You’d think that three months in Berlin would be enough to satisfy our taste for the city, but our time there is at an end and we’re not happy about it. As our friend Claudia says, time in Berlin really does run away with you — we honestly can’t believe that the summer is already over. However, it IS over: plummeting temperatures and the arrival of rainstorms are at least making it easier for us to move on.
Our second-to-last week in Berlin was uneventful; in fact, I wasn’t even in the country. While I spent the week in small-town Austria, Craig spent his days holed up inside, working frantically. He met me at the airport on Saturday afternoon and we did nothing much at all for the rest of the day. We also took Sunday off — we’d thought about going out and doing something touristy, but staying at home seemed so much more appealing.
The final week went by in a flurry of appointments and errands. We had to defrost the freezer and return library books, visit the Apple store for a damage report for my iPod, pack up things to post home… It was a busy time. On Wednesday we had Holger, Claudia and Norm over for a few drinks and on Thursday we went for a massive cycling trip around the city to see the sights for the last time. We also met up with Adam for a coffee and had schnitzel for dinner at the Dicker Engel with Holger and Claudia.
On Friday we got up early to do a final clean of the house and do those last-minute things that always need to be done before leaving somewhere you’ve been for a while: we posted a couple of boxes back to New Zealand, visited the supermarket for supplies, and took several loads of rubbish down to the bins. We were finally ready to leave at more or less the time we needed to go, and got to the airport without any major hassles. There, though, we got funnelled through a security check right away, and soon found ourselves in a small waiting room on the other side of passport control, where there were no toilets and not enough seats for everyone: not a win. However, the flight went well and arrived in Ireland ahead of schedule.
We were Couchsurfing in Dublin with an awesome Estonian woman called Irena with a strong Irish accent who welcomed us with a huge hug. We spent the evening chatting with her and, later, her cousin Kaidar, and had delicious Thai food for dinner.
Irena had to work the next day, so we walked into town and spent a few hours exploring the city and trying to find the right train station to buy our tickets for the next day. Back at home, we chatted with Kaidar’s partner Ross then had Thai for dinner again (it helps that Kaidar’s the manager of the local Thai restaurant).
On Sunday we had lunch with Ross and Kaidar in a local cafe before making our way to Heuston Station to catch our train. We didn’t have allocated seats, so we arrived early in the hope of being among the first to board — we’d been warned that the train would be full of hurling supporters heading home after Saturday’s big game. However, we had to wait in line for quarter of an hour, then were part of the throng as hundreds of people got on all at the same time.
Luckily, we ended up at a four-person table along with a nice Irish woman and an older Irish man, and we spent the entire 90-minute journey chatting with them about hurling, Ireland, and travel in general — it felt like a real immersion experience.
We were on our way to BlogHouse, where Craig was on staff as the tech expert at a three-day retreat for travel bloggers. We met several of them in the van to the castle where we were staying, and spent the afternoon getting to know each other a little. It was great to finally meet Pete and Dalene, who’d organised the event, and although we saw Michael Hodson in Berlin just a couple of weeks ago, it was good to catch up with him too.