Berlin only warranted a short visit since it’s so close to London (and so supremely accessible). Sure, it took me 30 years to visit in the first place but we figured we could return at any time. Three word assessment? Cool and laid-back. (Is that two words or three?) Nobody blinked at my walking boots or make-up-less face, even in the super hip districts of Neukolln and Kreuzberg. Take that Hackney, you and your judgey judgementalness.
How to spend limited time in a nearby city? Abandon what everyone thinks you should visit and spend your precious moments at places which give off an irresistible pull, however unexpected. So, we did away with Brandenburg Tor, museums and palaces, and instead spent an afternoon at the Jewish Museum.
My father is (technically) Jewish. He was bar mitzvah’d, and he’s a chartered accountant, but then he also told me the wrong word for a kippah, and was unceremoniously chucked out of his Jewish boy scouts troop for taking pork sausages to a picnic. So it goes without saying that my siblings and I were not steeped in religious dogma whilst growing up, and as such I know little of my Hebrew heritage.
“We shall be travelling overland as far as we possibly can” we announced smugly when plans were made and friends and families informed. “Arrival in Moscow in a week or so, via various European capitals”.
We plotted our itinerary and people nodded, with awe, we assumed. Two days before departure my friend Abi asked “But why don’t you just fly to Berlin?”
A pregnant pause. A cough. A throat cleared.
“Because – we don’t – because – THAT’S NOT WHAT WE’RE DOING ABI, STOP ASKING QUESTIONS”.