Required Leisure Time

Required Leisure Time

Starting off my trip to Berlin earlier this month- hopping on a 6:34 am train to Berlin from Nürnberg.

Picked up a copy of Monocle newspaper at the International press store at the  Nürnberg train station. Monocle also has a magazine and I was very happy to find one copy of it (like a magazine treasure!) at another train station magazine store recently. Perfect for train reading…

My arrival to Germany’s capital city itself was met with a bit nippy weather,  not so unusual for a German summer day (while as I write this the temperature is well into the 80′s, Fahrenheit, so things do change quick). I’d been up all night, sleepless with anticipation but also nervous about sleeping through my alarm at 4:30 am. The butterflies in my mind were out in full force. I downed a fruit smoothie, small coffee and egg sandwich on the train.

As usual on train rides to Berlin, I start to get slightly edgy about an hour and a half before arriving.  I’m usually good for a solid 4 hour train ride (i.e to Salzburg) but when it gets in the 5 or 6-ish hour long duration I start to fidget (longer than that I would bring a truly mesmerizing book, settle in, drink very strong coffee and write). I was glad to get out at the train station and navigate my way to a taxi that would put me quickly at the hotel. And indeed, the taxi driver delivered, albeit in a more harrowing taxi ride than I would have liked.  Welcome back to the city.

So it was a nice arrival at the hotel room after several hours on the train. I chose the Pestana Tiergarten for a few reasons.  My husband and I had stayed at this hotel before and enjoyed the food, customer service, quality and value of the room and general ambiance of the hotel located in the leafy and quiet Embassy District. For this trip, I wanted a quiet hotel that would be a bit removed from all the fun “distractions” that Berlin has (as in great cafes, restaurants, bars everywhere), because what began as a vacation had quickly turned into a marathon of planned photoshoots throughout the city (more on that in the next post). So I knew how much I would value a hotel with great food, comfortable rooms and a peaceful location and the Pestana Tiergarten very much fit the bill.

Indeed.  With the weather and not much fuel left I was ready for something small and warm. The Pestana hotel brand has roots in Portugal, which is very evident on the restaurant menu (and which I recall savoring experiencing on our last stay).  I opted for a Portugese style fish soup- the heartiness, warmth and flavor hitting the spot. Unlike practically all my other trips, I opted to not take many food photos on this trip which I do regret slightly because I enjoy documenting fantastic meals when I travel and I had a few rounds of deliciousness at this hotel.

For 5 days, when I was not out photoshooting, meeting with friends or eating, I was holed up quite happily in this room, doing light preview edits of photos with either the Olympics or FashionTV on the screen.

Small but lovely pool in the lower levels of the hotel.  I found it perfect for a few laps at the end of the night or beginning of the day.

Olympics on a big screen at Tempelhof Air Field

While this was not, as all my previous trips to Berlin have been, a social and leisurely vacation, it would have been impossible to visit Berlin without spending a few moments with friends.  Here, saying “Prost” with my dear friend Ingmar while at the Olympics viewing on screen at Templehof Air Field.

And as it turns out, while I was a bit resistant to making my way to Templehof (not totally inconvenient with Berlin’s extensive and seemingly rather well connected public transportation system) as this was a photoshooting trip and I was eager to get back to my room and computer, I remembered immediately why evenings of dialogue and relaxation with good company are essential for the mind, heart and soul.  Additionally, it is precisely moments like these when I fall for Berlin a bit more.

This entire Berlin stay, in fact, reconnected me back to the heart of why I loved Berlin in the first place, or wanted to infuse my friendship with her with more love (and as my friend asked me “Is Berlin a she?).

Stories of this massive field and what a significant change it has been to connect areas of the city previously quite distant from each other, abounded this evening as well as the reality of this area serving as a “green lung” for the city.

Tempelhof Airport- apparently they hold fashion shows (among other things) here now. The first and last time I was at this site was in the summer of 2003, with my father and we explored the airport interior a bit (to what extent was permitted). What a structure.

Similar to above photos, more of the field.  Not visible here are people barbecuing on little grills here and there as well as many bikers circling around (bring your own or rent a bike right there).

Earlier that day, after the fish soup and before my 1st photoshoot of the trip, I was walking around the Embassy District, scouting a few locations for the day.  I heard many accents and languages along the way (obviously, this is Berlin) but my mind definitely piqued with a a bit more curiosity when I heard American English, knowing especially that there was a good chance these were not necessarily tourists, but expats or temporary workers- or even full blown transplants to German capital life. What they were did not matter so much, but my imagination of it did, because it made me happy.  The thought that indeed, these are 20 or 30-somethings branching out, trying on a life, the same life perhaps, but new environs, different continent.  It all brought me back to the half year stint when I stayed in Berlin in my early 20′s- not so much looking to fit in, but to settle. It was a process I would repeat in numerous places afterward and would about ten years later simply come to understand as a core theme of wanderlust and curiosity. That I didn’t settle didn’t really matter.  It was all part of the process and perhaps returning means more for my life than staying did.

And the bounce of Berlin, is, in my opinion, a bit infectious. It’s not a crazy, wild shocking urban bounce but certainly upbeat and inviting you to get into the rhythm on your own, as you like.

Stay tuned in a couple of posts for a visual review of lots of the locations I used for my Berlin “photoshoot marathon”- the results of which I am beginning to put up at my business website: Nomad Dakini Design.