My top ten blog posts in 2021

Here’s a countdown of my ten most-often-viewed blog posts in the year 2021, as tabulated by WordPress and delivered to me through the Jetpack plugin by Automattic Inc. (Five of these posts were also on my top ten list for 2020.)

# 10 — Picnic by the Eiffel Tower, 2011

# 10 — Picnic by the Eiffel Tower. In September 2011 we had a very successful VirtualTourist meeting in Paris, with at least 37 members in attendance. A decade later, this post on our picnic by the Eiffel Tower was my tenth most-often-viewed blog post in the year 2021.

# 9 — Childhood home of the Brothers Grimm in Steinau

# 9 — Childhood home of the Brothers Grimm. In the 1790s, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm spent the five most idyllic years of their childhood in a town called Steinau, in the Kinzig Valley some 60 km northeast of Frankfurt. Later they became famous as professors of linguistics and German literature, and especially as the collectors and editors of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales, including such classics as Hänsel and Gretel, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin and Little Red Riding Hood. Their childhood home in Steinau is now a museum, and my post on it was my ninth most-often-viewed post in 2021.

# 8 — Travel by way of Cherbourg in 1931 on the SS Bremen

# 8 — Travel by way of Cherbourg in 1931. Like most people in 2021, I had to cancel most of my travel plans because of the coronavirus pandemic. But I did manage to visit the French port city of Cherbourg, to see where my father departed as an emigrant in 1928, and where he returned on a business trip just three years later. I have written several blog posts about Cherbourg, and this one became my eighth most-often-viewed post for 2021, even though it was only online for less than a third of the year.

# 7 — Stone of Bordeaux

#7 — Stone of BordeauxThe city of Bordeaux, in the southwest corner of France, is surrounded by nearly 1,400 quarries in the nearby countryside. The white stone from these quarries was the city’s main building material in the 18th and 19th centuries, giving Bordeaux its elegant, solid and substantial look that it still has today. The downside of this is that many of these quarries were underground and are now abandoned and in danger of collapse, posing serious risks for people and property in these outlying areas.

# 6 — The Legend of the Titanic Organ

# 6 — The Legend of the Titanic Organ. This is a follow-up on an earlier post about the German Museum of Mechanical Musical Instruments in Bruchsal Palace. Among the five hundred (or so) historical musical devices on display in the museum is a large self-playing organ which was formerly thought to have been commissioned by the White Star Line for use in the first-class dining room of its luxurious new steamship the RMS Titanic. But there had been some sort of delay at the factory, supposedly, so the organ could not be delivered on time for the Titanic’s maiden voyage in April 1912. Later research failed to find any connection between this organ and the Titanic, so they now prefer to call it the “Bruchsal Organ” rather than the “Titanic Organ”. (Was # 3 in 2020.)

# 5 — Jacques Brel’s Marieke in Brugge/Bruges, Belgium

# 5 — Jacques Brel’s Marieke in Brugge/BrugesThis is about one of my favorite songs by Jacques Brel (1929-1978). In this post, I also give my answer to the age-old question of why the lovely young ladies in French love songs are always twenty years old, rather than nineteen or twenty-one. (Was also # 5 in 2020.)

# 4 — About me

# 4 — About meMost blogging websites have a post (or a page, but mine is a post) called “About” or “About me”, and mine is no exception. Here I have attempted to summarize my life and hard times in 1,230 words and fifteen images. This is my own view of myself, obviously, but I have tried to keep it realistic. Occasionally I have to go back and update this post by changing the tense of certain verbs from the present to the past. (Was also # 4 in 2020.)

# 3 — Dionysian frenzy

# 3 — Dionysian frenzyThis has been one of my more popular posts ever since I first uploaded it in 2018. I hope people who click on it aren’t disappointed to find that it deals with an ancient Greek vase from the personal collection of the Duke of Luynes, decorated mainly with pictures of the god Dionysus and his followers. (Was # 2 in 2020.)

# 2 — Seating in the Arena di Verona

# 2 — Seating in the ArenaOf the five posts I have written about open-air opera performances in the Arena of Verona, Italy, this is the one that always seems to get the most views. I try to keep it up-to-date, to avoid misinforming anyone, but during the coronavirus pandemic everything is subject to frequent change, so I can’t guarantee that today’s information will still be valid tomorrow.

# 1 — Opern-Gespräche (fifth consecutive year at # 1)

# 1 — Opern-Gespräche. Again in 2021, as in the four previous years (i.e. ever since I started this website in 2017) my most-often-viewed blog post was this one about the German-language opera appreciation courses that I conducted at the Frankfurt Adult Education Center for over twenty years, from 1999 to 2020.

This is my only post that is written in German, the other 1,054 being in English. The post includes a list of the 243 singers, musicians and other opera professionals who came to my German-language opera courses over the years as our featured guests, to talk with us and answer our questions about Frankfurt opera productions and about life on the international opera circuit.

In March 2020, the 41st semester of the Opern-Gespräche was ended prematurely after only two course meetings, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

See also: Frankfurt OperaTalk (my 219th most-often-viewed post in 2021).

26 thoughts on “My top ten blog posts in 2021”

  1. And I just went back and re-read your About Me post. Such an interesting life journey. I imagine our virtual paths must have originally crossed via Charlotte Hoather who I’ve been following for some years. What a talented and dedicated young lady she is. In fact, all of the bloggers I follow have quite the story to tell.

    My first ever opera was in Moscow in 1978. Mozart’s The Barber of Seville sung in German. Prior to the performance, our group of 18-35 year antipodeans had been wined and dined at a folkloric restaurant (actually “vodka’d”, but it doesn’t rhyme with dine). It did not make us the most appreciative audience, but I do remember clapping in the right places.

    More recently (b.c. before Covid), I attended opera staged outdoors beside Sydney Harbour. It’s really something to experience! Especially when the ferries and cruise ships sound their horns just as the soprano is in full voice 🙂

    1. Thanks, Gwen. Yes, I’ve also been following Charlotte Hoather’s blog for some time now, and I’m glad to see she keeps getting gigs even during the pandemic. (I know some other singers of her generation whose careers have ground to a halt because of corona.)
      About that opera in Moscow in 1978: Was it Rossini’s Barber of Seville or Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro? Both were originally written in Italian, which is how they are usually performed today, but I have also seen both in German on occasion (for instance here:

      1. Whoops! I thought of the character Figaro and matched it to Mozart. The opera was definitely Barber of Seville and definitely in German. During the time of the USSR I think this was the second language of the country and therefore intelligible to most of the audience (except me). Checking my diary, I note it was staged at the Kremlin on 21June1978, the eve of my 23rd birthday 🙂

      2. I made a comment but I think the intergalactic goblins stole it.

        Basically, my feeble mind transposed the lead character Figaro and aligned him with Mozart.
        It was definitely Barber of Seville, and definitely in German. I think because at the time in USSR it was the second language, so most people – except me – would find it intelligible. I rechecked my diary and it was the evening of 21st June 1978, performed at The Kremlin. The eve of my 23rd birthday.
        I spent about a month in Iron Curtain countries and had my starry eyed idea of Communism adjusted. Still, if we can’t be passionate about such things in our youth – when can we be? Living in the former Yugoslavia a couple of years later demonstrated the difference between Communism and Socialism. Not sure how I strayed on to that line of thinking as it has nothing to do with opera. Guess looking at old diaries will do that to one 🙂

  2. This is the first time I read your about post. I gathered much of the information from your other beautifully formatted posts. Germany’s opera houses are fabulous, oh to have opportunities like that in the UK. Getting a young artist program as a soprano is very difficult as opportunities do not come up every year and now with Brexit well…. from what I have heard it is getting even more difficult. A shame because I have spent six years studying German. Happy New Year.

    1. You’re certainly right that getting into a young artists’ program is very difficult, especially for sopranos. I’ve known nearly all the members of the Frankfurt Opera Studio since its founding in 2008, because many of them have come as featured guests to my opera appreciation courses.

  3. Many times, the post you do not think a lot on, others pick up on. The number one pick is great.

  4. I enjoyed this interesting post very much and will now go and read some of the blog posts I may have missed. Although I’m not a huge fan of stats (!) I also like to see which of my blog posts have received the most ‘reaction’ whether in terms of views or comments. Sometimes I’m quite surprised… Happy New Year and Bonne Année! May 2022 be healthy and one in which we are able to travel more regularly.

    1. Yes, I’m sometimes quite surprised as well, for instance about the fact that my only German-language post has been # 1 for five years in a row. But I do live in Germany, after all, and I taught the Opern-Gespräche for over twenty years, so perhaps it’s not so surprising after all.

  5. How interesting to look back on your posts in this way! I thought initially this would be about your most popular post OF 2021, not IN the year – a subtle but important difference! I wonder if the number one choice is due as much to language as to subject matter, as there are probably relatively fewer blogs in German than in English?

    I remember seeing the Titanic Organ with you but I don’t recall reading that post so I’m off to check it out now!

    1. Yes, OF or IN is an important difference. Of my top ten posts IN 2021, only three are also OF that year (i.e. were first posted in 2021) namely Cherbourg, the Brothers Grimm and the picnic by the Eiffel Tower.
      If I were to do a countdown of my most-often-viewed posts OF 2021, it would also include the Favoriten District in Vienna, the horsemeat butcher shops in Paris and the Mini Room in Oldenburg, among others.

  6. I had never read your “About me” post – I guess I came in late. I remembered most of the others. My sister and I are trying to figure out if we want to do a blog on the internet. We’ve been writing for a company called Storyworth which has significant formating challenges. I’ve tried Word Press and have not been able to figure out how to organize photos on it without it making a lot of work. PhotoBlog apparently went out of business and I lost most of the short essays I wrote there. My sister is learning to use Publisher, but that assumes that we will be printing things out.

    1. After the collapse of VirtualTourist, I decided not to use any more “free” sites (also not the free version of, but to be a paying customer in hopes of having more stability and security. After five years I am still happy with this decision, since the costs are not excessive and I have a fair amount of control over my website. WordPress has a steep learning curve for the first few weeks (and I suppose I’ll have to learn the Block Editor someday), but otherwise I feel quite comfortable with it.

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