Monday, April 21, 2008
When JFK uttered this now famous phrase in his speech in Berlin in 1963, he was offering his support for post-war Berlin and for a democratic West Germany (not stating, as the myth has perpetuated in English-speaking countries for years, "I am a jelly doughnut" - only Germans outside Berlin call the pastries Berliners anyway). When I visited for the second time in my life this past weekend, it is evident how much the Germans admired and appreciated Kennedy (several monuments are dedicated to him around town) and how successful they have been in rebuilding Berlin into the great city that it is today. The East and the West of town (still in parts separated by remnants of the wall or a cobbled line that commerorates the line where it fell) are unique from eachother and fabulous in their own ways - the West is overflowing with stunning architecture, ancient museums, contemporary art installations, memorials and historical monuments while the East is packed with shabby-chic cafes, vintage boutiques, tiny galleries, waffle houses, eclectic bars and restaurants and 'Imbiss' where you can get the delicious currywurst and pommes. For such a global city, parts of the city are quiet, leafy and beautiful and tell nothing of the horrors and tragedies that the streets have faced just in the last 100 years. It is a fascinating city not only because of its past but the cool adventures it offers for visitors today. I could get used to being a Berliner :) (some pics to come)
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
As I write this I am looking out onto the Thames as it stretches into the cold, grey distance outside my office. London is showing small hints of the coming summer here and there but on days like today I just have to imagine I am back on the Nile, sunbaking on a gorgeous blue-skied, sunny day as we cruise along on our felucca. Egypt was unforgettable and amazing - and although we did an insanely quick tour and probably should have lingered a bit longer to appreciate it all, it really was perfect. I have some stunning photos (nothing to do with my photographic skills and everything to do with the scenery) which I will post some of - here is a taster though. This one was taken as dusk settled on the Nile just outside Aswan. We stayed overnight on a felucca, stopping on the banks to have a campfire and a freshly prepared feast of foul (bean stew), tagine and fresh fish, before sleeping under the stars. This was one of the most relaxing parts of the holiday - the major sightseeing delights were obviously the phenomenal pyramids of Giza, the stunning treasures of the Egyptian museum and the mystery of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. These huge touristy events were mixed with more 'local' experiences like a camel ride on the west bank of Aswan through colourful nubian villages and to the top of a mountain in the desert, and a sunset bicycle ride through the sugarcane fields on the west bank of Luxor (after which we went back to our guide's house for tea on his roof).