1. I love Berliners: so many open, friendly, willing to engage with you German people who are interested in art, current affairs, new ideas and even just off the press clueless Auslander impressions of their beloved Deutschland. Curious about what's going on in the world, you, their history (some even able and willing to speak about the best and very worst parts of it with remarkable candour) as well as sharing their food, local knowledge, directions and their homes.
2. Spoilt for Choice: There are so many things going on in Berlin! OMG so what's it to be? A gallery visit, fine dining, döner before a great theatre show, a bar, a bookshop, a flea market, seeing friends for coffee, long walks or a few hours at the women's hamam in Kreuzberg? The choice thing's also made me more selective because I now understand that I just can't see it ALL! Something resembling a sensible and self-editing discrimination has set in.
3. Flea Markets: Can't get enough of them! Flea markets, vintage sales, Humana stores! Love them all! Whether it's Moa Park, Arkonaplatz, Friedrichshain flo markt or the wilder western suburbs markets - I just have to go to one every single Sunday. Best buys? Vintage fur coat, hand-made leather shoes, black felt hat from the 1940's, a duck down baby blue satin duvet and a Karl Lagerfeld knit. Wow!
4. Budget-Indulgence: Eating out, dancing out, shopping out, or pigging-out on art? It's all so possible in this great city on any budget. Makes my socialist heart skip a beat and puts a spring in my step.
5. Quality of Life: Life is slower here and I love it. People of a certain age are still frantically racing around in pursuit of the things that people of a certain age race around for but if you're 30 or 40-somethings with kids the pace is wunderbar. Berlin is a citta slow.
6. Winter Wonderland: If you think that sub-zero temperatures are sexy then Berlin's the perfect place! I get the weirdest kick out of my serious sub-zero dressing fetish. A pair of merino wool leggings, singlets, thermal tops, layers upon layers of body-heat-trappers, woollen coats, insulation layers etc. Topped up by an über-ugly-puffer-coat that begins at my chin and ends at my ankles and whose ugliness is matched only by my crepe-soled Polish suede boots (circa 1965) a balaclava & the Russian fur hat I bought out of a suitcase from a bunch of Russian mobster types at Alexanderplatz.
7. Learning German: A Love Story. I have to admit - despite speaking three other languages German has done my head in. The only tenuous connection I have being an intimate study of Chaucer's middle english dialect as an undergrad. But having fallen in love with Berlin means that I'm committed to learning Deutsch. The things we do for love!
8. Child-friendly, Eco & Bio-conscious: Children and their parents are made welcome almost everywhere and the local schools are great. Hardly anyone I know owns or drives a car. That makes me smile. And as for organic vegies, bread, meat, eggs and cheese - they are available almost everywhere and are also affordable. It's good for us and it's good for the environment. Green city happiness.
I heart Berlin