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berlin bye bye

Bode Dom

i've been gone over a week already, but i feel like i didn't really give berlin a proper goodbye. perhaps because i was holding out a little bit of hope that i might get the residency i was shortlisted for. perhaps because i never fully said hello. perhaps i've never fully accepted how much it seeped under my skin.

it was like being with a lover that was a convenience, until the day you realise you're in love with them.

anyway, as a tearful goodbye to the place, here are the top 5 things that i'll miss about berlin:

berlin sky

dancing every weekend. 
apart from new year's day, i danced until the wee hours at least one night on each weekend i was in berlin. i think i've written about berlin's dance culture before, but it is awesome and inclusive and far-reaching. it feels like it's ingrained in the city and its infrastructure. i think it's why i feel so awesome too - all that booty-shakin' has to be good for you, right?

dancing in the streets_0010

the M10 tram. (otherwise known as the party tram.)
i lived near it the whole time i was in berlin and it made getting home from 4/5am dance-fests enjoyable. and it connected me with kreuzberg, friedrichshain and (strangely) schoeneberg, where friends lived. actually, i'll miss the whole of the public transport system. it may not be as zippy as the underground in london, but it's far-reaching, consistent and runs until way late. [although it's pretty expensive for berlin.]


berlin time.
berlin runs on a different time scale. and i loved it. 3am bedtimes are not unusual. 11am is 'early' and stuff is open, running and available after midnight. what a concept. given that i often do my best work between 11pm and 3am, it was a revelation to be in sync with the place i lived


so much art to see.
even it was a bit shit, there was ALWAYS something interesting to see. there wasn't a sense of an art clique, and i very rarely went to the same gallery twice. i saw a lot, but there were still some great spaces or shows that i didn't get to see. and that feels pretty good to me.


the cheap awesome turkish food and sloerm
ok, so this is a bit superficial, but goddamn the turkish food was good there. and cheap. i really will miss the felafels and the haloumi from bagdad, ali baba and the felafel king. not to mention the baklava and gözleme.

and sloerm, run by the awesome stefan, was my local. i was a regular there, they knew me, collected my mail when i lived upstairs, made good strong coffee (a bit of an anomaly in berlin) and the best muesli ever. the two resident birds, paula and leo, were always cheerful and i will miss the relaxed homeliness off that place.

** obviously these things do not include the awesome people i hung out with.
shout-outs to oehmchen, käthe, lisa, peter, nawid, anna, jules, dominique and dan, alessandro, sarah, tim, on-yauchristiandavidmatt and sonja.

and for good measure, here are the top 5 things that gave me the shits about the place - ie, things i will not really miss:

this contains content by --- it is not available in your country.
in theory i support GEMA, but i cannot tell you how fucking annoying and counterproductive  it was to have blocked almost every music video (or video containing the slightest hint of licensed music). the first few times, i thought it was kinda funny. like - tee hee, look i can't watch a justin bieber video - but then it eventually really got to me. just ask me about jay-z's 99 problems..

mobile phone plans.
the UK and australia seem to understand mobile communication so much better. data is included in pre-paid packs, mobile numbers are easier to obtain and the rates are much, much cheaper.

no credit cards
i really wish i knew this before i arrived, because i would have sorted my money situation completely differently. i came with the incorrect assumption (see!) that credit cards (specifically mastercards, thanks to my bank) were accepted everywhere and it would be convenient to just put everything on that card.

nope. germans don't do credit cards. they have an overdraft on their savings card, but no credit cards. i got stuck a few times, with a conveyor belt full of groceries or electronic equipment, or art supplies before i figured out that it was pretty universal, and not just my local kaisers, media markt or boesners. it kind of blew my mind a little. i kind of understand it, but as a traveller, it was pretty fucking annoying, i can tell you. and there's something about the protectionism of it that i find a little creepy too.

the postage system.
actually, i love deutsche post's reach/pricing/availability and the fact that my local postamt was open 6 days a week until 8pm! but the thing that annoyed the hell out of me was the confusion between delivery companies and the narrowness of delivery options. if you're name isn't on the door, it's pretty hard to get something delivered. there is a real reliance on living arrangements and you can't just receive mail anywhere, at anyone's place - you have to be on the calling card. it's a bit annoying if you're transient, or you want something delivered to a non-residential address, say.

no free museums
like the EC business, i have come to accept that it's just like this in germany (and continental europe as a whole), but sometimes, just sometimes i wish that the big state museums would have been free. it would have been nice every now and again to take a friend to the pergammon without us having to fork out €9 each time, even for the permanent collection. having said that, it has made me incredibly grateful for the free national galleries/museums in london and back home. huzzah.

i do know that i will be back in berlin as soon as i can, and hopefully on a regular basis.

and in the mean time, keep a chair warm for me.

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At 21 January, 2011 12:51, Anonymous theOneTheyCallNawesomeH said...

u just wrote the best lines of 2010-2011 in a blogpost..

At 23 January, 2011 22:30, Anonymous Angus said...

Sounds like a fab experience lovely.

At 24 January, 2011 21:33, Anonymous lauren said...

NawesomeH why thank you.

angus, it really was. i don't think i can quite articulate how fab it really was, but at least you get a bit of an idea.


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