Alone In Berlin

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I’ve never lived in Berlin, yet somehow the city feels like home. It is well-worn and familiar, like a beloved coat dug up from the innards of one’s wardrobe. I must have visited a dozen times over the years: on cross-country express trains that hurtled through the former East before depositing passengers at the Hauptbahnhof; to gallivant about town with Emmy in Prenzlauer Berg; to kiss a boy in an 18th century ballroom; to cycle around the Tiergarten with my mother. Perhaps that is why I feel at so home in the German capital. Or perhaps it’s the comforting grey skies, the familiar German street names that remind me of Regensburg, the friends I now have dotted about the city’s neighbourhoods.

In December I found myself alone in Berlin, an envelope of twenty-six hours to use as I pleased. I had grandiose plans to meander through Kreuzberg, visit the Jewish Museum, to treat myself to a fancy cup of joe at one of the new cafes on Auguststrasse. The bleak skies tempered by strings of advent lights hung all around, I set out into the twilight with my camera heavy around my neck, a day ticket for the U-Bahn and a purse full of euros. But I never made it to the museum.

Instead Jack met me at the bleak expanse of Warschauerstr, leading me through Friedsrichshain for excellent spiced apple juice (‘the chai latte’s exotic cousin’) and a year’s worth of news.  We moved onto a gloomy bar draped in wreaths and ivy, which slowly filled with people as our mugs of Radler emptied. From there, via Jack’s favourite falafel joint, I rushed round the ring road on a tram to hug Frances and wander through the Kulturbrauerei Christmas market. I hardly had time to return to the apartment and collapse into bed before strong coffee – just the way the Germans like it – with Jana the next morning. A walk along Friedrichstr. was followed by the richest homebaked chocolate cake I’ve ever had with Erika in her back-room office in Mitte. Having friends in foreign places makes them seem not so faraway after all. All of a sudden I could quite imagine a life for myself in Berlin…