This is going to be a diary of our European trip. I’m writing it more for myself than for anyone else, so some of it may seem mundane or ridiculous, but it might just be interesting too.
Sunday morning saw us leaving London. Landor Rd was blocked for a carless day street party, which made our journey easier and slightly surreal. The whole thing doesn’t seem real: I’m leaving after 5 1/2 years and realistically might never be back. How do you look at familiar streets that you’ll never see again? In my case, by not really accepting that it’s actually happening.
Both the Overground from Clapham High St and the train from Clapham Junction were delayed, but luckily so was the plane so things balanced out I guess. We had to do some rapid re-packing to avoid paying extra baggage charges (never quite understood that; the overall weight doesn’t go down if I move things from checked to carry-on…). Unfortunately this meant we lost a pocketknife at security when it mistakenly ended up in checked baggage. Other than that the flight was fine, Easyjet staff at baggage drop were very helpful and we chatted to a pleasant English bloke on the way over.
Berlin for the first time. First impressions of massive Soviet-era housing blocks that in all honesty don’t look that bad when you compare them to the council estates of South London. Bright primary colours around the windows don’t really dispel the overall gloom, though. Second impression is of graffiti. It’s everywhere – tagging to traditional graffiti to street art of all kinds. The streets themselves are wide and reasonably tidy, but the graffiti dominates.
We find our apartment with few problems (other than Simon walking the wrong way out of the train station – Google Maps is fine but I should really plan better than “turn right”. Next time, get the name of the first street I should pass). Rhonda goes for a run and I relax, then go food hunting. With the supermarket closed the only option is a local deli. The owner disturbs me by speaking to me in English. On asking why, I’m told that a German would have said hello when he first entered the store, and I didn’t….we chat and it turns out she used to go out with a Kiwi guy and live in Island Bay. Small(ish) world.