Covering the Space Shuttle Program

STS-122 Atlantis on the launch pad at night, December 2007

The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and the first moon landing on this day in 1969 brings back memories of one of my favorite topics as a reporter in the US: NASA’s Space Shuttle program. I was fortunate enough to visit the astronaut training site in Houston, Texas, as well as the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, meet many astronauts, and watch the final mission take off.

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Alsace – A Case in Point Why We Need a United Europe

What I really enjoy about the European Union is being able to travel without passport from one country to another. I still remember what is was like when you had to show your ID and pass a border simply for traveling through a then-devided Germany. We must never go back.

What is more, thanks to the Euro, you don’t even need a different currency when you travel from Germany to France, for example. I just recently enjoyed the beautiful landscape, cool castles, and picturesque villages of Alsace.

Eguisheim with its beautiful houses.
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Trust a Stranger (or Three)

Schmelztalstrasse

With all the news about violence and hatred and crime, it is good to remember that – at least in our part of the world – violent behavior is the exception, not the norm. And that, contrary to what we are often told, people are usually not planning to harm us. On the contrary. They are willing to help, or just need help themselves. I’ve made this experience twice in the last couple of weeks.

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Siebengebirge – Seven Beautiful Hills

View of the Drachenfels with the castle from Bad Honnef

We have a saying in Germany: Why travel far? If you look closely, you can find the best close to home.

While I like exploring foreign countries and places, I also enjoy hiking in my current “backyard”. The hiking trails of the Siebengebirge start literally just up my street.

The Siebengebirge, or Seven Hills, is a mountain range next to the Rhine River, and of volcanic origin. The highest is the Ölberg (461 m, 1509 ft), so I guess I would not really speak of “mountains”. But they nevertheless make for a nice hike, especially if you start at the bottom and do not drive half way up.

I love the lush greens and quite solitude of the trails and the forest. There are so many different hiking trails, that even on an Easter weekend, you don’t run into too many people.

Yesterday, I finally got to hike up to the Ölberg – and the view was spectacular.

View from the Ölberg looking towards the Rhine with Petersberg and Drachenfels

There is a cute little restaurant on top of the Ölberg. It is very popular, so for a Sunday brunch, you would have to make a reservation. In the afternoon, though, I had no problem finding a table.

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Edinburgh – A City With A View

Castle On A Hill

Exactly at this time a year ago, I spent a few days near Edinburgh, Scotland. I didn’t have time to do a lot of sightseeing, but still managed to get around a bit and take in some beautiful views of the city.

There is, first and foremost, Edinburgh Castle, sitting in the middle of Edinburgh on a hill. You have a nice view of the city and beyond from up there.

Of course it was packed with tourists, so I didn’t go in – but the ice cream sold at the truck on the square in front of the castle was super tasty.

Since I also like to go off the beaten path a bit, I took a bus to Inverleith and walked to Inverleith Park. It is a place where people play all kinds of sports, or walk their dogs, or have fun with their kids. Plus, you have a nice view of the city as well.

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Washington, D.C.’s Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossom, Washington, DC, 2013, Jefferson Memorial in the background

It’s the time of the year when people have something special in mind when they visit Washington, D.C.: the cherry blossoms. In 1912, the Mayor of Tokyo gave the US about 3,000 cherry trees – after the first batch of about 2,000 trees from Japan turned out to be infested with insects.

The trees were planted around the Tidal Basin and are blooming every spring.

It was writer and National Geographic legacy Eliza Scidmore who originally had the idea of planing the cherry trees in the new park that was built at the end of the 19th century, to the West and the South of the Washington Monument.

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Savannah – A Southern Belle

Fountain at Forsyth Park, Savannah, Georgia

The Spanish moss was my favorite in Savannah, Georgia. You can see it hanging from the trees in Forsyth Park (pictured above), but also, most beautifully, at Wormsloe Historic Site. Not far from Savannah, this is the place where the first settlers arrived from England in 1733. A “Spanish Moss Avenue” is leading to the ruins and a little museum, where you can learn more about life in the 18th century.

I only spent two nights in Savannah back in April 2016, but really loved the place, having never been to Georgia before.

There is a lot to explore in the city itself, with its beautiful houses, parks, and a lot of restaurants, some of them featuring Southern cuisine. (Yes, I did try fried okra, but have to admit, I am not really a fan.)

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