Alice-Azania Jarvis: Berlin is the best and it's cheaper than you think
In The Red
Alice Jolly is an author, playwrite and teaches creative writing at Oxford University. She is crowd-funding her own memoir of infertility and surrogacy with the publisher Unbound. 50 per cent of the proceeds of the book will be donated to SANDS (The Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Foundation).
Saturday 19 November 2011
Ah Berlin. It was fabulous, as expected. And affordable, as expected. Perhaps not quite as affordable as I might have hoped – but still, for my first ever mini-break, it wasn't bad at all. There are all sorts of reasons why Berlin is my favourite city in the world (well, favourite bar New York, where I worked for five months once, and which I fell utterly in love with). It isn't crowded in the way that London is. There's not the mad rush on the underground or the hustle for space on the pavement. In this respect – and in others – it is a uniquely civilised place. Calm, picturesque, abidingly liveable.
The old cliché of things working, trains running on time, streets being clean, still rings true – though whether that's down to some innate Bavarian impulse or, more likely, the combination of space and good governance, isn't clear. Whatever, the outcome is a pleasant one. Come nightfall, there's not the feeling of squalor that takes over London's streets. It's also bohemian in a way that such efficiency can sometimes preclude. The fashion capital of Germany may be Düsseldorf, but Berlin is not short of the avant-garde. In clothes, in art, in architecture, in its café culture and excellent restaurants, Berlin demonstrates the kind of casual good taste more often associated with Paris or Rome.
It's also green. The greenest city in Europe, apparently. Maybe that's why I didn't spot a single teenager loitering on the street corner. There's no shortage of parks and playgrounds. Everyone cycles everywhere. And they don't risk life or limb for it, since there are cycle lanes on virtually every pavement.
But most importantly, it is affordable. Not just because of the exchange rate – because life in Berlin, no matter what currency you're using, is affordable. As an underpopulated city, there are plenty of flats lying empty. Of course, that can only mean one thing: property is cheap. Or, if not quite cheap, then at least much more manageable than over here. Rent costs a fraction of what it would in the UK. It's not the only thing. Like so many European countries, wine is cheap too. As is coffee and good food. And, given that everyone cycles everywhere, there's little need for transport – but when there is that's cheap and efficient too.
Back in London, my wallet feels suddenly tight. But for four days of living, Berlin-style, it's worth it.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
- 1 Jeremy Clarkson 'sees no problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
- 2 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 3 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 4 London restaurant 34 creates champagne glass modelled on Kate Moss’ left breast
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
iJobs Money & Business
£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...
£20000 - £30000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Junior D...
£550 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Traded Credit Risk - Investmen...
£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...
Day In a Page
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony