Jesus, it’s been quite a while hasn’t it. Last time we talked, I was in Barcelona, curiously introspective, oddly nostalgic, fairly off balance. Today, I’m updating you from a tiny town on the border of the Czech Republic (But that’s a long story, and I’m skipping ahead.).
I will tell you about Berlin. Do you remember when I was talking about how I had to get out of spain, and I booked the cheapest flight on google flights and ended up deciding on Berlin?? ..Maybe I didn’t tell you about that. Regardless, that’s what happened. I booked a flight out of Spain, left Spain, landed in Berlin. I’m going to categorize Berlin a little, cause it was a bit all over the place. Step One – City Orientation, Step Two – Solo Birthdays Are Shitty Birthdays, Step Three – Don’t Take Drugs Kids.
I can already tell which step you guys are stoked to hear about. (And it’s not the birthday one…)
Step One – City Orientation
Okay. When you’re traveling, there are a series of checkpoints you need to reach when you get to a new city.
A – Hostel. Get there, put your stuff down, charge your phone, get wifi, etc.
B – Scope out hostel. Find out where to shower, where the fridge/kitchen is, WHERE THE BAR IS, grab a map from downstairs (if you’re a map person), etc.
C – Grocery Store. If you need anything (shampoo, vegetables, booze), it’s handy to know where the nearest one is.
D – Wok to Walk. This is not exactly an essential checkpoint. But this is on the list for me, because it’s one of my favorite things to eat in Europe. A Wok to Walk is a little takeaway noodle/stir fry place that’s like 5 Euro for a massive to-go box of noodles. My favorite. Also, as it would turn out, 4 minutes from my hostel.
Now, my first impression of Berlin wasn’t exactly good. It’s definitely one of those cities where the hipsters kind of flock. Think Austin, Portland, the LX Factory in Lisbon, etc. That kind of weird, kind of sexy, kind of raunchy, kind of fresh vibe. That’s Berlin. And verrrrry exclusive. I went to a club where if you didn’t have leather, latex, or spikes, you weren’t getting in.
And you know, a lot of people really dig that about Berlin. Steve included. It’s just the right amount of crazy for some people. But for me, it didn’t quite line up. Like, it wasn’t a place that I automatically vibed with. But yeah. Gut Platz. (good place)
Oh! I went on a walking tour in Berlin too. The history there is absolutely mind blowing. It’s something you need to learn about sometime. Please. Go do it. It’s mad. The symbolism in so many of the buildings, the attitude of germany/germans towards the war, the whole communism/fall of the wall thing, the imposing, yet recognizant historical importance. It’s all good. Go do that. Even though I didn’t like Berlin as much, I did love that.
Step Two – Solo Birthdays are Shitty Birthdays
Who knew, right?
So. I got into Berlin a day before my birthday, so I really didn’t have a ton of time to meet people. I actually flew in on Tuesday night, so my little experience with meeting people was a pretty quick beer with a chef from switzerland and a chat with an ancient brazilian guy in my room. I was determined to make it to midnight though, so I went back out to the bar, ordered myself a beer and sat down to watch the Sevilla v. Liverpool match. Pretty sad, eh?
While I was sitting here, I looked up to see Eric, a Mexican guy I met in Lisbon almost a month back. Turns out, he was staying the in same hostel and was keen for me to go out with him and a few other girls that night. I was chatting away with him, trying to make an excuse as to why I couldn’t do it, when we were interrupted by Adam. Adam was trying to ask Eric a question, ended up meeting me and the rest of the gang, and invited us to his table. When the rest of the group went out, Adam and I sat there, drinking our beers, talking.
Adam is from Palestine. He has been living in Berlin for 3 years, studying and working. Kind of as a refugee, mostly as an expat. The stuff he told me was that of nightmares. Living in Israel, you have to serve in the military for 2 1/2 years. So he had to go into service for a while before he came to Germany. He told me he had been through four wars before turning 20. Isn’t that mad to you??
Don’t think I was just fish-bowling him though. We did actually talk like normal human beings. He had a wicked sense of humor and spent the evening parrying my jokes. We talked about everything from hobbies to expectations to dreams. We even talked about his recent relationship, which we quickly stopped talking about when I looked up and saw him in tears. That’s when I really stopped fish bowling him. No more meaningless questions and practiced answers. No more back and forth conversation. No more pleasantries. We were human beings, sharing an intimate experience, in the middle of a bar, in Berlin. And that’s when we really started talking.
Adam stayed with me till 3 am. He wished me happy birthday at midnight and we celebrated with a hug between strangers. He had just turned 20 the week before and I congratulated him in return. We shared another hug. I yawned more often as the hours ticked by. Almost asleep against the bench, Adam pulled me up and told me he was off to bed himself. He hugged me again and left the bar, off to find a bus home. And I went upstairs and curled in my blankets. Curious how the night had been so completely unexpectedly random, but still, somehow, felt like it was exactly how it needed to be.
When I woke up, I went on my walking tour, saw much more of Berlin than I thought I would, chatted with some english people, came home, took a nap, took a shower, got some dinner. Pretty uneventful as birthdays go. I did take myself out to an Indian restaurant for dinner though. Even treated myself to some actual bottled water instead of just tap water. We out here livin lavish.
Step Three – Don’t Take Drugs Kids
You were just waiting for this step, weren’t you?? I know I was. I’m not sure actually how to describe this one. I’ll try to keep it short for you though.
I did, eventually, end up going out with Eric and his group of people. We went out the night after my birthday, Thanksgiving. We brought along an aussie from my room, Matt, and he ended up keeping me company most of the night. On this makeshift bar crawl, we brought 10 people. Most from North America, some from Aus/NZ, and a couple from random places across the globe. After I downed 8 beers at the hostel, we headed out on our crawl. We first went to a pretty dead cocktail bar with really obnoxious music that everyone ended up ridiculously dancing to, to a couple of gay bars where Matt got hit on more than anyone else, and an exclusive dance club (after being turned away from two other, more exclusive dance clubs.)
I ended up leaving halfway through the night, cause I honestly wasn’t feeling the vibe of the club as much as everyone else. When I got outside, I turned to see Matt following me. Turns out, he also wasn’t feeling the vibe that much. Or maybe he just wanted to see where I was headed. We ended up getting kabobs. Quite the night, huh.
See, this is where the drugs come in. I was already pretty buzzed from drinking when Eric ran up behind me. I still have no idea how he found us, but somehow, he popped up between Matt and I. Taking my hand, he slipped half a tablet of MDMA in my palm with a quick “Happy Birthday” wish. In my mildly drunken, mildly trusting, mildly tired state, I’m surprised I didn’t toss it back. Way to go me Ellen for turning it down! Happy Birthday to me, I guess.
Matt took one and we took to the streets, happy as can be. After smashing the kabob, we wandered back to the hostel actually. I know, I know, you should really go clubbing when on drugs, but Matt just couldn’t hack it and I wasn’t keen on babysitting much. Too tired.
Not tired for long tho. By the time we got back to the hostel, we were wired. I’m not sure either of us slept much that night. We just sat there, talking back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. The high was gone, but the energy was not. There was no way we were sleeping.
And thus continued my birthday. Well into the next day when I had to hop a bus to Prague. I had a quick goodbye to Eric, another to Matt, quite a few hugs to the rest of the gang that trudged through the bar for breakfast the next morning. Berlin is wild. But don’t do drugs, kids.
Anyway. I was headed to Prague.. Which I promise to update you on soon.