The first two times I had visited Warsaw, I was underwhelmed by the sites dedicated to the murdered Jews. The former bunker at Mila 18, where Analewicz and his men had fought to the death, was just a mound. The Jewish cemetery was locked. The last remaining segment of the Warsaw ghetto wall was in an apartment courtyard where residents paid more attention to their laundry drying on lines. And as I stood before the powerful testament to the resistance fighters, a man sidled up beside me and allowed his dog to urinate on the steps that led up to the statue. Read more
When I was a kid, I had once gone to a Native American ceremonial event. I was young, but I had known that something was not quite right. Perhaps the caucasian-looking men toying around with blunted hatchets, with strikes of face paint, had links to a massacred people. But they were smiling too much and seemed to be having an inappropriate amount of fun; a stark contrast to the man in the background sitting somber and astute. Was he watching his people respectfully reenact some historical event, or examining a bunch of white guys flippantly revise his history? I’ll never know the answer, but when I visited a thematically Jewish restaurant in Lublin, Poland, last summer, I thought about that man and the pow wow. Read more
I’m a big fan of layovers when there’s a worthwhile escape. If you find yourself in the Munich airport on a layover, or have time to kill before a flight, don’t waste time at the gate: head to the world’s only full-scale brewery and beer garden, watch the sports analysts diagnose the latest football game while sipping back martinis at a gin bar, or surf a wave instead of wifi.
When my tour guide in Erfurt met me at the hotel, I thought about sending him away. He was dressed, he said, in the typical habiliments of the beer crier, the man once employed to wander the town and announce which breweries were serving beer that week. I used to know a guy in college who was a beer crier and I didn’t like his company much, but I guess his beer crying over his girlfriend was a different sort of thing. The beer crier of Erfurt was an important profession from the 15th to 17th century when, at the peak of things, there were 583 breweries in the city, but only thirty, at any one time, would be selling beer. (It’s important to note that Facebook was not yet invented, hence a man on the street alerting others to the location of the party.) Read more
When a city falls into economic despair how does it rise again? And what can make it a destination for travel and culture?
In 2017, Hull will host Britain’s UK City of Culture. When Liverpool hosted Europe’s City of Culture in 2008, it was a success and Britain decided it needed to keep running a spin-off to the continent’s yearlong event. Four years ago, the first UK City of Culture was held in Derry, the divisive city in Northern Ireland. Next year, it’s “Everyone Back to Ours,” as the slogan declares throughout the new host city, in anticipation of an event that residents and officials hope will dig out Hull.