Home in an unexpected place

If you had asked me 18 months ago where I would like to live, Berlin would not have been on my list. We knew it was long overdue to leave Luxembourg, and different possible destinations kept coming up. Berlin was one of them and to be honest I said no to this. I am open to a lot – but Berlin? I just could not picture myself there. I pictured a combination of Helsinki and Moscow. Gray, cold – and filled with politicians, hippies and cultured people.

Then two things happened. My sister went to Berlin on holiday last summer and came home raving about how fantastic this city was. I saw the pictures. I saw her smiles on those pictures. And since I trust my sister I opened a small door in my head and let Berlin in as a possible destination. But way down on the list to be honest.

The second thing was, that somewhere down the road we started thinking rationally. The kids are in their last years of school so education was an important consideration. We narrowed it down to Germany, because our kids have German passports and we all speak German. Less language problems would be a welcome break from living in Luxembourg.

And here it comes! The German school system is not one of my favorite school systems but while researching the subject, I realized Berlin does its own thing when it comes to schools. Aha – suddenly I was interested!

In the end, thanks to a flexible employer, we had the luck to be able to choose between several large German cities and we picked Berlin. Well guess how surprised I was as we arrived and the city totally exceeded my expectations.

From day one, I have loved Berlin. I admit I actually cried when I saw Brandenburger Tor IRL on the day we arrived. I love the historic monuments and buildings. I love the friendly atmosphere here in our neighborhood. People smile, people greet each other and there is even friendly small talk with total strangers.

The-goverment-building---down-the-road-from-us-Photo-Lisa-Fuchs

Even though this is the largest city of Germany, I have already found a connection in our local organic shop – chatting with the staff. The teashop lady remembered what tea I bought last week and asked my opinion about it. I could write a whole love letter about my first parent teacher evening at the kids school. They don’t have the reputation, but Germans are extremely friendly people. This is my third time living in this country and every time confirms this.

We’ve spent many evenings strolling around the city. So many bridges, so many restaurants, cafés, pubs spilling out onto the streets. There is even the dancing nights, outdoors, down by the Spree river, always well attended and always a romantic sight. We even found this very cute little café / bar around the corner from us with just the right touch of mismatched decoration, soft music and cosy lightning to make us feel right at home.

And that is exactly it. We found more than another city to love. I think after 16 years and 7 international moves – we found a home!

 

Text and photo by Lisa Fuchs, September 2015

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