When we finally escaped from our COVID odyssey in Argentina, we figured we would probably have a few months of quiet recuperation before launching our next adventure. We never anticipated that it would be over a year until we wrote another blog post here, but to our surprise we have been far too busy with a wholly unanticipated adventure to find the time to write something.
Somehow, in the middle of the pandemic, we both got job offers in Berlin. We packed two bags and brought two bikes with us to start a new life in a new city. At the time Germany was in the middle of a COVID lockdown, and just a few days before snow blanketed the city and made an eerily quiet Berlin even more lifeless and quiet than usual, we arrived at a small, cramped apartment in Berlin Wedding to complete our mandatory ten days of quarantine.
At this point we had already stopped counting how many cumulative days of quarantine we had completed (somewhere around 130 maybe?), so another ten days was a piece of cake. Lisa wasn’t feeling quite herself, however, and on day eleven when we could finally go free, she went to the doctor. A couple of hours later she called Elliott to share the news that she was pregnant.
No home. No health insurance. No family. No friends. No income from the previous year. No parental benefits.
Berlin and a baby.
While some birth control is meant to be 99.9% effective but can still fail, even if the odds had been 99.9% stacked against us we were still confident that we would be able to pull through. After the challenges we had gone through together in Argentina, how hard could pregnancy and child rearing be??
So we got to work. We messaged hundreds of apartments and made sure we sounded as desperate as possible (“homeless, pregnant, immigrant couple”). Apartment: check. We scoured the biggest German classifieds site and “zu verschenken” boxes to search for free furniture and baby stuff and used our bikes, free cargo bikes, the U-Bahn, and a car sharing app to fan out across Berlin to pick it all up. Essentials: check. Plus the silver lining of our super budget approach was that we actually got to see quite a bit of the city.
As most people who have rented an apartment in Germany already know, seemingly standard things like kitchens and light fixtures typically aren’t included, so we had to find all of that too. We bought a mix of new and second hand tools, disassembled a kitchen in another flat, and got to work making things fit into our new home.
For the first couple of months after we arrived in Berlin we were busier than we ever have been, but the clock was ticking and every day Lisa got more pregnant was one day closer to her not being able to help lift things like couches and washing machines.
And then, just as summer was around the corner, a day arrived where we felt settled, or at least settled enough. Instead of spending our time picking up a water kettle in Spandau and or chair in Reinickendorf, we got to start spending our days enjoying the city. Parks, museums, bicycle trips, friends, and visits from family… and every day Lisa’s belly got bigger and bigger.
And how is Berlin? To be honest, it’s a bit of a shit hole. It’s not pretty, people are unfriendly, and nothing works. But on the other hand, it’s full of all sorts of people doing weird and interesting things, it’s overflowing with the marks and scars of modern history, and it has a certain grungy charm as one of the world irreplaceable metropolises… So all in all it’s certainly interesting! We have a cozy home in a great location, a few friends, and still lots left to explore, so we are quite happy for now.
And now, after six months of building a new life up from scratch with growing anticipation for our new travel partner…
We now have our little baby surprise, Tilda.
Up next: tips and tricks on how to travel the world with a baby in tow!