The Search for Grandfather’s House, Part Two

The new house, commanding magnificent views of open sea and bathing beaches, and mountains and forest gardens, and houses. North of the Iltis Huk church, at foot of the big hill, on south slope. Wish you could enjoy it soon with us. Big love, Daddy

— a note on the back of a photo of the house in Qingdao, China, written by my great-grandfather to one of his children on July 31, 1937.

Armed with the photo of the house and the description above, we hopped on a bus

Continue Reading

The Best European Christmas Markets

We’re here in Beijing, China and the only things going up more rapidly than new buildings are Christmas trees (mostly fake, of course). Last night, we became nostalgic while strolling past another giant shopping center Christmas tree, this one shielded by a roof that houses the world's largest LED video screen (250 meters long by 30 meters wide).

Beijing Christmas Decorations
Getting into the Christmas spirit in Beijing, China.

Though the proliferation of Christmas decorations in Beijing is remarkable, their presence just doesn't capture the holiday spirit like a European Christmas market would. So, we offer a walk down European Christmas Market memory lane and our “Best of” European Christmas Markets list.

Continue Reading

To Grandfather’s House We Go

We’re headed next to Qingdao to look for my grandfather's birthplace and the house my great-grandparents built.

— explaining our travel plans in China to a group of expats at a Thanksgiving dinner in Beijing.

The group appeared utterly confused. I don’t look like I’m of Chinese heritage in the least. So how is it that my grandfather was born in China? And had a house in Qingdao?

Continue Reading

Liv Tyler and Chinese Wine

Having just uncorked our first bottle of Chinese wine, we began to reminisce about the small, lovely and affordable French wine collection we'd built in Prague (then quickly quaffed), thanks to the Salon de Vignerons Independants (French Independent Vintners Festival) that we attended in February 2005 and February 2006 in Strasbourg, France.

Continue Reading