Category

Berlin

Adrift in Europe’s Capital of Cool

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A group of four shirtless guys sat on the grass, smoking pot and rolling a soccer ball in slow listless circles. Across the clearing, a man in a leather costume, with a mask and a long graceful tail, was pulling a two-wheeled cart. The lingerie-clad driver smacked him with the reigns and urged him to trot faster. At first, I took a small group of people sitting together on the ground to be a...

Adrift in Berlin

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The latest issue of Outpost hit newsstands across Canada a few weeks ago. This time in my Adrift on the Continent column, I’m taking you to Berlin. Well, I suppose I should say “bringing you to Berlin”, since I live here. But you won’t find any of the usual stuff in this story. No Berlin Wall or Brandenburg Gate, and definitely no tedious tales of yet another all night excursion to a techno club...

Just Another Berlin Sunday

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Sunday afternoon in the Tiergarten. A group of four shirtless guys sit on the grass, smoking pot and rolling a soccer ball in listless circles. Across the clearing, a man in a leather costume, with a mask and a long graceful tail, is pulling a two-wheeled cart. The lingerie-clad woman in the cart smacks him with the reigns and urges him to trot faster. At first, I took a small group of people...

How Potsdam Shaped the Cold War World

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I haven’t written a new blog in ages. Working on a book has kept me close to home this past year. But I took an afternoon away from my desk last week to check out an exhibit on the painter Max Beckmann at Potsdam’s Barberini museum. I was interested in Beckmann because of his influence on Die Brücke, that group of German Expressionist painters whose bold lines and strange colours remind me of...

Happy Berlin Anniversary to Me

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Today marks a small anniversary in my world. It was exactly one year ago — January 8th — that I moved to Berlin and started a new life-after-Malta. Life in Malta was barely tolerable at the best of times, and at the beginning of 2017 it was spiralling down into an increasingly ugly mess of political and societal corruption. I sensed that violence wouldn’t be far off, and I didn’t want to be there...

Christmas in Berlin

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The Christmas Market tradition goes all the way back to the Late Middle Ages in the German-speaking areas of Europe. It’s normally held during the four weeks of Advent leading up to December 25th. I’m an unapologetic Scrooge when it comes to all things Christmas — especially the overhyped North American consumer craze version. And you won’t catch me making a yearly appearance at a church just for...

Potsdam: Palaces, Gardens and 18th Century Dreams

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There’s a smallish town just outside the Berlin city centre that’s completely encrusted with palaces. It’s only 30 minutes away, at the end of the S7 line, on the River Havel. And it’s the most popular day trip from Berlin. Postdam was originally a Slavonic settlement, founded in the tenth century. But it was the Hohenzollerns who put it on the map. The house of Hohenzollern rose to prominence...

Life in Berlin

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It’s been ages since I’ve published a blog. I think I’ve only written 3 this year. But I haven’t forgotten you, or vanished in a desert somewhere. It’s just that I haven’t been traveling at all. We moved to Berlin at the start of January, and I haven’t left the city since. To steal an image from Lawrence Durrell, I guess you could say we’re de-barbarizing and re-gilding after life in Malta. I’m...

A New Life in a New Town

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I learned and experienced many things during my years in Malta, and I wrote around 30 articles about it — most of them were positive, about the places we discovered, from small village streets to the windswept heights of Ras ir-Raheb and the coast of Blata tal-Melh. But some were critical, too. I found the history to be quite fascinating. The present culture not so much. And this past year of...

Is There One “Perfect Place” For Everyone?

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I’ve dedicated the past decade and a half of my life to traveling the world’s marginal places. I started off exploring forgotten regions, like Central America’s Mosquito Coast or the Mongolian Gobi. But I’ve also conducted a very long inquiry into expat life. I have a checklist in my head. It’s sort of a list of my ideal criteria: what would be the perfect place for someone like me? The place...

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