I'm leaving Berlin today and I'm at the airport now and I have time to think back over my 11-week trip to Lisbon, Florence and Berlin.
All three cities were brilliantly conducive to inspiration and creative work but particularly Berlin which has a large alternative creative culture mostly due to it's diverse population. All types of ideas, lifestyles, creative pursuits are acceptable and encouraged and in this environment creativity flourishes. It's a fun and pleasant place to be and very easy and cheap to live there.
So, apart from sightseeing, enjoying the culture, architecture, art, food and general ambience of the cities, I've also been working on a number of creative projects:
My original plan was to write the the first draft of the second novel in my crime spy thriller series but that plan changed as the trip progressed. I made a some progress on writing the novel however there were so many other creative things to do, so I just decided to do them at the expense of the novel:
- I took about 2500 photos (with approximately 300 photos which I really like)
- I wrote about 25000 words - 100 pages in 2 novellas, one nearly completed and will be published on Kindle later in the year and the other half completed
- I wrote about 60 - 70 blog posts (nearly one post a day) which I'm compiling into a Kindle Travel Log book (along with a selection of the best photographs)
Two unexpected new creative areas:
- I made about 25 digital drawings (using my iPad, Apple Pencil and Adobe Sketch. These were inspired by photographs I've taken in the past and art I've seen on this trip
- I made about 5 comic strips, based on political and current affairs. This is a brand new area for me and my initial comic strips used stylised photographs acquired from the net however I'm now looking at expanding this using my own digital drawing for the visuals.
While I've been on this trip, here's what I've seen and done
Art and Architecture:
- Viewed about 30 public museums / galleries in the 3 cities
- Viewed more than 30 private art galleries
- Visited about 20 churches and other buildings of architectural interest.
Some of the highlights include the
Lisbon: The Jerónimos Monastery, Castello St George and the murals of Quinta do Mocho
Florence: The Duomo and Ufizi Gallery.
Berlin: The Hamburger Bahnhof Museum, The Berlin Biennale Exhibition and the street art and murals.
While I wasn't creating stuff or traveling around the cities enjoying the culture:
- I watched about 25 episodes of Breaking Bad (two or three episodes a week - finished the series)
- Read 6 books (4 novels and 2 non-fiction)
- Spent more than 50 hours talking to friends and family on Skype and FaceTime.
- Walked an average of 5 miles a day, a little under 400 miles in the 11 weeks
What amazes me is how much value I got for my money. Prices in Lisbon are about half those in Dublin, prices in Florence are marginally less than Dublin and prices in Berlin are about 65% for those in Dublin. And of course the low low prices of Ryanair (the best value was €25 to fly from Pisa to Berlin)
Accommodation €2100(private apartment for 4 weeks in Lisbon for €700, Sharing large apartment in Florence for 2 weeks: €600 and private apartment for 5 weeks in Berlin €800)
Flights and local travel: €400 (Dublin to Lisbon, Lisbon to Pisa (Florence), Pisa to Berlin, Berlin to London, London to Berlin, Berlin to Dublin)
€2000 Food, museums, entertainment.
Total Cost €4500
It was a fantastic trip and brought me to another universe, completely unrelated to my normal life. I'm ready and happy to come back and return to work but I'm already planning another 3-month trip for next year.
So learnings from this trip: make plans but be prepared to change them as it progresses. Learn some German to make to make things even more accessible ( like possible taking some courses) even though 95% of people are willing to speak English. Berlin is very safe, even walking through Tiergarten park in the middle of the night with lots of people with alternative lifestyles sleeping outside there (in the summer mostly). It's very cheap to live here (60% of the cost of living in Ireland). The weather is warmer than Ireland but not too hot - just right for a comfortable teeshirt existence for a lot of the year