Winter wonderland

Some people go ice-skating to Berghain these days during CTM festival, some prefer to escape the centre to face the nature. The longer I live in Berlin, the more I admire how many species live in the city and how easy it is to spot within and outside of its vast borders.

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I especially like escaping to the seaside, as Pablo Neruda said ‘I need the sea because it teaches me’. After leaving behind my flat at the beach in Barcelona almost five years ago, even living in the greenest place of Berlin can’t give me the same thrill of being connected to the natural wonders. It’s possible to visit a cold, beautiful beaches of Rügen or Polish side of Pomerania pretty easily though.

I do appreciate the winter breeze and fresh, cold air which you can experience not that far away from the city either. A train to the Baltic Sea coastline can take you there in approximately 3 hours, so it is truly feasible for a day trip.

What is great about sea in the winter is its remoteness, lower prices than usually during the high season, but also being able to spot unusual bird species that come down from the Arctic areas for the coldest months. So if you are lucky, you can bump into endangered species of ducks pretty much anywhere in the Northern coast nearby Berlin, including e.g. eiderdowns.

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Seagulls squeaking, swans dancing, empty landscapes in the winter breeze can truly make the winters magic. This year everyone’s complaining about the particularly dark and grey light since four months already. From my experience I can recommend staying as much outside as possible, getting out from your winter sleep mode and you will see the world in a gradient ranging from other colours than shades of grey.

By the way, the day lasts almost 9 hours by today, yay!

Weihnachten in Berlin

It’s been over 4 years of living in Berlin for me and I’ve managed to spend my first Christmas (and New Year’s) season here only for the first time. There are many reasons to it: the most trivial one being lazy, and hesitant to spend more time at the airports, paying for the overpriced tickets to only get away to more sunny, appealing side of the world. Secondly, it’s a brand new state of living together with my partner and actually caring for staying at home (!) with our family, and last but not least: experiencing the ‘abandoned’ city vibe, empty streets, peace and quiet at once. Yay!

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First, I felt a bit panicky about the fact that for a few days there will be very little to do with our parents who have (thankfully!) seen Berlin-as-a-tourist-place already and in case we run out of food, there will be nowhere to go to eat out. We definitely didn’t feel like spending the whole time in the kitchen and running around with all the schlep related to it.

Fortunately, most of the Asian, Indian and Turkish places, including our favourite ones were open and running during the whole holiday season, and there were many patchwork-expat families like ours enjoying the atypical dining. For three days, we enjoyed not only cooking at home, but also relaxing from the end-of-year hustle.

Another highlight, recommended by a colleague was the special Großes Berliner Weihnachtskonzert at the Konzerthaus am Gendarmenmarkt. On the 25th, we attended a concert of Anhaltische Philharmonie Dessau who performed ”Der Freischütz” overture of Weber, Mendelsohn-Bartholdy’s concert for violin and orchestra e-moll and Smetana’s pieces from ‘My Fatherland’.

With this I could definitely recommend staying in Berlin during winter holidays, slowing down, bonding with your family and friends, especially if you have some expat ones, who are missing their nearest and dearest, and often also the sun and human warmth.