Christmas Chillin’ and Chocolate Fillin’ in Berlin (video)

Weinacht
Weihnachtsmarkt, Alexanderplatz, Berlin  Photo Russ Johnson

I am not a feral shopper, a pack rat ripping through the carrion at Best Buy on Black Friday or maniacally pounding a keyboard on Cyber Monday. I like to take the holidays calmly…and slowly. I would gladly become a standard bearer for a Slow Christmas Movement.

I can do this in Europe thanks to a glass of hot mulled wine or chocolate, a juicy sausage, a gingerbread cookie huddled next to a firepit at a Christmas Market.

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YIMBY: Yes in My Backyard: Neighborhood Vacation Rentals

Vacation CottagePhoto: Russ Johnson

So you want to get off the tourist track, away from the diesel bus stink, the rehearsed hotel staff, the pickpockets and predators that are often drawn to tourists as bees would to a fat-bustled queen. Peer-to-peer vacation rentals can literally put you in a cheaper, better place, a real neighborhood, where you can discover a real sense of the destination you are visiting.

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Life on the Film Festival Circuit

Sonoma International Film FestivalTechnicolor – Photo: Russ Johnson

Memo to my author friends: If you want to party, make a film

I spent part of the weekend at the Sonoma International Film Festival a tribute to art of  film and the consumption of enormous quantities of wine.

Talking to a few filmmakers, I learned a bit about the film festival circuit, which seems a bit like the 21st Century version of a traveling circus. Only much better.

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Go Local: Four Tips to Explore a New Place When You Travel

MetroSM

 

We really love to plunk ourselves down in the middle of town and wing it when we travel, not enslaving ourselves to guidebooks or hotel staff, but leaving ourselves open to whatever catches our fancy. Granted you might not see every landmark or frequent the restaurant that the concierge is promoting, but with a little advance preparation, real and digital, you can make your experience more real and rewarding:

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