Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Ich bin ein Berliner

...I'd always wanted to say those words. Unfortunately, I'd never had the opportunity because, until this summer,  I'd never been to Berlin. After the thrill of Paris, we were keen to visit another city - a slightly cheaper one though, since we wanted to stay ten days instead of three without risking bankruptcy. So when a number of colleagues mentioned Berlin being relatively cheap as well as relaxed and child-friendly, the choice was easily made. But we didn't want to be tourists for ten days. So instead of booking a hotel, we opted for an apartment through Airbnb in the relatively quiet suburb of Neuköln. And I'm glad we did. It was super: a regular neighbourhood with regular locals - son S even enjoyed playing soccer with the neighbouring boys and girls, communicating with hands, feet and bits of German he was picking up. And I of course enjoyed imagining having moved house. "We've moved to Berlin, you know," I pictured myself saying to anyone willing to listen.
 
 
I also imagined eating out every night for the rest of my life at the fabulous local cafes. Nothing posh, just life-worn street eateries serving good, basic food: veggies and fruit, fresh herbs and spices. And good coffee. Boy, the coffee was good! But not only the food and drink were deeply satisfying. Just kicking off your shoes, sitting back and watching Berlin's colourful inhabitants pass by: that alone made the trip worthwhile. A dip into my diary, in which I recorded a kaleidoscope of images, not only of the people, but of Berlin itself: 'polished nails holding cigarettes, flip-flops, bare feet, boys with braided hair, sunglasses, breakfast in the afternoon, multilingual chatter, laughter, faces close together, laptops, books, newspapers, graffiti, cobblestone streets, slow traffic, trees, playgrounds, high-ceilinged apartment blocks, entrepreneurism, cappuccinos and fresh mint tea.'

Entrepreneurism? I hear you wonder. Yip. One thing that struck me about Berlin was the number of 'businesses' or 'niches' popping up all over the place. It seems people simply hog a space in the city and do their own thing. Quite successfully. None of the red tape we have over here, apparently. In that respect Berlin seems to be a blank canvas for boundless creativity and that certainly gets my heart pounding.
 
 
And so I imagined us moving there. Setting ourselves up in a neigbhourhood surrounded by the many artists (writers!) who so happily flock to the Berlin to settle deep within her bowels. I mentioned this flight of fancy to one of the neighbours who was in charge of the house keys. "Berlin is just fantastic'," I said, to which he replied without hesitation: "Yes, in summer." When I stared at him, expecting more, he added in his attractive German accent: "In winter it's a whole different story: cold and dark."
 
Oh. In that case: Ich bin ein Berliner... in den sommer.

 
 
 
 



(Just in case you are wondering: the kids of course wore safety helmets while biking; I don't for the life of me get how they're not wearing them in these photos). 
 
 
 
 

13 comments:

  1. sounds like a wonderful trip! what fun to imagine a new life somewhere x

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  2. What a great holiday. Berlin is somewhere I'd like to go :)

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  3. That is a fabulous idea. I've been to Berlin once and loved it. Great for shopping! You've got me thinking now...

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  4. Never been to Berlin... Every time we want to go cityhopping, we end up in Paris or London. Maybe it is time for a change...

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  5. I could live in Berlin, it is a fab place. The winters can't be any worse than our Scottish ones! I am glad you had a great time. We are going Airbnb in London, so much better to have a flat than to squeeze into a hotel room. x

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  6. Hey Isabelle,
    I've never been to Berlin. It sounds an amazing place. I love your diary observations; I often jot down what I see around me in a similar vein. I think winter can be difficult anywhere. Here in St Ives it is often dull and wet. But you take the rough with the smooth. If I could live in another city in another country I think I'd like to try Rome.
    Leanne xx

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  7. Looks as though you had a wonderful time!! Great weather too! xx

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  8. It sounds divine! I envy your ability to hop around European capitals. The city where I live, edmonton, alberta, is also beautiful in the summer and cold and dark in winter. ..but winterm has its own charm too. Do you read Sandra Juto's beautiful blog? She captures Berlin in her photographs and makes it look stunning all year round.

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  9. We always take self catering for breaks and holidays, the flexibility and privacy are much better for our family. This looks like a wonderful family break, and very interesting insights into Berlin. X

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  10. HI Isabelle - good to hear from you. This looks like a lovely holiday. Berlin is on our list of cities to visit soon (along with Budapest and Florence) but we'll take your advice and plan a summer break.

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  11. It looks wonderful. I can see why you fell in love with Berlin in the summer, with all those parks and cafes. I would too. x

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  12. I'm glad you enjoyed your trip to Berlin. It looks really wonderful. (If you'd gone to Hamburg you would have been able to say Ich bin ein Hamburger!!) That's very interesting about businesses just popping up without all the red tape we have in the UK (which we're told is because of rules from Europe!). I'd love being able to go to all those cafes and drink their coffee.

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  13. Beautiful photos. Warm greetings from Montreal, Canada. :)

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Thanks so much for taking the time to visit. I love reading your comments so please feel free to leave one (or more, if the mood so takes you) in English and/or in Dutch.