Thursday, December 29, 2016

Meet Cheryl Howard (Travel Blogger) - In A Minute Portrait (Week 348)

Canadian Cheryl Howard is an expat and travel blogger, a Berlin Meet-Up organizer and my friend.

Meet Cheryl Howard (Travel Blogger) - In A Minute Portrait (Week 348)

Cheryl Howard has been living in Berlin for about 5 years - with a Toronto stint in-between. With centrally-located Berlin as her home base, she has found the perfect place to pursue one of her biggest passions: travel. Lucky for us, she shares her travel experiences and tips via her photography and writings on her website and on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.

Since I met Cheryl in 2012, I've always been impressed by all her travels (especially to the less obvious and touristy destinations), savvy writing, and social media prowess. She's such an inspiration!

Because Cheryl Howard loves Budapest so much (and I'm also quite fond of it), I recommend you start exploring her website by checking out one of her posts about Budapest.

Another thing that has always impressed me about Cheryl is how outgoing she is. We met when she invited another friend and me, a total stranger, on a Berlin tour in a Calessino. Of course, we became friends, and I made a video about our outing: Berlin Calessino Tour with Expat Bloggers – In A Berlin Minute (Week 122).

So it's not surprising to me at all that Cheryl recently got into organizing social events...

Together with Adam Groffman (of, Cheryl organizes a monthly Berlin meet-up called Make Friends in Berlin.  The fun get-togethers encourage newcomers, locals, and expats to meet new people and make friends. To join the fun, check out the Make Friends in Berlin Meetup page and the Make Friends in Berlin Facebook group.

The photos in this video show Thailand, Prague, the CSD Parade in Berlin, Cheryl learning to make dumplings in Italy, and Budapest. All these photos are courtesy of Cheryl Howard.

Thank you, Cheryl, for inspiring me and others to travel, be social, enjoy life and "write home" about it.

Also, thank you for meeting me on your lunch hour during my brief Berlin trip this month. Conveniently, Cheryl's day job as an Agile Coach is located just steps from the Museumsinsel (Museum Island) in the river Spree. So we had the perfect Berlin backdrop with the Bode Museum, the Spree and the TV Tower (which dictated my slightly awkward framing).

Travel blogger Cheryl Howard in Berlin

By the way, I filmed two more In A Minute Portrait videos during this quick trip to Berlin. One of them even features two people... I'm not going to say more right now... to build up a bit of suspense. Just wanted to let you know there are more quickie Berlin expat interviews coming your way... (The ellipses heighten the suspense incredibly, right...?)


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Photos from Hamburg Christmas Markets

A few photos from two Christmas markets in Hamburg, Germany: Weisser Zauber at Jungfernstieg and Hamburger Weihnachtsmarkt at Rathausmarkt. 

To read more about the markets and my thoughts behind publishing a video about a German Christmas market the same week as the attack on a Christmas Market in Berlin, please check out the post for my Moving Postcard video: Hamburg Christmas Market – In Another Minute (347)

Rathausmarkt Christmas Market seen from Jungfernstieg in Hamburg, Germany.

If you'd like to see even more photos from Hamburg and other cities and countries I visited in 2016, head on over to the In Another Minute 2016 Flickr album

To see the pictures larger, just click on any of them... and then you can scroll through them all. 

Christmas Market at the Hamburg Rathausmarkt (City Hall Square)

The icon of Hamburg (the Hammer Burg = Hammer Castle) as a light display

Christmas Market at the Hamburg Rathausmarkt (City Hall Square)

Carrousel at the Hamburg Christmas Market

German gingerbread heart - traditional gift for any season, no matter if the recipient is a Spatzi (Sweetie) or a Schelm (Rascal).  

Vintage Radio Cookie Tins
Hamburg Christmas Market

Rathaus - City Hall
Hamburg, Germany

Merry Christmas, Frohe Weihnachten, God Jul...
from Hamburg, Germany

My bestie Erik


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Photos of Playa Ancon, Cuba

A few photos from Playa Ancon on the Caribbean Coast in Central Cuba. To read more about this beach and vacation destination on the southern coast of Cuba and to watch my 1-minute video, please check out the post on my Moving Postcard website: Playa Ancon, Cuba – In Another Minute (345)

The Caribbean water of Playa Ancon, Cuba

If you'd like to see even more photos from Playa Ancon and other destination in Cuba, head on over to the In Another Minute 2016 Flickr album

To see the pictures larger, just click on any of them... and then scroll through them all. 

Driving from Trinidad to Playa Ancon in a classic car - with visions of Canada and Cuba
Natural shade on the Playa Ancon beach in Cuba 

The leaning flamingo of the Brisas Trinidad del Mar in Playa Ancon, Cuba

Owl in Playa Ancon, Cuba

Man-made shade on the beach in Playa Ancon, Cuba

Lizard on the beach in Playa Ancon, Cuba

Abandoned boat in the Bahia de Casilda between Playa Ancon and Trinidad, Cuba

Golden hour on the beach in Playa Ancon, Cuba
Sunset over the beach in Playa Ancon, Cuba

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Hamburg Christmas Market - In Another Minute (347)

There's nothing quite like a German Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt). And the Hamburg Christmas Market is probably my favorite. It's the Weihnachtsmarkt of my childhood and probably the only one that serves Fischbrötchen (fish on a roll).

Hamburg Christmas Market - In Another Minute (347) [4k]

This video of the Hamburg Christmas Market, I filmed last week at two different markets that are near each other: the Weisser Zauber at Jungfernstieg (on the Alster River) and the Hamburger Weihnachtsmarkt at the Rathausmarkt (city hall square). I filmed this video before the attack on the Berlin Christmas Market.

For several days, I contemplated if I should publish this video at all - in the aftermath of such a tragedy. Then it became obvious: of course, I would publish a German Christmas Market video this week! As a matter of fact, by now I feel lucky that I had filmed such a video during my trip back home to Germany so I could take a stand this week. It's very important to me that I, together with people around the world, celebrate the spirit of Christmas and of German Christmas Markets especially this week!

At German Christmas Markets you get to experience the true spirit of Christmas, as I understand it. I flock to these markets in Germany because they remind me of what these holidays are about: community, family, love, peace, giving, fun, bright lights in dark and cold times, and the joys of life. Germans and foreigners get together with friends and family at Christmas Markets to enjoy hot beverages and fresh-made food and take their time to select handmade crafts as gifts to people they love. These markets are not about consumerism or religion.

Christmas Markets are a clear counterpoint to the hate, fear, destruction and the need for violence and intimidation that terrorists embody and want to spread. These people may succeed in killing, spreading terror and breaking hearts. But then we get up the next day and spread love, compassion, joy, peace, giving and creativity again. The terrorists are NOT succeeding in spreading their hate, fear and need for violence and intimidation! This video is my humble attempt to take a stand against terrorists and to celebrate humanity.

In this video about the Hamburg Christmas Market, you will see my best friend Erik Jürgensen smiling and drinking a hot chocolate. I celebrate him and our friendship. I also celebrate all the people who have shown kindness and compassion to me and others. Over the last few days, I was very moved by all the friends who have reached out to me to make sure I, my family and friends were okay. It's been especially heartening how many "online friends" reached out - from all over the world with all kinds of different backgrounds. While on one hand, there are people who hate so much and refuse to get along, on the other hand there are so many people who connect with strangers online (and in person) to share their creations and learn about each others cultures with open hearts and open minds. I celebrate that!

But people died at the Breitscheidplatz Christmas Market in Charlottenburg, Berlin, this week. For their families and friends, it must be impossible to think of celebrating and joy these days. My heart aches for them. My own sister-in-law and nephew were at that market one day before the attack. I can't imagine how I would feel if they had been there one day later.

I wish I would know what to do specifically to help prevent such tragedies. They shouldn't be happening. No one should lose loved ones this way - or be witness to such attacks. But alas, I don't know what to do besides making and sharing videos, photographs and texts about the joys of life and nature to hopefully inspire others to lead happy lives and be creative instead of being miserable and destructive.

With all of this in mind, I wish you the merriest of holiday seasons you can have and a happy 2017!

The song in this video is an adaptation of the English traditional carol "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" performed by Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License. Thank you, Kevin, for using your creativity to spread joy.

Hamburg Christmas Market - Hamburger Weihnachtsmarkt Rathausmarkt

Friday, December 16, 2016

Berlin Rooftops - In A Berlin Minute (Week 346)

Gazing down at Berlin rooftops from the Neukölln Arcaden parking garage is a must-see experience - especially during sunset. This Berlin pastime has become even more popular and convenient since the unique-looking rooftop garden and bar Klunkerkranich opened on the top level of the shopping mall's parking garage.

Berlin Rooftops (Neukölln Arcaden) - In A Berlin Minute (Week 346) [4k]

This week, during a brief Germany visit, my Berlin friends Miriam Blaich and Julia Wiedwald and I headed up there to catch the sunset above Berlin rooftops for this video series and warm up with a hot beverage. Unfortunately, Klunkerkranich was closed that day due to its limited winter hours. But of course, that didn't keep me from filming this video for you. And we ended up getting delicious hot drinks in the nearby Reuterkiez instead.

To see this view with your own eyes, just head to Berlin... and then to the Neukölln Arcaden at Karl-Marx-Strasse 66 in Neukölln. Get on the elevator to the 5th floor parking level and enjoy the view of Berlin rooftops, including the TV Tower (Berlin's tallest structure) and the Park Inn Hotel (Berlin's tallest building) at Alexanderplatz, the Rote Rathaus (red city hall), the nearby Kindl Brewery and lots and lots of churches, smokestacks and satellite dishes.

The music in the video is the instrumental version of the song “Fit for a King” by Josh Woodward. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. Thank you so much, Josh!

TV Tower and Berlin rooftops

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Playa Ancon, Cuba - In Another Minute (345)

Playa Ancon is a Caribbean beach and community on the south side of central Cuba. It's a perfect beach getaway in combination with a trip to explore the historic town of Trinidad (UNESCO World Heritage site).

Playa Ancon (Cuba) - In Another Minute (345) 

While the beaches of Varadero on the north coast of Cuba are supposed to be the wider and whiter beaches and a more popular destination for foreign and Cuban tourists, Playa Ancon is situated in a much more interesting area. Not only is the must-see town of Trinidad only cab or bike ride away; the Topes de Collantes National Park in the Sierra del Escambray Mountains and the Valle de los Ingenios (Los Ingenios Valley), known for its abandoned sugar plantations and refineries, are nearby as well.

Situated in the state Sancti Spiritus, Playa Ancon takes up the majority of a skinny strip of land with the Bahia de Casilda on the north and the Caribbean Sea on the south. There are several hotels on the beach and a marina that invites you to stay in your own yacht. You know, if you happen to have a yacht.

A special perk of staying directly in Playa Ancon (vs. Trinidad or the fishing village La Boca) are the socialism era, government-run resort hotels. Don't you want to know what it's like to stay in a socialist all-inclusive Caribbean hotel? I did - and staying at the Brisas Trinidad del Mar was really different. Under a veneer of fancy and colorful, there is that lack of capitalist ambition and customer service. Yet, there is still the joy and vibrancy of the Caribbean beach life. If you are prepared for that and, like Scott and me, embrace exploring another culture, it's quite wonderful to stay at such a unique resort hotel.

Playa Ancon is also a lot less crowded than the beaches on the north side of Cuba - and there is ample opportunity to fish right on the coast. In the flats of the north shore, it's advised to rent boats and fish on the open sea like Hemingway did.

By the way, this video was shot in April 2016. I hope no one is getting tired of watching different videos from Cuba that I filmed earlier this year. But I have saved such videos especially for weeks like these: I'm currently visiting my parents in Northern Germany where I'm relishing the time spent with my family (and not on the computer) and where it's grey, windy and cool.

The accompanying music is the instrumental version of the song "1,000 Words" by Josh Woodward. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. Thank you, Josh!!!

If you'd like to see more videos from this area, please check these out:

Trinidad de Cuba (extended version)

Cuban Sunset (Playa Ancon) – In Another Minute (319)

La Boca, Cuba – In Another Minute (322)

Playa Ancon, Cuba

Thursday, December 1, 2016

World Travel Map - In Another Minute (Week 344)

The Moving Postcard World Travel Map is not just any kind of map, it's a world scratch-off map... that my dear friend Judith Hecktor gave me earlier this year. I had been waiting for just the right time to shoot a time-lapse video for you to show you all the countries where I've shot Moving Postcard videos in chronological order...

World Travel Map - In Another Minute (Week 344)

As you see when watching the video, it's not just a time-lapse video of me scratching off the countries and flags on the world travel map, but also a quick glimpse of a video from each of the 11 countries I visited (or lived in) during the 6 1/2 years of publishing Moving Postcard videos every week.

If you would like to see more 1-minute videos from these 11 countries, please check out the respective collections: Germany, Spain, USA, Czech Republic, Portugal, Thailand, United Kingdom, Brazil, Poland, Mexico, and Cuba.

Thank you so much, Judith, for this awesome map. You sure know how to find amazing and meaningful art work for my walls. (Insider info: my walls are graced by 4 different cool posters Judith has given me over time, one is an original El Bocho!!!) In return (?), there are also quite a few Moving Postcard videos featuring Judith...

At first, I was going to attempt separating out the different states of the USA. But since they were not drawn on the map (the borders of South Dakota are exactly where...?) and because I didn't want to make the time-lapse portion of the World Travel Map video too long, I decided against it. But I did scratch off Alaska separately since that was the big trip I was waiting for before shooting this video.

Because I've also traveled some before shooting the Moving Postcard travel web series, I kept on scratching off countries after the portion in this video. I'll probably publish the full clip as a behind-the-scenes video for my Patreon supporters...

The song in this video is “Boogie Woogie Bed” by Jason Shaw of Audionautix. He made this song available via the CC BY 3.0 license. Thank you so much, Jason, for your diverse music creations!

If you want to get your own world travel scratch-off map, there is quite a large selection on Amazon, including a Shacke map.

Scratching off the 11 countries where I've filmed Moving Postcard videos so far...

Um, on a side note: yes, I totally scratched off the flag for Syria at first when I intended to scratch off the flag for Spain. I fixed that in Photoshop when I thought I was just going to do a time-lapse of the map itself. But then Scott said, I should use the full clip with me in it... So instead of fixing all those shots, I'd like to focus on the fact that Syria has been so much on people's minds this year. Making a video like this, reminds me of the luxurious life of freedom I get to lead. It's in stark contrast to the suffering of people in war zones that cannot escape and the tragedy of refugees who feel forced to leave their home and then to make matters worse don't feel welcome in the countries they escape to. I'm grateful for my life and appreciate it every day. My videos don't solve world problems, they don't even ease them. But I hope that the videos bring joy to those who cannot travel to the places I get to capture.