Chapter Three: One month in

Beers in the streets? Dogs on the train? Cashews and avocados are affordable and fridges are small. I guess I live in Berlin now.

Even the smoke from B.C.'s wildfires couldn't stop me from getting here - though it did delay me by a few days. Wednesday marked one month since I arrived; so I pressed pause and reflected on the adventure up to now.

 Museum Island sits next to the Spree river while the TV Tower looks on from East Berlin.

Museum Island sits next to the Spree river while the TV Tower looks on from East Berlin.

PRESSING PAUSE

Giving Gratitude

It should come as no surprise that a lot goes into moving to a new continent. I'm full of gratitude for all the bright lights in my life who made this process so seamless.

Jan: The nicest German there ever was. Jan and I met in Vancouver last summer, back in the earlier days of my manifestation of the Berlin dream. From helping me secure a place to live in the city, navigating the red tape that is German bureaucracy, and even offering up his gorgeous flat when I arrived, he made moving 7,971 km a total breeze.

Personal Growth & Development: With gratitude to the leaders and mentors in my life who have helped developed me along the way. I arrived in Berlin with a whole lot of patience, knowing that building a life in a new place, especially one so far from home, takes time. I show up for myself as my own personal cheerleader, celebrating successes (big and small), and managing my own expectations. Being realistic in knowing that not everything will happen immediately has been a powerful mantra and reminder.

REWE (Grocery Store) WiFi: You were strong enough to allow me take a phone interview call on my first night here, and for that I am grateful. I guess I can give you partial credit in helping me land an epic job (see below).

Mobile Banking: Last but not least, my N26 bank account. You were set up upon my arrival, saved me the hassle of going to a traditional German bank, and you offer a beautiful in-app interface. And now I get to work with you as you navigate through hypergrowth. You and me, we’re gonna do big things.

Jared: There's nothing better than seeing a familiar face from home on the first night in your new city. Jared moved to Germany from Vancouver a few years ahead of me and his Canadian perspective into life here has been a huge help. Without him, setting up a mobile phone plan or knowing which grocery stores to shop at/avoid would have been rather daunting. Cheers to this fellow Canadian abroad.

Love from Family & Friends: Your support and encouragement means the world to me and I take none of it for granted. I’m one lucky guy. Thank you for pushing me to live my best damn life.

Duolingo: Let's be real, I'm nowhere near fluent German. That said, I've come a long way since the last time I was here in 2015. That trip was a last-minute stopover that I planned following my adventure to Kenya with Clearly. I was so focused on Africa that I had hardly prepared for my time in Germany - except for a Death Cab for Cutie concert in Munich. Returning now, I can (mostly) decipher transit ads and gelato flavours. And trust me, the letter ß makes so much more sense now. Thanks, Duolingo.

Google Translate: I don't think I'd make it through a German grocery store without you. Or be able to understand the constant text messages that my mobile carrier sends me.


THE REWIND

A Man About Town

Looking back at some of my highlights from the first month.

Long Night of Museums: or “Lange Nacht der Museen” is an annual event that takes place throughout Berlin. Each year, 80+ museums open their doors for one Saturday evening from 6pm-2am. A single €18 ticket gives you access to as many museums as you can get to in this 8 hour window, along with free public transit and shuttle routes. This was a perfect first Saturday night for me. A few of my highlights:

  • C/O Berlin - Stefanie Moshammer’s solo show is worth the visit, in addition to the expansive polaroid exhibit

  • Urban Nation - A museum for urban contemporary art that did not disappoint

  • Museum for Communication - Admittedly, I’m a bit of a communications nerd - fascinated by how we as a society communicate. During Long Night of Museums, the Museum for Communication had a silent disco where each attendee received headphones and could wander the massive space while an on-site DJ performed in the bar. This was when I knew I moved to the perfect city.

  • Panorama Berlin - A fascinating look at what it was like to live in Berlin during the 1980s, in the shadow of the wall. This is worth a visit when you’re visiting Berlin.

  • Honorable Mentions: I made it to a whopping 12 museums in 8 hours. Some were better than others (see above). These ones didn’t make it to the top spots. Deutsches Currywurst Museum, Charlottenburg Palace, Bröhan Museum, Schwules Museum, Dalí - The Exhibition, Checkpoint Charlie, German Spy Museum, Abguss-Sammlung Antiker Plastik Berlin.

Gotta Run: Running has remained my one constant when life gets turned upside down. Besides, who needs to find a new gym or spin studio when you can lace up your sneakers and discover the city by foot. The historic Tempelhof Airport is a quick 15 minute run from my flat. This abandoned airport has been left intact by the city, which means you have the unique opportunity to jog or bike down the airstrips. I can now cross that one off the bucket list. “Park at the Gleisdreieck” has also become another fast favourite of mine. What used to be an old railway junction is now a beautiful green space with great trails for running.

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Lollapalooza Berlin: Booked this on a whim after realizing my overwhelming need to return to a music festival. Boy am I glad I did. This was Lollapalooza’s fourth year in Berlin and first year at the Olympiastadion - built for the 1936 Summer Olympics. My highlights came from The National, Friendly Fires, Fink, Years & Years, and Kraftwerk in 3D. Having experienced Lollapalooza in Chicago in 2012, I can safely say that the international experience is just as grand (and well-organized). Perhaps it’s time to try Lolla Paris or Stockholm next year?

Playing Tourist: As luck would have it, some fellow canucks were travelling on through Berlin by my second week here, and another friend (who had also left his job to backpack Europe) was here by week three. Since I’d already started to settle in and had a few IKEA trips under my belt, this was the perfect opportunity to play tourist and soak up the last bits of summer. Highlights here included an alternative walking tour focused on Berlin’s street art, and going to Badeschiff, the floating swimming pool that sits in the Spree river. I’ll definitely be back next summer for more vodka rhubarbs. Naturally, we also dove into Berlin’s world-famous club scene. But you know what they say - what happens in a techno club stays in the techno club.

HIT PLAY

Don’t Forget The Tunes

I chose this jam for its connection to Berlin, and also because who doesn’t love Bloc Party? Kreuzberg is arguably one of Berlin’s hippest neighbourhoods right now, and just a stone’s throw away from me in my “Kiez” (neighbourhood) of Schöneberg.

Chapter 2: Early Retirement

Hi friend. It's been a minute.

The last time you were here was likely two months ago when I was musing on my decision to leave my job and the city I had called home since 2010.

So, what's been going on?

Well, I blinked and June was over. Between packing up my apartment, transitioning out of my role at work, and saying goodbyes, it was a miracle that everything got done.

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My favourite day of June was the 30th. Sarah Boland, a close friend of mine and badass entrepreneur, got married in Squamish, BC. The ceremony took place in the woods - a day-of decision to avoid the impending rain. Only magic can describe this special day.

Sarah and I met while working at Clearly Contacts and built a network of incredible friendships during our time there. Celebrating Sarah and Bobo's love with some of my favourite humans on the top of a mountain overlooking the Howe Sound was a surreal place to bid adieu to the west coast.

On July 3 I hopped a plane to Toronto for a long overdue visit to the 6ix. Having decided to apply for a German Working Holiday Visa, my research informed me that the German Consulate in Toronto processes these visas and visiting in person saves you a step when you arrive in Germany. With that in mind, I knew this was the perfect time to catch up with some East Coast pals. Sweating through a Toronto heatwave was worth it.

 Taking in the skyline from Toronto Island

Taking in the skyline from Toronto Island

Stress level zero.

 Mom and Dad's backyard - Lakeview Heights, West Kelowna

Mom and Dad's backyard - Lakeview Heights, West Kelowna

After 6 nights in Toronto and a German visa application now filed, I jetted back west to my homeland in the Okanagan Valley. This is what I've deemed the "early retirement" portion of my adventure. My days have been filled with sunshine, family and unrivaled scenery. It's easy to lose track of time, but I'm grateful for every moment over the last few weeks.

This gift of time off has allowed me to explore new areas in my hometown, connect with old friends and make some new ones, stargaze in the backyard, and savour every home-cooked meal. There has been boating and floating in Penticton with my Vancouver boys, and camping in the Shushwap with mom. And on July 12 I celebrated another trip around the sun.

The countdown is on.

As much as I'm enjoying this early retirement life in the Okanagan, I know that all good things must come to an end. Besides, Kelowna isn't really known for its live music scene - and I've been craving new concerts in my life. Conveniently, my Youth Mobility Visa for Germany arrived on July 23, and last weekend I signed papers for a 1904 Altbau apartment in Berlin. The next chapter of this adventure begins August 19.

How about the tunes?

It wouldn't be a music blog without some tunes. My trusty Shazam helped me discover this track a few weeks ago in a Kelowna bar. It's got the perfect vibe for those hot summer days we've been having. The accompanying music video is a real treat, taking you in the bedroom as cameras capture tender post-sleep moments between three couples. ✌

It's just life on earth

How do you walk away from an extraordinary life in an idyllic city?

You trust your instinct.

You listen to your gut.

Three nights ago I knew what I needed to do.

The thoughts themselves had come sailing into my conscious mind during a concert three weeks earlier. Instead of embracing the band and my physical surroundings, I went inward to a place of deep, inner thoughts - the ones we don't always acknowledge on a daily basis.

My breakthrough, which came near the end of the concert, was the discovery that the time had come for me to go off and travel. I'd dreamt about it for years, talked about it with friends, and always found an excuse for why the timing wasn't right.

"I should save a bit more money first.
"I need one more year of experience in my job."
"What about my studio apartment, there's no way I could give that up."
"I still have plenty of time to do this before I'm 30."

But this night at the concert was different. Everything clicked. My life in Vancouver had stalled, and things like investing in a couch or getting a four-legged friend just weren't going to happen until I got the travel bug out of my system.

My desire to see the world was stronger than any of the creature comforts of home.

"I had the craziest revelation during that concert"; I told my friend as we spilled out of the venue and on to Granville Street. "'I'm going to quit my job and go travelling". Her response was a combination of support mixed with "I'll believe it when I see it". Fair.

I slept on it. I woke up to a sunny Saturday morning and strolled over to the Trout Lake Farmer's Market. The thoughts were still there. I phoned my dad and shared my discovery with him. With his support and fatherly wisdom, I put it out to the universe. My friends all shouted a resounding cry of "Yes! Go do it."

Then, over the last three weeks, it almost didn't happen. The "logic" side of my brain took over and I shifted my energy and attention elsewhere. I let outside forces steer me down a different path.

I allowed myself to take the leap of faith by removing fear from the equation.

I got clear with what I was afraid of giving up (the relationships I'd built, my career, this damn studio apartment), and suddenly I saw that I was responsible for manifesting all the things of great value in my life. These things weren't merely a product of luck. And if I did it once, I could do it again. I was at peace with what I wanted to do.

I ripped off the metaphorical band-aid, quit my job and gave notice to my landlord. The time is now.


June will be my last month in Vancouver for now. After working hard and hustling for many years, I'm looking forward to some quality down time in Kelowna with family + friends over the summer before I embark on a journey to Europe for a working holiday.

I created this website last year with the intention of starting a music blog. It seemed criminal to have gone to 29 concerts in 2017 and not properly document them along the way (if only for my own sake). Life got in the way, as it often does, and Every Genre took low priority on my to-do list. But with a new journey about to begin, the creative juices are flowing.

So I leave you, dear reader, with a song I've been listening to this week from Snow Patrol's latest album.

This is life on earth
It's just life on earth