On The Love of the Game

It didn’t help that we stayed out until 8am that morning and only got two hours of sleep, but how many times were we going to be in Berlin to watch Germany play for a World Cup title? We made a bedraggled little quartet, a bit damp from the afternoon downpour, wedged into a nook of the bar as much by exhaustion as by determination. We ordered beers and waited for the game to begin.

I love the World Cup, though I don’t follow any football leagues during the rest of the four-year cycle. I owe this partially to my English father and childhood summers in Europe, but I think also to my fascination with sports fandom. I grew up in the heart of North Carolina, a region in which you are often defined by your college basketball allegiance (mine is Duke, the only acceptable option). Basketball agnosticism is not an option when you live in the eight mile stretch between Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium and UNC’s Dean Dome, even if you don’t actually like basketball. I remember being astounded when I went to college and met people who had never been a sports fan of any sort and did not seem to find their lives emotionally deficient. (more…)

Like the Last Note of a Love Song

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Today is my last day in Paris, a fact that sends more emotions through my body than I am equipped to process. Despite devoting my life to language, this is one of the moments when words completely fail me; I have no idea what to say. Instead, I picked up my camera and did the same thing I did when I arrived: I went for a walk through my neighborhood. Here, presented without commentary because I have none to provide, is what I saw.

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1996 David Foster Wallace Interview

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Hello all,

It seems that I am experiencing an input phase, rather than an output phase right now, which is why I’ve been so shamefully absent. Don’t worry, I’ll be back on here soon; just needed a breather and a moment to focus on consuming creative works to improve my own production.

I did want to stop in briefly to share this 1996 radio interview with David Foster Wallace though. It’s just 36 minutes long, but it’s wonderful, if also a little sad and incredibly poignant. Thank you, Open Source!

xo,

A

Place Settings #42: June 22, 2014

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Eat: Camembert and baguette.

Drink: Hold on to your hats, everyone, I have finally assembled a pour-over coffee station for myself. After a friend sent me some Blue Bottle beans from New York and I stumbled upon a ceramic Melitta cone in Berlin, I picked up the Hario hand grinder (daily arm workout included) and a small travel scale to complete the set. The Nespresso machine is sitting glumly in the back of a cabinet now. This morning I’m drinking Small World House Blend.

Read: During my travels to various English-speaking countries, I was able to pick up two copies of The New Yorker, a magazine that isn’t really available over here. I’ve been working my way through these two issues slowly, trying to drag out the experience for as long as possible. (more…)

Coffee Catch Up

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Grab a cup of coffee and your pastry of choice while I give you a quick catch-up on my life.

o n e || Obviously, I have been really bad at posting the past two weeks! After I got back from Berlin, it was my Paris best friend’s last weekend in town and then it was time to pack up and fly back to the States for my 5th college reunion. As is typical for alumni of my school, I have a huge amount of love — bordering on obsession — for my college days; I’ve been waiting for my 5th reunion since the moment I graduated. I got back to France on Monday afternoon and have been wallowing in nostalgia and mild depression ever since. In any case, we’re back on track now!

t w o || In other big news, I only have about a month left in Paris — everything is beginning to take on the tinge of nostalgia, even my laundromat. On July 10, I have a one-way ticket from Charles de Gaulle to Berlin Tegel Airport where I’ll be spending a month living with one of my best friends, whom I somehow convinced to join me from New York. I love Paris very much, but I’m also beyond excited to get to know Berlin.

t h r e e || A final life update: I’m moving back to New York in August to go back to school! I’m not too excited about the idea of returning to New York (I know, I know, I’m trying to adjust my attitude), but I’m very excited to be hitting the classroom again, especially to study creative writing.

Thanks for bearing with absent me the past few weeks, and hold onto your hats as we go to London this weekend, Paris for a few more weeks, off to Berlin for a month, and then back to the Big Apple!

xo,

Alyx

The Laziest Sunday

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I missed Place Settings yesterday, so I wanted to make up for it with this picture of the Eiffel Tower from my friend’s kitchen window. Sometimes one of your best Paris friends is leaving the city, possibly permanently, so you get everyone together and have a party and watch the sun rise from the roof and then Sunday is not for home cooking or fancy brunches and pretty photographs, but for sleeping and pretending that you were just part of that scene from Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette where they all party through the night.

Know what I mean?

xo,

Alyx (more…)

A Weekend in Berlin

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As I mentioned on Sunday, I was in Berlin over the weekend for an all-too-brief visit. I flew in early Saturday morning and left midday Monday and felt like I saw only a tiny fraction of what I wanted to see. That being said, I did cover a lot of ground for what was basically 48 hours and wanted to share the highlights with you.

Obviously above we have the Brandenburger Tor, which is actually the closest I ever got to West Berlin (other than riding the bus through it en route to/from Tegel Airport). When you spend a lot of time in Paris, I think you fall victim to something I’ll call the Triomphe Effect; the afflicted lose all sense of scale when it comes to arches and gates because the Arc de Triomphe is so huge. To me, the Washington Square Park arch in New York now seems laughably tiny and when I visited the Tor in Berlin, I was also surprised by its size. In my head it was much larger — and less cluttered with inebriated Borussia Dortmund and Bayern München fans who nobly took it upon themselves to prepare for the 20h Germany Cup final from the early morning hours (I’m happy to report that BM won, as my childhood Germany stints took place in Bayern). Despite the Triomphe Effect and the football horde, the historical symbolism of the Tor is still palpable. (more…)

Place Settings #41: May 18, 2014

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Eat: A big plate of sliced meats, cheeses, butter, and fruit from Café Anna Blume in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg. As much as I am a fan of an espresso and a pain au chocolat in the morning, I think German breakfasts are my favorite. They are basically the equivalent of grazing on a bunch of different things from a well-stocked refrigerator, which is my preferred way of eating.

Drink: A warm cup of coffee under an umbrella on a chilly, rainy, German morning. (more…)

Read Up: Berlin Blogs

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As I mentioned on Sunday, I’m heading to Berlin this weekend for a quick visit. I’ve never been to Berlin before, so I’ve been consulting my friends, speed-reading travel guides in bookstores, and of course browsing Berlin’s corner of the internet. During the course of my research, I’ve stumbled across some fantastic Berlin-based blogs that I wanted to share with all of you. Some of them are literally about the things to do, see, and eat in Berlin, but some are just lovely blogs that capture that Berlin je ne sais quoi. So whether you are planning a trip to Germany’s trendiest city or not, these links are worth a click. Bonus: they are all written in English.

Stil in Berlin is run primarily by Mary Sherpe, a contributing writer and photographer for Vogue Germany, and has a little bit of everything. Shopping, eating, and sightseeing guides (I found this blog while searching for Berlin coffee spots), art reviews, street fashion, and more. The photography and design is beautiful and it’s been the perfect starting point for my research. If you’re heading to Berlin, I recommend checking out the many guides on the website. Even if you aren’t, a quick browse through this blog (although it won’t be quick — I get sucked in and read page after page) will give you a lovely glimpse of the city.

I was immediately drawn to Berlin Reified‘s title — who wouldn’t be? It’s creator is Sylee Gore, who was born in Mumbai and grew up in the United States before moving to Berlin in 2000. The blog is a perfect mix of Berlin recommendations and beautiful lifestyle photos. Each post reads like a mini personal essay that includes a bit of Sylee’s life and an interesting Berlin spot or two. This blog makes for a wonderful read no matter where you are.

Überlin‘s creators, Zoë and James, packed up their London life several years ago and moved to Berlin (Randomly picking up and moving to another country? Sounds like something I’d do…), where they now maintain a gorgeous blog. Überlin also has a little bit of everything for all kinds of readers. Some posts are Berlin-specific, like their food and drink section or their recommendations for things to do around the city. Other posts will appeal to everyone, like “Music Mondays” and their thoughts on living an expat life. And with archives going back to 2010, it’s easy to spend an afternoon reading post after post.

I can feel a Best Wishes from Berlin addiction coming on. Jessica Jungbauer started Best Wishes in 2010 to document the lives of creative people living in Berlin. It’s now a magazine as well and there are Best Wishes from Amsterdam, Oslo, London, San Francisco, Melbourne, and Minneapolis. The short profiles on the website include recommendations for places to go and things to see in Berlin, but it’s also fascinating to learn about all these creative people and the projects on which they are currently working. Some of the subjects are expats living in Berlin and I love discovering which expat experiences we have in common and which are specific to Paris/Berlin.

Unlike Berlin City Guide is definitely oriented towards people living in or visiting Berlin, as it has comprehensive coverage of restaurants, bars, shops, art galleries, hotels, and other adventures (Unlike covers a host of other cities all over the world as well). It’s a bit overwhelming if you are like me and don’t know the city at all, but the great photographs and seemingly endless supply of information make it a great trip-planning resource. In fact, this website alone makes me wish I were going for much longer!

I hope this was interesting for you, even if Germany isn’t on your horizon. The first four of these websites have permanent spots in my RSS reader (Unlike Berlin is safely stowed in my “Berlin” Evernote folder in case I ever go back and need more tour guide-like information again). I’m even more excited for my Berlin getaway after scrolling through these blogs. Do you have any Berlin recommendations (online or in real life)?

Loire Valley #5: On the way home

A few weeks ago, I escaped city life and spent a relaxing week with my parents in the Loire Valley. I came back with 500 photos, so I’m breaking them up into a five-part series (last one!). Hope you enjoy!

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We’re finally at the end of the trip.

I. Tours Cathedral

Tours is the biggest city in the part of the Valley where we were staying and while we didn’t spend much time there, we did pop into town to see the cathedral. It’s not as big as Chartres, but it’s still quite impressive. Tours also took almost 400 years to build, compared to Chartres’s 55 years, to put Chartres in perspective. As a result, there are many different architectural styles visible in the building. Obviously the dominant style is Gothic, but some of the buttresses are Romanesque and the tops of the towers are early Renaissance.  (more…)