I’ve been 12 days in Berlin now. Honouring the German in me, here are
Number of museums visited: 0
Number of interesting conversations: 16
Number of musicians I met: 12
Number of scientists I met: 0
Days gone to bed after 4am: 11
Days without alcohol: 1
Days I had brown rice: 0
Days I took a vitamin C pill: 9
Number of times I took public transport: 27
Number of times I entered a car: 2
Hours I spent walking: 34
Hours I spent in traffic jams: 0
What else? Well, Berlin is certainly very different to my Andalusian village where I normally live... But even looking at other major cities the German capital stands out. First, it’s much more chilled out. Looking at London or Paris for example, Berlin almost feels village-like. People talk slower, walk slower and seem generally less stressed. For any kind of art it’s a fascinating and innovative melting pot, with artists from all over the world dropping in to be inspired by the present cultural capital of the world. For how long Berlin will keep this status, I don’t know. Some say it has passed its zenith, others give it a few more years. It will change, that’s for sure. After New York, London and Barcelona the time will come when the cultural pioneers will move from Berlin to another place. But that’s the future. For now you still get that special feeling of being in a place that is leading the way.
Apart from the arts, there are also other aspects of daily life where Berlin is spearheading into new territories. Food for example. I have never seen so many organic shops and supermarkets, they’re everywhere! It’s great to see that organic food has moved from its hippie reputation to mainstream. After all, good food that is healthy for us and the planet should be used by everybody, not just by a green minority. The other day I read in a local paper that there is even a prison nearby where they get organic food. In a prison!!! In Spain, not even the fucking president eats organic food.
Regarding sightseeing, there’s really not much need for it in Berlin. Of course there are many things to visit and see, but you don’t have to enter a museum to explore the history of the city. It’s all around you! Close to where I stay, in an eastern district, there is a funky urban area and on one of the houses it says in huge letters: THIS HOUSE USED TO BE IN A DIFFERENT COUNTRY. That gets you more thinking than a tour through the most expensive gallery.
Another really interesting experience for me as a German is that for the first time I am in my home country in a place where the whole world wants to go to. Let’s face it, Germany has never been a number one travelling destination. But Berlin is different. It’s really attractive, almost sexy. It’s vibrant and incredibly creative. Suddenly it has become ‘cool’ to go to Germany.
I have a few days left, so I am off now to Alexanderplatz, grab a coffee and then I jump on the U-Bahn train with all those snobs, punks, yuppies and hippies, with the locals and travellers, the Arabs and the Nazis. Cause they’re all there. In one wagon. All trying to find something in the big city.