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

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

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 myself, and had tipsily asked him his thoughts on Prague’s … Continue reading Prague Could be the Best City in the World, If Everyone Didn’t Know It

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 found it fascinating because you could simply never get away … Continue reading Some Ways in Which Vienna Goes Totally Batshit Crazy Over Christmas

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 the broad dark wood walls that framed the morning light … Continue reading My Meta Viennese Breakfast

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, four minutes,” she said. “I’ll take the stairs,” I answered, … Continue reading What Budapest Calls Terror

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 in the same tightly bound order, shadowing their courtyards hidden … Continue reading Budapest Will Swallow You Up and Look Very Serious About It

Serbia’s Gen-Yers are Black Comic Geniuses

THESE SERBIANS HAVE SEEN SOME SHIT, like NATO bombs falling from the sky and exploding their neighbourhoods and the collapse of an entire global political structure. I don’t want to generalise after spending only a single night with a few liberal-arts types (excuse me as I do anyway), but it seemed to me that they have internalized all the ridiculous conditions of their upbringing—the wars, … Continue reading Serbia’s Gen-Yers are Black Comic Geniuses