It's been 7 months since I wrote a blog entry, and today is the start of my new travel blog for my trip to Berlin for four months which begins tomorrow. As I look out across Dublin bay from my balcony, the sky is covered in a leaden grey blanket of cloud, threatening rain across the city. Berlin awaits and no doubt the cloud cover is similar there, however somehow the anticipation of a trip abroad to another country, regardless of it's weather, ignites a feeling of joy. An escape, an adventure and an opportunity to finish my second novel of which I barely completed a quarter on last year's trip.
Despite my best plans to write every day for three months (like I did in 2015, for my first novel), in 2016 I was distracted by many things in Lisbon, Florence and Berlin, mostly the art and architecture and enjoying the different people, language, food. This 4 moth trip will, hopefully be a little more focussed on filling out the 20,000 words I've written so far on this novel, to about 85,000 words (about 350 pages), completing the first draft and possible a second draft too. Like last year I have a plan to write 1500 words every morning in order to achieve that goal. I find that I do my best work in the morning and so I mostly rise around 6:30 to 7 am and start work around 7:30. Usually if I am prepared and know what I have to write, I can write 1500 words in 3 to 4 hours. So by noon I should be finished writing and ready for exploring the city.
I know Berlin fairly well for my visits over the last 5 to 10 years. It's not a beautiful city, like Paris, but it has many beautiful buildings in it, both modern and classical, despite the extensive destruction towards the end of the second world war in 1945 and also those long years of neglect following the division of the city until 1989 when, after reunification it sprang back to life again, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, somehow stronger than before. I love the energy in this city, the quirkiness of the streets and buildings, the street murals, and the remains of the Wall, which was originally enforcing a regime of suppression, and now is a symbol of their strength and freedom.
Against this backdrop, I'll be staying in my usual apartment, close to Tiergarten, for 4 months. It's a medium sized studio apartment (about 50sqm) with a large light filled room looking over Tiergarten park, where many alternative folks choose sleep out in the open during the summer months. No doubt they find indoor accommodation during Berlin's harsh cold winters, but as the weather warms during the year, small groups tend to make makeshift camps along one small part of the park, on the route to Zoogarten. Apart from this little corner of the park, the rest of this large park (and it's about the size of Dublin's Phoenix park) is mostly empty except for walkers and cyclists. It's such a pleasant walk from my apartment, through the pathways in the trees for 20 minutes to Potsdamer Platz and the Berlin State Library where I will spend some time every few days, writing. I use this as my alternative office from my apartment. The change of location helps fuel the mind with ideas.
So, I'm packed now and ready for my early morning flight tomorrow and the start of my writing and painting trip. Auf Wiedersehen Dublin and begrussen Berlin, my trip awaits...