Author Archives: mfraiman

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Prague Could be the Best City in the World, If Everyone Didn’t Know It

I MET A POLISH COUPLE at The Beer Museum, a pub renowned for serving more than 30 specialty Czech draughts. The man, an architecture student with floppy blonde hair and a zip-up wool sweater that he wore as a turtleneck, was waiting for his girlfriend over a creamy stout; I ordered a five-beer sampler for […]

Some Ways in Which Vienna Goes Totally Batshit Crazy Over Christmas

NO CITY ON EARTH gets into Christmas like Vienna. Fairy lights spring on, store owners pull out their trees, and something like 25 Christmas Markets—an unnecessarily huge number for a city of under 2 million—open colourful displays of strudels, pretzels, donuts and chocolate. It is a veritable winter wonderland, and it isn’t even December. I […]

My Meta Viennese Breakfast

TWO MEN WITH SLRs and wide-angle lenses were photographing the cafe. The waiter, a balding man in a blue-and-gray argyle sweatervest and red skirted apron, brought them drinks to shoot: a small cappuccino, a frothy latte, a mélange topped with milk. They snapped photos of the decadent chocolate and jam cakes, the curved chandeliers and […]

What Budapest Calls Terror

THE SIGN SAID “EXHIBITION”, and the arrow pointed down. A wide and wrinkled woman in a blue uniform stood in the way. I began to walk past her, but she shifted to block me. She droned something in Hungarian. I apologised and clarified that I spoke English. She stared at me with half-closed eyes. “Elevator, […]

Budapest Will Swallow You Up and Look Very Serious About It

THERE IS NO SUCH THING as small in Budapest. In Chiang Mai, V and I stumbled across a closet-sized nook called “The Tiniest Bar in the World”; this could never exist in the Hungarian capital. There are no nooks. Its central downtown is made up of row after row of elaborate Gothic apartments, all towering […]

On Travel Beards

I DECIDED LONG BEFORE this journey began that I would not shave until this trip is finished. It was a silly and useless oath, but something to hold onto and a barometer of progress beyond simply maintaining this blog and tracking how much money I bleed. Each day I do not cut my facial hair […]