FindingBerlin Foreigners — Ben

by Sara · 06.03.2013 · People · 2 comments

This week is all in the motto of the ITB, the inter­na­tional travel trade show of Ber­lin. Ben, who helped me out with a study for uni­ver­sity, has been much into the sub­ject of trav­el­ling him­self. He cre­ated the Big Blog Map that dis­plays blogs from all over the world. He’s been liv­ing in Ber­lin quite hap­pily and offered to answer some of my ques­tions about our beloved city.

1. Why did you chose Berlin?

I’d just come back from a 364 day trip round South Amer­ica. After all the adven­tur­ing and three years of uni, I was once again back home with my par­ents in Bris­tol and a mild quarter-life crisis ensued. I felt as if I should go to Lon­don and get a job. That’s what every­one else was doing, but at the time I didn’t want that. I’d spent the last year in jungles, not wear­ing shoes. I didn’t want to go to back to hav­ing to wear a suit everyday.

A friend was liv­ing in Ber­lin and she helped me find an intern­ship here. I haven’t looked back.

2. What does your daily life in Ber­lin look like?

It’s quite a lot of hard work at the moment. I quit my star­tup job back in Octo­ber to work on my own stuff.
I ded­ic­ate most of my time to two pro­jects. The Big Blog Map is a web app which dis­plays travel blogs geo­graph­ic­ally e.g. a blog about Buenos Aires will appear over Buenos Aires on the map. It’s the only site (I know of) that does this and so far it’s been a really cool exper­i­ence to con­nect with so many bloggers.

Driv­e­line is the other one. It’s an Android App that pre­dicts the cost, CO2 and time of a jour­ney. It makes the cal­cu­la­tions based on the vehicle model. The cool thing is that you can com­pare the res­ults for dif­fer­ent speeds. Driv­ing fast means you get there quicker, but it costs more. This app tells you how by how much.

3. What are your favor­ite things about Berlin?

The price. This may seem like a mater­i­al­istic answer, but I have an incred­ible amount of free­dom because this city is so cheap. My life­style costs a frac­tion of what it would do in Lon­don and this is what allowed me to quit my job and invest time in the things that mat­ter to me.

I also love the mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism here. It’s the closest I’ve found to trav­el­ling without actu­ally trav­el­ling. Prob­ably my favour­ite thing to do here is visit the aban­doned build­ings. Where else in West­ern Europe could you find a dis­used ice cream fact­ory in the centre of the city?

4. Where in Ber­lin do you live & what are your favor­ite places?

I live in Neuk­olln. I didn’t know much about the neigh­bour­hood when I moved here, but I’ve grown to love it. I’m right next to the old Tem­pel­hof Air­port. In sum­mer, there can be thou­sands of people pic­nick­ing, fly­ing kites and drink­ing beer in the sun. Apart from that my favour­ite place is my WG, not least for its impromptu roof terrace.

For hanging out, you can’t beat the cozy liv­ing room bars all over Neuk­olln. As the day goes on, you swap cof­fee for beer and barely even notice it. Those places don’t really exist in Eng­land. The best is Frol­lein Lang­ner.

5. Do you feel homesick?

No. It’s five hours door to door to my house in Bris­tol and I have lots of friends who’ve come to visit me. Ber­lin feels much like my home for the moment and even more so dur­ing summer.

2 comments
  1. “ice cream fact­ory”? They prob­ably wished it was :)

  2. Great insight. I like this por­trait a lot and I appre­ci­ate the whole story. I can relate intens­ively about the price and how much free­dom it brings. I spend as much as I would in Hon­duras get­ting a much more flat and open res­ult of intense party and other cul­tural activities.