I went to Berlin to finally see the popular city and stay with my friends Caleb and Alexis [C&A] (Caleb is an amazing artist and you can view his collection on his website!). The last time I was in Europe I had only been connecting trains at the Berlin station. So this time I would see the city and the many things it had to offer. My first night there we took it easy and checked out C&A's neighbourhood. They live a stone's throw away from a "borrow shop", the only one of its kind in the city. You literally borrow anything in the store and return the item when you're done with it. Genius. We borrowed an air-mattress and a pump, thus giving me a bed for the week. Getting on the topic of TV shows with the owners of the shop, HBO's 'True Detective' came up and that gave us an idea for our night: Television Binge. Caleb and I started and finished the whole season that one night. All the way through the 8 episodes we kept pushing each other to stay awake and fight our sleepy, bedtime notions. Interestingly enough, it is fitting that we watched this show at the time we did, because you'll soon see why as you read on...
Caleb and I cycled everywhere the five days I was there, but we only covered a mere fraction of Berlin. The city layout and its regions are fragmented like a 100pc jigsaw puzzle. I've never seen as much graffiti in my life as well; commissioned work and that of talented amateurs, Berlin has it all.
We cycled to the Memorial for the Murdered European Jews of the Holocaust and walked through the thousands of erected concrete slabs, divided into many intersecting rows. Underground is a museum that holds the names of all known Jewish Holocaust victims. We read many accounts of these victims and the grim atrocities they were forced to witness, suffer and die from. Truly soul-wrenching.
Passing under and by the Brandenburg Gate, we followed the trace of where the Berlin Wall stood. On the streets, the tracing is a paired line of small metal, circular plates that represent the memory of the city's former separation. Winding our way on the bicycle paths, dodging blind drivers, we arrived at the East Side Gallery. A kilometre stretch of the Berlin Wall that still stands today. Painted with murals of commissioned art on one side and amateur's graffiti tags on the other. Here we took our Lidl €5 lunch and ate by the river, then perused the whole section of the Wall in the spitting rain.
Berlin's nightlife is apparently one of the best in the world. I didn't dare go to the Berghain for example, but you find hundreds of small pubs, restaurants, and cafés within the city blocks no matter where you are. C&A and I attended a Couchsurfing event of table tennis in a bar one night. Met a girl from California, two guys from France and Germany, and another girl from Eastern Europe (I forget the exact country she said she was from). After playing "Chinese" table tennis as they called it, (or "Around the World" as I'd always called it... I mean, wouldn't "Chinese" table tennis be a more professional version of the sport?) we again took to our bicycles and wandered the neighbourhood.
|Our True Detective Scare|
In the most eerie room we found beer bottle candles, brimming over with wax all strewn about, a mattress (in which we did not want to know the owner), and graffiti with wooden crafts, which freaked us out the most. Cue "True Detective" once more. The stick crafts were of those in the show and the spray painted antlered creature fit the uneasy atmosphere all the same. We ventured into the basement and explored every nook and cranny till Caleb had his fill.
The next day I hopped on the bus and made my way North West toward Hamburg. But I'll leave that beautiful city for my next post.
Here are some more Berlin photos!
|The Holocaust Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe|
|Berlin Wall reminder poles|
|East Side Gallery on the river side|
|One of the most famous murals of communist leaders Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker|
ps I did enjoy a sweet and tasty Berliner doughnut in Berlin.