A Brief Guide to Some of London’s Lesser-Seen Museums

LONDON IS ONE OF the great museum capitals of the world, and whereas the Tate Modern and National Gallery may be obvious choices, there is a surfeit more whose aim is so peculiarly niche that I’m a little surprised anyone sporting only a vague interest would bother to pay the admission fee. Then again it is that same vague and disbelieving curiosity that brought me, … Continue reading A Brief Guide to Some of London’s Lesser-Seen Museums

The Incredible Hipness of Edinburgh

I WROTE A FEW WEEKS AGO that “there is no such thing as small in Budapest.” If that is true, then the opposite must be said of Edinburgh, where everything is small, and cute, and surrounded by a proud air of uniqueness: things are hand-woven or hand-written or hand-made, arts & crafts, one-of-a-kind, organic and fair trade and ethical, and very, very hip. I suspect … Continue reading The Incredible Hipness of Edinburgh

What Happens to a Tiny Luxembourgish Commune in the Winter

THERE ARE SOMEHOW SIX HOTELS in Berdorf, Luxembourg, a commune with a population of not quite 900. Most of them were closed. I stepped into an open one, the Famille Defive, for a coffee. Everyone knows everyone: this was immediately clear as I made eye contact with the waitress, a hefty woman with spiky red hair and angular eyebrows, with whom I shared a two-second … Continue reading What Happens to a Tiny Luxembourgish Commune in the Winter

Luxembourg is a Weird and Beautiful Place

LUXEMBOURG IS, IN EVERY WAY, a mishmash of other countries. Its ads are mostly French; its language sounds German; its radio mostly Luxembourgish. Even the just name “Luxembourg” sounds like a conglomeration of other words smushed together: luxurious, emboldened, smorgasbord. (All of which, strangely, are perfect descriptors of this tiny European nation.) Contrary to what some believe, Luxembourg the Country is more than just Luxembourg … Continue reading Luxembourg is a Weird and Beautiful Place

Frankfurt is a Great Place to Go Somewhere Else

I HAD BEEN IN FRANKFURT three hours when I met up with my friend and host. Have you seen the Old Town yet? she asked. I said I had. And the church? Yes. And the other church? Yep, that too. And the River Main? Well, sure, I said; it’s just down the street. She laughed. “I think you have already seen all of Frankfurt.” Berlin … Continue reading Frankfurt is a Great Place to Go Somewhere Else

In Berlin: A Tale of Two Museums

STANDING ALONE IN THE HOLOCAUST TOWER, by some uncertain primal instinct, I drew my arms around myself and shuddered. I don’t remember thinking about it. It was cold, as cold as Berlin gets in November, and without a jacket or scarf or direct sunlight I hugged myself immediately, shrinking up. The Holocaust Tower is an enormous and empty stone triangle that shoots up from an … Continue reading In Berlin: A Tale of Two Museums

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Traveller

I HUGGED V GOODBYE under the scolding gaze of an unpleasant pear of a woman in Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport. The Pear had advised her, after she had arrived three hours early and been forced to empty her entire bag and comply with a full-body search for two of those hours, that her flight was “boarding in 20 minutes, so you’d better hurry. No … Continue reading The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Traveller

Stories Left Behind in East Europe

I HAVE STARTED SPEAKING TO FEWER PEOPLE for longer, as a result of having more contacts in Europe than anywhere else outside of Canada; this means more drinks with semi-strangers, more venturing parties I would not normally find myself in, more desperately trying to not feel so alone all the time. In many cases, the opposite becomes true. So for this edition of “Stories Left … Continue reading Stories Left Behind in East Europe