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I spent the past month traveling around Europe on an extended vacation. In my blog series I’ll share some of the more interesting adventures and discoveries I had along the way. The discoveries relate to public relations, industries we work in, communication, and history, too. Scroll to the bottom now to check out some of my wild photos!
Stop 1: Frankfurt, Germany.
I spent the first two days of my trip in Frankfurt, Germany – though jet lag made it feel like a week. Still, I managed to cram tons of activities into those days.
I admit I didn’t have high expectations for Frankfurt, mostly because I didn’t know anything about the place. But I’m happy to have discovered that it’s a wonderful multi-cultural melting pot with people from all over Europe, the Middle East and Africa calling the city home. I don’t speak a lick of German but it didn’t seem to matter much as everyone spoke enough English to get me fed and to help me navigate the city.
Bizarrely, the layout and “feel” of the city is reminiscent of Portland in a way that was both similar and completely foreign at the same time. They don’t have the perfect north/south/east/west layout – but there are several streets crammed with places to imbibe and enjoy culinary adventures – much like our neighborhoods including Division, Alberta or Mississippi. The Main River flows through the center of town, dividing the city like the Willamette in Portland. Frankfurt is incredibly bike friendly too – and on my second day I explored a food cart festival and met a craft beer enthusiast named Max who was obsessed with IPA’s. Nearby a bike race and some kind of running competition meandered through the main platz. In the afternoon I caught an American Football game between the Munich Rangers and Frankfurt Galaxy.
The fans were wild and took their soccer-style noise-making antics to the football stands. They’d surely love a Timbers game. When I got back to my hotel in the evening, I had a conversation with the hotel bartender Stefan about infused liquors and he shared some of the šljivovica that his boss is making in small batches.
Does it get any more Portland?
I’ll admit that I spent some time later that evening Googling to see if Frankfurt has a sister city relationship in America. I discovered that in July 2015 they cemented this relationship with Philadelphia, the city of “brotherly” love. This could be unbridled enthusiasm speaking, but I am thinking our friends in Philly need to alter their pact to a “brother city” relationship and let PDX step in to create a much needed partnership between two cities that love bikes, beer, booze and the convenience of a direct international flight thanks to Condor Airlines.
Unfortunately, the low point of my day came when I went out of my way to try to do something work related after I stumbled across a sign that translated to “The Communication Museum.” I naively thought it would be an homage to the craft of public relations, strategic communication and crisis communication in Germany, but it was a large room devoid of visitors with a bunch of displays showing the evolution of phonographs, telephones, computers and other bits of technology.
Anyway – that concludes my first dispatch. Here’s what to expect from upcoming posts:
Stop 2: Gamescom. Cologne, Germany.
Having a stepdad working in one of the Northwest’s hottest tech towns has its advantages. In July I was invited to join him for the Gamescom gaming conference in Cologne, Germany.
Gamescom is Germany’s biggest convention on digital games and also serves as an interface between the world of gaming and other cultural and creative industries, as well as the digital economy.
I’d hoped to pass my AM:PM PR business cards to communication-challenged gaming companies across Europe, thus legitimizing future travel adventures and hopefully clearing a path to bring my AM:PM PR colleagues with me next time – but I discovered a different reality altogether. To be continued!
Just 20 years ago the first Sarajevo Film Festival was held during the middle of the longest siege of a European city since WWII. Attendance projections were low as a result, but 15,000 risked sniper bullets and mortar attacks to see 37 films from 15 different countries.
I’m happy to say my experience was a bit less harrowing, and I had the pleasure of seeing the debut screening of a film from a local Portland duo titled, “Finding Bosnia.” I look forward to sharing more soon.
Stop 4: Exploring Lineage in Ireland.
Blood lineage to my great-great-great uncle Sean Mac Diarmada is probably shared by thousands of other McMorrow’s, McDermott’s and Mac Diarmada’s across Ireland, Canada, Australia and the United States – but that doesn’t stop my family from laying a firm claim to this Irish hero from 1916.
Mac Diarmada will be getting his time under the spotlight as the Irish nation celebrates 100 years since the Easter Rising of 1916, an event he helped orchestrate with Thomas Clarke and that eventually led to the creation of the Irish Republic (and gulp, a bloody civil war).
I visited his statue in his hometown with my grandfather and father – three generations! I never thought I’d see the day. I spent some time with my grandmother in her ancestral village in County Mayo where I was able to reconnect with distant relations. We also had interesting experiences exploring mystical Celtic wells and catching jam sessions and visiting renowned pubs.
That is a quick overview of the trip – more blogs to come.