Sleeping just a couple of hours, waking up at 3 am and observing the city going to sleep from a cab. Experiencing the sunrise from the train, everything dipped in a golden pond of light. Joining other travellers, single or in groups, everyone silently pondering their thoughts while they are wired in.
It wasn't my first time in Berlin, but it certainly was a first in terms of experiencing the city from another point of view.
Tourists go around by the underground to the main touristy attractions. Special guests who have the luck of having a friend with a spare bike available, go around pedalling and see much more.
I thought London was a bike-friendly city, but I had to reconsider: the broadness of Berlin's roads and liveable traffic allows you to cycle safe and sound. For pedestrians, though, it's another story.
I went to see my artist friend Silvia Iorio and her latest, successful exhibitions, to which I am dedicating a special post. Silvia likes to ride the bike on the pavement and on the wrong side of the road, especially doing the giant slalom among Germans and tourists alike. Moreover, not to squeeze in impossibly narrow passages is not an option. We spent the first half of my arrival day trying hard to find a haven for Ike (pictured), also known as The Travel Companion.
The poor little swallow was trailing along the concrete passageway that links Schonenfeld Airport to the train station, unable to stand or to fly. And then he ran into me and my inability to leave little and plumed things be, because-I-know-they-need-my-help. We left him in the Berlin's Zoo precinct after he vividly expressed his displeasure of being carried around in an unrequested human hand by leaving a pretty big souvenir on my trousers.
Fair enough. Next time I promise I will fight my Saint Francis syndrome, as I call it.
I hope he didn't hit the tigers' cage, though.
Silvia and I crossed the city far and wide, fluttering from an exhibition to the other and from a dinner to the next. From the Indian Embassy to the Jewish Museum, from Spanish paella to the amazing seafood linguine of Italian restaurant Da Papa', on Uhlandestrasse. We explored flea markets, tried to reach Potsdam but were stopped by our own hunger and preferred to visit a cafe', and actually crossed the Sony Centre on the bike during a presentation of The Green Lantern movie, where the red carpet was actually green.
Pictures are bitty and far from satisfactory, but here we go.
A special mention goes to the hideaway Tadshikische Teeshube, a beautiful tea house brought in Berlin straight from Tajikistan. In conclusion, there is only one recommendation I can give you about Berlin in summer: mind that cyclist!