Wednesday, May 25, 2016

In bursts and starts

I've been quiet. I tend to do this when I start a new relationship - it's as if I hold my breath, until I feel assured that the person I'm hanging onto every word of isn't going to abuse me in some way. I'm now raising my head a little, in part because I have a new travel adventure to write about, but also because my girlfriend makes me feel safe and loved.
I booked a room in Kurf├╝rstendamm's Ibis Budget Hotel for 12 nights because I knew I could expect quality accommodation here. The suburb is one of Berlin's most manicured, and I feel safe. After all the horror stories my parents had been paying lip service to, namely about asylum seekers of colour, I had started to worry about crime. I realise now that I had simply spent too long listening to the folks' paranoia. Berlin, you're looking better for your hospitality. You are a shining example of what Australia and most of the rest of the world should be. Keep openminded.

The receptionists of this hotel come from places as diverse as Suriname and Russia. It's another thing I like about Berlin - it's multiculture takes me to different places than the one I'm used to. I didn't even know where Suriname was until a few days ago (in South America).

I'm a little hesitant to fall in love with this place, because I know I have to go back, and I don't want to miss it when I'm gone... Is there a way to make the most of both words without feeling insanely privileged? One person usually doesn't have this much international reach. I have several persons' worth, or maybe more. I feel lucky.

Feeling lucky doesn't stop me from a bit of the blues. Maybe it's because I'm yet to have an indepth conversation with a German, although things won't remain so with my ex-girlfriend visiting me on Friday. It will be the first time we meet each other in real life. It will probably be emotional.

It's 7pm now. I sometimes turn to the question of whether I should move out. Randwick is rather contaminated by my experiences with the mental health industry, to give just one reason for doing so. I'm sure that any suburb will bring its own baggage, but I'd like the chance to start over new somewhere.

In a parallel universe, I have a writing job. (If Mari Brighe can do it, so can I?)

I still debate with myself about the likelihood of visiting my high school friend in San Francisco. I'm a bit afraid of the United States, although "the city" itself has appeal. Even if Trump gets the presidency, SF will retain its progressive values. It will waste a lot of energy succumbing to rage, but it's too hip to "see the light" of any Repug's ways. That's what I like about it.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Commencing

I somehow managed to find myself in Berlin, Germany a few days ago. I'm still jetlagged, but I've begun to explore the urban landscape. My first official sight was an improvised reaction to the realisation that it was a sunny Sunday, and people would be gathering in parks or park-like spaces. And that I wanted in on the action. Google and Lonely Planet directed me to Mauerpark, which promised markets and food stalls.
On the way to my destination, my metro carriage came to life with brief bursts of conversation on behalf of the locals. That probably wouldn't happen in Stockholm, I thought. It may not happen regularly, as the ride home suggested, but I felt caught up in these people's casual friendliness to each other, and it made me feel at ease.
Ricardo was, like me, a LCT - a lost and confused tourist. Together we found our way to Mauerpark and told each other a bit about our lives. He was from a small town near Milan, and the first thing he had done in Berlin is to check out the melting pot (and gaybourhood) of Kreuzberg. I felt this was a good sign, even though the items that took his fancy at the markets indicated taste along more conservative lines. The guy had beautiful teal eyes with light green centres, which made looking at him a pleasant thing to do.
I tried artisanal, mint-flavoured honey, ordered Moroccan mint tea, and, finally, did something quintessentially Berliner: munched on currywurst for lunch. It was all delicious.
I came away with two posters of the City's skyline, splattered in multiple colours, passed on a handmade wallet, and also picked up a cute postcard.
Back at my hotel several hours after leaving it, I felt like I had experienced something worthwhile. I look forward to exploring more of the city in the weeks to come.