Recently I went to Berlin and I loved it. I could tell you about the city and significant cultural benchmarks you’re supposed to mention in a travel blog post. I could post up links of great restaurants, or which dodgy bars to avoid. But, I won’t. Books like Timeout and Lonely Planet have that shit down and aside from that, the reason I loved Berlin had less to do with the great chicken I ate there, or the beautiful synagogue or the Berlin Wall. I loved Berlin for so much more than that.
To me, Berlin will always be the city where I learned to ride a bike.
Whilst I tremulously wobbled through the crowds, knees akimbo, concentrating hard on the rhythm of pedalling, pedestrians and staying upright, it was a while before I realised I was having fun!
The wind whistled through my hair to the same tune of the happy song playing in my head whizzing down main roads; the cli-clic-click of the chain of my bike echoed the beat of my exhilaration as I swooped around corners; the ping of my bell rang joyously through the city like church bells at a wedding. I suddenly understood the joy of bike riding and mourned a little for my childhood.
My Berlin biking didn’t come bruise free however. Multiple accidents, my inability to use the brake for the first day and instead planting my boots firmly on the ground was frustrating and painful for a while and there was the time I panicked in the middle of rush hour traffic, stopped my bike and refused to pedal anymore. Apart from that though, the romance of biking is no longer lost on me. Cycling through the city at three in the morning with the birds starting to sing and the morning freshness descending on the city as the blanket of night began to unfurl away will always be one of my favourite holiday memories. It certainly beats a taxi ride home.
Other key moments of the holiday include simply sipping tea on the balcony of our amazing apartment. With the sun streaming in through the windows and the bustle of Hackescher Markt Square ensuing below, the whoosh of the trains on the bridge opposite and stray notes from an accordion or the deep base of the didgeridoo being played by a street performer opposite, it was easy to pretend my life was a film or that I was Continental or that I didn’t have a 9-5. I loved catching up with my beautiful friend Emily, being girls, walking arm in arm and soaking up the sun. I loved playing a spontaneous game of tig that prompted strangers to start their own. I loved enjoying ice cream watching the sun set in Alexanderplatz and eating dinner with people I loved gathered around a table laughing.
Sometimes, it’s so hard to properly put down in words exactly what makes an experience so memorable. So, here’s a video my very talented friend Matthew made that truly captures why Berlin was beautiful.