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.