As of Wednesday, I'm off. Not permanently, of course (although there is more on that theme to unfold). Just for a few days, I am going on what can, I think, be described as my first ever minibreak; which is to say, I'm not going for a week, or 10 days. I'm going for four. To Berlin. And I can't wait.
It's an extravagant thing to do, particularly since, when I booked, I had plans for a long-haul holiday to follow in February (plans which have subsequently been shelved). I was supposed to be existing strictly on a London-only basis. But my boyfriend had been pestering me about it, and we managed to find a deal online.
I've always thought it a waste of an airfare, flying out to visit a place for less than a week. This isn't, of course, entirely logical; after all, the longer you stay, the greater your accommodation costs. But whatever, just this once I've decided to make an exception. That's because I love Berlin. I went this time last year for the first time. There are all kinds of reasons to find the city enchanting: the exceptionally friendly and polite people, the huge volume of trees (it's Europe's greenest city, after all), the glut of quality restaurants, bars and cafes. And, of course, it is a city which loves its cake. And there are few things I love more than cake. So we were meant to be.
Still. It's not just a match of the scenic (or culinary) kind. Berlin, more than any city I've visited, is brilliantly set up for the budget-conscious. That's me. Accommodation is easy. There are hostels aplenty, yes, but far better, and better value, are the series of apartments to rent around the city. Last year, we stayed in a loft in the fashionable area of Kreuzberg. This year, on an even smaller budget, we're renting a room in Prenzlauerberg. We'll have wifi, a mini-kitchen and a balcony! All for less than the YMCA.
And there are plenty of activities to be done on the cheap. On our first day last year we took a three-hour walking tour of the city. For free! Our guide was a font of information, and we needed pay what only we felt able. The public transport system is simple, functional and affordable. Even the taxis cost less than in London. As for all the parks, and street art, well, they're freely available to whoever chooses to look. And, next week, that will be me.