I can’t put down this book right now. Highly recommended!
Alain de Botton - The Art of Travel - Here is a nice summary of the book:
“Few things are as exciting as the idea of travelling somewhere else. But the reality of travel seldom matches our daydreams. The tragi-comic disappointments are well-known: the disorientation, the mid-afternoon despair, the lethargy before ancient ruins. And yet the reasons behind such disappointments are rarely explored.
We are inundated with advice on where to travel to; we hear little of why we should go and how we could be more fulfilled doing so. The Art of Travel is a philosophical look at the ubiquitous but peculiar activity of travelling ‘for pleasure’, with thoughts on airports, landscapes, museums, holiday romances, photographs, exotic carpets and the contents of hotel mini-bars. The book mixes personal thought with insights drawn from some of the great figures of the past. Unlike existing guidebooks on travel, it dares to ask what the point of travel might be - and modestly suggests how we could learn to be less silently and guiltily miserable on our journeys. “
It is finally *really winter here (*snow, -10 degrees…etc) in Berlin & I have been searching for some really nice winter tunes to get me through the sometimes grey days. I came across Wolf Maps last week on SoundCloud and fell in love with his ambient yet electronic droney sounds. Wolf Maps is based in London & today “Borderline November” is what I am listening to.
You can also download his EP “Borderline November” for free from his Bandcamp page here.
SoundClouder of the Day | Computer Magic | Grand Junction
Computer Magic is the solo project of 22-year-old Danielle “Danz” Johnson - she resides in Brooklyn and her music is known to cause infectious dance parties at the SoundCloud office. She is our #scotd! http://soundcloud.com/computer-magic
Know your city inside out? Want to know it more? Got amazing skills and are looking for a global platform to share them on? As we approach the launch of our new app and website, the Unlike family is growing and we’re looking for talented, passionate individuals to join our Berlin team in the…
I couldn’t see anything when I walked into the cloudy steamed filled room but the lower halves of white nude bodies.
The room was small, probably about five feet wide and it was heated up but mostly it felt like if you were to step into a cloud that was just about to spill from being too full of water. I sat down next to the glass paned door because I couldn’t see further down the little room and I was also afraid that I would become claustrophobic. Ed and Sarah came with me and we sat in silence fully clothed (in bathing suites) in the wet sauna, water droplets splashed onto my head and my skin was so moist and the water dripped down my cheek onto my bare legs. A man stood up and reached his long arms up towards the imaginary sky and he stretched fully nude in front of us. I breathed in deeply and shut my eyes.
It was a Saturday around 6pm when we decided to check out the famous Berlin sauna & thermal baths somewhere in a part of Kreuzberg I have never heard of. We waited about 15 minutes for our names to be called to pay and enter what would turn out to be “relaxation heaven” or otherwise known as the Liquidrome. I had been tipped off to the amazingness of the place by magical Twitter and since I had spent the last three weeks traveling non stop, it seemed like the best place to be during my first weekend back in Berlin after the Holidays.
For about 20 euros we were given access to two hours to use the thermal pools (indoors & outdoors), the relaxation room (sorta an indoor room with a lot of lawn chairs — also that is just the name I called it, not sure if it even had a name) and usage of the multiple saunas. My first impression of the place upon entering was that at some point I was probably going to see a lot naked body parts and I was probably going to add to the equation with my own. It kinda made me nervous. I could pretend that I am one of those new age California types who is completely fine with nudity and thinks that the human form is beautiful…etc, but I grew up in Texas where no one was nude in front of each other unless you really wanted to be so when nudity hits my corneas and it isn’t in a bedroom, I can’t help but feel a little insecure. I also am a starer, so I was a bit worried that my lazy wandering eyes would be judged for their power to fixate on someones dangling bits. You can probably tell, I am also a worrier.
We walked into the joint locker room that was divided by air and a few changing rooms and Sarah and I peeled off our winter clothes and placed them in our lockers (that came with the initial fee we paid). Stripped down to our teeny bikinis, we took showers in the shower room and then made our way into the main room of the Liquidrome. Inside we were greeted by naked middle aged men and women on our left entering the saunas and showering. In front of us there were robe clad individuals at the bar reading books, eating baked potatoes on deck chairs, sleeping and/or generally looking incredibly content with their current circumstances.
After about 5-10 minutes of shock, awe, confusion (over where the pool was and also where the saunas were), we finally found the largest thermal pool and dipped in. It was like what I imagine the Playboy mansions grotto looks like and probably feels like. There was even a couple making out in the corner! The water was warm and salty and relaxing — there was even music being pumped into underwater speakers (I think it was some-sort of electronic music or it might have been whale sounds.) Overall the pool was nice but I knew what I came for and it was to be heated up severely in a wooden room surrounded by naked people and until I accomplished that, I would not be satisfied.
Walking into the second sauna that I tried, I decided to break off from Sarah and Ed. I discovered the “panoramic” 80 degree Finnish sauna that had three tiers all made from wood. I got by wearing my bikini in there and laid out next to a woman near the door. My skin slowly dried up and I felt like I was being baked after about 10 minutes. My pores felt amazing and I was beginning to relax fully when three older men and women entered. The hot blanket of air that was practically hugging me was sucked out the door and I decided to follow it to the next sauna so I got up and walked out into the shower room between the sauna. It was packed full of men taking showers so I waited and rinsed myself off in due time with icy cold blasts of seemingly arctic water.
I met Sarah and Ed in the corridor a moment later and they suggested I try the hottest sauna. They had already tried it and both looked red but I trusted their judgement as you should too. Advice: try the hottest Finnish sauna, Finnish people know how to build a sauna. Heated to 90 degrees, it is the largest sauna and also the most crowded but bodies are in and out within a matter of minutes as it is quite the scorcher. Also, you absolutely have to be naked in this one or else an attendant will yell at you in German in front of everyone — you don’t want that to happen.
As I entered the sauna I moved delicately past the nude plethora of white arms, legs, butts, boobs and bits and found my way to an empty spot on the top tier of the furthest wall. It had to be the hottest spot and that’s why it was open and after a few seconds I was glad to be naked and I even wanted to peel my own skin off to get some more ventilation. I sat there looking around at the other poor souls in that sauna torturing themselves like me until the very last second until they truly had to depart that room because they knew, just like me, that they would feel damn good upon leaving. 10 minutes was enough for me and I fled, escaping into the main room and straight to the bar where I promptly ordered a large water and sat with Sarah and Ed.
We continued our sauna roulette for some time until we reached the two hour mark and I was glad that I had planned a message the following week so I could try out some more of the Liquidromes’ features. I could see that it would be easy to stay there for four hours or even a full day as it is fully stocked with food, drinks, a place to relax and a lot of creature comforts.
Some pro tips:
Bring your own towels, bath robes, slippers, water bottles and books. Towels, bath robes, slippers and even swim wear are available to rent but they cost around 5 Euros each.
Also, stay for 4 hours — it is only about 5 euros more than staying 2 hours and it will give you time to eat (most meals are around 6 euros) and also you can relax in the deck chairs between sauna/thermal pool sessions.
My biggest tip is to just dive in head first and embrace the fact that saunas are where naked people are and so should you be. Don’t be embarrassed and if you are just wear a towel around yourself, people will look at you funny if you ARE wearing clothes so why not just go with the grain for the afternoon and let it all hang out?
My rating for the Liquidrome is 4/5 and I left feeling incredibly relaxed. Overall, it was an amazing experience.
“Taking trains and trams in Berlin, I noticed: people reading. Books, I mean, not pocket-size devices that bleep as if censorious, on which even Shakespeare scans like a spreadsheet. Americans buy more than half of all e-books sold internationally — unless Europeans fly regularly to the United States for the sole purpose of downloading reading material from an American I.P. address. […] I began asking the multilingual, multiethnic artists around me why that was. It was 2 a.m., at Soho House, a private club I’d crashed in the former Hitlerjugend headquarters. One installationist said, “Americans like e-books because they’re easier to buy.” A performance artist said, “They’re also easier not to read.” True enough: their presence doesn’t remind you of what you’re missing; they don’t take up space on shelves.”—Joshua Cohen, My Berlin Airlift - NYTimes.com (via housingworksbookstore)
Music as I see it. Written in 10 minutes. I thought it would be fun. Challenge = give yourself 10 minutes to write in any way that you would like about your thoughts on music - any thoughts, any way - ready, set, go! And remember to stop at 10 minutes…and ya I did it too!
Music as I see it.
My mind is there. Your mind is not here, it is “here” and the music takes it there and there it stays until you change the music and then it goes somewhere else and that place can be cold or warm or wet or dry or it could make you laugh or cry or fall in love but it makes you feel and that is the point.
Where do you go?
When you get there you want to stay there and you don’t want the music to stop. The lyrics, the melody, the beat, the pulse, the sounds all around you and you are stubborn and you only like what you like and so do I. I scoff at the others and we listen on our record player and we are silent but the music is loud and we melt together and sometimes we hold hands but we say nothing. And you are miles away by a whole big gigantic sea.
The lyrics in a song have so much power over me and sometimes they make me smile and sometimes they make me feel uncomfortable and if they are empty lyrics, they make me sad and if they are heavy lyrics they can make me sad too, but the point is someone has taken time to write them and they probably affect someone else in a positive way and to me that is beautiful and also so poetic and I want to breathe in the lyrics and fly away with them and that is very corny. But I mean it.
My friend who is an artist tells me to “ignore all the people who talk about beats” because everyone calls their music “beats.” “Check out my phat beats” “ Yo listen to my beats!” … etc … and maybe it is shitty music or maybe even someone elses music mashed up together but I still see some beauty in that and I like the word “beats” and I like the beat of the drum and the beat to a sax solo and the beat in a song. The beat goes on.
Music is therapy. It is the best kind of therapy because in some cases you don’t have to pay anything for it. Music can reach deep and the feeling of loud intense bass on a Saturday morning at 4am in an abandoned yet packed warehouse can be enough to get you through the day or the year or just that moment and how could that be considered a bad thing?
Music has the power to heal. Billie Holiday’s voice on a rainy day in Winter while walking home from work can have the power to wipe away all the pain or maybe for some to add to it but for me it can only do good. Thom Yorke’s lyrics blow me away, far away and away and away until I am so far away that I forget how to come back to that place I was before and I am just singing along and it is a feeling that makes me feel whole. Music is my therapy.
Maybe that is cliche, but I do not care. When our orange, ever so gaudy easyJet plane touched down in Orly, my heart exploded and dissolved into a million poorly accented “Bonjour’s” and “Oui’s” and “S’il vous plait’s” and I could not stop smiling. We weren’t even in the heart of Paris yet but everything got lighter instantly and something about the air in Paris felt electric.
The sun was shining and it made my face warm and we went to the Sacre Coeur first after dropping our bags at Juliens. Climbing up the steps I peeled off layers of clothing and didn’t let Alex look back onto the city until we reached the top. We had been up since 5am but seeing that white beauty at the top of the hill was motivation enough to get us up, so we climbed and my heart was beating so fast and it felt so good.
Overlooking the city, all Alex could say was “Oh my God” and I said it too but not out-loud. My hands were trembling so I hid them under my scarf and my face felt hot and the sun was beating on us even harder and the Eiffel Tower was in the distance and it was so beautiful that I could barely handle it.
Paris is elegant.
The French language is so easy on the ears.
My heart swells for Paris and everything is in focus.
Gare du Nord.
Beautiful men in pea-coats.
Women so skinny and bitchy but fabulous and it somehow works. Bright red lipstick, no apologies.
Couples kissing so passionately near the toilettes. They don’t notice.
A child screaming at Pigalle.
Pigeons everywhere, wild.
Everywhere there is passion.
I almost forgot how to spell passion.
The passion is thick here and sweet and drips like honey.
It is contagious and overwhelming but so good. The city is so alive and the city breathes and you can feel it in the metro and on the streets and the heartbeat thuds and it is deep.
Juliens apartment is in the 10th arrondissement near Colonel Fabian on the M2 and it is so perfect and so French and he has the best assortment of travel books I have seen. When we arrive he is studying with an Arabic tutor and when we come back after the first day, he is leaving for another lesson for another language and it is beautiful and inspiring.
Café au lait et Fromage et Vin et Pain au chocolat et Macarons
So much quality food around. So much quality in general. It is obvious Parisians know how to enjoy life and they love that and they know it and they are so proud of that and they also know how proud they are and they could give less of a shit and I love it. Some people hate it, but I love it.
It is easy to shun the outside world when you have Paris to keep you warm, to kiss you gently on the forehead, to push you up against the wall passionately and make you fall in love.
It is so easy with the gorgeous parks and the gilded bridges and the old metros and the cobblestone walks and the fresh bread and the art everywhere. It is the ideal place for the romantic at heart and for poets and for dreamers but mostly for those that can handle Parisians.