On the Monday of this week I had my standard three meals, in a non-standard arrangement of three different capital cities. Kicking off, early, in Edinburgh I flew into London City Airport, shared lunch with a friend, then onwards from Heathrow to Berlin. Definitely out of the ordinary and all the more fun for that.
The next bit of sharing came courtesy of my Airbnb host, in Kreuzberg, Berlin. I was on the verge, the very cusp, of considering putting my own spare room up on Airbnb earlier this summer. That plan has been shelved as I’ve had flat mates for the past few months. As for the Berlin residence though all worked out very well. A welcoming host, who gives you enough information to settle in, plus enough privacy to feel at home, makes for a fine ally in a new city. Such was the experience in Berlin, in a fine apartment.
As for the city itself: a grand capital, of which only the surface was scratched. I’ve posted a few photos already, given the urgency of showing that I was there when the German team brought home the World Cup. The story of the trip was a lot of walking, many fine buildings of varying vintages, some very friendly folk and a lot of good times, food and drink. Berlin is definitely a city to return to, to explore its neighbourhoods, galleries and open spaces. It’s an open city for the most part when the architecture is given space to breath and be seen. The transport system works well and the main railway station is a splendour to behold.
No one can escape the history of the city, nor are they allowed to. Berliners, visitors, city planners and civic leaders are continually re-evaluating their relationship to the political, social and architectural events of the past 100 years. The was government is run, its relationship with the people and the international perspective that pervades city life is constantly being negotiated and opened for discussion. There was a wall running through the city for a generation (actually two walls and an deadly no man’s land in between) which has left physical and psychological legacies across Berlin. The experience of living and being in Berlin now is shaped by the division which only started to be resealed 25 years ago. Then from the windows of an S-Bahn train you see long, thin areas of parkland and you know that they are now for every man and woman.
Sharing Berlin was also achieved with Amy, as you can see in the photos. Hopefully we’ll be back there before too long.
Keeping the Airbnb theme going I went on from Berlin to Latvia, initially to Riga and then on to the Positivus festival which features in lots of photos and posts already on this blog. This time a different type of accommodation sharing: my host wasn’t staying in the same place at all, so I had the whole place to myself. Rather than wallowing in the space I headed into town, getting a taste of the historic heart of Riga, its parklands, squares, cafés and culture. I was unaware that I was heading to this year’s European Capital of Culture, but such it is. Opera in the park, choirs on every corner, galleries and exhibitions all over town.
But then I had to depart for Positivus: a subject I’ve covered in plenty of depth already on this blog.