Friday, September 2, 2016

German Food

this is the only relevant picture from my last day in Berlin
Whenever I told anyone I was going to Berlin, the invariable response was gushing -- either the person had been there and loved it, knew someone who had been there and loved it, or was hoping to go soon because they knew that once they got there they'd love it. I didn't love Berlin, but it also didn't stand a chance after the weeks I'd had before arriving; there's just no big city that could compare to eight days of traveling through the Irish countryside and three spectacular three days in a Welsh village. I've learned that for me, staying near a city for a few days is great for museums, art, great food, and maybe a little shopping, but for an actual living environment, I find the outskirts and small towns more appealing. When I was in Dublin, I stayed 25 minutes by bus from the city center, and that was great. I could walk places and the sidewalks weren't crowded, and the neighborhoods were quiet at night. Andrew's place so close to the center of Liverpool was a great apartment in the middle of the action, but I was there on a Friday night and it was noisy with the window open as people left the restaurants and bars late in the evening. Penmaenmawr, Wales by contrast, a village of fewer than 5,000 people, was as peaceful as it was picturesque.

The place I stayed in Berlin was also in the middle of the action in the Neukolln neighborhood, and it was fine. But after the green hills, rolling pastures, and quiet villages, I just wasn't in the mindset for a lot of big city activities. There was modern architecture I could have checked out and contemporary art collections I could have seen, but I actually spent a lot of quality time relaxing and reading in my sunny apartment. I did roam around the city a bit, went to a couple of shops I had noted from the guidebooks and spent probably 40 minutes on the U-Bahn getting to an ice cream shop that had been recommended to me, it turned out to be in a neighborhood on the edge of the city and was totally worth the journey. I'm glad I went to Berlin but I don't think my next major trips will involve spending a lot of time in crowds.