Una Rose – Author

Putting the world to write!

A Trip to Remind Me Who I am!

berlinsam & I

It has been a terrific week for me, catching up with friends who literally live on the other side of the world! Yesterday I met with an old school friend who now lives in Perth Australia for lunch in London. And the previous weekend, I hooked up with friends from Hong Kong in Berlin, including one pal who flew in the from the States for our reunion. We were friends in our twenties and it was lovely how we seemed quickly to revert to our carefree characters of that era when away without husbands and children! We also realised how enriching it was to be around like-minded people, truly international and with a very different outlook to the people we are now surrounded by where we are settled.

We were able also to reflect on the past 20 years (and how fast they have flown by!) and how actually so much we have all achieved in that time. All of us still travel for pleasure and work, our kids are also quite culturally engaged as a result and have a passion for languages, different foods and travel, ditto the men we have married. It shows in our job choices too, as two of us are writers, one runs an international business and is also a franchisor of several brands and the other one is a pioneer in China, selling and purchasing components for a British manufacturer.

Berlin was a perfect place to meet up as it is also a truly international centre. Divided by the Cold War, it is now using this unusual division of a city to its advantage, sympathetically telling the story of the Berlin Wall with a variety of free museums, sections of the wall and other monuments including a deliberately disorientating holocaust memorial to make you focus on that horror.

It is also becoming the party city of Europe! Hip bars in hard to find, way out places give the city its allure and excitement. We decided to check out one tiny joint, called The Green Door which is hidden away in the east of the city in Winterfeldtstr. The fact that we were turned away first attempt at midnight as it was full to capacity made it even more appealing and after a few cocktails in a nearby cafe, we returned and greeted with real genuine warmth by its young bar team who took many crazy pictures of themselves with our phones before turning the lens on us. I would have loved us to stay til closing (at 4am!) but the other ladies with a heck of a lot more energy than myself, were on for a dance and so we found ourselves at Havana a happening salsa and hip-hop club hidden in a housing estate, which rocks on until 9am! We bailed out at around 4am, showing our age, and then began the hunt for somewhere to eat. While you can party til dawn, strict laws on shops in Germany means it is harder to eat late in the night. The kebab stall run by a man from Kurdistan provided a memorable meal for two of our gang, while myself and the other went to bed hungry knowing a hearty lunch in canteen next to our hotel would be our salvation the next day. Having several food intolerances, meaning beer and bread are out of the question, I was always wary of a trip to Germany but Berlin isn’t typical of the country.

By the end of the weekend, we were all ready to return home as stamina is not our thing anymore! But now we are determined not to let another 20 years fly by before catching up, and even my friends in my home town are curious of my trip and want to know more. Travel certainly broadens the mind and you are a changed person (for the better) I like to think. On my taxi ride to the airport I had hoped to catch up on a nap but my driver was such an interesting guy. His family had fled the war in Lebanon in the 1960s. As he was a very young boy when we began school in West Berlin and recalled all the hugs he received from strangers when the East Berliners came flooding through once the wall “fell”. He has a German wife and his kids have grown up speaking German, Arabic and French, and of course English which is taught daily in German schools. I told him I’d love one day to go to Lebanon, and he said: “Me too!” He is now effectively a refugee from his home place and yet it too has become a refuge for people fleeing Sudan and Syria. Lebanon has only a population of 3 million and has accepted over 1 million refugees. “I am glad my country can do this,” he told me as I thought about all the hatred spouted by the many people I encounter in Britain, who have a fear of immigrants. “I love people from wherever they come from,” he added. And I realised I had met another kindred person.

If I can teach anything to my children, it is go out there, discover the world and be a better person for it!


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