Postcard from... Berlin

The first morning of the year in Berlin never feels like the start of something. In the aftermath of the party, the remains of a million and more fireworks strewn across the pavements and parks, the empty bottles and the piles of fag ends, the resolute joggers picking their way through the wreckage, it feels more like the final staggering steps of the previous twelve months than a new dawn. The streets, so full of noise and smoke and people in the early hours are now deserted, so much so that those joggers get polite greetings from strollers and dog walkers, a conspiracy of friendliness between the early risers that is usually absent in the anonymity of the city.

Slowly the rest of Berlin wakes, checking the weather through the curtains or from apartment balconies. It doesn’t matter what the reality is, New Year’s Day always feels in the memory as if it was grey, no wind or weather to speak of, as if that too is taking a few hours off. In this city where brunch is routinely served until 4pm the breakfast period stretches on into the evening. The shops are shut. Some restaurants too.

“Our cafe is closed today on account of yesterday…” reads a sign in the window. New Year’s Day? Nah… the city agrees: it can start tomorrow.