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Travel

0 In Europe

Fürstenberg and the Märkischer Landweg

Fürstenberg Germany

I traveled to Fürstenberg for this story as a guest of Brandenburg Tourism. As always, all opinions are my own.

This is like Suchitoto, I thought to myself in my first stroll around Fürstenberg. The lake town in northern El Salvador is dressed in cobblestones lined with stocky, colorful homes––just like Fürstenberg. There was even a smoky aroma in the air that I’ve come to associate with small town Central American life.

But I was not in Central America. I was a short train ride north of Berlin on the Havel River surrounded by the lakes of the Uckermärkische Nature Park. By boat, as most would’ve traveled until relatively recent history, it’s a two-day journey. I learned this upon my arrival to the Culture Gasthof Alte Reederei where I was staying.

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0 In Europe

Hydra | Finding A Way To Be Free

Hydra From Hiking Trail

Like a bird on the wire.
Like a drunk in a midnight choir.
I have tried in my way to be free
.

Leonard Cohen wrote the words to the opening verse of “Bird on the Wire” from his Hydra hideout in the early 1960s. The story goes that a 25-year-old Cohen retreated to Hydra to finish his first novel. He had been in London on a Canadian Arts Council Grant, uninspired by the cold and rain outside his Hampstead lodgings.

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0 In Europe/ Food

An Athens Food Tour Where You Eat Like Gods

Acropolis Athens Greece

There’s something inherently special about eating in Athens that I can’t quite put my finger on or find the words to describe. But I think of tucking into a piping hot bite of moussaka in a clay pot with the Acropolis lit up like a movie star ahead of me. This scene, this blend of ancient human history with classic Greek cuisine is objectively extraordinary.

I’ve long been intrigued by Athens, even more so since moving to Germany nearly four years ago. I imagined it would be like any other European capital with exquisite architecture, walkable boulevards and plazas, and omnipresent relics of its history.

Some of that is true but it doesn’t make up for how wrong I was.

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In Europe/ Outdoors

A Loop Through Löcknitzer Forest

Müggelspree Trail in Löcknitzer Forest

I’ve been on the record as saying that what I’d miss most about living in Düsseldorf is access to the Rhineland. Düsseldorf is as flat as Berlin, but you can get some scenic elevation in Siebengebirge and the trails along the Rhine, Mosel, and Ahr rivers.

Not so much with Berlin and surrounding Brandenburg. There are cartoon characters underneath ACME anvils with more topography than Brandenburg. So my expectations for finding a good hike around here were about on par with getting a burrito dripping with Cholula in Minsk. Fortunately, as with most things in life, I was quickly proven wrong.

Enter, the Löcknitzer Forest.

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In Europe/ Outdoors

Hiking in Norway: Something to Keep in Mind

Haukeli Norway Hike

You go to France for the food and wine, you go to Norway for the hiking. Thems just the facts.

But approaching the topic of hiking in Norway can be an intimidating endeavor. It’s both a small (population-wise) and large (territory and terrain-wise) country at the same time. There’s the temptation to try and do it all at once, somehow simultaneously without taking into account the limits of the human body.

You imagine all the views from the top without seriously considering the transportation to the trailhead or the hours of trodding alongside hills and mountains to get those vistas––and what that does to your body. Besides making you tired, it makes you hungry, and Norway is without exaggeration one of the most expensive countries in the world for purchasing food.

That’s why it’s best to go into Norway with the right attitude, and the attitude is beautifully Norwegian in nature. I’m talking about “Takk for turen.”

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In Essays/ Europe

Finding My Jewish Roots in Bardejov, Slovakia

Bardejov UNESCO City Center
Bardejov’s UNESCO City Center

Sit tight, folks. You’re in for a long one. This is a sample chapter I’ve put together on my self-made Jewish heritage trip to Slovakia for a book I’ll hopefully get to write.

People around the world have different ideas about how to express their thoughts and things get complicated when you’re working with a second or even third language. I’ve generally tried to give people the benefit of the doubt when they’re running their thoughts through the additional filter of translation.

But sometimes, the meaning is pretty damn clear and you wish people just kept their half-baked thoughts to themselves.

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In Essays/ Travel

So You’ve Just Found Out You’re Jewish. What’s Next?

A former Jewish home in Kurima, Slovakia

Thanks to the boom of DNA kits promising to reveal your ancestry, people are starting to identify some surprises within their heritage. A common one is finding Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.

When I got my results in early 2018, it made sense. And it didn’t. I knew I had a Jewish grandmother, but I never really thought of her as Jewish. She didn’t raise her kids (my father and aunt) to be Jewish and never celebrated any Jewish holidays within my lifetime––at least that I’m aware of. Plus, I never thought of being Jewish as an ethnicity or heritage. It was just a religion in my young, naive eyes.

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In Essays/ Europe/ Outdoors

Like A Bat Out Of Hell: Running the Panoramalauf Rund um die Burg Are

View of Ahrtal from the AhrSteig

“Fuck this. I’m never doing this again. No more running.”

That’s all I could say to myself as I started another 200-meter climb with about six kilometers to go in the race. My legs wouldn’t let me run up anything resembling even the slightest ascent. They were shot from the previous 800 or so meters of climbing.

I was out of water to boot, having felt a false sense of relief after taking a drink at the last aid station. My throat was so dry, I couldn’t swallow a tiny bite of my Clif Bar without nearly activating my gag reflex. All I wanted in the world was to cross the damn finish line and be done with this mistake.

That said, I’d happily sign up again.

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