Bye Miami, Hello Berlin (For Now)…

Filed Under: Travel

Hallo aus Deutschland! It has been a busy couple of weeks, so let me provide a bit of background, as I’m about 5,000 miles from my usual home of Miami, and will be for a while…

My mom has been in Germany for months

Earlier this summer my mom made the decision to return to Germany for an extended period of time.

For a bit of background, in May 2019 my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After 18 rounds of chemo and two surgeries where she endured more than I ever could, she is doing better than we could have ever hoped, and we couldn’t be more grateful for that.

While many of us started self-isolating in March, my mom has basically been doing so since she got diagnosed last year, given her chemotherapy. She has finally gotten some quality of life back in recent months, and then coronavirus happened…

She also lives in Florida, and a few months back she made the decision to return to Germany for a variety of reasons (for what it’s worth, she’s a German citizen and US permanent resident):

  • First and foremost, she felt safer in Germany than in Florida, given everything going on; Florida became the coronavirus hotspot, and she lives in a building where she has to take the elevator, so she just completely stopped leaving home
  • Most of her family and friends are in Germany, and she hadn’t been able to see them during her treatment

Even though coronavirus is obviously also a thing in Germany, it’s more under control. My mom has been really happy here, and I’m thrilled she made the decision she did. Frankly, a year ago she thought she’d likely never make it back to Germany to see her relatives and friends, so that has made this all the more special.

Why did we decide to come to Germany?

In July we traveled to Turkey, which was our first international pandemic trip, and on the way home we stopped in Germany to visit my mom. I’m lucky enough to have dual citizenship, which allows Ford and me entry into the European Union. Of course we got tested upon arrival, as is required for everyone arriving in Germany from a “high-risk” country. It was so great to not only see my mom, but also to see her so happy.

Ford loves languages, and when we arrived in Germany he started studying German… and he hasn’t stopped since.

Fast forward several weeks, and we’ve relocated to Germany. What exactly caused this? For one, there were a few factors that gave us a lot of flexibility we didn’t initially think we’d have:

  • We were supposed to be moving next month (to a new place in Miami), but the timeline for that has been delayed by several months due to coronavirus
  • The lease was up for both the apartment we were living in and for our car, so we had the flexibility to go anywhere
  • Ford, Winston, and I packed our bags (well, Ford and I packed bags, and Winston just kept taking his toys out of suitcases), and put our remaining belongings in storage for the time being

For at least the next few months we’re not in any way tied to Miami. We’ve rented a place in Germany for at least the next couple of months, so how did we arrive at that decision?

  • Going to Germany would allow us to spend more quality time with my mom
  • Ford wants to become fluent in German, and like I said, he has been studying for hours per day since we returned to the US in early August; he has even enrolled in over four hours of daily German lessons for the next couple of months (suffice to say that one of us loved school back in the day, while the other hated school…)
  • As a young kid I spent my summers in Germany, though as an adult I’ve spent very little time here; I look forward to speaking more German again, and also seeing family beyond my mom, which I largely haven’t seen in a few years

There are a few other considerations, but I think those are the main points…

Bottom line

We’re not sure exactly how long we’ll be in Germany for, but it will be for at least several weeks. We’ve rented a place in Berlin for the immediate future, but after that we may try another German city, depending on how things go. We still don’t know exactly when our new place in Miami will be ready.

I’m excited about this in the sense that it’s an adventure and something we’d probably never otherwise do, as I’m a creature of habit and hate moving. However, the above factors combined, along with the ability to spend time with my mom, made this the right decision for us at this point.

Now, don’t get too jealous. We’re not going to Berlin in summer, where the weather is perfect while it’s painfully hot in Miami. Rather this was a counter-seasonal “move” — within a few weeks we’ll have given up the beautiful winter of Miami for the dark and cold winter of Berlin. I intentionally avoid cold weather at almost all costs, so I’m curious to see how that goes.

I’ll be sure to write about our experience here, including my take on how coronavirus is being handled, what it’s actually like “living” here for more than a few days in a hotel, and I’ll also have the occasional hotel review for when we travel somewhere nearby (though we rented a place specifically so that we wouldn’t be encouraged to move around too much, and so that we can actually get to know this city).

I suppose one travel related experience I should review is the opening of the new Brandenburg Airport in the coming weeks. After all, this is quite a historic occasion…

If anyone has any Berlin tips, I’d certainly welcome them!

Comments
  1. Wow! Glad you’re around Europe for a bit…coronavirus is alive and kicking here, though Germany does seem to be spared. Best of luck, and praying for your mom!

  2. HI Ben,

    Can you let me know the school Ford is using to learn German. My wife and I are hoping moving to Dusseldorf in the next few weeks. Also did you apply for long term residency in Germany for Ford?

    Vito

  3. @ Ryan — Of course! Have already spent a couple of hours trying to figure out best way to do that, and we have a plan. I’ll fly back to the US for a day to vote if I have to (but I hope it doesn’t come to that).

  4. Willkommen to good old Germany! Wenn Ihr mal nach Hamburg kommen solltet seid ihr zu ner Insider-City-Tour eingeladen!

  5. Hi Ben.

    I’m visiting a former exchange student in Berlin at the end of November. If you and Ford are still there, would love to meet for a drink and catch up!

    Gilbert
    aka dcgators on FlyerTalk

  6. Ben:

    Make sure you apply for a ballot to be emailed to you and Ford. You can fax them back per Florida law.

  7. Willkommen!

    I literally just returned home from Berlin last night after taking part in the new airport’s operational testing procedures. If only I had known you were in town… then again, you’re probably still limiting social interaction currently.

    If you ever need some Hamburg tips make sure to hit me up!

  8. This is awesome Ben – sounds like a great new adventure, and I’m sure your mom is so happy to have you guys close to her. If there was ever a time to take advantage of dual EU citizenship, this is it. Wouldn’t blame you for staying for good in all honesty. I do want to second Ryan though – hope you guys made arrangements for absentee ballots for Florida.

    Enjoy and be well!

  9. That’s awesome! I’ve been doing duolingo (1 lesson per day) and made it to the end of section 7 but can’t speak a word of it bc I’ve been doing the bare minimum.

  10. Funny, it’s been the other way around for me, just spent a few days in Berlin last month, now happy to be back home in MIA!
    I hadn’t been to the city in decades but it felt way too spread out for me. Stayed in Grunewald, which was nice. I did enjoy the area around Hackesche Höfe, lots of things to do: https://www.visitberlin.de/en/hackesche-hofe
    But, by no means a Berlin expert, there are other people here that know much better.
    Enjoy, and I know you will be back over here soon, no way that you could possibly survive a Berlin winter….
    Cheers!

  11. If you like history, Berlin is one of the best history museum cities in the world. All that WWII/Cold War stuff!

    Also, EAT ALL THE DONER!

  12. Congratulations! Smart move (literally) to move from Florida. DeSantis just basically removed all restrictions today.

    Hopefully we can get another happy hour soon! Maybe a dinner/brunch one on a Sunday?

  13. Did you use a site or service for your rental? I’m planning on spending next Summer in Berlin and would love to know!

  14. Herzlich willkommen in Deutschland!

    I hope you’ll enjoy your time here. Berlin is a really multi faceted city and has much more to offer beside the famous Hipster/ party area in Mitte/ Kreuzberg and the Standard must-see sights.

    Charlottenburg offers beautiful restaurants and bars, Zehlendorf and Köpenick are the areas with nice lakes and woods. And not to forget the city of Potsdam where currently the 30 year anniversary of Germany’s re-unity is celebrated … definitely worth seeing.

    You’ve got my email address, so if you don’t know what to do and like to hang out a bit with a Berlin native, just drop me an email.

  15. Hey Lucky, Herzlich Willkommen hier in Deutschland. Hopefully international travel will become possible again for everyone in the not too distant future. One thing you forgot to mention: in Berlin you have public transport you wont find in many US cities, may be except NYC. Viel Spaß in Berlin! Josh

  16. First of all Love and Good Luck to Mother
    Second smart move.
    Berlin is a truly wonderful city. As a Brit living in Canada I get it.
    With the new so called ‘morals’ in the USA I am sure you are safer and happier in Germany

  17. @ Barney — We rented through “Coming Home,” since it was a (relatively) long term rental. The place we rented was also available through Airbnb, but the rate was better through Coming Home given the longer rental period.

  18. @ Vito — Let me ask him, I’m not actually sure the name of the school, I know he’s just going to be gone for half of the day. 😉 As far as the long-term residency goes, we’re still deciding on that. It’s something that can be done here (based on conversations with German consulate in Miami), and we’ll ultimately decide based on the timing of our new home and also where else we might otherwise go.

  19. Great to hear about your Mom, all the best to her and your family.

    I am very jealous, I’d like to do the same, but with Ireland. Figuring out logistics has been tough, though.

  20. My parents are from Hamburg. While I was born in US, I was raised in Hamburg as a kid and have spent many vacations there, sometimes 2-3 months at a time. I retired at 55 a few years ago, and may, in November, be considering a relocation to Germany.

  21. Thanks also to everyone for the kind words and nice wishes for my mom… it means a lot, and we’re very grateful. 🙂

  22. Note: This comment contains false information about voting in U.S. elections

    @Ben — voting in a US election as a German citizen is fraud.

    Unless of course you plan to vote Trump 🙂

  23. @Lucky When I lived abroad, I voted using an absentee ballot.

    You can vote absentee if abroad and request your ballot through the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA).

    You just need to email the FPCA to your local board of elections and then you’ll receive a ballot that you can print out. After, you can mail (or fax in some states) your ballot back. If you would like to mail your ballot, I think you’re able to drop it off at your local US consulate and they’ll mail it for you (at least in normal times…you’ll probably want to confirm with your consulate). You should use the last address you lived at as your voter residence.

    https://www.fvap.gov/citizen-voter/overview
    https://www.fvap.gov/florida

    Since you just moved, it may be worth calling up your local board of elections just to confirm that this is the right way to vote.

  24. I wish the best for your mom.

    My lease is up in Miami as well, I’m thinking about the Hyatt promos, I might do a month at the hotel between apartments.

  25. Willkommen zuhause, Ben! Hier ist es sowieso am schönsten!

    I was already wondering why you started writing even earlier on the day in recent weeks.

    If the two of you would like to “try” another German city, take Cologne. The people are especially tolerant here. And only we have such an impressive two-tower cathedral!

  26. Herzlich willkommen in Deutschland! You’ll have a great time in Berlin. You should then move to Munich 😉

    I honestly can’t wait to hear any travel tips and ways to collect miles & points in Germany that you may discover.

    Most importantly i hope your mum continues to have a lovely time back home.

  27. Willkommen! Da habt ihr euch leider die schlechteste Jahreszeit ausgesucht, Berlin im Winter ist nicht schlimmer als Berlin sonst.
    Aber Familie ist das Wichtigste und wenn ihr hier Alle zusammen sein könnt, ist das doch toll.
    But you will have to get used to the Berlin idea of “polite” 😉

  28. A few suggestions:

    – Book yourself on AF1235 on Nov. 8 (last scheduled flight out of TXL)
    – If you don’t like the cold, spend some time in the wine-growing regions, the weather is considerably more friendly than in Berlin. My personal favorite is the Mosel (Moseltal), but Rheinhessen, Franken, and the Schwarzwald are great, too.
    – In Berlin, don’t just focus on the hipster hotspots like Neukölln. I suggest to hang out and eat out in places like Wedding.

    Greetings from FRA!

  29. If you want to catch up with some of the local frequent fliers in Berlin, there’s a Vielfliegertreff group you can join. They meet monthly around Berlin for Stammtisches, and are a great bunch of people. Lots of fun and great conversations.

    Also if you like cocktails, Mr. Susan should be your first stop. The place is amazing and the team there a lot of fun. Tell them Phil from Switzerland sent you. 🙂

    Also if you haven’t done it the tour of Tempelhof is great too.

  30. Germany is amazing. Have lived here for a few years now and quite glad I made the decision after seeing all that’s happened in the US this year. Let me know if you ever make it to Frankfurt!

  31. Congrats to you! So happy for you that you have the ability to make this move.

    How did Winston get over there? Did he have to quarantine?

  32. Congrats, guys! Sending more good, healing wishes to your mom. Can we please get a trip report “by Winston” for the move across the pond?!

  33. @Reginald- if your permanent residence is in Florida, and you are temporarily relocated while planning to re-establish permanent residency there, you can vote in Florida. As long as you don’t vote anywhere else!

    This is why college students have the option to vote at their parents home, or they can declare their residency at their college home and register to vote there.

  34. Herzlich willkommen in Deutschland.

    Schön, dass ihr da seid.

    Ich bin ein großer Fan wird Blogs und lebe auch in Berlin.

    Vielleicht kann man sich ja mal auf einen Drink treffen.

    Liebe Grüße

    Tim

  35. If you spent any time in Seattle in the winter while you lived here, you already know what it’s going to be like. 😉

    I can recommend TiER in Neukölln and Bar Immertreu in Prenzaluer Berg.

    Looking forward to the Berghain trip report, lol!

  36. Congratulations on your move Ben! Berlin is a place I have been meaning to go back to for awhile now since I always enjoyed its history, and all that it has to offer. Being close to your mom as she gets better and being able to spend quality time with her, is a decision you’ll never regret!

  37. Your mom is looking so great! Glad she’s able to be back in Germany with a wider support network – mental well being is so so so important with treatment and recovery in cancer and other serious injuries and diseases.

  38. Congrats on the move! How was traveling internationally with Winston? We’ve done domestic several times with our pup, but have been considering extended time internationally and would like to bring him along.

  39. My favorite European country and one of my favorite cities. Being close to Poland, Czech Republic, and Austria, it provides a gateway to some beautiful areas and cultures. I also recommend the Neues Museum and the bust of Nefertiti.

  40. She has made an excellent choice. The German healthcare system will take very good care of her, of that I’m certain, and probably for much less than what she’d have to pay in the US!

    I thought about moving to Germany myself after a particularly fateful referendum in 2016, but their air link to the rest of the world is very poor compared to London. So as long as I want to travel the world, I guess I’m here for the long run. Oh well, could be worse

  41. Wow congrats! That sounds like an amazing experience. First and foremost all the best to your mom – I’m glad she’s doing so well and she looks radiant in that picture (and so do you guys).
    Is your mom permanently relocating? I’m curious because my immigration situation is identical to hers, and if you spend too much time outside the US in a year you can lose your Green Card.

    I also wonder if you guys will get a taste of the good life in Europe and not want to come back here 😉 . Glad you have plans to vote too!
    Enjoy!

  42. Love Berlin.
    I’m dual national, so considering move in Nov also.
    1st choice Netherlands….Brexit protocols going forward still a little unclear.

    Have a wonderful time, don’t forget to vote! and all best wishes to your mom.
    E

  43. I wouldnt necessarily consider Berlin to be a great representation of Germany. It´s a multicultural hodge podge but not a good one. Maybe Düsseldorf or Hamburg, maybe Dresden, Münster or Leipzig are places I would rather recommend.

  44. Well this is the right choice in this matter of course. Who would not want the opportunity to live in Berlin and be near family and friends at this moment.

  45. Good for you! I’m all for adventures but share the hatred for cold weather. Thank Ford for me again for booking Egerton House Hotel next July. He’s great to work with. Enjoy your time with your Mom! I lost mine when it was 15 so envy you that. She looks great.

  46. I wonder if Ben (Lucky) will be subject to German income tax?

    I know nothing about northern Germany so any coverage of Hamburg, Hannover, Bremerhaven, or Bremen would be welcomed!

  47. Id love to see a report about long haul travel with Wiston and his experience in Europe!
    Good luck in Germany!

  48. Great! We were just in Berlin at the Grand Hyatt (thanks to Ford for the Prive reservation!) The museums are all great, as is the zoo (Tiergarten; not the Tierpark which is in the East). Come to Bayern in the winter, the Alps make the cold bearable!

  49. Willkommen 😉 wenn ihr es mal wieder halb ins Ausland in den Freistaat (nach München) schafft, gebe ich gerne eine Tour und würde mich über den Austausch von spannenden Reisegeschichten freuen!
    Stay healthy and cheers till then

  50. Hi Ben,

    Welcome to my home town!

    Berlin is for sure a food city but I don’t even know how many restaurants are currently opened.

    One of my favourite little French places is La Cantine d‘Augusta. Love the breakfast and the dinner there.

    There are so many good Spanish restaurants but I really like Bar Raval but as I said there are so many good Tapas places.

    Otherwise Hugo is an amazing to have some dinner.

    Good place for some drinks could be the bar in the 25h hotel. Pretty cool views over the zoo.

    Regarding some things you should visit if you are historically interested is the Stasi museum which gives you a good overview of the secret service in the former GDR.
    Also any of the museum are pretty cool! I love the German Museum of technology.

    If you guys want to treat yourself take the train or a rental to the Spreewald and enjoy the amazing spa’s and little boats you can take there. It might be worth spending a night there.

    Another nice place to visit is Potsdam. Just take the S7 and go all the way to the end. Potsdam has a beautiful castle which you can visit. Maybe something you can do with your mother!

    Hope that helps!

  51. Good for you and your family to get out of a failed state while you still could.

    I assume you’ll be reviewing train services now? I look forward to that!

  52. Try the new 5* Hotel „The Fontenay“ in Hamburg! You will love it!!! Great rooms, unbelievable spa and a perfect service! And I am NOT working for them!

  53. Note: This comment contains false information about voting in U.S. elections, and U.S. residency.

    Living there and voting here makes you a POS. On the upside, unless she planned very carefully, your mother is going to lose her permanent residency here, so there’s that.

  54. @ Voter Fraud — I think that this is what they call “fake news.”

    a) Could you please explain to me how I’m a POS for voting when I’m spending a few months abroad, when I’m a US taxpayer who has lived in the US my whole life? To be clear, I could live abroad permanently and still be entitled to vote in the US. Oh, wait, I think I get what you’re saying, it makes sense now. The widespread “voter fraud” we’re being warned about is actually just… people exercising their legal right to vote?
    b) My mom won’t be outside the US for more than several months. There’s no “very careful” planning required.

    Usually I wouldn’t approve a comment with as much misinformation as yours, but it also perfectly exemplifies why voting in this upcoming election is so important to me…

  55. My wife and I are scheduled to do a 5-month sabbatical in Berlin starting April 2021, so I will be very interested when you post about what the Covid-19 situation is like there.

  56. I am also a dual German/ U.S. citizen and grew up in Berlin during the cold war. I live in Atlanta now but travel to Berlin frequently to visit my ailing Mother. It is not easy to enter Germany now due to Covid 19 restrictions. Luckily, Frankfurt Airport has a quick results test Center which relieves one from quarantine upon receipt of a negative result within 3 hours.

    Your comment about the pleasant Berlin summers may be misleading, since virtually NONE of German condos or houses have air conditioning. And, Berlin has experiencing many heat waves with 90 degrees plus temperatures.

    I am surprised noone in this blog reply trail has mentioned the incredible food floor in the KaDeWe Department store. It is the best in the World..

  57. For the commenters about “voter fraud”: I am a US/Canadian dual citizen who has lived in Vancouver for more than 30 years. It is perfectly legal for me or any overseas US citizen to vote in the US (in the state where I last lived in the US). After all, the US still obliges overseas citizens to pay US taxes, and “no taxation without representation”, right?

  58. All the best to your mum! Seems she is in an exiting place in southern Germany to get well soon. She will recover quicker knowing her son is around!
    Let us know when you are in or around Munich then I can guide you around as I am a 1,5 years old frequent traveller, too <3.

  59. @ Ryan — Winston is with us in Berlin. I can report firsthand that even dogs that sleep 18 hours per day can get jetlagged.

  60. @ Tom — KaDeWe is a great tip. My gosh, absolutely gorgeous setup, and the pesto and lavender cheese from there was incredible.

  61. I wish you and your family all the best and especially to your mother who looks happy and well, Im sure you’ll manage the winter, there lots of places you could escape to if it gets too much

  62. Herzlich willkommen in Deutschland! Ihr habt die richtige Entscheidung getroffen. Ich wünsche Ihnen beiden alles Gute und ein gutes Einleben in Berlin. Mit Deutschlernen – ich würde einen Kurs bei der Volkshochschule empfehlen. Wenn der Ford fleissig daran geht, könnte er bei B1 oder B2 eingestuft werden. Ich habe selber Deutsch als eine Fremdsprache gelernt (und es ist manchen Mal nicht einfach)… aber es geht mit der Zeit.

    Meine Empfehlungen in Bezug auf Sprachkurse:

    Für die VHS Berlin: https://www.sgd.de/kategorieseite/allgemeinbildung.html

    Goethe Institut: https://www.goethe.de/

    Das Beste, was man machen kann, ist einfach sprechen. Die Berliner sind toll. Danke für das Blog und alles Gute!

  63. Are there checkpoints at land borders? I’m a US resident and going to Holland in several weeks. Am I allowed to cross the border by car into Germany to visit friends? Will they stop me or require a COVID test? Or will someone make me fill out a quarantine form? Curious how this works in Germany when not flying.

  64. Ben, if you and Ford should ever wish to take a behind the scenes tour at Berlin‘s Natural History Museum (Museum für Naturkunde) let me know. You blog has been a great inspiration for me when planning business trips to SE Asia, so I would would be happy to give something back in return.

  65. Is it considered normal for American millionaires to be renting an apartment and leasing their car instead of owning these things outright?

  66. Jealous! Would do anything to be able to travel to Berlin right now and spend a day at Vabali –if you’ve never been, you’ve got to check it out. Might even open up the world of German/Austrian wellness/thermen hotels for you, if you haven’t been to those before. It’s like every stereotype about German efficiency applied to relaxation.

  67. Great news on your mom! Glad you are there with her. Have fun! And for what it is worth I AM jealous. I’d love to take a trip to Germany right now.

  68. I’m a Florida Resident and received my absentee ballot in the mail today 9/25. I already mailed it back, and live in Boca.

    Biden received my vote

  69. Ben, if you and Ford should ever wish to take a behind the scenes tour at Berlin‘s Natural History Museum (Museum für Naturkunde) let me know. You blog has been a great inspiration for me when planning business trips to SE Asia, so I would would be happy to give something back in return.

  70. So uplifting to see such a good son, family always first.

    How about getting a Eurorail 7 day pass and do a write up on some rail travel in Europe. Train to Barcelona for a few days at the beach , perhaps do the Swiss alps trips, Eurorail to London for a beer, or just go on the excellent German trains around Germany.

    If you want to spend 600 euro or so you can always get one world status on BA instead of AA for an interesting write up on several European cities. https://travel-dealz.eu/deal/british-airways-status-run/

  71. Welcome to Europe!

    When you want to go for a road trip, check out Poland, it’s just an hour drive from Berlin. Something different 🙂

    Enjoy your stay!

  72. Welcome to Berlin. Let’s grab a drink in my neighborhood of Friedrichshain. I’m another American living in this PHENOM city.

  73. Great post! I’m glad you get to spend more time with your family and your mom is doing better. Enjoy your time there!

  74. So cool! Haven’t been back to Berlin since I went through Checkpoint Charlie in ’86.

    Also, so cold! Whoever said Berlin’s winter was like Seattle is mistaken. Berlin’s a good 10 degrees F colder in the winter. Berlin’s more like Boston from Dec-Feb.

    Looking forward to reading about two people from Miami spending the winter there! Brrrrrr!

  75. Wow – a lot of comments in response already!
    Great to be with your Mom and great to hear she’s doing so well.
    Love Germany, except soccer 🙂

    Depending how long you’re there, be careful of double taxation requirements (not sure what they are specific to Germany, but def worth checking). And US citizens have to file US tax returns even if they spend years outside the US… though doesn’t appear you’re that far along in your thinking… yet! 🙂

  76. Hey Ben, Willkommen ! If you are interested to be invited for a pre opening BER airport tour in Oct 22 let me know by PN.

  77. Since you’re so close, you should definitely visit Poznan and Krakow in Poland. You will love both, Krakow more so. Also – Dresden in Germany is a gem!

  78. Welcome to Germany. Even though the weather won’t be as good as in Florida, you will have a great time here. If you like wine, I recommend a trip to the Rheingau. It’s beautiful on a sunny day during autumn time. I’m sure you also will love Christmas here Germany. Unfortunately, because of corona, many of the traditional Christmas markets will be canceled.

  79. Unfortunately I neither speak German nor am I an EU citizen otherwise I may join you. I’ve done some research whether I could retire there and it is possible.

    I wouldn’t pick Berlin but more like Munich.

    I’ve enjoyed my time there and am looking online for some job possibilities there (as a contractor for the military in various locations) before I retire.

  80. You ARE Lucky. 🙂

    We were meant to travel to Stuttgart at the end of the year but… no dual Citizenship to get us into the country, no time to quarantine, and then last week the event we were to attend was cancelled. I’ve been doing DuoLingo for six years and was so pleased to have a conversation with a non-English speaker last year when we visited. You and Ford are so fortunate to be able to practice with native speakers. 😀

  81. So excited for this next big adventure of yours!!! I hope to one day be as nimble as the two of you! Have fun!

  82. I’m so glad to hear that your mom is doing well! Best of luck to all of you. You might actually enjoy the cold rainy weather. I’ve about had my fill of Arizona for a while. I could do with some cold, we weather.

  83. First of all, glad your mother is doing better.
    Secondly, glad you are going to vote.
    Third, where is Winston?

  84. Smart move. Especially, that you get to spend more time with your mom. Hope she has a full recovery. All the best.

  85. I am planning a trip to Germany next month. I have a German passport. You say you got tested on arrival. I was reading that you can get tested for free on arrival in Frankfurt, but you have to stay in quarantine until the result is known, which could take 2-3 days. Were you free to travel in Germany after arrival and testing or did you have to wait for the results of the Covid19 test?

  86. Happy to learn your mom is doing so well!

    Enjoy your family – and Germany.

    Oh, and don’t miss gazing into the flawless face of the most beautiful woman in all of Berlin; 3,300 year-old Queen Nefertiti, at the Neues Museum.

  87. Herzlich Willkommen!

    Have you been to Münster yet? It is a lovely town.

    Sadly, there are just a few chain hotels. Mövenpick is alright and now belongs to Accor. But status benefits are limited.

  88. No need to rush back to vote in Florida. Trump has Florida well in hand and will win the state easily….

    In all seriousness, my mom had cancer too (bile duct) – best wishes for her health.

  89. @Marc

    I wanna join you guys. I want to go to a Hertha Berlin bundesliga match too

    OMAAT meetup post Covid in Deutschland.

  90. Great news! Have a good time settling in and please share your insights and experiences here. I am really eager to read how the two of you like it.
    Once you start exploring the country, make sure to check out Leipzig. Its just an hour on the ICE Train and a perfect weekend trip. I‘d be happy to show you around.
    All the best to your mom too!

  91. You made a smart move! If I were in your shoes, not being tied with a particular location because of a job, I would definitely get out of the US now. Especially, coronavirus is much more well managed in Germany and people are still able to enjoy every day life. Looking forward your updates!

  92. Yes, KaDeWe was a great place to get some quality food at reasonable prices. But I haven’t been there recently, and I assume they made some changes to the whole set up due to the coronavirus. Everything self-serve and/or by weight was probably replaced.

  93. Glad to hear your Mom is doing well!

    Hmmm what to do in Berlin – well you’d better eat some of the famous doner kebabs, they were invented there! Also have some currywurst, another local specialty.

    Lots of great things to do there, but for something quirky we enjoyed the Ampelmann museum/store. It celebrates the unique walk and stop figures used in the traffic lights of Berlin.

  94. I’m very happy for you guys. I wish that I hadn’t delayed getting my Italian passport. Best of luck to your family, especially your mother.

  95. Don’t get your hopes up what the BER opening is concerned. You might want to take up @Jürgen on his offer to give you a pre opening tour late in 2022. I once took part in a pre opening tour where we stood on one of the runways and an airport rep proudly asked us to imagine that only a few months later 380s and 747s would be landing and starting where we were standing – that was in March 2012!

    Aber Tegel ist ohnehin angenehmer und zentraler und bleibt uns vielleicht noch etwas länger erhalten. Genießen Sie Berlin und alle guten Wünsche Ihrer Mutter. Berlin hat viel zu bieten, erkunden Sie als erstes Ihren Kiez.

  96. Long time reader, first time commenter; really appreciate your site!

    Also a dual citizen currently visiting my grandparents in Germany after they have been isolated for half a year. Glad that you are able to spend time with your mom!

    Might I suggest Dresden or Leipzig in Saxony if you are looking for other cities. My family is originally from there and the cities are beautiful and recently rebuilt with incredibly nice people. They are also not too far by rail or car to stay close to your mother. And, if you stay into December, you could visit the famous Weihnachtsmarkt!

  97. Fantastic news, Ben! Really glad to hear your Mum is doing so well. Sounds like the ideal time to make the move for a while, so handy you have dual citizenship! Have a fantastic time in Germany!

  98. A prudent move. Anything could happen after the November election if the result is disputed. Glad your mother is doing well and you can be with her

  99. Ben, great news about your mother. Pumped to hear it. Been to Berlin once with friends in 16. Great city.

    Really enjoyed doner kebabs at Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap; Absolutely delicious and worth the wait. Try it if can. Best, Jimmy

  100. Nice to know your mom is doing great after the treatment in Germany. She looks very happy!

    Congrats on your new move, that too in Berlin of all places – man, I am so jealous. Germany is one of my fav countries, but Berlin is special. Our last trip prior to COVID was Berlin flying by SIA business from JFK! My wife loves Berlin so plan, she’s planning to buy a small apt. for our future move.

    You will love the city. museums, night life, bars and the towns around. Enjoy your stay, and best wishes for your family!

  101. I’m SO jealous….Love Berlin, love German….(I lived in Austria for a while)….would kill to be out of the US right now……I’m deeply scared of what’s coming! Enjoy your time with your Mom!

  102. Congrats on recognizing the opportunity in front of you and doing it, for all the reasons you wrote about. My husband and I have sorta similar flexibility in our lives and have not regretted our past decisions to move about and may do it again. Looking forward to reading your future posts and new perspectives.

  103. Glad to hear your mom is doing well. And now you moving close to her — no wonder she looks so happy.

    We were in Berlin last Sept. Beautiful city.

  104. So glad to hear your mom is doing better. I wish her all the best with happiness and love to fill her days going forward. Really cool you will be able to be near her. Stay safe and keep her safe!! Hopefully Germany will continue to handle the virus as well as possible. Wishing you all the best!!

  105. This was a big surprise but one that brings much happiness. it’s wonderful to hear your mom is doing well now and can spend meaningful time with loved ones, I commend you for being the son you are and moving to be near your mom.

    You have much wisdom. I think there will be a major exodus from the U.S. soon.

    Be sure to see the Berlin Philharmonic. We have a violinist acquaintance there who studied also with the same outstanding Russian-Jewish teacher.

    Best of everything to you! Keep up the good work with OMATT.

  106. Glad to hear that your mom is doing well. I enjoyed Berlin the last time I was there. Wish I had more time as the city is huge and just way too many museums to get through in less than a week. I guess one good reason to return in the future among others. Enjoy traveling through Europe. I love that your job allows you to pick up and go anywhere in the world. Maybe when covid is over, station yourselves in Tokyo or Bali for few months to change things up?

  107. Welcome to Berlin, where the current weather is just a foretaste of what’s to come in the next months…hopefully not
    Someone in the comments section mentioned to have taken part in the BER-Operational readiness an airport transfer trial runs that wrestling going on. So in addition to covering the opening you could register for Probebetrieb (ber-testen.de) and have a look at BER before it opens. Taking photos is encouraged. There may be waiting lists for some days but chances are high that you‘ll get a spot. Whatever Stefan and Jürgen say I’ll bet them this time it’s the real deal. 😉

  108. Glad to hear about your Mom. You…also put the smile on her face!

    No need to fly back to vote. Check with US Embassy/consulate and file online for an eBallot (FPCA) and you have to print and file the paperwork they send you by email. Then email or Postal Mail it back. US has to receive it by November 9 to be valid.
    You have plenty of time to vote.

  109. Great decision, especially in these trying times. We certainly have a much better handle on the pandemic right now although we also have our fair share of so-called „covidiots“ around. Sigh.

    Even as a local, I‘d recommend some other touristy things in addition to what has been mentioned already:
    – do some of the „Unterwelten“ tours exploring the Berlin underground. They are very interesting and available in German and English
    – Take the S1 train up north to Oranienburg and visit the concentration camp memorial Sachsenhausen. Very moving.
    – use the nicer autumn days exploring the various parks in Berlin, e.g. Tegeler Forst and Grunewald.
    – On Sundays, there‘s a street food market in Kulturbrauerei

    For food, try Prenzlauer Berg around Kollwitzplatz. All sorts of restaurants around there but quite a busy area.

    If you‘re into BBQ, book a BBQ course at Weber Grills at Hackescher Markt.

    And if you just wanna hang out (and don’t mind an active 2-year-old in tow), send me a PM.

  110. It’s great that you are able to do this for a few months, even though not the circumstances I would wish on my worst enemy. Ovarian cancer can be such a horrible disease, so even in remission it must be very difficult for your mum, and of course for you too. All my best wishes to all of you. It’s a chilly overcast spring day here, and winters here are not like Europe, but I know neither is like a Florida winter! Still, good heating and a good coat, beanie, scarf and gloves can make it bearable. Not so easy to adjust to the darkening mornings and afternoons, but there are always other things that compensate in a new city. Stay safe and make the most of it!

  111. I think you have a huge fanbase in Germany / Berlin and I think it would be a pleasure to have a meet up once the situation allows to meet people again.

    Wish you a great time in Berlin

  112. Herzlich Willkommen!

    right around the corner from the Westin Grand there is a great and hip restaurant called „Crackers“. I always go there on Berlin trips.
    https://goo.gl/maps/uSkJrp5AR2UMfc8i6

    Also if you are into Gourmet-Food i highly recommend „Restaurant Tim Raue“ which has 2 Michelin Stars and offers unique German/Asian FusionFood

    Enjoy the city and make sure to also take trips to Potsdam, Brandenburg an der Havel and all the surrounding water-rich areas.

  113. Recommend Hugos in the Intercontinental and Restaurant Tim Raue but actually my favourite restaurant in Berlin gets no mention in the Michelin guide at all. There are lots of decent places to eat in the Savignyplatz area but the best to my reckoning is Kushinoya in Bleibtreustrasse – the staff are mostly Japanese but the German employees were always required to be Japanese speakers too, so authenticity is guaranteed and the food is kushiage rather than the usual half-hearted sushi.

  114. Good for you, Lucky! I’ve been considering relocating myself to Japan for a few years now, as that is where my mom is from. I haven’t lived there since I was 5. I’m also lucky enough to have dual citizenship and would also feel safer overseas rather than the US.

    Would you consider yourself fully 100% fluent in German? For me, I’d say that I am fluent in Japanese; I understand grammar, syntax, and other intangible intricacies in the language. I just have a somewhat limited vocabulary because I mostly grew up in the US and my vocabulary hasn’t had as good of a chance to really progress beyond a childhood level. I guess for you you might be a little better since both of your parents speak German whereas for me it’s just my mom.

    I don’t know if you know much about the Japanese writing system but while the alphabet is no problem for me, I am also quite shakey on my Kanji (characters taken from Chinese that are words in and of themselves, as opposed to alphabet letters which just denote sounds and have no individual meaning). I’d guesstimate my knowledge of Kanji is only somewhere around a 3rd grade level. So, I’d really like to go back to Japan to improve my language a little bit.

  115. Hot tip:
    Flying out of TXL atm (as I did yesterday) regardless of class or status, you may only have ONE carry on item. This means most people are reluctantly being forced to check their wheely bags.
    Worth knowing this before traveling for a weekend etc.

  116. Best U.S. card for every day spend in Europe? I like the Hyatt card, AF/KLM card, and Virgin Atlantic card. Is the Citibank Premier looking more attractive? (Grocery spend 3x)

  117. Welcome to Europe. I don’t think it is safer here than in the USA though. In fact, I would rather be in USA right now since there is more room to move between the different states and more opportunities to go to remote areas. I’m not allowed to enter the USA right now, but as soon as that changes, I’m on the next flight. Looking at how covid-19 is handled in Europe I would not have make this decision though.

  118. BRAVO !
    What an idea..what a move….first for Mum..second for you three.
    If you ever have the chance visiting Kassel (where I was born) it is not to be misssed. One of the worlds greatest Rembrandt collections (besides others) in the Schloss Wilhelmshoehe..wonderful woods surrounding the city. Brilliant for an extended weekend in the spring.
    I wish you FOUR happy times in Berlin.
    Klaus (still in the UK)

  119. Good luck guys

    How did Winston travel? Could you get him in the cabin or did he have to go into the hold?

  120. Welcome to germany. Enjoy Berlin and the time Witz your Family.
    To can Visit the Curry Wurst Museum and eat a typical Curry Wurst from Berlin.
    Cheers from Frankfurt/Main

  121. I’d love that this meant you would start posting about hidden gems on credit cards points or ticket sales for those of us based in Berlin.

  122. Ben, you didn’t mention this, but I think you’ve made a safe choice being in Germany. The next few months will be a trying time in the USA. Who knows what might happen next month. I’m increasingly concerned something awful might occur. I’m considering moving temporarily to the UK. Enjoy your Mom and Ford and stay safe.

  123. When the weather is nice go to the 25h hotel to the roof top bar. I also like the Lang Bar (has a Metropolis theme) in the Waldorf Astoria for a drink if you want something nicer. Plenty of good restaurants to choose from.

    I would watch out for taxes though if you stay longer. If you have to file German taxes it is all a bit complicated and you have a problem investing. You end up in a twilight zone that you can’t invest in Europe (MiFID II and PRIIPs) and you can’t invest in the US (PFIC).

    Do NOT report to your US banks that you moved to Germany and keep a US address on file.

  124. @Ben, when can we expect a review of Lufthansa during covid times?
    I’m flying delta soon AMS —> ATL and Air France back. Have another trip in transatlantic trip in December and would be great to have your review before booking to help decide between sky team or Lufthansa for future trips

  125. And ritz for Berlin. Worth the premium compared to Marriott. Stayed there a few years back, recently renovated rooms, great hotel

  126. What a wonderful decision–and so glad to hear your mom is doing well!

    I studied in Berlin, at the Humboldt, and try to get back every other year. I see I was already beaten to the KaDeWe punch. 🙂 For a nice Vietnamese restaurant, I’m a big fan of Ngon, in the Nikolaiviertel, by the Rotes Rathaus (Rathausstrasse 23).

    The Pergamon reopens on der Tag der Deutschen Einheit. Most else on the Museumsinsel is open, with generally limited ticket slots. If you like art museums, the Museum Barberini,founded by Hasso Plattner to showcase his collection of GDR art and Impressionism, in Potsdam is well-worth a visit (plus, spending a day walking around Potsdam and Sanssouci is always a treat, if the weather obliges).

    We’re looking at moving house as well–most probably to Dresden/Neustadt–after early November, near the turn of the year, so am definitely grateful for any musings on what life is like there in these times we live in.

  127. I should like to know, how you entered Germany presently. Did you need a negative Corona Test from the US, or were you tested there? I saw photos with loooong lines at Munich airport for tests. I also want to go, and Missouri is finally coming up with general testing as of Sep. 30.
    So far as I know, the test results cannot be older than 72 hours, and which test is acceptable for entry? How did you manage?

  128. Finally – something worth reading on this blog!
    Turkey was a bad idea but this (move) is awesome!
    (I lost my Dad to cancer almost 20 years ago, right out of college)
    All the best wishes to your Mom!
    She looks great!

  129. Herzliche willkommen in Europa!

    Nice to have you here … Berlin is really quite different to other cities in Central and Western Europe … or as the former mayor put it: Poor and sexy.

  130. @Alex: For me easy to decide: AF/KL is much better than LH, nowadays. I used to be a great fan of LH and Senator for more than 10 years. But service and in particular seating (yes also in J) has deteriorated tremendously. The absolute low point was the COVID reimbursement debacle this year. Meanwhile, AF/KL is pretty good soft and hard product – and also much more compliant with legislation.

  131. @Ben, how are you handling health insurance in Germany? Can you share whether you got coverage beyond travel insurance, where from, cost?

  132. Go visit the Tempelhof airport terminal. It was one of the first world class airports and it is amazing how some of the facilities still look the same. Also the covered apron allowing passengers to embark and disembark protected from the weather while using stairs.

    There used to be public open days (Tag der oeffenen Tuer) and guided tours. I don’t know if the asylum situation has changed things.

  133. @derek who asked “I wonder if Ben (Lucky) will be subject to German income tax?”

    Very important and a considerable risk: you do not need to meet the substantial presence test to become subject to income tax in Germany. Having an abode is sufficient, even if you never spend any time in the country (you need to make sure you rent your place out indefinitely or else you will be considered domiciled for tax purposes).

    And to add insult to injury, Germany has erected a new (financial) wall where former residents continue to be subject to income tax the first 10 years after leaving for a country where they are taxed less than in Germany (which is almost every other country in the world). The good news is that they will only tax German source income.

    Therefore, keep in mind that with a EU passport you can become resident in any EU country and even in Switzerland quite easily. I just sold my house in NC and will move my entire business and office to Switzerland next month. I have family in Germany but preferred Switzerland, which is an island of sanity and decency while Germany has become too much of a nuthouse.

    All the best wishes to your mom, she is looking great. I lost my mom to cancer a long time ago and know how important it is to have family around when recovering from treatments.

  134. @Lucky Will Winston be reviewing his long haul travel?

    Our lease recently was up too and we decided to move abroad, for 3 months or maybe more, having spent so long in the Scottish lockdown this year.We considered moving to Berlin, but we chose Lisbon ( for a milder winter and maybe more affordable prices) so will be interested to hear of your experiences.

  135. Welcome to Germany. My humble recommendations:
    – Hamburg (northern stylish coolness, not so ‘kitschig‘ and indulged with its own awesomeness like Munich). The airbus factory tour in Finkenwerder or the Miniatur Wunderland would probably suit you.
    – The island of Sylt. In case you want to know what the German counterpart of Martha’s Vineyard has to offer.
    – Freiburg (not so overcrowded like Heidelberg, but not less picturesque and even more lovely). It is also the gateway to the Black Forest, which is the origin of many Germans in the US and a wonderfully mystic place).

    Stay healthy and always happy landings!

  136. Hi Lucky,

    personally I love Benedict Restaurant for breakfast, but be aware that it will most likely be crowded especially on weekends. I also like Phoenica Berlin for lebanese food. Hit me up if you are bored and would like to hang out anytime. I live between Hamburg and Berlin usually.

    Finally have a great time in my home country 🙂

  137. Thanks @andy! I do prefer flying blue, especially from the location I’m at in Europe. However, curious to know what is the situation with Covid. Which airlines are maintaining the best level of service, all things considered.

  138. As your mother is a green card holder, you’ll probably want to make sure she doesn’t lose it by being out of the US too long, I think it’s 1 year.

  139. Ben —
    I’m so happy for you, Ford, and especially your mom. Great decision to move there, albeit temporarily, to spend time with your mom and family. What a wonderful thing to do for your mom.
    My mom was from Wein in Österreich. She was homesick and did go “back” (from the USA) to visit and took me along when I was a child. I also got to live for a little while in Germany. I lived in Feldafing and rode my bike or took the train daily to the Gymnasium in Tutzing. (Gymnasium is a state high school for those who don’t speak German — it’s not a work-out gym). When my husband and I finally had enough money to take my mom back one more time, she was too frail and could not fly due to a medical issue. So she never got to return home in her older years and has since passed. So that’s why I’m especially happy to see you and your mom back there now.

    How about some articles, such as:
    — Rail travel to other parts of Germany, Austria, Poland, Switzerland, etc.
    — Castles of Germany (which do you think are the best for visiting?)
    — Tortes and other delectable treats of Germany (with lots of pictures)

    Did you tell us what Ford is using to learn German? I need that for my husband. If you already shared, I can’t find it in the comments, so please share again.
    Thanks! I look forward to a trip to Germany, Austria, and others someday with my husband.

  140. Good on you guys. The time you share with your mom will be precious, and taking full advantage of the moment is great. Its always great when you let us into your world beyond the trips, to see more of you, just as you.

  141. My favourite walk in Berlin is from the base of the Fernsehturm through Mitte across Museuminsel along Unter den Linden through Brandeburg Tor across the road & into Tiergarten then cut a left to head to Zoo.

  142. 3 things you’ll need – cashmere socks, cashmere scarf and good pair of fur lined gloves. They sound extravagant, but they will make a huge difference. And if you can find some cashmere ear muffs, those also work well. Keep your ears, neck, hands and feet warm enough and you’ll be just fine.

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