“It’s nice to go out but it’s nice to come home”, my mum would always say when we got back from a family holiday. For me, she’s always had a point. As much as I love going away, as much as I crave jetting off abroad, I always look forward to coming home again and sleeping in my own bed, eating my favourite food and seeing familiar faces. That was until I met Australia. After 4 weeks of travelling up the east coast, I was in love. Sitting on the curb in the early hours of the morning, my bag backed, waiting for the shuttle bus to take me to the airport- I felt sick. I still had adventure ahead of me, Asia was calling, but all I wanted was to stay.
Looking back, it wasn’t real love. It was a summer love. I had loved the people I met, the things I’d seen and the places I’d stayed but I’d been backpacking for four weeks, I didn’t know who Australia really was underneath all that. It was a whirlwind romance. Nothing more.
I put Australia out of my mind. I met Asia, I distracted myself with new places and new people and when the time came to go home, I waved it off sadly and fondly but I knew it was time.
Three years later and I was leaving England for the summer to spend a month in Berlin. I had been before for a weekend and loved it but that was years ago and I couldn’t remember why. Within a few days, it hit me. This was true love. Berlin was cool and laid-back and different to anywhere else I had met before. It always wanted to do something and suggested fun activity after fun activity. It helped me to relax for the first time in ages, although after less than a week, I was panicking about having to say goodbye at the end of the summer. Soon I had moved into a flat and started a new routine, going to school four mornings a week. The rest of the time, Berlin kept me entertained, sometimes just in front of the telly or going out for a meal and drinks, others exploring the city or discovering the clubbing scene. It took good care of me and was attentive to my every need.
I felt this was different to my Australia love. I wasn’t just a backpacker here, I saw what everyday living with Berlin could be like and I knew that that future was bright. But it couldn’t last, I had commitments at home and, soon enough, London was calling.
It took me a long time to move on, a long time to stop thinking about the city. Finally, almost a year later, I had a chance to go back for one brief meeting. As I descended into the U Bahn station, the smell of Berlin hit me. I can’t describe it to you but that smell, to me, is just Berlin; rushing to school after I’d overslept, sitting around on the way back from a club, having just missed the train and having to wait an age for the next one, seeing more people holding bottles of beer than not- it all came flooding back. But it wasn’t the same.
I couldn’t be a tourist in Berlin anymore- I couldn’t keep it light. I was only there for a short time so I didn’t feel like I could lie in. I needed to get relatively early nights so I could be up and out and make the most of my time with the city- but I’d done most of the things I had wanted to do. Deep down, all I wanted was to relax with the city and go back to the way it was when we had time together, but the only way I can do that is if I commit and go to Berlin without an end date but that would mean walking away from a different dream- my London dream, my first love and I’m not sure I can. I should try to make it work with London first. Perhaps, one day, Berlin and I will live happily ever after but, sadly, it is not this day.
This article has since been featured by The Responsible Traveler