Three weeks in and my throat is sore and my feet are tired. I'm not getting sick, I'm not getting sick, I tell myself. Berlin is kind of amazing, so grimy and bustling and dynamic, so rough and interesting and striking. It's unlike anywhere I've been before - something about the post-war GDR architecture, all sparse and industrial but bright and kind of epic. The ceilings are so high, the linoleum floors beautifully well worn. There's no fussy details, which makes the small things, the light and the modern fixtures kind of sing within all that space. I'm staying at the Michel Berger Hotel which a friend recommended years ago. It's great - relaxed, interesting, a lovely room and a damn nice bar. It's a nice walk to Kreuzberg where I've found a few good cafes and shops (especially the French toast at Roamers), though there's a lot of nothing in between. Mitte seems much more established, good shops, amazing lunches, quiet streets, polished buildings and boutiques. I like both, though, for their differences.
Berlin is so rich with culture, for lack of a better word. I find the history so enthralling, how it swings between extremes and not so long ago cut right through the heart of the country. I was 9 when the wall came down, 27 when I read Anna Funder's Stasiland and came to understand what had unfolded, and now 34 walking these streets. It's so impressive the way Berlin has rebuilt itself, how the reaction has been to celebrate art and difference and quality of life above all else. It's a city that feels alive and evolving at all times.
I've been walking all day, everyday. Galleries and museums and train stations long blocks away. I thought about hiring a bike, but I quite like all the walking and anyway things seem either too far to ride to or just right for a nice walk. It has tired me out, three weeks later. You might not know this about me, between all my talk of clean sheets, yoga, cups of tea and good books, but I'm not much for partying (HA). I know Berlin is supposed to be a good night out, but after an early dinner and a wine, or a couple of beers like tonight, I just want to take my pants off and watch BBC World News in my room. It's been a constant, between Danish, Swedish and German telly, and quite a comfort. The hotel has been playing The Big Lebowski on loop too, which I watched the night I landed, and smile when I catch moments of, but probably couldn't manage again. It's nice just winding down from the day, thinking through it all again in the quiet, taking it in again and finding I understand it different or better with the distance.
I've been going a bit mad with all the Instagramming, can't help myself - much more to see if you want to have a look at the month through my eyes...