I have a confession to make: I want to Go With Oh to Berlin. Don’t anyone tell my husband, he might get jealous–
Because, truth be told, I would Go With Oh anywhere.
Because let’s face it, a free four-week stay in luxury apartments in European capitals like Berlin, London, Florence, Rome, Prague, Paris, Dublin, Vienna, Barcelona or Venice is not exactly a hardship.
Barcelona isn’t high on my list, because, well, I live here, and while I’m sure Go With Oh’s apartments are much nicer and better kept (housekeeping, anyone?) than my humble Left-Eixample abode, I know Barcelona like the back of my hand, moles, burn scars and all.
But apart from Barcelona, all the Go With Oh destinations appeal—despite the fact that I’ve visited every last one of them, a few of them more than once. But who can blame me for wanting go back? The Go With Oh cities, like all great cities, continue to call to me; I’d be running back more often if I had the time and cash: one or the other always seems to be in short supply–for me it’s not about ticking destinations off a master list, it’s about experiencing and understanding places. One visit is rarely enough to “get” somewhere, to comprehend the specificity of local culture and curiosities.
Like so many other Europe-based travel writers, I fit in escapes to other cities and countries around weekends, maybe snagging a Friday or Monday to lengthen the trip, but rarely taking the time to stay in any one place more than two or three days at a time. Longer vacations I hoard for trips home to Missouri where friends, my family and, our grey house-cat await me.
But if Go With Oh chooses me as their guest blogger, I’ll have the chance to spend an entire week in four destinations, getting to know the hidden corners of cities that are so easily missed during shorter stays–all the while living like a local in a centrally-located apartments. Apartment living would also mean working on one of my favorite things about travel during my trip: learning to cook local specialties.Having local ingredients on hand would make that learning curve a lot less intimidating, so I could probably even host some dinner parties to get to know local bloggers and writers. Because there’s nothing like making new friends, and using them as guinea pigs for my travel-inspired recipes.
And of all the places I could return to for a second (or third) helping with Go With Oh, Berlin has the strongest hold on my subconscious, plaintively, incessantly, interrupting other thoughts despite the fact that I was just there, in November for my birthday. Also despite the fact that it was freaking freezing….
It’s only been a few weeks, but Berlin’s already a surrealist patchwork of discombobulated images:
- My red-coated, shivering reflection in the shiny mirrors at the German Parliament
- A virtuoso violinist dancing and fiddling to techno music on the Oberbaumbrücke, a covered pedestrian bridge
- The East-side Gallery murals in all their brightly-hued glory
- The long line for pitas stuffed with deep-fried veggies, cheese, meat and smothered with sauces at Mustafa’s Kebap (considered by some the best in Berlin), metro stop Mehringdamm
- The sign at Checkpoint Charlie “You are now leaving the American Sector”, that I bought (in miniature) for my Barcelona apartment
- A steaming cup of spiced wine to soften my 10am disappointment at rows upon rows of empty tables at the Mauer Park flea market. It’s just my luck that the one Sunday I’m there, it was closed
- A massive (and creepy) painting of a baby, made from tiny people, eating tiny people painted on the side of a building.
- Bubble tea with a free fortune cookie predicting that“I will travel far and wide” in German and English.
- Practicing my best German “Sprechen Sie englisch?” with the old women at the currywurst stand.
- Buying boldly-patterned lightweight scarves by the kilo at Garage Vintage.
- Unsettling shadows at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe at nightfall.
- The light from Brandenburg Gate, illuminating crowds of protesters and police on one side, and street performers and tourists on the other.
If Go With Oh chooses me, I could do it all again (I’m a glutton for punishment), this time without bundling up and freezing half to death anyway, because Berlin won’t be so cold in spring or summer… I hope.
Besides, there’s so much of Berlin I must have missed–I was only there two and a half days, after all.
So without further ado, here’s my to-do list for Berlin, a second time around:
1.Sunday morning I’ll stroll the world-famous flea-market in Mauer Park looking for vintage treasures to take home and snapping shots of oddities for sale. The Market wouldn’t dare to be closed for my second visit, would it? If I don’t find what I’m looking for, I’ll get in touch with Stephen and Dirk from the Berlin Antique & Vintage Hunt and take their tour for expert tips.
2.I’ll spend at least a day, maybe two wandering the city on a search for the German Capital’s best outdoor art, and graffiti–the Berlin Wall and East Side Gallery included. I’m sure I missed more than a few times the first time around. For a deeper understanding of Berlin’s street art, I’ll take a Street Art and Graffiti tour where I can participate in a graffiti workshop and make my own graffiti and street-art inspired masterpiece, because even if it’s crap (and it well might be), I know my husband will grin, give me a big kiss and proudly hang it on the fridge. If I’m still feeling artsy after that, I can always sign up for a painting workshop from the Berlin Collective and make some more Berlin-inspired art.
3.While I’ll be sure to take in some formal meals at restaurants and cook plenty of my own at my Go with Oh Berlin apartment, I’ll make it my business to troll the city for the Berlin’s best street food: kebabs, currywurst, hamburgers, and takeaway Asian (oh my!). Bubble tea may end up replacing my beloved coffee for the week, as I can’t get it in Barcelona unless I make it myself, and that’s no fun, as I don’t have the straws. Of course maybe I’ll buy some of the special extra-wide straws and boba pearls before I head out. For more food-flavored fun, I might decide to embrace my inner charcuterie-maker and learn to make German sausage (wurst) from scratch at a Tastes of Berlin cooking course at La Kitch’n.
4. Berlin is full to overflowing with amazing art galleries and museums, none of which I got to visit the first time around, so at least one day will be dedicated to a museum crawl of sorts, where I will pay my respects to Queen Nefertiti and the closely-knit clan of priceless antique treasures on Museum Island. Another day will be spent touring galleries, where I will have to regularly talk myself out of buying intriguing art I can’t afford.
5. I’ll rent a bike and learn how to ride it, because what can I say, I’m thirty now, and pedaling as a mode of transportation is a life skill that I will need on my travels, particularly in Berlin, where public transport can be confusingly chaotic, to say the least. On my last trip there, it seemed like it was impossible to get anywhere without making at least one transfer. Bike lanes on the other hand, are abundant, and biking would burn off excess currywurst and kebab calories, right? I didn’t see many people in helmets, but since I routinely trip and fall walking on my own two feet (no wheels involved) I’m thinking it might be a good idea for me.
Here’s hoping that GoWithOh chooses me. Because some cities merit a second (third, or fourth) time around, and Berlin is one of them.