Vanessa: From the first day at High School, I knew I’d be friends with Rayshum forever. We clicked straight away, spent all day moaning about our terrible college, watched Grease Lightening on sleep-overs and went out dancing whenever we could. You know what ladies are like at that age – we went through all kinds of crazy stuff and over the weekend Rayshum came to visit us in Berlin finally! Here is what we did:
Rayshum: After endless texts to Vanessa over the past 18 months promising to come to visit Berlin, I finally managed to book my (last minute) flights to visit Jason and Vanessa.
I was last in Berlin three years ago with Jason, Vanessa and a host of global friends, and during those four days we had managed to see most of the city and the sights. Incidentally, it was on that trip that Jason and Vanessa decided to leave London and make the move out here.
I’m so glad they did.
This time round, I saw parts of the wall which we hadn’t seen during the first trip. There were very few tourists and it was incredible to spend time looking at the politically infused graffiti and artwork. Vanessa and Jason were excellent tour guides and narrated the visit to the wall with interesting anecdotes and key pieces of cultural history not found in the guidebooks – but passed down through Vanessa’s German family or new Berlin friends.
The tour included perfectly timed coffee breaks and pit stops which were largely used to plan the next stage of the weekend. At one point we decided to head towards the famous flea markets and peruse the artwork and old vinyl records.
Through wondering from place to place we strolled through vastly different neighbourhoods, each with an emerging unique identity. Vanessa would point out interesting artefacts along the pavements such as ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ gold plated memorial pavestones dedicated to former residents who died during the Holocaust. Other times, they would take delight in pointing out hidden gems such as tiny wire stick figures in yoga poses mysteriously perched upon traffic lights across the city. It was clear during these moments that both Vanessa and Jason had crossed over from being tourist expats to fully fledged Berliners. There was a sense of pride about the uniqueness of the city. This was now home.
I also got to meet a some of their cool local friends – randomly on the train and over a Bailey’s in a local bar. As expected, Vanessa and Jason are as popular in Berlin as they are in London!
Dinner one night was at a hip new Mexican place (Ta’Cabrón Taqueria) in Kreuzberg. I’ve never tasted Mexican food so good! It was a super tiny place with authentic Mexican chefs. Vanessa – take future guests there!
On my final day, Jason had to go to work, and so Vanessa and I hit the town. We went to a cool, chic pedestrianised area near Alexanderplatz called Hackesche Höfe, which had an eclectic selection of cafes and beautifully maintained independent shops. A bit like Neals Yard in Covent Garden. Worth a trip.
The hospitality at chez Leather and Abel was divine. I awoke each day to the smell of freshly cooked poached eggs and schnitzel made even more heavenly with delicious roasted coffee. At night, we listened to old vinyl jazz records over glorious local rosé wine and awesome board games. Superb.
Above everything, though, the absolute best thing about the trip was that I had so much fun and laughter with truly wonderful friends, Vanessa and Jason.
Until next time amigos!
Mexican Restaurant: Ta’Cabrón Taqueria, Skalitzer Straße 60, 10997 Berlin, Germany