26 June 2017

A Weekend in the Harz: Wernigerode

Together with Halberstadt, I visited Wernigerode. Wernigerode is the town where a friend of mine lives, and I opted to visit her and her family for the weekend. Wernigerode is a quaint pretty town, which gets plenty of visitors, but I must say, this isn't a town on many foreign visitors' lists of places to see in Germany. Many will go instead to Berlin, to Munich, to Cologne, and to other cities before hitting Wernigerode. And sure enough, when I was there, I bumped into plenty of local visitors, but not much foreigners.

24 June 2017

Reddit Travel Rants, No. 8: Mining for Hidden Gems

One thing I find quite ironic with the travelers of Reddit is that they seem to be always looking for "hidden gems". Every time I check the boards, I see a post from someone going to a highly-visited location like London or Paris, and they are looking for hidden gems. It reminds me of a gold miner, looking for that rare thing to see or do. But logically speaking, I think this whole situation just doesn't make sense.

22 June 2017

A Weekend in the Harz: Halberstadt

Back in February, I visited a friend who lives in Saxony-Anhalt. Saxony-Anhalt is one of the more rural states of Germany, and that provided me an opportunity to see a side of Germany that I do not see often, given that I live in Berlin. Anyway, I spent a day in Halberstadt, a town in the Harz Region.

20 June 2017

Book Review: Reisen in die Ukraine und nach Russland by Joseph Roth

This is the first time I have read a book in German, in its entirety. I haven't really thought of reading books in German until a colleague gave me this one as a present, a book containing a collection of travel essays written by Joseph Roth. Roth was an author I was not familiar with, and truth be told, I only encountered him in the context of this book. He was an Austro-Hungarian Jewish writer, and during the late 1920s, between the two world wars, he traveled to Eastern Europe, from Lviv, to Moscow, to Astrakhan, and to Baku. Based on these trips, he then wrote a series of essays which were published in the Frankfurter Zeitung. And this book contains reproductions of some of these essays.

I must say that it was an interesting experience reading in German. German is by no means my most fluent and proficient language, and there were parts of it that I didn't completely understand. There were times when I just derived the meaning by the context, because there were some words that were unfamiliar to me. There were times when I caught myself translating things to English, even though I didn't have to, because an English translation didn't really add new information to me. But overall, I found myself gradually liking the experience more and more as I delved further and further into the book, to the point that I am definitely considering reading in German from time to time, if anything, to improve my German language proficiency.

18 June 2017

The Great Synagogue and Jewish Museum in Budapest

Last December, I was in Budapest, less than a week after I got back from New York City. We were spending Christmas weekend with my in-laws. I took a day off, and so I was able to fly in the morning, which gave me the whole day to explore the city on my own. I have been to Budapest many times already, so it is not like I am trying to cram plenty of things during my visits. This time, I just checked out the Great Synagogue.