I arrived back in Berlin and was hit with how happy I was to be there. It’s such a cool place to be, and yet I know I’ve only just scratched the surface. It was the end of my holiday, which had started in Prague with Dresden in the middle; Berlin seemed a suiting place to end my journey, as I knew it would be a good combination of solitary time but also time spent with friends and meeting new people. Visiting with friends proved just as wonderful as I anticipated -rooftop picnics, urban foraging (courtesy of http://mundraub.org/map, which directs you to free food), sitting along the Spree, and lots of wine and wonderful food. I was also introduced to others whose company we enjoyed -refugees who shared stories that were difficult to comprehend and new words we were eager to learn, and other travellers who shared their own stories of adventure and thoughts about the world.
My time alone was important as well, as I feel I’m reflecting on my own experiences, and have grown comfortable with being solo. I have come to a new appreciation of solitary time, and was grateful to reclaim some of it in Berlin. I could have spent an entire day at the Käthe Kollwitz museum; though she had a profoundly sad life and experienced much loss, she seemed to remain hopeful and maintained an appreciation for life and energy. I felt drawn in to her work in a way that made it difficult to tear myself away from some of her prints and drawings. There is a quality to them that kept me rooted to the spot. Kollwitz is a remarkable woman, and I found her views on pacifism interesting, as she said it is not about waiting, but “work, hard work”. And the fact that she worked very hard and advocated for hard work was evident. Her ability to express depictions of and fight against social inequality were impressive and moving, and will certainly stay with me.
Though Berlin was a haven for someone interested in sustainable food movements, Dresden surprised me for its own innovation and projects. An especially amazing place is Lose (http://www.lose-dresden.de/), a food store that avoids waste by having customers fill their own re-usable containers with food instead of purchasing packaged goods. I was giddy with excitement, and loaded up on hemp hearts in my travel container as I inquired about the difficulties the owner faced when she opened and what it has been like for her since then. It’s such an exciting concept, and one that raises my hopes as well as many questions.
I enjoyed Dresden, with its very disparate areas on either side of the Elbe. I landed myself in a really cool neighbourhood that had a bohemian and lively vibe, even late at night; it was bursting with veggie restaurants, market stands, coffee shops, and bars. The atmosphere was energetic yet easy-going, and it was amongst the little shops and brightly graffitied buildings that I had some of the best organic rye bread…until I had some in Berlin from SoLuna Brot und Oel…100% rye with sunflower seeds…with a deliciously sour taste.
And, in this reverse narrative, I will end with Prague, where I couchsurfed with a woman who teaches at a kindergarden where I was lucky enough to visit! I was in the Vinohrady district, a welcome change from the old town which was packed, though of course still holds its own charms. The streets in Vinohrady were steep and cobbled, making the city an unwelcome one for cyclists, but charming for ambling pedestrians. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the booming health scene in Prague, and even more impressed by the raw food dinner I had at a restaurant close to my host. It is a city with a seemingly unlimited amount of stunning views, and brimming with many treasures to discover, such as the many cafés with incredible coffee and little food hideaways….like Vrsovicky Zahradni Klub where there’s a little bar with funky music, organic produce from a local farm, and various events bringing in artists from nearby.