German: The relatively beautiful language

Of late I’ve been rather remiss in publishing for one main reason: I’ve been tangling with that most formidable of foes — the German language. German cops a fair lot of flak from non-Deutsch-speakers of all denominations. Jokes about its guttural harshness abound, notably surfacing in that video everyone’s seen and riffed on in heavy metal band Tool’s German lyric song “Die Eier von Satan”, which, despite its menacing tone, is actually a recipe for cookies. Confusion reigns when the German word for girl (Mädchen)...

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Meet Heinrich
20 Feb 2014

Meet Heinrich

Meet Heinrich. Heinrich is dead. Paradoxically, Heinrich is also rather alive, especially in rush hours and in the early hours of Sunday morning. He was a writer of poetry and controversial texts, yet also boasts one LIDL, a Kaisers and a bunch of Spätis. I met him a few months ago when I moved to my current Kiez (a delightful local word describing one’s immediate neighbourhood) in Berlin Mitte and we’ve been crossing paths regularly ever since. Heinrich (technically, Christian Johann...

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Kohlfahrt in seven easy steps
5 Feb 2014

Kohlfahrt in seven easy steps

What is a Kohlfahrt? That, my friend, is a good question. Unless you are from north-west Germany, chances are you will never have heard of this flatulently-suggestive German word. It was the same question I had several weeks prior, when some friends invited me “to go on” one. This further deepened the intrigue… What does one do on a Kohlfahrt? We can try to break it down. Kohl = Cabbage. Fahrt = Trip. Cabbage trip. Great. Let’s have a quick...

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Arrival of Arschkalt
26 Jan 2014

Arrival of Arschkalt

The until-recently benevolent weather gods have relented in their delay of winter and have over the last week well and truly opened the fridge door. Herren and Frauen, I give you the arrival of Arschkalt. For those of you pondering the meaning of this lovely German phrase, I would invite you to divide it into its constituent parts – ‘Arsch’ and ‘Kalt’ . Proclaim them loudly  in your best German accent and you should grasp it, or at least startle...

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Switzerland: Scenes from a dream
13 Jan 2014

Switzerland: Scenes from a dream

I’d always dreamed of going to Switzerland. Growing up I’d spent a lot of time with some dear childhood friends/family who are half Swiss and this year I was ecstatic after being invited to spend a white Christmas with them in Switzerland. As with many dreams, they are so vivid and yet… Try to describe one to someone and you just can’t do it justice. In this case I think I could do a better job with  photos.  

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An open Christmas card
24 Dec 2013

An open Christmas card

Writing Christmas cards is a personal tradition I’m attempting to forge. It started off with such promise at primary school where, covered in green and red glitter, clothing blotched with PVA glue, we would proudly take self-made cards home to our parents. It died off somewhere between then and the point where we began to SMS our buddies “Merry Xmas!” on our indestructable Nokia 2280s. It took the Dutch December of my first Christmas outside of NZ for me to...

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Travel Guide: A Swedish Affair
14 Nov 2013

Travel Guide: A Swedish Affair

My latest travels have taken me to a destination some talk about in the whispered, reverent tones normally reserved for tales of El Dorado or the worship of ‘Cronuts’. It’s currently  in vogue and certain people back in New Zealand will no doubt be rather jealous. Others will probably ask if I tried the meatballs. As I left german soil and arrived in the grandoise atrium of my Scandinavian destination, I couldn’t help but be impressed. IKEA takes itself very seriously....

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Green to Gold
29 Oct 2013

Green to Gold

Outside, the wind is whipping leaves past the window in damp and frenzied flight as I write. Or so I imagine; I can’t see so much on account of the clocks being turned back for winter. But I really don’t mind the nights closing in. The summer had its fun, no matter how soon we may lament its passing and in its place lies space to breathe, cosy evenings and the not-so-far-away aroma of glühwein. That and there has been far...

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Carpe Noctem
13 Oct 2013

Carpe Noctem

Berlin, like all cities, is a completely different entity when the sun goes down. My first months here  have yielded all sorts of nocturnal adventures, but yesterday evening’s thunderstorm was a reminder that winter is soon going to make to make these escapades much more difficult. The Festival of Lights is an annual exploration of Berlin through the illumination of the city’s buildings, old and new. We joined a free walking tour at Potsdamer Platz to take in the lights, thinking...

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In focus, out of sight
6 Oct 2013

In focus, out of sight

The last few weeks have been a strange time for me; for the first time in more than a year and a half I have gone without using my trusty Sony NEX-5 digital camera. Don’t be alarmed – Nexie is fine – but she is just  getting a bit of well deserved cleaning and maintenance  after enduring tramping trips, festivals, backpacking, a near-drowning in Polish beer and several impacts that would destroy a less sturdy camera. (By the way, you...

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