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The occasion was our annual get-together, a time when our daughters fly in from far-away places to reconnect as a family. We chose Auckland’s West Coast beaches because the region is close to the city and none of us had ever been there before. Just 50-60 minutes’ drive from the airport, it was easy for us to collect our far-flung family and run away for a long weekend.

Located at the edge of the captain’s village of Keitum on Sylt, the Kontorhaus represents a special sort of venue indeed: for in what tea trading post (“Kontorhaus”) can you not only sip from a seemingly infinite variety of teas, but also select your home furnishings or, if you choose, even try living in them before you make up your mind? And in a designer’s heaven at that?

Since the financial crisis, Iceland’s capital Reykjavik has got a vitreous “harp” – the conference and concert house “Harpa”, located in the harbour area. We got a glimpse of it and gave it a listen.

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