No, Not a Jelly Donut but a Temporary Resident of Berlin
As a digital nomad I’m firm believer in getting to the heart of wherever I happen to be, making connections that go beyond the superficial and immersing myself in whatever it is that makes each place unique. I figure places are like people. Take the time to form deep connections and they’ll forever be a part of you. Even if you never have the opportunity to meet again.
One of the first things that struck me as we began exploring our new city was the number of bicycles. Berlin is flat, which, combined with the numerous cycle lanes, makes it an attractive city in which to take to the handlebars and make your way from one corner to another without forking out for U- or S-Bahn tickets.
The people for whom we’re house-sitting left us the keys to their bikes and so a couple of days ago we took a ride around Steglitz, the neighbourhood where we’re living. I would’ve felt like a true Berliner were I not such an inexperienced cyclist, having not cycled since I was twenty. It was the end of the summer in Jersey and my then boyfriend and I hired a couple of bikes to explore the island. Although we had some enjoyable moments — and he an especially painful one as he tumbled off his bike into a ditch full of nettles — the strongest memory is of cycling along a busy road sandwiched between speeding cars and buses on one side and a high concrete wall on the other. I felt incredibly vulnerable and have remained nervous about cycling on roads ever since. I realise now I ought to have gotten right back on a bike and pushed through my anxiety, but we left the island shortly afterwards and life moved on, sans bicycle.
Although I wobbled my way around the streets initially, I began to find my balance, only to have my confidence knocked again when I fell off the bike in an attempt to avoid crashing into Sean. When he stopped just a few feet ahead all sense left me and I forgot to reach for the brakes, instead trying to stop with my feet whilst swerving suddenly. A disaster.
This time, however, I got back on the bike and we rode around the streets a while longer, and today we’re off for another bike ride. I’m determined to get over this irrational fear. And, I’d like to feel like a true Berliner by the time we leave in mid-August, one who’s forged many more connections than would otherwise be possible on foot.
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Mufidah Kassalias is a writer, photographer and slow-travelling digital nomad. She’s also Co-Founder & COO of CreativeThunder.co, working with creative businesses and individuals, worldwide, to build tribes of loyal customers via strategic websites, visual storytelling and social media.