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
Before arriving in London, I had spent a few sleepless nights trying to figure out the logistics of the whole thing. The whole thing being how to travel around London with a toddler and an infant while my wife went to the office and while I was only equipped with a single-seat stroller.
There’s always a sort of poetry in train travel presented in novels and memoirs, documentary films and dark comedies. I had been looking forward to my train journeys through the United Kingdom: to watch the hills flow like waves; to watch the castles rise from mediaeval rubble; to count sheep as the vibrations of the locomotive lulled me to sleep. But with kids there was no sinking into the rhythm of the hills; no enjoying castles; endless kilometers of uncounted sheep. The journey was fine. The kids, for the most part, were good, too. It was the luggage. The luggage was awful, especially when we had six train trips in nine days and every other leg had, on average, one connection.
Usually when you travel with small children, there is no compromise. You’re either dragging them through some museum or historical site where the memory of it will forever be footnoted with your child’s terrible whining, or you’re slogging through a theme park only to serve as their placeholder on a two-hour line so that the kids can ride the spinning tea cups for ninety seconds without experiencing the weight of the wait. But traveling Newcastle with kids, allows parents and their small children to strike a compromise, guaranteeing both parties enjoy the day.
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.