We were very nervous and concerned about this trip because we kept hearing about all the chaos surrounding the volcanic ash from Iceland and the British Airlines strike threats, but fortunately we were relieved and grateful that there were no major delays or flight cancellations affecting our trip other than some minor flight delays.
During the past 20 years, we've been going to different parts of Europe for Carlos' speaking engagements. Each time, we try to extend the trip a few more days and check out places near by. This is our third time in Berlin for the " TYPO Berlin " conference, so naturally I thought I had seen enough of it and therefore was rather looking forward to seeing Prague, which was our second destination. But we ended up having such a blast in Berlin.
When I travel, I like it the best when a few elements are mixed in the trip.
1. It is a lot more enjoyable and less work if you have a friend(s), or someone you know when you get there.
2. This makes it ideal since it offers you a local's point-of-view and gives you an opportunity to see and experience things you would otherwise not have the opportunity to see.
3. You get inspired/ recharged by meeting and encountering interesting people, unusual things, and unexpected situations.
Berlin had a mix of all three and I shall cherish it in my sweet memory box for years to come.
At the airport, we were greeted by Jakob, who was our intern from Berlin 10 years ago with a big hand-made sign of our "Segura" logo, similar to those you see when Limo drivers are looking for their customer.
Surprisingly many of our previous interns have kept in touch with us for all these years and we have become good friends. I must say that It's a good feeling to see them all grown up and become business owners, parents, and making names for themselves in the industry. We feel like sort of proud parents.
Seeing Jakob was even more special this time because he had a bad motorcycle accident last year. We came close to loosing him and were naturally very shocked and worried about him. We were so happy to see him all in one piece and functioning normal even with all the bad scars and many treatments still to come.
We tried to manage the time between the obligations for the conference and personal time which got a little tricky at times. Some of the fun things we did were riding bicycles (using Germany's fantastic bike rental system that you activate with your cell phone) by the Spree river and through the Tiergarten. We stopped and had a drink at the beer garden in Tiergarten and visited Meilenwerk, which is a fancy garage/museum filled with antique and super cars. Carlos is a car fanatic so he was in heaven while I was on the bench resting. I wanted to see the Reichstag this time but the line was just too long. Oh well, I'll just have to come back another year.......
Later that evening I watched Carlos dance non-stop until almost 4 in the morning at the conference closing celebration party at the Goya club in disbelief. Especially since we went to sleep at 4 am the previous night too. We suffered the consequences the following few days with aches and sleep deprivation. There are certain things you just don't do when you are over a certain (?) age. As much I love to, dancing until 4 am definitely is one of them! :<(
People's end, one night after the speakers group dinner, we were invited by Erik Kessels and Neils Meulman, two Dutch designers to have a drink at the bar at Kunsthaus Tacheles. (the former department store building now occupied by artists) and is now a huge tourist attraction. We ended up having a debate with Neils, a calligrapher, about the Graffiti allowed public space. It was quite appropriate subject since the Kunsthaus Tacheles bldg is covered by graffiti inside and out and Neil is a Calligraffiti expert. I won't get into who said what but we were definitely against each other's standing and thoroughly disagreed on the matter. But it's fun to discuss different point of views on things and still part as friends...
It was a pleasant surprise to reconnect with Susanna, an old friend from Chicago who is now married to Erik Spiekermann (one of the best known German type/graphic designers). They have been dating forever and I was happy to see them together and being married. We also had a great time with Iris, who is also an ex-intern from many years ago from Colon, Germany who always tries to hook up and spend some time with us whenever we are in Europe. It was a pleasure to hang out with David Carson and David Berman who made us fold our napkins and wear them on our heads. We looked pretty silly, but I love being silly and goofy whenever there is an opportunity! Life is just too short to be serious all the time, right?
On the food side, I was surprised and extremely pleased to see many Asian restaurants in the Mitte area, which is where our hotel was. Indonesian, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese.. Somehow, the more Asian food places I see in a city, the more I feel closer to the city. It was 10 years ago since we had been in Berlin, and I don't remember which restaurants we ate at then, but I remember the 6th floor of the KaDeWe Department store which had a great cafeteria and is worth visiting, since it's one of the largest and most famous department stores in Western Europe.
I wanted to try Felix Club Restaurant in the Hotel Adlon and Vivaldi during this trip, but unfortunately, we didn't get to try too many restaurants because of our conference obligations, but the ones we tried, we liked a lot and their reviews will be coming soon...
Good bye Berlin, until next time!