In the same way that the Slow Food revolution has created a compelling antithesis to the burgeoning Fast Food business, Slow Travel encourages people to resist “Fast” Travel – the frustratingly frequent habit of speeding through all the best known landmarks of a city in 24 or 48 hours – then leaving again.
Slow Travel encourages us to slacken our pace, re-consider our motivations (and itineraries) and embrace a “less is more” instead of a “fast is better” ethos. It emboldens us to take pause. To think. To saunter instead of rush and enjoy the details instead of blurring past them.
Slow Travel Berlin was founded in January 2010 by British guidebook author, travel journalist and photographer Paul Sullivan. The aim is to establish a repository of eclectic information about the city from a range of perspectives to encourage deeper, more varied exploration and promotion of small, locally-minded businesses and services.
Despite its reputation as a party town and bohemian node, Berlin has many inherent Slow characteristics. It has fewer people and less industry than most capital cities, which means it has less traffic and less stress. It’s huge, with plenty outside the well-trodden center to explore, and is officially one of the greenest cities in Europe. Of course it’s part of the global “rat race”. But its turbulent and fascinating history are unique in Europe and its creative and cultural life seem stronger, or at least more visible, than in other major cities of its kind.
All of these factors have a discernible effect on the attitude of people who live here, and thus on daily life, making Berlin in many ways the perfect city in which to carry out an initial Slow Travel experiment. It’s a great city, for example, to rent an apartment instead of a hotel; to stay a week rather than a weekend; to do a cooking course, learn German (or another language), hire a music teacher or join an art or writing workshop. Its past is enthralling and vivid enough to justify off-the-beaten-track explorations. Its parks are large and green enough to really relax in.
The site features regular contributions from city residents on subjects ranging from food and literature to photography and personal experiences or memoirs. We aim to facilitate any quest to get beneath the skin of the city a little, or discover it at a more leisurely pace.
We offer an insider’s view that will doubtless overlap from time to time with other Berlin travel sites, but will ultimately provide a unique and above all reliable resource that gives a broader, deeper perspective. We love this city and we want you to love it too.
It’s worth noting that there’s an obvious tendency within the Slow movement (and it really is a movement) to romanticise or idealise things. A few Slow advocates would no doubt be happy to see cars banished, laptops destroyed.
But we are not interested in a return to medieval times, and certainly don’t believe everything in life should be Slowed. We are modern beings with modern lives. As Canadian journalist Carl Honore notes in his Slow bible In Praise Of Slow humans thrive on speed in many ways. We don’t just enjoy it: we need it. Like him, we believe that only certain things should be Slowed – food, art, parenting, sex – simply in order to make these things more enjoyable.
A further note: while nowhere near as universal as the Slow Food movement, Slow Travel easily has the potential to be just as revolutionary a concept in the future. While we wouldn’t claim to be original or definitive in any way, we are trying our best to find a philosophical model that can be emulated in a bid to generally improve the Travel experience. If you have any feedback – good or bad – we encourage you to contact us and share it. Or feel free to leave a comment somewhere on the site.
We’re also very keen to collaborate with other Slow Travellers, either in Berlin or elsewhere, in order to promote and expand this more conscientious style of travel. If you’d like to work with us in any way, or if you’d like to send us an article or discuss an idea for one, please contact us using the form below or send a mail to paul at slowtravelberlin dot com.
To learn more about us and our philosophy, check out these more interviews over at Matador Network, Indie Travel, Pocket Cultures, Gran Turismo, Context Travel, HG2, Easyjet Magazine, Purposeofvisit.uk, Flux FM, the NMO, and the most recent one (2013) over at Zibb. STB sub-editor/contributor Brian Melican chats about our tours with Radioeins, 14 June 2013.