Do you ever worry about dying?  I don’t.  If heaven or whatever you call it exists then death means I might get to see my mum again. Which means this world is just a series of stops to enjoy. And when we put our “first world” problems in perspective life becomes more manageable. The bus is late versus a gunman just shot my family.

Sunday, six a.m. and my lovely friends dropped me at Doncaster airport. Twenty minutes later and I am enjoying a fried breakfast. Small airports are so sleek. And I love to get all the paperwork done and chill. The plane was an Embraer 175. Small with two cabin staff. And I had a front seat all to myself. I travel with two rucksacks. The larger for clothes, wash kit, etc and a smaller day sac. Both are carry on bags = great. No hanging about. As the plane rumbled along the runway and powered into the blue sky my nerves lowered. And that immense feeling of joy bubbled up. Like when you hear that your team has won the cup. And as this light plane sliced through the clouds on its descent to Berlin Tegel airport. The bumps and shudders are no worry.

Great to arrive. Disconcerting at first. You walk out into this new airport, country, people, sounds and excitement. Which way? No faces that I recognise. It is all new.

Once I was settled in my accommodation I went to explore. I love Berlin already. Not just the interesting buildings, colours, there’s a marathon today, the tram but many shops are closed on Sunday. Aldi, a good British institution, and other supermarkets are closed. Some smaller shops are open. That’s refreshing. I walked out and chose the first left. It was also election day, so there were lots of posters around. Especially anti-nazi ones. This part of East Berlin doesn’t welcome them. Posters and graffiti say it. As was proved in the past, silence is a good friend of hate. I found the Mauer(wall in German)market. A ginormous flohmarkt (fleamarket) with so many things old and new from food, clothes, furniture, cakes, books, crafts to eating places. Most shocking of all is there are more vinyl record stalls than you could shake a turntable at. For a vinyl record fan, Berlin is heaven. Hell for the travel budget. The street I am staying on has about four vinyl record shops. Almost as many as the whole of Brighton. I don’t have a home. Everything is in store. So not buying more “things” has been one of the greatest releases of this adventure. I flick through the boxes but I won’t buy. It’s just more stuff. More stuff to carry. On one side of the Park, near the basketball players and their game, there’s a great street performer. Juggling, laughing and making the crowd buzz. I grab a coffee and a seat by the entrance to the park. This is where The Berlin Wall stood. Along this line. The street exhibitions tell the story. And now I sit here safe and free.

There’s a D.J. playing some chilled music and improvising. Setting a nice vibe and atmosphere as the evening steps in. He’s not a trump fan he tells us with a few too many expletives. But it all adds to the colour. I sit and watch the carnival of Berlin life cruising by. All sorts of locals and tourists brushing past and through. I wonder, is this the spot where if you sat long enough all the people of Berlin would walk past you?

I woke with joy on my first Monday in Berlin. Excited. Sparking. Buzzing. Thinking, feeling and knowing that this is the right thing.

I am doing a German language course. There are people from eight countries on my course. All beginners who are learning in order to work and to live in Berlin. They are from Japan. South Korea. U.S.A. France. Iran/Belgium. Norway. Canada. Vietnam. We are friends. Have lunch, good conversation, learn about Germany, each other and our countries’ and enjoy our time together. Great company.

A friend likened learning a new language to the first week at the gym. Exhausting but after that it gets easier. And this second course is just that. A great brain workout but I am not so tired this time. My brain is expanding. It is making new and restarting old connections. The two teachers also have a great style and only speak in German. Challenging. Stimulating. Just fun.

I went for a walk to the area near Alexanderplatz and the Fernsehturm (a 368 metre high tower). To explore. Take some photos. This is the first city that I could find my way with a tourist map. The city has a young feel but it is not exclusive of ages. There are so many places to eat. So many places to shop. And few chains. Lots of independent cafes, resteraunts and stores. Berlin is an ecclectic fashion mix. It feels like if it works for you wear it. You can have a hair out of place. I am thinking I need to get some new clothes.

I saw a woman begging by the door to a church. Ignored. We chatted and she pointed a building across the way to visit. I saw the same in Valencia.

There is a thoughtful, sometimes serious vibe that is able to relax in this city. Without taking itself seriously. And it has a creative essence. David Bowie was inspred by the city. It feels like a great city to write. So I booked a second week of German lessons. I want to see some museums, hang out with friends and catch up on my blogging. Sometimes things happen around me and I need to take time to put it all together. There are four blogs that I want to write about the adventure to date. I wonder, how will it feel to complete them all?

Well, this is the fourth one.

Follow your bliss by Joseph Campbell.


Keith Stewart – from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. A qualified TEFL teacher, Murder She Wrote and Colombo aficionado. A Spanish music and Motown fan.
Only to be used with permission or attribution.