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.
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.
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.
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.
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.