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Day 24: Berlin

Courtesy of Zoë Noble Photography

Back in Berlin. Back in the bath. The first adult-sized bath I’ve sat in for at least three weeks.

Don’t worry — this isn’t the prelude to some sizeist rant against Japanese people, more an observation that they’re either fans of sit-up soaks, experts at optimising their limited space, or just not obsessed with luxuriating in bubbles like they’re Bridget bloody Jones or something.

(Side note: Zoë re-watched Bridget Jones’s Diary on the flight home, and says that they dubbed over an anti-Japanese slur, along with all the swears. If you’re selecting films to screen, and taking care to censor them, surely it’s best to stick to ones that don’t contain any xenophobic remarks directed towards your specific race?)

My point: there is more space here. I can stretch my arms up without hitting the ceiling. It takes me more than five steps to get from one end of my apartment to the other. There are a bunch of buildings between me and the street. And when I get to it, there’s a wide pavement, room enough for cars to pass each other, and it could be a full minute before I run into another person.

This reminds me of when we first moved from London to Berlin. We were astonished by the sense of space, both physical and psychological. Don’t get me wrong — I appreciate our time spent in the Big Smoke, building careers and making friends. And I loved our Asian adventure. But it’s good to be back where we belong.

Sure, we didn’t want our trip to be over. On the other end of that was our beloved dog, but also work and obligations, and a life that entails more than experiencing brand new things, and documenting them with our photos and thoughts.

Courtesy of Zoë Noble Photography

On our last night in Tokyo, walking back from our final super-mega arcade session — Tekken 7 was not kind to us — we Googled the cost of living, and talked about moving there. Not forever, maybe just for a year. We wondered aloud how weird it would be, and if we’d encounter the dark side of Japan that Irish barman had warned us about. It would be eye-opening and rewarding and inspiring.

But we need our space. In Berlin, we’ve built a life that affords us time for dog walks and the occasional messy night out, and activities outside of work. We need room to live and breathe and slowly consume our coffee and cake. Yes, we want to go on more adventures, but for now, we’re happy to be back at basecamp.

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