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‘Excursions’ Category

  1. A quick photo-tour of Kreuzberg

    October 7, 2012 by Kaitlin

    I left Berlin minorly obsessed with Kreuzberg. This is the mostly residential neighborhood just southwest-ish of the River Spree. A lot of Turkish immigrants live there, as well as artists, musicians and students. You can get 3 euro doner kebabs next to a shop that sells roller derby gear. There’s street art everywhere.

    I heard it called the Williamsburg of Berlin, the Portland of Berlin and the Echo Park of Berlin. OK, I may have dubbed it that last one.

    But it’s really none of those things. It’s Kreuzberg.

    Christie, a graphic designer also on the trip, and I spent one long, wandering afternoon there. Her photos are much edgier and have more fun angles than mine, but I did what I could. The following morning I went back to a different part of the neighborhood to take a yoga class (Julie was great. If you’re in town, take a class with her). And now that I think about it, I went back yet again the next day to go to a spa/sauna/soaking pool place called the Liquidrom. They have a massive heated saltwater soaking pool in a dark room where they project soft, colorful lights on the walls and play gently pulsing music. If there’s still any question in your mind, yes, you should go there.

    Most of the time I spent there, I didn’t have a destination in mind, so here are the sights of Kreuzberg, as I encountered them.

    Song is King of Kreuzberg by Shotgun Jimmie, from his 2011 album, Transistor Sister.


  2. And, being done, thus Wall away doth go

    October 7, 2012 by Kaitlin

    I took a lot of pictures in Germany. You probably don’t want to see them all because they are mostly of buildings. Or street art on buildings. Or dogs.

    There is, however, one kinda cool one I didn’t even remember taking until I uploaded all my pictures.

    A couple looks at historic images on the border of the former wall, near Checkpoint Charlie

    Mauer means wall. Swear.

    These two people are standing, unknowingly, I think, on opposite sides of what used to be the Berlin Wall. The reddish bricks are where the wall used to be.

    Don’t believe me? Ask the plaque.

    I don’t even remember if the person on the right is a man or a woman. It doesn’t matter, and I like that too.

     

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  3. Guter Hund!

    October 6, 2012 by Kaitlin

    I sat down to write the obligatory post-international travel blog post thinking about a lot of things: the strength of German public media*, the unique situation on the international economic stage Germany currently finds itself, and the ups and downs of group travel.

    But what I kept coming back to were German dogs.

    Just checkin’ each other out at Görlitzer Park

    Yes, I saw some gorgeous German shepherds, but I also glimpsed French Bulldogs, Golden Retrievers, Pugs, and tons of scrappy mixed breed terriers. Most of them weren’t attached to leashes.

    All over Berlin, people were out with their dogs. At the cafes, at the parks, on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn and tram. It’s like the city got together and came to an agreement. I’ll train and socialize my dog, take him on lots of walks, and you won’t freak out when you see him in public.

    The result is a community filled with lots of chill canines that are allowed to be, well, dogs. They don’t have dog parks because every park is a dog park. It’s a set up that made me super happy.

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  4. Ten-and-a-half-or-so tiny book reviews

    August 15, 2012 by Kaitlin

    Oh right, I have a blog.

    I would say I’m back from the wilderness, but the truth is I’m in the wilderness–if you consider the wilderness a cabin with all kinds of modern amenities and a wifi hotspot.

    Since I last wrote, I left London, flew to DC to interview for a job I didn’t get (spoiler alert!), flew to Texas, hugged my family and picked up my car, drove to LA, graduated from USC, drove to Portland then middle-of-nowhere Washington, did Sasquatch, drove back to LA, worked a 10-week internship at Morning Edition at NPR West, went to weddings in Cleveland, Nashville and finally Quechee, Vermont, where I hugged my family again and then traveled with them to an undisclosed location in the Northern Adirondacks. It’s totally not a secret, but it’s way more fun to say “undisclosed location.” Waiting for me there was my dog Pivo, and my heart felt full once more.

    And now I blog. That’s what Thoreau was always on about, right?

    Besides writing, when I’m lucky enough to be here, I also read. I spent a good chunk of the summer learning about all kinds of wonderful books and movies through NPR interviews and compiled a massive to-read/watch list. Someone tell me why, then, I can’t put down the third Game of Thrones book. Full dorkdom revealed.

    I also read some in London, and in a total rip-off of the brilliant Jen Andrews, I thought I’d just leave little tidbits of reviews for the books I’ve read this year.

    This is how I prefer to read–under a tree at Downton Abbey.

    Note, Jen reads a lot more than I do, but she’s way smarter than I am, and you have to take into consideration that I lost about a month on the second Game of Thrones book because it’s really long (and I won’t bother reviewing it here because you’ve all obviously already seen the TV show) AND I watched the entire Sopranos series (not one season, the entire series) in an unhealthily condensed amount of time. No reading was happening then. But way back in January, when I was again enjoying cabin time, it was.

    Reviews after the jump, in the order that I read them.

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  5. Fernandomania and the Dog Whisperer

    September 16, 2011 by Kaitlin

    This morning I covered a special presentation at City Hall in connection with Latino Heritage Month. You can read the whole write-up over at Intersections.

    Mayor Villaraigosa gave awards to Sal Castro, Fernando Valenzuela and Cesar Millan.

    Three super cool dudes. No, really.

    For a quick reference, Castro was the teacher who helped lead the 1968 East LA walkouts. HBO made a movie about him and his students.

    Mayor Villaraigosa and Fernando Valenzuela

    Valenzuela is the only baseball player in Major League history to win Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young Award in the same year. I admit I didn’t know this until this morning, but several baseball fans have since confirmed that this is a big freakin’ deal. He started a craze called Fernandomania.

    And Millan is the Dog Whisperer. Duh. I’ve seen Councilman Bill Rosendahl speak at lots of events, but until today, I had never heard him address anyone by saying, “Cesar! Woof! Woof! That’s from my dog! He’s a German shepherd. He loves you! Woof, woof!” Later, I saw a man RUNNING up to Millan, holding two Chihuahuas, one wearing a mini Mexican flag like a cape and the other donning a sombrero.

    In some ways, it was a weird day. In other ways, it’s just LA.

    Thumbs up for calm-assertive energy

    As I was walking back to my car, a guy in a gray sweatsuit kinda jogged up to me and started chatting. He asked if I was from LA (nope) and how long I had lived here (just over a year). He said he was LA born and raised. Then he asked if I knew where the closest Wendy’s was. The look on my face must have betrayed my thoughts (if you’re the one who was born and raised here, why are you asking me where to get a Frosty?), and he explained. “I just got done doing time, and the Wendy’s I used to go isn’t there any more.”

    Suddenly the (county-issued) gray sweatsuit made sense. When he said just got done serving time, he really meant JUST GOT DONE. I felt bad that I didn’t know where a Wendy’s was. And I wasn’t even able to offer him a good alternative. “I’m sorry,” I said, “I’m not all that familiar with downtown.”

    “Me neither, anymore,” he said.

    For a moment, it felt very “Strangers in a Strange Land.” Then we made it to my car. I wished him well and got in, feeling kind of hollow, wishing that as one of the first people he interacted with post-incarceration, I had been able to offer him something more.

    But before shit got all depressing, I took some fun pictures at the Latino Heritage Month event. After the jump, you’ll see that I wasn’t lying about those Chihuahuas.

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  6. Signs and sprawl: Back in Los Angeles

    August 30, 2011 by Kaitlin

    Welp, a couple plane rides and a 1,400 mile road trip later, I’m back in LA. To prove it, here’s the Hollywood sign as seen (OK, there’s some zoom involved here) from our Echo Park porch. Granted, me saying I can see Hollywood is a little like Sarah Palin saying she can see Russia. Yeah, it’s there, but that realm of LA is pretty far-removed from where I function.

    Mmm, Hollywood and smog

    Reporting in LA, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on unique parts of the city, and every so often I’ll stumble across something in the periphery of working on a story that makes me think, “Now there’s a good insider tip!” But then I remember that knowing which kind of burrito to order from the Compton Courthouse cafeteria (one of them is actually good, I promise!) is not the kind of info most Angelinos or visitors seek. But I’m alright with that.

    I was reminded of the scope of LA sprawl and the diversity it creates while visiting former Cape Town roommate Mary Beth in Marina del Ray, 20 miles across town. Even with no traffic, it’s a bit of a trek. She lives in this great community right by the water that has this whole nautical resort theme going on—very different than the hipster/taco truck/discount store mash-up that pervades Echo Park. Funny that now that we’re back in the States but no longer living together, it feels like we’re functioning on separate continents.

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  7. Lion’s Head Hike…now with a slideshow!

    August 15, 2011 by Kaitlin

    When I mentioned the full moon hike on Lion’s Head in an earlier post, it occurred to me that I never wrote about my own experience hiking Lion’s Head.

    No one really wants to read about a hike unless we’re talking “Into Thin Air,” and since nothing went disastrously wrong (although there was that potential—those chains are intense!), I’ll spare you the words and present you with a slideshow.

    *This slideshow is a blatant rip-off of Sarah Golden’s Grahamstown roadtrip slideshow. Please take a moment and check out the source of my inspiration.


  8. You call this art?

    July 5, 2011 by Kaitlin

    Every year, in the dead of South African winter, the country’s National Arts Festival takes over the university town of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. Telling South Africans I’d be going to the Grahamstown Festival would invoke one of two responses: “Ohmygosh, you are going to just love it! The art, the creative geniuses, the parties—it’s all fabulous!”

    Or: “What’s Grahamstown?”

    Well, to my travel companions and me, Grahamstown is that place where we spent some quality time in the police station, saw a Dutch guy ribbon dance while wearing high heels and singing Lady Gaga, and slept in multiple layers of pants and sweaters because it was so cold—and that was all within the first 12 hours of arriving.

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