#200: How Writing Resembles Art

The time has come! 200 posts! My oh my! How time flies. Just last December I was highlighting My Glorious 100 and now I have come up with the same amount of posts once again. That one day in May of 2011 seems like yesterday, when I decided to start a blog and share different aspects of my life in New York. Now, one year and 4 and a half months later, I would never characterize myself as an expert. But I have grown. I have improved. My main goal of becoming more fluent and more comfortable when writing in English has been achieved. And 18 months after starting the project, I have also come to see that a blog is a piece of art everyone creates.
So I want to devote this post, my 200th one, to ART and how blogging very much resembles it.

1) Composing a Rough Draft

Just like a musician imagines a piece and a painter draws out the fine lines, writing is based on a rough draft. I don’t know anyone who writes and then posts right-away. Some of my posts are still clustering my draft inbox, despite the advice I gave in 7 Tips on Blogging. I have a list of topics I keep close-by and sometimes I have the time to take down notes on what I want to cover in these topics. Whenever I get the chance to go back, I add more to it, and that’s how a post develops. Sometimes I don’t have much to say about it, though, and sometimes I don’t feel inspired to talk about a topic anymore. This is when it gets lost in the “idea lane”, to be picked up in the future or to be forgotten entirely.

2) Proofreading the Piece

A musician will always strive to straighten out wrong notes or falsely placed instruments. In this way, art resembles writing very much. The initial draft is likely to contain errors in grammar, errors in wording, maybe even errors in translation (as in my case). Proofreading a piece, whether it is right after you wrote it or sometime later will always remain a crucial part of the editing process.

3) Improving the Writing

A painter tries to correct mistakes in his work by painting over it or erasing a wrong color with a cover-up. Once something is written, the only way is uphill: Improvement. This is why it is important to let your “work” sit for a few hours or even a few days. Do you struggle with words that are repetitive or phrases you are not satisfied with? Merriam Webster online is a great source to find synonyms or to look up the correct meaning of a word. It’s been my little helper since day one. Tweaking a sentence here and there, taking an insignificant word and replacing it with something way cooler – improving your writing can be a pretty fun process. But it can also be hard to determine when to stop and when not to overdo it.

4) Blogging Takes Time

Let’s face it: Just like true art, blogging is a very time-consuming hobby. Some put their heart and soul in the process, for others it is just a nice way of having their day come to an end. Either way, it is not just something that is done in a few minutes. It will take you time, sometimes more than you have and more than you were initially willing to give.
Unless you throw up a picture and one sentence on your page, you will really have to commit yourself to it. Whether it’s twice a week or every day – it has the potential to drag more out of you than most people think. But then again, some people enjoy that you have to put time and effort into it. It’s a satisfying feeling to have created something good, something really good, and for others to read it.

There are many more aspects of blogging that can resemble art. Such as the blog design itself. Or the pictures posted on the site. I found these four to be the most crucial ones, though. Feel free to add whatever you think is important to you!

Happy 200! I hope it makes you feel as equally grateful as it does me: For the opportunities created, the people I’ve found, and the insights I’ve gained.

Travel Confessions: I Walk a Lonely Road

A few weeks back, Amanda from AmandaPOverseas tagged me in a post of hers called “ Travel Confessions.” The rules are simple:

1. Post a photo (or photos) and description(s) of your confession(s) in a new post.

2. Tweet your post with hashtag #TravelConfession and follow/tweet @Traveling9to5

3. Tag 3-5 other travelers you’d love to see confess and tag them on Twitter.

While I didn’t tag everyone on twitter, you are certainly tagged through your blog.

My confessions:

1) I like to stay in hostels

This might be part of me leaning towards the cheap stuff, especially when it means having a bed for a night. Maybe somewhere down the line between being a poor student and earning less than 13/h an hour in my first job in New York it had established itself as the only possible way for me explore other cities and still keep my budget in check. Either way, it has turned out to be a fantastic place to meet people my age, people of a younger age, people of an older age, and people from all walks of life. The first hostel I stayed in as an adult was HI in DC (read more here). And it was the best experience I had so far! Pub crawl with a local I am still friends with today. An animated discussion with a girl from Wisconsin who visited me a year later in New York. Some weekends are just notorious for changing your life.

Take the hostel in London as another example. Either burning hot or ice cold water coming out of the pipes – ouch! However, a ten-bedroom-share with guys and girls made up for a great laugh. Especially the 60-year-old Brit who had emigrated to Thailand and who had to come back to his home country every six months to renew his visa. The stories you run across in hostels – unforgettable!

Awesome Hostel peeps in DC!

2) I like to travel alone

Don’t get me wrong here – traveling with friends and (sometimes) family can be a very interesting experience, as well. But mostly I have found myself hitting the road all by myself. Be it lack of friends who wanted to see the same city or be it personal choice – I have so far never regretted packing that duffel bag and getting on the bus/plane/train to reach out to undiscovered lands. It’s pretty neat, if you come to think about. No whiny partner who does not want to see this monument or go out in that club. Just your own opinion that counts. I love picking out stuff only I like to see. If I am bored at one place, I am free to move on to the next.
I believe some people still have this very innate fear of letting go of the circles they know and just traveling by themselves. I had to learn how to travel alone from a very young age on. My most life-changing experience must have been relocating to Florida all by myself at the tender age of 20. After that, all ties broke loose. I found myself shaking for cold beneath the Stephansdom in Vienna, dancing in the streets of Paris, and then of course moving to New York – only me, myself, and I. One of the best decisions ever!

3) I like to discover new lands

You will rarely find me at one and the same spot more than one time. Unless I have found something truly exceptional about one place, I am all for going out there and setting my pins on the world map of life. Yeah, Canada was cool and I definitely want to go back to the Grand Canyon. Some things are just too huge to grasp in one day. But I’d also like to part my wings and finally get to see more of the West Coast of the US. Seattle, Portland, San Francisco – all awaiting my arrival. And then what about South America, Asia and Africa? Not to mention Australia and New Zealand… The globe is endless, it seems. My biggest dream is indeed to pack my bags for 12 months straight and see what else is out there. Probably I am in the wrong city to save up for this, don’t you think?

Me alone in Montreal

4) It’s either all or nothing

When I travel somewhere, I want to get to know the culture. No lame bus tours or being locked down in a group that has “I am a tourist, please rob me” stamped all over it. Another convenience of traveling by yourself is that you are more open to your surroundings. You have to carefully wage if this road is safe to venture on and if that neighborhood is appealing to you. At the same time, you want to see something your friends have not and you want to boast with things they wouldn’t be able to read up in any tour guide. So I really like to talk to the locals when it comes to exploring another city. I don’t like the stigma that is attached to a tourist. Being a young female can be dangerous but it can also make other people more open towards you. I had the most interesting conversations with locals just because I sat by myself. Rest assured, other people are about as curious about your whereabouts as you are about theirs.

5) Sometimes I only travel to get a good picture

Part of being a photographer is to wage the battles and to get some challenging shots. My trip to Montreal was based on 50 percent curiosity and 50 percent of “I need something new in my portfolio”. Hey, it worked! It got me out there. Taking pictures is also a really good excuse to be alone. You can literally take day-long photo excursions without people looking at you oddly because you always have your camera strapped around your neck.

Me with a ton of other people I don’t know at the Grand Canyon

Traveling – the more you do it, the more you realize what the most relevant things in life are. You also see what kind of lives other people have and what kind of attitude they display towards it. Traveling is mostly only one thing to me, and that is inspiring.

Now, Liz from Belovelive, the Sweet Kitten, Shannon from Rediscovering Healthy, Dave from TravelBugster, and last but not least Ron’s View. Your turn!

The Feast of San Gennaro: Overcoming the Masses in Little Italy

Smoke rising in the air, pizza scents drafting through the streets, masses and masses of people trying to claw their way throw the crowds. There is possibly only one time of year during which Little Italy is about as crowded as can get: during the Feast of San Gennaro. If you are in New York during the fall season, you should possibly swing by and see what this part of Lower Manhattan has to offer in any culinary means.

As the story goes, the San Gennaro Fest was dedicated to only one saint and only one day – as is usual. Over the years from 1926 to now it has turned into a 10-day-mass-worship and extended onto several streets along Mulberry Street. And voila, here you find approximately a million people squeezed into the smallest space possible over the duration of less than two weeks, trying to digest every Italian sausage out there and stuffing themselves with about every cannelloni they can find.

This overcrowded street festival has to date remained a mystery to me. For some reason I had strictly avoided the parts of Little Italy during this crucial time period. However, after spending two falls here already and looking forward to exploring something new every year, I followed my friend’s advice and jumped into action or rather into a suicide attempt by walking Mulberry Street on a sunshiny Saturday. I should have known better, I suppose!

“Of course every tourist in this city will be out and about in this part of town”, is all I thought when I hopped off the R-Train and stood in front the Spring Street section of the festival. Around me cops, kids, strollers, overweight Brooklyners and camera-carrying tourists. I felt like turning around and forgetting about my very best intentions. Luckily I decided against my initial impulse and threw myself into the masses. Eventually you learn how to be carried away by the persons in front and behind you…

This woman’s expression expresses exactly how I felt … nauseous!
Free Refills everywhere

Not without eyeing almost every single stand in the first half hour or so I was there. It started off with the vendor offering “free refills” on cocktail mixes coming in huge glass tubes. “Neat! This reminds me of Coney Island and some awesome summer nights I spent here”, were the thoughts racing through my mind before I went on to the next vendor. Spanish food served with rice and beans. “Looks like every other street festival I’ve been to” was my next train of thoughts. Finally, a T-shirt seller offering some fine collections of shirts with the imprint “San Gennaro – Festival New York 2012.” How original, how mind-blowing, how very much… touristy. And indeed, it seemed to work. A swarm of people was standing around him and practically fighting for a plain black T-shirt with a cheap imprint.

Happy T-Shirt Vendor

As the path lead on I discovered my first cannelloni stand. Yay too stuffed dough in small and big variations. Nay to the price tags on them: 5 bucks for a medium sized piece and 2 Dollars for a tiny sample. I went on to the sausage stand. Spanish speaking servers selling “original sausage” in curled up format. I was fascinated! And of course the pizza could not be amiss right next door. While I had lost my appetite when looking at the grease swimming in pots and pans, the food was still nice to look at and it started to feel more original.

Canneloni everywhere

When I passed the candy apple and caramelized fruits, I was mesmerized. Determined to get a least a little piece I turned to wait in line – and lost my determination to frustration over the long waiting time. It seemed to be one of the only ones around and I wasn’t going to turn around and walk past in the other directions. The way towards Canal Street led past many typical Little Italy restaurants. Albeit already filled to the rim with hungry festival attenders and tourists about to be fed, the host waved a menu into my face and asked me if I wanted a table by myself. I even overheard him say “Free Sangria all night long” to the group behind me, which made them burst out in laughter, demanding the food to be less than 50 Dollars per head.

One highlight I found, also completely unrelated to San Gennaro but nonetheless pretty to look at, was a Cuban cigar roller sitting on a lone chair in the middle of all the hustle and bustle. After watching him wrap his hands around the leaves and rolling them into a tight mass, I felt much calmer.

And at the very end, or the very beginning, depending on which way you go, I saw a little festive character mounted inside a niche, open for viewing and familiar-looking. Indeed, it was a small San Gennaro figure, just like in the pictures of the saint, surrounded by an array of candles and single dollar bills flying ahead of it.

Fortunately for me, I did not get discouraged by only one visit. After all, I wanted my candy apple! So I made my way back on a random Thursday weekday and indeed, the streets were less crowded, the people less aggressive, the mass less touristy. I got my tasty piece of fake red apple after all.

The Feast of San Gennaro took place from September 13 to 23 this year. It shall return next year. highlight of the fest were fried oreos sold in half a dozen and a garlic press that left you with “a lot more garlic” than if you had cut it with a simple knife.

For more pictures go to The San Gennaro Street Festival in Little Italy (1) and The San Gennaro Street Festival in Little Italy (2)

Tasty Eats in Brooklyn: North Slope

As already mentioned in Tasty Eats in Brooklyn: South Slope, I am not a resident of this area anymore. So eventually it became time to try out what exactly my new neighborhood has to offer culinary-wise. With great success! From all of the 5th avenue spots, I have selected another three good ones, which have become one of my favorite eats over the past 3 and a half months.

1) Los Pollitos II

The very first restaurant I got to try out the day I moved here: Los Pollitos II. The number II is very important, as there is another one on Fifth Ave which I haven’t gotten the chance to try out yet. So we ordered Enchiladas the first day we dropped in. Some good enchiladas! And with $9 – 14 totally manageable. The max of cheapness came with brunch, though: Food and three drinks for a total of 12 bucks! Who can top this? No one! The food comes in Mexican and other Middle-American cuisine style. Huevos Rancheros, mushroom quesadillas, spinach corn omelets – the list goes on.

The portions can be extensive but sometimes they can also taste rather bland than well-seasoned, especially the rice sides. The drinks are well-mixed and two of these have so far been enough for me to get my day going. Even though they include up to three drinks, I wouldn’t over-do it. The Bloody Mary is not my favorite but the Mimosa and Screwdriver are good options. I found myself having overeaten here in the first two months, as I went here too often for brunch. After all, it is just around the corner… I shall return once my appetite for this type of food comes back. And who can top a $15 brunch deal ( with tax and tip included)?

2) Rosewater

A truly amazing dinner spot! I heard their brunches also rock, but so far I have not had the opportunity to try them out at this time of day. I discovered this quaint restaurant one day when walking down from 6th Avenue. It is on Union Street, between 6th and 5th. Hidden behind its romantic, rose-burdened wood fence, successfully shielding the outdoor front area from passerbys, it looked inviting and cozy at the same time. So one day in August we decided to check it out for good and got a great dinner out of it.

The menu consists of seasonal vegetables and dinner options. We started off with appetizers in the form of fried zucchini and a strawberry blue cheese salad. Yum! The salad was my favorite and the combo of fruit and cheese is unbeatable. Then we went on with a polenta served on top of mixed greens. My friend ordered fried chicken, which he said tasted good.

Strawberry blue cheese field salad
Polenta with mixed greens
Fried chicken entree

Both dishes looked appetizing, even though I found the portions to be rather small in size. With prices averaging $25 dollars for an entrée it can be on the pricier side but the quality you get is worth what you pay. The dessert was the absolute highlight: We devoured a blueberry cake topped with vanilla ice cream. You just know when something is made the right way!

Blueberry pie topped with vanilla ice cream – so good!

3) Alchemy

I went here on three occasions – twice for dinner and once for brunch. While their veggie burger option was good but not mind-blowing, brunch was most likely on the more interesting side. We happened to order one of the better Bloody Mary’s in town – great seasonings, many olives, just what I am looking for in a drink to start of the day. Their egg dishes were tasty and well made up. I got to try their well-sized eggs benedict, served with a side of seasoned fries and mixed greens.

What I really like about this restaurant is that the servers are fast without being pushy and that they offer a big outdoor patio in the back of the joint.

One of Alchemy’s brunch options

My quest to find more good Brooklyn eats continues. Park Slope also happens to have a great bar culture, which I am eager to share with you in another post! Chin Chin!

Tasty Eats in Brooklyn: South Slope

Ever since I started trying out some decent brunch spots and dinner locations, I’ve been burning to share a few restaurants with you. Manhattan is not the only borough that has to offer high class cuisine at a decent price, of course. Brooklyn stands undefeated in its cuisine, being one of those areas I had the chance to extensively explore. As it comes to no surprise, the South Slope, my home for one and a half years, is the first location I’d like to share with you. Now, the South of Park Slope reaches anywhere from 9th Street to 21st Street along 4th Avenue to Prospect Park West, sometimes even above this avenue. Back in the days when I was still living close to Prospect Park, three fine locations in particular have grabbed my attention.

1) Giovanni’s

One of the finest brunch spots I have found so far! Located near 17th Street and 8th Avenue, it is unfortunately nowhere close to where I live now. However, I had the chance to try out this Brooklyn-Eats-approved location multiple times in the cold winter months, when indulging in different food cultures becomes an obligatory activity. What I adore about their menu the most: The food is extensive! Not only do you get one but two courses: Antipasti and Secondi. So far I’ve yet to come across this elsewhere so Giovanni’s will remain the true leader in indulgence.
Another great thing: Unlimited alcohol. Now for all of you who are hopefully pricking their ears: Offering unlimited drinks or a few free drinks during brunch is a New York thing. Brunch culture in this city has gone way overboard and currently an array of restaurants compete to offer the best deal in town. While I had my share of watered down Bloody’s and Mimosas (champagne with orange juice), this eat takes both drinks and serves them in a decently portioned way. Bloody Mary’s might be lacking a bit of flavor, but most certainly contain alcohol. Mimosas are mixed just right and served in a huge glass.

What to get food-wise: I am a big fan of their spinach salad and granola as first course options. They also offer wonderful egg dishes in the second round. Particularly their omelet and eggs benedict have proven in the past to be delicious.

Granola Dish
Eggs Florentine
Omelette served with chopped potatoes and greens

Be aware that portions are huge! Maybe it’s just the combo of the two, but either way you are most likely not going to be able to finish both without filling your stomach to the max. 16 bucks for food and drinks – not bad for this side of town. Cheers!

2) Le P’tit Paris Bistro

A different restaurant I have introduced my friends to is right around the corner from my old apartment. The French Le P’tit Paris Bistro caters to all age groups – I have seen young adults throw a party here and Slopers in their 60ies celebrate happy tea hour. Their brunch menu changes occasionally but I have so far tried out some of their egg dishes, which were decent sized, albeit I found myself ordering fries the one or other time.

Their brunch crepe is served with goat cheese and mushrooms, met by a nice side of fresh salad. One thing I truly recommend: their pancakes! It’s more like a fruit cake, really! A huge plate of baked dough topped with strawberries, pine apple, mango, powdered sugar and drops of fine jelly! Delicious! And so much! It’s hard to digest at times, by any means. Back then they did not offer a special but nowadays I found their sign to read: Unlimited drinks for an added dollar amount (I believe an additional $6). Which could be a good deal, considering that food by itself only costs 10 dollars. Let me know if you get the chance to try it out.

Paris Bistro’s awesome crepes!
Paris Bistro’s huge pancake with a fruit salad

3) Bar Toto

Now to dinner: Of all Italian restaurants I tried out in Park Slope so far, this one is my favorite. Right on the corner of 11th St and 6th Avenue, it was closer to my 7th Avenue apartment I shared with the Belarusians back in the days. Then the boyfriend and I have discovered this to be one of our favorite dating spots. For very good reasons: Good food, good booze, quiet atmosphere.

We usually find ourselves ordering Italian Peroni to start the night out. Then, another goodie: Their huge Olive plate. Huge, by the way, is not an exaggeration in this case. The size is meant for two persons or for someone who can eat two portions at once. Three different olive types are arranged in a neat bowl, seasoned with olive oil and other herbs. Their pizzas here are also very good. I have so far tried Pizza Margharita and Toto Vegetale (keep in mind, I am a veggie). Their pies are thin-crusted and in no way resemble the oversized American/Brooklyn pizza you find around here. So it is truly Italian and that is what I aim for sometimes. Their wild mushroom and cheese pasta has so far also been a great success.

It is good if you want to escape the 5th Avenue craziness just one block over as it is sheltered on an inconspicuous corner that it has often been overlooked by me until I had the desire to try it out.
Bar Toto’s outdoor seating is great, even though this will not be a main asset for too much longer as winter is acoming. However, keep it in mind for all seasons, as they do have a great inside salon, too.

Bar Toto’s Peroni

Of course there are more try-worthy eats in the South Slope than this. This is just what I prefer so far. Unfortunately, my current life style does not drag me close to it anymore. Stay tuned for “Eats in the North Slope” and until then read more reviews on my yelp!

Have a fabulous weekend, dearies!

My First Concert in Manhattan: The Jesus and Mary Chain

Last Friday I was able to set a big check mark behind one item on my list of Things to do in New York. Not that it was in the very top of that list. But it surely was somewhere in the upper third corner. And when my friend texted me that he had tickets for a ROCK concert, I was hardly able to say ‘no.’ Especially since they were ultimately for free, as he took on all the costs for the show to not feel stupid standing in the anonymous mass of intimidating teenagers. “They are performing their very last tour! I just can’t miss this!” my friend exclaimed and tried to carry over his excitement to me. He succeeded. I’ve never even been a fan of The Jesus and Mary Chain. An 80ies rock group from Scotland, they are not exactly what I would call a typical catchy tune for my generation. However, certain classics are timeless, of course. Such as “Just Like Honey” and a few more of their hits.

The show was scheduled to start at 8 PM. My friend asked me to meet at 9:30 PM. “I heard the warm-up groups are just not the best this time around” he jokingly said. How little he knew how true he was. The venue it took place in was nothing less than the popular Irving Plaza. For all of where this name does not ring a bell: It’s not Madison Square Garden or Webster Hall. But it is popular enough throughout New York to host good bands such as Green Day and the Gym Class Heroes. I myself have walked past it multiple times, always wondering why I saw a dressed up group of people waiting outside. “Must be some serious clubbing going on,” I thought to myself.

Last Friday the secret was finally revealed to me: The concert hall is close to Union Square, making out a very convenient point of transfer from anywhere in New York. Roughly a thousand people can fit in its amenities, balcony and VIP area included. When we entered, my friend proudly presented his two VIP tickets. “Great, get your free poster at the end of the show!” the security said in passing. Of course drinks were outrageously expensive. I remember paying 10 Dollars for a lousy pint of Sam Adams. I surely did not order too much after this faux pas, feeling my money melting away like sugar in the sun.

The VIP area was all the way upstairs, next to a bar-like zone, which also served food. We stuck our little VIP batch somewhere on our pants instead of clinging to it all night long. Next to this area, there is also a niche reserved for the “guest list” – distinguished friends, family, and groupies of the band performing. I really don’t know the difference in both, as the view was practically the same. Maybe they got free booze? That would indeed have been a great bonus!

Rocking it out with one beer and ear plugs!

While we were watching the second warm up group jamming out, we certainly had time to examine the crowd. More and more people were showing up beneath us, forming a tight group down on the dance floor. Photographers were already going crazy with their press pass and sticking their telescope lenses into the musicians’ faces. Whose music was, what I would call, just not my thing. After two similar sounding songs I pretty much had enough. They weren’t singing but only using the guitar and other band instruments to create as much noise as possible. We managed to buy some ear plugs and kept these on until the end of the show. The Psychic Paramounts – certainly a talented band if you are into this kind of music. I wasn’t. So much to building up tension before the real stars get to take over the stage.

Which they surely did! At 10:30 PM we finally got to see Jim Reid and the rest of the band. Some wild songs, some slow songs, some rocky songs – they had their entire repertoire during those 2 hours on stage. Even though I wasn’t a fan, it was great watching them in action. Since we were practically above everyone else, we could see the entire stage without anyone poking his head in our point of view. Even the obnoxious couple with the aggressive guy next to us was successfully ignored throughout the remainder of the show. His “whoo whoo whoooos” were annoying at first but then worth making fun of – without him noticing. One of the band’s gigs is to have a girl perform their song “Just Like Honey” and on every tour it is a different girl. One time Scarlett Johansson did the honors.

The Jesus and Mary Chain – full house
Performance of the mysterious dark haired lady

This time it was a dark-haired woman who no one recognized. Unfortunately for her but to the amusement of everyone, the lead guitarist was trying to grab everyone’s attention throughout this song and the remaining two songs of the show. Therefore we weren’t even able to hear how well she performed her part. I was pretty fed up with his attention-seeking because I couldn’t make out the words in the songs at all. But my friend, the true fan, just laughed and said this was their thing: At the end of each performance the lead guitarist always tries to steal the show and jam out until the bitter end.

The concert ended on a good note. I was glad I got the chance to experience it. If you ever seek out this spot, I hope you get the chance to go to the top. Best view ever! And we truly did get to snag a poster of the band before we exited Irving Plaza.

bye bye band!

Celebrating a Little Piece of Deutschland in New York: Oktoberfest Season!

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Germany, specifically during this time of year? Dirndl, Lederhosen and beer? That’s exactly it! It’s Oktoberfest season worldwide – not only in the Bavarian metropolis! Even in New York people have come to like this time. Mostly because of the abundance of beer distributed during these days, needless to say, but it also seems that certain German traditions are never forgotten when being abroad.

Pennsylvania, for example, celebrates one of the biggest German festivals during this time of year. With parties throughout September and October, it is prone to have a high volume of happenings but these are geared towards smaller groups of people. Many German immigrants were on the East Coast so not surprisingly New York is a city that also has its festivities going on. After a steamship accident most of the German population drowned in the East River but parts of it survived.

The annual German-American Steubenparade in September is one of those crucial elements that cannot be amiss when celebrating one’s Middle-European heritage. After seeing it two years ago, I had missed out on it last year due to my traveling abroad. But this time I wanted to play an active part in the audience once again. My American friend was punctual as always, she was standing on 5th Avenue just when the clock stroke 12 o’clock noon. I arrived some tedious 40 minutes later – so much for Germans being on time. I wasn’t as unreliable as our other friend, though: He was 2 hours too late and only got to see the street sweepers clean the streets AFTER the parade was long gone.

He was clearly too late…

The New Yorker Steubenparade is one of those bizarre occurrences that don’t make sense to me as a German. It hosts floats and groups from different parts in Germany but then also Americans who just throw over a costume to look German. I am assuming these are the people living out their German-American heritage, for this can mean living in the US for a century without having been to Germany even once…

Either way, I was utterly confused when I saw the first group march past us, dressed in the typical Faschingsoutfit and throwing candy bars towards the waiting mass. Fasching happens from November to February but it is nowhere close to this time of year. “How good that Americans are gullible and don’t know that this has nothing to do with farmers and hunting, the actual reason Oktoberfest is celebrated” is what I thought when the next Funkemariechen group danced passed us. Many people seemed to have fun watching the comical but ill-timed costumes, so I guess the purpose of the parade was met. I even saw a “Bitburger-Beer”-float, which made me dwell in memories of the annual Bitburger Bierfest held in March. Bitburg is close to the town I grew up in, and it’s always good to see a little bit of Heimat when so far away.

Fasching outfits during the parade
The Bitburger Float

The parade itself lasted a good one and a half hours. After the last group of musicians marched by, most people broke away and walked towards the entrance of Central Park. Here is where the real party starts: The annual Oktoberfest and most likely biggest German celebration in the City, resembling its German counterpart but then not really, thanks to German Faschingoutfits. Usually it is even held on the same weekend the Munich fest is: 3 weeks before the first weekend in October. However, the Bavarian version starts this coming Saturday, so I don’t know the exact reason as to why the American Oktoberfest was pre-scheduled for September 15 of this year. Either way, a ton of people still showed up and it turned out to be a blast!

If you are familiar with Central Park, you might know the area around 70th Street, where Summer Stage is usually held during the hot season. On the exact same spot, numerous tents, food stands, a stage, beer sellers and other promoters positioned themselves to make out the biggest Oktoberfest in North America. This year we had bought our tickets in advance so we didn’t have to bribe security guards to let us through the gaps in the fence like we did in 2010. We started off with two different pitchers of beer: One was a typical wheat ale and another one was Warsteiner, one of the many sponsors of the fest. We walked past huge lines of people waiting for food, and an overcrowded tent reserved for the VIPs and parade participators. Everyone was exchanging different pitchers of beer and was in a jolly good mood. In all of the chaos, you saw little bands performing, such as the trumpet players who never failed to amuse the audience. I also remember two children handing out business cards for a German restaurant in Staten Island and then demanding one dollar for those…. Capitalism starts early!

Braided hair
… and the public version of it!
Us with cake and beer
The greedy kids who wanted a dollar per business card… tsss!

Watching the parade, walking around and drinking beer can be quite daunting, so I tried out a few of the food options: Mushy French fries and a plum cake with an awkward dough inside – I was not very thrilled. Then I came around to the fried dough stand. One thing I recommend you trying is their potato pancakes: Delicious creations dipped in apple sauce and seasoned so well, I was transformed back to a German street fest. Very authentic pieces of German cuisine, I must say!

The stage hosted an American band for a while, and then a female German singer ended up performing her by now very popular song of “I love German Boys.” I have never heard this song in Germany before so it must be something she only sings during Oktoberfest in New York. I have seen her perform it two years ago, I wonder how her record is picking up so far…

After about four hours of talking to people, taking in the atmosphere and drinking beer, we decided it was time for an after-party. It couldn’t be anywhere else than in the one and only “Zum Schneider:”
One of the most authentic German restaurants in the East Village and most likely the best German restaurant in the entire City. Here we ran into another group of friends and decided to settle for some dinner entrees consisting of a Bavarian cheese plate, a Wiener Schnitzel, and German sausage. The price-product ratio is very good here and you don’t feel you are being ripped off just because the restaurant has to import some food items from overseas. The servers are usually from Germany, so they speak the same language and understand what kind of beer you want when you happen to pronounce it the right way.

Oktoberfest people
At Zum Schneider in 2010

And that was it! An eventful day of fighting Heimweh and meeting friends who are interested in your foreign culture. Oktoberfest in New York equals Germans in New York – you’ll always run into a few of those.

If you are interested in taking part one of these years, make sure to get your tickets in advance, as they sell out as soon as in mid-July already. I paid 15 Dollars for mine this year, but I would assume prices fluctuate in the coming years.

Und weil es so schön war, gerne auf deutsch nochmal:

Woran muss man zuallererst denken wenn das Gespräch auf Deutschland schweift, besonders zu dieser Jahreszeit? Dirndl, Lederhosen und ein Bier? Ganz genau! Die Oktoberfestsaison hat begonnen – nicht nur in der bayrischen Metropole sondern auf der ganzen Welt! Sogar in New York kommt sie gut an. Natürlich kann es daran liegen, dass Bier wie am laufenden Bande ausgeschenkt wird in diesen Tagen, das ist doch klar. Dennoch scheint es, dass einige deutsche Traditionen im Ausland alle Jahre wieder gut ankommen und hoffentlich ankommen werden.

Wie zum Beispiel im Staate Pennsylvania, wo eines der bedeutendsten deutschen Feste im Ausland zu dieser Jahreszeit gefeiert wird. Mit Feten vom September bis Oktober passiert eine ganze Menge, aber diese Festchen sprechen mehr kleinere Gruppen an als die große Menge. Ursprünglich siedelten sich viele deutschen Immigranten an der Ostküste der USA an, deshalb ist es auch kein großer Zufall, dass die Stadt New York viel anzubieten weiß. Bei einem Schiffunglück auf dem East River ist zwar ein großer Prozentsatz der deutschstämmigen Bevölkerung umgekommen, aber ein Teil hat dennoch überlebt.

Die alljährliche deutsch-amerikanische Steubenparade im September gehört zu den bedeutenden Ereignissen, die einfach nicht fehlen dürfen wenn es darum geht, seinem Ursprungsland treu zu bleiben. Vor zwei Jahren noch fieberhaft mitverfolgt, musste ich letztes Jahr leider aussetzen – das Heimweh hatte mich gepackt und in ein Flugzeug nach Hause verfrachtet. Dieses Jahr wollte ich wieder als aktiver Zuschauer mitwirken. Meine amerikanische Freundin war natürlich wie gewohnt pünktlich um 12 Uhr auf der 5th Avenue. Ich ließ mir gute 40 Minuten Zeit um von Brooklyn hoch zur Upper East Side zu gondeln. Noch ein anderer Kumpel gab uns erst gar nicht Bescheid sondern tanzte gute 2 Stunden später an: Als die Barrikaden sorgfältig zusammengeklappt waren und die ersten Straßenfeger zum Einsatz kamen.

Die New Yorker Steubenparade ist eines dieser merkwürdigen Geschehnisse, die nicht allzuviel Sinn für einen deutschen Eingeborenen wie mich machen. Verschiedene Wagen und Fußgruppen kommen hier aus allen Teilen Deutschlands zusammen und treffen auf Amerikaner, die sich mal grade ein Kostümchen überwerfen um krampfhaft deutsch zu wirken. Ich nehme an, dass diese Teilnehmer ihre deutsch-amerikanischen Wurzeln ausleben, die seit Jahrzenten in Amerika verankert sind, aber selber noch nie in ihrem Leben im tatsächlichen Deutschland gewesen sind…

Jedenfalls war ich ganz schön verdutzt als ich die erste Fußgruppe an uns vorbeimarschieren sah. Anstatt der normalen Oktoberfest-Tracht hatte sie ein typisches Faschingskostüm an und warf Kamellen in die wartende Menge. Fasching findet eigentlich zwischen dem 11. November und Februar statt und ist damit noch weit weg vom September. „Wie gut dass die Amerikaner so naiv sind und nicht wissen, dass diese Kostüme nichts mit der Bauern – und Jägertradition zu tun haben, wofür das Oktoberfest ursprünglich steht“, dachte ich mir nur als schon das nächste Funkemariechen an mir vorbeitanzte. Dennoch, viele Menschen fanden Gefallen an diesen witzigen aber komplett sinnlosen Kostümen, und damit war die Parade ein totaler Hit. Ich stieß sogar auf einen „Bitburger-Wagen“, der mich weit in die Vergangenheit schweifen liess. Erinnerungen an das alljährliche Bitburger Bierfest kamen auf, das jedes Mal im März stattfindet. Bitburg befindet sich nah an dem Dorf, in dem ich aufgewachsen bin, und es ist immer gut ein kleines Stückchen Heimat im fremden Lande wiederzuerkennen.

Die Parade selbst dauerte gute anderthalb Stunden. Nachdem die letzte Gruppe von Musikanten ans uns vorbeilief, brach die Menge auf einmal los: Es ging auf in Richtung Central Park. Hier ging erst richtig die Post ab: Das alljährliche Oktoberfest tobte und damit das größte deutsch-angehauchte Fest in New York, das seinem deutschen Gegenstück ähnelte, abgesehen von den Faschingskostümen und anderen Jecken. Typischerweise wird es sogar an demselben Wochenenende abgehalten an dem die bayrische Version anfängt aber aus irgendeinem Grunde hatte man es dieses Jahr vorgezogen schon am 15. September aufs Allgemeinwohl anzustoßen. So oder so, eine große Menge schaute vorbei und es war eine wahre Freude teilnehmen zu können!

Wenn man sich im Central Park etwas auskennt ist man sicherlich schonmal über die Summer Stage gestolpert, die es normalerweise, wie der Name schon verrät, nur im Sommer gibt und sich um die 70. Strasse herum befindet. Genau auf diesem Fleck standen nun anstatt bekiffter Rastas eine endlose Reihe von Zelten, Essenständen, Biertränken, Bühnen, und andere interessante Dinge, alle mit dem Ziel vor Augen mal wieder das größte Oktoberfest in Nordamerika auszumachen. Weil wir dieses Jahr unsere Karten im Vorverkauf reserviert hatten, mussten wir nicht, wie vor zwei Jahren schon, die Türsteher bestechen, die uns dann für ein komplett überteuertes Bestechungsgeld durch eine Lücke im Zaun durchließen. Nein, dieses Mal waren wir um einiges schlauer. So wussten wir auch direkt, dass wir uns einen großen Bierkrug zu bestellen hatten anstatt uns mit 3 kleinen Bechern abzumühen nur ums uns letzten Endes wieder durch die endlos scheinende Schlange zu kämpfen. Selbst fürs Essen stand man locker einen halbe Stunde an. Irgendwann schafften wir es uns mit Bockwurst, Pommes und Pflaumenkuchen bewaffnet durch die Menge zu boxen und das Spektakel zu verfolgen. An den angeheiterten Jecken vorbei, die sich den Warsteiner aus dem Krug schütteten. Irgenwann wurden wir in dem Chaos auf zwei kleine Kinder aufmerksam, die fleißig Visitenkarten ausgaben. Für die Reklame eines deutschen Restaurants in Staten Island verlangten sie eifrig einen Dollar von den verdutzten Passanten… Kapitalismus fängt früh an!

Weil die Fritten eher matschig schmeckten und der Pflaumenkuchen auch zu wünschen übrig ließ (an das gute deutsche Standard kommt so schnell nichts), traute ich mich vorsichtig an den Stand heran, der frittierten Teig und andere Spezialiäten anzubieten hatte. So wie zum Beispiel erstklassigen Reibekuchen! Die Kartoffelpfannekuchen schmeckten sogar besser als bei Muttern, was echt was zu heißen hat, und wurden zusammen mit authentischem Apfelmus angeboten. Mhmmm, lecker und echt zu empfehlen, falls es sowas nächstes Jahr wieder gibt!

Auf der Bühne wärmte sich eine amerikanische Volksmusikband auf, bevor einer deutschen Sängerin Aufmerksamkeit geschenkt wurde. Wie schon zwei Jahre zuvor führte diese ihren Feiertagshit „ I love German Boys“ auf und begeisterte damit mal wiede das ganze Publikum, dass den Ohrwurm bereitwillig aufnahm und sogar vereinzelte Zuschauer veranlasste mitzuschunkeln.

Nach vier langen Stunden herumgehen, Leute kennenlernen, feiern und trinken wurde uns so langsam alles über. Wir wollten After-Party, und wo anders könnte man sie besser halten als im „Zum Schneider“: Eines der originellsten deutschen Restaurants im East Village und wahrscheinlich die beste deutsche Bar in ganz Manhattan. Hier trafen wir spontan auf eine weitere Gruppe von Freunden und entschieden uns für ein Abendbrot der Extraklasse, zusammengesetzt aus einer bayrischen Käseplatte, einem Wiener Schnitzel und Wurst. Im Vergleich zu anderen deutsch-imitierenden Restaurants liegt es preislich im Mittelbereich, vor allen Dingen weil die Portionen großzügig sind, obwohl die Ware importiert ist. Die Kellner und Kellnerinnen kommen fast alle aus Deutschland, sprechen damit ein und dieselbe Sprache und verstehen ausnahmsweise welches Bier genau man haben möchte wenn man auf deutsch bestellt.

Somit ging ein weiterer erfolgreicher Tag des Heimwehbekämpfens und Freunde in die fremde Kultur einweisen zu Ende. Denn Oktoberfest in New York garantiert eines ganz sicher: Ob man möchte oder nicht, man lernt hier gewiss Deutsche kennen– sie sind oftmals im Rudel unterwegs.

Falls ihr daran interessiert seit nächstes Jahr teilzunehmen, bedenkt bitte die Eintrittskarten im Vorverkauf zu bestellen. Dieser fängt schon Mitte Juli an und kann 2 Wochen später ausverkauft sein. Für meine Karte habe ich dieses Jahr 15 Dollar bezahlt, aber natürlich kann der Preis in der Zukunft dank Inflation und Nachfrage nur noch ansteigen… Prost!

9/11/2012: On Top of Manhattan

Today is the day. Today is a very special day. Not only for New York. Today is different for the rest of the world as well. There aren’t too many of these days, come to think about it. But for some reason everyone I’ve known can recall where they were when the catastrophe happened. Exactly on this date 11 years ago two airplanes piloted by Al Quaida crashed into the towers of the World Trade Center, causing both buildings to collapse and burying more than 3,000 victims in the shards of the unthinkable. The stories, the documentaries, the recapses – all of this took years of processing until the world finally knew the truth. Or rather the details of the circumstances.

I still remember when I heard about it. It was exactly 3:20 PM in Germany, when an announcement on the radio caught my attention. I was 14 back then, occupied with doing my homework at my desk. At first I couldn’t believe that the collision had indeed occurred. When I walked downstairs to our TV and saw the live pictures, it started sinking in that something horrible must have indeed happened. We still went to choir as if nothing special had come about. But that Tuesday will always be engraved in my memory.

And when I moved to New York, I was under the impression that this city must be holding this one day in a very special memory. Two years ago was my first 9/11 in New York. I was excited to walk through the streets and see what was going on. “What do you expect to see?” my former roommate asked me. “There will certainly not be a parade to commemorate the 3,000 people who died in the collision!” True, perhaps I had expected just that. A joyful parade or a mournful parade. Pretty much anything that involves a lot of people sharing their thoughts on the event.

I was severely disappointed. A band was playing at Bryant Park. The chapel in the Financial District had more than the usual amount of visitors. But that was pretty much it. No evening ceremony, no group of people hunched together, no national anthem. It could have been just another normal weekend day here in Manhattan. And then last year, even though I wasn’t here, my friend told me about unexciting occurrences happening throughout the city on the ten year anniversary. True, Obama paid Ground Zero a visit and opened up the 9/11 Memorial (read more about it here). A few press had gathered here and there. But still nothing too special.

I am starting to believe that people from outside of New York hold this day in different memory. They mourn it, they talk about it, they openly discuss what can be discussed from so far away. Everyone thinks that this city will make a big fuss out of that one day in September. But they were not here and the date is easy to forget if you are not surrounded by the ruins daily, when you are not close to the site of demolition.

Manhattan with the Freedom Tower at the far end

So today, while I was working and walking around, I started to realize: This city will never forget. And it is surely not ready to forgive. 9/11 is not held in thought publicly like Memorial Day or other sad occasions. It’s been 11 years. The deceased still have family and loved ones they left behind. The wounds of this particular date gape wide open, as was seen in personal pieces exhibited at the 9/11 Memorial. Or the heartbreaking engravings of the deceased at the two ponds.

People lost their husbands, their wives, their sons, their daughters, their fathers, their mothers, their siblings, their friends – in short: somebody who meant a lot to them. So while the rest of America updates their Facebook statuses with the national flag and tips its hat at the shocking occurrences and the yearly anniversary, New York is silently mourning. It is grieving the loss of not only the people but also the significant landmarks. The jobs and the dreams that were connected to the World Trade Center. The tallest buildings of the Big Apple, the Financial Twins, and Yamasaki’s most famous creations.

No, this city is not able to forget and, least to say, heal. Every year so far I have seen more and more ads when taking the subway. These advertisements picture people who have health problems because of the pollution done to the air. Asthma, panic attacks, minor intoxication – just a few of the smaller issues that have turned into bigger ones over the years. While the rest of the world shuts its eyes for 364 days of the year and remembers the day only once a year, New Yorkers have been living with the tragedy and its side effects ever since. Even people like me, who are not natives to the city and who haven’t been around when it happened, can feel that no one is in the mood to talk about when the topic arises.

View from the Observatory at the Empire State Building

So I went on top of the Empire State Building today. I wanted to see how the Freedom Tower fits into the Manhattan skyline and I wanted to take the City in on this exclusive day of the year. A few hundred other tourists thought the same, but I was not bothered. It was nice. And while I walked towards my apartment in Brooklyn, I saw the Freedom Tower point a very strong light beam into the sky. The blue ray illuminated everything. I couldn’t help but think that this is New York’s way of remembering 9/11: Through the dark there shines a light and touches everything and everyone around it. While this city has been touched and will be touched in further decades to come, it will never forget that one day in September when its two twins were crushed eternally.

Where were you when it happened?

Fake Glamour and Cheap Wine: The Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

Thursday was the start of another famous event here in New York. It was Fashion’s Night Out, marking the beginning of a one-week-episode during which fashion gurus take over this city. More and more cities have started FNO, which is basically the first night of Fashion Week, initiating models, designers, celebrities and everybody else to flock the streets, go shopping, or simply celebrate the advent of one of the most popular events in the industry. Of course the Big Apple is one of the leading milestones when it comes to nice dresses, bulimic tall and slim models, and arrogant sophisticated designers.

I am usually not into this industry, even though I occasionally have fun trying myself out as a model (not runway, of course). Just by crossing the streets in this town or riding the subway, I have encountered many people who can be described as “interesting” at best and “shocking” at worst. For example a guy with a very eccentric, white-fur winter jacket one morning in January. Or the girl with the shortest skirt and skinniest legs I have ever seen. Many models come here to make a living but I am not sure what the average quota of success is. I can only imagine that strutting down a runway in a popular show must be as amazing but arbitrary as landing a hit as a teenage singer.

When I came to New York I’ve vowed to be part of as many events as possible. Fashion Week makes it hard for the average traveler to get a glimpse of the most wanted shows because most of the time you need an invitation. How do you get these invitations? You need to know someone in the industry and you should make sure he/ she becomes your best friend during this time period. Some shows allow for tickets but these are seldom the ones you want to see. Lots of private fashion shows are going on in random places, such as a rented cathedral next to Grand Central. These shows are in adherence to Fashion Week but they are not in the main location, which is the Lincoln Center. Whatever goes down there is where you want to be as a fashion fanatic!

I was still rooming with the Belarusians back then. One of them was working for a French fashion brand in Chelsea. She had already indicated that she might be able to snag two invitations off her boss who had connections to Haute Couture designers. So one Thursday in February of 2011 I get a text shortly before my shift at work is over. “Come on over to the Lincoln Center! You have to be here by 6 PM otherwise doors will close” was the short and demanding text from her. I was so surprised, I didn’t know how to react at first.

Then I raced down to the subway, sprinted home, threw over a nice dress, tried it with some make-up, ran back to the subway station and somehow made it on the A-train to Columbus Circle. A short walk to the Lincoln Center and I was standing in front of a building that didn’t give anything away. No fancy models or celebrities outside, only some lone photographers. The action was clearly inside. Here it was that the other roomie greeted me and together we walked towards the entrance of the show. A line had already formed, reaching around a few corners. Somehow people were still expecting to buy their way in if a few ticketholders were willing to sell their cards or if some spots turned out to be empty. Along the waiting masses a few tables with free wine had been built up and the audience was able to drink before watching the show.

The Belarusian came out just in time and handed us two printed out forms. Not very glamorous, I thought, before being ushered through the white doors. We stood in a relatively small room with a few hundred other people, all standing and chatting away. The room was completely white. On the side tribune-like benches had been built up to accommodate the viewers. On a cue, the light dimmed and everyone stopped what they were doing to take a seat. The photographers built up their equipment to the left of us, right in camera shot of the runway. We were sitting with other coworkers of the Belarusian and tried to keep a straight face. Whatever you see on TV, seat-wise and room-wise, is pretty much what reality looks like. The furniture is spartanic and fulfills only one purpose: Presenting the show and then getting the people out of there.

Photographers in action

Loud music started playing; the light was completely turned off by now. I had the feeling I was in an underground club.

Suddenly a spotlight turned on, casting light on the first model walking down the runway. She wore Naeem Khan’s collection elegantly, posing here and there in front of the cameras and then strutting back. Not all models did their job as well. Among the beautiful dresses and exotic make-up I had a hard time recognizing the persons underneath the masks. Hollow eyes looked straight ahead when their turn was up, most of which did not have a personality at all.

Naeem Khan Fashion Show

“Designers really do use their models only as a better piece of equipment” I thought. I felt my skin cringe when I saw the bony back of one of the girls. Bulimia and anorexia must still be an issue, even after the new “guidelines” of model types had been introduced. I didn’t feel too comfortable seeing the sickish girls and had a hard time focusing on the dresses. It put a damper on things but most people in the room must have been used to it. They were able to admire the dresses and to clap once the designer Naeem came out. An Indian native who had made it to the top through hard work and the right connections in this industry. A total of 40 dresses for the autumn/winter collection of 2011 were introduced in his show and I have no doubt they were successfully sold out that night.

The after party included free wine. It certainly was not the expensive stuff but two glasses of red fulfilled their purpose. We were introduced to a funky looking couple of dancers and more fun people. Not everyone at Fashion Week is stuck up but you do have the occasional eccentric. Such as the girl who wore wings and was walking through the crowd, oblivious to the fact that they bothered people who were struck by them.

I enjoyed being part of it but I don’t really have too much motivation to go back. It’s one of those events where once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. Unless you are a true fashion fanatic and want to check up on the newest (and most beautiful) fashion, then this is just the right place for you to be. For New York will represent the best of the best of the best – that’s a promise!

[Author’s note: Excuse the horrible image quality! I had to take screenshots from an old video I uploaded and that’s what it turned out to look like. Unfortunately I don’t have the pictures anymore due to a bad hardware problem with my old computer… BOOOH!]

Cool Places You Can Find Me At

I am not sure if you guys noticed yet, but I have been adding a few features to my blog here and there within the past couple of months and weeks. This blog is a nice occupation and stands by itself but it is not enough to satisfy my greedy hunger for taking over the World Wide Web.

First of all, I started putting up a photography blog way back in the days of October 2011. Boy, it’s almost been a year, hasn’t’ it? There is some cool stuff you can find under A Picture Every Day. Don’t let the web address distract you (photographmyworld.wordpress.com), I just couldn’t find an open URL so I had to come up with that one. As the name suggests, it is not a picture every day, unfortunately, but more of a few pictures weekly adhering to a special theme. Such as the macrolens shots. Or the ahorn squash pictures. Sometimes you don’t always need words to express the little wonders of today’s world.

Second, I’m on the awful Instagram and it got me hooked! Yes, literally addicted! Boooh! So I added this nice little Instagrid feature (stolen from Liz) to my blog and you can meticulously follow the small tids and bits of my everyday life. I’ve made a point of not getting too personal on Instagram. After all, it is on viewable by everyone with an iPhone and Internet access Web. But the one or other picture will surely make you laugh, promised! Add me if you haven’t, my current username is das_brooklyn_maedchen ( so German!).

Third, I am on Twitter! Yes, Twitter! Not an avid tweeter, as I readily admit after almost two months and 22 meager tweets. Heck, I just recently discovered how to share my blog updates with the community! But it’s fun to keep in touch and it’s always good to keep your options open. Hey, after all, I might just have to tweet about that Facebook page I am still hesitant to open up, right? Send a shoutout to Laura4NYC !

Then, I have come up with a small photography portfolio on this sweet online host called carbonmade. I was allowed to post 5 projects with a total of 35 pictures. See for yourselves how much of my skills I was able to integrate. I think I did fairly well, if I am allowed to say so…

This site is a precursor to what I have planned: My very own homepage for photography, soon to be in the making. I’m sure it’ll take lots of time and even more of editing. So if you have any tips and tricks on how to facilitate the process, please voice them! Currently I am looking into blue host as my ehost. They offer a fee of $5/month and $12/year. Hey, I didn’t even know it could be that costly to entertain your own site online, but you never stop learning. I wonder what happens when you fail to pay that fee – will they really shut down your entire Web site?!

Regardless, I will keep you posted on the progress.

I am adding this post to the online presence section on my blog (new page, folks). I will continue on updating it, so keep checking in!

How People Find My Blog: Analyzing Google Search Terms

After more than a year of blogging I have come to find that fellow Internet users have clicked this blog because of some of the most peculiar search terms. Below is a small selection of the most entertaining keywords and phrases from the past few months.

Does Luna Park have water rides?

It always amazes me but also makes me jump in circles when people find me through this search term. There must be a quazillion other blog posts on Coney Island, yet my three ones (Off to the Beach, Coney Island Reloaded, Coney Island on a Sunny February Afternoon) have somehow made it through the net of stories on water splash fun and family observations. Everyone who has been meticulously following this blog knows how I love the beach and how I love Coney. It’s a once in a lifetime experience – this old amusement park on the Atlantic Ocean. The wooden Cyclone, which still exists despite its historic age. The never-ending renovations on aforementioned Luna Park. The joy all of these rides must bring to the children and have already brought to me. Coney, you rock!

German roommate new York

This one wonders me. If Germans were looking for a “German roommate” wouldn’t they spell this out in, you name it, German, perhaps? Why on earth would any English or foreign-speaking persons search for this? What do they hope to find? Do they have a German-roommate-fetish? Do they think we are cleaner/ more responsible/ pay the utilities on time? If that is your motivation of why you want the species “deutsches Fräulein” oder “deutscher Herr” as your roommate in an insanely diverse city as this one is, I will tell you right away (before you get your hopes up): I have lived with the possibly dirtiest, most irresponsible, craziest, and unwilling-to-pay-utilities on time individuals. Yes, all of these were Germans. In actual Germany. And if you think New York is going to change that, I should introduce you to my German friend’s roommates. All who have fallen for the same stigma and must have been severely disappointed. Because my German friend never cleaned the shower, was ten days late for his rent, and had the lousy habit to stagger around the apartment on a normal weekday. No more beer for him!

Life after deleting facebook/ i feel alive again since i deleted my facebook

This deserves no vicious comment! Bravo to everyone who manages to feel “alive again” after getting rid of the social network site. I still remember the times I spent way too much time seeking through other user’s online profiles. And believe it or not, there really is a life after deleting Facebook. And it’s so much better than instead of being glued to the laptop 24/7, I can tell you that much!

Bar Brooklyn sanitary grade

Well, to be honest with you guys: I have not yet blogged about the sanitary grades here in the City. I would love to, and many times I’ve been tempted to, I just haven’t found the right moment and time to sit down and discuss these on here. Ever since my former roommate from Florida visited me with her girlfriend, I’ve been grossed out by even the greenest B plastered to a window. This girl was from Cali and she had some real horror stories to tell about New York’s kitchen statuses. More to come soon. I can feel my fingers itching to share…

i used to be online on whatsapp all the time but niw i dont too becauae am heartbroken

Disregard the fact that the statement is completely misspelled (I feel so much better now as I see I am not the only one mixing up those “i’s and ‘o’s, hehe). Just the sentence by itself is pretty …. interesting. Not to point out I cannot recall a single post in which I even mentioned “whatsapp”. People have real problems nowadays, is what the above search means. Instead of clinging to their perfumed love letters or tearing them up and thrusting them into the fire place, they now have to deal with a smartphone app that can easily be deleted from their repertoire. Boy… get a life!

guy in the bronx has foot fetish craigslist

Ever since I mentioned “Foot Fetish Ads” in my favorite piece on NYC Craiglist Ads and other Scam Stories, people have actually stumbled across my blog by purely seeking out foot fetish addicts or foot fetish parties. While I am flattered that such an unrelated topic is attracting hits to this site, I can just imagine the frustration on the seeker’s face once he sees what this blog is actually about – earning a hard living through honest jobs and not seedy foot prostitution. Unfortunately for these individuals, I am nowhere close to publishing a post on my foot fetish (in)experiences, so if you stumble across this one, now you know!

pee on train seats

Yes! I knew people would be looking for this one! Ever since I came up with the brilliant post of Creepy People on the Train, I was waiting for the clicks. For people whb have also experienced this phenomenon. Waaaait, how awful! I really don’t care how many more fellow train riders have dealt with the incontinence of crazy subway passengers. Hold on… Maybe it is more common to see this phenomenon in other countries, though? After all, there was this one day I had a few statistics from Timbuktu…

a**hole at far rockaway surf

I really wonder who they were looking for! I’ve only had good experiences with the ‘holes’ at Far Rockaway Surf, but then again, you never know whose tail got brushed up in the wrong direction now, do you? I am puzzled but maybe also complimented to see that even one year after my initial Far Rockaway Ocean post, people can still find me thanks to my detailed observations on how to surf at the beach. I will always keep this fun day in memory… And maybe one day I’ll find out who the real ass is on the beaches of Queens.

what is living in new york like

Yes, sometimes I wonder the same. And to clear my head, I blog. About my current life in New York, about my plans in New York, about my past in New York. New York is everywhere, surrounding me and us, and that is just how it’s going to be for the next few stories.

is there a place called montreal in Germany
I can assure you, there is certainly no place in Germany called Montreal. German towns have German names with a lot of –bergs, -dorfs, -stert, -ligs, -gaus, -heims and –steins. Depending on where in Germany you are, of course. While rural Southern towns tend to have –dorf in their name, big cities are rather unique in their constellation. Look at HamBURG and MünCHEN, for example. Same size, completely different structure. Yes, but one thing you can be assured of: You won’t find Montreal in Deutschland. Trust me, I googled it… It’s just too French.

Aside from the google search terms and other referrers, I really love to check out which nationalities are attracted to this little blog of mine. A friend once had the theory that a small country in Africa still speaks German and would therefore be able to read my blog if I were to ever write it in German. He certainly did not take into account that African countries tend to be poor and thus don’t provide great internet access to their eager readers who still have to go to school to learn the alphabet…

What are your favorite search terms? I am all ears!