Destination: Europe

If Hemingway Were Alive, Which European City Would He Go To?

Eight writers and academics make their pitches in the New York Times’ Room for Debate. The leading cities? London and Berlin.

Josef Joffe, the editor of Die Zeit in Hamburg, picks London:

By way of elimination, it is London—Europe’s global city, in the way New York, L.A. and Mountain View are global cities. London has the money (coming mainly from financial services). It is a city of a myriad nationality. It leaves you alone even as it offers a thousand points of distraction. Though no longer the capital of an empire, London draws the best and the brightest from all over the world—which highlights another critical condition: language.

When Paris was queen in the 18th and 19th century, every educated person in Europe spoke French, a trait that lasted into the 20th century. Today, everybody speaks English, or at least Bad English, which is the world’s fastest growing language. But who now has a command of German, let alone Dutch or Italian? If the rest of the world ever takes to Chinese as it has taken to English, Shanghai might join the roster. But the 3,000 signs of Chinese are a bit harder to master than the 26 letters of the English alphabet.

Writer and journalist Slavenka Drakulic makes a case for Berlin:

In more than two decades after the collapse of Communism, a flood of eastern Germans as well as citizens from other eastern European countries (refugees from the Balkan wars, Russian Jews), young Americans and other Westerners have moved to Berlin. Together with the old “guest workers”—Turks from Kreutzberg—they turned the city into an exciting mixture of people of which real Berliners are but a few.

But this alone would not be enough to make Berlin the center of cultural life. So many artists flock to Berlin because living there is cheaper than living in any other big city in Europe. It also helps that Germany is one of the few countries left that cares about the arts and sponsors culture through various institutions, grants, awards, festivals and conferences. Imagine, writers there get paid for their readings!

‘Europe’s First Travel Guide’ Missing From Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

The Codex Calixtinus was reported missing Wednesday by distraught staff at the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral. The 12th century illustrated manuscript was “compiled as a guidebook for medieval pilgrims following the Way of Saint James,” according to the BBC.

This is the oldest copy of the manuscript and is unsaleable on the open market.

Only a handful of people had access to the room in which it was kept.

This edition of the Codex Calixtinus is thought to date from around 1150.

Its purpose was largely practical—to collect advice of use to pilgrims heading to the shrine there. It also included sermons and homilies to St James.

The Guardian adds:

The local Correo Gallego newspaper reported that distraught cathedral staff spent hours searching for the manuscript before contacting police late that night.

“Although security systems have been improved considerably it is true to say that they are not of the kind one might find in a bank or a well-protected jewellers,” the newspaper reported.

Only five security cameras were used to watch the archive area, according to the newspaper, and none were pointing directly at the safe where the priceless manuscript was stored.

NYT on Luca Spaghetti’s ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ Spin-off Memoir: ‘Pasta, Pasta, Pasta!’

Who is Luca Spaghetti? In case you’ve forgotten, he’s one of the dreamy Italian men who shows Elizabeth Gilbert around town during the Roman section of her bestselling memoir. He’s also, now, an author—his own memoir, Un Amico Italiano: Eat, Pray, Love in Rome, was released this spring, and the New York Times had a really funny gem of a review.

Here’s Sam Anderson:

It has a strange integrity: the purity of an actual, unremarkable guy telling his actual, (mostly) unremarkable story. Aside from a few Gilbertesque cutesy touches (“That Marlboro tasted a lot like life”), there’s no pretense of educating humanity or saving a soul or discovering a self. It’s just: Hey world, this crazy thing happened where someone put me in a book—so here’s my story! Pasta, pasta, pasta! Spaghetti’s only ulterior motive is right on the surface: he hopes the memoir will make James Taylor, the American folk musician he reveres above all other humans, notice him.

I count myself among the legions of EPL fans, but even as a cheerleader I can’t help thinking this is all getting a bit surreal.

Splitscreen: A Love Story

Splitscreen: A Love Story from JW Griffiths on Vimeo.

Mesmerizing travel video shot entirely on a Nokia mobile phone.

(Via Kottke)

In Italy, a Toast to American Breakfasts

On eating in Europe, and what Europeans have to say about American cooking

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China Beyond its Borders

Caught up with NPR’s series about the ways China is asserting itself throughout the world. It’s excellent. The latest piece looks at Italian response to the changing textile scene in Tuscany, “home to the largest concentration of Chinese residents in Europe.”

Sylvia Poggioli says:

On Via Pistoiese, shops are Chinese—hairdresser, hardware store and supermarket. There are few Italians. It’s 2 p.m. and all shops are open—there’s no time for siesta in Chinatown.

Travel Movie Watch: ‘The Trip’

NPR notes that British comedians Steven Coogan and Rob Brydon have put together a travel-themed comedy that sees them playing themselves (or, versions of themselves) on a restaurant tour of northern England. The film is mostly improvised and, says Coogan, “what makes it interesting is that there’s an edge to it and a discomfort to it that makes it engaging. It’s not just a couple of actors saying, ‘Get a load of me. I’m laughing at myself.’ There are a couple of moments where I find Rob irritating—genuinely—and I respond naturally, but not the way that I would in reality.”

I’ve been a fan of Coogan’s since his Alan Partridge days, and the movie will take place in my old expat stomping grounds, so I’ll hope to catch this one when I can. “The Trip” went into limited North American release last weekend.

Vanished Friends, Love Lost and My Old Address Book

Vanished Friends, Love Lost and My Old Address Book Photo: Jeffrey Tayler

Jeffrey Tayler found a relic from his first trip overseas. It brought back a flood of memories -- and regrets.

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The European Grand Tour, Chinese Style

The Economist takes note of a new variation on an old theme: a Chinese take on the classic “grand tour” of Europe. From the story:

China’s newly mobile middle classes like to visit established spots like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Venice’s Grand Canal. But the visitors have also marked out a grand tour all of their own, shaped by China’s fast-developing consumer culture and by distinctive quirks of culture, history and politics. The result is jaw-dropping fame, back in China, for a list of places that some Europeans would struggle to pinpoint on a map: places like Trier, Metzingen, Verona, Luxembourg, Lucerne and the Swiss Alp known as Mount Titlis.

(Via @reidontravel)

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Bare at the Baths

Bare at the Baths Photo by Giam via Flickr (Creative Commons)

It was Conor Friedersdorf's last day in Budapest, and he'd forgotten his bathing suit. He opted for an audacious solution.

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Tags: Spas, Europe, Hungary

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Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia Consecrated After 128 Years

Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia Consecrated After 128 Years REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino
REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino

The Pope consecrated the Gaudi-designed church as a Basilica yesterday. The building is still unfinished—it’s been under construction since 1882—but the consecration means that daily masses can now be held in the main nave. If tourist entry fees remain steady, it’s hoped that the Sagrada Familia will be complete by 2026.

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