Category Archives: West

It seems like I end up in the Spreewald once every summer, but never had I explored it on the water. When my team was planning a day out, I took the lead and booked some canoes. It was the last week of August and after some really hot weather, it seemed like fall was on its way. The weekend had been dreary and this morning clouds were hanging over Berlin, with about 19 degrees. But the forecast for the Spreewald looked better. So we packed layers, but also sunglasses and made our way to Lübbenau by train. While one guy explained the route to us, another put the 2 canoes in the water. We were ready to go! Close to Lübbenau we saw more canoers and kayakers leaving for a trip on the Spreewald’s waterways, but since there are so many options, it quickly spread out and at times…

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On Thursday I decided to buy a ticket to Berlin’s long night of the museums, a night where many of Berlin’s museums open their doors until 2 AM and offer special programs like performances and express tours. With one ticket you can visit it all. It seemed like a great plan. However, on Friday night I attended the company party at the Napolean Komplex. The theme was 80s and after weeks of stressing about the outfit I ended up buying a cheap T-shirt, putting some beads on a string and going overboard with make-up and hairspray. Unfortunately, after many nice days, on Friday a storm rolled into Berlin. It was pouring down and seemed to ruin the party. I think it mostly ruined my hair. No amount of hairspray would keep it up. Arriving at the event venue we had to walk over pallets to cross the puddles of rainwater.…

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It’s already August, the last month of Germany’s €9 ticket. Time to make a trip outside of Berlin, perhaps one of the last ones this summer. With 29 degrees in the forecast I packed my cap, sunscreen and sunglasses. I added my lunch and a book and took a train to the Beelitz Heilstätten, about 45 minutes outside of Berlin. The Heilstätten was a huge sanatorium, mainly for people with tuberculosis. It was built at the end of the 19th century, in a time where Berlin was going through industrialization and attracted many people from the countryside. Hygiene was poor, with dozens of people living on the same floor and sharing a bathroom. It was the perfect place for TB to spread. So all over Germany these sanatoriums started to appear, particularly in places like the Alps, with good air quality. Beelitz was chosen as a site closer to Berlin.…

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I spent some time working remotely in Italy and the first place I stayed in was Altamura, a small town in the Puglia region, right in the heel of Italy’s boot. I had seen some photos on Google and decided it was worth a visit. So I booked a small apartment and took the train from the city of Bari. Bari Centrale is a bit of an odd station, because there are several train companies operating from different stations that are close, but not the same. The regional train to Altamura left from Bari Centrale FAL, which is around the corner from the bigger central station. The journey took about 1,5 hours and went smoothly, through a dry landscape filled with olive trees, brown fields and the occasional building. The old, small constructions were built in a roundish shape with grey stones and a dome roof, the old trulli. From…

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Every day we learn something new. One day I learn about action research, the next I learn about mosquitoes… the hard way! I started counting my mosquito bites, but it’s no use, I keep losing track. The back of my legs provided a tasty snack for several dozens of mosquitoes, the front coming in a close second for the tough guys who didn’t mind biting through my leggings. As I’m trying not to constantly scratch my legs I have flashbacks of the swarms of tiny creatures we found in the forest. For a mosquito the creatures were actually fairly big and they were ferocious. Hiking became an awkward dance that looked like waacking, waving my hands around my head and body, slapping my legs to provide some rhythm and kill a few. Now it’s all I can think about, but the hike was actually really nice. I’d been meaning to…

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This winter I decided 2 ski weeks weren’t enough. I mean… I’d had to miss skiing during the entire pandemic. I had some making up to do. Unfortunately I only have so many holidays, so I settled for a long weekend in Austria. On Thursday we took the train via Munich to Zell am See, with a return on Sunday afternoon. We had 2,5 days and 3 ski fields to choose from. The ski area at Zell am See, Schmittenhöhe, is not that big, so the ski pass also included skiing at Kaprun and Saalbach-Hinterglemm-Leogang. It was really more than we could cover in 3 days, but we managed to explore all of it a little bit. On Friday we were at the rental shops when they opened and we geared up. It was pretty warm and I was already sweating before I even had the skis. We went up…

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This weekend a quick train ride brought me to Leipzig. After waiting for 2 years I finally got to go to the Rammstein concert! I took the opportunity to check out the city and I was surprised. What a beautiful place this is! At only 1,5 hours from Berlin, it’s perfect for a day or weekend trip. The gigantic Leipzig Hauptbahnhof is right at the edge of the inner city. From here you walk straight to all the main sites, the many shops and cosy restaurants. The station is the largest one in Europe, at least by surface area, and it’s got a shopping mall hidden under the station floor. But once you leave the station, you find out Leipzig is the city of “biggest”. The tallest town hall tower in Germany stands in the huge castle-like new town hall. The old one wasn’t big enough, so Leipzig build a…

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Skiing in April… was that a smart move? After slushy slopes in March I was a bit worried. Again I took a plane to Geneva, waited at the airport, got on a bus and stared out the window, watching the scenery change. At Moûtiers we took the road uphill towards Val Thorens. There was still not much snow to be seen and actually, it was raining lightly. As we ascended the rain drops became thicker and turned into wet snow. We passed through St. Martin. No snow. Even in Les Menuires the majority of the snow had already disappeared. But then we turned the corner at Val Thorens and it was completely white. I walked into the UCPA and noticed nobody was wearing a mask. What a change from January! That evening I already met a French girl whom I joined skiing the next day. That morning the grey skies…

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It’s funny how you start to believe you can do something. Last August I watched the half marathon, referring to the runners as crazy. In September I joined a company 5,5 km and surprised myself with the result. At the end of that month I watch the marathon runners, calling them insane. I still think it’s crazy, whether it’s a 21 or 42 km, but slowly I felt the urge to increase my running distance, just to explore what I would be capable of. As I ran a few 10 km’s, new ideas started forming in my head. Maybe I should sign up for the half marathon… In November I started to increase my distances. 8 km. 10 km. 12 km. 14,5 km. If I could do that, then surely I could do 21 km? In December I felt comfortable enough to sign up, encouraged by a study friend whom…

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I didn’t sleep well and felt really low on energy. Even just standing straight I felt like my balance was off. I didn’t want to miss out on the skiing, even though I was a bit wary when I followed the group. Today we’d go to Les Menuires, the area adjacent to Val Thorens. We raced down a mostly flat traverse to reach the Masse gondola. At the top we had a very nice view over the Grandes Jorasses. Today we took another long route off piste. After traversing off the slope we had to walk a bit to reach the start and after some more traversing we stood in a quiet snow field. Even though we saw two people who were also hiking up, we were now totally alone. The landscape was pretty gentle, although there were some challenging parts. There was a fair bit of traversing over a…

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