bavaria, travels, walkinthewoods

Into The Partnach Gorge, Germany

Down here its our time, its our time down here:

Our recent trek through Germany's celebrated Partnach Gorge was, by far, the most "Goonies-esque" experience we've had during our European travels.

What started as a ramble through a sunny Bavarian village became a walk through low-ceilinged caves, under waterfalls, and along narrow precipices (precipi?) - a journey that ultimately opens out into a wide-mouthed, snow-dotted Alpine valley. And, if that wasn't enough, another short walk up out of the gorge led us back into the sun and into the most picturesque mountain village imaginable (the last few photos below). 

This is the kind of place that truly makes you appreciate the diversity of nature, the power of water, and the importance of publicly-protected national parks. 

austria, bavaria, travels

Königssee, Bavaria

On a March day that couldn't decide whether it was winter or spring, we boarded a vintage pleasure boat and cruised the charming Königssee to the tiny town of St. Barthaloma. By day's end, it was one of our favorites in Bavaria: highly recommended (if only to hear the boat's captain stop mid-cruise to play his trumpet and let the music bounce off the canyon walls in synchronization).

books, america, summer

American Getaway: 100 Years of Saints & Sinners at Camp Wandawega

In 2014, I was asked by David Hernandez and Tereasa Surrat, the incredible owner / directors of Camp Wandawega, to help write a history of their extraordinary property in Walworth County, Wisconsin. The result was a book, titled American Getaway: 100 Years of Saints and Sinners at Camp Wandawega, Wisconsin. Here's the summary from the book's dust jacket: 

Indians. Bootleggers. A Swedish Madam. The Feds. A Murderer On The Lam. Refugee Priests. The Ghost Of The Lake. Kids In Canoes. A Russian Gangster. And A Cheeky Racoon Named George. This is the very strange, very true story of Camp Wandawega, Wisconsin: an American getaway since 1925.

Below you can read the book's prologue. At the Wandawega Historical Society's website, you can read all of the book's seven sections.

American Getaway, Prologue: "Our Place," Walworth County, Wisconsin, August 2012.

          "How dare you, sir. How dare you threaten to take this place away from us."
          At this the crowd fell silent. Clearly, emotions were high. After all, when a ninety-year-old woman crosses a crowded courtroom to dress down the county zoning board - directly to their faces - well, then, pretty much everything else comes to a standstill.
          And she was just getting started: "Ashamed, the county should be ashamed for even considering something like this," she yelled, quaking with indignation. "That’s our place, that’s God’s place and you will not take it away from us." There was a respectful wave of applause. The venerable woman spent the next several minutes laying out the many noble qualities of the place in question before finishing her statement with a final wag of her finger and a final benediction: "ashamed, you should all be ashamed."
          Mrs. Rita Sisk of Walworth County is a devout Catholic mother, grandmother, and first-time zoning board scolder. The inciting incident that had brought so many supporters together that day? A zoning violation. And, “the place” that Mrs. Sisk, along with fifty others had stood up to defend? ‘Our place,’ she had called it, ‘God’s place,’ was an outdoor chapel situated on a twenty five acre piece of property along the north edge of Wisconsin’s Lake Wandawega, known today as Camp Wandawega.
          Since the 1960s, when the property was used as a retreat center by an order of refugee Latvian priests, the outdoor chapel at Camp Wandawega had been used during the summertimes for ‘Mass in the Grass.’ For the faithful, the opportunity to pray and hear mass outdoors was more than just a novelty, it was a new kind of sacrament: worship in that first of all temples, nature. Over time, the tradition became sacred. So, in 2012, when the county zoning commission realized that the chapel sat on property zoned for residential use only (and not for religious gatherings), it threatened closure and an end to "Mass in the Grass."
          Cue the community uproar. Cue the indignation. Cue Mrs. Sisk and the crowd of people who showed up on a weekday to protest; the local residents, the out-of-towners from Chicago, the members of the Latvian community, the Catholic school principal, a big city ballet director, even former Illinois state representative Joe Lyons. Cue the over three hundred letters of support that came in from around the world, insisting that Camp Wandawega be allowed to remain open as-is and that the loss of Mass in the Grass would be, "a travesty."
          In the end, it was a non-travesty: the chapel and the camp were saved from the wrecking ball, or, at least, from closure. It was a victory for the diaspora of those who love Camp Wandawega; the generations of families who had come (and are still coming) to their summer getaway ‘on the lake no one has ever heard of’ in southeast Wisconsin.
          But there was a second, less instantaneous consequence in Camp Wandawega’s August, 2012 campaign: in the process of preparing for the court hearing, the camp’s current owners David Hernandez and Tereasa Surratt were introduced to decades worth of documentation and first-hand accounts clarifying much of the shadowy history of the resort property which included, in the broadest of strokes, illegal booze, illicit sex, the mob, the Vatican, a panhandling raccoon, and even a murderer on the run. And what they found - the facts they were able to confirm after years of unconfirmed myth and campfire legends - was stranger, more fascinating, and more complicated than they could ever have imagined. 
          As it turns out, for the past century, "God’s place" - that wholesome, all-American getaway by the lake - has been just as much a sanctuary for sinners, as it has for saints. Since the first modern building appeared on the site in the 1920s, it has been a speakeasy, a secret hideout for Chicago mobsters, a 1930’s brothel, and as the site of a gruesome, 1942 murder-suicide. For almost one hundred years, what is now known as Camp Wandawega has been many things to many people, but one thing has remained constant: the shores of Lake Wandawega have always played host to those who seek, whether for virtue or vice, to get away - both to something, and away from something else. 
          The story you are about to read reaches back into far away decades, it is populated by real people - both heroes and villains; the facts of their lives and times have been meticulously gathered, thoughtfully considered, and sketched here with as much journalistic integrity as we could muster. There’s a chance that a little ‘color’ has been added between the lines here and there whilst still leaving plenty of room for these tales to grow taller in the years to come. This is the stuff of legends, after all. So crack open a cold one, wrap up in a blanket, and gather in close around the fire...this is the very true, very strange history of Camp Wandawega, American Getaway.

Learn more about the American Getaway book project here, and more about Camp Wandawega here.

copenhagen, denmark, travels, books

Announcing 'The 500 Hidden Secrets of Copenhagen'

I'm happy to announce the release of my newest book project, The 500 Hidden Secrets of Copenhagen to be released by LUSTER Books (Belgium) later this spring. The book is available for pre-order at Read on for a little more about this upcoming book release...

About The 500 Hidden Secrets of Copenhagen (from the publisher):

  • An insider’s guide to Copenhagen and its best kept secrets,
  • An inspirational and practical guide to discovering Copenhagen’s finest and most interesting buildings, restaurants, shops, museums, galleries, neighbourhoods, gardens and cafes,
  • A new edition in Luster’s growing series of city guides,
  • Written by Austin Sailsbury, Photography by Tino van den Bergh.

"Where are the 5 best places in Copenhagen to experience New Nordic cuisine? What are the 5 best places to shop for Scandinavian furniture, fashion, and design? What is the city’s hippest new cocktail bar? Where can you find the best nature trails and waterfront walks? Where are the city’s small, independent cinemas? Which museums are best to visit on a rainy Danish day? What is Smørrebrød and where can I try it? What is Copenhagen’s best artisanal coffee?

The 500 Hidden Secrets of Copenhagen reveals the answers to these (and many other) questions. Discover a diverse range of under-the-radar, yet outstanding addresses that will allow you to explore the best of the city away from the typical tourist crowds. An affectionate and informed guide to Copenhagen, written by a local.

This is a book for visitors who want to avoid the usual tourist spots and for residents who are keen to track down the city’s best-kept secrets."               

Book’s Contents: 

95 Places to Eat or Buy Good Food; 65 Places To Go For A Drink; 70 Places For Fashion and Design; 40 Places to Enjoy Culture; 75 Places to Discover The Real Copenhagen; 20 Things to do with Children; 20 Places to Sleep; 45 Weekend Activities; 30 Buildings To Admire; 15 People Who Made Modern Copenhagen; 30 Random Details and Helpful Hints.

Pre Order The 500 Hidden Secrets of Copenhagen at

books, 2015

2015: The Year in Books

From whale attacks to Grizzly attacks, from a multi-verse of magical Londons to Flannery O'Connor's Gothic American South, and from the return of Scout Finch to the return of Cormoran Strike - these were our favorite book discoveries in 2015 (note: not all were published in 2015). Click on the cover art to learn more.

What were your favorite books of 2015? Leave us a recommendation in the comments below.

music mix, music

10 Favorite Albums of 2015

It has been a very good year for music. Below are the ten records we have listened to the most throughout the year. Hope you find some new tunes to fall in love with (click the covers art to hear music from that album). -A&A

*These Are The Honorable Mention Albums: 

**What albums should have been on our list? We would love to hear your favorites from this year...

music, music mix, uk

An Introduction To Van Morrison

It's October 1st, which has, for some reason, always felt like the first real day of Autumn. And along with the return of woolen socks, gray skies, and pumpkin flavored everything - the Fall has also meant that it's time to return to the music of Van Morrison, whose music feels about as autumnal as any music ever could: full of nostalgic remembrance and seasonal meditation.

Last month, 'Van the Man' celebrated his 70th birthday in style, with a pair of live shows on Cypress Avenue, the Belfast street he made famous on his iconic Astral Weeks record (1968). But September was also the month that Van's entire catalogue of recordings finally arrived on Spotify. So, in honor of the turning leaves of fall and Morrison's 70th birthday, I've crafted two Spotify playlists to help you get in the true spirit of Autumn and to get more familiar with one of music's most diverse, atmospheric, and enduring songwriters. Bundle up and enjoy.

Playlist I : An Introduction to Van Morrison (more folksy, emphasis on 1970s - 1980s)

Playlist II: Van Morrison Swings (more upbeat, jazzy, emphasis on 1990s - 2010s)

britain, france, travels

Sunny Guernsey Island

Part of The UK, but with flavors of la vie française, tiny Guernsey Island was a short but delightful stop on our journey through the British Isles this past summer. Sailboats, colorful bunting, and an overwhelming warmth from the locals was what stood out to us during our brief tour of this quirky little island. The snapshots below tell some of the story. For the rest of the background on the fascinating history of Guernsey, you'll need to dive into this charming WWII-era novel.

britain, travels, uk

Walking the Antrim Coast, Northern Ireland

Was it so extraordinarily beautiful because it was so unexpected? Or would we have been amazed even having had great expectations?

Either way, we had one of the most breathtaking walks of our lives this summer, as we trekked along the Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland. Just a short drive from Belfast, this place is a sensory crowd pleaser - overwhelming greens and dramatic cliffs, diving gulls and porpoise spotting, a rope bridge and an imposing sky. Days like this are the reason why we travel.

art, travels

Ferdinand Hodler // Swiss Symbolist (1853 - 1918)

Below are a selection of paintings by the Swiss Symbolist Ferdinand Hodler (1853 - 1918). I stumbled upon Hodler's diverse body of work this week and immediately fell in love with it - Hodler's paintings seem to me both raw and refined, realistic and surrealistic - at times, similar to the work of Walton Ford. Anyway, below is a sampling of Mr. Hodler's work. You can learn more about the artist at the official Musėe d'Orsay website.


france, art, travels, essay

The View From Above // Henri Rivière Revisited

Since we began this little travel/adventure/creative journal back in the summer of 2012, our most popular blog post (by far) has been an entry called An Introduction to Henri Rivière (1864-1951) about one of our favorite artists, the elusive French painter and printmaker Henri Rivière. That same year, I wrote an essay about Rivière and his creative process for Kinfolk Magazine titled 'The View From Above.' For the first time (and thanks to the kind people at Kinfolk), you can read that essay in its entirely right here on 

Click to Read The View From Above.

spain, travels

Barcelona Details

In Febraury of 2014, we escaped the cold winds of late winter here in Copenhagen and made our way to mysterious, delicious Barcelona. We instantly fell in love with that ancient, unpredictable, many storied city of Catalan pride and organic architecture - so much so that we're going back there later this month. But until we have more photos and stories to share, here are some outtakes from last years travels.

books, america, essay

Introducing American Getaway: 100 Years of Saints and Sinners at Camp Wandawega, Wisconsin


I am thrilled to finally be able to see this project come to life in print: American Getaway was a collaborative research, writing, and historical fact-checking endeavor over a year in the making. 

You can learn more about the extraordinary true history of Camp Wandawega and the extraordinary couple who is keeping such a special plot of Americana alive here.

Read the whole, rambling story of American Getaway for yourself here.