Brockwell Park in London on a Fine April Day

Traveling is almost back to normal, but some things have changed for me. For one, I’m happy to stay home, and have our adult children visit me instead. Also, my last experience trying to book a flight with decent arrival and departure times, left me cancelling it altogether. In the end, I did not mind spending money on a round-trip ticket which I would not use. 37 messages and phone calls between the travel platform and me really took the fun out of any future travel experience.

Again, I was happy for them to keep the money, and I could stay home.

Nowadays, I prefer being an arm chair traveler, in the comfort of my own home. Fortunately, my adult children still get around, and share their photos with me.

Our son just moved to a new flat within south London, and discovered this beautiful park across the street.

Brockwell Park, London

I have been to London several times, but it was always for some event (graduation ceremony, concert, wedding, etc.) My next visit, if at all, will be to any park in London, where I can enjoy a picnic, observe nature, load up on vitamin D, take photos, and visit myself.

This has to be a British thing – I have never seen a clock installed in a park.

Being happy, when alone, is the greatest blessing one can have in life. – Venkat Desireddy

Cherry Blossoms in Washington, D.C.

For the past couple of years, like many of us, I have taken to mostly armchair traveling, and have few chances to take photos. But with both adult children living out of the country (London and Washington), I still get to travel a bit with the help of their photos. With their friendly permission, I get to post them here. Thanks, Margo.

Our daughter Margo took these photos after work in Washington, D.C, probably sometime between the end of a workday and Happy Hour.

When my husband and I looked at her photos, we both realized we had never been to the Washington Monument Grounds in springtime. In the early 90s, when we lived in Westminster, MD, we often took our international visitors for sight-seeing to DC. Family and friends often came during the hot and humid summer though… never in spring time.

In Germany, the best places to enjoy cherry blossoms are in Bonn, Hofheim i.T., Schwetzingen, Hamburg and some other cities.

To view the best 10 cities in Germany, visit: Japan in Deutschland Cherry Blossom Viewing

Washington Monument March 2022

Washington Monument Grounds in springtime

We experienced three seasons of Cherry Blossom viewing while living in Japan. The only difference between Hanami in Japan and cherry blossom viewing here is – most Japanese have blankets to sit on the grass, and they bring a lot of good food, and alcoholic beverages. Lots of it.

Washington, D.C.

Visit to Idstein in the Taunus

During this fairly quiet week between the Christmas holiday and the New Year, we decided to visit Idstein. This little town is known for its historical Altstadt lined with many beautiful half-timbered houses. Idstein is also part of the Deutsche Fachwerkstraße (German Half-timbered Houses Road), which connects selected towns with historic half-timbered houses and buildings.

We were quite impressed with what we found – such a jewel close to home. From friends I also heard it is famous for its many micro breweries. For us it was a half-day visit, and we managed one beer.

Idstein/Ts.
Idstein/Ts. an der Fachwerkstraße
Idstein Marktplatz
Idstein/Ts.

We had a very good lunch at the ‘Alte Feuerwache’ (Old Fire Hall).

Idstein ‘Alte Feuerwache’ Brauhaus
‘Deutsches Haus’ in Idstein

The hotel/restaurant Hoerhof (in German: Höerhof) courtyard looks very inviting. I would like to try their restaurant.

Hoerhof courtyard in Idstein

Hessen has many beautiful little towns worth visiting.

Notes from London on an April Day in 2020

This guest post is written by Thomas Shipley, who is riding out the time of COVID-19 in London.

A fog shrouds the world outside my window. There is no one outside and all is quiet except for the chirping of the birds. Inside, I find myself in a haze of unreality. I am not in a Stephen King novel. I am not in a Quentin Tarantino film. I am in the year 2020. Wildfires ravaged the Australian bush, Trump almost started World War III, and now humanity is facing a global pandemic. Worldwide shutdowns of travel and business. London is under lockdown. I am, though, allowed to leave the house to go grocery shopping.

I step outside into the cool British spring. As I breath uneasily under my face mask, the condensation causes my glasses to repeatedly fog up. I am in the heart of London – a city of millions – and it is eerily still except for the occasional passerby. I get to the local supermarket. I see a frail old woman in an aisle that was once was fully stocked with items such as laundry detergent. The store clerk sadly tells her there is none. Panic buying. We are scared, so we forage like squirrels do acorns in order to survive the winter. No toilet paper or hand sanitizer anywhere to be seen. Many basic necessities lacking. Is it selfishness? Perhaps. Yet, it is hard to undo thousands of years of human evolution. The pandemic eats away at the polite façade of our social order. I discover that crises such as this bring out the worst and best in people.

Staying inside for days on end, I lose my sense of place and time. I catch up with old friends that I haven’t spoken to in a long time. We have long conversations and we laugh. We talk about the virus. It infects our conversations. I wonder how long the pandemic’s grip on our daily lives will last. How long it will be until I am again able to hug my family and friends, dance, commute, and travel. I scroll through my social media feeds. Everyone is posting memes to relieve themselves of the anxieties that we feel in these unprecedented times. And yet – they are not so unprecedented. I remind myself that such plagues have regularly upended our sense of normality for thousands of years. The Antonine plague in ancient Rome killed many around the stoic emperor Marcus Aurelius, and yet he persevered. None of this is new. This too, shall pass.

I am grateful that I have the luxury to remain inside and isolate. Grateful, that I live in a developed country with a robust health system. Grateful for each day that I get to experience on this earth. I do not wish for easy times, but that I am strong enough to brave them. This pandemic has exposed our vulnerabilities. We had forgotten how fragile our existence is. We must learn from this and prevent it from happening again.

Sun setting in London on 03 April 2020

Best Wellness Hotel in Germany is Kisssalis-Therme

Based on a ranking by the online travel portal, Travelbook readers have chosen the wellness hotel Kisssalis in Bad Kissingen to be the best one in Germany.

Bad Kissingen, a spa town located in Franconia (northern Bavaria), can be reached from Frankfurt by car in 1 hr 40 Min (150km).

To find out more about the hotel, visit Kisssalis.

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