today we came back to London after spending most of the last two months in Berlin. I loved it. Absolutely loved it. To be honest it is a real downer to be leaving.

The highlights of the summer:

  • bike riding. In London I ride a boris bike, I enjoy it. But riding in Berlin, crusing through Tiergarten or just generally getting around where there are real lanes on a sunny day was just euphoria.

  • Grünewald. So easy to get to. A real forest. Amazing. This is what I’ve been wanting. So much fun with my son. Likewise swimming in Schlachtensee. So easy, so right.

  • Die WM. Endlich alles so wie es sein sollte.

  • Seeing old friends. Managed to catch up with several, some who live in Berlin, some who were just passing through.

  • Moabit. We lucked into getting a friends flat in Moabit. I was expecting a prison surrounded by people waiting to visit their relatives in the prison. Moabit is awesome. So green, so many playgrounds. Would move there in an instant. Moabit ist die Nachbarschaft der “Hipster-Renter, No-Logo-Jugendliche, DIY-Freaks, Boule-Dillletanten, Gechillte Mamas, Hinterhofmuckler, Kiez-Babos, uvm.” Wer will da mehr?

  • made it to Schwerin, Leipzig, Weimar (albeit only very briefly), Dresden, and Heiligenstadt. Partially holiday and partially we are fortunate to have great clients that I get to go visit. Definitely need to further explore Mecklenburg. Next time.

  • Burritos. This one took me by total surprise. Berlin has ace burritos. Equal with anything London can offer, and frankly London (now) has great burritos.

  • Being offline. Due to the crap internet situation in the flat I spent way less time online than I do normally. Will work on making that the new normal.

  • My kids. Not London specific, but the key factor in making it a great summer. My daughter is just starting to have a real personality. Amazing to watch her become a person. My son exploring everything. We lucked out in finding a great nanny. It makes all the difference.

  • Tempelhof. Fantastic. Don’t change anything. See the foto from a few weeks back.

  • The history. Perhaps my appreciation of things was enhanced by my reading (the final few weeks I was deep into the melencholy of Krockow) but it’s everywhere. Whether it’s the wall, the Stolpersteine, the scars on the buildings, the streets named after von suchandsuch, the Soviet memorials, it is everywhere and you feel it, but you also (at least outside of Wilmersdorf) feel like the next chapter is still to be written. The past is here and so is the future.

No list of highs would be complete without also contemplating the lows. There was one that stood out: Mitte. It’s too crazy. I know I probably can’t simultaniously hold the position that Berlin should have good burritos and Mitte shouldn’t be too global, but it’s my blog so I’ll do what I want. Last week my wife and I went out for a nice dinner in Mitte. The place we went had great food, the service was fine, etc, etc. But I left feeling disappointed in that it was so generic. I could have been in any nice restaurant anywhere in the world. It was good and it was soulless. That is Mitte now. Other low was the crap bed in the flat we stayed in. My back is wrecked.

I guess an obvious question people will have is what my opinion of the tech scene is. I met lots of great people, there is cool stuff happening, smart people from all over are in Berlin doing interesting things. I could easily work and thrive in Berlin. I didn’t miss London, and frankly with twitter, etc it was easy to not feel “away” at all. But most of all what I loved about Berlin is life, not the tech scene.  Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s my life now with two kids, maybe I was cherry-picking the best time of year and it’s an unfair comparison, but London is hard fucking work. Berlin is easy.

My deep thanks to all the people who were so helpful in making this summer happen for me and my family. It was easily the best summer I’ve had in the last decade, possibly longer. I can’t wait for next year.