Thoughts on the way to Berlin

The weather was amazing, Spring has come and the good nice days are back. I know from experience that Berlin can be tough in winter, very dark and depressing. The kind of city where you NEED that ugly looking fake sun lamp.

Here I am again, on the road, writing while in my Flixbus which left Wroclaw at 6 am this Saturday morning on the way to Berlin. It’s kind of a funny situation, my friend decided at the last minute to go for a trip in Mexico, she took off last night and left her cat to her neighbour. Since I really love cats, and that she won’t be there for so long, I said « it’s fine I will go to your place and get your cat back to Poland while you are in Mexico » because, why not right ?
As I am writing these words she is still flying and will arrive there at about the same time I get into Berlin.
I took my computer since I am not sure if I will manage to come back before Monday.

Traveling with the refugees

Bus has never been my favourite transportation, this time I had no choice, unfortunately, given the situation with refugees, all trains from Wroclaw to Berlin are fully booked for the evacuations.
I don’t mind, I prefer them safe in Berlin and the rest of Europe than being shelled in Ukraine.

The situation in Wroclaw, Poland

The situation is a total nightmare. In the 15 minutes I spent at the Wroclaw Bus station at 6 am, at least 10 buses coming from the border arrived, full of kids and pregnant women, and elders. They are exhausted, you have to understand that when they finally get there, they spent DAYS queuing at the border to get registered, they had their homes destroyed and had to leave their husbands and sons at the border. War is cruel and conscription is the ultimate mandatory sacrifice Ukraine government had ask their citizens to do. I hope this war will end soon, that negotiations will prevail. I don’t see any good outcome before the Russian’s president is dead and that the World become a more peaceful place again.

I have been totally amazed by the Polish citizens the last couple of weeks, they have been given all their free time to welcoming and helping the best they can, the Ukrainians, before their government finally respond to the humanitarian situation.
In Wroclaw Station, it was no more than a week before they even created an app to help with organising shifts of volunteers, every day they are publishing a file with all the products they need, from cat food to underwear.
The first two weeks food was cooked and given by the citizens to the refugees arriving, before the city finally took over and organised it. Still, the need is there, more and more people are arriving every day, as we speak almost 80 000 Ukrainians arrived in the region of Wroclaw.

They are amazing, they basically translated to Ukrainian all the signs in a 1km radius, transformed the 1st floor of the station in a resting and welcoming area, organised desks for administration and deciding where people would go next.
It’s very impressive, when you get there, they are hundred of young babies and children, young pregnant women and elders. Only fathers of more than 3 children were allowed to come to Poland, and disabled. 

Welcome to Germany…

In my bus today, there are many refugees moving to Berlin and Germany. I trust the germans to welcome them more than the French. At first I was keen to offer my help for refugees to travel to France, but then I figured out the French government has never been good at treating refugees in a decent way, I am not sure they can be trusted, I think they are better at giving money to Poland. When I got to Wroclaw on the 25th of February, I had the chance to cross the way of a French convoy, on their way to Ukraine. It’s good to remember that, even if government can suck sometimes, the people of Europe are ready to be doing their best to help. I think this crisis as shown so far, scared governments and very courageous people. 

Our bus had just crossed the border, that the German polizei arrested us, asked everyone to come outside for an ID check. It even started to snow at this point, it really felt like this scene in Harry Potter where the Death eaters stop the train to search for Sirius. I could see the Ukrainians where worried that they wouldn’t be allowed in the country, because even if EU publicly welcomed them, there is not any law about it yet, and you know – the Germans, they love to make things as per law -…


 It turned out that they just wanted to register the 50 Ukrainian passeports, they didn’t even look at my ID, when they spotted from far it was a French one, they must have been thinking « oh no not a French (I get it a lot, are we really pain in the ass ) » , they briefly interrogated two passengers, one was for Georgia and another one from South Korea.

France presidential’s elections

The French opinion


I am quite disappointed by my government and my people at the moment. It seems that French are mostly pro Russians, and that all of the French candidates to the elections next month are praising smoother approach with Putin, what a shame ! It seems the French are more preoccupied by the price of Gas, the cost of life that the war. In my opinion, they lost their little confort and freedom during the pandemic and at the moment where they could finally have a nearly normal life again, war in Ukraine happened. It’s easier to close your eyes, and say that we can’t help because it would be risking the world peace and a possible nuclear conflict.

The very ugly


Macron will make great benefits of this situation, it has discredited all the other candidates, will assure him to be re-elected, it has put nuclear power plants back to the top choice for any country to be independent from Russia. Also Gas price make Americans happy in a way, they can finally make profits again from their tight oil production.
I was wondering why Macron would only « accept » to take 100k Ukrainian refugees in France, I think the truth behind this is super UGLY. Since most refugees are children, pregnant women and elders, they probably calculated that I was a COST and not an affordable labor coming. It reminds me of the article I wrote about how much our economies rely on cheap labor : The exploitation of cheap labor, a necessity ?

Berlin life after the pandemic

The crazy 2G, 2G+ and 3G system

I was surprised to see that Germans covid rules are still enforced and very very strict. They will ask you for you covid EU pass and proof of ID in most places (and will be not nice at all about it or very German ? ), and in some places which apply the + , you will also need a recent antigen test to be able to attend. Basically the scales is that 2G+ is the most strict level, and 3G the least. My German is quite bad but the G letters refers to the words vaccinated, recovered and tested, meaning that 2g+ will only accept people which are recovered or vaccinated plus a recent antigen test. U-Bahn and S-Bang are 3G. Also wearing a FFP2 mask 😷 is mandatory in transportations.

The best brunches, fair prices, and cool lifestyle still winning hearts over the rental situation…

I thought that the cost of life there would have increased a lot since last time I was there. Not that much, except rents (a tough subject in Berlin). It seemed still affordable compared to my last trip in London or when I am in Paris.

I arrived at 10.30 am on a Saturday and was seated in a great brunch place at 12 with a friend, in a place called YaMe NumNums , I saw it was a place to try with an Asian twist, since me and my friend both lived in China 10 years ago, I thought it would be a good idea. It was sunny and the waiter was charming and welcoming, and as normal it might sound today, it was alright to pay by card, which is still in 2022 pretty rare for Berlin ( I did not miss this…) .
They make this amazing pancaked with coconut, and coco homemade sorbet on top, it was so delicious and fruity. It was such a delight.

The weather was amazing, Spring has come and the good nice days are back. I know from experience that Berlin can be tough in winter, very dark and depressing. The kind of city where you NEED that ugly looking fake sun lamp.

a view of Berlin typical architecture from the 1930s , with blue sky

On Sunday I went to a French style brunch in the district of Charlottenburg with another friends I also made while working at a well known Berlin based bank. We went to Café au Lait , fun fact, all waitresses are wearing Tshirts with French words or famous city names. The coffee was delicious, the food seamed a little too much normal to me, which should not probably count as bad since I am from Paris ? 😁

The weather was great and it was already time to head to Monbijou Park and Museumsinsel to chill in the afternoon. I do recommend weekend in Berlin, it’s like a little holidays.

If the weather had been bad, I would have been probably to the Liquidrom, a Berlin based sauna and swimming pool place in the center, where you can enjoy great sauna and then a salty water swimming pool with chill music under the water.

One thing that didn’t change in Berlin is the housing market situation. Unless you buy or rent quite expensive places, there is a war on prices on smaller places for the last 10 years. Most apartments are owned by huge real estate companies whose only goal the last decade has been to make prices sky rocket, while salaries did not… Berlin state already has some of the lowest salaries in the country on average but the rents have reached almost the prices of Paris. With more and more tech companies or even Tesla joining the party, it has become the German silicon valley.

Europe on the verge of War

Who could have predicted that after two years of pandemic crisis, Russian president would decide to invade Ukraine and threaten peace in Europe ? The madness of one single man is once again leading the world into the Third World War. Who would have bet 3rdWW would be happening in Europe. Like many I thought it would have been between India and China or some other countries of Asia…

Who could have predicted that after two years of pandemic crisis, Russian president would decide to invade Ukraine and threaten peace in Europe ? The madness of one single man is once again leading the world into the Third World War. Who would have bet 3rdWW would be happening in Europe. Like many I thought it would have been between India and China or some other countries of Asia… Updated on 27/02

The script was already written 15 years ago in Putin’s mind when he was at the Munich security conference reminding the West that Russia might have suffered from the fall of USSR, but was still a big country and would not let the West install forces around Russia. Putin was already known to be this ex secret service strong and brutal new face or Russia, in one word, not a fun person. While the bankruptcy of USSR and the fall of the regime brung Russia from a feared nation to the place of an enemy nobody would care about anymore; the hatred of the West was pushing nationalists to the Presidence. Hatred and thirst of revenge are most probably the motivation Putin…

NATO, the Americans and Ukraine

It was not long ago that Russia was invading Georgia, and this time they are repeating the exact same scenario than in 2008 counting on the passivity of the West.

While the Ukrainian people and army are probably going to me massacred in Kiev like during Warsaw uprising in 1944 by the Nazis, the West is just praying that it will only be Ukraine alone and that War won’t come to European Union.

It is clear given the few statements given by key western countries the last few days, that in their minds they are kind of hoping the invasion will be fast and brief, hoping for only few casualties and that Putin plans is only to install a Pro-Russian government, like in Bielorussia for example… No one will try to help Ukraine or Kiev citizens, while timidly offering help to the Volodymyr Zelensky to help him flee the country.

I would not understand the situation too if I was not living in Poland and now understanding the ex USSR oppressed countries state of mind agains Putin. Ukrainian are proud and ready to die for the idea of freedom, for the idea that Ukraine should stay free from Russian influence and should have their own democracy. While Polish are doing all they can to welcome Ukrainian refugees, give them food and shelter, many Ukrainians are going the other way, to give their life in a hopeless fight in Kiev and Lviv against Russian tanks.

This new war is made of civils, from Europe, either Ukrainian diasporas going back to fight and even European concerned citizens of different countries who decide to go help, to give their lives for an idea of freedom and democracy.

I am surprised that we do not even try to smuggle weapons to give Ukrainians at least a chance to defend themselves against the invader, unofficially.


European Union, USA, and NATO countries are ready to sacrifice Ukraine to avoid War and save peace. I understand their point of view, saving lives and hoping of a diplomatic resolution is often a better choice than counting the dead. Since WW2, no one would have imagine war was this close given nuclear dissuasion.

Juste to put into perspective the size of Ukraine compared to Western Europe:

Size of Ukraine

Huge impact in France on the presidential campaign

President Macron was supposed to disclose his candidacy for re-election in the next few days, it looks like it won’t be his first concern the next few weeks anymore. It was rather surprising how weak his TV declaration tone was compared to the one 2 years ago when he was announcing the first lockdown because of Covid with this now famous sentence “We are at war against an invisible enemy” Now that the enemy is visible we are literally looking the other way, and hoping that the Russian bear won’t get the taste for blood.

The rest of the candidates from Melanchon to Zemmour, were not expecting the war, and were until last week even defending the point of view of Putin regarding Ukraine. The few other candidates program like the ecologist were to reduce army budget and aim for the end of the nuclear power plants. The wake up call was difficult, sorry but not sorry we are not living in a peace and love world anymore.

It’s hard to tell yet if the French have any idea of what’s really playing right now. They seem to be more concerned of the price of gas and inflation that about anything else, while Kiev is only two hours from Paris by plane it still seems far to them.

French embassy is the last one stil open in Kiev, there are around 700 french still there, we were learning last night that the GIGN force was assuring the security of the embassy and that they were ready to evacuate people if necessary.

The French embassy in Kiev

I read today on a few facebook groups for French people in Poland that journalist from Brut. and other newspapers were looking for ways to reach the border, that’s too bad they don’t come with at least medics or supplies…

Poland and the polish people, the first aid

I am very impressed by how fast Polish people are organising help for the Ukrainians. While the Polish government has deployed big effort at the border to register all the refugees and guide them to place where they could shelter, have access to food and psychological help, they seem to be the only one helping. 😢

According to contact in Ukraine, Russia artillery are right now as we speak targeting heavily Kiev and launching missiles.

Missiles targeting buildings in Kiev

The private medical group operating in Poland, Luxmed is gathering meds, food, and basic life supporting tools to be sent to Ukraine. They are also collecting blood to assist the Ukrainian hospitals. My gf is right now offering free psychological support to refugees and giving her time like many others in the stations to help the families who arrive in Wroclaw.

Poland has been welcoming over 120 000 refugees the last few days, with men from 18 to 60 being required to go back to Kiev to fight by the government.

A once in a lifetime occasion for China to invade Taiwan

I am worried for Taiwan today, after retaking Hong Kong back while the West was occupied fighting the pandemic, it would be technically the best moment for them to test the weakness of the West by invading Taiwan. Like for Ukraine, it’s very likely nothing will happen, UK and USA will protest and say it’s bad but who wants to go to war against China today ? No one. like against Russia to save Ukraine.

I am crossing fingers that China will refrain their ambitions but they have the same approach has Putin toward Ukraine, considering it’s their land taken from them and that they should defend their pro China citizens from the regime of Taiwan. What a joke..

An American destroyer has crossed the straits between Taiwan and China yesterday (26/02), a way to say don’t even thing about it to China.

Digital nomadism, THE new popular lifestyle ?

All my trips are made possible by the fact I work from « home ». I only need my computer and an access point to the Internet. I could be on a boat, on a plane, an island or in Thailand it wouldn’t make a difference to my clients.

Here I am again, writing an article on my iPhone 📱 13 mini , this time onboard the french speed train TGV 🚄 to Lyon. I really enjoyed those 3 last weeks in London, almost enough time for me to get that cute British accent. It was so refreshing, the end of covid rules there were quite surprising at first, but felt like we were back to normal life after a few days and Yes it feels good 😊 !

I haven’t wrote much about my trip, because in fact, writing about your daily activities _ which would seem very normal to anyone else before the pandemic _ isn’t that easy.

I must admit it does feel exotic to be there, post Brexit, it does feel even more like a foreign country than before. I was almost getting used to the cars driving on the left, which make crossing the road quite difficult when you are not used to it, that it was already time for me to go back to Paris. I must admit though that Eunice storm 💨 almost made it impossible to go back to France.

The mercato mayfair declassified church with it’s original design and restaurants and bars foodcourt. Lots or people having lunch there
Mercato Mayfair

I already miss the blue eggs, the incredible pub ambiance, the tasty fish and chips, having a pizza and a great german beer at Mercato Mayfair on Sundays and also my favourite British cat 🐈‍⬛.

Working on the go

All my trips are made possible by the fact I work from « home ». I only need my computer and an access point to the Internet. I could be on a boat, on a plane, an island or in Thailand it wouldn’t make a difference to my clients. Travelling gives me a breath of fresh air well needed after the pandemic 😷. Travelling while still making money is the saint Graal in my opinion, it’s way different that travelling for work or for holidays. It’s a lifestyle, I see myself not so different from my favourite Youtube boat channel -> SV delos for example.

When I started freelancing it was the best way I could find to be able to live with my gf, study code 👨‍💻 and work at the same time. I use to travel a lot when I was a kid and a young adult, thanks to my parents living abroad, and I think I was missing the positive energy I absorb from it. Constantly meeting new people, discovering new cities.

Is not for everyone

Sure it’s not for everyone, it’s like people who try expat life for the first time, they would either live the dream or hate it and go home a few months later, I have witnessed it countless times when I was living in Shanghai between 2009 – 2013.

It also means that either your partner is also a digital nomad – or at least able to follow you at some point – or that you are single. 😅

Like Dan and Kika from Sailing ⛵️ Uma would say, don’t buy a couch ! 🛋.

I must admit that so far my polish apartment decoration is … minimalist 😄, I am not buying much things, but in the end do we really need all those things ??

I come to the point of thinking that we buy stuff to make our sedentary lifes more interesting 🤨. No judgment here, there is a lifestyle for everyone, and I use to be from the one’s who would make their places super cosy to be able to basically live there !

Did covid make a difference?

An emergency situation

Well in my opinion, it made a huge change. We discovered that commuting everyday is not mandatory anymore, that most people who have office jobs can work from home. What use to be a rare work from home option became the reality of millions in one second.

Of course when you have kids this was probably a nightmare! Young couple with very small apartments on big cities suffered a lot from this forced situation. I think it was a dream coming true for gamers and stay-at-home. They were suddenly the example of a good behavior.

After covid

What about now ? It seems that companies are trying to bring back workers in their fancy offices. Work from home for everyone was many managers’ nightmare, transportation services from many big cities are on the verge of bankruptcy, and restaurants and businesses in business districts are almost all closed. Big companies like Apple or Google are facing unhappiness in teams that they want back in the office, it really seemed no one had planned that people would actually enjoy work from home so much.

A few companies made a choice to permanently allow their teams to work from where they want. Only a few, and here you go if you really want to work from a distance you must create your own company and offer your services as a freelancer.

What if covid did not happend?

Well, freelancing was already a thing before the pandemic but many many companies where much more reluctant to open their available positions to freelancers. I think without the pandemic I would have never considered becomint independant and that i was in fact “reserved” to certain type of activities like designers.

I am not saying covid was a good thing 😬, but I like to appreciate every things that happened in life in the most positive way possible.

What’s next ?

Good question ! Hard to say, I am listening to the market and will take any opportunity I judge to be nice for myself .

The french speed train TGV in gare de lyon Paris before departure to lyon on a monday evening
The french TGV 🚄

Ukrainian crisis is there to remind us that our relatively peaceful times can change tomorrow and might change the face of the world we know as well. Let’s just enjoy life, explore, learn, stay healthy and celebrate the nearly 🙏 end .. of the pandemic 😷.

To be continued…