It’s been 2 years since we left Germany now and I’m amazed we only spent 9 months there. We’ve been in the states twice as long now and yet our time in Berlin had a far greater impact on us both. My impression of Germany was that of a country doing things right, of people who give a shit, and who expect each other to behave like adults and — more importantly — do.
The city is the closest thing you can get to a metropolitan utopia, too: plentiful green space, uniform density, intensely accessible, affordable, and beautiful all the while. It was easily the best city I have ever lived in, but it can be a hard place too. Ultimately we left, but not without a lot of good memories.
We lived in Bergmankiez in an apartment that was dark and viewless but nevertheless gorgeous in it’s own way. This was to be the first (and probably the last) time I ever lived on a cobbled street.
After the Second World War, the Soviets built three memorials in Berlin to inter & commemorate their countrymen who died in Berlin. The city was heavy with this sort of history.
Teufelsberg is the only hill of any substance in Berlin, and it was made from the rubble of the Second World War. On top of it there sits an abandoned spy station the Americans used to listen in on Soviet communications. We were told there were guided tours of the facility, but everything was locked down when we visited.
Autumn in Berlin is like no other. Slowly the city’s vegetation turns ochre, growing brighter and brighter until the city is ablaze in shades of gold.
There was a business-side to our brief time there. I did a stint with a startup that underwent incubation with Techstars, an American operation that was expanding into Europe. We spent three months working out of the old GDR government building (in a room formerly used for spying on civilians) and concluded with a big song and dance in front of a theater full of investors.
The company didn’t go anywhere in the end, but it was a great experience.
We arrived in Berlin in the dead of winter, lived through a glorious summer, and left on the day of the year’s first snowfall. A poetic end to a whirlwind adventure.