reto mag

about the land and the people

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Traveling alone.

June 24th, 2015 by Addy · article, travelling

In this article I want to explain, why I like traveling alone. Of course I don’t want to miss any holiday with my friends and would definitely do it again but generally I prefer traveling by myself.
Here are some reasons why:

1. You are independent

There is no friend who waits for you at 7 a.m because he or she wants to do sightseeing in the morning. You can leave the hostel 15 minutes before they throw you out anyway and have a relaxed breakfast and coffee, while you plan your day. Or you decide to have no plan at all.

2. You meet new people

Certainly, you also meet new people when you’re with a friend but you might be more open-minded if you are traveling by yourself. Moreover people rather help you and give you hints for your trip. I love sitting in a hostel with strangers and talk about everything under the sun until late in the night. Traveling alone does not mean to be alone!

3. You get to know yourself better.

You are at the coast, the wind blows through your hair and you look at the infinity of the sea. Okay, this might sound a bit cheesy but a lot of people calm down at the sea. Where do you have the possibility to think quietly about the last months or to have a careful look at the future? Of course, for doing this you don’t need to be at the sea, you can also reflect at a calm spot in a city or during a trip in the mountains. But if you are with friends you may not have the time for this or you think differently about yourself. Besides, if you are travelling by yourself it’s easier to find out how you would like to design your trip.

4. You learn to deal with loneliness.

You learn to appreciate what a lot of people fear. Of course, loneliness can be annoying when you start to challenge the same issues over and over again. But a trip gives you new impressions which replace the feeling of loneliness. They can be inspiring and might appear differently than on a trip with friends.

 

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yosemite national park

July 27th, 2014 by nina · article, california, forest, nature, reportage, usa

on my second weekend at the bay we went on a trip to yosemite national park. i always wanted to see a national park. i haven’t imagined it to be that far because i always have a problem to convert miles to kilometers. but the trip was already really interesting. starting in berkeley we drove east and it is impressive how fast the landscape is changing. you drive like 1 hour and you seem to be at a total different landscape. we went from the green bay area to yosemite passing a bleak landscape, dried hills with wind turbins and cows, almond plantations, small villages and farms. the closer we got to yosemite the greener the landscape became. we drove on windy roads through forests and valleys, crossing rivers and hills until we finally entered the national park border where a nice park ranger gave us cards and informations. while driving into the valley we had an amazing view on one of the famous rocks in yosemite, the monolith el capitan. the native call it tu-tock-ah-nu-lah after one of their headmans.

day one
we wanted to hike the vernan and nevada falls on friday afternoon, so we parked our car near curry village and went to the trail. the way up was a bit crowded until we came to a little hut half way to vernan falls. a sign warned us that this was the last chance to get water. so we filled up our bottles and went on. since my travel guide said the john muir trail would be less crowded we chose that one. and the guide was right. we met just a hand full of people while climbing up hill.

since the hut the trail was a narrow sand path with rocky parts. the evening was near and we were about to turn around when a nice woman told us that it was not any higher from the point where we were and the highest point of the nevada fall would be just around the corner. so we hurried up and were rewarded with an amazing view over the woods and into the valley.

the sun was nearly downing when we hurried to get back to a paved road. at a interception point i recommended to take the shorter path not knowing what i got us into. while the sun was downing we went on slippery and wet rock-cut stairs next to vernan fall. it was gorgeous and terrifying at the same time.

the mist of the waterfall was wetting our clothes and hair. we had to take good care where we put our steps. we made it back to the paved road at the ground with the last trace of light. it was already dark when we came to the road to the parking area. while walking to our car a deer crossed the street, stopped and watched at us for a while before it disappeared into the forest. yosemite has definitively a nice way to welcome guests.

day two
we kept saturday for our big tour to the upper yosemite fall but when we woke up our muscles were so sore that we were not sure if we could make it. plus we didn’t know that it was the first day of the year that half dome (the other famous rock) opened for rock climbing. it took us nearly forever to get into the park. when we finally made it we decided to hike to the lower yosemite fall and then decide if we want to move on. the hike was challenging for us but for me the most.

i had a huge problem with the sheer ascent. my legs were burning like fire. on our way to the lower fall we met a lot of people with much better equipment. parts of the path were so rocky that a hiking pole would actually have helped. others were sandy and steep.

we arrived the lower fall on time for our lunch break. the lower fall was not as misty as the vernan fall on day one but we saw a double rainbow where the fall hit the rocks. after we ate i thought we would turn and go back down. my only wish was to rest my burning legs. but eugene encouraged holly and me to go on, so we did. it took us two hours to get to the lower fall and another two to the upper. i was cursing the whole time which is ok because they were the day before when we went down the slippery stairs while daylight was fading. but both times the reward was totally worth the endeavor. again we nearly gave up when a man passed us saying “you are nearly there, it’s about 10 minutes to go. you can make it!” with a cheery smile. it is really moving how total strangers we met on the trails were encouraging each other.

on top of the hill we went through a quit clearing and then we saw the view. every hurting part of my body was totally forgotten. the view and the knowing that you made it up here was just breathtaking.

we walked around the top, took a very terrifying way without a real handrail down to a little platform and enjoyed the view for a while. it was an amazing and fulfilling experience.

we finished the day with a little bonfire at a camp where holly’s friends camped down in the valley. we sat at the fire, eating marshmallows and listened to the sound of the forest and the camping ground. on our way back to the hotel we stopped to watch the millions of stars. the perfect end of a perfect day.

day three
on sunday no one of us got out of the bed easily. the sore muscles of day two turned into burning-like-hell legs.

after a long and quit breakfast we drove to the mariposa grove of giant sequoias. i read before that the grizzly giant is the biggest tree at mariposa grove. it has a surrounding of 29 meters (95 feet) and is 64 meters high (209 feet). it is 2700 years old and really impressive.

the grizzly giant was not the first sequoia i saw at the park but when you see him for the first time it is stunning, i have never before seen such a big tree. we stood in front of it for a while just speechless. we went on to see all the other trees. the faithful couple, the three graces, telescope tree and the fallen wawona tunnel tree.

i can not describe the feeling you have when you stand in front of a living being which is so much older than you can ever get, than you can even imagine. we left mariposa grove at 4 pm to watch the sunset at glacier point.

glacier point is a famous overview at yosemite where you can see the whole park and even the sierra nevada. after we arrived we realized how cold it is up on the hill. so we put on everything we had and walked down the small path. the overview at glacier point is amazing. every time i thought it can’t possibly get any better it always did.

at glacier point we looked at all the places we have been the last two days. i couldn’t believe that it has only been two days. it was an amazing adventure i will never forget. before we left we promised to come back and hike half dome.

 

this is what i learned at the weekend in yosemite:
hikers are really friendly beings who encourage each other because they know in which pain you are.
really old and really big trees make you feel so small and unimportant. what is a human life in the face of a 3000 year old tree that survived hundreds of fires?
there are millions of reasons to save the nature!
it is always good to have a beanie and a second jacket.
and most important…you are always, always capable to do more than you think you can. you can get to the top. you can make it!

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New Zealand 2009 / 2010 – First days on the south island.

January 7th, 2014 by Addy · article, new zealand

After two great months in Ponsonby, Auckland, I wanted to start my trip to the south island. I woke up at 6 o clock in the morning and took the 12 hours train from Auckland to Wellington. 12 hours in a train sound hard but it was amazing as I spent my time watching out of the window and talking with a girl next to me about god and the world. When I arrived in Wellington I took a hostel next to the train station, had a beer with two English guys from my room at the hostel bar and went to bed. I propably felt into the deepest and most wonderful sleep I`ve ever had. I woke up early in the morning to catch the ferry to the south island. On the ferry I had “New Zealand breakfast” which was pretty much English breakfast and when the weather became better I went on the deck and watched how we approached the south island. I was totally flashed by the beauty of the nature. One of the guys on the deck told me that I probably had one of these “postcard moments”. He was right. When I left the ferry I arrived in Pickton and directly wanted to take the bus to Nelson as my travelling guide had told me Picton wasnt that exciting. Guess what! The bus had gone. I was pretty annoyed as they told there would be no bus at this day to Nelson anymore. So I waited for the next ferry and asked people whether they would drive to Nelson. I felt like a true backpacker now. When I asked one red haired guy whether he would go to Nelson he said “Well evetually. I actually have no clue where I am going” So we decided to take hostel in Picton for this day. In the evening we went to a pub in Picton and I loved it as locals were dancing traditionally to Irish music. It was one of my happiest moments on the trip as I really love Irish culture and music. Even though Picton was probably one of the smallest villages I had ever seen, I really enjoyed my unplanned day there. In the next morning we took the bus to Nelson and watching out of the window was again a real pleasure. When we arrived in Nelson we checked in the hostel Paradiso and the hostel was paradise indeed. A pool, a whirlpool and a an old bus in the garden where people were drinking and smoking. The people were pretty cool as well. I met two Canadian girls and together and together with the other people we celebrated St Patricks day, with beer and lots of sun. In the evening we went to a Pub in Nelson and danced through the night. We ended up in a karaoke bar, which was a lot of fun. The next day I went into a Hippie store ( Nelson is a town famous for its Hippies and artists} and bought beautiful bracelets. Afterwards I went with one of the Canadian girls on a hill and enjoyed the view. It was another great day in Nelson but after two days I wanted to move on. In the next blog entry, I will talk about my experiences in the Abel Tasman national park.

 

Photography by Sophie Daum, Nelson Beach 2008

 

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Christmas Traditions

December 31st, 2013 by nina · article, germany, reportage

i really like the cold season. i like wearing beanies and scarfs and that i get red cheeks outside and my face hurts a little. i love snow and cold air. for me christmas is a very special time of the year. i love christmas. i love the lights and the decoration, christmas markets, mulled wine, cookies and advent calendars. much to the chagrin of my family who needs to act as if they like it as much as i am.

in every family there is a special tradition about the advent time and christmas. different from the usa we germans celebrate christmas on the evening of the 24th of december. we are having a tree and a nice dinner and presents. a lot of things are quite the same. the tree is decorated, there are cookies, the family is having dinner around the table and there are presents of course. but even if we are from the same country there is a difference in how the families celebrate. the food for example. in germany the traditionally food would be roast with potato dumplings and red cabbage. but also a lot of families eat potato salad and sausages for christmas. a huge question is always do we hand out presents before or after the dinner? i can’t tell how other families celebrate christmas. but i can tell how mine is doing it.
my sister and me normally celebrate with our dad and our gran. my sister is coming some days before christmas and we prepare the christmastree a day before christmas so the branches can recover from being in the transportation-net. on the morning of the 24th we are having breakfast together and i start decorating the tree. we wrap in the last presents, listen to music and talk. in the afternoon we normally start having a mulled wine, call some friends to whish them a merry christmas and start preparing the dinner and the table. there are a white table cloth and red place mats on our christmas table. for decoration we have some chambersticks, strewing reindeers and small red christmas balls. our christmasfood this year was lamb’s lettuce with walnuts and warm goat cheese, gilthead in salt casing with some vegetable and potatoes and as dessert we had gingerbread parfait. making dessert is my part on the meal. i am the dessert woman. to make this food doesn’t take too long and is not too elaborate. so no one get stressed in the kitchen at christmas. it is always a lot of fun to crack the salt casing and a huge mess. while eating we take our time. we listen to music and talk about plans and the last year. we are handing presents after the dinner. while having coffee we change to the couch where the tree is. of course  the presents are under the tree already. we hand them to each other, unwrap them and say thanks. we start reading our books and play with our presents if there is something to play with. this is how we celebrate christmas eve. on the holidays we visit friends or have them over to drink more mulled wine or hot orange-juice and change presents.

while i am writing the last sentences it is all ready between christmas and new year and i take the time to write birthdays and appointments in my new calendar, see some more friends who are home for christmas and update my address book.
i hope you all had a merry christmas and that you will have a very happy new year. may it be a great one.

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welcome jazz! – the poetry of living with a dog

November 17th, 2013 by sophie · article, life, nature

this post may look strange on a travel and culture blog the first place but i promise, when you keep reading, you will hopefully get where the connection is.

stefan and i adopted jazz in the beginning of september, she is a beautiful border collie – australian shepherd mix. jazz lived in a family with kids and had to leave cause the third child was born and there was not enough time for her training anymore. the first moment i saw this dog, i already fell in love with her. she has a lot of energy, is a very happy and playful dog and on top of that: she loves to cuddle.

when i was a kid, i always dreamed about having a dog, taking it everywhere with me, having it on my side as a friend who you don’t need to talk with, you communicate just with gesture, understand each other without a word. my family always had cats, so there was no chance for me to get a dog. i waited many many years till i decided: now is a good time to actually have one.

i knew that having a pet, especially a dog and over all a sheepdog, will be live changing. but i didn’t realize how much!
from one day to the other i started walking with my dog three times a day, at least two hours in total, most times three till four hours. jazz has the excitement of the border collie and wants to guard me like an australian shepherd. thats a powerful and explosive combination. she is a working dog who needs a job, a lot of time and work. don’t misunderstand, this is not me being sorry about my decision of having a sheepdog. its quite the contrary!

the last two years i spent working a lot, studying and not much traveling. when i made my hobby photography into a job, i actually lost a hobby. this empty place has never been filled. till jazz came into my life. working with a dog, getting to know her and keeping practice on my own skills like reaction, observation and staying calm started changing me a bit. i have always been very nervous inside, not showing it to others, but my dog is like a mirror. she shows me always how i act right away and when i realize, that she is very nervous and hyped out, it tells me to calm down and relax myself. this is actually like a life lesson.

another thing about having a dog is spending so much time outside. i haven’t been hanging out in the nature that much since i was a kid, playing in the garden or in the woods. while working and studying, living our daily lives, we often stop taking a real break, going for a walk, getting some fresh air. since jazz came into my life, i have seen so many places and recognized so many things i would have never seen without having a dog. its like i now started traveling and exploring the city and area i lived in since 6 years. sometimes it can be a pain in the ass to go out when it is cold and raining, but on every walk with my dog, i discover something new or just something beautiful, i wouldn’t have seen if i stayed home, watching tv or staring at my computer screen!

 

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Holidays

September 3rd, 2013 by Addy · article, netherlands

Yesterday I drove, to pick up a friend, through little villages by Grevenbroich. The atmosphere was odd as from the most housing areas you saw grey brown coal power stations with smoking and massive chimneys . The nature appears artificial, obviously created by human hand. The houses, churches and banks are almost made by the same material just as the building company had bought one and the same red clinker, to recreate the villages after they were forced to move .I feel uncomfortable and drive faster. Suddenly I see a travelling office with name “Pust-e-blume”  (dandelion). I do not get the word game, the name sounds nicer then the travelling office appears. In the window of the shop I see advertisement for all-inclusive trips to escape from the desert. That’s what brings me to my actual topic: Holidays.

The most beautiful memories, I have, when I think of the holidays with my families to France or Holland, where I played games with brothers, which only a child’s fantasy can invent or when I sat well-protected in a blanket at the beach and read a book.

With rising age I felt the need to make holidays with my friends. My first trip without parents was with my former girls clique to Ibiza: One week party holiday in a gay hotel. The experience was unique as we came from the countryside and were amazed by the ambiance in the clubs and the music, which able to lead us into trance. The nights started at 2 am and ended in the early morning hours. Holidays, where the day played a secondary role and the main experiences took place at night. A crazy holiday with memories, that can only arise in a girl`s holiday.

My next intensive holiday was my trip to the south island in the probably most impressive country on the other side of the world. I travelled all by myself and enjoyed the liberty and independence, which I had to discover people, landscape and places.

The next holiday trip was, after I worked two months in an orphanage in Nepal, a hiking trip on a  mountain in the Himalayas. I was amazed by the nature and the totally foreign culture. Nevertheless I also discovered the negative consequences of tourism. Backpack carriers with almost 5 backpacks on their back and trash all over the earth, even in 3000 meters height. Nepal is a country with a lot of problems which nonetheless has a lot of potential.

I did not mention my numerous city trips in Europe, where I can talk about different kinds of discovering. I have to admit, that I often tortured myself through all the sight-seeing spots, because I kind felt obliged to it.  A soon as I stood in front of the spot I did not really know what to do with it. A photo to say I was here and perhaps a postcard for friends and family, I liked it best to discover these quarters, which are not that easy to find but promise more surprises.

The last holiday was a camping trip to Holland. It was relaxing with long walks at the beach and can beer outside the tent.  There are so many kinds of holiday and it´s a shame to waste it for an all-inclusive trip with a lot of bad food and animation program in the hotel anlage. Tastes are nevertheless different and it might be a small task in life to find the prefect holiday for oneself.

 

photography by sophie daum

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New Zealand 2009-2010 series 2nd part: Trip to Taupo and Roturua

August 19th, 2013 by Addy · article, new zealand

I was very excited about my first trip, which I would be going to do with my roommate and a couple of other nice people, I met in my language school.  We started in the evening and while I was sitting in the bus I became surprised how big Auckland actually is. The city center itself is relatively small but the are a lot of suburbs, which make it the biggest city of New Zealand. It was really rainy but I could not stop watching outside, as, after one week in the city center, it was so refreshing to see green, green, green. After hours of drive, I guess around 5, we arrived in our hostel in Rotorua.  But we did not really rest inside that long as there was a bar next to the hostel. We were pretty surprised, that there were a bunch of securities checking our identity card and when we went inside,it was totally empty. It was undeniable that cold that I was wearing one long shirt, two jumpers and one jacket in the bar, even when we were dancing. It was, according to the Arabian  calender, the birthday of one guy from Saudi Arabia and I think it was the best birthday of his life, because he danced happy like a child and jumped up and down to the song „I’ve got a feeling“ by the Black Eyed Peas. I jumped as well. The party became great and I was not surprised about all the securities anymore as the bar became crowed with backpackers from all over the world. When we arrived in our hostel, I probably felt into the deepest sleep I’ve ever had.

The next day, we visited a Maori village. We saw one of the typical hot pools of Roturua, where Maoris could also cook their food. I doubt that it was an actual Maori village though as there were no Maoris in the “houses” and it all looked pretty unused. Finally there was a Maori show were the Maoris danced their traditional dances and did the typical “haka”.At the end of the show everybody could take a picture with a Maori and one girl even took a picture with a Maori baby. I did not know what to think about it. It felt like the Maoris were kind of “prostituting” their culture for us Western people. On the other hand, most of the the Maoris still belong to the poorer parts of the  New Zealand Society and tourism is a way for them to earn their living and also to keep their culture alive.

On the same day we went into a national park, where we could again see hot pools, which were filled with something that looked liked Lava and had impressive colours like orange or gift green. We even got see a Gazier show. It works like that: The magma warms the water inside the earth (..)0

We were a bit disappointed though, as they had given a piece of soap into the gazier to make the show more impressive.

The next and final day of our trip we went to Taupo, a town with a quaint lake. Behind the lake you could see the snowy top of a mountain, which was even used in lord of the rings. The lake and everything around was indeed a scenery, which could as well be from lord the rings. The only thing which did not not really fit into the picture was that at the promenade there was a range of  American Fast Food chains such as Burger King, Subway or McDonalds. We got snacks at burger king and sat down at the lake with our fast food. Truly romantic!

At the same say we finally drove home and it was a sunny beautiful bus drive. I enjoyed the trip a lot and me and the other guys from the language school had become good friends. I could not wait for the next trip in this country full of beauties, waiting for me to get found.

 

Photography by Sophie Daum 02/2008

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New Zealand 2009/2010 series – Hello Auckland!

July 30th, 2013 by Addy · article, auckland, new zealand

Before I came here I did not know much about the world. My holidays had so far solely been to places in Europe but that was not the point: My world was small as I was a girl of 18 with typical interests as party, clothes and boys but nevertheless anxious to find out what was waiting outside there for me. I was doing an internship at a German newspaper and had one of those typical, surfing in the internet sessions, when I clicked on a map and decided that, for my Gap year, I would go as far as possible: New Zealand. It was my father who did not want me to do work and travel but to do something „useful“ in his eyes. So I ended up doing three month of language school, three months of internship and one month for a trip to the south island. A decision which, I do not regret. For Retomag I will present my most impressive and intensive experiences in New Zealand as good as my memory is able to recapture them.

Day of arrival: Hello Auckland!

My flight to New Zealand was already an experience for itself: I had this unique feeling, which you have when you do not know what to expect but you are sure that it must me something great.

After 24 hours I finally arrived , went out of the plane and a man was waiting for me with a sign of our language school in his hands. We drove into Auckland and I could not stop watching out of the window. I did not know what I had expected to see but I was surprised that Auckland in regard to landscape seemed relatively normal to me. I did not know at this point that the full beauty of this country was yet to discover. The driver dropped me off at my place to stay for the next months. A student accommodation called Empire: A gray and high building with the charme of the 70ties. I noticed that there were mostly Chinese people around there. Later I got to know that Auckland is a very popular city to study for young people from China.

I knew that I would share my room with another girl, which was already in the room when I came in. When she turned around I saw a very beautiful girl. She was from Hungary and directly said. „Oh, you are from Germany. Dann können wir auch Deutsch sprechen.“. Luckily I directly said no because I did not know at this point that she would become a very good friend and talking partner to me. We went into the city and despite being the the biggest city in New Zealand, the city center itself seemed relatively comfortable to me. I had a „New Zealandish Italian Pizza“ and found out that „German Italian Pizza’s“ are much more heavy and greasy. Being exhausted by the Jetlag I went into bed at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, just to wake at the same time in the morning and to have breakfast with my roommate at this rather unusual time…

 

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what is a pizza? by ann-kristin schöne

June 22nd, 2013 by nina · article, reportage, sightseeing, sweden

it is quiet, very quiet. there is only the sound of the wind to hear while a breeze of the baltic sea is looming. from the hill you have an unlimited view of the öresund and a little bench which is surrounded by knee-high grass invites enjoying the gorgeous sight. not far away from here in the sleepy little town höllviken, which is part of the province skåne län you can find the idyll and peace which is characteristic for sweden as one of the most popular vacation destination. busy people hurrying through the streets cannot be seen in this place, only occasionally a lonesome car passes. it is hard to imagine that a whole other world shall exist here. but still it waits near the bench just behind the wooden wall, which stretches towards the sky. this is where the vikings live.

taking a few steps you already find yourself in the middle of a small village whose wooden huts have a special charisma in their simplicity. an old man in dignified clothes sits in front of one of the small houses on a stump and carves a sculpture. he does not notice the wondering people around him being so absorbed in his occupation. a viking who works in the village. or rather a living-history-actor who works in the museum – in the fotevikens museum an archaeological open air museum, which represents a viking municipality from 1134. it is the attempt to recreate a typical settlement for the transition between the late viking age and the early middle age. since authenticity was the highest premise for the implementation of the museum, the main street looks like a wide and dusty trail. the construction of all 20 buildings in that “street” is based on archaeological findings and traditional specifications of the vikings. One of the first buildings you can see after entering the village is the old forge, a reconstruction of a historical discovery in ystad from the 9th century. not just the buildings are precise recreations; also the entire inventory is a detailed replication. electronic equipment can never be found here. thus the pottery is no staged building – it is rather used to produce jars, bowls and other hand-made things according to the example of the vikings.

in addition to the pottery you can also discover a tannery with a fisher-cabin and a smokehouse in its yard or a weaving mill when you leave the main road of the viking reservation. not before following the narrow paths between the buildings, the variety of the small village and its inhabitants is displayed to the visitors. in the judge’s house a woman in a linen dress stands by the fireplace and stirs into a pot of enormous dimension. she smiles friendly and encouragingly to the visitors, who hesitate reluctantly to set foot in the innards of the living room. it seems that they have forgotten that they are in a museum which wants to be seen. precisely because the living-history-actors do not only look like vikings, they also live like them. even their clothing is handmade and during the time they live in the museum they do not buy their bread but bake it and they do not get the fish from the bar in the supermarket but from the sea. nutrition is only given by the nature.

actually also the children have to detect this while they stay in fotevikens’ biggest building, the thinghoell, – much to their regret. there they sit together at one of the long and sturdy tables and listen to the words of a little bearded man whose real name is unknown and of no significance here. he is peter the grey viking and he explains the children the importance of the bench he stands on. everybody who wanted to express oneself at one of the viking’s assemblies, which always took place at the thinghoell, had to get on that special bench. this indicated that all the others had to be absolutely silent. he emphasizes that even women were entitled to be heard and that the vikings were a very democratic folk until the christianization began. a little boy seems to care less about the grassroots democracy of the vikings – he is hungry and proclaims full-throated that he wants to have a pizza now. astonished, peter knits his bushy eyebrows. the viking inquires what a pizza is. all the children meet him with disbelieve. their protest resounds – how could he not know what a pizza is? but peter sticks to his point and asks if pizza was an animal maybe. all the contemporary and modern does not exist here.

this is also caused by the history of everyday life as the concept of the museum and a different form of imparting historical knowledge based on a nearly authentic simulation of the viking era. history of everyday life is not about structures or processes of historical reality, it rather criticizes the disappearance of individuals within those structures. it deals more with the living environment of humans and how they experienced their own existence. the german-speaking branch of the history of everyday life is rooted amongst others in sweden, more precisely in the swedish “dig, where you stand” – movement. this movement is named after the correspondent book by the publicist sven lindqvist who attests that everybody is able to explore his or her own history. he propagates some kind of freedom of trade in terms of history which is implemented here in fotevikens museum since 1995. this realization goes so far that the actors spend some winters in the simple village from time to time. peter reports that it can be very uncomfortable when it is really cold. nevertheless it is an unique experience not to simply turn on the heating but to light a huge fire with the own hands and sit around it together. also visitors can stay for a certain time in the viking reservation.

during their stay they can find out about their abilities concerning smithery or sailing a viking’s ship. those who want to use an ax not just to chop wood can do so because ax throwing is a sport, at least in the fotevikens museum. the visitors who are on a meadow just outside the village with peter seem to be enthusiastic about the sport. with obvious pleasure they try to throw the small axes as far as possible into the center of the wooden disc. peter the grey viking displays great skills in this discipline and that is the reason why he bears the nickname gimli. but of course it is only unofficial since peter and the others actually do not know the dwarf form lord of the rings. the scenery of the ax-throwing people has a very animalistic and eccentric character, especially with the wooden watch tower, the emblem of the village, in the background. from there one has a wonderful view over the öresund and the village with its extensive facilities, which are worth to discover as well. thus the hill near the tower is not only an elevation but also the reconstructed grave-mound of the king. and the large stones in the lawn are not just trivial objects, they are rune stones with a text carved by erik the red. even from a bird’s eye view the village does not lose any of its authenticity and one can visualize the vivid hustle and bustle when the “viking’s week” is hosted there from the 25th june until the 1st july, which is visited by hundreds of vikings from all over the world. during this week the museum and its inhabitants invite to the largest viking market in sweden, called “halör marknad”.

but suddenly you’re back in front of a weird tinny shiny thing. a car. you had almost forgotten what it is. but only almost and so you get in the car and drive home.

© text and pictures by ann-kristin schöne

 

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52 hours in amsterdam

April 7th, 2013 by nina · amsterdam, article, netherlands, reportage

earlier this year my friend bella and i decided to go to amsterdam to celebrate her birthday. so in late march i went to her current home in cologne so we can go there together.

          

friday – where is spring?
after a 3 hours ride by train from cologne we arrived in amsterdam at lunchtime. we bought a 48 hour ticket for the local public transport  and went looking for our hotel. amsterdam’s accommodations are really expensive but we made a bargain with the hotel. unfortunately it was not really close to the city and the tramride from the city to our hotel took at least 20 minutes. at the hotel we just dropped our luggage and went back to the city. at this point i have been really hungry and it is never a good idea to let me get really hungry because i get grumpy. so we kind of rushed to the city to find some food. after a felt eternity we found a nice place to eat. stock is a funny place. it belongs to a hostel and you can see through a giant window how the guests of the hostel check in and look inside of the hostel. i ate a very good sandwich and had a hot chocolate. once i had eaten, i was much more calm and ready for the city. the rest of the day we strolled around the jordaan quarter with its little streets around the three famous canals – prinsen-, keizers- and herrencanal. we also saw parts of the famous red light district which was fascinating and disturbing at the same time. since it was horribly cold, we went back to the hotel early and watched the football match holland against estonia at the lobby and drank some wine.

          

saturday – i love this city
since we got to bed early we also stood up early. we decided saturday is shopping day. of course not only shopping and going through the main shopping promenade. more like looking at the small shops which make the jordaan quarter so special. to get the day started we had breakfast at screaming beans. they serve fantastic croissants. from the café we started strolling through the small streets and smaller shops. although the sun was shining it has been really really cold. we have been freezing the whole day long but we invented a plan. we just went into the next shop when it started to get to cold. we have been to some really nice places. i wish my hometown had so many wonderful little shops. at de weldaad i bought a perfect present for my sister and a knob for my dresser. later on we found that amazing boutique called unicorn. the place is chock-full of beautiful things. we took a long time inside and finally both bought a scarf. the owner is a very friendly woman who helped us a long. she said we should have a look at the local market and step inside winkel to eat the best apple pie in amsterdam. we haven’t to be told twice. at the market we bought some cheese for our families and i bought smoked mackerel since my family loves them. and of course we went into winkel and this place seriously sell the best apple pie i have ever eaten, and i have eaten a lot of pies in my life. it was served with cream and it was excellent. after our stay at winkel we felt reinvigorated to queue for the anne frank huis. this was something i really want to see. i read the diary of anne frank some years ago and for me it was important to see were she and her family hit from the nazis until they got betrayed in 1944. it was really weird and touching to walk on the same floors like she did. the saddest thing for me will always be the fact that anne died at kz bergen-belsen from typhus one month before the liberation. in a little movie a friend of her who survived the kz said that if anne had knew that her father was still alive she probably would have made it through. it was hard to see all this but it also is very important. since we needed to arrange our thoughts we decided to run some errands at albert hein and have dinner at the hotel room. we had cheese and fish and some vla for dessert.

          

sunday – tulips in amsterdam
our last day was as cold as the others. after some pain au chocolate we checked out from the hotel we locked our luggage in at the central station and went to the i amsterdam landmark to take some pictures. afterwards we went to the flower-market to buy some tulip bulbs for this is what i think of when i think of amsterdam. fries, coffee-shops, red-light district, canals and tulips. yes i know it is a bit prejudiced. of course amsterdam has much more to offer then that. but tulip bulbs it had to be. i bought a mixed bag and i am so curious to see which colours i got. since we had a lot of time we walked through the city and had some fries for lunch at the lovely frietsteeg. the fries there are really good. our last point on the list was the canal-cruise. we went on an one-hour-cruise. it was interesting and nice to see amsterdam from the water but nothing i need to do twice. during the remaining time till our departure we drank some coffee at a dodgy café and went inside some shops.

    

amsterdam is a lovely place and worth visiting. the small streets and the canals made me fall in love with this city. it is definitely a city were i can imagine to live. and the people are so unbelievably friendly. i am still not over how friendly and warm they are. the whole time i felt i am welcome and safe. next time i come for a visit i’ll make sure it is warmer then it was now.

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