So I have been back from Berlin for three days and I'm still buzzed from the whole experience and looking back it all seems a surrealistic blur of political art on walls, stunning views, tear-jerking concentration camp stories, talented street performers, dancing to some really bad tunes and getting inebriated on German beer. Memories that leave a dopey smile on my face. So I'm gonna try to condense my five days in the German capital into this blog entry and post some pictures (only a few, however, as in total I took over 400).
Our first evening was spent touring the Berlin wall art gallery which is some of the best "grafitti" (and I use that word loosely) that I've ever seen. Then after dinner we went down to the hotel bar and each ordered a different beer and sampled each others (that's how we discovered which ones we liked best and that's what also made us slightly sick). Throughout the week we I realised we kept going to all the capitalist places that were familiar to us: H&M, Starbucks, Mcdonalds. To make up for our lack of enthusiasm for real German food (lets face it, as a vegetarian it's not much fun). We "soaked" (quite literally) up the culture through drinks. I was addicted to the red Beliner Weisse which is basically beer with syrup in it (sounds nauseating but it's sooo good), the classic Kolsch beer and then there's Mezzo Mix which is half cola/half orange and helped with the hangovers from previously mentioned drinks. In Germany you can drink beer, lager and cider at 16 but you have to be 18 to drink spirits. I thought it wouldn't matter how much I drunk as someone else was bound to get more drunk than me and I'm not a lightweight at all so I had hoped the attention would never be on me the morning after but of course I was foolish to think that. I love Berlin but it's seriously lacking on the tea front. The coffee drinkers had a great time whenever we'd go to cafes but the tea left a bit to be desired and on the plane ride home there was alot of "When I get home the first thing I'm going to do is make a huge pot of Twinings". However what they lacked in tea they made up for in junk food: doughnuts as big as your head, blocks of assorted flavoured ice cream. incredibly sour sherbet sweets, sourdough cookies, pizza, fries and spicy ketchup.
On Wednesday we visited Sachsenhausen Concentration camp. It was raining that day which I was grateful for as I don't think I would've been able to see it bathed in glorious sunlight and it was an element of pathetic fallacy mirroring our moods to this particular side of German history. The whole thing was very maudlin and I don't know why but what struck me the most was seeing the striped pajamas that they were forced to wear. There was a wall where you could write and leave messages and I left a note as a small token to the impact it had on me. It's a difficult experience but I think everyone should visit a concentration camp in their lifetime. It can make you deeply contemplate the limitations of cruelty that humans can surpass.
The next day we visited beautiful Potsdam which is just outside of Berlin. It's an idyllic quiet town which was overrun by us English students singing "Paparazzi" at the top of our lungs. There are windmills and palaces and markets and grand churches and it's like another world. That night we went to a club and by the end of the night everybody was dancing (including the teachers). I only had three drinks that night (and a damn small cola I spent more than 3 fucking euros on!) as I could not afford to get drunk again both morally and economically. Friday was a sad day as it was our last and we went shopping in Alexander platz. I managed to stretch my last five euros quite far and bought a tiny converse sneaker keyring, a Berlin t-shirt, a coffee & cream eyeliner pencil and some twisted beads.
The art on the walls...
By the Riverside
At the begining of the night when no-one is drunk ebough to start dancing YET (that happened five minutes later...)
Some more art in the outdoor gallery
The Jewish memorial. You have to be there to really understand it.
A tip to future visitors of Germany: Probably not the BEST idea to buy a communist-style hat in a formerly fascist country (the poor guy was just trying to be ironic but he got a lot of dirty glares)...
Some cool Germans we met outside the Sand Bar
The view from the top of Reichstag
The striped Pj's at Sachsenhausen
A sure fire sign of a good night...
Back home and looking ROUGH...