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Features, reports and interviews from around the world

Brandenburger Tor Copyright: pa-picture alliance | A. Ehrlicher, B. Rehmann

The Past Meets the Present

(28 September 2015) The decades-long division of Germany came to an end 25 years ago. Since then the country has changed, Berlin in particular. Has what belongs together truly grown together? In a photography project, the Goethe-Institut remembers a bit of German history. By Ula Brunner

Heidelberg is not the same as Heidelberg Photo: Uwe Rau

Heidelberg is not the same as Heidelberg

(10 August 2015) Yangon, Vilnius, Bogotá, Wellington, Cairo: For a year we have been getting letters from the most fascinating corners of the world. At the end of our series of letters to our “liebe Heimat” we end up in, of all places, Heidelberg. By Uwe Rau

The Cathedral and Me Photo: Anna Maria Strauß

The Cathedral and Me

(3 August 2015) Look or shoot? In our age of mobile phone cameras and selfie sticks, it seems that documenting an experience is becoming more important than the experience itself for travellers. Here are some observations from the field in Riga. By Anna Maria Strauß

A Touch of Home Photo: Katja Kessing

A Touch of Home

(27 July 2015) What is it that makes a place home? Friends, family, the past, the number of years lived there? Our writer Katja Kessing is not sure either. But she can feel it.

Canadian Venice Photo: Uwe Rau

Canadian Venice

(13 July 2015) Our summer retreat is only fifteen minutes from Toronto. When you leave the metropolis behind by ship you soon find yourself in a melange of colourful Victorian houses, ancient weeping willows, beaches, dunes and the sound of the waves. What more could you ask for? By Uwe Rau

Please come thirsty! Photo: Bettina Senff

Please come thirsty!

(6 July 2015) Coffee culture is considerably older in Germany than it is in New Zealand. But when it comes to the café culture, German operators can still learn a lot from their colleagues on the other side of the world. By Bettina Senff

Ireland, Who Knew! Photo: Lara O’Donnell

Ireland, Who Knew!

(22 June 2015) Late in May I was able to witness an historic event in Ireland: the vote in favour of gay marriage. Patti Smith offered the perfect soundtrack, too. By Anne Klapperstück

Congo unplugged Photo: Gitte Zschoch

Congo unplugged

(15 June 2015) There is a lack of just about everything in Kinshasa with the exceptions of music, artists, the love of dancing and good spirits. With these and hard work, the people keep their vibrant arts scene alive. Sometimes you have to do without a drum set and just use a bottle crate instead. By Gitte Zschoch

Sport Trumps Art Photo: Garrett Ziegler

Sport Trumps Art

(8 June 2015) Since everyone is focusing again on questions of race and ethnicity in America, I begin to look more closely to see where people of different origins and skin colours casually mix in New York. The corner of Malcolm X Boulevard and 125th Street stands out. By Christoph Bartmann

Literally the Lowest Level Photo: Anna Maria Strauß

Literally the Lowest Level

(1 June 2015) Those bemoaning the disappearance of retail shops in Europe’s city centres should come to Riga. It’s blossoming here, though often underground. By Anna Maria Strauß

Driving Along the Nile Photo: Johanna M. Keller

Driving Along the Nile

(25 May 2015) You can read the newspaper, shop or have a pleasant conversation with the driver in the next car: driving in Egypt’s capital city is a laid-back affair. Take a trip through Cairo, the “mother of the traffic jam.” By Johanna M. Keller

Henry Moore’s Legacy Photo: Claude Marchand

Henry Moore’s Legacy

(11 May 2015) Henry Moore was English, but he left his private collection to the Art Gallery in Toronto in an unexpected act of gratitude. By Uwe Rau

Her Majesty’s Pleasure Photo: Stuart Yates

Her Majesty’s Pleasure

(4 May 2015) Writing crime novels is an honourable profession. But I would like to appeal to any young people considering this profession to take this to heart: you do not need to commit murder to write about it. By Bettina Senff

Sledding with Obama Photo: Sebastian Woitsch

Sledding with Obama

(27 April 2015) Nine days, 42 dogs, 30 degrees below. The plan is as simple as it is thrilling: we want to cross the enormous Lake Khövsgöl – on the ice. By Sebastian Woitsch

Summer in the City Photo: Anne Klapperstück

Summer in the City

(20 April 2015) The trees are blossoming, the sunshine beams, the people are going mad: it’s summer in Dublin. Well, almost. By Anne Klapperstück

There’s No “Place” Like Home Photo: Jacobia Dahm

There’s No “Place” Like Home

(6 April 2015) In the light of recent events, today I would like to write about street types in New York, more precisely about streets, avenues and other designations for asphalted pathways in Manhattan, but in particular about one specific “place.” By Christoph Bartmann

True Latvians Gather Mushrooms Photo: Norbert Strauß

True Latvians Gather Mushrooms

(30 March 2015) Those who live in Latvia learn quickly that being Latvian requires more than having been born inside the national borders. This is sensed not only by the so-called non-citizens from Soviet days. By Anna Maria Strauss

I spy, with my little eye... Photo: Johanna M. Keller

I spy, with my little eye...

(23 March 2015) History, noise and dust: you either love Cairo, or you hate it. If you love this city, then you do one thing particularly often: you look away. By Johanna M. Keller

Species in Danger Photo: Katja Kessing

Species in Danger

(16 March 2015) Colombia is booming. The country, which only a few years ago stood for violence and terror, is bounding from one superlative to the next. The superlatives in matters of environmental policy are, however, negatives. By Katja Kessing

The Mountain Calls Photo: Sebastian Woitsch

The Mountain Calls

(9 March 2015) Today, I am aiming high. I want to climb the Chingeltei Uul with a group of hikers. Twenty below? No sweat! By Sebastian Woitsch

...till the fat lady sings Photo: Michael Cooper

...till the fat lady sings

(2 March 2015) I have to shout it to the world: the Canadian Opera Company is splendid and evolving to become one of the prime addresses for opera. They are being helped along by two men from Germany. By Uwe Rau

Bronze for New Zealand Photo: Bettina Senff

Bronze for New Zealand

(23 February 2015) On a meadow in the middle of the Botanical Garden in Wellington stands New Zealand’s only Henry Moore sculpture – in my opinion, the city’s most beautiful work of art. By Bettina Senff

The Sea of Ice Photo: Stefanie Peter

The Sea of Ice

(16 February 2015) One of the many survival tactics you must learn in Siberia is to walk safely on snow and ice. By February at the latest, the snow has literally crept into the city in the form of huge towers, walls and mountain ranges. By Stefanie Peter

“This is Ireland!” Photo: Evi Rockstroh

„This is Ireland!“

(9 February 2015) One of the best books ever written about Dublin is called In Schlucken – zwei – Spechte. Do you understand what that means? Neither do I. But it sounds sort of funny. Just like Dublin in its best moments. By Anne Klapperstück

Mellow State of Emergency Photo: Anthony Quintano

Mellow State of Emergency

(2 February 2015) Remain calm. Go home. Stay at home. Await further instructions. Last week, New York shifted into disaster mode. I watched the major meteorological event from my heated living room. By Christoph Bartmann

New National Hero Photo: Katja Kessing

New National Hero

(26 January 2015) Since last summer, Colombia has a new superstar. He’s already mentioned in the same reverential breath as pop goddess Shakira. His name is Rodríguez. James Rodríguez. Ja-mes! By Katja Kessing

Mongolian winter Photo: Sebastian Woitsch

With Frosty Regards

(19 January 2015) For five long months, the thermometers in the world’s coldest capital city register sub-zero temperatures. For some of my friends, it sounds horrific, but in reality it’s merely a matter of habit – and a good down coat. By Sebastian Woitsch

Old New World Photo: Uwe Rau

Old New World

(12 January 2015) Old is relative. New even more so. Upon my return from a brief holiday in good old England, Toronto seems especially new. No other big city has seen as much construction in recent years. By Uwe Rau

Red Christmas Photo: Bettina Senff

Red Christmas

(8 January 2015) Christmas and snow simply belong together for us Germans. It’s not the same in the southern hemisphere. I remember my first holiday in New Zealand: A white Christmas – what a disappointment! By Bettina Senff

Acrobats on the Bamboo Photo: Manuel Oka

Acrobats on the Bamboo

(22 December 2014) Have you ever tried renovating a pagoda that was over one hundred metres high and covered with ninety tonnes of pure gold? It’s not a simple matter. By Franz Xaver Augustin

Bus driver in Vilnius: Doin’ it for themselves Photo: Rūta Kuckaitė/Goethe-Institut

The Women of Lithuania

(15 December 2014) This country, these women! Lithuanian women are beautiful, smart and successful. They even drive trolleybuses. What more could one want? By Johanna Keller

Doorknob Etiquette Photo: Rupert Ganzer

Doorknob Etiquette

(8 December 2014) Good manners are a good thing. The problem is that they differ from one country to the next. How a bull in the china shop became a civilized New Yorker. By Christoph Bartmann

The Vast Shadow Photo: Katja Kessing

The Vast Shadow

(1 December 2014) The city is silent. When it comes to the very big topic in the country, many people in Bogotá are tight-lipped; they do not mention the peace talks now being held. Nonetheless and despite all previous disappointments, there is also a glimmer of hope. By Katja Kessing

Say Cheese! Photo: Uwe Rau

Say Cheese

(17 November 2014) Canada is alarmed. Alarmed that huge cheese wheels from Holland, Germany, France and Italy may overrun the nation. A nation that is quite proud of its cheese. But who in Europe has ever heard of Oka or Niagara Gold?

Kotuku Tibble: Maori with a unique family tree Photo: Bettina Senff

The Goethe Link

(10 November 2014) The Goethe-Institut’s name-giver is not always present in the daily routine of staff members. So it was a special day when Goethe – embodied in his great-great-great-great-great grandson (or thereabouts) – dropped by “his” institute in New Zealand. By Bettina Senff

The Sacred Curse Photo: Franz Xaver Augustin

The Sacred Curse

(3 November 2014) We remember them from picture books when we were children, from the signs of famous taverns and from Rilke’s Carousel. We see them in coats of arms and knick-knacks in finest porcelain. Unlike similarly stylized unicorns, however, white elephants really do exist. By Franz Xaver Augustin

If I Were the King of Lithuania Photo: Johanna M. Keller

If I Were the King of Lithuania

(27 October 2014) Swabians can do just about everything but speak proper German. They could even rule Lithuania! If the Lithuanians would merely make their decision, the king-to-be is willing and able. By Johanna M. Keller

Underground Literature Photo: Jens Schott Knudsen

Underground Literature

(20 October 2014) To find out something about New Yorkers’ reading habits, all you need to do is take the subway. You’ll learn quite a lot about the decline of printed newspapers, the jumpiness of status checkers and the rise of a goldfinch. I took a detour in the sub-culture. By Christoph Bartmann

The Slow Life Photo: Katja Kessing

The Slow Life

(13 October 2014) Bridges are good things. The connect countries, regions and people. Yet sometimes they can even help to cut off links to the rest of the world; to make us unavailable for a few days ... at least in Bogotá. By Katja Kessing

The Gobi Desert is Calling – To a Marathon Race Photo: Sebastian Woitsch

The Gobi Desert is Calling – To a Marathon Race

(6 October 2014) I like to cycle and I like to run. It’s clear that for these two modes of travel, the capital of Mongolia is truly a challenge. So, I head off to the desert. By Sebastian Woitsch

Perchance a Dream? Photo: Uwe Rau

Perchance a Dream?

(29 September 2014) The name of the town is Stratford and the river flowing through it the Avon. But is it the birthplace of the Bard? An encounter with Shakespeare – on a different continent. By Uwe Rau

Anybody who wants to complain... Photo: Bettina Senff

Anybody who wants to complain...

(22 September 2014) Taking the bus in New Zealand is a unique experience. Every time you board or de-board this mode of transport is a chance for a more or less extensive conversation. When suddenly every bus driver is wearing a lei, something must be afoot. By Bettina Senff

Shooting Practice with Uncle Buddha Photo: Franz Xaver Augustin

Shooting Practice with Uncle Buddha

(15 September 2014) An unusual visitor: Young female soldiers in Myanmar might expect some oddities at target practice, but a German photographer dropping by with an obsession for targets might surprise them. Herlinde Koelbl did just that. By Franz Xaver Augustin

About 100 days to go before Lithuania joins the euroland Photo: Goethe-Institut Litauen/Rūta Kuckaitė

Count backwards and sing

(8 September 2014) Give us the euro! While many elsewhere presage the end of the community currency, Lithuanians can hardly wait to join the club. By Johanna M. Keller

Bathing at Jacob Riis Park: the beach in the Rockaways was originally created for the poor of New York Photo: gigi_nyc

The Hamptons? Fuhgeddaboudit!

(1 September 2014) We all know that New York is situated on the ocean, so you’d think it would be easy to find a nice beach for a hot Saturday in August. Well, you’re mistaken. By Christoph Bartmann

Photo: Katja Kessing Photo: Katja Kessing

We are No Spoilsports

(25 August 2014) My Colombian neighbour is celebrating his fiftieth birthday with a costume party under the motto “Carnival of Barranquilla.” It will be a celebration with surprising twists. By Katja Kessing

The tui is the comedian of New Zealand’s birds Photo: Bettina Senff

Bird of the Day

(11 August 2014) No, it wasn’t a lark. Nor was it a nightingale. Today, it wasn’t even a tui. But one thing is certain: When you hear the wake-up call on the radio in New Zealand in the morning, it’s always voiced by a professional. By Bettina Senff

Exhibition in the Goethe-Institut Toronto Photo: Geoff Fitzgerald Photography

Rainbow Colours Even in the Zebra Crossings

(4 August 2014) Not many cities can say their claim to international fame is the notorious behaviour of their mayor. Colourful Toronto certainly can.

Ulan Bator Photo: Sebastian Woitsch

Over a Beer with Genghis

(28 July 2014) Mongolia, summer of 2014. Sebastian Woitsch is being pursued. At every turn, always and everywhere he is chasing him: the great, omnipresent equestrian prince.

Photo: Johanna M. Keller Photo: Johanna M. Keller

Visiting Thomas Mann

(21 July 2014) Every summer, the population of Nida multiplies. Groups of tourists make a pilgrimage to the summer home of Thomas Mann to enjoy the view of the Riviera. They were joined this time by Johanna M. Keller.