Since last post, I have hopped down to Atlantic City, steeped for a week in the Midwest, and bolted to Baltimore--all the while cycling memories of Hong Kong in my head like Viewmaster slides. Not to mention the fact that I have taken on more responsa-blog-bility.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
And again I am off...or so I hope, if I win my battle with booking websites. There is simply nothing more frustrating than to watch airfares drop, form a cozy budget in your head, find fares that match or undercut it, and then have those fares disappear or return with "sold out" just before confirmation. Am I perhaps getting what I deserve for snagging that bargain-basement Cathay direct to HKG earlier this year?
My tendency to follow fares, like a broker eagerly watching a stock ticker, both causes and solves many problems. Currently, the mercurial nature of travel sites flaunting Memorial Day pricing is driving me to drink (Red Bull for the first time in many years, even though I was handed it on the street).
To the point: Am I or am I not flying to Berlin in exactly a week? Having already covered nearly 80% of southern Germany, it's about time I pay attention to what lurks north of Frankfurt; I hear they even have German food up there! (ha)
On one hand, if I go, I drop down into that pit of "perhaps I can pawn this," from which I have just recovered after HK. This is the only downside, for the rewards of risking quality of life for time abroad are too many to count, but here are a few: soaking in the city, its architecture, street art, design, food, new German phrases, the style of the locals and how they go about mundane activities like ordering a cut of meat from the butcher.
These are the details I absorb, to the end that I can easily chameleon into them and make of Berlin another home port--another stepping stone in my global garden, if you will.
Is it not extremely fulfilling to learn how to use and navigate another city's public transportation? How could one not relish pronouncing a new word, and not just saying it, but saying it correctly and knowing its meaning and usage, and knowing that you'll now always remember it. That even 40 years from now, you'll be sitting down to a bowl of minestrone in your kitchen and suddenly a word like "Überraschung" comes to your lips, and you smirk with the dusty memory it elicits, of buying Kinder eggs at FRA and wondering what's inside and then never finding out becase you will give them all away back in the States. And you're old, and eating unremarkable soup in your average kitchen, but no--for a moment you are back in the airport and remembering the sweet anxiety that comes with powerwalking to your gate for a transatlantic.
As for Berlin, it is now a matter of cost versus culture, and as always I'm choosing culture. And beer.
[Photo via Flickr]