of Berlin. It was just beyond where the new airport — and the old Schönefeld SXF — is today. Wünsdorf-Waldstadt was completely off limits to East Germans during those long, dark Iron Curtain years. They called it Die Verbotene Stadt (the Forbidden City). Others called the massive base ‘Little Moscow’, and I guess it...

Cynical Theories are tearing us apart

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This new book by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay is essential reading for anyone struggling to make sense of the self-contradictory ‘woke’ ideology that’s spread divisive cancel culture like a mind virus through our workplaces, public policy and social lives. The authors have done an admirable job of tracing the development of these ideas, from the early insights of postmodern...

The abandoned airport down the street

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I’m moving flats next month and saying goodbye to Tempelhofer Feld, my favourite space in the neighbourhood. But before I pack up my books and lug them across town, I’d like to tell you a bit about the history of what was once the world’s largest building. The 1.2 km long complex was built by the Nazis to be the most advanced airport the world had ever seen, but war cut short their plans and they...

The Heavy Load-Bearing Body Down the Street

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I’m moving flats soon, after four years, leaving this neighbourhood behind for another pre-war altbau in a different part of the city. Imminent departure has prompted me to poke around some of those minor historic sites I’ve passed so often but never gotten around to exploring. One of the largest is just down the block. I biked past that strange concrete mass so many times over the past four...

To The Lake: A Balkan Journey of War and Peace

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Kapka Kassabova is taking us back to the Balkans. I’ve been looking forward to something new from this wonderful writer since Border, which was my top travel read of 2018. That earlier book touched on the author’s childhood in Bulgaria, and To The Lake takes us deeper as she journeys to her grandmother’s place of origin in the mountainous Macedonian lake district. The region was once an important...

Hitler’s Scientists Put Men on the Moon

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The second-largest island on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast is a summer vacation paradise. But it once housed a massive secret weapons program that the Nazis hoped would allow them to snatch victory from the closing jaws of defeat. I made my annual summer pilgrimage to the island of Rügen last weekend — much later than usual in this year of pandemic, but it was still just warm enough to swim. The...

Cut Stones and Crossroads

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Ronald Wright traveled Peru in the 1970’s and 80’s, fresh from university with a degree in archaeology, feeding an obsession with the Inca Empire sparked by a random adventure novel he’d read in his teens. He expected to spend his time wandering ruins, but the ancient world of the Andes was alive all around him in the Quechua still spoken by its people, through the handwoven clothing they...

Happy Canada Day

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Happy #CanadaDay2020 to all my friends and family back home. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in two decades of travel — having lived in 3 other countries, and traveled and written about close to 80 more — is that we’ve got it very good back home. I feel incredibly lucky to have grown up in such a wonderful country. July 1st is a day to stop and remember that, and to show a...

Geographies of memory shape today

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We talked about ‘spirit of place’ in my last blog — locations and landscapes that hold an almost mystical resonance for each of us. We connect to such places on a deep level. They feel intimately familiar even when visiting for the first time. But we also carry the landscape of our childhood with us, and that shapes how we experience other places. My life was oriented around the St. Lawrence...

Ryan Murdock

Author of Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Columnist at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

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