Sunday, May 29, 2016

Germy in New York City!

in a matter of minutes, new york city demanded a few things from me...and i had no control (or good reason) to deny the renowned metropolis of its appetite for persistent movement...

1.  "forget everything you know about american cities..."
2.  "give me your full attention, and please don't blink...you'll miss a piece of your story here"

*(side note:  day 1 was spent inside, on a couch, recovering from a bout of exhaustion following a 5 day working binge of 20 hour days...)*

facing manhattan, from brooklyn bridge

to me, the brooklyn bridge and central park stood out as the most iconic structures in the city.  so from a friends apartment in clinton hill, on day 2 i made my way toward manhattan on the c train.  but first, making a stop off at high st. for a pedestrian marathon on and around the brooklyn bridge.

brooklyn


view of manhattan bridge, seen from washington st.
near brooklyn bridge park


i spent the afternoon mixing a healthy portion of foot and train travel as i made my way towards 7th ave. / west 34th st., near the empire state building to say hello to my friend and host, kimmie, at her work.  the city, it's streets and it's people were emphatically pulsing with diversity, activity and excitement.  there was a legitimate life and character here that i had only experienced small hints of elsewhere:  london, barcelona and prague to name a few, but none that match the genuine strength of new york's heart & soul.

5th ave.

the flatiron building:  seen from west 23rd st. / 5th ave.

my real obsession with nyc is magnified by the joy i get from abbi jacobson & ilana glazer's series broad city.  a show featuring known and little-known pockets of nyc, many of which i happened to stumble upon by accident (so shibby!).  a stroll down 5th ave. on my way to washington square park led me past the popular flatiron building (above).


one of kimmie's gigs as an e-commerce photographer.
that day she was shooting fabric swabs (top left).

and a literal jog to the broadway show the curious incident of the dog in the night-time (we were running late!) took me right through times square (above: top right).

brighton beach

brighton beach:  just south of brooklyn, near coney island

it was day 3 of my adventure and i had 4 hours to kill before catching the broadway show.  i looked at a map and followed my intuition to brighton beach.  i caught the q train from clinton hill in brooklyn and rode the 45 minutes south to touch my toes in the atlantic ocean for the first time.

central park


i saved central park for my last day...i think the anticipation i felt was built on the countless still & moving images that feature nyc's defining park.  but it was also built on my immaculate gut-feeling that there is simply something special to be seen there...little known fact?  everything about new york's central park is man made  :O

roughly 10 miles spent exploring the nooks and
crannies of new york city's central park

i had an entire day to take in the park, and i took full advantage of every hour!  central park stretches over 50 city blocks in length.  i started from the c train stop at 110th st. / cathedral pkwy and worked my way to the bottom at west 59th st.

walking up, down, left and right, i zig-zagged my way past the north woods and meadow, past the massive tennis courts and around the giant reservoir that separates the upper east and west sides of manhattan.  next up came turtle pond and belvedere castle.  and as i marched past the boathouse and bethesda fountain, i came across my central park haven...sheep meadow.  beautiful architecture lines the distance from every angle, with trees, grass and picnics filling the foreground.  it was a beautiful sight, and the meadow here was particularly difficult to leave...


me and kimmie exploring 'the plaza hotel' near the south entrance of the park  :)

an enormous thank you to my dear friend kimmie, who made this adventure of a lifetime possible!  i would never have been brave enough to tackle nyc alone.

this is the first american city i've reviewed in years, and it's indicative of the true strength the city has in it's well-refined crusade to continually grow and thrive.  new york city, quite candidly, took all the best things i love about the worlds finest cities, and packed it into the 2 small boroughs of brooklyn and manhattan...

to new york city and it's 8.5 million people, thank you for such an influential experience and adventure.  the pulse of the city will never be forgotten...


thanks for reading!

- germy

Saturday, October 17, 2015

another summer in europe...


my summer days exploring the rich histories of europe have once again come to an end...i've struggled to write a true conclusion of my trip because i know it signifies a return to the everyday grind of life back home.  but conclude i must, for it resets the countdown of anticipation for the next adventure to be had! so...

welcome reader, to the end of another summer in europe...

over the course of 29 days,  i logged:

6 countries   15 cities   548, 219 steps  and  252 miles

at about that halfway mark, two weeks in, i began to map out what a life in europe might look like...finally conquering spanish as a second language?  adjusting to mandatory 6 week vacations? embracing a culture that favors the experiences of life?  there's so much i love about europe, and my final days spread over germany, denmark and sweden helped me reflect on why...

i was heartbroken to leave prague, i did not spend nearly enough time exploring the richness of arguably one of europe's most beautiful cities.  it defines everything i see when i close my eyes and picture what a european city is.  two days just wasn't enough to take it all in...but thats just how it goes sometimes...

12 hours in berlin, germany

      rappers delight for ze germans entertainment  :)

                                                                                german salsa dancing lessons.  
                                                                     set along the spree river that cuts through berlin


i boarded a train headed for berlin, germany, my first time entering europe's economic powerhouse.  and although i had only spent two days in prague (not including a full day on the train from vienna, so really three days) i had actually stolen those days from time i had planned to spend in berlin.  so what to do with only 12 scheduled hours in the german capital?  karaoke of-course  :)  my host nadine picked me up at the train station, and we went straight to karaoke, with my full travel bag sitting in the backseat of the car!


5 days in hamburg, germany

i hosted randi & antonia 2 years ago in la  :)

i was worn out, exhausted of travel by the time i'd reached hamburg and my two incredible friends randi & antonia.  i was so tired, but so happy to be seeing these two again, now in their home city.  here is a look back at when we all met during their visit to los angeles!  and now it was my turn to explore their town...

randi was head deep in polishing off her master's thesis so
antonia chauffeured me around by bike that day  :) 

2 days in copenhagen, denmark

bottom left:  on the way from hamburg to copenhagen,
they put the train on a BOAT!  it was insane

i was a week away from returning home, and no matter where i went, or what i did, in seven days i had to be at the airport in stockholm, sweden to board my flight back to the u.s.  during my final hours in hamburg, i was still debating between a quick stop in amsterdam ( you know, just because it's amsterdam) or a more relaxing stay in copenhagen.  stockholm is quite a bit north from the rest of europe, about 12 hours by train/boat (literally train-boat combination, still can't believe that one...they really put a train inside of a boat).  and while amsterdam sounded great, it was out of the way and would have made for a 16 hour trek back to stockholm  :/    copenhangen was on the way to stockholm and made for the reasonable choice...and when i'm tired, i default to reasonable.

up until this time, i was blessed with friends and hosts who opened their homes to me.  they shared meals, walks, laughs, drinks and meaningful conversations and i am deeply grateful to them!   copenhagen was the first time in 24 days of travel that i would be staying in formal accommodation, 'urban house' hostel in the city center.  during a free walking tour my first day, i befriended 2 londoners and we explored more of the city after the tour!  including copenhagens famous free-town, christiana.  it's a counter-culture community thats 'seperated' itself from the reaches of goverment, definitely worth visiting if you make your way to copenhagen  :)


3 days in stockholm, sweden

my 2nd full day, i walked nearly 20 miles around stockholm!

a friend from home, growing up in washington, alexis, had made a move over to stockholm, and i knew i couldn't miss an opportunity to be so close and not catch up!  i arrived in stockholm on sept. 4th, my flight leaving on monday the 7th.  i spent the next 2 days exploring the different islands of this beautiful city, and one in-particular 'djurgården'.  i stumbled upon the coolest little snail, who offered a solid 45 minutes of entertainment.  alexis had given me a few pointers of where to go, the royal palace, city hall, boat tours, vasamuseet (old war ships, so awesome!).  one of my favorites was 'fotografiska' a contemporary photography museum.  excellent exhibits, large prints with dedicated space and amazing views of the city...


catching up with old friends on the other side of the world!  on monday morning,
hours before my long trek home, we met for breakfast and discussed the last 6 or
so years of our lives since we'd last met  :)

as i wrap up these last few moments of joy and reflection on this years summer tour, i think about what impacted me the most over these 4 incredible weeks...and it always comes back to the people i've encountered and the friendships that have been built with them.

anouk and the keller family for an unforgettable week in switzerland, katy for lunch in lausanne, beat for the best of zurich, jeanny and inga for such great company in vienna, jana for sharing your love of prague, nadine for berlin condensed, randi & antonia...so much love to you :)  and alexis for a warm breakfast on such a cold nordic day!

thank you to everyone that helped ensure this adventure was so memorable...with no plans for whats next, and really no timetable, my future adventures look brighter than ever  :)  


thanks for reading!

- germy




Sunday, August 30, 2015

Germy in Praha!

despite my great hopes that the carefully crafted words personifying these pages will in some way connect the reader to my experiences...i couldn't possibly find the words to describe my deep love and affection for the incredibly stunning beauty and aura of prague...

 welcome to the 3rd country of my 2015 summer tour of europe;

 praha, czech republic!

a nearly panoramic view of the city from prague castle!

with my travels officially halfway through, i started a game of roulette with the cities i could possibly tour during the 14 or so days of adventure i had remaining.  the clouds and rain of switzerland had nearly driven me to a pit stop in italy, where i could have found some sun along the shores of the mediteranean...and multiple comments from friends had me to believe that prague wouldn't be too much different than vienna (my last stop). so it could be skipped if time was short...

but alas, my instincts led me to prague, and it's one of the most important and satisfying decicions concerning travel (and photography) that i've ever made...


me with my host jana (bottom left) and another traveler she was hosting yi-hsin
(bottom right). yi-hsin was hitchhiking through europe for a month,
with the help of  hitchwiki.org

my host, jana, was so kind and generous in her hospitality. the love she has for her city came through in the many small, finer details she showed me during our strolls through the city streets.

among the many kind things jana offered, two stand out as truly impactful...one, she made an authentic czech dish for dinner one night, of potato/bacon frittata with salad (pictured above, top right). and two, she outlined a walking tour of prague that i would come to treat as a bible. a route so incredibly perfect, that i would end up following it's nearly 10 mile course...twice


  day 1: blue line      day 2: green line     map: gtsincoming.cz
i began each walk on the red star, and ended on the black pentagon.

i started my first full day (blue line) a bit behind schedule, and only made it about 75% through the total route before meeting up with jana for drinks and a few games of pool after she'd finished work! 

i was so stunned by what i'd seen of the city over the 5-6 hours spent exploring it's unique history and design...as we made our way back home, my mind began to craft a mission...


14th century church in prague's old town. the pražský orloj
(prague astronomical clock tower) can be seen to the left.
it was a well planned early morning mission that allowed for
tourist-free photo's like this :)

i was overwhelmed by the opportunities to capture such an array of aesthetic architecture. but i felt limited in my ability to expose the true beauty of the city...with so many tourists and local residents walking here and standing there, the impact of seeing the architecture in it's complete form was hopeless...

i decided with a good nights rest, i would trek out for an early morning attack on the bricks and mortar stacked by men of history. as it often happens while traveling, the 'good nights sleep' aspect fell through, and i shut my eyes around 1:00AM, with an alarm set to go off in 3 hours...

a view of prague's old town square, chrám matky boži před týnem
(church of our lady before tyn). 
the 14th century structure highlights this frame.


view from karlův most (charles bridge). by now i was racing against 
the rising sun. and not just for tourist-free photographs,
but to also squeeze out the best lighting early mornings have to offer!

zahrady pražského (lower gardens below prague castle)

another view from karlův mos.
the sun was growing more intense as it inched up the sky.

tower of pražský orloj (the prague astronomical clock)

by 5:00AM i was in the city center, sprawled out, face down and hugging centuries old cobblestone. the previous days walk had given me a logistical map of which targets i would focus on. i expected a small window of time between the morning's best light, and when the first people would begin to make their way into the streets to start their day...

by the time i'd hit karlův most (charles bridge) around 7:00AM, i was no longer guaranteed the pleasure of a clean frame...but i was drunk with satisfaction, stupefied by aesthetic and exhausted beyond belief.  i took the metro back to jana's, napped until noon, and went back out to the city center to complete the rest of the most perfect walking tour, with happiness and leisure  :)

i honestly feel fortunate to have had the privilege to capture the city in such an intimate setting. the weather, not having been the most reliable over the last weeks, was holding strong over that early morning and through the rest of my time in prague.

if you ever have the opportunity to make a stop in prague, i highly recommend taking it.  for it's beauty and other striking assets, it's surprisingly very budget friendly when it comes to expenses.  beer is typically cheaper than water, and a full meal will run you about 100 crowns (about $4 usd today).  i was quite sad to leave the city on the train bound for my next stop, germany.  but i was also so happy to have seen and experienced all that i had in the the two full days i was here.  


during those two days, my adventure totals continued to rise. you can see the calculated totals below:

totals:     17 days     10 cities     3 countries     328,000 steps     160 miles


as my time abroad dwindles, the overall satisfaction with my tour solidifies more with every passing second.  thank you to my host jana for giving me more than i could have ever expected from praha, and thank you to the rich history and people of what i can say is truly one of my favorite cities.

the final stops on my tour are still to be determined...the game of euro city roulette carries on!  but next up...germany!

until next time, ahoj praha, guten tag berlin!

thanks for reading,

-germy

********** bonus material **********


an organ player in one of the many churches sat to practice on a tuesday afternoon...



Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Germy in Wien!

 hallo from, wien (vienna), austria! hello reader and welcome to country #2 of my 2015 summer euro tour! after an 8 hour train ride from zurich, i stepped onto the platform in a brand new station with fresh feet, ready to tackle another european teasure…


on the danube river, running through the heart of wien         photo:  jeanny prüger

as i start my first full day in a new city, my mission is usually pretty simple: take my camera, find the architecture, and go… but the 3 days i spent in wien didn’t fit that typical adventuring format… to me, i can at times, operate my life quite independently of others; isolation and crippling shyness define my personality well.  but not in vienna…architecture and the patient hunt for aesthetically sound photographs gave way to drinks, food, laughter and dancing!

my host jeanny and i at empress sisi’s castle schönbrunn palace  (photo: inga mau)      

a dear friend from vienna, jeanny, was my incredible host in the heart of the city. i gave a small tour of los angeles to her and a few other au pairs working in berkeley, california over a year ago…and now, the time had come for me to see her city! also an avid photographer, jeanny has given me a rare gift during my visit here…photos of myself! photos of me drinking, eating, laughing, dancing, and all in all just having a damn good time in vienna :)

so, foregoing the usual cityscapes and history that can dominate these pages, lets indulge in something a little lighter this time!

enjoy!


ok, so just a little bit of architecture above, 
but even that was blocked by fun and entertainment
(see the giant movie screen blocking the structure on the bottom?!)  

jeanny took us on a walking tour of the city center after finishing work. we stopped by the parlament building (spelled correctly), city hall and the gardens of city hall. we also made our way to hofburg castle, a tourist staple, and a super relaxing river beach bar along the historic danube river!


food isn’t usually a top priority for me while traveling.
but jeanny insisted on a hearty austrian made breakfast each morning

breakfast #1 (not pictured, eaten too fast) european style pancakes (crepes) with honey, raspberry, blueberry, yogurt, and nutella. breakfast #2, pictured top left: austrian kaiserschmarren, similar to american french toast, but the dough is made from scratch, hmmmmmm! i also hunted down some peanut butter, which is not a common european food piece and snacked on it as the american delicacy that it is…pinky’s up!!

additionally, pictured above (bottom right) is the single most disgusting dish austrians equate to a meal…some type of diced ham, hardened in fat with an egg topping…(name: i didn’t want to know)

we also treated ourselves to austrian beer made by a local brewery, ottakringer, just steps from jeanny’s flat. and a tasty traditional austrian sandwhich: leberkäse semmel (thickly cut ham between a sliced roll)

jeanny jordan!
how austrians take out the trash!



another former au pair in berkeley, inga, from germany was visiting jeanny as well.
 it’s such an incredible feeling to see friends i’ve met in the u.s.
 and explore another city with them on the other side of the world :)


prater amusement park!

a night spent roaming around vienna’s prater amusement park: http://www.prater.at


another end of the day spent on the danube river, before heading out 
for a night on the town!  have you ever danced so hard, and for so long, 
that you can wring out your shirt on the train ride home?
(top right!)


my 3 days in vienna were documented so well in the smiles and laughs above. thank you for these memories jeanny (and inga!), it will be impossible to forget how much fun and adventure can be squeezed into 72 hours :) 

despite the vienna city capers, the step count and mile totals continue to rise: 

totals:     14 days     9 cities     2 countries     257,000 steps     136 miles


my next adventure, country #3, will be in prague, czech republic. i’m anxious to discover the rich history of this uber central european city, and to once again, dive into the beautiful architecture of the past!

quf wiedersehen wien! ahoj prague!


thanks for reading!


- germy

***************  bonus material  ***************