I headed to Berlin on Friday with a mix of excitement and apprehension. The juxtaposition was because I became rather unexpectedly smitten with the city on my first visit in 2003 and this visit could just serve to reinforce that feeling or it could pop my Teutonic bubble. Well, I am already trying to figure out when I can go back again, so there you have it. I really, really, really like this city. It's so laid back, edgy and gritty in the way the New York and San Francisco I knew when I first moved to them were. It's as if the East Village decided its outgrown the confines of Manhattan, moved away from home and became a city all its own; and this time safely away from the antiseptic hands of Giuliani & Co. It totally fits me and I can't wait to explore it more soon.
And it's *SO* cheap. I only spent €70 the first day, and €20 of that was for the taxi from the airport - it's almost as if you can't give your money away. I think the most I spent on a pint was €2.70. And someone I met randomly told me he only pays €420/month for his great central West apartment with views of the Reichstag. This combination of affordability and a great city is something you don't come across too often; the only other obvious example I can think of is Montréal.
Travelling alone was a cool experience. I have to admit I didn't get up to much touristwise, but I love I didn't have to because I wasn't raining on anyone's parade. I did see the new Hauptbahnhof, which is pretty darn cool, and I did my little bit of shopping in Alexanderplatz, old East Berlin's 'centre', which, though adorned a little more, is still Ostiechic, and walked down Ünter den Linden, Berlin's pre-war pre-eminent high street. The Holocaust Memorial and Reichstag will have to wait for the next visit.
But now it's back to my London life. It's the wrap-up of the fiscal year at Morgan Stanley so I am expecting a long week ahead of me. Busy December ahead; this weekend I am here and can catch my breath a little; the week after that I am off to Middlesbrough with some classmates (a potential surprise contender to my favourite cities lists perhaps?); the weekend after that Schnookums arrives in town for the holidays, and then she, Mary Keany and I head off to Lisboa for the New Year's Eve weekend. I've realised lately my passport is filling up - I only have about four spaces left in it. I need to get pages added - and it's only five years old! It's been a good five years.
OK, bedtime here - the few pics I did take are below, the first several from my (€35/night) apartment I rented in Shöneberg. Did I mention Berlin is cheap?
(Don't worry Montréal, I still love you!)
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