Berlin is a vibrant city that has endured a tumultuous twentieth century. Presently, the city attracts tourists and residents from across Germany and the world. One local I meet, remarks that people are surprised when he tells them he was born in Berlin. Of the residents that live here, many are not originally from Berlin.
On the 8 hours bus journey from London to Paris, it takes:
- 2 hours on the road from London to Dover;
- 1.5 hours on the ferry across the English Channel; and
- 4.5 hours on the road from Calais to Paris.
Once in this city of enlightenment, I am besotted by its beauty, bewildered by its crowds. August is peak tourist season. The queues are immense.
London is a global city. A simple stroll on the street will overhear conversations in various languages. Locals have a great sense of humour, often making light of the busy public transport or some other quirk in their country. Like many big cities, accommodation is expensive, especially in the lead up to the Olympics. I make several inquiries on Craiglist before finding a house-owner that seems genuine - renting a private room for 150 pounds per week close to transport and shops. A pretty good deal for this city.
Living amid the mountains is a lifelong dream, something I hope to achieve in the future. For now, I savour a taste in the Western (Bernese) Alps of Switzerland, staying at a village known as Grindelwald. It is the perfect place for a relaxing retreat or a hikers' paradise.