Down the freelance rabbit hole
27 Dec 2015

Down the freelance rabbit hole

Time flies when you’re working as a freelancer. In one year, you can go from the first, intimidating prospects of remote work with people you’ve never met, to a summer spent indoors sweating to conjure up stacks of copywriting and contracts; celebrate visa renewal with simultaneous work and travel, and then end up in an incredible co-working community. Next thing you know, you’re BBQing with a Portuguese fire pig and drinking Glühwein, despite Europe’s resurrection of spring making it far too warm...

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Peek into Germany’s Green Start-up Scene

I think I’ve found the key to Germany’s economic strength. On Thursday I infiltrated the Bundesministerium für Umwelt (the German Federal Ministry for the Environment). In the depths of its halls I received a fortune cookie from a man named Herr Maus. Having devoured the missive’s protective casing, I held the thin strip of paper up to the light. “Dieser Keks hat magische Kräfte: Wer ihn isst, wird erfolgreich gründen!” Or, in English: “This cookie has magic powers: Whoever eats...

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Season of change
9 Nov 2015

Season of change

I’ve already been back in Berlin for two weeks and it’s irrefuteably a city of change. Much is different after the month I spent travelling through Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Germany’s Indian summer is showing signs of finally coming to an end. Christmas market stalls and festive snacks are surfacing, the one-twelth of a year I missed has offered some domestic surprises among friends, and those who have decided to tackle a Berlin winter are settling down. The soaring...

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Blat through the Baltics: Tallinn and Lahemaa National Park

If I’m to be honest, Estonia was the part of the Baltics I was looking forward to the most. A tiny country within a (careful) stone’s throw of Russia, Finland and Latvia, more than half its land surface is covered by forest, the language is part of the insanely complicated Finno-Ugric family (with Finnish and Hungarian), its capital Tallinn is renowned for its fairytale old town and it’s home to a band I was obsessed with a few years back,...

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Blat through the Baltics: Riga
13 Oct 2015

Blat through the Baltics: Riga

One further week, and one further Baltic country. This time, the minibus rattled along roads in northern Lithuania, past fields where farmers had erected stork-nesting platforms in hope of attracting the fortune-associated birds, and pulled up in Riga amid unseasonable sunshine. Latvia, the brother-in-arms of Lithuania and likewise home of one of the oldest surviving Indo-European languages, was to be my home for the next seven days. These are my impressions.    

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Blat through the Baltics: Vilnius and the Curonian Spit.

So much can happen in one week. This is true of life in general, but travellers experience this in hyperdrive. The myriad colours, locales, tastes, characters and sensations experienced between my arrival in Vilnius, Lithuanua and the first sighting of the Baltic Sea from the Curonian Spit are far too many to recite. For that reason, why not follow the adventures in my first true Baltic country across 28 photos? And why not listen to traditional Lithuanian multipart music at...

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Blat through the Baltics: Warsaw
24 Sep 2015

Blat through the Baltics: Warsaw

It all started last Monday at the Ausländerbehörde. At approximately 7.30am, in exchange for a stack of meticulously-prepared paperwork, I received something I had long coveted: A two-year freelance working visa extension. This led me to where I am now, writing this post while sitting in the front row of a double-decker Polskibus, just about to the cross the border from Poland to Lithuania. You see, as soon as the visa came through, I set into motion a trip which...

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Things that no longer surprise.
5 Sep 2015

Things that no longer surprise.

After more than three years living in Europe, it’s happened. Things that would quite easily have turned my head when I first arrived, now simply fail to surprise me. Fill me with wonder, sadness, confusion, admiration and falafel, yes; but surprise, no. I guess an incident on Thursday got me thinking about this: Waiting for the traffic lights on my bike at Oberbaumbrücke, a man pulled up next to me. He was wearing a white pair of Zalando brand headphones...

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The Second Berlinniversary.
4 Aug 2015

The Second Berlinniversary.

“What in the name of ‘Hoff is a Berlinniversary?”, I hear you ask. It’s a milestone I am truly happy to have been able to reach. Berlin leaves many traps for unwary newcomers, many of whom leave brokenhearted. Those, who caught up in the city’s myriad distractions, ‘forget’ to work and go home broke, those who would love to work but cannot get the visa, those who underestimate its winter or the transience of its flighty inhabitants. So last weekend,...

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On Britain and family
23 Jul 2015

On Britain and family

Britain, Britain, Britain. My thoughts on visiting the country of our colonial forefathers are still mixed. Given all of the opportunities to travel anywhere in the world, why would a New Zealander choose to head there, a land with a very similar culture, but higher expenses, stodgier food and ‘orrible weather? Nevertheless, there I stood in London, several weeks back, watching fighter planes streak over Buckingham Palace while the Queen, Kate and Wills and potty-mouthed Prince Philip appeared on the...

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