I rose early Sunday morning, put on a pair of purple nitrile gloves, and flipped my bike over to adjust my rear derailleur. The previous evening, I’d struggled up the steep hill to the hostel without being able to reach my lowest gear. I knew I had a long day ahead with many steep climbs, and was eager to get going with an ample 12 hours to reach Sheffield before my train departed. I didn’t yet realize just how much of a challenge the 65 miles and around 1600 meters of ascent would present.
(Saturday evening’s route in blue. Sunday’s route in red.)
“This was for the gentry.” We all looked down at what appeared to be a lidless coffin. “They didn’t want to get wet, so they were floated under this arch in this box. We’re not the gentry. You’re gonna get wet.” We walked to the end of the show cave, which terminated with a gate barring a steep descent through a mouth the size of a two elephants joined trunk to tail and extending far enough that we couldn’t illuminate the bottom with our headlamps. “Can you imagine this in flood? The water comes right up to this gate.” I tried to imagine it. How many aquariums would I have to drain to fill this hole? We opened the gate. Continue reading →
Last weekend I finally went on a cycle trip that I’d been planning before I even arrived in England. My travels have taken me to mountain tops, rushing down white water, and left me lost in thick wood, but I’d never yet ventured into the Earth. So I set my sight on Grime’s Graves, a neolithic flint mine in the midst of Thetford Forest.
(The route of the first day is in blue, while the second day is in red.)
As mentioned in the previous installment of this series, Norfolk’s history has been well preserved. But the heritage that the region wears on its sleeve is not the only offering of culture in the area. Many of Norfolk’s residents are actively working to celebrate the region, and those that I met helped me feel welcome there.
Castle Rising, built by William d’Albini circa 1138.
Bomb: Prolific painting or marking with ink. To cover an area with your tag, throwups, etc. – Graffiti.org
Most of the buildings in Berlin don’t bear the distinction of being designed by famous architects or under orders of King Frederick William II. Walking through the city you’re far more likely to pass by an imbiss shop or a residence (though that inconspicuous apartment building may have once housed Marlene Dietrich, like the one where I stayed during my visit). However, these anonymous shops and homes bear another distinction – many of them are part of the world’s largest canvas: the city of Berlin.
As soon as I stepped off the S-Bahn in the Friedrichshain district on my first night in Berlin, I was enveloped by bombed-out industrial walls. I had decided before I left England that I would be making a trip to the East Side Gallery, but I had no idea how pervasive street art would be in Berlin or that it would occupy a central role in the identity of many of its inhabitants.
The Fernsehturm towers over Marienkirche near Alexanderplatz.
Berlin’s history of destruction and division has filled it with visually striking architectural juxtapositions as well as made it a breeding ground for ideas in art and design exploring how to react, understand, and effectively handle these cycles of turmoil. In truth, however, Germany has been a hotspot for architecture for longer than since WWII (much longer if you credit them for contributions for Gothic architecture, though that actually originated in France and was later misattributed to Germany in an effort to degrade its cultural significance). In 1919, Walter Gropius established the Bauhaus, a school of art and design that pioneered much of modern aesthetics through careful study of color and geometry as well as a dedication to deference towards creating functional products that were well adapted to industrial mass production. The work of Gropius and his successor at the Bauhaus, Mies van der Rohe, are often cited alongside Frank Lloyd Wright as the beginnings of modern architecture, and it is here that my adventures in Berlin began – I paid a visit to the Bauhaus Archiv.