Out with the old, in with the new. For the most part, January’s messaging is about starting afresh, setting goals and becoming a better version of the person we were the prior year. New year, new you. Walk through Berlin throughout January, and you’ll definitely notice that the joy and merry cheer of christmas is definitely over. And not only due to the heavy, grey skies hanging above. On most street corners you’ll find bare and disheveled christmas trees. Sometimes in piles, sometimes alone.
February has been beautiful in Berlin. January’s thick white blanket finally parted to reveal the blinding sun perched high in the clear, blue sky. And just like that it feels as if a weight has been lifted off the shoulders of the city. All around you’ll see squinting faces, soaking up the sun like lizards on a warm rock. If it weren’t for the sub-zero temperatures (thanks Hartmut), you could almost think that spring were on its way.
The sunshine and hope for spring lure one into thinking it’s safe to venture outside with a layer less than January.
Transitioning. A little odd. Somewhat frustrating. Often chaotic. Thrilling. At a point somewhere in between sorting through shoes in boxes and updating your new address wherever possible, it becomes apparent that something is different. It’s where I am right now.
From Munich to Berlin.
We’re just passed the two month mark in the city we now call home. Our third new home and new city in the past five years. For some that’s normal. For others, it’s two more cities than they’d ever experience in a lifetime. For me it’s enough to assume i’d have a well-oiled transition plan. Or perhaps a list of “lessons learnt” from the the last time we started fresh.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted – more than 9 months in fact. And sadly – the grey days where I left off are just around the corner. It’s been a busy 9 months and i’ve had flythesevenseas too often on my mind that its embarrassing that I haven’t simply just pushed myself a little. But here I am.
So before the grey days return, I have to say thank you. Thank you for being graced by the summer of summers this year. My third summer in Munich (and Germany) has come to a close, followed by dreamy, golden Autumn (more to come).
Summer in Munich was very sweaty. Sydney sweaty. A stinker as we would say back home. And I loved it.
It’s officially here. I don’t have to look past the long faces on the train passengers every mornings to know that its that time of year again. That time where, everyone would happily donate every woolly jumper in aid for some small hint of warmth.
After the excitement of Christmas has worn out and a few days on the slopes have been enjoyed, the sight of snow is just bleh. The once-dreamy, romantic and festive love of snow is replaced with awkward-looking piles of icy mounds on the side of the road.
The days of sunshine here and there are too easily missed when most days are just plain grey. The nights’ frost draws a silver grey outline on trees. Street pollution paints the unmelted snow on the roads with a dirty grey. Frost and snowfall shadow cars in a dark grey. Look around at the train station and you’ll notice the sea of blacks, browns and greys (with the odd fur trim) of coats and scarves – this grey is contagious. And simply just endless. (I’m not going to dare post any photos of this bleak grey – no thank you!)
My alarm bell went off yesterday at 5:45 am, which for a Sunday does not go down so well (or so often) within these four walls. But – I rolled out under the warm covers, peered under the small slit left open in the blinds to see a fresh layer of white, powdery snow and reconsidered whether I really wanted to join the crazy snow freaks in their bulky and uncomfortable boots to hit the slopes.
It was a tough call but the little devil on my shoulder didn’t win – I woke up with an aim; to master that snow plough*. And after a few hours, sore shins, frozen fingertips and an elegant fall in an unexpected mound of deep, fresh snow, I had mastered it – and even on some “proper” slopes. I wouldn’t be lying if I said that I’m a little proud of myself. Having donned the skis for the second time after almost 27 years of missed opportunities, I don’t think I’ve done too bad for myself – but I won’t be seeing any black runs any time soon thanks.
Alongside the skiing, it’s safe to say that this winter is really feeling like winter.
And just like that, Christmas has come and gone. Just when the magical feeling finally manages to become a welcome distraction, I find myself taking my last bite of the Christmas pudding, wishing the past few days would extend a little longer.
This year however, we created something extra special, something for the books. This year saw two families unite for Christmas – my parents and younger brother flew from Sydney to join the Christmas rituals with Alex’s immediate family. And although this meant that the usual Sydney contingency was a little smaller than usual, we hope the crew will understand (perhaps not with all the tempting photos of snow and oversized portions of turkey we sent)…
Our german Christmas celebrations, in comparison to my Sydney celebrations, stretch over a few days – appropriately titled by Alex’s father as ‘the christmas rally’ – with multiple meals shared together, elaborate brunches, nights of singing and dancing until the candles burn out, walks in open fields, some Christmas socks, indulgences and the wish for snow. And given the extra special occasion this year, we had it all – including a good 20cm of snowfall overnight.
It’s been a little bit quiet around here lately on the blog front. My apologies. On the life-front however, it’s been quite the opposite. After a bit of a slump I’ve embraced a change of mindset and have immersed myself in positive changes and experiences:
I explored London with good friends from Sydney, escaped to the idyllic island of Limnos in Greece, spent afternoons along the Isar in Munich, started an amazing new job with perhaps the coolest team ever(!!), spent a weekend in Düsseldorf, watched a couple exchange sacred vows at the Wasserschloss (palace surrounded by water) of Nordkirchen, and enjoyed a last taste of summer for the year as I soaked in the Spanish sun in Fuerteventura (with abovementioned cool team).
Tomorrow at 12pm Oberbürgermeister (Lord Mayor) Dieter Reiter will mark the official begin of München’s most renowned annual event as he taps the first keg of Oktoberfest Bier in the Schottenhamel Bier tent, follows this with an “O’zapft’ is” and a good swig of his Maß.
Once tapped, the 13 other tents can begin to serve the München-brewed Bier to their thirsty guests.
For the next two weeks to follow, the sights and smells of the Oktoberfest will be ever-present throughout the city; throngs of tourists crowd the main train stations and the city centre, Tracht will be worn from dawn to dusk and the streets will buzz with groups of extra jolly, sometimes sweaty and most often tipsy, red-cheeked revellers.