Unterwegs with plenty I should be doing otherwise

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The FilmfestMünchen is thankfully behind us. It’s the only week of the year where we can see a variety of independent film and even some not-yet-released-in-Europe bigger movies; however, the way I do it involves quite a lot of screenings. My eyes may or may not be rectangular, as a result.

There are still reviews to write and other projects in the pipeline, but I got a call from a good friend who’s visiting from the States. On her way back home tomorrow, the only way I was going to see her was to hop a train to Passau for the day.

What about my dogs Ella and Louis? Well, they’ve been riding the train since they were pups. This is almost second nature for them.

Ooh, here’s a photo I took of them a few years ago in Passau.

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Passau is a gorgeous smaller Bavarian city on the Austrian border and not far from the Czech Republic. It was actually one of the first places I took the dogs after bringing them home from Hamburg.

Although Germans know about this gem of a city, I rarely see any English-speaking tourists there. Perhaps someone writing in English should be talking more about it. Someone who knows a bit about Bavaria and enjoys writing about all that’s going on there.

I wonder who that could be.

winding streets and churches and finally cake

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What could be along this winding street in Palermo?

Suppose I’m easing into the more conventional travel photos, but they’re finally here. Things like this street are what I find myself more attracted to at the moment, though. Having said that, here’s the cathedral:

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From behind the Cattedrale Maria Santissima Assunta

Quite a name, eh? How many churches do you know with Santissima in their moniker? Oh, and if you liked that angle, check it out from the other side:

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Flying Buttresses and everything…

Although there are plenty of churches here and you could easily only talk about the wide variety on offer, as many as I’ve seen I didn’t get the best photos.

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While very Baroque on the inside, here’s another exterior of a church.

Have been trying to figure out what these red silos on the roof of the church are all about. I’m sure a proper travel blog would find that out for you, but something in me wants to continue wondering. Incidentally, it’s called the Chiesa di San Cataldo.

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The fountain that Goethe purportedly liked

Elaine’s theory is that there was so much dirty stuff in Palermo that when Goethe happened upon this fountain, he was impressed primarily because of its relative cleanliness. To me it seems uncommonly clean. Strange, isn’t it? Something quite gorgeous, but here I am questioning its authenticity in some form.

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Even in the off season, there are scooters whooshing by…everywhere.

You can smell the fuel just looking at this photo, right? Much like Athens, the streets here simply reek of it. The temperature apparently rarely falls to freezing here, so even though it gets cold, one can ride scooters year-round. And ride them they do.

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This gateway is part of the Palazzo dei Normanni, which is under some sort of construction.

Have seen some fantastic shots of this, but mine got it when it was in the midst of its regular maintenance. However, I suppose you can still see the best of it. Are they guarding the palace? I don’t think the ones without arms are going to be of much help.

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Yet another mystery of Palermo

How did this tree grow in such an odd winding manner? It’s almost as if it wants to stay as close to the wall as it possibly can.

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The reward for all the walking and breathing in fumes?

Then, at some point, we had cake. That thing on the left was some sort of pastry filled with and then slathered with a butter fat icing. There’s a lot of injecting food with liquid food here. It’s quite delicious, but you spend most of the time eating it marvelling at the mechanics of the whole thing. Then the other ones were a berry-flavoured cake and then a chocolate layered thing. Both were delicioso, or something…

I think this next photo says it all:

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Post carnage

 

oranges aren’t the only meat

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oranges aren’t the only meat 

There are already more photos of Palermo than one can shake the proverbial stick at, but I just can’t be bothered to sift through them yet and decide which are interesting to anyone other than me.

So, I’ll give you one ridiculous shot and a bit of a story. The handful of you who still come here are doing so for the narrative anyway, right? The photos are gravy, I’m assuming.

What’s with the title of this blogpost, you ask? Well, it comes thanks to Elaine (@elaine4queen), with whom I’m conquering Palermo. There was talk of cake, but we’ve not actually found any of that yet. In the process of our hunt for cake, however, we did find these Orange Balls.

We had both heard of these, but the billing didn’t quite do them justice. Nevertheless, until technology catches up and allows me to upload the taste of something on a blog, a description will have to suffice.

It’s a ball of some sort of corn breading with a variety of different fillings depending on the whims of whoever’s cooking. In this case, we were offered either Ham and Cheese or Meat. When I inquired about what sort of meat specifically was involved in the latter, the woman behind the counter looked at me incredulously and said with an odd finality, ‘Meat.’

Some might have balked, but now I was genuinely curious. The decision was snatched away from us, when the woman announced that they were, alas, out of the Ham and Cheese. We were having the Meat, and have it we did.

They were delicious. There’s a reason why numerous people, upon hearing we were going to Palermo, insisted we try the Orange Balls. There’s nothing remotely citrus about them, incidentally. Orange is a colour here, rather than a taste. Yet they were filling and somehow decadent, and even before we were halfway done, it was clear that there would be no room left for cake.

You could possibly be one of those folk who believes there’s always room for cake. To such a person, I’ll only say, ‘Have an Orange Ball in Palermo and get back to me on that one.

A break in the mundane for a bit of Bon vivantery

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The Lenbach House in Munich’s Maxvorstadt neighbourhood.

Training for my new job has taken much of my time & nearly all of my energy, so the first thing that’s taken a backseat was blogging. Was recently alerted that this incarnation of my blogging is exactly two years old. Too bad I’ve not prepared anything more festive to celebrate the occasion.

However, I do have some rather good news for the excitement level of this site. Read recently that Elaine (@elaine4queen) was planning to run off and join the circus. Then I received an offer she thought I couldn’t refuse: Would I like to go with her? Run away and join the circus? Well, I don’t think either Elaine or I were cut out for the acrobatic or circus-like arts, but when she came up with a second option, I couldn’t resist. What, you ask, might that second option be?

WE’RE GOIN’ TO PALERMO, YOU MOTHER SCRATCHERS…

Now, up until now I’ve refrained from bandying about stale stereotypes about Sicily being overrun by mafia sorts. To be frank, I’m momentarily easily distracted by stories of Palermo being the international centre of cake. What’s in store for you neglected readers in the next week or so is quite arguably the best thing that’s been going on hereabouts for a very long while.

Let the cake-ing commence. I can’t promise there won’t be at least one utterance of the questionably-attributed Marie Antoinette quote. You know? The one about running away and joining the circus.

slowed to a crawl

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Getting out of the sunlight

Because of a new job and other obligations, there hasn’t been much time for blogging lately. Nevertheless, I was going through photos of Seville recently and  was reminded of the above moment when I escaped the burning sunlight. If you’re wondering whether this place was as peaceful as it looks, the answer is yes.

My friends who live in Seville, with whom I stayed  on that trip, were visiting Munich earlier in the summer, and it was such a pleasure to show off my adopted hometown.  There were a few evenings, after I’d been in the office all day and they had been traipsing around taking in the sights, where we sat and watched the dusk fade to nighttime.

There were no particularly profound things said. We reminisced about earlier times and momentarily solved some of the world’s more complicated problems. As much as I love the other seasons, this seems to be something particular to summer. That feeling of expansiveness after a good meal.

Some of us at the table had had what seemed to have been the perfect amount to drink, while others picked at the cheese plate that was served in lieu of dessert. Time may not have stood still, but it certainly slowed to a crawl.

Nothing like a meal with old friends, is there?

out of a funk…onto a journey

Where are we going, anyway?

Where are we going, anyway?

There’s only one way to ease back into this ol’ Dachshund Blog, and it’s not to ease in at all. My intention is to slog in full speed. As quickly as one can slog, I suppose. Where have I been? What have I been doing? Well, the specifics are rather unexciting for the most part, but there were a few moments in the last several months that have made it really difficult to blog. Difficult to do much more than the bare minimum, actually.

One incredibly traumatic thing happened, however, and I just couldn’t talk about it. Not here, not on social media…not anywhere for a while. There are people I’m relatively close to who didn’t hear about my moment of inexplicable horror until much later. I suppose it’s not fair for me to mention such a thing and then not to be any more specific, but that’s the way it has to be.

Almost immediately thereafter I had a moment where I questioned nearly everything. It’s not quite gone, actually. That moment seems to have spread out into a long surreal moment. I’ve lived in Germany for more than a decade and have really enjoyed it, but in an instant I couldn’t be here anymore.

What’s difficult for me is that being here is part of my identity. This focus of this blog has partially been about being an outsider in a very curious place. A place that’s equal parts charming, preposterous and inexplicable. How can one attempt to explain such a thing, you ask? Those are the best things to try to get at, actually. The ones that might at first seem insurmountable.

So, what happens next? First of all, I’m going to use this space to say goodbye to Germany. There’s no telling what’s in store for me, so it’s entirely possible that I end up back here someday. Perhaps I only come back here periodically. We shall certainly see.

I speak the language, am fascinated by the culture, and am genuinely curious about how they got to this point and where they’re going. My German experiment is by no means completed. However, things do change, and my intention is to take you along for the ride.

There aren’t any definite plans as of yet, by the way. What’s that line about a journey of an incredibly long distance starting with a single step? This is my first one of those. Right now I’m wondering if there are still any of you who’d like to come along.

 

blogging takes a backseat

blogging takes a backseat

Lately, I’ve been moving house, saying goodbye to the lady with whom I used to live and pretty much just trying not to freak the fuck out. Today, I’ve got no appointments for the first time in eons…getting on a train and just going. No-one knows where. You know there’ll be a blogpost about it. You know that, right?

Day in a feminine city one year on…

red morning on the roofs of Florence

It’s been almost a year since I began this blog, so I’ve decided to repost some of my auld material in honour of my blogiversary. Fun stuff, eh?

So, here was one of the very first blogposts I came up with. The thought of not documenting a trip to the Medici family’s city with a few photos here was unthinkable.

Florence is a truly beautiful city, and I was surprised at what you found once you got away from where the majority of the tourists go. Tea shops and real people and whatnot.
The very thought makes me want to book a flight and spend the weekend there in the very near future. One never knows…

Here’s the original blogpost I mentioned above:

Day in a feminine city

Elaine’s Cuppa Cake

Elaine’s already gotta place to land when she gets to Scotland!

Our favourite Tottenham Riviera blogger elaine4queen has been threatening to move to Scotland, so I happened upon the perfect place for her. Her own café. Where we can all go and be sweary and inappropriate. As we are wont to do.

This isn’t easy – all this blogging. To be honest, I’ve never been a daily blogger. Well, there was a time I wrote a post everyday on my teablog, and that was enjoyable. Was even travelling a lot at the time, and wrote about tea drinking in Vienna and Hamburg and whatnot. I’m not against daily blogging in theory, but it’s really difficult to be out there living and documenting it simultaneously.

Lately, when faced with the choice, I’ve gone with the ‘focus on the life swirling round you‘ approach, and have taken sporadic notes along the way. At some point, I’ll get round to actually making those into blogposts.

There’s a great place where we stayed right outside of Durham, and I’d like to finally write a bit about the Lambton Hounds Inn, which is in the curiously named neighbourhood of ‘Pity Me‘. I mentioned in my last blogpost, and I assure you I’ve not forgotten it.

And then Fafa, which is my mother’s childhood nickname, and I went on to Lindisfarne in Northumbria. That’s worthy of at least three blogposts right there. One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. And if you know me even a little, you know I’ve been a lot of places.

Here’s a taste of what’s ahead:

Everybody goin’ to the castle on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne…

Then we went to another castle that someone told us was involved in the filming of all of that Harry Potter nonsense, but when we got there, they were having a wedding and the place was closed off to visitors.

Turns out Bamburgh Castle has no connection whatsoever to the filming of those books that I’ve not yet read, but I suppose I will at some point. *sigh*

Mother claiming Bamburgh Castle for her own!

So, that’s a taste of what’s to come…aren’t you excited? Here’s your not-quite-humble-enough blogger at the same castle:

One of the few times you’ll see ol’ Lahikmajoe in less than formal attire.

seeking refuge wherever they’ll have me

A table for sacrificial offerings at Durham Catherdral

Here’s Durham Catherdral, which is one of the most beautiful examples of Norman (Romanesque) architecture in the world.

Pay attention to the directions and what not…

1093? Really? Goodness me, that’s old.

Knocking at the door for sanctuary…not easy being a fugitive

Durham Cathedral was famous across England for being an official place of sanctuary for fugitives, such as myself. What a relief to know I could show up, knock on the door with this gargantuan knocker, and be granted 37 days in order to decide whether I wanted to stand trial or get the hell out of Dodge.

If you decided not to stand trial, you had to leave the country immediately from the nearest port, in this case normally Newcastle.

Familar name, eh? Yes, that Washington…his family was from this region.

The Washington family came from near Durham. I like the way this plaque is worded.

‘…whose family has won an everlasting name in lands to him unknown.’

You know who they’re talking about, right? One of the American presidents (the first one) had the same name, which is convenient because it happened to be his family. This is where George Washington comes from.

The cloisters…

Took so many photos of this, and I’m not really happy with any shot I got. This is the least bad one of many quite dreadful ones. You’re welcome.

Looking through the break in the wall at one of the wings of the Cathedral.

If this reminds you at all of Notre Dame in Paris, it’s the same style of architecture. It’s quite an engineeering marvel, but let me let Wikipedia explain that part:

The building is notable for the ribbed vault of the nave roof, with pointed transverse arches supported on relatively slender composite piers alternated with massive drum columns, and flying buttresses or lateral abutments concealed within the triforiumover the aisles. These features appear to be precursors of the Gothic architecture of Northern France a few decades later, doubtless due to the Norman stonemasons responsible, although the building is considered Romanesque overall. The skilled use of the pointed arch and ribbed vault made it possible to cover far more elaborate and complicated ground plans than before. Buttressing made it possible to build taller buildings and open up the intervening wall spaces to create larger windows.

I’m fascinated with how light streams into a room. Perhaps I’m a bit feline in this way, but even as a young child I could sit for long stretches of time watching sunbeams. I’m reminded of Sunday mornings before everyone was herded into the car to go to church, when sometimes I was ready early and could just sit and daydream. Many people light a candle when they meditate. Although I’m not against that, a beam of sunlight does the trick for the likes of me.

lonely window in the tower

This is the sort of photo that I’m sure would be dramatically better had I a better camera and had spent some time actually learning how to use it.

Atop the Cathedral tower…

Here’s what it looks like from up there…or did the other day when I was there.

Looking down from the tower…

Lots of construction…good on them for biting the bullet in times of financial insecurity.

The River Wear gave me so many photo opportunities. I liked the way the water and the church looked together.

It’s taken me a few days to publish this post. Not because I did a tonne of research or anything. It’s just that each new day, Fafa (my mother) and I get back on the trail and see new things.

What do you have to look forward to in the coming days? Well, the neighbourhood we stayed in in Durham is called ‘Pity Me‘, which sounded curious to me. I did a bit of proper research, and I’m rather certain you’ll enjoy what I found.

Then we went to Lindisfarne, which quite honestly is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. There’s something to look forward to, isn’t it? I’ll get to that soon enough. This is enough for one day, don’t you think?

Because they won’t allow photos of the interior, this is all I can show you of the church.