Is there anything better than travelling the world, getting to know foreign cultures and relaxing in the sun?
Travel planning looked a little different for residents of the GDR: most holidays were spent in their own country or one of the neighbouring socialist states. Still, the GDR had its own airline that flew even as far as Cuba, China and Mozambique.
It’s still there, the Haus des Reisens (house of travel). With its 18 floors and height of 67 metres it’s the tallest building on Alexanderplatz after the Park Inn hotel. Until German reunification, this was the place to visit when you wanted to book your holiday. It was the HQ of ‘Reisebüro der DDR’ (the state travel organization) and had counters for flight and train tickets inside and outside the GDR.
Beach chair. Image courtesy of antjeschade / photocase.de
So I’m leaving. After two years, I’m breaking up with Berlin. Although a break-up might not be the best way to describe it; I guess our Facebook status would be “It’s complicated”. Berlin will always be my big love, but the Netherlands and all my family and friends there are also calling louder and louder. I’m leaving with pain in my heart, but also carrying wonderful new friends, tons of memories and some unique life lessons. To make sure I won’t forget those lessons and to help everyone who won’t get the chance to live in Berlin, I’ll use my final blog post to share them with you.
Berlin is under constant construction. Image courtesy of Daphne Damiaans
I remember the first time I saw one: it was in Leipzig, behind a restaurant that also owned a GDR airplane. The airplane was now an event location, but somewhere behind the buildings, covered knee-high in grass, was a forgotten piece of GDR history: a Barkas, the VW Transporter van of East-Germany. I instantly fell in love with it, but soon enough it became clear that this van was no longer drivable. Ever since, I’ve been dreaming about owning a Barkas van – because they might be even more charming than the Trabant.
Ambulance Barkas. Image courtesy of Riki1979
As my final month in Berlin has started, it is safe to say that my parents have been my most loyal visitors. Even though they had seen Berlin’s highlights long before I decided to move here, they didn’t hesitate to visit me time and time again. In fact, my mother might know more about Berlin than me by now. With Mother’s Day only a few days away, I want to dedicate this post to my mother and share some of her favourite things to do in Berlin.
Breakfast. It used to be that one meal during the day that I really didn’t have to think about. Porridge on weekdays, and a croissant and a boiled egg on the weekend if I was feeling fancy. But then I moved to Berlin and within a few weeks, breakfast turned into one of the most important meals of the day.
Not necessarily because I was constantly recovering from big nights out, but because I discovered how amazing breakfast can be. Pancakes, avocado, home-cooked oats, the best cheeses and coffee that blows your mind – I never wanted to eat porridge again. I once read that while New York is the city that never sleeps, Berlin is the city where it’s always someone’s morning – and therefore always time for breakfast. Here’s my breakfast guide for any mood!