Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Auction House

We have an auction house in our tiny little town. I have heard much about it: one of my friends purchased a wonderful white wardrobe, the other an old-school bicycle, and even our student newspaper dedicated half a page to the institution. Yet, despite having lived here for three years now, I have never been there myself. Over the years I not only felt a nagging fear of missing out on one of those special "auction-house"-experiences that become a synonym for your student life, but lately the pressing need of owning a working bicycle made it very clear that a visit can no longer be postponed.

So, my summer flatmate and I set out to find the old warehouse where the auctions are to be held. Little did we know that we would spend the next hour or so looking at the most random and obscure items one could imagine: from smelly refrigerators, real wood furniture and lawnmowers, to African masks, beautiful tea sets, and extravagant jewellery - there is nothing that cannot be found. The heart of any modern day collector would surely skip a beat from all the excitement. At least mine did when I saw the purple women's bike that I placed my bid on. Fingers crossed it will be mine soon.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


This summer, for the first time since I started university, I am not spending my entire holidays away from the seaside village I call home during term time but instead I decided to go back there for a good chunk of the summer. This experience has been bizarre. The town I am used to - a place buzzing with the excitement of students - has been replaced by its twin, attempting to charm the sluggishly slow-moving tourists strolling along the streets with all kinds of attractions: Hop-on/Hop-off tour buses that seem vaguely out of place, cafés and pubs with seating areas outside where yet another afternoon can be spend absorbing the rays of sunlight and - as if the beautiful beaches, historical buildings and cute streets were not enough - a town fair with proper rides, occupying two of the three main streets.
Of course my flatmate for the summer and I had to go - the novelty and excitement just got a hold of us: We screamed our heads off while on the rides, ate our body weights in fair food and - just like the tourists - we strolled along the streets enjoying the general atmosphere.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Naturally Fertilized Fields

Last night friends of mine and I decided to get Fish and Chips for supper. Since the best Chippy in the country happens to be only an half-an-hour drive away from where we live, we did not need long to decide where to go. As we were driving along the coast - our faces kissed by the last rays of sunlight, windows rolled down feeling the wind rushing by, the air infused by the smell of naturally fertilized fields, and Coldplay's "Life in Technicolor" blasting on the stereo - it seemed like time had stopped for one brief but perfect moment. My heart felt content, free and grateful.

We ate with our fingers, we talked about the summer and future, we laughed at silly jokes, we admired the insanely beautiful sunset, and as the moon kissed the sun goodbye, we lost ourselves in the vastness of the night sky - savoring the moment at all times. It was glorious.

P.S. We even saw a couple of dolphins. Is this real life?!

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Earlier this year, around spring time, I travelled to Riga, Latvia, to visit a good friend who happened to live there as part of her university semester abroad. I did not have a lot of expectations before I went – in fact, I did not have any, apart from maybe the odd Eastern European stereotype. I subconsciously prepared myself for the ever-present Communist past that I imagined to lie over the city like dew in the morning, a harshness of the people which would make me wince and the excruciating cold one could only bear if born in those latitudes.

Yet, Riga surprised me. It surely is easy to get caught up in the odd unavoidable Soviet element, but Riga is so much more than that, if only one takes the time to scratch on the surface. It is fascinating, modern (hey there, McDonalds pedestrian walk-through!) and stunningly beautiful. The city's large Russian influence is not only expressed in the variety of languages spoken, but has heavily impacted the townscape.

Although compared to other European capitals Riga is small, some would even say tiny, its size does not take away any of the busyness and diversity the place radiates. Especially the Old Town with its beautiful buildings housing cafés, bars, night clubs and museums marks the vibrant heart of Riga. The façades of the houses are brightly colored, intercepted by plazas where during the long summer days locals and tourists alike enjoy each other's company until late at night.

Latvians are incredibly warm and heartily people. The levels of hospitality I was met with were beyond anything I had expected and expanded the notion of mere helpfulness: On one of the days my friend and I decided to visit the ethnographical museum a little outside of Riga. Unknown to us, due to the cold the museum usually does not open entirely until April after the last wave of arctic winds has subsided. Yet, as we walked around we got talking to one of the employees of the museum, who then gave us a private tour of the museum grounds not yet open to the public. We were allowed to enter a couple of the original buildings and the employee was more than happy to explain the use and workings of various old machinery to us. Needless to say that it was extremely interesting and that – despite the language barrier – I learned a lot about the lifestyle in the Latvian countryside.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012


As mentioned in my previous post, I spontaneously flew in my heimat for a couple of days. Heimat is German and does not have a proper English translation. This is because it is a feeling and as we all kind of know, those are hard to describe. The closest English translation would be home, but that translation is as far off as South Africa is from the South Pole. Loosly, Heimat is a concept constructed of past experiences and memories of a certain place, a place you know inside out, and for me my heimat is Berlin.

It is weird to observe how Berlin - once my heimat and home - is slowly becoming this place both near and far, comfortable and uncomfortable, relaxing and stressful. I have the street-smartness, but I don't know the streets anymore. Or, let me rephrase that, I know the streets but not the people living there.

Nonetheless, I had a wonderful couple of days - I spent valuable quality time with family and friends: My grandmother, mother and I went to one of our favorite lunch places called Vapiano and then enjoyed a boat tour on the river Spree, I went out with two of my closest friends, paid a visit to the zoo, hung out by the lake to endure the city heat and as always spent far too much money on shopping.