Oh, Berlin. What a strange, strange city you are. You remind me of a sorority girl… Classy by day, trashy by night (thanks for that, Rachel & Jackie). Let me explain.
We arrived in Berlin one bright sunny morning, after catching an express train from Prague. With only until the next afternoon, we set off to explore at once.
Our first stop was the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold, which is right down the street from the Brandenburg gate. The memorial is artfully designed, and leaves you with a peculiar feeling of unease, and an even deeper feeling of awe. Thankfully we visited the museum that lies beneath the memorial, and I was able to learn about other Latvian survivors from the concentration camps. After the military took her parents and relatives, my nana escaped from camp imprisonment with only her two younger sisters. Long story short, it meant a lot to see a tribute to it.
Next up was the Brandenburg Gate, in all her glory. Beautiful structure. Glad I saw it and snapped a photo. Moving on.
The steps of the Reichstag, where Hitler made his speeches. Woah. Again, moving on.
After realizing we had some time before night (and were saving the wall for the next day), we decided to visit the old Olympic stadium, where my cousin Amy’s grandfather had been nearly 80 years before (as well as Hitler, I might add). I have to admit, if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have gone. Old stadiums are not high on my list of things to do. That being said, I’m so glad we did. Very cool to be able to walk around in a place with such a rich history.
That’s a great way to summarize Berlin by day… A city with an incredibly rich history. Not to jump ahead, but we actually “accidentally” visited Berlin on the 25th anniversary of the wall coming down. Convenient coincidence, if I do say so myself! But before I get to that, let me tell you about Berlin by night.
Shall I set the scene? The night was cold and dark. The sounds from the street below rose to our room, beckoning Amy and I to come out and play. While we had trouble finding a place to start, we finally found a place that called to us, promising us an experience to remember. Then, one French man from “Taken,” and three prostitutes later, we stumbled upon our primary destination. After receiving our incorrect €12 drinks, we began to take notice of the crowd, and the overwhelming presence of sparkles and non-traditional get-up. That’s right folks, our place of “calling” was a gay bar.
After making a hasty exit, not without a few awkward encounters, we returned to the hostel to try and recover the night. On the top floor, the hostel had a bar… and by bar, I mean frat party… And by frat party, I mean a frat party at 3am when it’s utterly sloppy, albeit entertaining. In minutes we were swept up in a great mass of party animals, and on our way downstairs to go to a club, because, as we learned, it’s only cool to go out AFTER midnight.
During the next five minutes (I kid you not, it was literally only five minutes), we were swept up in a clusterfuck of strangeness. More specifically, it was as if a handful of zoo animals escaped, and were running laps around us in a drug induced haze. “Can I kiss your wife??” was a breaking point, and I doubled up in laughter at the craziness of it all. No, we don’t want a mix of cocaine and ecstasy. No, we don’t want to go home later with you four Californians guys and your one crazy, smiley girl friend. No, I don’t think you’re actually famous, and I won’t look you up on instagram. Also, you big Australian, could you please put my cousin down? Look here are your cabs! We are right behind you!! ::sprints back to hostel front doors::
Now. We are stubborn, and we are troopers. Did we give up? No. Should we have? Perhaps.
In a bar around the corner, we grabbed a drink and stood outside to recap “whatever the fuck just happened.” Shortly after, we were approached by two brothers who were quite nice, funny, and intelligent. Then they asked if we would like to go to their flat. No thanks. We knew then that the night was a wrap.
The next morning we set off for the wall. As I said before, our visit coincided with the anniversary of the wall coming down. In other words, Germany’s Unification Day. While much of the wall has been taken down, it was amazing getting to see so many people admiring the meaningful artwork on the Berlin Wall Memorial. Here are a few of the ones that stood out to us.
After a few hours of admiration, we decided to close out our Berlin trip with some french fries, using the few euros we had left. Literally. We used our last two euros, in small change… and those were the best damn fries we ever tasted.
What then? A long train ride back to Munich (& Oktoberfest, of course).