I had never really wanted to go to Berlin, funny really. It didn’t stand high on my list next to Rome or Madrid or Amsterdam. So I was gently surprised and impressed. Yes it was chilly, in both senses of the word, I certainly saw no German warmth from any bus drivers or waiters, and yes everything was in German, a language I cannot comprehend so I was in the dark a fair bit, but it hardly mattered. Brushing my hand along a fragment of the Berlin wall one moment and peeking behind it to see a huge temple of Capitalism where the East once stood was simply extraordinary. How this city has transformed, rebuilt and redefined itself in the past 20 years is impressive to say the least. Not only does everything work but it works well. The architecture is brave and startling, modern and fit for a new Germany. The shops sparkle and the people click their beautiful boots with purpose. The food was excellent and tasted fresh, not in the least bit processed or fixed in a speedy and lazy microwave. In fact every bite I ate and every sip of divine coffee seemed made for a discerning and picky clientele with high standards. The city was extremely clean and easy to walk; after eating their curried sausage people actually put the rubbish in the bins provided. Yes I am amazed by the obvious because for the past 4 years I have seen more than enough simple folk treat the sidewalk and street as their own personal bin.
Here are some photos taken from my trip. My only regret is that I took the tiny Leica point and shoot and not my lovely big Canon.
It turns out I missed this iconic little green guy’s 50th birthday by three days!
l felt so guilty about posting quick snaps and not having taken my camera out of its bag that I set my photographer’s heart a flutter and jumped into action.
“We are going on a drive to the desert!” I declared, and off we went. It was not like I expected, certainly not the golden desert sands of Arabian nights and definitely no sand dunes dancing in the wind.
But now I know where oil comes from and found a strange beauty amidst the ugly pipe strewn, oil well scattered landscape. Dusty, hot and not a place for a walk, it was surreal, moon like and resembled the set of some scary science fiction movie.
Here then are the first of the photos. A different Bahrain, a different desert.
And then there was England. Last summer I spent a whole month in London and set myself the task of posting one photo a day. This summer I was there for close to two weeks and I was not as attached to my camera.
London is home, a different home from Montreal, but still home. My memories of London go way back to childhood summers with grandparents to weekend escapes from boarding school to University days. I have more family in London then anywhere else in the world and I know it like the back of my hand. But London has changed, we have both moved on and when I go back it is like visiting an old friend; we look each other up and down and comment on how we have grown up.
London for me is family, walks in the park, fabulous food, restaurants with starched white table cloths and handsome waiters, the Tube, red buses that I can no longer hop off, the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, Marks and Spensers, Boots and occasional trips to the gorgeous country side.
And Monmouth Coffee, the best coffee shop in the world.
It has not been a good summer for London, between endless rain and those shocking riots; but I had sunshine where I could.
In fact I have not had a drop a rain all summer, I have been nicknamed the sunshine girl as I bring the sun with me in my suitcase. And now that I am in Bahrain I imagine I will be longing for the rain before too long.
Yes I am a teacher and we get long holidays. Summer is our prize.
In case you think I have been galavanting round the world from one hotel to the next let me set your mind at ease. I am most fortunate in having dear and generous family and friends with homes ( and ample space) in gorgeous corners of the world. I only stayed in one hotel for one night all summer and that was by choice ( thank you Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City). The rest of the time we were nestled with the comfort of friends and in the case of California, family. My father lives in the mountains in Northern California and it had been four years since my last visit. ( That was a little visit sandwiched between Montreal and Trinidad. I see a pattern here.)
California is God’s country. Everything a person could desire or need in life is in California. Avocados, Wine, Peaches, Corn, Fish, Apricots, Raisons, Almonds, Majestic Trees, Waves, Ocean, Sunshine and the Best Highways in the World.
Sadly ( for us) my father and his wife are moving next year.
North Carolina: you have a lot to live up to.
It had been two years since we had been home yet it didn’t feel like it. Within moments I felt the warmth of home and spent the following weeks wanting never to leave.
Fresh farmer’s markets, silky cold lakes, dangled feet off the dock, sushi and lipstick shopping with girlfriends, talking late into the night, white wine and dinners in the country, tubing on the lake, too fast, too quick, and Trooper and Princess reunited with their best friends since before they can remember. Dock kisses and roots, stronger than words or tears, rooftop dinners and kitchen coffees. Godchildren, godparents, picnics and BBQs, winding roads and graffiti splattered walls. Construction everywhere and the shock of too many red lights after the anarchy of Africa. The shock of the new and the comfort of the old. Ancient Quebec city, sunshine pouring around us, above us, within us, family, blood and love.
Until next year Canada.
I am back. I am not sure if I haven’t lost my faithful readers of 3limes during my summer hiatus, it was the longest break in the the 3 years I have been writing. 3 years that has seen me through Trinidad, the Uganda years and now here we are in Bahrain. 3 years, 3 moves, 3limes.
But before we say hello to Bahrain I think we need a look back at the Summer of 2011.
London Montreal San Francisco Montreal London
canoes and docks
fishing and champagne
sushi and cappucino
I love America
Toe dipping in the Pacific
God Save London
pub lunches and old friends
Art, red buses and pavement pounding
From the Pacific to the Thames, icy Quebec lakes to the warm Bahrain sea, this summer has crossed time and memory. I have slipped through the shadow of years, made a tiny chink in the wall of time, visited the past before diving into the future.
And nearly 2 months without writing, reflecting and giving pause for thought. I have missed blogging but needed that in between space, the freedom to live unconnected with no screen and no keys to tap my days.