It all started in Paris, on a cold Christmas…our Berlin idea.
In 2006, it was only a dream, reading an article on IHT. In 2007, it was reality, a round-trip of 24hrs to Berlin a day before Christmas, signing a contract. In 2008, it was all about camping in a building site, but it already felt like home…In 2009, it was our first proper Berlin Christmas! And then we had snowy and balmy ones…the two of us, or with family and friends. And so we come to 2013. All Christmas with their Berlin tradition.
Many things changed. We have a BahnCard25…and a Steuerberaterin. I wear glasses, MeinMann’s motorbike has a German plate full of “D”s. Ciccio is no longer with us. Micetta is at boarding school this Christmas. And some friends had a baby! And others had 2 babies!
We are now no longer BerlinRomExpress-ionists, but rather BerlinDusseldorf domestic travellers…this feels less exotic, of course, but the pleasures of recovering our German language skills are subtle and intense. Our new friendships are born in German, no longer in English. We meet with our French friends and the instinct for the 4 of us is to speak German, isn’t that cool? One of those things you don’t plan. Some friends who used to say “I am in Berlin/Munich etc but I will then go back home” now say the opposite “I am in Rome/Milan/Paris but then I will come back home”. We talk about movies and books and only then wonder “Was that in English? Italian? German? don’t remember…but it was good, wasn’t it?”.
Italy changed a couple of bespectacled and cold Prime Ministers, Germany sailed quietly towards the third Merkel term, and the second Grand Coalition. Genscher met Khodorkovskij back from Moscow, Stroebele met Snowden in Moscow. We have two Popes who wish each other Merry Christmas, and the Iranian Prime Minister joins in. Obama, 2.0. Putin, evergreen. Bachelet is back and Aung San Suu Kyi is free.
Berlin is changing too, but this is its essence. Berlin was always the place for change and never the place for tradition. People immigrate to Berlin, and want to leave stuff behind them and start anew, if Berlin becomes transfixed in its image Berlin is over. There was an era of obsessive office space creation. There is one now of compulsive hotel openings. Not the first and not the last. There are streets who change and become soul-less, catering to the average diluted and already obsolete hipster. And others who sail undisturbed across the years, subject to osmosis but never drowning in “anywhere-ss”.
And now time for tea…